Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Taurenwald Aftermath

Before the end of the year kicks off and hobby-time falls away, I just wanted to post about the results of the recent battle of Taurenwald. I played it out with the rules-set 'Table Top Battles' by Mike and Joyce Smith, and a lot of fun it was too. Not as 'serious' as the usual Might & Reason rules I use, but just as much fun, and probably concluded in about a third of the time!

So, the Luftberg attack is beaten back, but each army comes unstrung. Clearly, unless each army annihilated itself, the units destroyed in the battle are routed rather than dead, so we can check for rercovering them. Lacking any system, I decided on a straight D6 dice roll of 4+ to recover them. However, the strategic situation is a bit different for the protagonists. Luftberg is fighting with it's main supply dunp barely a few miles back down the road, while Aschenbach is deep in wooded territory with a long road, a pillaged city, a river, and a range of hills between it and home-base. It seems far likelier for Luftberg troops to be regrouped quickly after the battle, so I gave their roll a +1 modifier. Aschenbach soldiers, being far likelier to go 'missing' on the long trek back to a rallying point, got a corresponding -1 modifier.

The results of the rolls (once per regiment destroyed) produced the following armies ready for continuing the campaigh:

Luftberg: 6 Infantry, 1 Croat, 1 Dragoon, 1 Hussar, 1 Artillery.

So, not too bad for Luftberg...

Aschenbach: 1 Grenadier, 3 Infantry, 1 Cuirassier, 1 Dragoon, 1 Artillery.

Hm, Aschenbach maintains it's quality, but is painfully outnumbered. Looks like fighting various skirmishes and three pitched battles is a bit harder to recover from, when you've the smaller army!

If it was a pitched battle, then maybe it could be fought out again - except there's no chance of that. Luftberg are safely locked up tight in their fortress of Blinzburg, ready for a siege. Aschenbach have to besiege a force who outnumbers them 3:2 in infantry, in deeply wooded country while the enemy has irregular light troops to raise havoc in their rear. It can't be done! So, it looks like the campaign in the province of Spitzplatz is coming to an end, militarily a stalemate while the diplomats agree negotiation terms. We'll have to see what they come up with in the new year, when doubtless the armies will find themselves launching into some new campaign over a tiny province. For now though, it looks like a peaceful christmas - Happy holidays, everyone!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Taurenwald, Part 2

Felix von Hentsch's attack gets off to a less than brilliant start when the lines clash, and the Aschenbach counterattack through Taurenwald village blasts his centre apart. Damned cowards fled like a bunch of old women!

Von Hentsch pulls his remaining infantry regiment back into the protection of the woods, plus his cavalry begin to pressure the enemy flank. Meanwhile, the smug General Von Krumper preens himself in the wrecked village.

Over with the left column, General Tobias Ludwig shows how it should be done. Giving ground in the face of the enemy line, he works on the flanks. The Croats send one regiment reeling, the cavalry force the Grenadiers to halt and turn away, while the last remaining regiment quickly learns what it means to take on 4:1 odds!

Back on the right, the Aschenbach infantry find it just as hard to take on a defended piece of terrain. One infantry regiment is scattered by Luftberg artillery fire, while the other collapses after being fired on by invisible opponents in the woods. The Cuirassiers flee, and General Von Krumper realises the village is about to change hands for the third time.

On the left, Ludwig presses on, but the roused camps continue to produce more regiments belatedly forming to fight. His cavalry vanguard crashes headlong into the U-shaped enemy line, with his infantry following on behind.

Ludwig's cavalry get routed, but the two lines meet with one slight advantage - he's got more cavalry on the flank. Over on the right, Von Hentsch has occupied Taurenwald with his last infantry and his cavalry now push depeer into the enemy's old camp, finding more and more Aschenbach horsemen beginning to oppose them.

A terrible run of luck hist the Luftberg troops! The infantry going into Taurenwald are rapidly bombarded into a chaotic mob by the waiting Aschenbach batteries, the Croats are finally routed out of the central wood when Von Zaub manages to spare a regular regiment to clear them out, then the left-most regiment under Ludwig is destroyed by hostile fire!
And then it gets worse! Ludwig's cavalry ride down the Aschenbach flank regiment, but then his last two infantry regiments are hit by the Grenadier-fronted Aschenbach line, and flee the field in chaos!

