French & Allies vs. Russians 1812 era

June 28th had our monthly southern napoleonic group gather at Bob’s in Redondo beach CA. A warm California beach city day greeted the gamers who arrived early to set up the terrain and pull the miniatures. Ty and Dan had arranged the pre-game miniature forces for each side with 5300 points of Russians and similar for the French, Polish and Westphalians team. Terrain was typical “Bob table”; low hills, a center board town and a basic stream. Medium grade woods or hedged fields dotted the open expanses of the tabletop. Weather was clear for the tabletop scenario, just like the actual California beach city weather outside.

Russians OOB: Three infantry corps consisting of one grenadier and five line infantry divisions in total, each of 12 battalions plus two artillery batteries. Two dragoon, two light cavalry and one kuirassier division completed the Russian regular forces. Toss in three cossack brigades to tease the French with. Overall pretty standardized stuff for the Russians.

French OOB: French corps of three infantry divisions and attached light cavalry brigade. Duchy of Warsaw (Polish) corps had two infantry divisions and light cavalry division. Westphalian corps had two infantry divisions, a small guard brigade, and attached light cavalry brigade. In reserve was French light cavalry and cuirassier divisions.

Wooden tabletop blocks were used for initial dispositions. A Russian flanking cavalry force (light cavalry and kuirassier divisions) entered from the far distant table side edge. A similar Polish flanking force (infantry and light cavalry divisions) entered from the near table side edge (off photo). Information on our wooden block rules.

Opening positions of the wooden blocks. French & Allies on left, russians to right.

Opening positions of the command wooden blocks. French & Allies on left, Russians to right. Table size is 24′ x 6′. Steam is 2″ cross in movement, no disorder effect.

During the third game turn (1st hour) the central tabletop block forces moved into sighting and deployment range. Time to place the actual miniatures on the tabletop.

Interesting game play note was the senior CinC for both sides used their commander miniature to scout out the enemy forces and no ADC scouts were deployed by either side.

Initial miniature deployment on 3rd turn (1 hour of game time. French on left, Russians on right.

Initial miniature deployment on 3rd turn (1 hour of game time). With almost no senior commander observation the initial contact was adjacent square. French on left, Russians on right.

The French quickly formed up their front line along the town and stream position. Seemed natural but the mindset for defensive play took hold. No aggressive playing French today it seems so the Russians had all the ability, location, and time to plan their assault.

First contact dispostions. Two French division in town and along stream. Russian cossack led a Russian infantry division.

First contact dispositions. Two French division in town and along stream. Russian cossack led a Russian infantry division. Russian Army CinC w/ADC’s taking a look at the French in town.

Towards the Russian left center their cossacks deploy before the French light cavalry division. Behind them are Russian dragoon and infantry divisions in "battle" block mode crossing stream.

Towards the Russian left center their cossacks deploy before the French light cavalry division. Behind them are Russian dragoon and infantry divisions in “battle” block mode crossing stream. The “arrow” small block is extension marker of the wooden block at right.

Slowly the Russian masses closed the distance between from the armies covered by their artillery batteries. Grenadier and line infantry battalion columns prod forward under the roar of supportive cannon fire.

Basic unit organization for Russia or France; battalion of 6 miniatures of infantry, regiment of cavalry 4-10 miniatures (those large Russian light regiments), 6-12 cannon battery of artillery. Miniature ratio 100:1 for this scenario. Unit size can be adjusted by simply adding or subtracting miniatures or cannon for scenario design.

As the cossack brigade skirmishes before the French infantry in town, the Russian Grenadier division approaches.

As the cossack brigade skirmishes before the French infantry in town, the Russian grenadier division, with attached artillery batteries, approaches.

On the Grenadier's left another Russian line division has marched up linking with the Russians crossing the stream earlier behind the cossacks.

On the grenadier’s left flank another Russian line division has marched up linking with the Russians crossing the stream positioned to their left.

Frenchmen get a bit uppity. The deployed French light cavalry division boldly advances to challenge the Russian left center forces. First they chase away the pesky cossack skirmishers to engage the Russian main force behind.

French light cavalry division rides forward and declares charges against the soon departing cossack screen.

