Wednesday, 17 September 2014

In Defense of the Tiger!

I have taken to my keyboard in dudgeon, nay – I would go so far as to say - high dudgeon! I get irritated by the number of throwaway comments that litter the wargaming forums denigrating the employment of Tigers on the games table. Is it just me, or have I noticed an increase in interweb chit chat dissing Tigers? Am I imagining the derisive snorts from grognards whenever my model Tigers come out? Surely you’ve all seen the digs on the forums, suggesting the Tiger is over-represented on the wargames table:
Probably like WW2 gamers and Tiger tanks, more than ever existed in any one battle…
Or, more generally, but still hard to pin down exactly what the objection is:

Overrated: Any tank named after a cat.
The first problem is, what is it exactly these grognards and keyboard toughs are criticising the Tiger fan for? Playing with cool models? Playing with uncool models? Surely no toy soldier or model is inherently more ‘childish’ than any other! Stacking the odds unfairly? Well, much as I dislike them, any points system worth its salt will take care of that. Lets have a look at some rules systems that compare the points value of the Tiger against, the most likely alternative, the Pz IV. Unsurprisingly perhaps, there is a spectrum of opinion on the value of the Tiger versus the PzIV. WRG rates the TIger at 144 points and the Pz IV at 104. Firefly has the Tiger worth 370 compared with the PzIV at 255. BattleGroup Kursk sees the inherent advantages of the TIger, which it costs at 74 points compared to the Pz IV at almost half the value - 44 points. Flames of War rates the TIger even higher over the Pz IV - 215 points to 90!

PzIV - was the Tiger worth 2 of these?
Better yet, in my view, a historically balanced scenario should take account of such an AFV’s battlefield superiority against lighter vehicles…As a rule of thumb, when designing a generic scenario I tend to pit a company of T-34s or Shermans against a platoon of Tigers, as was required at the time, and invite the players to choose sides.
No, I think our critics are adopting an air of world weary sophistication. Tigers are so last century! Every noob plays Tigers! Fielding Tigers for German armoured units is predictable, jejune, and, it’s implied, somehow unhistorical, as they formed a tiny fraction of the German AFV fleet, and what ones they did have broke down after a few metres. Everyone knows that!
'Bombing Up!'
Its my belief that using Tigers more often than other panzers at decisive points on the battlefield is actually historically justified. And in this, unfortunately rather wordy blog post, I hope to give you, you who I know, deep down, secretly yearns to play with Tigers, some 88mm calibre steel cored ammunition to justify your ‘immature’ and ‘unhistorical’ army list!
Breakdowns were frequent - but why?
 So what is history’s verdict on the Tiger 1E? Well the first place we turn to is Wiki, and frankly it’s pretty damning!
It was over-engineered, using expensive materials and labour intensive production methods. Only 1,347 were built between August 1942 and August 1944. The Tiger was prone to certain types of track failures and immobilizations, and limited in range by its high fuel consumption. It was expensive to maintain, but generally mechanically reliable. It was also difficult to transport, and vulnerable to immobilization when mud, ice and snow froze between its overlapping and interleaved road wheels in winter weather conditions, often jamming them solid.
It goes on to add that in 1944 production was phased out in favour of the Tiger II – ‘with relief by all concerned’ it almost implies! 
With over 50 metric tons dead weight, suspension, gearboxes, and other such items had clearly reached their design limits and breakdowns were frequent.
A major problem with the Tiger was that it required considerable resources in terms of manpower and material. This in part was responsible for the low quantity produced: 1,347 of the Tiger I and 492 of the Tiger II. The German designs were expensive in terms of time, raw materials and Reichsmarks, the Tiger I costing over twice as much as a Panzer IV and four times as much as a StuG III assault gun.
Although a formidable design, the low number produced, shortages in qualified crew and the considerable fuel requirement in a context of ever shrinking resources prevented the Tigers from having a real impact on the war.
The Tiger was feared...
Well does Wiki not have one good word to say about this icon of WW2 armour, so beloved of teenage wargamers? Perhaps rather grudgingly, it allows that the Tiger was feared, and:

saw combat on all German battlefronts. It was usually deployed in independent tank battalions, which proved to be quite formidable. The Tiger I represented a new approach that emphasised firepower and armour.
Damning with faint praise, perhaps, but I think key to attacking the resource issue – there are two aspects of the Tiger to deal with here, the impact on the rear echelon, and its effect, when running and fully supplied, at the sharp end. Clearly, no matter how wasteful and demanding any weapons system is during production and supply, presumably there is some level of combat impact it might achieve that could make amends for that cost – sufficient bang for buck. Or Reichsmark.
Did the Tiger deliver?
 So let us boil down all this Tigerphobia into a couple of issues, which we can then attempt to tackle:
·         Was the Tiger a wasteful, inefficient use of resources – would the Germans have been better off with the further 2,694 Panzer IVs that not producing Tiger Is might have allowed them to produce? (2,694 being twice the number of Tigers produced.)

