Battle of Gaza 1799 revisited

At OrcCon 2017 LAX convention Daniel and WR replayed out the Battle of Gaza 1799 scenario featured in WR back in 2011. Same scenario format, the tabletop action lasted for twenty turns of back and forth miniature conflict, out of the twenty-one scheduled scenario turns. Mid game WR had Daniel on the ropes after a grand mameluke cavalry charge, but in the end the French, having higher morale and combative abilities won out. Following is the blow by blow narrative for those interested. This scenario game really shows the back and forth action common for our napoleonic (republican) era games.

Opening scenario deployments. Levant Ottomans at left in Gaza and on the background low-rise. Arriving French at right crossing the Gaza wadi.

GD Lannes infantry command and General Murat’s cavalry cross the Gaza wadi toward Gaza and along the coastal road. March orders for both at start, Murat’s cavalry in battle mode formations.

Levant Ottomans defend Gaza village and the low-rise. Four commands present (l to r): Aga of Jerusalem on rise, Mameluke cavalry, Hassen Aga El Arish, and Adballa Pasha Palestine at Gaza.

The scenario map shows the basic open terrain for scenario. Coastal road to Gaza and beyond to Acre. Palm or fruit orchards, the town or village of Gaza, low rises or hills, and the Gaza wadi. The Mediterranean sea with coastal dunes edge one side of the tabletop. The ridge crest prevent vision across if on the lower ground. Scale to 12″ per square of tabletop, typical for the WR scenario maps.

Gaza 1799 game map. Each square is 12″. full scenario details in scenario notes file.

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Battle of Castel Bolognese 1797 AAR

The Battle of Castel Bolognese on 3 February 1797 saw a 7,000 man force from the Papal States commanded by Michelangelo Alessandro FML Colli-Marchi face a 8,600-9,000 strong French corps under General Claude Victor-Perrin. General of Division Victor-Perrin’s march along the Via Emilla from Modena to Imola brought Colli-Marchi’s troops to battle across the Senio River, just east of Castel Bolognese towards Faenza.

WR discussed the short 1997 Papal States campaign in a previous blog article. To understand the brief campaign, the battle and forces involved, scenario design notes, and some Papal States background, click on my link:    Battle of Castel Bolognese 1797.

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Just before noon on the cold wintery Italian February day, the French Advance guard cavalry brigade, three small regiments of cavalry, under GB Junot [engage order] halts before the Senio River bridge crossing on road to Faenza. Across the shallow slow-moving waterway, the Papal States army has deployed behind hasty dug entrenchments blocking the forward advance of the recently victorious French army under General Bonaparte. Soon joined by the two converged elite battalions under GB Jean Lannes [also engage order], GB Junot’s attached horse battery unlimbered to send a message. The sharp crack of the 4 pounder horse battery echoes against the cloudy sky…. the Battle of Castel Bolognese or Faenza is soon to begin. Small tabletop game for the WR…. the scenario poker table battlefield is only 4′ x 4′ with Dan playing the recently victorious French and Daniel (WR son) trying to figure out who the Papal States were historically, discussion of which excluded in  educational curriculums.

Seeing the French artillery unlimbered across the river, the Papal States army formed up to meet the French aggression behind their earthworks. Formed into two equal commands, labelled generically for the scenario as the Left or Right flank commands, each command or wing had five battalions of infantry and two small cavalry detachments following their defend order. Central to the Papal defense was two positional artillery batteries, of six cannon each, positioned to cover the bridge over the Senio River. Small Papal cavalry detachments positioned themselves to guard the open flanks where the earthworks ended.

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Opening deployments. GB Junot’s three small cavalry “regiments”, really squadrons, are alongside the two battalions of GB Lannes. Across the river the Papal States are behind their entrenchments.

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Voltri 1796 revisited AAR

The Battle of Voltri 1796 scenario was featured previously several years ago on WR. A personal favorite of WR, this scenario provides a new player training opportunity since the number of battalions, cavalry regiments (only one) and artillery batteries (again only one) present on the tabletop is limited. By limiting the number of units, the players learn formation changes and unit marching about the tabletop, perform the firepower and morale test mechanics without the drama of massed formations, and understand the sequence of play. All told, counting for both the French and Austrian combatants, there are fifteen battalions, one cavalry regiment, and one mixed small artillery battery. Typically during our warren games a single player would have double or triple that amount of infantry battalions, cavalry regiments, and artillery batteries to command, multiplied by several players on the same side vs. a similar forces set up on the opposite team. Still, WR’s small-scale scenarios seem to have a wild side of their own and the Voltri 1796 replay kept up that trend.

Battle of Voltri 1796 scenario and background material: Battle of Voltri 1796.  A previous Voltri 1796 scenario AAR is available for comparison reading and different outcome.