French light cavalry division rides forward and declares charges against the soon departing cossack screen.

On the Russian far left flank the arrival of the Duchy of Warsaw (Polish) flanking force causes the Russian divisions to face their advance. First the Polish light cavalry dances before the Russian divisions. Soon their supportive infantry division (block) will engage the Russian left in place for the remainder of the scenario.

Out on the Russian far left flank a single Russian line division with dragoon support contests the low hill with a Duchy of Warsaw (Polish) infantry division.

Out on the Russian far left flank a single Russian line division with Russian light cavalry support contests the low hill with a Duchy of Warsaw (Polish) cavalry division.

Not to be outdone, the Russian right flanking cavalry column shows their light cavalry brigade against the Westphalian left flank cavalry positioned on the windmill hill. The Russian kuirassier division will appear later near tower hill.

On the Russian right a light cavalry brigade has arrives opposite the Westphalian light near the wndmill.

On the Russian right a light cavalry brigade has arrives opposite the Westphalian light cavalry near the windmill.

Back in the left center, the cossacks have avoided the charging French light cavalry. They either retired quickly behind the approaching Russian cavalry and infantry battalions or darted outside the charge zone of the French light cavalry charge.

Scattering some cossacks, others just rode around the flanks, the French light cavalry rein in their short charge seeing approaching Russian dragoons.

Scattering some cossacks, others just rode around the flanks, the French light cavalry rein in their short charge seeing approaching Russian dragoons. The cossacks will be back for their revenge.

General view of the early deployments for both armies. The main Russian thrust will be up the center… take the town and open ground each side of the buildings and threaten the French line of communications road exit. The French plan is unknown to this writer…. if they even had one.

General view of the tabletop action. Team French on left, Team Russian on right.

General view of the tabletop action on turn five. Team French on left (l to r) Rob with arms only showing, Dan, Daniel, John, Michael (pink t-shirt hidden), and Dave. Team Russian (l to r) on right are Andy, Ty, Bob, Tim and WR taking photo.

French view of the Russian masses around tower hill. Three Russian infantry divisions (36 battalions) with their six artillery batteries are showing. Thin screen of cossacks across the front and a supportive Russian dragoon division still marked by the wooden block behind tower hill. French infantry division in foreground supported by soon deployed Westphalian infantry division in stream woods.

French view of Russian around the tower and across their stream. Westphalian infantry division to be deployed (block) in woods at left.

French view of Russians around the tower and across the stream. Westphalian infantry division to be deployed (block) in woods at left as photo taken.

The other side of the French held town shows another Russian line infantry division and supporting artillery batteries controlling the hedged field position. Facing them is Daniel’s French infantry lining the front edge of the town and roadway walls. Russian CinC with his ADC’s atop the hill behind the Russian formations.

French view of the Russian left center. Musketry between the skirmisher screens and artillery firing. Massed Russian artillery seen in distance besides the Russian grenadiers.

French view of the Russian left center. Musketry between the skirmisher screens and artillery firing. Massed Russian artillery seen in distance besides the Russian grenadiers.

Feels good to be Russian with all that supportive artillery. Even have the Reserve artillery commander attached to the large battery before the town.

Artillery commanders are rare in our games since artillery command is required.  Their benefit is additional 20% directed firepower adjustment to all adjacent (ie..base touching) batteries  and the ability to direct unlimited firepower towards specific unit target. Normally only two batteries can fire upon a specific battalion, cavalry regiment or artillery batteries in our games. In the photo below the artillery commander influences all four Russian batteries since they are in base to base contact and the artillery commander is attached to one battery in the chain. Only available for nations during specific year time periods. Austria 1813-1815, France 1807-1815, French Guard 1807-1815, Ottoman Empire (European) 1790-1815, Prussia 1813-1815, Russia 1806-1815. The Russians also have their special artillery reserve rule in their national characteristics. Russia

The massed Russian artillery battery goes into action bombarding the town and French. Russian infantry is massed, line division in foreground, then Grenadiers near battery plus two other line divisions near the tower.

The massed Russian artillery battery goes into action bombarding the town and French. Russian infantry is massed; line division in foreground, then grenadiers behind battery plus two other line divisions near the hill tower. Russian CinC in foreground watching his army advance.

