Welcome to Marauder Moments - a chronicle of the Mortimer Street Marauders; the games we play, the rules we use, the figures we play with and the scenery they fight over. Hope you enjoy these pages and maybe call back to catch up with our escapades.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Katzbach refight - straight from the rulebook

My wife unexpectedly took my three daughters away for a weekend so I was a fool not to ring around for an all day game. Tony and Rich arranged the necessary paperwork with their wives and received passes! Brownie points cashed in, favours owed, testicles locked away in safety deposit box against future transgressions; they could play. Chris was on some crazy boozed up two day bender so declined on grounds of assumed incapability!

But never mind all that we had a day free to play General de Brigade! I also had no idea what to play and very little time to sort anything out. We needed a big game with lots happening & which three players could tackle in a day with just a little preparation. As usual I read the excellent notes in the GdeB rule book about     running big games and happened to come across the Katzbach scenario while doing so. We have played this twice before but in 15mm and using Black Powder, finishing it in an evening each time. However we had a whole day and wanted to use General de Brigade as it simply represents my take on Napoleonic warfare much better. BP is fine for a light hearted evenings knock about - this was serious business though!

Eichholtz village in the left foreground with massing Prussians. Kleiner Tinz village on the right foreground with French garrison. Janowitz in the middle with the bridge and heights on the far horizon. Cavalry beginning to test each other in the central plain.
Tony and I set up the tables after our Thursday night game and divided the allied forces between us, I would take the Prussians, Tony the Russians and a few Prussian units to even things up. We then devised a plan of attack and deployed units by using cards which we left in place so we could slap the toys down quickly on the Sunday. Rich was the Frenchman tasked with defending the line of villages and the bridge. The joy of these scenarios is that everyone has easy access to orders of battle, objectives and maps without me having to organize it. So, we were set to play on Sunday, bright and early.  

Allied columns massing to attack the heights in front of the bridge. Russian Dragoons and Uhlans protect the flank of this vast formation; Russian 12lb battery gives covering fire. French reserves arrive in the distance and hurry to shore up the position which was initially held by 2 regiments of hussars. These immediately charged to delay the advance, which they did, infantry then rushed up to relieve them. 
Sunday dawned and I rose early. The house was empty and strangely quiet. I prepared fresh coffee and a large bacon and tomato omlette - yummy! I had even sorted out the troops the previous evening, washed the club coffee mugs, bought milk and extra tea and coffee. Orbats had been printed off and packed with the rules in my trusty bag. Truly I was "captain smug" that morning. The gents arrived on time - we drank more fresh coffee packed the cars and went to leave...

Prussian 12th Reserve Regiment, much sword and hat waving as they move through Eichholtz to the front!
Foundry models painted by Barry Hill, GMB flag, basing by me for me. (Note wide eyed loon far left - scary)   

Marauder Moment Number 1.
I locked myself out of the house! Nevermind by the time we get back the family will be home and I can get in without looking unduly nob like. No such luck - the keys to the club are with my house keys inside my house - yes indeed - what a nob! Never fear Chris has keys we'll ring him and get his - hurray!
Not so fast Jenkins, a word of caution - the last one of us to wake Chris early (post two day boozy bender) was assaulted thus - "it's too early! Leave me alone you mad wanker!"

Marauder Moment 2.
That sunny Sunday morning saw me trespass on my neighbour's property while he slept, steal his ladder and, with my two accomplices, break into my own house via a top floor window! Keys found! With the ladder safely returned we could sneak away to our game with Neighbourhood Watch none the wiser!

"We're the Brandenburg Hussars for today!"
(Actually Death's Head Hussars from my collection. Calpe minis painted by Prof Pender.)

The Katzbach scenario is basically an escalating attack/defence game. The French are initially quite weak and must hold the high ground in front of the bridge to prevent its capture - virtually at any cost. The allies are stronger but also get more toys too. Many formations on both sides are 2nd class line or conscript with some French cavalry being on poor mounts. This is significant as poorer troops are far more fragile and less able fighters. But it was the poor morale which had such an impact on the game and actually allowed us to get a result in a day with time to spare!

Perry plastics with a variety of alternative head gear from the infantry sets - used as chasseur a cheval. From Richard's collection - Barry Hill paint job, Rich basing.