Similar disaster on the right! Von Hentsch's cavalry are outnumbered and scattered, being broken up piecemeal by the continually reinforced Aschenbach line. Time to admit defeat, and retreat. All the damage that can be done, has been done.

So, a victory for Aschenbach again, but what manner of one? Von Hentsch's surprise attack has similarly wrecked both armies. The difference being, that Luftberg is right on the doorstep of it's main supply-base city, while the less numerous Aschenbach troops are at the end of a long and tenuous supply line. A few more such Aschenbach victories and they will be ruined!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Taurenwald, Part 1

The Peaceful camp of neat, white tents along the roadside - and then, in the pre-dawn darkness, the Luftberg army attacks in two columns from the south!

General Felix Von Hentsch oversees the right column, which hits the village of Taurenwald and scatters the unprepared defenders. The Aschenbach army raises the alarm and rushes to form it's ranks.

The scant regiments of infantry available form a line and rush back in a daring counterattack, retaking the village before the Luftberg line can advance. Outflanked by cavalry and Croats in the woods, can they hold it?

The left column, led by General Tobias Ludwig, shakes itself out into line, but is rapidly halted. The Aschenbach general Zaub has responded quickly, forming three regiments and rushing them forward obliquely to protect the disorganised camps.

It looks good, as the Luftberg line retreats slightly and reforms - but those Croats in the centre and the cavalry on the flank are a risk. Especially when the Aschenbach line's own hussars are ridden down by their heavier and more numerous enemies.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

March to Battle

Following the battle of Froschbach, the remaining armies are of virtually identical size. What with Aschenbach's superior discipline and leadership, this should mean they have the edge. What can General Felix Von Hentsch do to ofset this? After much head-scratching and pondering to harpsichord music, there appear to be two options: entrench and fight from behind several feet of earthworks, or launch a surprise attack to negate the enemy advantage.
Aschenbach is marching back across the countryside and then rejoining the road to Blinzburg, the Luftberg source of supply into the province. With it's fall, Aschenbach can dictate peace terms. With the Luftberg army reformed and steadied by Von Hentsch's firm disciplinary hand, they have reassembled at their depot near the Rotenwasser bridge. Initial plans for a dispersed and low-intensity war of raiding parties have been abandoned, in the light of Blinzburg coming under threat. Taking the southern road, the Luftberg army has further to cover but makes better time, getting between the enemy and the city. A few miles short of the city, in the woodland surrounding it, the Aschenbach army encounters the Luftberg outposts and realises it's opponent is present for a fight. The critical battle, in fact - neither side can carry on the war if they take heavy losses.
They pitch camp, expecting to have to attack a defended position the next day. Because of this assumption, they make no camp defences of their own. The cunning Von Hentsch orders a dawn attack on the unsuspecting enemy, planning to rudely interrupt their dreams of a battle in the morning, and dinner in Blinzburg. He'll oblige them on the former at least, and on the latter only as his prisoners!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Battle Honours

I know some people have a great enthusiasm for book-keeping in wargaming, but I personally tend to avoid most of it. However, when running an imagination campaign with a manageable number of regiments, each with their own name, a little bit can be rewarding. I have been keeping a simple spreadsheet of my units for this campaign, and writing down if they were present in each battle or skirmish - plus adding any notable feats of arms that stick in my mind. The process is pretty straightforward and undemanding, plus it gives some decent regimental 'narratives' over time. Here's a few typical examples:

Luftberg Infanterie Regiment of Negrelli (No. 4)
Present in Passditz battle-line but unengaged. Did not take part in rearguard.
Fought in Redoubt-storming near Spitzburg, flanked enemy and nearly won fight, but was forced to retire.
Fought at Froschbach. Attempted to attack flank of Grenadiers over marshy stream, but took heavy losses in stream.