The French light cavalry advance against the Russian left center dragoons. But waiting off stage is a cossack regiment which quickly maneuvers behind the charging French cavalry to attack the exposed French horse battery via opportunity counter-charge. Takes a cossack to act like a cossack….Huzzah!

French light cavalry charge the exposed Russian dragoons after their charge flubbed.

French light cavalry charge the exposed Russian dragoons after their charge flubbed. Wasn’t a good moment for the WR. But those sneaky cossack position themselves to counter-charge the deployed French horse battery.

The battle around tower hill is heating up. Russians are trying to clear away the French skirmisher screen along the stream bank. One Russian infantry division marches towards the woods as another crosses tower hill.

Might of Russia approach the French defended stream position. Pavlov grenadiers cleared the near tower area as Tim's Russian line ready to assault the Westphalian held woods.

Might of Russia approach the French defended stream position. Pavlov grenadiers cleared the near tower area as Tim’s Russian line ready to assault the Westphalian held woods.

Time out for practiced arm unison movement of the miniatures. We all know the Russians move in step… but arm movement too? Team esprit on our side…

WR in action. Note unison arm movement with Ty.

WR in action. Note unison arm movement with Ty. Bob hasn’t been practicing.

Almost the three amigos have it down... WR out of unison with Bob and Ty. WR holding his grandfather's folding metal ruler.

Almost the three amigos have it down… WR out of unison with Bob and Ty. Note WR holding his grandfather’s folding metal ruler from his days in the RAC/RAF.

Since Bob has a stairway behind the gaming table a view from the clouds or pigeon.

Balloon view of the tabletop action.

Balloon view of the tabletop action. Tim, Bob and Ty disappearing at right for Russians. Dave, Michael, John, Daniel and Rob in foreground acting French for the day.

Consulting with fellow Russian gamer keeps the well oiled Russian mass marching forward. The French seemed to be a silent bunch except Daniel discussing how unfair those nasty Russian grenadiers beating up poor innocence French fusiliers. Where is the French Young Guard regiments which you have been painting Dad asks Daniel?

Ty and Andy consult the Russian left flank situation  vs. the Duchy of Warsaw divisions.

Ty and Andy consult the Russian left flank situation vs. the Duchy of Warsaw divisions of Rob. We have them outnumbered… let’s attack and clear the flank.

Aghh… wrote too soon. Westphalian team in discussion on Jerome’s latest government screw up. Don’t mind the Russian columns approaching the Westphalian “deer” in the woods.

Team France and Allies.

Team France and Allies. (l to r) has Rob, Daniel, John, Michael and Dave. Michael and Dave appear to be going over the Westphalian battle plan… if they had one.

The stream skirmisher battle won with sharp bayonet charges (a russian speciality), the next move is to push back the French artillery battery near the town and deploy the Russian artillery to create a gap in the French center.

A little French discomfort as the Russian approach the stream line. French reserves await their orders to advance.

A little French discomfort as the Russians approach the stream line. French infantry and cavalry reserves await their orders to advance.

Still no direct threat on the town opposite flank. French light cavalry brigade deployed to make the Russians think about cavalry charges. Lots of Frenchmen around the town…. is that a “veteran” French infantry division Daniel in white coats?

The view on the other side of town. Russian artillery bombards as Russian infantry columns form for assault.

The view on the other side of town. Russian artillery bombards as Russian infantry columns form for assault. A bit of skirmishing before the town buildings by both sides.

To assist the French defenders in town, the French light cavalry division edges over to apply pressure on the Russian center infantry. A quick French charge is met by steady Russian battalion squares but it was close.

A French lancer regiment declares a charge. the Russians successfully form square and will repulse the French lancers.

A French lancer regiment declares a charge. The Russians successfully form square and will repulse the French lancers while poor Russian musketry fails to cause losses.

“Time for the walk in the woods” say the Russian commander Tim. Pressing Russian infantry columns against the Westphalian skirmishers they promptly fall back uncovering the Westphalian line battalions holding the far bank of the shallow stream position. Russian foot batteries (still in their snowy base condition) secure the open Russian divisional right flank.

