Friday, August 29, 2008

The Recovery

Hello all! I’ve recovered enough to return to the coal-face. Some hot baths and showers loosened off the strained muscle, which some low-effort activity kept from seizing up. It still gets stiff again each morning from me lying in bed, but I’m mostly back to normal – just in time to get back to work as normal, with the weekend wasted. Ah well… A big thanks to all who posted their best wishes, which was a lovely surprise and cheered me up no end!

I can report developments on the wargaming campaign front. I’ve managed to complete my game of the latest battle, which I’ve posted below. Improving on my previous posts, I’m publishing these ones ‘back to front’ so you can read about the battle in the much more natural top-to-bottom order. Enjoy!

The Battle of Althirschburg

The Luftberg army deployed in linear style, on a ridgeline a short distance from the main road, with open plains in front of it. It was now bolstered by additional allied forces - a brigade of Beerstein Infantry; the General Reich Graf James Louis von Beerstein; and the artillerist Major Ungaurn of the Duchy of Frankszonia. A further brigade of Cavalry under Gen Ludwig third Baron of Brewski was not present on the field, but kept as a strategic reserve to ensure that if defeat was the outcome, the bridgehead over the Rhine would not be lost to a rapid Aschenbach advance.

The Aschenbach army, fresh from it’s victory at Flussburg, attacked in classic ‘Frederickian’ style – it partially orbited the Luftberg position, screening it’s movements behind a large forest, before emerging from the trees to roll up the Luftberg line.
The approach map (with battlefield grid pencilled on!)
The Aschenbach army rolls out of the woods and deploys
At least, this was the intention. As soon as the bluecoat columns emerged from the tree-line, it became clear that their weakened cavalry could not protect both flanks. Gathered into a single attacking ‘fist’ under General von Kleintrink, it had wound up on the trailing right flank of the Aschenbach army rather than it’s leading left. This error in deployment caused terrible problems which were not anticipated on the approach!

Faced with the Luftberg right wing cavalry under General La Spezia (which included the dreaded Schrodinger Cuirassiers KR2), the Aschenbach infantry couldn’t risk being charged down in column and had to deploy early into line, which cut the speed of their advance and permitted the Luftberg army time to rush northwards to form a new line.

Luftberg troops march rapidly to new positions

Von Grumble’s IR3 had to turn to refuse the Aschenbach left and withstood several charges to it’s front and flank. Schrodinger’s Cuirassiers were mauled by the musketry and repeated repulses, but von Grumble was now unable to attack the Luftberg flank as originally intended, reduced to a battered and immobile mass.
Von Grumble faces off on the Aschenbach flank

Unable to press along a narrow front on the flank, the new Luftberg and Aschenbach lines rushed to deploy against each other in the open plain before the hills, which meant the battle resembled a ‘meeting engagement’ where each side’s plan had failed – Luftberg had lost it’s solid defensive position, while the Aschenbach attack had sprawled out into a longer line than intended.

The forces close on each other

General von Kleintrink was certainly not inactive, rushing forward to try and slow the Luftberg response to the attack. He was forced to confront the Luftberg cavalry on their left wing first however, and each side launched several charges and counter-charges. Von Kleintrink was seemingly a man possessed, throwing safety to the wind over and over again to inspire his troopers on. Finally it paid off, and he led Von Schnitzel’s Cuirassiers (C1) as they repelled several attacks from the enemy horse before launching a furious charge that swept away both the Cuirassiers and Dragoons of Haas & Krauss’ regiments. While he was reforming his command however, the Luftberg heir Conrad von Hentsch had turned his adjacent infantry regiment of Negrelli (IR4) to face the horsemen, and they poured a destructive fire into the flank of the recently triumphant Cuirassiers.

Kleintrink's first approach to combat

After the charge, with the blown horsemen being hit in the flank by Negrelli (visible in the background)

The main infantry lines now closed on each other, and although the Luftberg line was stretched thin with no reserves, the delayed progress of the Aschenbach flanks allowed them to adopt a slightly concave line and concentrate fire on the approaching bluecoats. The Major Ungaurn proved his skills as the advancing IR6 von Rechnung found itself being battered by cannon-fire of unerring accuracy. Perhaps they’d simply given too much in the preceding battle at Flussburg, but their attack lacked the fire of before as Ungaurn’s guns and O’Brien’s (IR3) spirited charge battered them down to a stand-off.