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The set up on warren gaming day. Both the Voltri 1796 and Bolt Action Italy 1943 tables on the warren patio. Eight gamers soon filled the chairs.

Voltri 1796 Scenario map and starting positions

Voltri 1796 Scenario map and starting positions. Blue markers French, white Austrian. Each square is one foot (12″) for scale.

Battle of Voltri 1796 tabletop terrain. Austrian eastern column starts near French defenders at Pegli in foreground.

Battle of Voltri 1796 tabletop terrain showing the “L” shaped tabletop. Austrian eastern column starts near French defenders at Pegli in foreground. Photo taken during previous scenario game.

Scenario starts with the Austrian column under GM Pittoni arriving outside the small seaside village of Pegli. The Austrian force consists of: Meszaros Uhlans (1×6 miniatures), IR 13 Reisky (2×7+RA), IR 16 Terzi (1×7+RA), IR 39 Nadasdy (1×7), Grenz Szluiner (1×6), a small four cannon mixed battery, and the column train. The other Austrian column, descending from the mountains southward towards Mele under GM Vukassovich, has IR 56 Wenzel Colloredo (2×7+RA), IR 19 Alvinczi [hun] (1×7), IR 45 Lattermann (1×7+RA), and Grenz Carlstadter (1×6).

For the French they are positioned into two widely separate groups. The 75th DB de Ligne stationed at Pegli (3×10+RA) under GB Laubespin, and GB Lannes with 51st DB de Ligne (2×10), with a converged grenadier battalion (1×5) at Mele. Their divisional commander, GD Cervoni stationed himself in the town of Voltri with the divisional train. Should note that all the French DB battalions are stationary on turn one except for their skirmishers (see scenario notes). Voltri 1796 Scenario notes

Note: The “RA” refers to battalion or regimental cannon attached to that infantry regiment. No cannon miniature is used on the tabletop, just an extra artillerymen positioned with the battalion as a marker. Battalion guns increases the battalion firepower percentage shot by additional +20% when in linear or square formation, assuming the battalion is in good morale standing, and more importantly, increases the battalion’s minimum fire zone out to 4″ from standard musket 2″.

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Opening deployment around Pegli. French behind the village with skirmishers inside the buildings. Austrians in columns approaching. Note French battalion square lower right (key tip).

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Battle of the Pyramids 1798 AAR

The past weekend WR travelled south to the St. Crispin’s Gaming day event held every 2nd Saturday in Anaheim CA. The featured scenario this month was the Battle of the Pyramids 1798 having General Bonaparte and his Armee d’Orient against the massed Mameluk cavalry under Murad Bey before the distant Giza pyramids.

Back in YR2014 WR wrote up his historical scenario for the Battle of the Pyramids 1798 as part of WR’s series of French Republican battles in the Orient. The blue linked WR blog posting includes the normal maps, scenario design notes, rosters, and some special rules for the unique French “divisional sized square” formations, massed Ottoman mameluke cavalry, and terrain around Cairo different from our normal european napoleonic scenarios. During the last two years WR had painted up more Ottoman mameluke cavalry, Egyptian fellahin infantry and additional arabic cavalry to stage this grand scenario. Never can have too much Ottoman or Islamic States cavalry or fellahin it seems. For the terrain, WR painted up two large 6×9′ drop cloths for the sandy desert open ground, dozen metal clips to hold the drop cloth, collected cake palm trees, low dike walls for Embabeh village, lengths of dry creek bed treated felt, cut and flocked the Nile River terrain banks from “tie pattern” blue fleece, and finally created eight additional mud brick buildings from floral form, covered in plaster of paris material. All for a single desert scenario it seems but WR is well-known for recycling the stored terrain for future scenarios.

The game day finally arrives for four players. Andy and Dan for the French Armee d’Orient and Joseph with WR for the Mameluk side. Scenario table is 12×6′ in size. The painted and lightly flocked desert terrain drop cloths are clamped down on the table perimeter edge, stretched to remove the slight ridges or cloth folds. Since the drop cloths have tiny stones glued with the flock material, the Nile River blue fleece and dry creek bed felt “self sticks” to the desert painted cloth like a Velcro strap. The finished effort is pictured below.

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Mid afternoon on the open Giza sandy flatlands have the Mameluk cavalry and massed Albanian and Egyptian fellahin infantry awaiting the French approach.

The village of Embabeh required a low dike wall around the Nile River village. WR used cut and rounded lengths of wood molding, sanded down to create slight wall angle then flocked and sanded. This low dike wall is clearly seen in the famous battle painting done by Lejuene.

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Massed Albanian and Egyptian fellahin infantry garrison the Nile village of Embabeh. Two commands in the village; the Albanians man the right flank facing the French approach, and backed by the untrained massed Fellahin in the other command.

