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.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Finale on the Vissen - 1813


"And so we come to it, the final battle of our time."

May be not the Pelenor Fields but certainly the meadows of the River Vissen flood plain. This game has taken weeks to evolve and has seen the battlefield ebb and flow until formal battle lines stagnated out of a chaotic beginning. Does battle really create an order from chaos? Is there a purity to the glory of slaughter or is this just a veneer of beauty on the polished face of the ultimate evil of mankind - the state sanctioned murder of millions in the name of some insane cause. You decide as we close in on the 1914 centenary.

(just watched Metallica play Glastonbury live on TV, their video back drop to "One" is as poignant as ever and got me thinking about how the super powers seem to be lining up for a another crack at it in  Ukraine not to mention the ongoing nightmare in the middle east.)

Mercifully our games are harmless fun, no one gets hurt beyond the occasional bruised ego or broken plastic bayonet. But enough of this red herring, you want to hear what happened in our finale...

Stienmetz marches to support Sievers who has managed to get his horse battery out of the way of his dragoons.
This is good news as they have work to do.

A Swiss battalion lines up to assault the village once this battery has softened up the Prussian Life Guards defending it.
Supports continue to arrive. 

A closer shot of the Prussian Life Guards. It seems someone pinched the massive doors so they have used these powder barrels to barricade the gateway, not the usual Teutonic efficiency we have come to expect! 

All allied units propping up the left flank of the centre have been destroyed or retreated.

More Swiss, French and a foot battery move up - yep there's more marching up and down in this report too!

1st and 2nd Prussian Foot Guards watch as these Bavarian interlopers continue to occupy their redoubt.
Lots more Prussians move-up in the distance.

Is this an opportunity for Sievers, Russian general of dragoons, to prove his worth?
Saxon heavies welly into Prussian Foot Guards and make a mess of them but expose a tempting flank for the Russian dragoons. 

This battery won't last much longer surely?

Stienmetz presses on with his march to the front with his Prussian brigade.

This tiny Prussian formation of Landwehr cavalry face down the reformed and reinvigorated French light cavalry brigade.
Place your bets gentlemen...  
Russians falling back from the central village. They rallied about here but are in poor shape.



They're everywhere!

Stienmetz marches past Strelitz who has deployed for an attack covered by artillery.
Sievers finally goes into action, place your bets gentlemen. 
The French push on with their attack. 




Prussian battery from Strelitz brigade prepares to fire. Stienmetz moves up in the background.
These are Foundry models, painted by Barry Hill, based by me with extras by Chris.

This is a good shot of the two Prussian infantry brigades in the second & third line.
Strelitz has deployed his brigade in two lines, 2nd class reservists and LDW support line and vets.
Artillery and light cavalry (out of sight) cover the flank.
Stienmetz moves up in the rear, he already has his guns up on the hill ready to bombard the advancing French who have driven back the Russians who can be seen in the background.    
Prussian foot Guards formed in line watch helplessly as the Wurtemburgers finally overwhelm the battery between the redoubt and town.
Pretty flag, GMB as usual.



Looking south west over French forces towards Prussian late comers of Strelitz and Steinmetz and the battered Russians on the left.  

Similar shot as above - not achieving much here am I?
Prussian Life Guards still hold out in the village despite being virtually surrounded.

Siever's horse battery takes pot shots at advancing Frenchies who are closing with the Prussians, Stienmetz had better get his men deployed pronto or face embarrassment.
However these Frenchmen are in for another surprise as they pass the woods.   

Chris in a "happy place".
Damn right! His men are driving all before them - living the dream.  

The fire-fight on the eastern table predictably went against the Russian Grenadiers who were promptly beaten up and sent home to explain them selves to the Tsar.
Not the elite, save the day, formation we had hoped for in any way, shape or form!   

The Prussian Life Guards repulse the attacks on the walled village.
Every other battalion in this piccie is French and there are a lot of them!
Prussians prepare to receive rampant French. Russians sort themselves, note the battalion of jaegers preparing to flank charge the lead colume as it clears the woods.   



