Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Black Powder - 1814 Encounter Battle

Over the Easter long weekend the long haired Brigadier was in the throes of dissertation writing for her Masters, so I was free to wargame to my heart's content, with just the odd break for chocolates or hot cross buns!
What with the advent of Team Yankee, the Agincourt and Alesia projects, its been a long time since I've played Black Powder, and with our Wagram 2017 mega game not so far away it was time I got back to the basics of wargaming, which for me will always be the later Napoleonic period.

I hadn't had too much time to prepare a scenario, but just wanted a fairly equal encounter battle - whilst I believe that in reality two exactly equal armies arranging a meeting to 'have at it' disappeared along with fair maidens and St George, it seem to be all the rage with wargamers these days - bewildered and lost without a carefully balanced points system!

So I pulled out a couple of infantry brigades and a couple of cavalry brigades of French and Prussians. By 1814 I reckon most Landwehr battalions were just as good as the regulars, and not much to choose in troop quality between the French and Prussians. Whilst to reflect the French dash they would retain their plus one orders bonus when in column, and the Prussian advanced all-arms C2 would be reflected by their commanders able to give orders to each other's units. Other than that, a suitably PC equal opportunity encounter battle, with the terrain not giving either side a particular advantage.

Above - the Prussian view of the landscape - they are just short of a small village with a wooded area covering their left flank. A small rise lies to the front. The far right is covered by a couple of orchards.

The view from the French perspective. A large wood also covers their left flank, and their right is covered by a farm complex. The high plateau beyond is no man's land!

The French won the toss to kick off, the infantry and made best speed to get up onto the plateau, whilst the Light Brigade attempted to gain the defile through the woods...

Unfortunately for the Prussians, their left flanking infantry Bde made a bit of a hash working their way through the woods, but, having started in march column, they still got one move despite failing the command roll.

Over on the right things went more smoothly, and it looked as if the Prussians would debouch onto the plateau first, with the Uhlans able to cover the exit from the woods on the far right...

However by dint of a desperate 'Follow Me' order to the faithful Polish Lancers, the French Light Cavalry commander was able to emerge from the woods and get into position to cover off the rest of the army wending its way through the defile...

The French infantry was not making such brilliant progress though - once they reached the safety of the dead ground immediately below the plateau, they seemed strangely reluctant to continue up into the Prussian gunner's field of fire...

However the Prussian infantry in the woods was still in a muddle - the Landwehr were marching and counter marching...

But at least a couple of regular battalions were able to clear the woods and provide support to the guns!

To seize the initiative, the Prussian cavalry commanders charged home on the French Cavalry emerging from the woods before they had time to deploy properly from the narrow defile...resulting in the removal of a complete light cavalry brigade from the French Orbat, at the cost of a Prussian Dragoon regiment temporarily hors de combat

Meanwhile, the French Army Commander gave the recalcitrant infantry sheltering in the dead ground below the plateau an old fashioned 'harangue whilst fully booted' and, suitably motivated, this leading French brigade moved quick smart across the plateau in the hope of catching the Prussians in front of the woods before their hopelessly lost Landwehr battalions caught up to them.

Unwilling to allow the Uhlans all the glory on the Prussian right flank, the adjacent Prussian Infantry Brigade commander put himself at the head of his lead battalion and bade it 'Follow Me!' into the flank of the leading French battalion.

However, unlucky combat die rolls did not reward his audacious move, and the French battalion was able to reform, albeit only in line, whilst its sister battalions crashed into the remaining Prussians in true French columnar style!

In the second round of combat the Prussians finally prevailed over the French in line, but at the same time the French columns made short work of the leading battalions of the disjointed Prussian left flank brigade.

Meanwhile, Voltigeurs and Fusiliers were duly keeping up 'la petite guerre', the French lining their woods and sniping at the Uhlans....

And the Prussian Fusiliers held their own woods whilst the Landwehr decided which direction the gunfire was coming from...

The second French Brigade had been brought up by the energetic French Army commander...

Just as the Prussian Commander, despairing of his left flanking brigade, and confident that his cavalry had the forest defiles all sewn up, had sent his right flanking brigade across pending the long marching Landwehr...the battalions were fed in almost one after another...

Leading to a true battle royal - an unseemly scrum, as the French sought to keep the original battalions bottled up in their woods, whilst seeing off the visitors from across the table!

In this most bloody of combats, battalions were routed almost equally on both sides!

Now you remember our long suffering, long marching Landwehr battalions? Well by dint of a series of Blunder orders, they had ended up nearer the village than the woods, so their commander bowed to the inevitable and had decided that their quickest route into combat was probably to march through and out of the village down the centre of the table...

Well he was right in a way - on emerging from the village in march column, they immediately fell prey to the French Dragoon brigade which had been loitering with intent...it wasn't pretty!

Emboldened, the Dragoons exploited their success and cleared the centre of the field.

As this was turn 8, dusk immediately turned into darkness, and the curtain fell on a great weekend's wargaming!


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  2. Great game, great looking table and miniatures! Enjoyed reading this!

  3. Great looking game Sparker - about time the Napoleonic's made it out again :^) Always an entertaining read and visual feast!

  4. A post most excellent my Dearest Sparkles ... though we may need to work on a few of those latter sentences about French dragoons etc! 8O)

    A good looking game as always. Give that man a brandy .. or rum ... ... oh what the hell, give that man a brandy and a rum! 8O))

    von Peter himself

    1. Thanks for the kind words your vonship! Down the hatch!

  5. Once again a great report.
    We could ALMOST give the Landwehr a motto of "Ubique" after their long march.

    1. Thanks Baz! Yes I've not known a unit get so many bad command rolls in succession...

  6. What spectacular table and great looking pair of armies. I enjoyed your report. I would have been happy just have watched that game.

  7. Sparker we are back to the jewel in the crown NAPOLEONICS no offense meant to others
    Brilliant as ever -En avant mon Ami
    I hope no toy soldiers were hurt in the making of that battle :-)

    1. Thanks Peter! Yes its been a while since I've pushed any Naps around - it felt good!

  8. As eyecandy Napoleonics puts Team Yankee era to shame IMHO. Your collection is really well done. Good to see the French win!
    Excellent game report.

    1. Thanks Joseph! Yes I tend to agree - much as I love TY, my photography is less challenged by 28mm toys!