Massed Russian columns crash into the river woods, throwing back the Westphalian skirmishers. Next is the Westphalian formed infantry lining the stream bed.

Massed Russian columns crash into the river woods, throwing back the Westphalian skirmishers. Next to be engaged will be the Westphalian formed infantry lining the stream bed.

Sort of a quiet flank of late. The Russian infantry division supported by a light cavalry brigade threaten the Polish open flank. Would be going better except the Russian corps commander kept getting hit by Polish fire.

Russian light cavalry seek to turn the Polish flank as their Corps commander is wounded.

Russian light cavalry seek to turn the Polish flank as their Corps commander is wounded.

Time now for the hard task ahead. Russian grenadiers storm into the town, dragoons charge to disrupt the French infantry and artillery across the shallow stream, massed Russian infantry columns crash into bitter woods fighting as slowly Russian artillery is collected to form a massed battery along the stream bank. French players are now discussing the growing threat to their center. WR smiling….1, 2 then 3 punch…

While Russian columns fight their way across the woods stream position, other Russian grenadier columns seek to wressle control of the town buildings. Russian dragoons advance to support the two general assaults.

While Russian columns fight their way across the woods stream position, other Russian grenadier columns seek to wrestle control of the town buildings. Russian dragoons advance to support the two general assaults. Russian artillery successfully causes “counter-battery” on the exposed French foot battery in town.

As Russian columns advance, the Russian artillery send heavy round shot into the French town defenders. The French battery front center of the town receives special attention from the Russian artillery and loses several cannon. Cannon lost and counter-battery marker placed.

When artillery suffers a cannon(s) lost from artillery fire, a d6 roll is made to determine additional damage or required counter-battery return fire. Dice outcomes could be; no effect unless militia rated, counter-battery A or counter-battery B. A d6 “6” means roll on next chart for result which increases the damage and counter-battery effects plus possible train explosion. Counter-battery A marker means the inflicted battery must engage any enemy artillery battery with fire, remain silent for a fire phase, or if limbered up, retire one full movement to rear and remain limbered. A counter-battery B marker is mandatory firing at enemy artillery battery or limber up and retire two full moves to rear. Once fired, or turn of silence or movement completed, the temporary marker is removed from the inflicted battery.

Having taken the corner building with Pavlov grenadiers, the French infantry form their columns and counterattack. Additional Russian grenadiers columns approach the other frontage buildings.

The corner building taken by Pavlov grenadiers, the French infantry form their columns and counterattack. Additional Russian grenadiers columns approach the other frontage buildings.

Having returned to their former positions, the Russian left center infantry and cavalry face off against the growing Polish mass with some revealed French cuirassiers. Russian jagers pepper the skirmishing French light cavalry screen.

Slowly the Russian left center position advances to push back the French light cavalry. Additional Polish infantry division and soon French cuirassiers will make their appearance.

Slowly the Russian left center position advances to push back the French light cavalry. Additional Polish infantry division and soon French cuirassiers will make their appearance (wooden blocks).

In the woods the fighting rages on. Tim marches his columns across the waters to impact the Westphalian defenders whose musketry is cutting down Russian infantry in the bloody piles in the stream.

Battle royal in the woods. The Westphalian defenders struggle to contain the Russian massed infantry columns.

Battle royal in the woods. The Westphalian defenders struggle to contain the Russian massed infantry columns. Brief “table earthquake” causes stream displacement….

Westphalians didn’t hold against the first Russian bayonet charge. But the Russian front rank battalions are shot apart with losses. Will need to replace with the second rank fresh battalions to continue the advance in the woods.

During the typical game turn there are two artillery and two small arms (musketry) firing phases( one each for each half game turn). In the shock phase there is another firing (defensive fire) segment which is doubled effect for final fire (point-blank). So in effect a shock combat typically receives two fire combat effects with the second one doubled.

Russian success at a heavy cost. Leading battalions are all shot up with losses. Another Westphalian line formed.

Russian success at a heavy cost. Leading battalions are all shot up with losses. Another Westphalian line formed as the former front line battalions retire to reform.