Aschenbach Kurassier Cavallerie Regiment Von Kurbitz (No. 2)
Fought in Passditz and routed opposing cavalry.
Took part in pursuit after battle, routing Dragoon reg. D1 and captured General Van Der Dijk, but was caught by the fire of 3 enemy infantry regiments and greatly weakened by heavy losses.
Recovered and refitted in reserve, then was in action again at Froschbach. Charged repeatedly and was heavily engaged.

As you will see from the two examples above, the histories can quickly begin to take shape. I'm hoping the process could eventually begin to make more and more 'real' connections, such as two opposing regiments that repeatedly tangle with other could develop a rivalry, or perhaps a unit that fires particularly effectively in a few fights may be judged to have a particularly zealous drillmaster and get a permanent bonus, etc. The possibilities that emerge over time are good for firing the imagination!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Big Roundup

Today is something of a significant date in the Blog's history. To the best of my reckoning, this is about 1 year ago from when I resolved to carry out my big 'expansion' project. About 3 months ago I suddenly threw myself into painting and basing when I realised today was imminent, hoping to have it all done. I thought success was unlikely, but I wanted the spur to keep me active. The result is - exactly what I wanted!

From having about a third done, a third partially painted, and a third untouched, I have made huge bounds forward over the last few months. Now, how did I do? Out of a grand total of 74 bases across the two armies, I have 56 completed bases and just 18 still to do - 75% completed! Considering most of the completed ones are the 'heavier' infantry bases with a dozen figures compared to the cavalry's five, that's pretty good going. In fact, if I had abandoned the blog and not fought the battles over that redoubt and the monster clash at Froschbach, I could plausibly have managed the target! Proof that all painters should set achievable targets to encourage themselves along - I strongly, strongly recommend it!

After all that, how have things fared in games-world? Well, Aschenbach have yet again won a battle in the open field. The cavalry proved itself able (with some careful handling and some infantry support) of taking on double it;s own numbers. Things looked like the army was about to be overwhelmed by the size of the enemy, but the superior Aschenbach firepower in the Might & Reason Rules came to the rescue. That was the first time I think I've seen Grenadiers at work in full strength, and in the open - and it's alarming! They were chewing through enemy infantry regiments with virtually no damage in return. To put it in perspective, the standard Luftberg infantry unit has 6SP's (strength points) while the Grenadiers have 8SP's - and in fire they effectively double it, making the contest 16 to 6. They can very nearly take on three-to-one odds!

The only moment of brilliance for Luftberg arms is the dubious advance by General Ludwig into the boggy stream, which saw an infantry regiment effectively wrecked in exchange for flanking fire onto the Grenadiers, which did at least do some damage to the giants. No doubt Ludwig will maintain this was just the sort of long-odds stuff needed to save the day, although his rivals in the army will argue it's just proof of his immaturity and evidence of why he shouldn't have been promoted over them, dammit.

Poor General Felix Von Hentsch! Beaten twice in the field, the war is not doing his military prestige any good. Can he possibly tolerate a rival in Ludwig, even as he needs him now? The Elector Ulrich Von Luftberg (Victor of Vogelhof, etc. etc.) must be sharing the pain of the Empress Maria Theresa, railing against competent-but-uninspired commanders that keep on losing to the bluecoats after respectable performances. They're such a tough army to beat!

Looking over my records from the battle, I decided to follow the M&R post-battle process, and discovered that the Luftberg army only narrowly had enough hussars and light troopers to stave off a pursuit that would've resulted in a major defeat - close one! Totting up the casualties and rolling for recovery, Aschenbach had a few units reduced for the remainder of the campaign, and lost an artillery battery - thanks to the Luftberg Cuirassiers running down the crews. The Luftberg army is in far worse shape. An artillery battery, a regiment of hussars, one of Cuirassiers, two of Dragoons and FOUR of Infantry have been wrecked, depleted so far that the survivors can only be dispersed to strengthen other regiments, while the remaining cadres are ordered back to Luftberg to refit and replenish with new recruits. Terrible!

So, what does this mean on the campaign? It's unlikely that Luftberg can take on anything but a fragment of the enemy army in the field, but can Felix suddenly execute a kind of klein-krieg low-intensity war to thwart Aschenbach and save the day?