A really excellent battery vignette. French 8lb guns pointing in all directions with crew hustling about or passing the time of day. There are even a few dead people lounging around! Good base work too, lots of bits of crap used here.  Perry models painted by Barry Hill, Front Rank limber from Hong Kong, DPS? Rich basing.
Orders of Battle for Katzbach 1813.
Before the wargames police call around I must stress that this scenario is NOT the whole battle. It deals with the Allied right flank where Yorck's corp engaged McDonald's forces as  they rush to the front in dribs and drabs, hence the staggered arrival schedule.
Here is a summary of the forces we used;-

Prussian forces under Yorck with 1 ADC
Brigade Mecklenburg; 4 x 32 line, 2 x 32 Veterans
Brigade Lobenthal; 4 x 32 enthusiastic conscripts, 6lb foot battery (line)
Cavalry Brigade; 18 veteran hussars
attached Russian 12lb foot battery - 6 guns
Brigade Donnersmark; 24 Dragoons, 24 Uhlans, 6lb horse battery (all line)
Brigade Bieberstein; 2 x 18 conscript cavalry
Brigade Zepelin arriving turn two; 3 x 32 vets, 12 elite jaegers
Brigade Knorr (packet soup?) arriving turn three; 4 x 32 enthusiastic conscripts 6lb foot battery (line)
Bbrigade Neverosky arriving turn six; 5 x 32 Russian 2nd class
Totals; 22 battalions, 5 cavalry regiments, 4 batteries, 21 general staff, just over 900 toys.

French Forces. XI Corps under Marmont with 1 ADC.
Brigade Simmer; 3 x 36 line
Brigade Meunier; 36 vets, 2 x 36 line
Divisional artillery; 6lb foot battery, 4 guns, line
Corps artillery; 12lb foot battery, 4 guns, line
Cavalry division;
Brigade Beurman; 18 veteran hussars, 18 hussars
Brigade Domanget; 18 lancers, 2 x 18 Chasseurs a cheval, all on inferior mounts
Divisional horse battery; 3 x 6lb guns 
Brigade Brayer arriving turn 2; 4 x 36 2nd class, 6lb foot battery
Brigade Charriere arriving turn 3; 4 x 36 2nd class
Brigade Wathiez; 2 x 18 Chasseurs a cheval, one elite, one veteran
Totals; 14 Battalions, 7 Regiments of Cavalry, 4 Batteries, 25 general staff, just over 700 toys.

Not a massive game but enough for three of us to get out teeth stuck into for days dreamy play.
I think the table was 16' by 6', it was set up from the map in the book.

Prussians head for the front line. Silesian Landwehr from Warlord Games, "wot no socks?" Painted by Barry Hill, Calpe Caisson painted by Prof Pender. All based by me for me.

Tony rests his hand on the head of an imaginary kneeling female. Rich ponders...
No matter how many side tables I arrange for wargamer's detritus people still leave rules, qrf's etc on the gaming table; this might be fine at Salute but not in my scenario thank you very much! 
Marauder Moment 3.

Richard has an awfully big collection of French and British Napoleonics so was able to supply the whole French force and still only use part of it. That is except for the cannons. With the exception of one battery which was stuck down he left all the guns at home leaving just the gun crews to mime! Some of them seem to fighting each other if you look closely.

Miming gun crews enjoy a punch-up. Lovely basing shame about the cannons!
Perry crews by Barry Hill and Front Rank limber painted by DPS?
The Allied plan was as follows; we would hold Eichholtz with Lobenthal until Nostitz arrived then mass and attack Kleiner Tinz with artillery support. This attack would covered by Biebersteins cavalry. The excellent Brandenburg Hussars would wait in the centre, ready to go either way. The vast mass of infantry plus all the Prussian late arrivals would go straight for the objective in one massive column. This was secured by the River on the left and a 6 gun 12lb battery on the right. The right hand flank was further covered by Donnersmark's Uhlans and Dragoons. "Ve cannot possibly fail mein kinder!"    
Brigade (Justin) Bieber-stein awaits orders on the bluff overlooking the central plain. French cavalry disport themselves brazenly to the fore, show-offs.
Calpe and Foundry cavalry painted by Prof Pender and Barry Hill respectively - all mine - ahahahahah! 

The scene from where I was sitting. Brigade after Brigade moving off the attack the objective. French await the onslaught with gritted teeth and clenched buttocks.
Note that the Dragoons have vanished - curiously destroyed in combat straight away - typical of Tony's cavalry regiments week in week out! The Russian Uhlans, my models, proved to be most resilient fighters.
A better shot of the scene above. Note jaegers sneaking along the wooded river bank - rather cool.

The same situation from just behind the French lines.

More French cavalry arrive, sadly without the missing cannons...

The bridge which caused all this trouble in the first place, was it really soooo very important?
If anyone knows who made this model bridge please tell me because it's very lovely and I want another one.

