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, 7 August 2016

Campaigning on the Danube 1809, background notes.

An Epic Marauder Moment.

"This is a guest post by Tony Laughton in which he outlines the back ground to the campaign game & what inspired him. Much more to follow as the campaign unfolds.

Austrian troops move across the Bavarian border starting the war of 1809 - the Danube Campaign. 
Overview of the map, books that have inspired interest in 1809, some 15mm figs a bottle of Waterloo ale!!
(The whole map is 6 feet long, oh yes!)
I have always wanted to run a wargame campaign for the 1809 Danube era. On my shelf for years, unused, has been a copy of the board game “1809 Napoleon’s Danube Campaign“ by Victory Games inc. The map in 3 sections covers the Danube valley from the environs of Regensberg in eastern Bavaria all the way to Vienna in Austria.  The rules are fairly complicated, but set me thinking that in them was the basis for a form of free kriegspiel game.

The unused board game!!
The invitation to join the Marauders and the awe inspiring sight of the club table covered with thousands of models was the catalyst to “do it”. I wanted to create a campaign system that would generate table top battles quickly and regularly for the players with a minimum of paperwork and record keeping. It will remain to be seen whether I have achieved this aim, and I will leave it to others to deliberate on this.

It was clear from the start, that  to achieve this aim, the umpire would have to do more than just move markers around on the map in response to players orders. I decided from the outset that the umpire would have to be responsible for all the paper work and record keeping. This would ensure that the players did not become bogged down, could concentrate on strategy and ordering their units around and hopefully thereby avoiding the trap most campaigns fall into…..loss of interest and boredom.
I set about compiling a guide book for both sides. As the campaign is running as I type this, I will leave posting a full copy until later. Suffice to say, the booklet is a guide to the maps, sets out the objectives for each side, contains a full order of battle on a unit for unit basis, an initial intelligence briefing and basis information on use of centres of operations and main supply bases. A few extracts follow to give the reader a flavour ( all extracts appear in italics)

Austrian artillery mass to support the attack.

As Generalissimus, Archduke Charles is responsible for the conduct of the Imperial war effort. At stake is the very existence of the Hapsburg dynasty and its territorial integrity. The War Party, headed by Foreign Minister Stadion, has convinced the Kaiser that now is the time to take action, recover lost lands and influence, and strike at the interference of France and it’s Emperor Napoleon, in Germanic affairs. Stadion believes now is the time to restore the Holy Roman Empire with Austria as the dominant power and the Kaiser as the Holy Roman Emperor.
The Austrian army has under gone radical changes, but the officer corps remains steadfast in its 18th Century dogma. Petty jealousies are rife and co-operation between the various commanders is limited at the best of times. At his command, Archduke Charles has 6 Corps of the line and 2 small Reserve Corps. His instructions are to launch an offensive against Bavaria and recover lands ceded to her after the defeat of 1805. With Napoleon’s war in the Iberian Peninsula going against him, Stadion has persuaded the Kaiser to authorise commencement of the offensive, in the hope that the French Army of the Rhine can be defeated before Napoleon can assume command.
Secondary theatres of operation will take place in Silesia and Northern Italy, which may or may not influence availability of further Austrian forces.
The Aulic Council has set two clear objectives:
1.       The capture of Regensburg and the destruction of the Royal Bavarian Army
2.       The destruction of the French Army of the Rhine.
The Austrian Army has initially deployed the bulk of its formation along the river Inn on the border with Bavaria. Two army Corps are in Bohemia under the command of Bellegarde, with instructions to move south via Pilson and Cham to Regensberg.
Independent Landwehr brigades provide the link between  Bellegarde and Charles and cover the frontier.
Most of the Austrian formations are yet to reach full strength. Reinforcements are on route and will be fed into their appropriate formations as the campaign develops.
An early victory is essential to maintain the political will to continue the war. An early decisive victory would knock most of the Rhinebund forces out of the campaign and may be sufficient to convince Prussia and possibly Russia to join the war.