While the bloody woods fight rages on, WR calmly collects artillery batteries to establish the Russian stream bank battery. The Russian reserve kuirassier division arrives right on cue as Russian jagers skirmish the massed French infantry square formations. Russian grenadier attempt to clear the town flank of French infantry battalions. Note the two abandoned (crew less) French batteries chased away by a previous Russian dragoon charge. The Russian scenario game plan is coming together at the right moment.

Between the woods and town WR forces back the French defense and siezes two French batteries. Collecting Russian batteries, WR forms a new grand battery to control the gap.

Between the woods and town WR forces back the French defense and seizes two French batteries. Collecting Russian batteries, WR forms a new grand artillery battery to control the gap.

Tim continues his steady advance right into another Westphalian linear wall. Musketry blazes along the front. As the Westphalian corp commander rallies his former front line battalions, the uncommitted Westphalian guard (wooden block) wonders if they will soil their uniforms today?

Collecting the reserve supporting battalions, Tim launches his renewed assault on the second Westphalian line.

Collecting the reserve supporting battalions, Tim launches his renewed assault on the second Westphalian line.

The French cuirassier division has arrived…. now what to do? Polish infantry division alongside, French light cavalry on the left…. what to do? There are lots of Russian cannon ahead…. what to do? Hard to scratch one’s head when wearing a full steel helmet.

Polish infantry and French cuirassiers join the French light cavalry. they plan to apply pressure on the Russian left center division.

Polish infantry and French cuirassiers join the French light cavalry. they plan to apply pressure on the Russian left center division.

Overall view of the confusion in the town fighting. Both sides are engaged in vicious bayonets charges down the streets and doorways. Russians now have three of the four buildings but the French veteran division is counterattacking into the town. Daniel’s bellyache on unit quality ends when he found out about the veteran French division.

Russians in bitter fighting amidst the town buildings and streets. Three building controlled as French columns counterattack lead by their veteran legere regiment.

Russians in bitter fighting in the town buildings and streets. Three buildings controlled as French columns counterattack led by their veteran legere regiment on the roadway.

Grand view of the tabletop action. Russians on right, French and allies have the left side of the playing field.

General view of the tabletop top action.

General view of the tabletop top action.

Russian steam battery almost ready. Several batteries open fire across the open stream as their skirmishers dive for cover with round shot flying overhead. Russian kuirassiers move closer to await the orders to cross the stream and charge once the French squares are battered into bloody ruin.

We allow artillery to fire “through” an open order formation as the actual placement of the skirmishers is somewhere between the two main battle lines of each side. In the past we needed to “declare” open fire lanes in the skirmisher screen but this became a “marking position nightmare” in some situations. The easy method was simply to declare firepower possible through the skirmisher screen then the actual tabletop micro-placement of the miniatures isn’t required except to mark the endpoint of the screen.

Russian artillery hammering the French across the stream as Russians and French grapple near the town outskirts. Russian battalions and reserve Kuirassiers arrive to support the effort.

Russian artillery hammering the French across the stream as Russians and French grapple near the town outskirts. Russian battalions and reserve kuirassiers arrive to support the effort.

The French light cavalry behind the town stir themselves and advance to threaten the Russian town advance. Their charge wasn’t documented well but one lucky chasseur a’ cheval regiment actual broke through into the Russian rear area for a moment of glory.

Another view of the town fighting.

Another view of the town fighting. Russian linear and columnar formations. French chasseurs a’ cheval charge forth to engage the Russian infantry.

Well, it cannot all go the Russian way. Tim’s valiant wood’s assault ended in a total shambles as the last Westphalian linear position held firm and shot apart the leading Russian battalions. Several battalions broke and took others with them running towards the rear. Supportive battalions seeing the routing infantry turned about and ran backwards as their divisional officer was killed trying to led the troops.

Disaster, Tim's second massive assault is repulsed and weakened Russian infantry mill about in the woods.

Disaster! Tim’s second massive assault on the Westphalian line was repulsed and weakened Russian infantry battalions mill about in the woods or retire. Russian divisional commander is killed leading to a lack of leadership at the crisis.