The main infantry battle (Major Ungaurn in the front foreground)

More critical was the advance of the Hirschburger grenadiers on Von Rechnung’s flank. The regiment bore down on the opposing Beerstein regiment, and the Elector von Luftberg had a moment’s panic about how they would resist this assault. In the event however, the Hirschburger advance was undermined by the Aschenbach fusiliers on their flank – unexpectedly charged by Radetzky’s IR1and unwisely allowing the Regent von Krumper to interfere with his advice [ie, they used his command dice to reroll a so-so combat dice, only to get a disastrous reroll], they were disastrously scattered. The Hirschburgers were battered by artillery on their slow approach, had concentrated fire from the flanks as Radetzky angled inwards, plus the Beerstein infantry blazed away to their front. Although the doughty grenadiers still pushed to close combat with the Beersteiners, they were too weakened to break through and finally collapsed in the face of canister fire from the Luftberg guns.

The Beersteiners have their moment of crisis

The Aschenbach advance was winding down and collapsing, with no prospect of the desired breakthrough and many regiments reduced to battered remnants. As the Grenadiers were lost, Von Rechnung’s IR6 found itself in danger of a double envelopment and fell back.

The last furious effort came from (who else?) General Von Kleintrink, who threw his reserve of hussars at the infantry of Negrelli for some revenge on the regiment that had so mauled his horsemen. Leading Negrelli’s men in the fight was Conrad von Hentsch himself, who was in the thick of the fighting. The hussars charged and were scattered, with von Kleintrink once more proving himself indestructible. Such good fortune did not accompany von Hentsch however, who became a casualty as a bullet from some Hussar’s carbine found him in the middle of the fray.

"Victory, thy caress is bittersweet... I mean, I think I'm dying - get a doctor!"

Thoughts on Althirschburg

So, a victory for Luftberg to go alongside Vogelhof and avenge the failure outside Flussburg! Quite an achievement too, as the Aschenbach army was depleted far past the point where it could fight another battle this campaign.

Aschenbach really had their plan collapse through having no cavalry on their attacking wing. It sounds obvious, but I’d never quite realised before now how important cavalry is in delivering a speedy attack, protecting your own troops as they march as well as protecting their flank. As it turned out, Luftberg were able to respond fast enough to form a new line and defeat the attack. Just as at Vogelhof, the Aschenbach army’s failure – or at least a lot of it’s problems – can be largely attributed to it’s pre-battle deployment.

The Luftberg army did perform quite well, and a bit of this was down to the rules and the Elector’s command dice – he rolled remarkably well, typically getting just as many as his opponent did, which is lucky of him. Plus, on a practical note on improving ‘gamesmanship’ I’ve learned that Luftberg command dice need to be lavished on control activation, and not hoarded for possible combat rerolls.

As for leaders, General Reich Graf James Louis von Beerstein and Major Ungaurn both proved themselves capable performers, which sounds like mild praise but it definitely puts them above the average for Luftberg sub-commanders! (And the Beerstein Infantry of course were excellent in holding off the Hirschburger grenadiers long enough to let them and their neighbouring units shoot them down.) As for the notable casualty of the day, the fate of Conrad von Hentsch (potential heir to Luftberg, illegitimate son of the Elector, scion of a powerful family, most talented commander in the Luftberg army, etc.) is still to be decided. He’s become a casualty on the day, but I’ve not yet worked up the nerve to decide his ultimate fate by a dice roll. For now, the surgeons are at work and shall report back shortly…

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A slight delay...

Apologies everybody who has been waiting for the battle report, but there's been a slight delay - I'm not well enough to fight it! After getting food poisoning the other week (not much fun) I struggled through work long enough to reach the weekend, then promptly managed to pull a muscle and/or trap a nerve in my left shoulder, just next to the neck. I'm fine if I'm lying down, but can't turn my head, hold it for long unsupported, and certainly can't lean over a battlefield of 15mm figures! With a bit of a rest it should go away, but for the time being I'm not able to do anything for the blog - normal service will be resumed shortly!


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Campaign Climax Approaches

Could the end be in sight for the battle-ravaged province of the von Zaubs? The campaign year is nearing it's end, plus the forces are dwindling, so it looks like each side can only realistically push for one more battle.

Luftberg was recently defeated at Flussburg, but due to the Aschenbach army's forced march and surprise attack, this was never really going to be a close-run thing. The force left at Flussburg was quite small, but nonetheless managed to batter down enemy strength that little bit further - Aschenbach's IR6 won't be able to take any major role in the final battle without serious risk!

