Friday, 13 January 2017

Magenta 1859 using Bloody Big Battles

Back in 2005 I started painting up some Pendraken 1859 Austrian Infantry. The aim was to refight the battle of Magenta in 2009 on the 150th anniversary of the battle. I finally got round to refighting it the other night - some 12 years after I started the project. I've never been good with deadlines.

Magenta is one of my favourite battles - Grenadiers of the French Imperial Guard storming the bridges of the Naviglio Grande canal right from the start of the battle, fighting on two fronts, a confused and disordered Austrian army that sort of get's it's act together and puts up a reasonable defense and it's all fought in close terrain so artillery does not dominate the battlefield.
For rules I was originally going to use Future War Commander, think two very very low-tech armies, then Bruce Weigle's 1859, then WRG horse, Foot and Guns before deciding to use Bloody Big Battles (BBB) because the European Scenario books includes Magenta and it's a great set of rules.
For the refight Dave commanded the French forces attacking the canal from the west, Shaun commanded the French attacking from the north, Mike commanded the Austrians I & II Korps deployed on the table and I commanded the Austrian reinforcements
The French view of the objectives - Ponte Nuovo, bottom left, Ponte Vecchio, top right and Magenta, top centre.
The Austrian view of the objectives. In the scenario Magenta is classed as a town and all other built-up areas are villages.
Looking north along the Naviglio Grande canal from Cassinetta diLugagnano. I still have a bit of work to do on the bridges.
Grenadiers of the Imperial Guard advance from the west towards Ponte Nuovo. All of the French and most of the Austrians were armed with rifled muskets. The Austrians marked with smoke have smooth-bore muskets.
At the northern end of the table the Voltigeurs  of the Imperial Guard prepare to storm Casate held by a very weak Austrian brigade supported by .artillery and a rocket battery
The Austrians are outnumbered and spread out to start with but gradually they receive reinforcements. throughout the game. The 1st Division of III Korps advances through Robecco
The Grenadiers prepare to assault across the Ponte Nuovo bridges held by 2nd Div II Korps. This is a tough nut to crack as the French suffer a -1 penalty for assaulting a BUA and a -2 penalty for assaulting across bridges. however they are classed as aggressive so get a +1 bonus.
The Austrian view of Ponte Nuovo. The division and it's supporting battery  performed very well during the game. 
Having taken Casate the Voltigeurs and II Corps advance south in the hope of exploiting the huge gap between Marcallo on the left and Ponte Nuovo on the right. A single Austrian battery bars their way.
As the French push south their comrades from the west assault Boffalora. The bridge was partially blown up by the Austrians but by laying planks across the arch the French managed to get infantry across it 
This print shows the bridge at Boffalora being crossed by Grenadiers in the face of opposition from Jaegers
More Austrian reinforcements arrive passing through Magenta to bolster the centre
The French Grenadiers assault the defenders of Ponte Nuovo. This assault ended badly for the French with the Grenadiers being pushed back across the canal. The Austrian artillery, firing canister, caused quite a bit of damaged.
There is some success for the French as they force the Austrians back from the Boffalora bridge. The two Austrian units form the angle of the western and northern fronts.
The Ponte Nuovo - Marcallo - Magenta triangle. At Ponte Nuovo the French Grenadiers are on the verge of destruction - they are spent (red token) low on ammo (green token) and disordered (yellow token). Meanwhile the French troops from the north boldly advance towards Magenta only to find the gap filled by Austrian reinforcements.
Ponte Vecchio, bottom right looks, safe for the Austrians but the gap between Ponte nuovo and Magenta has reopened after a bloody fight at Marcallo almost destroys the Austrian reinforcements.

At the end of turn 6 (of a 9 turn game) we had to call it a day as the pub wanted to close. We had played for just over two hours so really we need 3.5 hours to get all the turns in. 
The final positions. Four fresh Austrian brigades are to the east of Magenta aiming to form a holding line in front of the town. The French forces west of the canal are being gradually destroyed by the defenders of Ponte Nuovo and Ponte Vecchio. However the northern French have several options - take Ponte Nuovo from the rear or push onto Magenta and then mop up. 

An excellent scenario with many options for both sides. 

Ponte Nuovo is very tough to crack for the French but it was on the actual day. At one point Napoleon even considered calling a general retreat after the Grenadiers were repulsed from the bridge.

The French forces from the north have the option of pushing either for the bridges in order to take the pressure off their comrades or for Magenta to stop the Austrian reinforcements forming a battle line.

