John R. reckons he can write my After Action Reports himself; “If only I’d done…”, “I should have done…”, “I didn’t spot…” etc. etc. Funny b*stard!
Unfortunately he’s right, though: Last Saturday’s game at the Croydon venue turned out to be exactly this sort of game! Robin and I took on Jim’s Austrians with our respective French forces at the 1:120 scale, but Robin’s arithmetic let him down leaving him with the niggling feeling he’d short changed himself. Events were to prove that he was probably correct!
Robin went ahead like only he knows how; bull-at-a-gate frontal charge, while I tried to organise my forces and thoughts before committing myself. This caution and over-thinking led to my downfall, however. Robin’s initial attack proved successful in that he pushed back the centre and left flank, providing me with the opportunity to launch my hard-core legere and Italian Grenadier Guardsmen at the Austrian line adjacent to Robin’s attack. The combination of the Austrians having friends retiring and the high morale of my division resulted in that Austrian line being forced back, too. Things looked up for the French at this moment, but the fact that our success resulted in only Pyrrhic victories and neither Robin or I had reserves placed to exploit our initial success led to our downfall as Jim went on the counter-attack. I had placed all my reserves on the right flank as I was worried about his cavalry which was faced only by my light cavalry and horse guns, which were outclassed by the quality of horse-flesh and the number of guns available to the Austrians. Consequently I had nothing left in the tank to exploit my initial success. Robin’s miscalculation of his forces now bit him in the bum as he faced the same problem.
The inevitable counter-charge came and Robin’s forces were devastated, unable to stem the wall of white that collapsed on top of him. I was left with the option of pulling back my elites, charging on to try to capitalise on my gains, or fire on the flank of the nearest exposed Austrian unit while protecting the flank. This is where John R. and his “what I should have done…” comes in. Instead of whole-heartedly adopting any of the 3 options outlined above, I decided on adopting the last 2; charging and firing on the Austrian flank.
Initially, turning 90 degrees and firing into the flank of the nearest Austrian column resulted in successfully forcing it to retreat, but the charge by the remaining 2 French units just didn’t have enough ooomph (that technical wargaming term) behind it, and with all Robin’s troops fleeing from their flank, I needed a very good roll of the die to succeed. I didn’t get it. My best units were forced into retreat. The succesful unit that had turned to fire in the flank of the nearest Austrian column was in turn charged on the flank by a Landwehr regiment that sent it hustling backwards to join its fellows in ignominious retreat
Next turn I tried a charge by another brigade on the right flank with 2 line units in column joined by a legere regiment in l’ordre mixte. Unfortunately, I’m not very good at judging distances and the line only just didn’t make the distance, while the 2 flanking columns did. Of course, this was part of Jim’s line that had the greatest concentration of artillery, as well, so the combination of the failed charge plus the losses incurred on the way in, combined with another appalling die roll caused the 2 columns to turn tail and run.
Meanwhile, I had bottled up Jim’s cavalry with a combined arms defense of cavalry, artillery and infantry that would cause him severe discomfort if he unwisely launched a charge with his superior hussars. Into this scenario he sent a tiny unit of Jaegers to stir the pot. I was unwilling to charge them as they advanced in closed column, as that would most likely cause a counter charge too far away from my carefully positioned supports. The artillery was too distant to do anything effective to stop this threat, so inevitably, my chasseurs were pushed back by this pesky unit of jaegers. Incidentally, as the chasseurs’ right flank was protected by the edge of the world (or table-top at least) they were in constant danger of being accidentally knocked into the void. Sure enough, the elite squadron figure ended up on the floor unknown to me, until I heard the sickening crunch when I trod on it! Oh, the humanity! (A little glue and reapplication of flock and he’s good as new.)
I was a sucker for punishment and sent in my reserves after all the retreating and retiring units had rallied. Again the dice failed me in the most cruel manner imaginable; the pre-melee morale test resulted in me rolling a 1 and Jim a 6 and, guess what?, my units failed and ran before I came into contact with the enemy!
By this stage Quinny entered the field with the Imperial Guard to get a taste of glory.(He’s our Boney for the upcoming Wagram game in January, so he gets to play with the supermen!). Like a hot knife through butter, his Horse Grenadiers and Chasseurs a Pied cut a swathe through the Austrian line. By that time it was all over anyway with a moral victory to Jim, as Robin and I tried and failed to penetrate his Cordon Blanc.