Friday, 1 February 2013

First strike at Lutzen!

My mate Doug and I met yesterday for a Napoleonic Wargame, trying our the first of various options for wargaming the Battle of Lutzen, the first major battle of the 1813 Spring Campaign. Lutzen's 200th anniversary is fast approaching and I am hoping to organise a large game. On this occasion however we limited ourselves to recreating Marshal Blucher's opening assaults on that part of Gen. Souham's division defending Gross Gorschen and Rahna...

We recreated that tiny portion of the overall battlefield between Gross Gorschen, foreground above, and Rahna, to the right.

This view looking from the NW of Rahna towards the approaching columns of Blucher's Corps. Nearest the camera, a French Cav bde, opposite which is the Allied Light Cavalry, with a Cuirassier Bde in support off table. Down the line a Russian Inf Bde, in the centre of the Allied Line a Prussian Bde, then a second Russian Inf Bde. In all 13 Allied line Inf Bns and 6 Skirmish units, with 5 Allied Cav regts.

The village of Gross Gorschen. In Black Powder rules, built up areas are represented by nominated blocks, each of which can be occupied by about a Bn of Infantry. For our scenario G-Gorschen was split into 2 such tiles, East and West, each represented by a foot square floor tile. The hamlet of Rahna was represented by a single such tile.

The Allied victory conditions were that they had to capture one such tile for a draw, 2 for a victory, and if all 3 were captured it would be a major victory with tea and medals, probably the Knight's Cross with crossed swords and sticky buns, or whatever...If the Allies called upon the off table Cuirassier Bde, they would forgo one victory point.

Rahna. A veritable bucolic paradise - but not for much longer - some fierce fighting would see this village change hands a few times...

French forces consisted of a Bn garrison in each tile, with a mobile field force of 6 more Inf Bns and a skirmish screen of 3 tiny units, supported by an artillery battery and 2 Cav Regts.
On the actual day, the Allies didn't actually kick off until about 11.30 am - After all, there's no need to rush a good breakfast - which allowed the French plenty of time to recover from their surprise at seeing the Allies materialise to their SE when they thought they were much further to the N around Leipzig - but for our refight, Doug, who, true to his Teutonic heritage, opted to do his bit for the Befreiungskreig, had the option of striking early and getting 3 moves in whilst the French would still be surprised...

The Russian Inf Bde opposite G-Gorschen. Perry on the left, Warlord on the right, all plastic.
The element of surprise, meant that for the first 3 turns the French would be fighting and shooting at a -1 modifier unless already disordered, and command rolls would start at a Minus -3 modifier, easing by one for the next 2 turns to represent staff confusion and disorientation...

The Prussian bde - 3 Regular Bns, a Landwehr Bn, and a Bde skirmish screen consisting of a Fusilier Bn and the Silesian Schutzen with rifles, a 6 Pdr battery in support. Unlike the Russian Brigadiers who had a command value of 7, the Prussian commander has 8.

Above, the second Russian Infantry Bde with supporting battery. For this scenario all guns present were 6 Pdrs, with a max range of 6', effective range of 3', and canister to 18"

The Russian Heavy Cavalry Bde as Corps level support - to bring it on table would require Doug to sacrifice 1 victory point - so he resolved at the outset not to bring it on except as a last resort...Rated as 'Heavy Cavalry +3', in comparison with the single less well mounted and armoured French Dragoon Regiment of 'Heavy Cav +1'.

Actually the reason the Allies delayed so long in attacking the wrong footed Souham was that they spent time deploying a grand battery to shoot in the assaults. This option was available to Doug, but he chose instead to forego the preliminary bombardment and attempt to strike hard and deep whilst the French were still fumbling around in shock - not an obvious choice with the low command ratings some of the Allies were labouring under...

However, despite needing to score 4 or under to get his 2 Russian Bdes to assault the villages in the initial moves, Doug managed to do just that......Here the 1st Bde goes in hard against both halves of G-Gorschen - but not hard enought to break into the village, as despite their -1 handicaps for being surprised, their +2 morale saves for being in hard cover meant the french defenders clung on...

Across the battlefield, exactly the same story unfolded at Rahna, with a bold attack meeting disorganised resistance which was nevertheless able to fend off the fierce assaults...

Feeling confident that the 2 garrisons could just about survive on their own, I decided to attempt to launch counter attacks to attempt to wrest back the initiative, and felt that the Prussian Bde in the centre of the field, if allowed to add its weight to the struggle for either village on the flanks, would be decisive - but first the Allied cavalry would have to be chased from the field to allow my infantry columns to do their stuff...

So with true Hussar style one of the offending Allied cavalry regiments was seen off the premises - however, as in 1813, there were an awful lot more of the beggars to fill the gap....

