The Saturday before Thanksgiving, WR opened the warren for a bit of napoleonic gaming, specifically for playing a training scenario for understanding the group rules and French army organization as the primary scenario objectives. Since the scenario would be a French vs. any French ally tabletop battle, the WR painted 25/28mm napoleonic collection yielded an obvious match up…. France vs. Northern Italians.
Forces involved: WR designed the scenario to use forces with similar organization battalion or cavalry regimental structure. So, French vs. Northern Italian “revolt” with a timeline of 1810-11 became the choice since both armies have basically the same battalion structure and cavalry regiments… except for French two cuirassier regiments and two converged grenadier battalions, WR used his Italian guard cavalry and infantry.
French organized their single corps with four commands. Two infantry divisions, each with one legere, two line regiments, and 8 pdr. foot battery. Each infantry regiment had three battalions of six miniatures. The cavalry division had four cavalry regiments; two chasseurs a’ cheval and two dragoon regiments (five miniatures each), with attached 4 pdr. horse battery. Lastly, the French reserve division had two converged grenadier battalions (2×6), two cuirassier regiments (2×5) and 6 pdr. foot battery. Attached to the corps headquarters was a 12 pdr. positional foot battery and corps ammunition train.
The Italian single corps organization matched the French commands in number and size. The only difference was in the Italian reserve command. Italian reserve division had a battalion of Italian guard grenadier, a battalion of guard chasseurs, the guard dragoons, and lastly the Italian Guard di Honor converged squadrons formed into a regiment. Artillery and corps headquarters remained the same as the French. For the numbers summary; both sides had 159 miniatures organized as 31 combative units, army MFP morale level at 105, and nearly balanced at 1590 points.
Opening deployments (1000 hours): French 1st Infantry Division deploys to the road left side, the sister French 2nd Division deployed between the road and farm with the French corps HQ deployed near the road. The cavalry division, having limited open space near the infantry, formed up on their right flank. Being Side One for the sequence of play (SOP), the French 1st Division marched forward to control the low hill, sending a legere regiment, in battalion columns, towards the left flank medium woods. The central 2nd Division, marched forward in massed formation, not proper narrow battalion columns, so their movement rate was restricted to linear. Holding back a bit, the French right flank cavalry division trotted forward to the roadway, placing chasseur a’ cheval skirmishers in front.
Note: For infantry column movement rate, the battalion is required to be in a “proper” column formation. Simple rule…. have more battalion unit miniatures in the rear ranks compared to the front rank. So a six miniature French battalion would have two miniatures in front and the other four miniatures in following formation close order ranks (a two by three block of miniatures). If three miniatures are in the battalion’s front rank, the other three are formed as the second rank… this is a massed formation, i.e. more than one rank of miniatures for firepower targeting, but moves at the slower linear formation rates (French class A movement, 9″ vs. 7″).
Northern Italians basically the same Corp’s organization and structure as their French opponents, so the Italian deployment sort of matched the French. Italian cavalry on their left, opposite the French cavalry division. The 1st Italian Infantry Division before the central village, and the remaining 2nd Italian Infantry Division covering the Italian right flank. One little wrinkle… The Italian players detached one Italian chasseur a’ cheval regiment from their cavalry division on left and placed with their right hand infantry division.
Moving as Side Two in the Sequence of Play (SOP), after the French in the first half of the SOP, the Northern Italian first turn movement saw their infantry march directly forward while their cavalry somewhat held back, all commands deploying open order skirmisher screens before their formed close order formations. So far… a good exercise in facing, formation changes, and miniature march movements for the new players.
Note: One proposed rule change for the scenario was limiting the light cavalry (chasseurs a’ cheval in this scenario) from being able to completely deploy all miniatures into open order formation. The current rule allowed total unit deployment. For this scenario the light cavalry regiment were limited to half or less current strength, so a five miniature chasseur a’ cheval regiment could deploy two miniatures as skirmishers. When these light cavalry open order skirmishers retire to rejoin their parent regiment, they can form alongside the front rank of miniatures or behind as a 2nd rank during their Movement phase. But during the Shock phase… i.e. charge movement, these skirmishers act just like the Prussian 1813-1815 freiwilligen jager detachments, so if the parent unit charges forward, the skirmishers retire to position behind the charging chasseurs frontal line and form a 2nd miniature rank (and as a massed target formation). They cannot form a wider linear cavalry formation during charge movement by placing the former skirmishers into their front regimental line. One interesting aspect of this change…. a player now should think to have 2″ between cavalry formation ranks since the retiring open order skirmishers now are placed between the forward cavalry miniature rank to avoid unit interpenetration issues if the parent unit charges through their own regimental skirmishers.
