Monday, March 29, 2010

Battle of Vier Arme


The Spring campaigning season has begun!.... The Grand Duchy of Grolstein and the Konigsreich der Bleiherzen meet in combat once again and this time its a face to face battle here at Lead Gardens pitting my good friend Eric. hereafter wearing the heavily laced tricorn of General Eric von Radstadt, CinC in the service of the Konigreich, versus yours truly, playing the part of the (soon to be humbled) General Deiter von Swartzburg commanding the Grolsteiner force ordered to join the Grolstein main body now facing the enemy to the east.

At this point I should also mention that the first reader who can guess the historical battlefield that our tabletop was modeled after (of course abstractly in the old school manner) and post the name in the comment section will get a painted RSM general figure (painted to your specs)! So good luck!

This overview shows the general movement of the two sides during the battle. We used "Black Powder" as the ruleset, and I'll try here to make a more detailed explanation of how the rules worked for us.

A birds eye view of the battlefield and the starting positions...Grolstein on the left and Bleiherzen on the right.

The table is an 8x5...according to the rules a bit small without modifications for a "Black Powder" battle but we went ahead and used the rules as written with no scale reductions and the rules performed very well regardless of the small table.

At the start of the battle the Bleiherzeners have managed to surprise the Grolstein advance guard who are still trying to deploy out of the village of Vier Arme. This put them at a real disadvantage in the opening stages as they tried to sort out their confused command situation and get into line of battle. In Black Powder you must order units out loud and then roll 2d6 against the "staff rating" of the army to actually have them carry the order out. Depending on the number of pips rolled less than staff rating can result in one, two, or three moves (or formation changes) possible. If the staff roll fails however, that commander cannot roll again, and the unit that failed cannot be given an order by any other leader that turn. (As an additional complication, a command roll of 12 results in a "blunder" which refer's you to a D6 table that directs the ordered unit to move left right forward or back.... introducing a really nice element of chaos in the command roll.

So the unfortunately for the Grolsteiners, their first command rolls were abysmal and the advance guard was balled up in the town for a critical turn, though their cavalry commander managed to get his lads moving off to the left flank.


The Bleiherzener advance guard commanded by the able General von Kluge, did not have the same problem and the men of the Konigreich advanced quickly to engage.


The Grand Duchess' Leib Guard marches out of the town...again I just can't help taking pics of the new Minden minis now in the service of Grolstein...
(unfortunately these fellows are in march column...as we shall see, a very bad formation to be in when charged by a body of bloodthirsty Bleiherzener hussars!)


A young ensign (my 4 1/2 yr old son) gets his first real taste of a wargame battle and deploys a body of Grolstein Grenz in the wood to the right flank.




Meanwhile the men of the Konigreich advance boldly towards the ridgeline near the center of the battlefield.

Their ably led cavalry sweep up the ridge and immediately their leading squadron of the newly raised Kuschen Hussars charge a squadron of Grolstein uhlanen.



Colonel Jahde's regiment is the first Grolsteiner unit to face the enemy having been already deployed in front of the village. The Black Powder rules are adaptable to any basing scheme, and my basing for Charles Grant "The Wargame" rules worked just fine...a real plus in my book!


The ball opens with the crash of muskets as Regiment Jahde takes a crushing first volley from the Erbprinz Fusilier Regiment von Kluge. In Black Powder shooting is basically handled with a simple roll of (usually) 3D6 with hits achieved on a 4-6...then the target attempts to save off the hits by rolling D6s equal to or higher than their "stamina rating" (usually 4 for most regulars). Hits are tracked with casualty markers (in our game we used white plastic crosses...actually cheap plastic tile spacers from the local hardware store). The accumulation of three hits results in the unit becoming "shaken" with the usual array of penalties to their combat ablity. When a unit takes more than three hits it must roll a "break test" and these can either force the unit to retreat or even in the most severe case to be eliminated completely. The combat rules are nicely decisive that way.

The Duchess' Leib Guard, unfortunately makes a mistake by attempting to march out of the town in march column hoping to deploy on their next move but the Kuschen Hussars after routing the Uhlans make a "sweeping advance" move (cavalry are allowed to move again and charge if they win a melee and see off their opponents) to charge the flank of the column. The column is quickly routed off the field, much to the chagrin of their well dressed Colonel...


The following turn the Grolsteiners are still plagued with poor command rolls and the Bleiherzener cavalry continues to wreak destruction on the Grolsteiners. Here an artillery battery is destroyed before it even gets to deploy....


The battle heats up as the infantry of both sides begin to trade volleys. Maximum musket range is 18 " (the same as Grant rules) so the game scale still felt similar to the rules I'm used to playing with this period.


Skirmishers trade shots in the woods with the Bleiherzeners getting the best of it and pushing back the Grolstein grenzers.


The battle came to a climax around turn 8 with the Grolsteiners throwing in a regiment of arriving cuirassiers to try to restore their dire position in concert with the Duchess' uhlans returning to the table after routing off early in the game...(the rules have provisions for units leaving the table to return..).