(Perry plastics in the foreground, trusty Minifigs Russian Hussars in the background and Eureka Cossacks hovering around the edges waiting to pick off any stragglers)
With the allied cavalry temporarily discomfited, the French Infantry counter attack went in, the surprised modifiers being overcome by the personal intervention of Gen. Souham to get things moving:

However, on the French right, disaster struck - The Russian Bde broke into and captured Rahna on its own.

As if that were not enough, trouble
always comes in threes - the rest of the Russian bde overcame the French column's counter attack and now the French centre was wide open...

And the Allied cavalry rallied after the loss of the Hussars and forced the outnumbered French cavalry from the field - all still without the benefit of those superbly mounted Cuirassiers:

It seemed the initiative was wholly with the Allies as Doug's continued struggle to capture the Eastern half of G-Gorschen was reinforced by seemingly endless columns of the horny handed sons of the steppes -

And resulted in success! 2 of 3 tiles were now held by the Allies - and we were now at move 7 of 10!

Despite fierce fighting, and successive Prussian manoeuvering and reorganising, their assaults on the Western half just could not break in:

In another bid to regain the initiative, another French counter attack on Rahna was mounted from my dwindling reserves, but this time without any 'Surprised' penalties:

And met with success - With the game reaching its final quarter the Tricoleur flew over Rahna once again!  However, as Doug started his penultimate move, he went for an all out coordinated assault to capture the rest of G - Gorschen, attacking from 2 directions and shooting the attacks in from across the town....

If good tactics and careful orders deserved to win - he should have succeeded:

And of course he did!


In my final move I launched a desperate attack to attempt to retake G-Gorschen, but without supports my attacks were duly rebuffed.

At games end, Doug's Allies had captured 2 of the tiles, and I held the third, for a well earned Allied victory - the early attack capitalising on French surprise had paid off...

Calpe Miniatures - The finest Prussian 28mm figures!
This was an enjoyable and exciting game, with the result in balance right down to the wire. It really gave the feel of an 1813 Spring campaign game, with the Allies resurgent but the French still having plenty of aggression and fight in them.  It all bodes well for larger scale games later in the year to mark these anniversaries!

'Raise high those Black Flags, Children'!




  1. Marvelous set up and figures; great looking game room to boot! Best, Dean

  2. Wonderful looking setup and very thorough report. Sounds like a great game and a lot of fun.

  3. Looks great Ralph! Sounds like fun...I would love to be a part of the game in May....

  4. Thanks gents! WP - You're on!

  5. Fantastic pictures Sparker!
    The table, the buildings, the figures, all is great!

  6. What a fantastic looking game Sparker! Great work.

  7. You two are clearly really enjoying this! All looks brill! Great battle to refight, we tackled it last year - took weeks!!! Keep posts like this coming thick and fast please, be good,

  8. That looks amazing! Thanks for posting.

  9. Fantastic setup and a nice report. Always a pleasure to stop by.

    Obviously there was no Landwehr early in 1813, but that's just nitpicking.

  10. Brilliant battle report, everything looks great, loads of inspiration!

  11. First class Sparker, those Calpe chaps are the business when it comes to 28s.

  12. Well thank you all for your kind comments!

    Major Faux Pas with the Landwehr, thanks for the correction, but even had I known I don't think I have enough Prussians - yet - to be too picky!

  13. A great report Mr Sparkles. More please! 8O)

    von Peter himself

    1. Thanks your Vonship! More Please? Well, that depends...I can't keep writing up defeats...I shall either have to win one or get rather creative...

  14. Sparker again you have done it right and well mate :-))))
    what size is the table mine is 9'x5' and was thinking the 1 foot terrain areas would dominate the table space???

    1. Thanks mate! Table size is 12 foot by 5.5 foot...Yes its a tough call - you've got to have sufficient town to make the fight an urban nature, but also you need space to manoever around to try and assualt from at least 2 angles to make it interesting...This seemed to work well...

  15. wuao I'm really impressed with this post, magnificent

    blog for my best blogs!

  16. Wonderful to hear that you fellas are planning another big bicentennial bash Sparker. You have really whet our appetites with just this small section of the battle/game. Great report!

  17. Excellant looking game and other games you have placed up on your blog....very very nice. All the best


  18. Sparker can you let me know what your oob was like and general ratings please. thanks Peter

    1. To be honest it was a bit of a scratch game, I was just using what Allied troops I had available to represent Blucher's Corps. Stats were standard BP, as Doug is not too familiar with rules so I didn't want to complicate things. The main difference was in the 'Surprised' issue and the command values. Prussian LW were raw, so morale saves on a 5+, and 'Unreliable'.

  19. thanks mate do you use basic general ratings or add in all the aggression/decisiveness etc - i find that aspect looks great on paper but doesnt game too well