The Austrians have to decide whether to defend the bridges or hold the north until reinforcements arrive. They also have to choose where their reinforcements will eventually be deployed.

Well worth waiting 12 years for. I am going to run it out at the club this week as well and I'm hoping to put it on at the BBB Bash Day in Oxford on 18th February

All of the figures are from Pendraken's excellent 10mm ranges and the buildings are mostly Timecast.

Finally I find that setting up the terrain for BBB scenarios can be a lengthy process so I got Chas at QRF/TSS to make me tiles for the battlefield which means setup and deployment only takes about 30 minutes. Chas did an excellent job at a very reasonable price. I've got plans for him to do a few more for me this year.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Franco-Mexican War BBB Test Game

I've been wondering whether Bloody Big Battles (BBB) would work at a much lower level than it was designed for. Normally each base represents from 500 to 1500 men depending on the scale of the battle. My forces for the Franco-Mexican War are organised in companies of 6 bases with each base representing 10 to 15 men.

Juaristas launch an all out assault on  Monriel

I made a few changes to the rules

  • All firing ranges were doubled eg Muzzle Loading Rifle goes from 9" to 18" range
  • Skirmish changes from an attribute to a formation - allowed to certain troop types
  • Drop the 1 Right firing modifier if firers are skirmishers
  • Add a -1 Penalty modifier to Melee if the unit is in skirmish formation
Juaristas advance!

Troops were defined as follows

FrenchWeaponMoraleAttributes
Foreign LegionMLVeteranAggressive, Can Skirmish
ZouavesMLTrainedAggressive, Can Skirmish
Sudanese InfantryMLTrainedFragile
Imperial ConscriptsMLRawPassive, Fragile, Tactically Inept
Chasseurs d'AfriqueSMVeteranAggressive, Can Skirmish when dismounted
ContrasSMTrainedCan Skirmish when dismounted
ArtilleryRA
JuaristasWeaponMoraleAttributes
Line InfantryMLTrainedCan Skirmish
Militia InfantryMLRawFragile
Local PeasantsSMRawAggressive, Tactically Inept
Irregular Cavalry-TrainedAggressive
ArtillerySAPassive

Feel free to criticise the ratings

There were 2 French players - Steve & Shaun and 2 Juarista players - mike and myself.

The French players were allowed to each choose 4 units

Steve took
1 Foreign Legion company
1 Sudanese Company
1 Contras Squadron
1 Artillery piece

Shaun took
1 Foreign Legion company
1 Sudanese Company
1 Chasseurs d'Afrique Squadron
1 Artillery piece

The Juaristas were allowed to each choose 6 units

Mike took
2  Line Infantry companies
2 Militia Infantry companies
2 Artillery pieces

and I took 
1  Line Infantry company
2 Militia Infantry companies
1 Local Peasants company
2 Irregular Cavalry Squadron 

As you can see we are all very trusting and not inclined to abuse the system

There were 3 villages that were the objectives-  one in each side's third of the table and one in the centre.
The objectives - Rolguaní on the left, El Carchiná in the centre and Monriel out of picture on the right and already there is clutter on the table <shakes head and tuts>

Immediately both sides sent cavalry to seize El Carchiná
Shaun's French forces occupy Monriel and start to set up a defensive position to face off my Juaristas
Mike's Juaristas bring up their guns
The French view from Monriel. Sudanese in the village, dismounted Chasseurs line the wall and the Legion advance to support them
Same view showing El Carchiná as well
Cavalry action in the streets of El Carchiná
My Militia  infantry get shot up and forced back by the Chasseurs and the Sudanese
Mike's Juaristas form up into a firing line
My cavalry try to sacrifice themselves to allow my infantry to move in. Even getting 2 shifts to the right for firing; cavalry and in column, the Sudanese could not destroy them
Juarista Militia close with the Legion but the Peasants are pushed back by the Chasseurs
The Contras get repulsed in El Carchiná and it all starts to go wrong for the French
Juarista Line Infantryopen up on the French advancing to seize El Carchiná 
The fight for the wall  protecting  Monriel continues. The walls are linear obstacles that give the defender 1 Left shift in firing and melee
Another view of the action around Monriel
The French view of the same action 
In the centre Juaristas having destroyed the Legion company go on to assault the French gun protecting El Carchiná 
Finally some progress near Monriel - the French are about to vaporise.