Overview of the climactic charge of the Grolstein Cuirassiers!...though the charge was glorious, it failed to break the advancing Bleiherzeners...and that spelled the end for Grolstein. The Hand to Hand combat rules are similar to firing in that each side rolls D6s with some modifiers and 4-6s are hits....(the usual hand to hand roll for most units is 6D6 but especially tough melee units like cuirassiers roll 8D6... formidable indeed!) The battle also was tough for the artillery of both sides in that they had a hard time getting in to action given the free-wheeling nature of the battle....though the newly uniformed Bleiherzen artillery looked really great, they were never able to deploy given some poor command rolls late in the game by General von Radstadt. The Grolstein dragoons managed to make a nice "end around" the Bleiherzen right flank with a good command roll but was never able to make good on the move before the main body broke under the assault of Bleiherzen infantry and cavalry....


Bleiherzen artillery moves up...


With rout of the Grolstein cuirassiers in the face of disciplined volleys of Bleiherzener musketry, the Grolsein infantry had little chance of standing up to the inspired follow-up charge of the Konigswald Dragoons. In the final stages of the battle, the Grolstein CinC was unable to stem the rout and the game was called in the Konigreich's favor (after 5 broken Grolstein units fled the field....Game over... Black Powder games do have a "sudden death" provision that to me make great sense for gamers who want a clear conclusion in an afternoon....we played this game in about 3 hours getting in 7 turns before the rout of the last Grolstein infantry unit decided the game.)



In this last pic we see the Bleiherzen dragoons in hot pursuit of the remnants of the fleeing Grolstein army....


All in all a really fun battle and a great afternoon of gaming... the "Black Powder" rules performed marvelously and delivered an interesting contest with just enough randomness to make things interesting for both sides.

Again...remember to take a guess at the historic battle our table was based on to win a cool "Old School" RSM mounted officer painted to your specs by yours truly, littlejohn...who must now retreat back to Grolstein to lick his wounds and hopefully meet General Eric von Radstadt on another day, and another field!

...rumors are that General von Radstadt wants to try conclusions in another face to face game using using Lead Garden's "Big Rigs" ... the ECW 40mm collection...bring it on!


14 comments:

Fitz-Badger said...

No clue on the battle, but very nice report! Lovely terrain and minis as always. Plus it's good to hear more about how "Black Powder" plays.

Steve-the-Wargamer said...

Lovely battle report - well done!

PS. Leuthen??

littlejohn said...

Hint on the Name the Table contest:
The battle was from the Napoleonic era....

婉婷婉婷 said...

人必須心懷希望,才會活的快樂,日子才過得充實,有意義,有朝氣,有信心。........................................

Bluebear Jeff said...

Oh oh, that does me in . . . I have never felt the slightest attraction to Napoleonics (I know that makes me unusual amongst wargamers).

As for your battle, the table, terrain and (especially) the figures look wonderful. A wonderful look to everything, sir.

And, like Fitz, I enjoyed your rule commentary. I always like reading how folks found various rule sets.


-- Jeff

abdul666 said...

Very, very beautiful (such eye-candy units!), and entertaining reading!

Don't know about the battle -forgot most of my Napoleonic knowledge long ago- but the vain sacrifice of the Cuirassiers reminds even more of Reichschoffen than of Rezonville!

A J said...

My knowledge of Napoleonic battles has faded with the years, so no clue here. But what a great AAR and wonderful photographs. A well-deserved victory for Bleiherzen (Okay, I'm already biased toward Bleiherzen as their uniforms resemble those of Hetzenberg... ;)

tidders said...

Super looking game,

Battle: is it Jena-Auerstadt ?

-- Allan

abdul666 said...

Your two armies really deserve to be presented, each unit individually, during a parade -each on its own blog, of course!

Capt Bill said...

A wonderful battle and recap. Your site is my favorite among some amazing entries. What an inspiration!

CWT said...

An excellent battle report, and I'm delighted to see Black Powder getting an airing - I've recently fallen for it myself!

As to the battle, I'm not too sure - but is it Quatre Bras?

Cheers,
Craig

littlejohn said...

Craig-CWT,
You are the WINNER sir! Quatre Bras it is...( I think Wellington referred to it as the Battle on a Postage stamp.

Just send me an e-mail to dav9651@yahoo.com so I can get details on how you want to see your figure turn out!
WELL DONE!

(It turns out that my worthy opponent Eric (von Radstadt) figured it out on the day of the game, but he's not eligible...and think he's a dedicated 54mm collector and an RSM would seem positively tiny! ;)

Dave

Archduke Piccolo said...

Rats! CWT got in ahead of me...
Actually, I thought maybe Minden (with some substution of terrain features), but with the Napoleonic clue, when I saw a map of Quatre Bras ...
What magnificent pictures! Such sartorial sumptuousness - it is almost a pity to see them being chivvied from the field...
To my taste, Black Powder looks to chancy for a two=player game, but for solo play they seem almost ideal.
Cheers
Ion

Steve Turner said...

Really enjoyed the battle report, and the graphics are just great. (I always like to see plenty of cotton wool smoke in the air, it gives the right 'feel' to a game).

Thanks,
- Steve