·         Is putting Tigers on the tabletop an un-historical over-representation of their involvement or contribution to the armoured battles of WW2?
Taking the resources issue first, let us take comfort from that otherwise bleak wiki article, which, despite the litany of mechanical trauma listed above, rather grudgingly allows that:
While heavy, this tank was not slower than the best of its opponents.
Even the most died in the wool Tiger fan has to admit that the Tiger was expensive and time consuming to produce and maintain in the field, compared to the sweet running Sherman and the remarkably efficient T-34. As we see Wiki states that the Tiger cost twice as much as the Panzer IV. Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that cost in Reichsmarks broadly equates to overall production costs in terms of the war effort, perhaps a questionable assumption in view of the wacko nature of the Third Reich’s economy and disjointed war planning, and its ghastly use of slave labour. (Yes, admiration for the Tiger tank as a weapon system, and the skill and courage of its crews, does not imply any sympathy or admiration for the monstrous and evil nature of the Third Reich as a whole.) Then there is the impact on the railways, the base workshops, the forward repair workshops, quite possibly all amounting to twice the resource cost of the Panzer IV. So was there nobody high up in the Third Reich with the experience and clout to see that producing all these expensive, unreliable Tiger tanks was a huge mistake? Somebody as wise and knowledgeable as our snorting grognards, but without their advantages of hindsight?

 Colonel-General Heinz Guderian is in many ways is ‘Mr Panzer’. He was very much the architect, in Germany, of the entire Blitzkreig doctrine, authored Achtung! Panzer! and was instrumental in setting up Germany’s armoured force. He took a ‘hands on’ approach to tank design, in particular with the Panzer IV which so many armchair experts suggest should have been even more heavily produced instead of the Tiger. In early 1943, even Hitler realised that AFV production was becoming chaotic, and so appointed Guderian as Inspector General of all German armoured forces, with power over all production, training and doctrinal issues around Germany’s tanks. Guderian’s first concern was to streamline and concentrate production on what his experience told him were the key war winning AFV’s available:
The tank figures envisaged…are to be achieved by means of increased production of Panzer IVs, Panthers and Tigers.[1]
So we are clear what he thought of the Tiger in terms of its production cost!
By Autumn  1943, the Germans were fighting a defensive war on interior lines, so that the relative ‘cost’ or impact of logistics bit less deep. It’s also worth remembering that on the Eastern front at least, by investing in high maintenance, highly complex AFV’s; in a sense the Germans were playing to their strengths, with a more highly educated and technically literate soldiery than the Russians. Its crews felt it was a fair trade off, and as Dennis Showalter points out, high maintenance need not equate to low reliability, so long as time is set aside for routine upkeep:
Tiger was not a lady. But she was like a good woman. If you treated her right, she’d treat you right.[2]

In fact, given sufficient ‘down time’ in between operations, Tiger had a good record of operational availability. During the early part of 1943, when the German army was on the offensive, its breakdowns were caused more by enemy inflicted minor damage than by mechanical breakdown. Indeed, a Tiger company was recorded as completing a 65 mile speed march of 10 and a half hours with no breakdowns, a remarkable feat of endurance and reliability that modern main battle tanks might envy. And its cross country performance, whilst woefully behind its modern successors with their hydrogas suspensions, was at least as good as its contemporary rivals.[3]

To powerful for its own good - rushed from pillar to post without any down time?
What modern scholarship is beginning to reveal about the myth of those ‘frequent breakdowns’ so gleefully pounced on by its detractors is that the Tiger was in a sense, victim of its own success. It was designed as an Army level asset to be committed only at key strategic points, after suitable preparation and recovery time. Once committed, it had three primary missions:  to lead armoured attacks against strong positions, break through prepared defensive positions, and destroy heavy tanks at long ranges.