Turn 1020: The sequence of play begins the 2nd game turn, after performing a MFP Phase, continues into the Italian Charge Declaration phase, which is before French movement. The right flank individual and aggressive Italian chasseurs a’ cheval, having ridden forward into charge range of the approaching French legere regiment and its three battalion columns, declared their regimental charge. Reasons for this move was to show the new players the speed of cavalry across the battlefield, its ability to ride forth, and then declare its charge (charge movement concluded in upcoming Shock phase), and hopefully catching the French battalion columns out. If not, the Italian declared charge will half-speed the French forward movement or force them into battalion square formations.
French response to the Italian declared charge was disappointing… one battalion held firm (d10 1 rolled) and will form square, one battalion took off and ran (d10 8 rolled), and the last battalion fell into morale disorder. Being more than two inches apart from the routing legere battalion, none of the nearby French battalions then tested for the routing battalion. Seems the Italian cavalry caught the French legere regiment overall.
Note: In general, routs cause one time morale test per phase if they break or run past within two inches of the friendly testing unit. Common exceptions are higher grade elite units don’t test for lower morale grade routs, and units don’t test if the routing unit is under 50% size compared to testing unit.
French Movement phase is right after the Italian Declared Cavalry Charge phase (DCCP) and Rally phases. Within a declared cavalry charge zone (22′ degrees forward of charging cavalry and 12-16″ distance, depending on cavalry type), the French battalion movement rate is halved. Morale disorder halves the battalion movement rate again for quarter speed rate. Seeing the charging cavalry, the French center legere battalion, having passed its morale test in good order (rolled the d10 1), quickly changed formation into square. The morale disordered legere battalion, knowing that any square formation is useless (squares get no shock combat bonus +5 if morale disordered when hit by charging cavalry), bolted for the nearby adjacent medium woods edge, barely making the edge. The last legere battalion, having recalculated their charge receiving test to a morale disorder (WR mistakenly used a Combat Morale Rating (CMR) of 6 (line battalion) vs. the higher legere rated 7 CMR), just formed a ragged linear formation, sheltered by their friendly battalion which formed a successful square formation earlier, to block the direct Italian cavalry charge. The stage is set for the Italian cavalry charge during the forthcoming Shock phase.
Note that the French had a Movement phase to allow their reaction, form square, perform limited movements etc., before the Italian cavalry conducted their charge miniature movement and possible shock impact (Shock phase). This is a common theme to the game’s sequence of play which new player learn as the game progresses.
Seeing the French response into a square, the Italian chasseurs a’ cheval trot forward…. and stop forward movement after a minimum 4″ movement (“pump fake” charge). Placed into morale disorder after all charge actions, the Italians are just inside the legere’s minimum fire zone of 2″, thus the Italian cavalry will suffer a “withdrawing fire” if they elect to turn about and ride back on their next Movement phase also. Some light musketry…. no effect from the legere battalion in square, occurs in the Mutual Small arms phase after the Shock phase.
The Italian half of the game turn was general movement across the front. They occupied the central village building with legere infantry, and in general, match the French deployment with similar formations. Their morale disordered Italian chasseur a’ cheval regiment turned about and was fired upon by the squared French legere…. alas to no effect again.
Turn 1040: Slowly the French center infantry division approach the central village under Engage orders (yellow marker). Several battalions are lined behind the long hedge across the road from the double building as legere battalions wheel out to link with the cavalry division at right, followed by line battalions and the 8 pdr.foot battery. The left flank infantry division, across the road, formed the majority of its battalions into a long linear chain of battalions, watching their opponents across the open fields while following their own Engage order. Unlimbering the attached divisional artillery atop the low hill, the 8 pdr. French foot battery soon was sending round shot towards the Italian deployment. Finally the headquarter attached 12 pdr. positional battery was pushed slowly into position along the road, to cover the center battlefield sector.