Overall, the strategic situation is pretty good for Luftberg - it's army is larger, and can fight on the defensive as even remaining stationary will get it a major victory. The defeat at Flussburg only cost the Elector a 'Decisive' result, so a 'Major' victory is still pretty good going!

Aschenbach can muster itself for one last battle, as there is no real room left for raiding or maneuvering around supply lines. If Luftberg can tough it out, the result for them will be a campaign victory. If not, then there's even the possibility of the river crossings being overrun in the retreat and a major defeat resulting. The next battle will be decisive anyway with the most riding on it since Vogelhof, three months' earlier.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Small skirmish near Flussburg – not many hurt.

From the Chevalier du Reproche
Adjutant to the Elector von Luftberg (Currently on campaign)

Following minor skirmishing near the city of Flussburg, the Elector has decided, in his sure-handed direction of the war, to terminate siege works against the city. Due to the changing situation, the backwater city has been pronounced a strategic irrelevancy and “an eyesore” by the monarch, who nonetheless extends his gratitude to the men of the Luftberg army who spent the last month digging trenches round this idle hamlet.

The Elector has expressed his wish to reassure the army that the campaign proceeds well. With the glorious victory of Vogelhof to our credit, and the continuing Luftberg military presence west of the Rhine, the war effort is still heading for a Luftberg victory. Waverers are reminded that no great army ever triumphed in a war without at least one small setback, and are ordered to take heart immediately at these inspiring words.

The elector has also recently had it brought to his attention that his valued subordinate, the General Van Der Dijk, is being referred to by the troops in the most unflattering terms – specifically, his recent nickname ‘the anvil’ on account of him being beaten so often. This is to be stopped immediately – upon his return from captivity. Troops are further reminded that the renowned Major Ungaurn is en route from the Duchy of Frankszonia, where his contribution shall no doubt help ensure that our defensive arrangements are in top order.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Pictures from Flussburg

In a well-executed manouver, von Krumper watches his infantry columns ford the stream and then smoothly deploy into line

On the lower slopes, the Luftberg infantry meets the enemy advance for some close-range volleys

It's no use! The Aschenbach line pushes on up the hill, heading for the summit

Bartok's IR9 makes it's heroic stand, to try and stem the blue tide

Aschenbach cuirassiers descend from behind, and General Van Der Dijk is unhorsed

Post-battle, the Feldmarschall von Krumper rides onto the hill and past the regiments parading on the scene of their victory.

Friday, August 15, 2008

News from the front

The following dispatch has recently been issued from the Aschenbach army camp, and is reprinted here for information. Please note that the blog author takes no responsibility for the bias displayed herein, all opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the blog, etc, etc.

From the Rittmeister von Kritter,
Adjutant to his royal highness, the Kronprinzregent Feldmarschall Gerdt von Krumper of Aschenbach.

The kingdom of Aschenbach rejoices at news from the Prinzregent of his latest battlefield triumph. The indomitable force of Aschenbach arms triumphs once again!

The leadership of the regent von Krumper has once more resulted in the white-coated lackeys of the Elector von Luftberg being driven from the field in confusion, and this time within cannon-shot of the walls of the city of Flussburg, no less.

Battle was joined s few days ago, when the teeming hordes of Luftberg marauders despicably fell back and deployed for battle behind a small stream. Masked by the cavalry under the famous Graf Erich von Kleintrink, the general von Krumper swiftly crossed this obstacle under the very noses of the enemy guns and swiftly deployed his infantry with well-drilled precision, in what was hailed by all as a masterpiece of manoeuvre and resolution. Even ferocious cannon-fire from the enemy guns could not daunt the heroic infantry of IR6 von Rechnung, who swept on side-by-side with the indomitable Hirschburger grenadiers.

On approaching the enemy infantry on the slopes above them, the Luftberg hirelings attempted bravely but ineptly to come to grips with our soldiers, but the superior fire and discipline of our men swiftly proved itself. The remainder of the Pilsen grenadiers were shot down by von Rechnung’s men, and the Hirschburgers similarly triumphed in a sharp musketry exchange before driving their opponents off the hill at bayonet point.

As this feat of arms took place, General von Kleintrink’s gallant horsemen swept aside their rivals and the cuirassiers of KR1 von Schnitzel swept into the enemy rear, riding down and capturing that notorious scoundrel General Van Der Dijk who was the commander of the enemy force.