However, it’s phenomenal impact led to frantic calls for Tigers to come to the rescue everywhere, and there was reluctance to allow attached units to pull out once they had stabilised the situation. The culminative impact on mechanical availability led to its undeserved reputation as unreliable. Even a T-34 would become unreliable if it was rushed from crisis to crisis and never serviced! 
This period of using the Tiger battalions to crisis manage a collapsing front first started with the withdrawal of Army Group South from Kursk in Sept 1943. The commanders of the 4 Tiger battalions responsible for covering the retreat later complained that their losses were the result of their AFV’s fearsome reputation; they were repeatedly shunted from crisis to crisis, denied the time for maintenance and to carry out simple repairs that made the difference between a runner and having to destroy and abandon an easily repaired vehicle.[4] Many Tigers were temporarily knocked out by enemy action and needed repair – particularly with the Soviet tactic of aiming for the broad target presented by its wide tracks at the frontal aspect. Guderian certainly warned that care had to be taken to only employ Tigers at the decisive point, and to subsequently allow time for repair of the inevitable minor enemy damage that these awesome machines would attract:
The Tiger unit is the most valuable and strongest weapon in a Panzer Division. If it is used as the point unit, it will quickly bring localised success because of its high combat power. However…the Tigers will suffer heavy breakdowns due to mines, hits and terrain obstacles. Therefore they will enter the decisive phase of the battle already greatly depleted.
However, his advice was not followed. The 503rd Heavy Panzer Battalion was ordered to take point for III Panzer Corps’ break-in phase for Operational Citadel at Kursk on 5 July 43, when 9 of its lead company’s 14 runners were disabled by undetected, carelessly plotted German mines. General Breith, commander of III Panzer Corps, felt it necessary, throughout the rest of the war, to continually issue orders that Tigers were to be properly employed and supported, yet these instructions were regularly disobeyed, resulting in breakdowns and abandoned Tigers throughout the defensive retreats that ensued. [5]

I hope we have now properly disposed of the myth that, after the initial teething period, the Tiger was in any way mechanically unreliable if properly serviced. Indeed, the likelihood that minor damage would require time between combats to keep the machines running was not only anticipated, but operational doctrine adjusted accordingly. The trail of abandoned Tigers once the retreats started are not testimony to any inherent mechanical weakness, but to increasing and unforseen, demands placed on this battle winning tank by desperate troops, vivid testimony to its impact on the battlefield.
Returning to our two-for-one formula, were the 1347 Tiger Is produced worth the extra 2,694 Panzer IV’s that might
have been produced instead? Let’s put that equation into context – Pz IV Mark G and H production, contemporaneous with the Tiger I, amounted to 5461 vehicles. Perhaps roughly half as many again could have been produced instead of the Tiger.
But of course, no Tiger – no responses built by the allies -  the T-34-85, the IS series, the ISU and SUs, the M26, the Firefly, the Comet and the Centurion…Just lots and lots more Shermans and T-34-76s rolling off the lines in Detroit and Tankograd 999. And with allied production so streamlined, whilst we are approaching ‘angels dancing on the head of a pin’ territory, I suspect the allied quantitative edge would have been even more marked had neither side diverted into heavies…

Returning to the issue of how historical it is to feature Tigers on our tabletop, it is easy to work out the ratio of Tigers to Panzer IVs. Leaving the Panther out of the equation for now, the 1347 Tiger Is produced represent 20% of the sum of 6808 Tiger Is and Pz IVs Model G and H produced during the Tiger production run. Hardly a tiny fraction! Even without the Tiger regularly starring as a point weapon, either by staff planning or as an emergency ‘fire brigade’, it is entitled by the maths alone to appear in 1 in 5 of our games!
But in combat, was the Tiger worth the alternative of those two Panzer IVs it replaced? Well the German high command certainly thought so….. Let us quote from the briefings given to senior officers likely to lead Tiger battalions -Training Pamphlet (Merkblatten) 47A/30 For the employment of The Tiger Heavy Panzer Battalions issued on 20th May 1943:
a. Purpose, tasks and organisation of the Heavy Panzer Bn.
Its weapons and armour, in combination with its high manoeuvrability, make the Tiger the most powerful combat weapon in the armoured forces. The Tiger battalion is therefore a powerful decisive point weapon…Its strength lies in concentrated, ruthlessly executed attacks…Tiger battalions are independent units. They will be attached to other armoured forces at the decisive point in the battle in order to force a result. They are especially suited to fighting heavy enemy tank forces and must seek this battle. The destruction of enemy tanks creates the conditions for our lighter tanks to carry out their allotted tasks successfully.[6]
But did the formations in the field feel that a Tiger was worth two Panzer IV’s? It is a commonplace hardly worth arguing that Tiger units had a major impact wherever they were deployed. Heavy Tank Battalion 503 was assigned to Army Group Don in Dec 42, and withdrawn in late Feb. In those 2 months it accounted for more than 70 Soviet tanks for a combat loss of 3 Tigers.[7] Similarly the 26 Tigers of the 505th took out 46 of a 50 strong Soviet Tank Bde of T34s and T70s in just a few minutes on July 6, 1943, on the Northern sector of Kursk[8].  So highly valued was the Tiger by units in the field that Guderian had to fend off pleas for small units of Tigers to be shared out to everyone. Grossdeutschland  in March 1943, after its experiences West of Kharkov, requested that 3 to 4 Tigers be issued to each Panzer Battalion, as the Tigers were so useful at breaking up well dug in AT gun positions and forcing enemy armour to take evasive action. The request got short shrift from Guderian:

The proposal to issue 3 or 4 Tigers to every panzer battalion is decisively rejected. The Tiger is a decisive-point weapon within the armoured unit. Dispersing them into the armoured battalions is an idiotic squandering of this valuable equipment.[9]
We have seen that its crew were prepared to put up with its demanding servicing schedule as a payoff for its protection and firepower. Aggressive tactics were also the results of picked crews:
…taking risks to a degree indicating they have the utmost confidence in the vehicle.[10]
Checking out some scratches...Tiger crews were confident in their AFV...
But perhaps the opinion that matters is that of the Tiger’s opponents. The climactic Battle of Kursk as the tipping point of the Eastern Front, and the scene of many massive armoured clashes, is surely familiar to every WW2 wargamer worth his salt. The Soviet leadership saw the key to breaking the German offensive was dealing with Tigers. Nikita Khrushchev, a Lt-General Commissar at the front charged with overseeing the unparalleled defensive preparations, insisted that every soldier know the weakest points of the Tiger ‘better than the features of his own children’! When, after the German retreat from Prokhorovka, the Russians announced victory, their headlines read ‘The Tigers are Burning!’ The Tiger inspired more fear amongst Russian tankers than any of the other German panzers:
After the war, various army commanders stated that they talked about the problem of combating the heavy German tanks, even describing special directives that were issued about how their tank formations were to fight the Tigers with their deadly 8.8cm guns. The energy devoted to this problem was out of all proportion to the actual numbers of tigers available to the panzer divisions for Operation Citadel. Former Bundeswehr General major Dieter Brand  dubbed this condition ‘tiger psychosis’.[11] 
Soviet First Tank Army’s commander, Lt-Gen Katukov, was receiving such alarming reports on the performance of the Tigers to this army’s front, that he obtained permission from Stalin to postphone the entire Russian Voronezh Front’ s post Kursk counterattack[12]. And Stalin was not an easy man to present problems to! The Soviet historiography of the Tiger tank has been affected by the Russian fear of it, leading post war accounts to repeat the overestimation of the numbers present during Operation Citadel. Lt-General Rotmistrov’s accounts of dozens of Tigers being outfought and destroyed by his nimble T-34s, slavishly followed by later writers, are pure fiction, as comprehensively demonstrated by recent scholars such as George M Nipe. For example, Soviet sources claiming the destruction of 70 Tigers in Leibstandarte’s sector on 12th July are problematic as this Division only had 4 operational Tigers at the start of the day![13] The entire II SS Panzer Korps only had 45 Tigers spread between the 3 divisions. These myths have been repeated by post war historians. For example Geoffrey Jukes stated that the II SS Panzer Korps, after their heavy losses at Prokhorovka, only had ‘little more than 350 tanks in operation’. The Corps only started the battle with 352![14]

Once the Second Front opened up in Normandy, It is the stuff of legend that, despite there being only 3 Tiger battalions in this theatre, allied tankers saw them everywhere. And they respected them:

How does a Churchill get a Tiger?
It’s supposed to get within 2 hundred yards and put a shot through the periscope.
Has anyone ever done it?
No.     [15]
As is well known, the only way to take out a Tiger in Normandy was with greater numbers and through manoeuvre. The Firefly in the troop would keep the Tiger busy whilst the Shermans jockeyed around to its flanks. But pretty soon the antidote was worked out by the Tiger crews – never work alone! A second Tiger, or even an assault gun, would lie silent on the flank, so that the flanking Shermans were themselves destroyed by flanking shots.[16] Ultimately, most Tigers in Normandy fell prey to air attack, naval bombardment, or elaborate and lengthy to organise long range, massed Anti-Tank salvoes. The Tiger proved not just a superb aggressor, but a strategically significant defensive weapon too! The French also valued the Tiger – an abandoned Tiger 1 they captured was re-crewed and fought by the 6th Cuirassier Regiment all the way to Germany – hardly worth the logistic strain of a one-off foreign AFV unless it has combat characteristics you value!