Back before the village buildings, those two French linear battalions quickly figured out that standing in formation behind a low hedge is not the same protection from musket balls compared to standing in a 18th century building cluster, even firing at long-range. Seeing the situation, the French divisional commander rode up and quickly thrown to the ground… found himself besides his dead horse. The Italian divisional commander suffered worse, astride his horse behind the Italian occupied buildings, was struck in the arm for a light wound (out for two turns).
Italian movement slowed to match the French hesitating forward movement. Artillery batteries along both fronts are sending round shot into their opposite open order formations just to keep them at bay for the moment. Italian cavalry division unsure what to do…. one dragoon regiment turns about to retire 200 yards (4″) to a rear support position.
Note: This delayed the Italian central attack for two turns since their divisional commander was wounded and till he regained his command ability or replaced, the central Italian infantry division’s Engage order remained in effect. Light wounded commanders return to duty after two turns, in a Command phase. If next photo closely reviewed, the corp’s HQ ADC miniature is seen riding up behind the downed Italian commander with the “Attack” red order marker change, written note in his pocket, but really under his miniature base.
1100 hours: French stop their forward movement while asking questions of their military tutors how to assault a village. Black board instruction on the battlefield…. use several columns, with secured flanks, assault one building at a time, clearing the village turn by turn, 200% maximum shock odds against buildings, most firepower is terrain disordered chart line. Class is dismissed to practice the lesson plan on the battlefield. French form a few infantry battalion columns then stop… firing the artillery is the current fashionable action to learn. French are Class A firing grade for artillery bombardment, as good as it gets. The Italian batteries fire Class B, but seem to have better luck with the dice throws. Several semi-skirmisher legere miniatures knocked out of play, a few morale tests for losses. The musketry battle between building garrison and hedge huggers continues, one French battalion loses another miniature, testing to hold their ground.
Both cavalry divisions await orders to change from Engage (yellow) to Attack (red), which would allow offensive declared cavalry charges. With Engage only counter-charges are permitted without order violation penalties. Who will be first to jump into the cavalry charge mode?
The French left or Italian right flank is boring… nothing moving except for a stray unit performing a formation change drill it seems. With Engage orders (yellow) they cannot close to normal range musketry, so the effect is a standoff for the moment. One skirmishing Italian legere battalion takes its second miniature loss from French artillery bombardment, their subsequent morale roll causes a temporary retirement towards the rear.
1120 – 1140 hours: The players are practicing their artillery bombardment calculations and testing the occasional unit hit with their morale test. Little happens for the next turn but soon the French “bite the bullet” and change their cavalry division orders to Attack (red). Player attention fixes upon the French aggression….. an Attack order been issued during the Command phase. Seeing the French cavalry trot forward, the Italian cavalry regiments wait till they cross the Counter-charge zone (CCZ) threshold (4″ to frontal unit facing) then declare their own counter-charge against the advancing French cavalry. Several Italian flank battalions change to square formation… it is not good to be testing for square (morale test) under duress of nearby enemy charging cavalry, clear example in the pre game class discussion. Having counter-charged their chasseurs, the counter-charge declaration and successful morale test upped the situation to allow the leading French chasseur a’ cheval regiment to counter-charge the counter-charging triggered Italian cavalry.
Note: Engage order allows a defensive or reaction counter-charge, but no offensive charges without provoking reason. Once cavalry starts to charge about on the tabletop, the ease of declaring a charge occurs whenever enemy cavalry is in a state of charge or movement within the frontal 4″ facing of stationary cavalry. This tends to escalate cavalry actions quickly and produces a “back and forth” battle with winning cavalry forward actions triggering enemy cavalry to response. Infantry not in preformed squares and exposed artillery batteries quickly find themselves caught in flanks or overrun when cavalry is “careening” about.