Brigade Lobenthal is reinforced by Russians under Neverosky in Eichholtz. Now that there are 9 battalions with a foot battery in support the attack on Kleiner Tinz can begin. 3:1 odds are right up my street...    
What you can never know is that the lone French battalion charged the leading Russian battalion and routed it, grrr. This had dire consequences for the allied right as Brigade Neveroski exited the field the very next turn effectively halting our attack and taking 9 battalions out of the battle for the allies. This is bollocks!
"No amount of rules reading will save you from this lot Rich!"

Furious fighting erupts along the whole line.
Note the jaeger have now snuck up to pour infuriating sniper fire into the flanks of the Frenchies from the edge of the wood with virtual impunity.
Uhlans and Chasseurs a cheval clash - if the Russians win this melee properly they can flank either the horse battery or another regiment of chasseurs a cheval, if only...

Rich reads to the bottom of his orbat and discovers there are no more reinforcements - bugger. That's your lot buddy.

The Allied right finally begins it's attack, setting out from Eichholtz to assault Kleiner Tinz.
It is important to note the single French battalion counter attacking on the right.
Various Regimental histories are about to be rewritten... 

The same scene different angle. Oh look, a French Battery with cannons!!! Novel. Not that they needed it, poor allied morale was enough to keep Kleiner Tinz entirely safe that day. 

The Prussians are gaining the hill and fending off the first French counter attacks by light cavalry. The French cavalry have won the plain having finally seen off the Uhlans who fought like devils to keep the flank of the colume safe. However the Prussians have deployed more batteries and formed a few squares to ensure that their main strike force is kept safe from further threat. It works - phew.  

The same scene showing the extent of French cavalry available to threaten my formation. The reality is that many of these light cavalry regiments have been badly mauled by cannon fire and prolonged combat with the Uhlans before the brave Russians lancers finally succumbed and fled. It is doubtful that these French horsemen could have saved the day, but hey - they look good trying.

The Uhlans just before exiting for the day. A possible contender for man of the match?

French light cavalry fail to break a Prussian column - mercifully.
Foundry foot, Perry cavalry both with GMB flags and both painted by Barry Hill.

Prussian 8th (or 9th?) Reserve Regiment and Silesian Landwehr attacking Kleiner Tinz.
Foundry models with GMB flags, painted by Barry Hill.

Landwehr lancers going after French cavalry - basically trying to divert them from their mission, sneaky eh?
Foundry models with GMB flags, panted by Barry Hill. 

That lovely battery again, pictured here beside the garrison of Kleiner Tinz. Those barrels get everywhere on this blog.
Victrix infantry, no flag by GMB, Barry Hill paint job. 

Elite Miniatures Russian Uhlans bought from Ian Hinds; tarted up and re-based by us. Lots of dynamism in this unit.

The lead Prussian battalions triumph on the hill top as the French begin to retreat and the pesky French cavalry threat is driven off in the middle distance. The bridge is just in shot bottom left, see it? 

Six French light cavalry regiments try to mass for an attack. They are pretty much exhausted and the battle lost.
What a magnificent sight though.
 I dreamt of this kind of thing as a kid, now we're doing it. Living the Dream. Thank you Mr Gilder.  
The end for the French. Their forces are spent and still more Prussians are coming.

Russian Grenadiers subbing as Prussian Guards, the left hand battalion in square.
Foundry models from Tony with hand made flags. Banner envy?

Still more Prussian troops march towards the bridge via the blood soaked hill top.
Scale creep at work. I rationalize this as follows; the old men on the right are smaller than the youngsters on the left.
New Warlord Prussian Landwehr and older Foundry Landwehr. All painted by Barry Hill, GMB flags. 

Incidental scenery on the unused side of the river. Pretty. 

The bridge with more incidental scenery. I imagined this as a toll house. Steps lead to the living accommodation on the first floor as it obviously floods here due river and marshes etc. Buildings insurance is a nightmare I hear, no hose ban though; that's the estate agent in me turning a negative into a positive. Full riparian rights anyone?  

Kleiner Tinz was held to the end.
A really enjoyable game played out with great companions in a fine spirit. The French lost but Rich put up a hell a of fight for us. In his usual style he just kept attacking and attacking. This paid off as it kept Tony and I on the back foot, totally spoiling our plans to take Kleiner Tinz and we never even got near Janowitz. In the end we maintained enough nerve to keep pushing forward in the right place and it paid off. Both sides lost a lot of men. Regular readers will be pleased to hear that no generals were shot in the genitals on this day. Sigh.

Thanks to Rich & Tony for such a memorable game and to whoever wrote the scenario in the rule book, Dave Brown possibly? Speaking of Dave Brown we met him at Salute whilst admiring the Aspern Essling demo game. There's never enough time at these things to chat but we managed a few words and a "thank you" for writing General de Brigade - still learning it and still loving it.

Hope you enjoyed this account and feel inclined to comment. Cheers JJ