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Battle of the Pyramids painted by Lejeune. Note the low dike wall around the village of Embabeh when the painting is expanded (click) to full size.

The scenario maps for the Battle of the Pyramids are drawn to WR’s standard scale. Each square is 12″ on the tabletop. Wooden counters are placed on the drawn map for each French or Mameluk command and location.

Battle of the Pyramids 1798 scenario map.

Battle of the Pyramids 1798 scenario map without command markers.

Battle of the Pyramids 1798 scenario map with command counter start location.

Battle of the Pyramids 1798 scenario map with command counters at start location.

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Tussle in Republican Italy AAR

As mentioned in the previous blog posting, WR travelled to Santa Monica CA for the monthly HMGS-PSW Aero Hobbies game day held each 1st Sunday of the month. WR had scheduled himself for a small Franco-Austrian republican wars battle featuring Dan’s early Imperial French at a young age… i.e. playing rabid republicans on the tabletop vs. the stately marching Habsburgs. With vineyards on the tabletop, the local buildings (village) surely have wine barrels in storage. Lots of wine barrels in fact, worthy of their defense from the wine loving Frenchmen.

Republican French came to the Po wine reception party with two small infantry divisional commands and two smaller cavalry brigade commands, played by Andy and Dan (1800 points worth roster). Each French infantry division marched on with two demi-brigades of 3 battalions each, a demi-brigade of Legere with 2 battalions (bi-brigade?), two small converged grenadier battalions, and their divisional attached foot 8 pdr. battery. The right flank cavalry command or brigade had two hussar and one chasseur a’cheval regiment with attached horse battery. Covering the left flank were three dragoon regiments. Lastly the French dragged on a reserve 12 pdr. battery attached with their column headquarters (not a Corps or Army HQ… so a Column HQ this time). All these fun-loving, wine seeking, sun-baked 28mm Frenchmen were painted by Dan and from his miniature collection.

Advancing Austrians, marching to save the wine grape crop from stained French hands, were commanded by the team duo WR and Daniel (1800 points). WR rosters two Austrian infantry commands… call them main battle-line infantry commands as “divisions” were not really a staple of the Austrian command system yet. Each had three double battalion regiments of fusiliers with attached battalion artillery, and one grenzer regiment. All told eight battalions and a positional 6 pdr. battery in their infantry commands. Holding their left flank was the advance guard command with two freikorps battalions and the La Tour Chevauleger regiment, looking sharp in their classic green coats. Backing up the Austrian center was their reserve command consisting of four grenadier battalions and a strong unnamed kuirassier regiment. Austrian headquarters brought two 12 pdr. reserve positional batteries to entertain the French with lively sounds. All the early Austrians from WR’s painted 25/28mm republican wars collection, including the tabletop terrain.

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Opening set up. Austrians in foreground and French in distance. Clearly the Austrian and French OOB can be determined. Vineyards, small village, shallow stream, low rises, and grain fields complete the 6×4 foot tabletop.

Terrain covered the small 6×4 tabletop. Vineyards caused movement reduction (2″ column, 4″ if linear) and no cavalry or artillery. No direction vineyard marching restrictions applied, other than unit movement reduction, but in really it is hard to cross the vine rows. Two Class II buildings and low stone bridge over the 2″ movement cost brook (non-disordering terrain) while the tall grain fields restricted visibility to 6″ if sighted across unless on heights. The low hills or rises blocked LOS otherwise had no movement effects.

Opening scenario movements. French quickly marched forward and entered the village with their right hand division while their light cavalry brigade covered the open flank. The left flank infantry marched into the near center vineyard, while skirmishing below the low-rise and covering the advance of the left flank dragoon brigade. Austrian response was a bit slower… they are Austrians after all. Seeing the French infantry enter the village, they stopped short of the village buildings while their advance guard La Tour Chevauleger skirmished against the French advance over the left low-rise.

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Austrian right and French left flanks. Skirmishing light troops while the main infantry battalions advance into position.

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Battle of Aboukir 1799 AAR

This recent Superbowl Sunday WR had several gaming friends over for miniatures, game watching, commercial watching, and seasonal food. The scenario played was his recently blogged Battle of Aboukir 1799 write-up and historical notes, surely a game scenario rarely played on the miniature tabletop. Dan and Daniel formed the French command player team. David, Rex, and WR formed the turban head team.

The starting historical setup shows the Ottomans busy entrenching themselves on the Aboukir peninsula. With their transport fleet further offshore (not present on tabletop), only a few nuisance arab gunboat dhow sail about on the inshore tabletop waves. The grand 6×8 foot tabletop view below…. from the tip of the Aboukir peninsula and small fort to the peninsula arrival table end of the French Armee d’Orient.

Scenario tabletop for the forthcoming Battle of Aboukir 1799 game.