French cavalry movement and Shock phase completed (Italian), the artillery of both sides open fire, sending two French cavalry miniatures into the loss pile. Morale tests rolled, the remaining French chasseurs went into morale disorder. The French cavalry seems to be in difficulty. The Italian Movement Phase follows after the French cavalry reformed during their Rally phase. Seeing the French cavalry “put out” so to speak, the Italian dragoons approach or wheel out to the French open right flank. Even their morale disordered chasseurs return to the forward battle line at half speed movement. Seeing the Italian dragoons approach on the flank, the French dragoon colonel ordered a counter-charge…. and failed, causing a morale disorder state for the dragoons.
Note: WR uses a red marker in the photos for offensive declared cavalry charge units and a blue arrow marker for counter-charges (reactionary and counter-charge) cavalry. Sometime WR “reverses” the arrow marker point to remind him the unit failed its morale test to charge or counter-charge.
Meanwhile, the forward movement of the other Italian dragoon regiment triggers a counter-charge by the bombarded then rallied French chasseurs a’ cheval regiment. Seeing the need of leadership, the French divisional commander, saber drawn, leads his valiant chasseurs to beat off the Italian dragoons. Note the Italian dragoons rolled a “0” for their counter-charge morale reaction to the counter-charging French chasseurs, triggered by the Italian dragoon forward movement, thereby lowering for Shock phase their CMR by one.
1200 hours: We left the fresh Italian dragoons licking their chops and in position to declare an offensive charge against the morale disordered French dragoons. Still under their Engage order, the charge costs 2 MFP to “violate” their standing order marker restrictions…. no offensive cavalry charges. Marking down the MFP cost with GM (aka WR), the dragoons charge home. The French dragoons, seeing the Italian charge, scatter for the rear after rolling another morale disorder test.
Note: Unit in morale disorder status, receiving another morale disorder test result, instead change the morale disorder result to routing status and immediately flee movement towards the rear.
Note: Units may “violate” their standing order if in battle mode formation. Cost two extra MFP per unit “violating” their command’s standing order. This allows a player to save a horrible situation sometimes being caught with the wrong order or gives an ability, with a penalty MFP cost” to take advantage of a tabletop situation. Using two MFP is the same as loosing two miniatures so the penalty is not to take lightly during a scenario game. MFP usage and management is a key level of command control and victory determination in most scenarios. Going over the army morale MFP total triggers hourly universal CMR degrading for every unit on the table.
Seeing the French dragoon regiment scatter, the French cavalry divisional commander rides to join his remaining dragoon regiment. Summoned to the battlefield on the previous turn, the French Reserve Division arrives to back up the battered French cavalry. Two regiments of cuirassier arrive with a nearby column of converged grenadier battalions and foot battery. Still the French dragoons lost the melee, leading to the situation of cuirassier bouncing the Italian charge by stand firm, even trying out the tactic of firing their carbines into the face of the Italian dragoons just before sword play. Big horses, big men, heavy straight swords wins the melee, and the Italian dragoons retired from the combat.
1220 hours: While the Italian cavalry reformed behind their supportive infantry battalion squares, the sole remaining Italian chasseur regiment looked nervous seeing the wall of French cuirassiers before them. Still waiting for the command order change over and recovery of their divisional commander from his light wound, Italian movement and combative action across their front lines was limited in scope. Behind the Italian front line, the entire Italian Reserve Division (Guard) marched left, quickly to reinforce the dissolving Italian left flank On their far right flank, several Italian line battalions pressured the French legere skirmisher screen to retire while the batteries of both sides bombarded the static formations.
Completing the first half of the game turn, the forward Italian chasseur a’ cheval regiment declared a Declared Cavalry Charge phase offensive charge before the French Movement phase. Solely this tactic was to slow the advance of the French cavalry, especially the two French cuirassier regiments, while waiting for the arrival of the Italian Reserve Division en route.
French movement was more aggressive. Near the central village, the French legere regiment formed several battalions into linear formations and assaulted the Italian skirmishers right of the village buildings. French artillery advanced to unlimber closer to the Italian battalions. Two battalions of French converged grenadiers from the Reserve Division advanced to assault the village with the support of the nearby French line battalions. Another unlucky Italian commander. This time the Italian cavalry divisional officer is struck “dead” from his saddle by random musketry firing.