In the end, the enemy’s strongest force was the Bartok infantry regiment IR9, who made a heroic last stand and even managed to temporarily hold off both von Rechnung’s infantry to their front and von Schnitzel’s cuirassiers to their rear. Such heroism surely deserved better leadership, but it was all for naught as the Hirschburgers swiftly turned their flank and cut them down with a final volley.

The triumph is complete. The Aschenbach soldiery has proved itself the equal of it’s forebears at Neukatzberg, and added to the honour of their flags. The city of Flussburg is safe once more! Church bells are to be rung in celebration by all right-thinking people (Right-thinking people without access to church bells are ordered by his highness to at least bang some pots together, or something.)

Artistic engravings of the triumph are to be issued shortly!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Pre-battle map movement

I’ve always felt that perhaps I’m limiting the armies too much because of my restricted tabletop space. Head to head fighting is fine, but spectacular pre-battle manoeuvres in the style of Leuthen and Zorndorf is simply a no-no. So, for a while I was kicking around with a random generator I’d put together on Excel – pretty straightforward, but I thought a little pre-battle movement would be worth it.

Anyway, this was greatly helped for the upcoming battle at Flussburg when I joined the Old School Wargaming yahoo group and discovered the file ‘CoWar’ which is available there, and generates nice little random hex-maps. I don’t think I’ve quite got the hang of it, but I was able to quickly print out one for the approach to Flussburg. The armies were represented with some old 2mm figures I had available (even in the appropriate blue and while colours!) I’ve not developed any system much beyond some nominal movement rates for infantry and cavalry, improved or worsened by roads and terrain.

The map and movements of each force (the fortress of Flussburg has simply been drawn on the map)

General van der Dijk was deployed in some trenches around the city, but began to back away as the larger Aschenbach force approached and threatened to roll up his line. I’d weighed him down with some appropriate baggage from the siege, and this slowed him from a full escape. He did however manage to reach a hilly area, and get a stream mostly between him and the pursuing bluecoat infantry. Perhaps he will indeed manage to put up a spirited defence, and even get some lucky dice rolls in against some good-quality enemy units.

Deployment for the battle of Flussburg

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Preparations for battle

As another battle is no doubt in the offing, it’s probably wise to take stock of the strategic situation. The Feldmarschall von Krumper has led his (surviving) loyal Aschenbachers southwards, which was probably a good move for him. Fighting a battle outside the capital of Flussburg would have likely seen him meet with disaster, and ended the campaign. Moving south and closer to his supply depot also rendered the efforts of the Luftberg hussars quite fruitless, as they could no longer raid his supply carts as they trundled along a single viable road. As the Luftberg army devoted several weeks to marching on Flussburg and starting it’s siege, the delay gave von Krumper some time to ponder his next move without a pursuit on his back.

Sitting tight in the central southern region, von Krumper dug in and created a good defensive position for himself, one decent march away from the bridges across the Rhine. Cutting supply lines was, by this point, the only decent way of causing attrition losses to either side. Aschenbach was always poor at raiding, but now Luftberg’s armies are significantly degraded at it – virtually all of their losses in horses have been taken out of the poor hussars, so remounts could keep the battlefield cavalry at top strength.

As the siege dragged on, the isolated detatchment under General van der Dijk became more and more of a tempting target. Not able to quickly move his infantry, von Krumper decided on a raiding force consisting of the Aschenbach army’s cavalry – under General von Kleintrink – to hit them out of the blue. I initially intended this to be a straightforward cavalry skirmish battle, but the remaining Luftberg hussars proved to be so weak that it would have been impossibly one-sided. Using the M&R campaign rules to resolve minor skirmishes, the remaining hussars were scattered (van der Dijk rolled to see what his fate was, and managed to escape – curses!)

The Luftberg army has so far remained in one big formation, but it looks that will now have to change. Sitting tight in one mass at Flussburg is risky, as the river crossings would then be undefended and disastrous losses would follow as the Aschenbach army cut the supply lines. Likewise, abandoning the siege is impossible at this point as the campaign is half-over, so breaking it off and resuming later would probably be too late to secure the capital. The best option (or rather, the least-bad option) is to move the main army back to a central position and wait, leaving as small a force as possible to continue the siege. This lets the Luftberg army play to it’s main strength, which is that it can be on the defensive. Although it’s their invasion they are now strategically in a defensive posture. They have bagged a field victory (one of three objectives,) hold the river crossings (two of three objectives,) and will soon have the besieged capital in their hands (three of three objectives – handing them a major victory!)