Similar shot from a bit lower, down close and personal.
Some breaking news, notice in the photo above, top left - yep Russian dragoons running wild! How can that be? Good question - General Sievers and his entire cavalry brigade have hardly covered themselves in glory over the years. Dare I say that this lengthy losing streak may just have past. Sadly there is no pictorial evidence of this so you'll have to take my word for it.

Sievers personally led the charge into the flank of the Saxon heavies destroying them utterly. Next Sievers played a piece of tactical genius - his lead Regiment was stuck partly facing the redoubt, partly facing the second Saxon regiment, no way he could charge again despite rolling Superb Discipline. What to do? Sievers of all people plucked the solution from his befuddled mind in a rare moment of crystal clarity - like drawing a rabbit from a hat! He declared a charge with only three of the four squadrons, a perfectly legal, although a rarely used optional rule in General de Brigade. Rich who was on the receiving end loved it, Chris and I umed and arrhed!

In they went... Saxon elite Von Zastrow cuirassiers versus Russian line dragoons, gents place your bets.        

Nice close up of Russian horse artillery and Prussian reservists. 

Prussian infantry from Stienmetz brigade marching to the sound of the guns. 

Here Swiss and Italians of the French second line have already deployed into attack columes. 

Good panoramic shot of the centres squaring off.  

Looking north east over the Prussian positions towards the fateful firefight on the far table.

Similar shot showing the second regiment of Russian dragoons hurtling off to support the surprisingly successful first regiment.  

Sievers boys sticking it to the Saxons - a messy poor shot but it has to be included for Tony's sake if nothing else.
You may recall the tiny half regiment of LDW cavalry facing off the French 5th Hussars some way above?
BIG news - they won too!
These two results effectively halted the Threat of encirclement from the the French cavalry and stabilized the Allied centre.

Overlooking the centre again.
At this point we faced a decision. The Allies had rebuilt the centre into a strong position, they had lost both flanks but were safe from flanking threats. Their troops were fresh and with Sievers coming back to reform they had an advantage in cavalry. The French had an awful lot more men and of better quality, they also had fresh batteries arriving. We talked over the next stage and decided thus;-

The Allies had bought themselves an oppurtunity, a slim window of oppurtunity. However this wasn't something to risked in another round of fighting it was a chance to retire with the Guard intact covered by fresh troops. The frontline French troops were pretty battle worn so getting supports through to fight would take time - time enough to let the allies go. Lastly the French had no functional cavalry left in any numbers to carry out an effective pursuit. The Allies took their hard won opportunity and quit the field., no disgrace in that, infact, distinctly historical.

Postscript

This game took five consecutive weeks to conclude, circa 25 turns of play, loads of toys and quite some emotional investment/commitment. If you have read this from Part 1 you'll know that the forces were randomly generated, as was the deployment. There were no set objectives just a situation into which the players were parachuted as generals - they created their own agendas and objectives - around these the geography changed and the "situation" built, as that happened battlelines formed and reformed. We even "scrolled" the table to keep the action going.
    
Was it worth the effort?

Fuck yeah! Would we do it again, same answer! We even kept the final orbats/casualty records so we can move the action on a few days or weeks and pick it up again.

What would I change? Most importantly I would be more careful about which random troops were available from the outset, some kind of corps asset cards and army reserves cards could be drawn as late arrivers after most of the line formations have been deployed. The random deployment worked a treat, no change required from my point of view.

For me this was a successful experiment and one to be repeated from time to time. I hope the other Marauders feel the same, I think they enjoyed themselves!!!?

Lastly I hope you guys have enjoyed this 5 part series of posts, judging by the feedback we're getting something right, please keep it coming, it means a lot to us, especially me as I write this stuff.

Very best wishes,

JJ  

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Actions on the River Vissen 1813 - Part 4

We return to the action for an intense weeks gaming. This isn't losing my interest yet which can happen in long drawn out games.

