Thursday, 3 August 2017

Borodino AAR 30th July 2017

On Sunday 30th July we played a Black Powder game based on the Battle of Borodino.

Chris McGill had kindly organised the game and umpired throughout, ensuring I didn't use Hail Caesar rules which are close enough to throw you off especially if like me you've been playing that a lot and not Black Powder.

Denis Jackman, Xavier Jackman played the French, Trev Crook and myself played the Russians. The French objective? Simple, push a hole through the Russian army and March on to Moscow.

The Russian were set up first then the French would be deployed.

Because we place the hills under the cloth they don't easily show up. So I have marked the isolated hill at the front, behind which is the redoubt and marked a line behind it which shows the foot of the next line of hills, the army is positioned on the crest.

After Chris had placed the units I was asked if I would like to make any changes. Seeing the redoubt I decided to put some guns there and 4 units of infantry.

Trev declined to advise although he knew the battle well. 
It seems that the redoubt had been built in the wrong place and on the day when Kutuzov arrived he ignored it, placing Jagger on the hill in front. Trev obviously wanted me to learn from experience.

At the top of the picture is Bordino and the river runs across the cloth behind it. Cossack units were
positioned there. Units were placed in the in the town at the bottom of the map and another in the woods at the bottom of the page.

The French deploy, their right wing remains off table as a reserve

We waited to see what Napoleon (Denis) and Ney (Xaviar) would do.

As I expected Denis declined a flank, but with units off table in reserve I couldn't initiate a move up table leaving as that would leave an open invitation to Moscow.

As the attackers the French advanced first.

Denis' units move more or less to order too many moving three paces forwards, however a brigade blundered veering into range of
the artillery in the redoubt.

My flurry of firing was statistically OK but there were too many units incoming to have much affect.

In addition French attack columns rolls a 3+ moral/save against musket fire.

I certainly wasn't going to get the three rounds of firing I'd hoped for and needed.

                               The Russian brigades stoically await the French Tsunami.
All is still quiet at Semenovskaia

An eagle's view of Semenovskaia and the woods to it's south 
which the troops surround and protect as well as the woods to their South.

The French second move brings them into contact with the Russian centre.

Denis command the Old Guard and Young Guard in, unlike Napoleon, I don't believe they fought at Borodino but rather cheered on their

Whilst they have moved in there has not yet been 'a roll' for incoming fire. The Young Guard rashely charging the cannon withdraw disordered as it fires into their column.

After combat and indeed the next turn little has been achieved by the Russians, but much by the French, a full brigade to the north of the Old Guard's initial attack (right in pic) has collapsed under the French attack.
One unit of Old guard has pushed through. (the unit it attacked rolled snake eyes for it's break test, forcing the unit behind to test, snake eyes again and OFC the supporting gun goes automatically.

The big picture

Turn four - on the rest of the battle field the Russians try to move their troops towards the centre, a vain attempt to stop the beginning of the end.

Whilst cavalry brigades attempt to slow the French long enough for help to arrive.

Cossack even coming through a ford to assist and prevent the French cavalry from becoming too aggressive south of the river. They did better than expected.

This withdrawal of a third of the Cossacks encouraged the French Cavalry to attack those remaining north of the river. With very mixed results, the Cossack fared better than they should.

The French would be eating their own horse meat.

Now the French right wing appears so as to discourage any more northwards movement.

End of turn five and the Cavalry's attempts to slow the advance are clearly failing and with no
infantry or artillery to support, there is little they can do.

A wise commander would at this point withdraw and save resources for the next battle.

A French victory!

A view of the final battlefield as Russian troops evade the French in order to redeploy again closer to Moscow.

Denis Jackman's account can be found here

Photos here.

OOB and other docs found here

Probably my favourite photo, a view up the battle filed North East to Borodino


Note 1:
The Order of play in Black powder as written should be Initiative, Command movement then fire.
This means you can walk up to the enemy line shoot it, maybe disorder it and attack in your next turn when it is no longer disordered.

We use what I understand has become a widely accepted alternate order of play; shoot, Initiative, Command finally movement.

This means you can't walk up to an enemy unit and fire at it from 2". (unrealistic.)
It does mean you can fire at it from multiple units, disorder it (you hope) then try to charge it. (which to me seems more realistic.)

Note 2;
Distance, lots of people have differing ways of transferring measurements form 28 mm games to 6 mm games, in my club we use inches but halve the movement and reduce range to 1/6th. The does limit the amount of long distance shooting you can get in. In the opinion of the history buffs inmy club, this better reflects the reality of the time.

For a full AAR of the Battle of Borodino go to this link Battle of Borodino 7th September 1812.
I've copied in their map of the battle and you can seeat the centre the unoccupied redoubt with Russian Jagger deployed on the hill in front.

 Map of the Battle of Borodino, 1812.
        N - Napoleon, K - Kutuzov       


Google Earth image of the battlefield today, Russian spellings.

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