Aschenbach have indeed got to do all the running now. With this, von Krumper has now hit upon an idea – or rather, I was reminded of this as I flipped through the rulebook one evening – a forced march. Quickly perceiving the siege was coming to an end as an attempted assault failed, von Krumper marched his men to exhaustion to descend on the besieging force, catching it before it could disengage. The battle at Flussburg is about to begin…

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Mini Miniatures

I've also found time to advance my 6mm painting, although I've found myself increasingly drawn back to my 15mm figures recently. I was intending to do all the regiments separately as little mini-projects, until I realised that would take a ridiculous amount of time. So, as you'll see from the photos, I've decided to do the lot in a single batch.

They look pretty impressive in a large group, I have to say...

Most are at the 'undercoat and basecoat' stage, but I did manage to completely finish and varnish one other regiment before I adopted the mass approach. Here's one of the grenadier regiments, in some close-ups.

They're not based yet, so remain still glued to their sticks.

Here's a better view of them from behind, showing the cloth rears of their mitre hats, plus equipment satchels etc.

The painting uniform scheme, incidentally, is for IR6 - Frederick's Grenadier Garde.

A close-up of some troops and the command party. I've decided against mounted officers and even flags for the grenadiers. Most were converged battalions made from companies drawn off several regiments, so the manufacturer (Baccus) hasn't modelled a colour-party as per the line regiments.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Busy at the table

I've been buffing up some of my 15mm units, as the campaign develops. The units were painted some time ago, and as all my painting energies are currently on 6mm (details to follow on another post) I'm keeping the 15mm work to a minimum. However, I'm planning to do up some regimental flags, etc. over the next while. Above is Schrodinger's KR2 regiment, now with it's blue coat facings and even a small blue cockade in their tricornes.
Other uniform changes of note are the Aschenbach Foot Guards IR1, which (following the switch to 8-man units prior to Vogelhof) are now represented by grenadier figures rather than tricorne-wearing regular musketeers. Not that the promotion did them much good though, at Vogelhof.
I'll post shortly on my 6mm progress, on a slight refinement I'm making to the tabletop battles - one surely seems imminent - and one post giving a general commentary on how the campaign is developing.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Latest news for Luftberg

The duchy of Zaub is getting chewed over yet further, with the campaign moving into early june and the roughly half-way mark. The Elector von Luftberg has marched his army up the road from the field of Vogelhof (the scene of his recent triumph) and arrived at the capital Flussburg. Finding the gates shut, the garrison hostile, and polite inducements to surrender rebuffed, there was no option but to settle down and get digging.

The rival Aschenbach army had taken off southwards to recuperate, leaving most officers in the army to sit idle in their tents while their men dug parallel trenches around the walls and the artillery set up their batteries. The fortifications are not especially formidable, and some patience should soon see results. In the meantime, some more time has to be killed. Regiments are off drilling, and the Elector decided to hand out some awards to raise morale.

One regiment that distinguished itself at Vogelhof was Schrodinger's Cuirassiers (KR2), who routed a regiment of Aschenbach dragoons and charged into the Vogelwasser stream to destroy the enemy's foot guards regiment. Such a triumph deserves commemoration, and so approval has been given to alter the regiment's uniform and have blue coat facings - a fitting reminder to the troopers of their success in the water, thus inspiring them to emulate this bravery at a later date.

Sadly, such cheerful tidings were offset by bad news from the south. The General van der Dijk sent news the Aschenbach army had set up a fortified camp to the south of the main road, within easy striking distance of both the siege lines around the capital and the bridge over the Rhine. This was serious, and had the elector preparing orders to leave a healthy detachment to prosecute the siege while the bulk of the army moved south to counter this menace.

Things rapidly worsened with an unexpected arrival at the camp a few days later: General van der Dijk himself, uniform splattered with mud, and some awkward explanations of how his command had been wiped out. It seems that the two hussar regiments he had set out with had been depleted greatly by losses, desertion and raiding, only for the cavalry of the Aschenbach army to then appear under the devious Erich von Kleintrink and rout his sorry remainder. The general protested he had only just escaped with his life, which seemed to just buy him a reprieve. Told to take over the unglamorous digging works of the siege, the Elector ordered up the majority of the army for himself and marched southwards to conclude his campaign.