Looking at the pictures below I am acutely aware of two things;

Firstly it looks as if not much happens this week, in a way that's true in that there wasn't much movement except local adjustments and some more reserves arriving. But that's how things happen I guess - the "ebb and flow of battle". We saw a lot of fighting though, much of this had attritional effects which don't look great in pictures, nevertheless the game moved on to set up the final events on the fifth week.

Secondly, I have been struggling with picture quality recently. My big camera has taken a back seat and most of these are taken with an i-phone 5s, it's just much easier. But the struggle has been with how my ancient photoshop package deals with those images. Since taking these shots I have upgraded to a better image editing package and I think the results in the next batrep will be better. You will have to put up with these for now.  

French baring down on the centre right, the Russians here are faltering and unformed - not in any fit state to handle this hostile lot! On the rear table more of them are streaming over the bridge.  

Looking east along the line shown above, nearby Bavarian battery fires in support.

Good but weird shot showing French and their allies marching up to the front.
Lucky I gave them a pontoon bridge to use or this would be a monumental traffic jam, more to come. 

Finally some much needed allied assistance turns-up.
Here we have General Sievers at the head of two beefy, 32 strong, regiments of Russian dragoons and half a horse battery. This entire formation has a history of poor performance in our games.   

Bavarians and Wurtemburgers get ready to assault the Prussian held redoubt.
Behind the walled orchard French pour forward.
The walled field with the orchard in it is one of the first items of scenery I ever made. Nearly 30 years ago I found a piece of hardboard, glued on some stones from my Father's drive with UHU, slapped on the Tetrion and dry brushed the lot - Hey Presto - a walled field. Child prodigy!    

Elite Miniatures guns, Calpe limbers, Foundry Generals. All working well alongside each other.

The first Bavarians approach the Prussian positions. Takes some guts to do this in line formation!
Saxon heavies lurk awaiting a break through to exploit. They learned all about storming redoubts in 1812.

Protecting the flank and rear of the redoubt are the West Prussian Dragoons and 2nd Foot Guards (?).  
Perry plastic infantry painted by Barry Hill GMB flag, Calpe dragoons painted by Tony Laughton.  

The Russian dragoons are still moving up behind the redoubt to prevent the French encirclement which is threatening the whole position. Get ready for some horse on horse action. 

Vasilchikov's position as pressure mounts, the Hussars have been in combat but pushed back.
Some infantry are unformed others retreating.   

Late arriving French in the north east form a distinctively English queuing system.  

Good shot of the central and western French positions.
"Crunch time cometh!"
This is why I play wargames gentlemen.

In the west the French light cavalry brigade moves up.
Here they look down on the smaller Prussian cavalry contingent blocking their path.  

 This report has lots of piccies of people marching about - I really like them.
The endless marching up and down of troops might have got boring for Rich, but the game built and gained structure around it. It gave a depth of 16 feet and a front line 10 feet across - we had maneuver. 

At the top of the picture French battalions have charged the shaky Russians and driven them back, another is flanked by pursuing French which in turn threatens my battery - outrageous!
The galloping caisson represents the Bavarian battery limbered up and moving forward.

More of the French light cavalry brigade, Saxon heavies move up behind.
Right at the rear are the 9th Hussars licking their wounds with their tales between their legs - cowardly currs!
These are the chaps my Prussian dragoons saw off last week - brave fellows.  

Despite my continued fire these Bavarians kept on coming, not what I had planned at all.

French attacks are making headway and look set for greater gains from this position.
That yellow counter is a Russian ROUT the blue one means PURSUE right into the flank of my battery.
Those ungrateful Russian wankers were supposed to protect me. 

Good panoramic shot across the field from the north east as these French guys cross the bridge, more marching up and down I'm afraid.  

Lovely shot of General Sievers, these are Foundry conversions painted by Tony, great work.
He is one of our unluckiest generals - killed numerous times. 

This just always happens!
My closing fire does nothing, the Bavarians close, The Prussian Foot Guards falter.
Oh good.
(on a positive note this shows off rather well the plank work and gabion details of my redoubt).   