Let’s remind ourselves of our two key questions; was the Tiger a waste of resources? is it historically justifiable to have them appear in your wargames regularly? I think we can see that plenty of people in a better position to judge than your average cynical grognard have confirmed the Tiger was both a strategic weapon system that fully justified its production. Clearly it regularly featured at the ‘point of decision’ as planned by Guderian, or at the crisis point, to shore up the front, contrary to planning! So the bottom line is – if your wargame represents a side show, then keep the Tigers caged. But if you prefer to think of your game as representing either a decisive action, or a crisis at the front – and who doesn’t! - then slap those Tiger models down with confidence!

Roger Ford The Tiger tank, Staplehurst, Spellmount, 1998
Heinz Guderian, Panzer Leader, London, Michael Joseph, 1952

Roman Jarymowycz, Tank Tactics From Normandy to Lorraine, Mechanicsburg PA, Stackpole Books., 2009.
George M. Nipe Blood Steel and Myth: The II SS Panzer Korps and the road to Prochorowka, July 1943 Stamford, CT. RZM publishing.

Dennis E Showalter, Hitler’s Panzers: the Lightening attacks that revolutionized warfare, New York, Berkley Caliber, 2009.
Dennis E Showalter, Armor and Blood: the Battle of Kursk New York, Random House, 2013

[1] Heinz Guderian, Panzer Leader, London, Michael Joseph, 1952, p.296
[2] Dennis E Showalter, Hitler’s Panzers: the Lightening attacks that revolutionized warfare, New York, Berkley Caliber, 2009, p.232, quoting a Tiger crewman.
[3] Ibid, p.234.
[4] Ibid, p.279.
[5] Roger Ford The Tiger tank, Staplehurst, Spellmount, 1998, p61.
[6] Ibid, p.56.
[7] Dennis E Showalter, Hitler’s Panzers: the Lightening attacks that revolutionized warfare, New York, Berkley Caliber, 2009, p. 234.
[8] Dennis E Showalter, Armor and Blood: the Battle of Kursk New York, Random House, 2013, p. 84.
[9] Roger Ford The Tiger tank, Staplehurst, Spellmount, 1998, p.60.
[10] First Canadian Army Information Bulletin No.1, 15 Oct 1944, from Roman Jarymowycz, Tank Tactics From Normandy to Lorraine, Mechanicsburg PA, Stackpole Books., 2009.
[11] George M. Nipe, Blood Steel and Myth: The II SS Panzer Korps and the road to Prochorowka, July 1943 Stamford, CT. RZM publishing, p. 8.
[12] Dennis E Showalter, Armor and Blood: the Battle of Kursk New York, Random House, 2013, p.110-111.
[13] Ibid, p. 437.
[14] Ibid, p.434.
[15] Attributed to General Omar Bradley. Roman Jarymowycz, Tank Tactics From Normandy to Lorraine, Mechanicsburg PA, Stackpole Books., 2009, p.273.
[16] Ibid, p.274.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Borodino 202nd - The Grand Redoubt and Fleches

Yesterday was the 202nd anniversary of the climactic Battle of Borodino, fought on the 7th September 1812. Whilst in no way attempting to replicate the scale and intensity of our 200th refight in 2012, I had been hoping to lay on a fairly large game to mark the anniversary, and the planning was started to take shape – until it gradually dawned on everyone that I had blundered!

My fellow Napoleonic stalwarts - L-R Terry, Shannon and Vic.

Whilst ‘Father’s Day’ is viewed in the UK as little more than a cynical marketing ploy, nowhere near on a par with the genuinely non-commercial origins of Mothering Sunday, or ‘Mother’s Day’, I now know that here in Australia it is still regarded as a huge deal! Accordingly the roll of participants steadily declined as the date approached, and I had to cut my cloth accordingly, left with just 4 Napoleonic diehards!

The Fleches in the right foreground, Grand Redoubt top right.

We thus decided to halve the size of the playing area, and quarter the battle order, concentrating the action around the Grand (Raevsky) Redoubt and Fleches.

The Grand Redoubt on the left, the Fleches over on the right.

Terry and Shannon were defending as the doughty Russians, taking charge of the Redoubt and Fleches respectively, each with a Brigade of Infantry, a Brigade of Horse, and 3-5 batteries of guns.