Scenario tabletop for the forthcoming Battle of Aboukir 1799 game.

The landed Ottoman Army of Rhodes in their seaside camp and 2nd Line of defenses consisted of: Four units of Sekhan infantry, Greek Martolos skirmishers (tribal), two units of Azapas marines, a unit of Deniz marines, and two mixed positional batteries. The Ottoman Reserve positioned in the camp zone consisted of 4 Janissary Seban otras with their rayas skirmisher detachment and Mustapha Pasha’s personal retainer guard.

The Ottoman positions at scenario start.

The Ottoman Aboukir fort, camp with Janissary reserves, then the 2nd Line positions at scenario start.

Forward of the Ottoman 2nd Line was their 1st Line of defense. Two low-grade hilltop redoubts with more Sekhan defenders in each, another unit of Sekhan infantry near the small village, a supportive Sekhan unit near the sandhill redoubt, a token battery of six mixed positional cannon, and a thin skirmisher (tribal) unit of Greek Martolos doing a poor job of linking the two redoubts.

The Ottoman 1st Line of weak defenses.

The Ottoman 1st Line of weak defenses. French arrive upper right.

The arriving French Armee d’Orient starts with several commands on the scenario tabletop at start. The first leading French commands, from left to right facing the Ottomans were; d’Estaing’s brigade consisting of the 4th Demi-brigade Legere (DBL), the 61st Demi-brigade (DB), the 75th DB, and attached foot 8 pdr. battery. Murat’s advance guard cavalry occupied the forward center and consisted of the 3rd & 14th Dragoons with a 4 pdr. horse artillery battery. The division of Lannes’ formed on the right with 22nd DBL, the 13th DB, the 69th DB, and attached 8 pdr. foot battery.

Forming the second line and reserve is Lanusse’s division consisting of 18th DB, 32nd DB, and attached foot battery. Alongside was Army d’Orient headquarters with sapper detachment, a small siege artillery battery (24 pdr.) and the train. Last command starting on the field was Bessieres’ reserve cavalry of the Guides & Chasseur sqn’s. Off tabletop and due to arrive during the afternoon is Kleber’s division with 2nd DBL, 25th DB, and 75th DB. Davout’s screening detachment with 7th Hussars and dromedaries complete the French army.

Armee d'Orient arriving to engage the Ottoman starting at 0900 hours.

Armee d’Orient arriving view to engage the Ottoman starting at 0900 hour.

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Battle of Alexandria 1801 AAR

Last weekend WR travelled to Anaheim, California for the HMGS-PSW Horse and Musket themed convention and presented his Battle of Alexandria 1801 scenario game. The following is the After Action Report (AAR) from the miniature Alexandria battlefield.

Team France was Daniel and Paul P. with assistance from WR. French plan was to quickly seize the roman ruins using Lanusse’s infantry division then focus on wrestling control of the central hill using the rest of the French army. With the ability to skirmish throughout the French army and the mobile French cavalry for forcing British battalion squares, the French plan seemed decent pending execution.

Team British was Bob and Paul#2. Both veteran players so WR left them with the operations and conduct of the British army. British plan was simple…. hold the hill line and ruins during the predawn assault then use their reserve brigades to plug the gaps. With limited skirmishers (only one true light battalion plus the Corsican legion), limited artillery at start,  some token cavalry squadrons, this battle will be decided by the British infantry battalions enduring the French assault.

Links to my normal Battle of Alexandria pre-game historical background write-up: Alexandria 1801, and the Alexandria 1801 Scenario notes with command starting positions, special rules, notes and order of battle.

General view of scenario start.

General view of scenario start. Front line British brigades being placed (Reserve, Guard, 1st and 2nd) and the naval gunboat off the coast. For the French, Division Lanusse in foreground and Bron light cavalry detachment beyond the dry canal. Other commands represented by wooden blocks.

Battle of Alexandria 1801 scenario map with map counters showing starting command dispositions.

Battle of Alexandria 1801 scenario map with map counters showing starting command dispositions. Map scale is 12″ per square so table is 6×8 feet.

The scenario starts in the pre-dawn darkness of March 21, 1801. A unit of French dromedaries & guides descended upon an isolated British redoubt to create a British left flank diversion before the main French assault on the British right flank (roman ruins). The first hour of game play (three turns) is pre-dawn so the visibility is limited to 12″ on the tabletop. Following the “dawn attack and French first turn movement bonus rules” found in the Alexandria scenario notes, the French Lanusse infantry division quickly marched in near silence and morning gloom to rush the British earthwork positioned before the roman ruins. Apart from the French light cavalry detachment (Bron) beyond the dry canal, the other French commands are located on tabletop and moved as wooden blocks till they move adjacent (map square wise) to British units. Continue reading