These should be incorporated into the Austrian players strategic plan.
i.                     Defeat the Royal Austrian Army and capture Regensberg w0812
ii.                   Defeat the French/Allied Army by driving it west of the line along the Danube and Naab rivers.
iii.                 Ensure the Vienna Morale marker on the Victory matrix does not reach -4. If it does the campaign ends with the collapse of Austrian political will to continue the war.

Hungarian Grenzers advance in lengthy line formations.


Napoleon did not want war with Austria in 1809. His focus was on the Iberian Peninsula and ensuring the full implementation of his Continental System against British trade. He also wanted to avenge the defeat at Bailen.

However, as it became apparent that Austria was taking steps to mobilise, the Emperor took steps in an attempt to dissuade them from war. He mobilised the contingents of the Confederation of the Rhine for extensive exercises in central Germany. He halted Mortiers V Corps on its way to Spain and proposed the call up of a further 160,00 conscripts. Messena was ordered to commence the formation of a new IV Corps in south western France. Eugene and Marmont were put on war footings in Italy and Dalmatia. As an ultimate declaration of his intent, the Guard was finally recalled from Spain.
Marshal Davout’s famous III Corps plus attached formations was constituted the Army of the Rhine. It was with this veteran formation that Napoleon proposed to keep Austria within its territorial borders pending his arrival with the rest of the Grande Armee.

Marshal Berthier was appointed nominal Commander in Chief pending Napoleon’s arrival in theatre. He did not want to leave Paris too early and thus instigate Austrian hostilities. Once in theatre he has only one intention – to knock Austria out of the war by taking Vienna.
•             Divided into 3 sections – West, Central, East using the prefix’s w,c,e respectively for hex references.
•             Each hex is 2 miles across.
•             All movement will be by road unless specifically ordered otherwise.
•             The Danube can only be crossed at bridges on major/minor roads or by pontoons built at designated briding points.
•             Players will have to make assumptions about movement based on movement rates shown in the Appendices.
•             The Umpire will determine the effect of terrain on all march orders and will relay information on march progress as appropriate to the players.
There were three important factors the players needed to keep in mind whilst issuing orders: Centre of Operations, Supply Centres and the Victory Matrix. These were explained to them as follows:

·         Each player must designate his centre of operation (CoO). This is the position of his GHQ
·         The CoO determines the players effective control of his forces
·         The control distance is 60 miles (30 hexes)

·         Formations and units not within the CoO radius are not out of command. They can still be given and receive orders. However their reaction time and compliance with the orders will be effected as determined by the Umpire.
·         The CoO can be moved, but whilst being moved, the players ability to send orders/react to events will be limited as determined by the Umpire.
·         To move a CoO, simply designate its new location. The Umpire will inform the player once the CoO is fully functional again.

·         Each player has 2 supply sources at the start of the campaign.
Austria – Budweis c1101 and Wolkersdorff e1101
France – Vorburg w0025 and Aichach w0027
·         At the start of the campaigneach player must designate one as its current supply source
·         The CoO must have a clear line of supply to the designated supply source
·         The line of supply cannot exceed 160 miles (80) hexes)
·         If a line of supply cannot be traced either because enemy forces have cut the line or the CoO has moved outside the line distance, then the army is considered to be out of supply. As a consequence the Umpire will determine attrition and morale losses for all units of the army until the line of supply is re-established.
The French player can designate PASSAU w4721 as a new supply center once a French force has passed through Passau and a clear line of supply can be drawn to either w0025 or w0027


The state of the Vienna Morale marker on the Victory matrix, is the sole determinant of victory in the campaign.

Austrian troops march through a sleepy village.
Critical battles

A battle in which either side loses 25% or more of its brigades as broken is termed a “critical battle”. Once the battle is concluded the winner subtracts the number of his broken brigades from the number of the loser’s broken brigades.  If the difference is at least 2, the winner of the battle rolls 1D6. If the roll is less than the difference, the Vienna morale marker is moved one point in favour of the winner.

Death of a Corps or Divisional Commander

At the end of a battle in which a Corps or Divisional commander with any “exceptional rating” is killed, roll 1D6 and add +1 per death to a maximum of 3. If the roll is 6 then the Vienna morale marker is moved 1 point in favour of the opposing side.