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Battle of Froschbach, Part 3

The third and final part, as the battle comes to the climax. Both cavalry forces, battered and desperately trying to reform, hang back. However, Aschenbach's refused flank meant it at least has infantry on hand, who press slowly forward and deliver some volleys, pressing the Luftberg horse back yet further and breaking up their reforming attempts.
In the centre, the infantry battle develops. Luftberg infantry stare into the smoke, from which suddenly emerges first the rattle of a grenadier march being played, then the glint of polished mitres. The grenadiers are attacking! Aschenbach reduces the distance to hug up close and make all fire short-range. It proves too much for Steinkopf's boys in the middle, who flee headlong! The Grenadiers press on, and the regiment of O'Brien suddenly finds itself out of reserve. It's all that stands between the army commander Felix Von Hentsch and capture! ("Hold them off lads, I'm just going over here for a moment! I'll be right back!")
The Luftberg Infantry General La Spezia tries to turn some units, wheeling them round to contain and flank the Aschenbach penetration of the front rank. By the stream, the daringly advanced Regiment of Negrelli under Ludwig's observation gets a hammering for it's impertinence - the reserve Aschenbach regiment swings round and hammers it with volleys.
La Spezia's frantic reorganising. The line is now down to one regiment deep, and most units have been badly battered.
Now here's a classic 'Age of Reason' sight - the front-line clearly delineated by the firing-smoke of the two sides (actually firing markers in the game rules.) The Aschenbach line is shaped like a question-mark, bent back left and right by the Ludwig flanking-move over the stream and La Spezia's attempts to form a salient. The bluecoats are all-out, having nobody left in reserve.
Von Hartling brings up his reformed Dragoons to threaten a combined-arms attack, leaving his disastrously battered cuirassiers behind. Surely the remains of the Luftberg horse can't resist this?
The full battlefield bird's eye view.
Luftberg throws in it's last cavalry charge, hoping for lucky dice. Sadly it's not to be, and Aschnebach hold firm. The survivors rebound, and the Luftberg cavalry is now reduced to just four regiments, most with only a few strength points left. (Notice all the Aschenbach units with the hexagonal hit-markers too!)
Yet more crashing volleys, but the Aschenabch ones come with the unruffled regularity of a clock ticking, while Luftberg fall into increasing disorder. It's over! Literally - the turn ends, and the Luftberg army fails an army morale test, meaning it quits the field. (It rolled badly, but frankly as most units were on the brink of collapse, it probably would only have failed even more spectacularly on the next turn.)
Officers beg Felix Von Hentsch to quit the field. Felix wonders if maybe he should have just withdrawn when the Aschenbach army began marching to outflank him...
For General Von Krumper, yet another victory! Long live Aschenbach's Royal House!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Battle of Froschbach, Part 2

General Ludwig, out on the right, sees his opportunity to flank the oncoming Aschenbach infantry with fire across the river. It'll be long-range, but it all helps!
On the other Luftberg flank, the generals execute a competent redeployment - wonders will never cease! The first battered cavalry brigade falls back behind a protective screen of Hussars to reform, while the fresh second brigade under Van Der Dijk comes trotting forward. Alarmingly close, in fact, to the unlimbering guns!

Things are looking bad, here - Aschnebach's right flank are pinned in place, unable to go forward.

The main Aschenbach effort is still advancing however, into the waiting muzzles of the cannons. The attack can't be stopped to wait for the right flank to catch up however, raising the prospect of the assault falling flat, like an attack-dog leaping forward and then realising it's leash is too short. At this rate, the army will rip it's own centre wide open as the two halves drift further apart!

Von Hartling orders the Dragoons to charge the oncoming new Luftberg troopers, hoping to take the edge off them.

They batter them but rebound, having failed to get a magic high dice-roll. Looks like those Luftberg cuirassiers will be coming on!
At close-range, the Aschenbach gunners add their fire and send cannonballs plunging through the startled men and horses.

As the fire continues, Van Der Dijk steels himself for action. "Charge!"

Thundering forward, his dragoons go all-out for the Aschenbach horse, while the battered cuirassiers try to rush uphill at the cannons. They get some point-blank fire for their trouble, but they are not to be denied.