Out on the French left…static front… but the Italians are showing aggressive movements under their new Attack command order. Two Italian line battalion are pressuring the French skirmishers screen. The Italian chasseur a’ cheval regiment rode forward to uncover their front. threatening a charge against the French battle line. Seen this tactic before…..
1240 hours: A big fast paced turn with cavalry charging across the table. Starting off the French turn, the independent Italian chasseurs a’ cheval regiment declares an offensive charge. Caught flat-footed again, the French infantry are under stress to pass their receiving morale tests, mainly because the Italian chasseurs are starting their charge declaration so close to the French non-square formation line battalions.
Note: Units test for receiving a cavalry charge if not already in a square formation. So a key understanding of the game is preparation before the next turn… knowing what the enemy cavalry is doing and located for example. Having key battalions already in a square formation to avoid the charge receiving morale test roll. Based upon starting distance from the cavalry unit, the morale modifiers range from -1 CMR to a horrible -5 CMR if the cavalry declares their charge within 4″ of the foot unit. Since the typical foot battalion has a 6 CMR…. the minus five means the battalion can pass the test only with a d10 rolled 0 or 1 (or 2 if leader nearby for +1 and “0” is zero, not ten). Otherwise the battalion is in morale disorder (no square defensive bonus) or worse, routing to the rear, maybe causing additional battalions to test for the rout and the initial charge (two morale tests for receiving charge and rout).
Back to the main action for this scenario battle, the opposite cavalry divisions dueling for the open flank. Thinking of preempting the forthcoming French cavalry charge again…. the Italian cavalry division called several regimental charges along their front. Both Italian dragoon regiments sounded their trumpeters and the mass of horse trots forward past their dead divisional commander lying on the ground.
With the Italian dragoons in a “state of charge”, the French cuirassier and dragoons trot forward during their French Movement Phase at half speed (in the Italian charge zone). Reaching the 4″ distance in front of the charging Italian dragoons, the French cavalry will have the ability to counter-charge themselves during the Shock phase reactionary actions, like seeing charging enemy cavalry to front. Nearby French battalion form squares. With all that cavalry riding fast horses, best to be in square formation as the nearby horse artillery batteries rapidly retire. The stage is set for the cavalry battle on the open flank when both French cuirassier regiments counter-charged the Italian dragoons. One cuirassier regiment rolled a “0” for their counter-charge morale test. Being the Shock phase, any rolled natural “0” morale test makes the unit “overly enthusiastic”, for the Shock phase only, and suffer a -1 CMR adjustment, conversely a “1” means the unit is especially well-formed and +1 CMR only during the Shock phase.
The first clash… fought bitterly between the leading cuirassier and dragoons, ends with the Italian dragoons retiring, both sides losing miniatures. The Italian cavalry division now reaches 20% loss level.
Next fight… the second Italian dragoon regiment clashes with the morale disordered first cuirassier regiment. They break before the blood dripping swords of the cuirassiers, sending them in flight. Their blood up… the disordered cuirassiers charge forward into the Italian second line of cavalry. The Italian chasseur a’ cheval, a veteran of several battles in this scenario, counter-charge forward and another brawl of horsemen erupts. But big horses, armored, and battle crazed men again defeat the Italian light cavalry.
Seeing the victorious but disordered French cuirassiers to their formation front, the Italian Guard di Honor counter-charge home while in a massed formation.
The impact was heard. Both sides lose a miniature from the split melee result. The French cuirassier Reserve Division commander is severely wounded and carried from the battlefield. The cuirassiers, reduced to half strength, broke and routed towards their friendly lines. The other French cuirassier regiment, having no enemy cavalry to front in charge reach, just trotted forward the minimum distance of 4″ and halted.
With the grand cavalry battle finished on one flank, the other flank experienced the sole Italian chasseur a’ cheval regiment charged home. Having routed two French line battalions, the chasseurs impacted the legere square. Bouncing from the wall of tight bayonets, the Italian chasseurs retired.
While cavalry on both flanks are having action and crossed swords, the infantry divisions in the center are preparing to force the issue around the village building. During the French Movement phase, the two grenadier battalion arrived and one led a column of French line battalions into half the village. During the constant exchanges of musketry and artillery round shot, the Italian Corps commander himself was hit. Hereon on the tabletop, the Italian side has an immediate -1 CMR adjustment for all morale and shock combat results till his replacement by one of the Italian divisional commanders in two turns.