Regensberg (w0815)

If Regensberg falls to the Austrians the Vienna morale marker is moved 1 point in favour of Austria. If Regensberg is subsequently recaptured by France, the Vienna morale marker is moved 1 point in favour of the French.

Vienna (e0909/0910/1009)

The first time in the campaign a French force of Divisional Strength moves within 14 miles (7 hexes) of Vienna, the Vienna morale marker is immediately moved 1 point in favour of the French.

In the event that the above occurs, the Austrian army is immediately reinforced with a brigade of 6 battalions of Vienna citizen militia under the command of GM O’Reilly. This unit may never move more than 14 mile (7 hexes) from Vienna.

In the event that a French force of any size enters one or other of the 3 Vienna city hexes and no Austrian force occupies any of the 3 Vienna hexes, the Vienna morale marker is immediately moved 1 point in favour of the French.

Hemau (w0016)

If Archduke Charles together with a force of at least 3 Divisions exits the map at Hemau, and the Vienna morale marker is +3 in favour of Austria, then Austria automatically wins the campaign.

Other than this, the campaign automatically ends if either side sues for peace, or the campaign continues to the 11th July 1809.

Victory determination

Once the campaign ends victory is determined as follows:

+4 in favour of France is a Decisive French Victory
+3, +2 or +1 in favour of France is a Marginal French Victory

+4 in favour of Austria is a Decisive Austrian Victory
+3, +2 or +1 is a Marginal Austrian Victory.

If the Vienna Morale Marker is at 0 when the Campaign ends, the result is a draw.

Massive French columns plough on. 
As umpire I would keep track of all units, its strength, movement and attrition. I would provide all reports based on troop movements, reconnaissance and players orders. All the players had to do was issue orders to their commanders.

The campaign set up was based as near as possible on the historical positions of the armies in theatre as at 9th April 1809 which was my chosen start date. To ensure we got a battle within days, I took the liberty of moving some units slightly, and brought forward the arrival in theatre of some formations (mainly the French and Allies). One major deviation from history was the weather. I decided not to start with the appalling weather that the armies faced in 1809. Instead the weather was going to be dry. This meant that troops would move to their maximum ability and would, I hoped, result in an early battle for the table top. I provided the players with a guide on how far their different troop types could march each day, but did not tell them what could or would reduce those rates. Like their historical counterparts they would find out as and when things happened.

A campaign turn was set at 2 days duration. Again the reason for this was to speed up troop movements. Where necessary, as umpire, I would break that down into daily or hourly moves as the situation on the map required. However, as far as the players were concerned, once set in motion their troops would march until ordered otherwise. At the end of each campaign turn each player would receive a report, written by the Chief of Staff summarising events for the Commanding General.
What I hope all this achieves, is to put the player in the position of his historical counterpart, studying maps, considering reports and issuing orders, leaving all the administration of his armies to the Chief of Staff and Quartermasters.

With the above in place, it was over to the players to set their strategies and write their orders. Russian Tony has the role of Berthier/Napoleon and Chris the role of Archduke Charles. Jeremy and I would play subordinate commanders as necessary.

The bulk of Chris’s Austrian Forces (III, IV, V, VI, I Reserve and II Reserve Corps) start south of Passau along the line of the Inn river. I and II Corps are to the north of Regensberg, marching to get in theatre.

Tony’s French Allied forces are dispersed, with only the Bavarian Royal Army and a few elements of Davout’s command in theatre. The rest are burning boot leather to reach Regensberg.
The next instalment will describe the opening moves and the first campaign battle at Passau.

Bavarian allies with skirmishers to the fore.

Austrian Landwehr form square.

The French deploy pontoons to cross a river. 
So that's it! The scene is set for some incredible encounters. The Passau game is done, next up the battle of Landshut, apparently a monster in the making, this demands another playtest of the General d'Armee rules, stay tuned boys & girls.


Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Bautzen conclusion - an apology & an update & two new batreps!

