Sunday, 5 November 2017

Black Powder - Wagram Practice!

Today we had our first practice game for our Battle of Wagram mega-game project, planned to be fought over a weekend late in 2018...I first blogged about the concept of the project and called for volunteers here: Wagram - Call for Volunteers

I was very lucky and privileged in that well over a dozen wargamers from all over Australia responded to my megalomaniacal call for a massive game. But as you can imagine, few are going to travel inter-state for a mere practice game - so today it was simply, L-R: Victor, Philip, Terry, Vic, Caesar and Alejandro.

For a practice game I merely asked for a single 12 x 6 table, so we fudged a representative part of the Marchfeld and plateau, bordered by the Russbach brook, with Baumersdorf in the centre, today only represented by a single building. On the day the table will be 3 times this size, and dotted with far more impressive villages!

We have been struggling to paint up sufficient numbers of Austrians, and we are still well behind the curve. But I was still impressed with the size of the Austro-Hungarian army's infantry component we were able to assemble so far- six infantry brigades of 4 large Infantry Regiments :

We also had 6 Regiments of Cavalry in reserve off table - unfortunately they did not deploy in this game. Amongst us we have unlimited numbers of French models, but for today, to give the French something of a challenge, they had a mere 4 brigades of infantry. However they had all their reserve cavalry either on table or in reserve - 2 light regiments, 8 Cuirassier Regiments, and 2 Dragoon Regiments!

Just the first Division of Cuirassiers!
This mass of French Cavalry were all Terry's to command for the day, and he made the most of the opportunity, even if his arms weren't always long enough!

I was rather vague about the scenario - On the whole, the French were encouraged to try and push the Austrians off their plateau...I just wanted plenty of action in order to thoroughly play test the new rules that have been recently published in the latest Black Powder supplement, Clash of Eagles and give us all some data to mull over. Whilst the supplement addresses the 1812 campaign, it gives comprehensive rules and stats for Austrians, and we wanted to assess which of these we would adopt for our game. As it turns out, they are all well thought out and useful, but we will need to select carefully in order not to slow our huge game down too much.

Alejandro and his son Victor - these guys held the Austrian centre...
These were the rules we would check out for the Austrian army, which for us is characterised by well trained and brave Regiments...

A large Regiment in Division Mass - Has no flanks or rear, but can still move...
with a charismatic and brave leader in Archduke Charles, but with a slow and undistinguished middle command tier at the Brigade and Divisional level:
Some of the new rule supplements apply to all armies and easily and quickly give a much more Napoleonic feel...

and remove some of the room for interpretation so beloved of rules lawyers:

There are also some interesting new rules that make cavalry much more interesting:

As it happened in the excitement we only tried the Cavalry Deep Formation, but it worked really well for the French, and allowed much more involvement on a crowded battlefield:

So to the game itself, and how we found these new rules. Naturally Vic, on the far left, made full use of the excellent French C2, certainly compared to the Austrians, to move his infantry division right up close and personal without bothering with too much in the way of preliminary bombardment or skirmishing:

Whereas Philip, in the French centre, put in a virtuoso performance of sending in the voltigeurs and artillery to soften up Baumersdorf before any thought of an assault:

On my flank over on the right, Terry had command of the French cavalry, only about half of which was on table. But it was enough - he didn't muck around either!

The effect of the Russbach brook, by the way, was only to disorder any actual charge moves made across it. Terry took that risk, and, because my infantry was in Division Mass instead of square, could make his cavalry charge home,  rather than having to bounce back.

But was this a good thing? At this stage neither of us knew!

As is usual with Black Powder, pretty soon we were in action right along the table...

And we soon found that the large Austrian infantry units, with the benefit of their extra Flintenkartasch fifth dice...

were bouncing the French columns back most of the time.

Philip soon managed to take Baumersdorf, as his combined arms tactics deserved, but otherwise the Austrian line, with our big units, was holding pretty well against the outnumbered French:

However, against Terry's Cuirassiers, it wasn't quite so easy to hold the line!

And gaps soon started to appear!

Which allowed him to launch well ordered attacks from the right side of the brook...

After a few blunders, the French Reserve cavalry hove into view...

But look in vain for pictures of the lovely Austro-Hungarian cavalry, because our poor command ratings left it all well out of battle!

No, instead my infantry had to withstand successive heavy cavalry charges! With the new rules, they were able to stand for the duration of this short game, but probably wouldn't have lasted too many more moves!

So now we will all ponder how the new rules worked, how they will affect our scenario, and which to adopt. Given that the Austrians were in a pre-positioned, static defence, their C2 shortcomings weren't as much of a problem as I had feared, and it was the French team who were up against it in this scenario, and they did well to challenge us the way they did!

You can almost hear the cogs turning...
But for the big 2 day game, it may be more of a factor!


  1. What impressively painted miniatures.

    1. Thanks Pete - well you know how it is painting acres of Austrian white!

  2. You do do it in style:-)
    really nice.

    1. Most kind as always Norm - the support is appreciated!

  3. Most impressive pictures of a most impressive battle!

  4. Awesome looking game- love the cuirassiers!

    1. Thanks so much John - Yes Philip enjoyed getting his mass collection out, and I contributed a couple of Regiments - not often you see them en masse, the way God meant them to be deployed!

  5. Great account of the battle and nice photos. Well done, mate!

    1. Thanks Alejandro, glad you enjoyed the game, I hope Victor did too - well played the both of you!

    2. Yes, he did. He was very happy that we could hold the center so well.
      We thought that the command rating could be improve to 8 for the brigadiers, and Victor agrees with me. The fact that they have limited abilities. ( move one battalion at the time, initiative been so limited, etc) it makes the army hard to play with. What do you think? (send me an email to discuss this subject, if you like). Cheers

  6. Impressive stuff and actually true to the battle itself with the French battering the line until it buckled and then broke.

  7. Thanks George - yes I don't think it would have held, in my sector at least, for many more moves!

  8. Impressive amount of figures and nice work on the painting.
    I liked the run down of the Clash of Eagles additions as well.