Looking south as the French move up. 

The French begin to get in amongst the Russians.

So here's what happened, the top Prussian battery fired and faltered the Bavarian line, safe and sound for now.
The Prussian howitzer battery opens up on the French skirmish screen to no avail.
French battalion poised to flank the battery.

More Prussians arrive. This is Strelitz' brigade, 32 Vets, 2 x 32 Line, 2 x 32 2nd class reservists and 32 conscript LDW.
A foot battery and some LDW cavalry. In General de Brigade terms we class the 2nd classers and conscripts as enthusiastic. This makes them more resilient to adverse morale but still not so great at shooting, melee and formation changes. Every little helps in these games.      

Prussian C-in-C Yorck oversees the deployment of Sievers dragoons.
Pretty cool grainy shot of Foundry model painted by Nigel cox, superbly based by me. 

The predicament at the redoubt is clearly shown here.
Almost intolerable pressure is mounting against the redoubt and the battery with stacks of support in depth

Brigade Strelitz has a long way to go to reach the front lines - the perils of random arrival points.
This looks very cool though!

Sievers dragoons deploy with attendant horse artillery supporting the rear of the redoubt. Naturally Sievers deploys behind his guns severely restricting his movement - tactical genius.

French 5th hussars charge the West Prussian dragoons who don't want to play - sadly.
Check out right at the back, yep, more French oppressors arriving. 

Jurgass and the Brandenburg Uhlans await the charge of the French lancers on the western approach road;-
"Bring it on garcons" 

Cute little village.
The inhabitants got together to raise the cash for a pair of hugely massive doors.
Next year they will hold a raffle, village fete and scarecrow trail to raise cash to build defensive walls.
Gotta start somewhere and doors seem reasonable enough.  

The Cossacks are driven back and a few units rout, note the dispersal point/bead.

French infantry are nearly over the bridge on the eastern table.
Luckily the lucky Russian Grenadiers are back to stem the tide, "oh joy of joys all loves excelling." 

Finally the Bavarian line needs to take a morale test, they are carrying casualties and are faltered. they retreat.
This reveals two fresh battalions, here we go again.    

No amount of closing fire could stop these French skirmishers from closing with the newly painted battery.
So, elite bayonet wielding skirmishers versus gunners with buckets and sponges on sticks, place your bets gents... 

Ah, the formerly elite Russian grenadiers have a chance to reprieve themselves by holding these French fellows.
Again gents, place your bets...

Yet again I say, place your bets, - here Brandenburg Uhlans engage French lancers.
Testing times for Jurgass - a fool thrice over.  

Without going into details I can report that these Bavarians now hold the  redoubt & that the Prussian Guards do not.
I have no further comment on the matter.
I thank you.

We don't need to see it again and I have nothing further to say.
Please stop now! 

A timely good round of canister falters one battalion and halts the other - both fail to close.
Maybe, just maybe there is a God. 

Possibly there isn't a God after all! Skirmishers cut down my battery and the supporting battalion behind routs.
The blue bead and big red bleeding heart mark the dispersal points for further morale tests.
The triumphant skirmishers are at least unformed by their success.

A really good shot of the 2nd Swiss infantry marching, caisson making dust on the road.  

Pivotal moments grow out of Marauder Moments.
The top right corner reveals that the West Prussian dragoons were destroyed by the 5th Hussars who withdrew on blown horses.
The Prussian Guards thrown out the redoubt are attempting to rally behind the supporting column of Prussian Guards.
Saxon cuirassiers close in for the kill.
The centre of the shot shows Yorck instructing Sievers in how to deploy his dragoons.
Back table - Brandenburg uhlans defeat and cut down the French lancers whose brigade keeps its nerve.
Like I said pivotal... 

All that marching paid off as French and their allies redeploy into attack columes.
Here Legere, Neuchatel and plain old line support the Bavarians.

Hopefully the last of the French reserves arrive at their crossing points.
You might just pick out that these have two foot batteries in support;- the Corps reserve artillery.  