Sometimes things just don't go your way! This post is not late because of any other reason than my own laziness though! What has not gone my way is that I have lost all the pictures of the end game at Bautzen so there are none to show you. What also didn't go my way was the outcome of the battle. In short the French attacks were not only repulsed but thrown back & successfully countered. Had Napoleon suffered such a reverse as we did the 1813 campaign would have concluded right then & there. Nevermind.

My game design was flawed & our gameplay left much to be desired. This is not to take anything away from Chris & Russian Tony who played a blinder. Chris held out against some serious pressure from Ney with his Prussians whilst Russian Tony took the hilly wooded sector, held in the centre then counter attacked clearing the French from the field entirely. The Old Guard had to be moved up to prevent a total rout here whilst the Young & Middle Guard were diverted to help out just when they were required to exploit the break through against Blucher. The french heavies never even fought. To describe it as a disaster is an understatement.

None of this detracted at all from my enjoyment of the game - it really was like being in a piece of unfolding theatre & the boys were excellent company as usual, many thanks to my fellow Marauders.

In other news.

We are experimenting with a new work in progress rule-set. General d'Armee is essentially a Big battle version of General de Brigade also by Dave Brown. Initial games have been very interesting & seem to rattle through in about half the time the same game would previously. I'll knock up a report for you at some point but obviously can't divulge too much detail as these are very much in development. Needless to say we're chuffed to be asked to help out with these as they coalesce. It looks & feels just right which is a damned good start if you ask me. Below are some pics from a test game of General d'Armee, enjoy.

French cavalry on the right wing.

French cavalry  brigade comprising Dragoons, lancers & accompanying horse battery.

French light cavalry brigade comprising Hussars, these are the 3rd, 5th & 9th.

French horse battery. Elite Miniature painted by proprietor Pete Morbey. He has just supplied some more Peninsular batteries for me too, but that's another post.  

An Italian brigade with artillery deployed up front softening up the enemy prior to advancing.

French allied heavy cavalry brigade. Westphalian & Saxon cuirassiers with accompanying horse battery. 

Bavarian brigade with attached Italian & Wurtemburg battalions & deployed battery. 

Two Russian infantry brigades with half hussar regiments screening. 

Russian command vignette & good detail shot of the great coated lads.
These are Foundry painted by Russian Tony, I don't suppose that chap's just napping... poor sod.

French allied infantry about the get a face full of Russian canister.
From left to right; Neuchatel Battalion, Chasseurs de Corse, Neopolitan Guards. 

A new unit joins Russian Tony's army. These are Mounted Chasseurs, I forget which regiment, soz!
As usual these are Foundry models painted by Tony. Note the converted officer - brilliant.  

Zooming in on the last shot.

The maniac Seivers, a great model.

Russian infantry brigade huddling behind their battery as the French cavalry approach.

The lines close.

The Polish brigade moves forward.

The Bavarian infantry brigade drives back the Russians as the German heavies turn their flank.
On the left the lead squadrons of Russian supporting cavalry enter the field. 

An unseemly grasp for factors.

It's curtains for the Russian right as they are overwhelmed.

Our shiny new Dragoons are out classed by Russian hussars - oh dear!
This always happens with new units doesn't it.

The Novgorod Cuirassiers liquidate the fellas from Neuchatel.
Berthier will be disappointed. 
Duka leads the Starodub Cuirassiers on a hunting mission.

Cavalry melee.
Duka finds a rather juicy target but fails to close - T.F.F.T.

The Russian right ceases to exist & the attack rolls onto exploit the Russian rear areas.

General advance in the French centre as the gallant Russians concede.
So what do we make of these rules? Excellent start to be honest. This game featured approx 50 units per side split into 10 brigades per side. Usually our games with  c. 100 units in play takes weeks & about 25 to 40 turns of General de Brigade for four of us to conclude, we polished this off in two sittings playing either 9 or 11 turns, I forget. Sure we have stretched GdeB beyond what was designed for but they give a superb game in my view. This new, derivative, version is designed for Corps to Army level play & has a totally different feel. The decision making process is based at a higher level with an emphasis on "having a plan"! The command & control structure is made at a higher level where one orders brigades via ADCs and watch them do as they're told or otherwise. This is a simple elegant & engaging process - it is not just allocating pips or action points which is dry & somewhat hackneyed. 