At the end of the game the village of Rolguaní was firmly in Juarista hands. In the centre El Carchiná was "contested" by a dismounted Contra squadron facing Militia infantry and cavalry. Monriel was still held by the Sudanese so a draw. 

However Mike's Juaristas had, through firepower, destroyed the Legion company and was in the process of doing the same to the Sudanese company so a couple more turns and the Juaristas would have been victorious.

As a throw together game with completely random forces it had it's ups and downs. There were complaints about the ranges being excessive but given the low-level scale  it made sense to increase the frontage-to-range factor. Also, comparing it to the the ranges in the other set of rules that we have used for this period  they are more or less the same and a lot less sanguine.

More of the same next week when we give Vincent Tsao's Puebla scenario a run out

All of the toys are from QRFs Maximilian range apart from the Sudanese which are Peter Pig






Thursday, 23 June 2016

Yalu River 1904 using Bloody Big Battles

Pat Wingfield has started producing some Bloody Big Battles scenarios for the Russo-Japanese War. He kindly sent me a draft of the Yalu River scenario to playtest.
The river has a 3" penalty to enter the river and a 3" penalty to leave it. The hills are classed as difficult ground AND steep slopes everywhere giving a 6" penalty to every move and -1 to the command rolls.

When I first saw the scenario I was a bit surprised at the disparity in the forces. He has used a scale of  1000 men / 24 guns per base

Japanese:
36 Infantry bases in 12 units of 3 bases
4 Artillery bases each at 0.75
3 MG bases  each at 0.4

Russians:
9 Infantry bases in 9 units of 1 base each - they are never spent!
3 Artillery bases at 0.1, 0.25 and 0.5

The Japanese need to capture all 5 objectives and completely destroy the Russian forces to get a victory. A draw is Japan holding all 5 objectives and Russian forces still on the table. Anything else is a Russian victory

I umpired leaving Rodge to command the Japanese and Shaun to command the Russians. 
Japanese 2nd and Guards divisions cross the Yalu. Scenario rules force them to cross in march column. Whilst in the river they are Disrupted, cannot use skirmishers and are Tactically Inept. That's a 3 Right shift for any Russian infantry shooting at them.
The Russian view of the Japanese storming the Yalu. The infantry are in Rifle Pits. The nearest Russian artillery piece has been Silenced by the massed Japanese artillery across the river.
The Russian defensive line - the Confederate flags are objective markers. The red markers on the artillery pieces indicate their strength, eg 0.1, and that they can only take 1 hit instead of the normal 2 hits
Time for the Observation Balloon view. The Japanese artillery are in the lower left corner, 12th Division IJA crosses at the Yalu-Ai junction and the Guards and 2nd Division form up to assault the heights.. Most Japanese units are disrupted still from crossing the rivers (the yellow smiley faces)
The 12th and Guards Divisions storm Potetientzu on the right but 2nd Division are held up at Makau
 The 2nd Division launch yet another assault on Makau
Reinforcements! The Russian 1 & 3 Battalions of the 11th Infantry Regiment arrive
The massed Japanese artillery looks vainly across the river for targets. Meanwhile the 4th Guards Regiment flounders around in the Yalu.
The Russian 1st Battalion 22nd Inf Regt  bravely stands alone against the 12th Division IJA
The Japanese army prepares for the final assault against te Russian defenders of Makau
Final positions. The Japanese hold everything north of the Hantuhotzu Stream. however the Russians still have the 1 & 3 Battalions,11th Infantry Regiment on the table and hold 3 objectives.

A Russian victory!

The Russian player rolled some amazing dice. Considering that a single base has 3 Fire Points rounding up to 4 then shooting at the Japanese columns coming across the river gives them 3 shifts to the right , Column; Tactically Inept and no skirmishers taking it up to 12 meant some pretty heavy casualties coming across the Yalu

The Japanese spent a couple of turns trying to cross the River - delayed by bad dice and Russian shooting

Even when they reached the Russian lines they suffered from good firing dice rolling by Shaun

Eventually the Japanese fire power eliminated most of the Russians but the difficult terrain stopped the Japanese from seizing most of the objectives

A great scenario -  I had a preconception about how the game would play out - which went out of the window on Turn 1 

Pat has used the BBB rules and modifiers to very good effect to recreate the battle. He will post the scenario to the Bloody Big Battles Yahoo Group

I'm looking forward to the next one - Nanshan

The rules can be purchased from Caliver Books
The 10mm Figures are all Pendraken