Looking south south west over the French attackers as the Allied front crumbles from the flanks inward.
Can Allied reserves swing the balance or at least hold the tide?  

Strelitz Prussian infantry arrives to support Sievers, time to deploy and get stuck in and save the day.
We might see some classy combined arms action here - all three arms working in deadly unison.
More likely a shambling farce descending into entropy and chaos, bring my fastest horse!   

Some of those marching columes have formed into attack formations to pick up the baton from the Bavarians who have done so well. The Prussian Life Guards in the village open fire hence all the smoke.

The 5th Hussars have retired to rest their blown horses after defeating the West Prussian Dragoons. The Saxons look messy because the regiments are split between the two table edges.

These Russians have been forced back from the tree line exposing the village to flank attacks.
Strelitz brigade marches up behind Sievers in the background.   

The dreadful French build up to attack the village. They have redeployed the Bavarian battery to fire in support.
Top centre - 2nd Prussian Foot Guards stand and fire on charging Saxon heavies who are faltered - hurrah!

The scene to the east of the village; the French have cleared away all opposition and mass for the next phase.

As if they are needed the last two French brigades with attached artillery batteries cross the Vissen.

I think this Russian brigade broke and retired - not sure.
French chasseurs a cheval keep them honest.

Those French again. Two battalions are taking a pause to reform or rally after their exertions. 

Strelitz boys approach the front lines; time to get into a decent formation. 50% of this brigade's battalions and the cavalry are 2nd class or conscript, although enthusiastic this has an impact on brigade tests when things go tits up.



Lucky for me Herr Steinmetz's brigade arrives to support Strelitz, similar make up but slightly worse quality; 1 x 32 Vets, 2 x 32 line, 3 x 32 conscripts, foot battery and a small regiment of landwehr cavalry, 50% are conscripts.
Caution required Mr JJ!

Foundry Landwehr cavalry painted by Barry Hill.
Titanium lances with awesome GMB flags and pennants.
I suspect Prussian Landwehr cavalry looked nothing like this but I have a soft spot for them.

 Intermission

These next three shots are of possibly the last two figures I ever painted. My eye sight isn't what it was so I stick to painting scenery and tanks! These are Perry Miniatures mounted Prussian officers.

A grizzly reminder of the horrors of war.  

Directing the battle from a flowerbed!  

These don't really stand up to close scrutiny! Sometimes zooming in isn't so wise! 
Back to the action.

Perry plastics painted by Perry Pender, based by me, GMB flag, flowers by Chris though. He very kindly added these funny little tufts to loads of my toys over an evenings chat and basing, many thanks!
I use the Perry plastic battalions as Veterans because they are bigger than the smaller Foundry models.

Foundry Prussian line, credits as above, possibly Bicorne finials.
Note the second ranker who had magic mushrooms for breakfast - he's totally tripping!

The Saxon heavies have to endure musketry from the Prussian Foot Guards who in turn took a heap of fire from the Bavarians in the redoubt (despite the fact that they are pointing the wrong way).

I keep firing canister at these mugs who simply won't break. More Bavarians yell abuse at my gunners from the redoubt!

"The Iron Heads" (8th Ligne), lead the renewed French attacks after everyone has reformed and rallied.

Russian Grenadiers on the eastern table engage in a firefight with lots of French. Will they redeem themselves?
Place your bets Gents; actually I'm clean out of cash so all bets are off.
There we have it for week four. The French have unpicked the position and are set to attack the second line of Allies as they try to cover the withdrawal of the first line. The Allied flanks are both looking perilous too as the Russian Grenadiers hold on in the east against numerous foes and the Prussian cavalry do something similar in the west facing off French cavalry.

The French have the advantage in both quality and quantity except that the Allies have enjoyed a marked advantage in batteries but have failed to make that count. Chris has not fired a canon in four weeks of play!

Next week should see a conclusion and a final wrap up report. Call back for the results. By all means comment, we all enjoy reading what you have to say about our games.

Best wishes, Jeremy