The Dragoons recoil from the tired Aschenbach cavalry lines, but the real result is on the hilltop. Both artillery batteries are overrun and the crews slain, and although one regiment is shot to ribbons and reduced to a single strength point (SP), the famous Cuirassier Regiment Schrodinger sweeps through and is only just repelled by the frantic efforts of the supporting Aschenbach infantry. Had it broken throughm it would have been loose in the Aschenbach army's rear!

In the Luftberg centre, the Aschenbach infantry now draws close. A blast of musketry cuts down the artillery crews positioned in front of the white lines. Some guns still fire, but it's a devastating volley.

Sensing the Luftberg cavalry is battered, Von Hartling attacks again and this time the adjacent infantry moves up too, lending it's fire to the struggle. He rebounds, but the blooded Luftberg cavalry soon pull back also and try to reform.

In the centre, the infantry lines pull into range and the volleys crash out along the line, and the Aschenbach grenadiers rapidly show their quality with devastating volleys hammering the enemy line.

The fire takes on an L-shape, thanks to Ludwig's fire over the stream. It can only be at long range however, and so is muted in impact. This clearly irks Ludwig...

"Attack!" Egad! A sudden rush of blood to the head caught General Ludwig, who orders his men to advance into the marshy stream (in the rules, he rolled an auto-attack order.) They can now give close-range volleys, but are terribly exposed in turn. Is this madness, or genius?

The Aschenbach regiment in reserve smoothly turns to face the new threat, but casualties are mounting on each side and the Aschenbach main attack is now stretched to a single reserve unit. The front-line Musketeer Regiments are all battered, but the Grenadiers are still largely unaffected. If the breakthrough is to happen, it'll be down to them, but they're facing heavy odds!

A plan view of the field, with the front-line marked with a yellow dotted line. The enfiladed left, paper-thin centre, and exhausted right of the Aschenbach line are all visible. It's do-or-die time!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Battle of Froschbach, Part 1

The battlefield, with both armies deployed in the morning.

On the Luftberg right, Tobias Ludwig holds the redoubt, plus light troops are on hand until the reinforcements arrive.

In the centre, Felix Von Hentsch inspects the ranks of regiments in an offset single, double, even triple line, fronted by batteries.

Over on the army's left, the largest mass of horsemen yet fielded, in two brigades under General Van Der Dijk (recently paroled from captivity) and General Frundsberg.

Facing them, General Krumper preens and fusses over uniforms before the attack.

Von Hartling at the head of the cavalry, on the Aschenbach right.

Over on the army's left, by the stream, the Grenadiers are standing ready.

The opening moves! Following a decent breakfast, Ludwig moves his Croats off to occupy the town, and then receives some good news - his two off-table regiments arrive immediately! (A slight rules-tweak here, owing to having only 50% sized units - to represent moving in column, I just turn the single base sideways.)

Marching as one, the Aschenbach army begins to move with it's customary precision.
Von Hartling trots forward, and one of the two Luftberg cavalry brigades comes on to meet him. It dawns on the Aschenbach general that the cavalry will probably be fighting over the hilltop where General Krumper had wanted his artillery to deploy in support of the main attack. Looks like the grenadiers will have to do this without support!

The long walk towards the enemy continues, with only jaunty marching band music to keep the nerves under control!

With the distance closing, the Luftberg cavalry charges...

... and recoils! The combat was mixed, but by the Might & Reason rules, the attacker always recoils and most combats are inconclusive at first, until strength-points (SP's) have been drained and then units begin to crack and rout.
With a crack and boom, the Luftberg cannon take their range and begin firing. The Aschenbach infantry deploy smoothly into fighting lines.

Von Hartling counter-charges, keeping only one dragoon regiment in reserve. His troopers rebound too, but the Luftbergers are definitely beginning to falter, and their SP levels begin sinking.

The clash between the infantry is drawing nearer, and the cavalry are already locking horns. The Aschenbach infantry begins refusing it's right wing, and most of the guns deploy here too, immediately behind the cavalry battle. Can the horsemen of either side secure the crucial flank for the main attack? Will the grenadiers be attacking the Luftberg centre with friendly artillery pounding away in support, or white-coated horsemen charging into their flank?

(To be continued...)