Today, not such a 'Grande' Armee - 4 Bdes of Inf, 3 of Cav...

Vic and myself had to wrest said defences from them, each with two brigades of Infantry, and the roughly the same number of Horse and Guns as the Russians.

The French Command Values were 9 for our 3 Divisional commanders, and 8 for our Brigadiers, whilst the Russians were lower at 8 and 7.

The Grand, or Raevsky, Redoubt.

We stipulated that the hastily constructed Fleches would have a defence value of 1, and the slightly more impressive Grand Redoubt a defence value of 2. We also agreed that any assaults of the defences would count as disordered in the subsequent combat, until such time as they won a round of combat and so had ‘broken in’.
The terrain was cut up - in the foreground the Kolocha river, and beyond the Semenovskaya stream
Each of the streams that criss-crossed the terrain would count as one complete move to cross, and would disorder any charge that involved crossing during that turn. 
The Russians opened the game, to represent the long range artillery fire they would have had as we closed up to our table edges. Whilst the effectiveness of their massed artillery gave me pause for thought, given his later actions, my comrade in arms Vic wasn’t in the least phased by the Russian guns…

He moved his infantry and cavalry up boldly. A bit too bloody boldly for my liking, at this rate he'd either be grabbing all the glory for himself, or leaving me with an open flank! 

Vic the master of all-arms coordination...

However, I needn't have worried, he was careful to  seal off against the Russian reserves and coordinated his orders masterfully, managing to have his infantry to assault the front of the Fleches just as the cavalry struck the flanks.

Vic's leftmost infantry Bde and a Regt of Dragoons cover the Russian centre, whilst his other Dragoons and inf Bde arrive on the objective at the same time! Good - but not good enough to evict the sons of Holy Russia!
Assaulting Russians in defences is not an easy task! As well as the attackers fighting ‘disordered’ as mentioned above, we classified Russian Infantry as ‘stubborn’ troops, something of an understatement for these dogged and tough peasant soldiers.

In Black Powder terms it means they get to reroll a failed save. And as mentioned, the defences of the fleches gave them a +1 to their save. Since Shannon wisely kept them in column that meant that they were saving on ‘2’s even before any reroll!  

Perhaps inevitably therefore, Vic’s aggressive and well planned assault failed to make any headway….so how was I doing against the Redoubt….

Saxon Zastrow Cuirassiers supported by the Lifeguards - a major asset!

My ability to get my infantry to grips with the Redoubt was hampered by the crossing over the stream being covered by 2 Russian horse batteries and an entire Dragoon division.

Whilst I had hoped to reserve my excellent Saxon heavy cavalry for its historical role of taking the Redoubt in a glorious charge around its flanks, clearly, as my only cavalry asset, it would have to first clear the road for my infantry.

Fortunately, my Cuirassiers heavily outclassed the Dragoons, getting 9 combat dice to their 8, and, crucially, saving hits on 3+ instead of 4+.

The Saxon Lifeguard have broken through, leaving the 6eme and Zastrows to finish off the remnants....
Whilst Terry manoeuvred his division very craftily, inevitably my beloved Zastrow Cuirassiers and Saxon Garde de Corps saw off the entire Dragoon division, albeit with the invaluable help of the 6eme Cuirassiers, recently painted for me by my mate Fons of the wonderful Mabuhay Miniature Painting Service.

The initial cavalry breakthrough did not last long, due to some dastardly and thoroughly unsporting Russian close range canister fire - scoundrels and no respecters of fine horseflesh!

All the while my heavy Grand Battery had been engaged in long range counter battery work against the guns in the Redoubt, requiring 6d6 to hit, a laborious process…

However, it did mean that when, eventually, with a clear road to the redoubt open for the infantry, they were able to assault, they did so against a Russian battery disordered by artillery fire!

No disrespect to the stalwart Russian gunners, but we had not extended the ‘Stubborn’ attribute to them, so, even though my troops were also disordered by attacking over the defences, and the gunners were getting a +2 to their saves from the defences, my Infantry managed to break in. Once in of course, the defender’s advantages disappear.

That said, Terry had kept plenty of infantry columns in Reserve, so we decided, with one objective held by the Russians, and one still in the balance, to call it a draw. Honours even, and when fighting Russians in fixed defences, I call that a result!

Next year I will pick a date more wisely, and hope to have a bigger game! As always, thanks to Michelle, Matt and Kym of the Hall of Heroes for their support and hospitality!