Sensing a turn of the battle it seems, the center Polish infantry, supported by the French cuirassiers, advance to engage the Russian left center division and cavalry. French light cavalry close their ranks and advance with the cuirassier on their flank.

Polish division advances on the Russian left center. French cuirassier lie in wait for the Russian  countermove.

Duchy of Warsaw (Polish) infantry division advances on the Russian left center. French cuirassier regiments lie in wait for the Russian counter move.

Not caring what is going on to WR’s right in the woods, the grand planned advance continues. Frenchmen in their defensive squares are getting hammered by the massed Russian artillery and the French players (Daniel and John) know it as they remove miniature losses.

In the gap the close quarters fighting rages on. Russian artillery pounding apart the French battalion in the distance.

In the gap the close quarters fighting rages on. Russian artillery pounding apart the French battalions in the distance. Russian grenadier column assault the French held wall position.

Seems this Frenchman hasn’t heard the bad news yet….

Daniel as French town defender smiling.... holding well against the elite Russian grenadier division with ordinary French line.

Smiling Daniel as French town defender…. holding well against the elite Russian grenadier division with basically ordinary French line.

Westphalian battalions reenter the woods, stepping over the carpet of dead and wounded Russian and Westphalian infantry no doubt. Tim’s Russian division is totally spent and cannot resist their advance.

WR has a collection of miniature wounded and dead body casualties… but would have to change the blog post report from PG rating to R maybe…

Tim's Russians have abandoned the woods. His infantry division is shattered and crippled.

Tim’s Russians have abandoned the woods. His infantry division is shattered and crippled. Westphalian light cavalry seek to capture the Russian batteries.

Step back view of the town fighting. Russians have half the town but the other half will cost many more Russian miniatures. Situation in the “gap” is different with the French infantry battalions starting to break or retire from the hammering round shot. Time to advance the Russian kuirassiers and horse artillery with canister to finish off the French remaining units. The key situation is the road leading to the town. That road exit is the French line of communication (LOC). If Russian units take control of the road exit, the entire French and Allied side loses a morale step (-1 CMR). Russian general game plan was to go for the French throat…. ie.. their LOC. A few more turns and we should have that position unless the town defender retire backwards to defend which then leads to the Russian center’s general advance with the bayonet clearing the town. Either way the Russians have gained control of the French center and time for the French to think about retirement from the battlefield.

Overview of the town fighting. Daniel still holding but the French "gap" defenders are breaking from the sustained Russian artillery bombardment.

Overview of the town fighting. Daniel still holding but the French “gap” defenders are breaking from the sustained Russian artillery bombardment. Soon the Russian kuirassiers will advance to ride down the remains of several French battalions.

The Polish infantry and French cuirassiers slowly advance but any action they take will be too late to prevent the problems around the town. The deployed Russian battery and supportive infantry battalion squares will generally stop the French advance in this sector of the battlefront.

Russians left center is ready to recieve the Franco-Polish attack. Russian gunners stand with linkstock at the ready.

Russians left center is ready to receive the Franco-Polish attack. Russian gunners, commanded by the Russian artillery reserve commander, stand with touch matches  at the ready.

Scenario over…. called by a discussion of the current French position and likely outcomes of the next turn or two. Russians given a minor victory as the French can mostly retire without too much heavy influence by the Russian cavalry.

Scenario ending...

Scenario ending. Final miniature positions when we called the scenario. Minor French victory was declared.

WR thanks all his fellow gamers for a smooth running game. Everyone assisted with the setup, quick scenario turn game play, and the post scenario miniature pick up as a group.

Readers interested in our rules can visit the WR blog section covering the videos and charts.  Napoleonic rules, charts and videos

Cheers from the traveling rabbit.

WR

 

 

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2 thoughts on “French & Allies vs. Russians 1812 era

  1. Nice report! The valiant French allied efforts on the flank was not quite enough to counterbalance the carnage in the French center. The problem with good defensive positions is that they may lead you to defend, when that is perhaps not the wisest choice!

    • Thanks again Peter. Russians had a plan and executed the plan to win. The French players tended to be defensive all during the battle. My experience in gaming is taking the action to the defender gives you a chance at winning. Sitting still tends to give defeat or draw result. Still was a great game with several tight moments.
      M

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