Note: Random officer hits are caused by any unit rolling a 01 or 00 % dice roll. Firepower in our games uses a percentage to hit system. Roll equal or below the chart % with modifier adjustment to remove one miniature from play, causing a unit morale test. If rolled percentage is over the required %, then the effect is minimum or no effect towards loss. When the natural 01 or 00 is rolled, then there is a second d6 roll for radius or horse hit. A 1-3 rolled, enemy commander within 12″ has horse hit and out till next Command phase when he has a replacement horse. A 4-5 means enemy officer hit within 12″ of firing unit then check for wound severity and if replacement needed in two turns. A 6 means enemy officer hit if within 2′ of firing unit. The weapon range of firing unit doesn’t matter…. the table represents all the random shots flying about the battlefield.
1300 hours: The last 20 minute turn was packed with action. The new players are starting to understand the basic concepts of the firing tables and the shock combat interaction, with the back and forth action between cavalry opponents. For a training scenario this one is working well to give player a taste of the rules and interplay between the foot, cavalry and artillery units. One aspect WR hasn’t covered…. the two Mutual Artillery and Mutual Small Fire phases each game turn. Quickly the new players came to realize that there are two general artillery bombardment phases and two small arm musketry phases each game turn and the effect, if caught out of position, or in a bad position, pronounced on their unit(s). Plus during the Movement or Shock phases additional cannon fire or musketry takes place. Either Italian or French artillery, both sides pounded several battalions into ruin during the scenario unless there units were covered by an “open order” formation. It wasn’t the skirmishers giving cover, but their presence between the battle line allowed the close order battalions to use ground folds or dips, battlefield smoke representation etc. to avoid direct attention of the batteries while the skirmishers gave early warning of enemy advances.
Back to the action. With the wounding of the Italian Corps commander, the Italian army became passive in their actions, faced with a universal -1 CMR for every Italian unit. Regrouping their cavalry, placing the Guard di Honor and Guard Dragoons in the front line, the battered Italian dragoon and chasseurs rallied behind their heavy cavalry. An Italian line infantry column formed up and marched against the building just taken by the French infantry. The village back and forth infantry action is commencing with both sides matching their opponent’s assaults while their mounted cavalry arm engage in mortal combat.
The Italian cavalry, having reformed their ranks again await further French cavalry movement. Their wait was short-lived as the French cuirassiers trotted forward. Drawing close, the Italian Guard Dragoons counter-charged. Seeing the Italian charge before them, the cuirassier regiment triggered to their immediate counter-charge to the counter-charge initialed by the Italians. Crashing into the French cuirassier ranks, the Guard Dragoons regiment overthrew the French cuirassiers personally led by their divisional officer. Continuing their charge, the battered French cuirassier regiment, having lost a third of their strength, was no match for the victorious Guard Dragoons. Crumpled, with ranks broken apart, the second cuirassier regiment broke for the rear. Riding deep into the French rear, the only remaining regiment of dragoons tried to stop the elite Italian cavalry….. for a moment, till the shock combat die was tossed.
Seeing the last of the French cavalry riding hard for the rear, the scenario was called at this moment after ten completed turns. Being a training scenario the primary objectives were covered…. learn the basic mechanics of the game, the sequence of play, move the miniatures in proper formations, learn the charts, and understand basic % firepower and d10 morale calculations. The tabletop battle remains hung for victory by either side when scenario play called, only the rising army level MFP expenditure tracked by WR behind the scene, would curtail both armies aggressive actions and start the process to stand down and break off combat. Congratulations for the new players learning the basics and planning a rematch scenario next month with armies of Germanic unit organization, examining the differences in movement and firing grade classes, and more infantry interaction layered with some national characteristics.
So stay tuned. Planing another group napoleonic training scenario late in December or early January 2017.
For other warren news, seems there is some interest starting up some 25/28mm ancient gaming again. Been awhile since WR pushed blocks of ancient warriors across the tabletop. If interested….. contact WR directly.