There is room for individual battalions to act on some initiative but the whole brigade based feel promotes cohesive brigade based deployment & internal mutual support. This looks & feels as if using historical tactics works best, so it gets my vote.

The outcomes of decision points are usually decisive so brigades are successful sweeping forward, repulsed & thrown back or similar. The feel is of dramatic actions ebbing & flowing across the battlefield. Precisely what I love about big Napoleonic affairs.

We'll stick with these for big games but revert to GdeB for Peninsular & smaller continental actions such as the following...               

Danube 1809                    

French Tony's campaign has produced its first battle. The attempted relief of the Fortress of Passau was a game you could never invent as a scenario, it was simply too unlikely and the scenery too crazed for a "normal" wargame. French Tony promises me a write up, until then here are some pictures.

The Bavarian garrison is besieged in Passau by an Austrian Advance Guard.
Nobody noticed there are no doors to the fortress though

Much of the area is forested restricting movement for both sides.
Here Austrians march to intercept the Bavarian relief column.

The Bavarian relief column arrives.

Austrian artillery takes pot shots at defenders although 6lb won't do much harm. 

The besieged. 

Bavarian  looters in Passau.

Austrian cavalry seal off the approach road to the fortress.  

We need more trees.

These vignette thingies need some work really. We're getting there but they're not a priority when there are regiments, battalions & batteries to paint.

Austrians on the move. 

The Bavarians top centre have a mountain to climb!

Can't see the wood for the trees. 

Tony making campaign notes for the article he'll never write ;)

Austrians emerge on the flank of the Bavarian who deploy a battery & Wurtemburg battalion to cover them. 

Bavarians & attached Poles take pot shots at the blocking Austrian cavalry astride the road. 

Front Rank Bavarian top brass painted by Nigel Cox - should he replace Herr Grumpy - is a poll in order! 

Front Rank Austro brass this time painted by Tony Laughton for Chris collection.

Foundry Austrian top brass also painted by Tony Laughton for Chris.

Polish battery by Murawski Minis painted by Barry Hill - hi mate! 

This can't end well...

The relief column deployed to attack.

Hammer versus nut?

Then another Austrian formation appears behind the Bavarian/Polish relief column - balls! 
This was a decisive defeat. Although the Bavarians won almost every firefight & melee the situation was hopeless - they surrendered leaving the fortress still under siege.

This is exactly what the campaign was designed to do, create one-off interesting battles within a narrative and consequences beyond the tabletop action - this game delivered all in buckets.    

"Attack!" The Devizes show 2016

This is our local show so we trot along every year. To be honest much is the same at Attack year on year, same traders, same products, a few stand out games & a smell of unwashed middle aged men, I don't miss those Sunday morning competition games in ventilated halls - uurgh! It's a great day out and we always catch up with various reprobates from our pasts - Rob Broom for instance.

Fine ales 
We did some club shopping blowing over £450 with ease.

Someone criticised our scenery on a forum which made me think a bit so we will upgrade a few bits.

Last Valley were there so we spanked £100 on more trees & some better marshes.  
We bought a top notch printed gaming mat over 14ft x 6ft so no more seams in pics & a visible texture underfoot. That was £200 post free though.

Playing these massive Napoleonic set pieces requires moving stacks of models, even based on elements this is time consuming. To speed up play we now have movement trays for well over 100 battalions, these are in three sizes to accommodate 32, 36 & 48 man strong battalions.

These are all worthwhile club investments in our view. Keep an eye out for them in future posts.  

We usually pop into the Barge at Seend, a Wadworths pub. The local beer is best drunk near the brewery so being on the canal near Devizes  you get a fine pint.
This golden number was called Swordfish I think, a change from the ubiquitous & equally fine 6X.      
That's it from me, off to walk the dog in the summer rain by the sea.
Catch up soon,