Victorian Napoleonic Championships - Steve's Report

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Administrative Corporal - SdKfz 251/1
Administrative Corporal - SdKfz  251/1
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Victorian Napoleonic Championships - Steve's Report

Post by Saxonian » Tue Jul 22, 2014 3:23 am

Dan and Tyler have given an excellent run-down of the format for the tournament, so I will just leap straight into the battles. The lists for my Saxons can be seen here:

Round 1 – Durnstein vs Kit Goldsbury
Victory in this scenario was determined by control of three vineyards. We both used our 800pt list, each side started with one division off-table, and I was the defender. I chose to leave my cav division to come on as reserve – unreformed infantry and long marches don’t mix, even if they can move 6MU for the first two turns. Kit chose an infantry division to be in reserve. I would dice for mine to come on, and his would come on the turn after.

Initial deployment saw me set up with each infantry division facing a vineyard, with a heavy artillery battery aimed at the gap between to discourage any advance through there. Kit placed most of his infantry opposite, on the other side of the vineyards, with his superior Highlanders in position to move around them on his right. His two heavy cav units were on his right also, with the two light cav lurking behind his infantry.

Opening moves saw each of us begin a right hook, Kit with his heavy cav and Highlanders, me with the Guard, a large line infantry and arty battery. Neither army contained any light infantry, and as the vineyards were classed as difficult terrain, we were both unwilling to risk trying to move straight through them. By the time my reserves arrived, Kit was putting considerable pressure on my left and I was returning the favour, with my grenadiers moved into position to venture into the gap between the vineyards. A fight between the light cav in his rear saw both units down to wavering, a bit frustrating for me – only four hits from nine dice! About average, I know, but you always hope for more. There followed several turns of manoeuvring, with the effects of shooting being largely recovered.

By this stage the hook attacks were developing – his heavy cav bounced off a square, the square was then shredded by arty fire and broke, causing a succession of CT’s which I managed to fail. On my side, the Guard, grenadiers and large inf units managed to take out his centre. The battle hung in the balance. I had lost 7AP, Kit 6.5AP. Time at this point was running short, so Kit wisely moved his Highlanders into a vineyard. On my next move I intended to move one unit to contest the vineyard occupied by the Highlanders, and (hopefully) side-step another unit into the second. The third was unoccupied. But at this point time was called, and an important lesson was learned – always remember to play the objectives!! A tight arm-wrestle, but a well-deserved win to Kit.

Round 2 – Salamanca vs Philip Abela
This battle saw me as the attacker with 650pts (one division on a flank march, my cav) take on Philip’s Netherlanders at 800pts. His entire army started on table, strung out in march column facing my right. And it was HUGE!! It stretched from one end to the other, doubled up in some places because they couldn’t fit. There was an awful lot of conscripts, some even poor conscripts, but as the Russians say, quantity has a quality all of its own. Because of its size, I decided I had no chance of breaking his army, so I had to go for the objectives – two hills and a town. The hills were close together, so I decided to try for those.

I raced across the table as fast as I could, managing to make a pretty successful series of rolls for second moves. Philip decided to not even try to defend the first hill, and did a very skilful job of re-organising his line before I could reach him. As it turned out, all I did was race toward my own destruction. I tried to be aggressive, but my shooting couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn at three paces, and poor troops shoot back just as well as average ones!

I shot at him, that didn’t work. I charged him, that didn’t work. Meanwhile he had some cav on a huge ‘hail Mary’ run which arrived in my rear at just the wrong (or right, depending on your perspective!) moment. My two cav units arrived in time to do absolutely nothing other than watch my army reach break point. Once again, a good win for Philip by playing the objectives.

Round 3 – Waterloo vs Adrian Fryer
I’ve had a few games against Adrian and they are always enjoyable, and he paints some of the nicest figures you are ever likely to see. The objectives for this game were Hougoumont, La Haye and La Belle Alliance. Both sides used the 800pt list, but as the defender I had one division as off-table flank march (the ‘Prussians’). I started in possession of the first two objectives (obviously!), and if at any point I managed to occupy La Belle Alliance I would instantly win.

The scenario rules made it mandatory that I occupy Hougoumont and La Haye, but any other troops not visible to the attacker (behind the ridge) could be deployed after all the attacking troops were down. I put a large line infantry in each building, and everything else behind the ridge. Adrian had one infantry division lined up on each objective, a two-unit cav division in the centre, and a mixed division (two inf and two cav) facing off on the arrival point of the flank march, which could potentially arrive on turn 2.

Hougoumont lived up to its’ reputation – for several turns taking up to 11 shooting dice with the unit inside only ever disordered. In return, they dished out enough damage to put a halt to any attack, or likely assault. All shooting in or out of both Hougoumont and La Haye was on 6’s to hit, and some unfeasibly lucky rolls from me, coupled with some diabolically bad recoveries from Adrian, saw his two lead units disordered or wavering for much of the battle. Only a single assault was launched, which was repulsed.

A similar situation played out with La Haye. I managed to dish out just enough damage to hold off the attacking division. In the centre, my artillery was able to stop Adrian’s heavy cav, repulsing an assault on the heavy arty battery at one point.

While all this was happening, I was rolling to try to get my cavalry on the table……..for 7 turns!! The game timed out before they arrived, but it meant that a full division of Adrian’s army spent the whole game staring at an empty table edge. I think this was his only real mistake. I understand he was concerned about the ‘instant win’ condition of La Belle Alliance, but maybe just a single infantry unit in the town would have freed up the other three units to help with the main assault. He didn’t know that there was no infantry in the flank march, but the one unit in the town could have held for a couple of turns in any case until help could arrive. So it was a win for me, my first for the tournament. But, to coin a phrase, it was a ‘near run thing’!

Round 4 – Aspern-Essling vs Tyler
Tyler has already given a pretty comprehensive account of this battle, the only thing I would want to add is to affirm how unlucky his rolls were when shooting at Essling – up to 16 dice, and never more than a couple of hits. He had the occupying unit wavering a few times, but only ever when I had an opportunity to recover, which I luckily managed to do. When his shooting failed to stop the final charge by my light cav at his landwehr, it was all over. Tyler was correct in his thinking – the attacker is unlikely to take both towns, so the best bet in this scenario is to try to break the defender. He did all the right things, sometimes the dice gods just aren’t listening!

So, a win and a loss with each of my lists. Things I will take away:
1/ Attacking with 650pts vs 800pts is hard.
2/ Large units defending towns are very difficult to shift.
3/ Mixed divisions can be very useful in a game with reserves/flank marches.
4/ Small and high quality will not necessarily prevail, and quantity has a quality all of its own.....the dice gods always have the last word!! :)
And I got to charge with my Leib-Garde Grenadiers......twice!......successfully!! :twisted:
Had a great time, and I can’t wait for the next one. Can-con 2015 here we come!

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