Aug 18, 2016

Test battle - Italy 1809

My Napoleonic rules are almost complete, but a playtest is always due before publishing them. They are basically a variant of  'Easy Tricorne', with some of the Napoleonic fuzz added. 
In this confrontation, an Austrian force faces a French advance, somewhere in Italy. Of course I have the wrong headwear for the Austrians to match the French, so please ignore that.

A brief OOB for both sides:

CIC Johann von Frindenburgen (4)
Subcom Günther von Pleasureman (1)

4x (3 base) Line infantry É2 FI2 FP2
2x (3 base) Landwehr É2 FI1 FP1 

1x (5 base) Cuirassiers É2 FI4 FP0
1x (4 base) Uhlans É2 FI3 FP0

CIC (GenDiv) Jean-Louis du Cognac (5)
Subcom Brigadier Charmant (1)

2x (3 base) Grenadiers É2 FI3 FP2 
4x (3 base) Fusiliers É2 FI3 FP1
1x (3 base) Voltigeurs É2 FI2 FP2 (SK)

2x Field guns

1x (4 base) Dragoons É2 FI3 FP1
1x (5 base) Cuirassiers É2 FI4 FP0

This game is about division-sized, so a single unit is a battalion of foot or multiple squadrons of horse.
The attributes for each unit are: Élan, Fierceness and Firepower. Élan is the amount of actions they can perform in a turn. Fierceness determines the amount of dice thrown in a melee, and Firepower determines a unit's rate of fire. Artillery always has the same attributes.
Activation and command&control are a bit more difficult to explain. These will be detailed in the complete rules.

The Austrians begin a slow deployment. A group of Landwehr occupies the villa's walled garden.

The French battery chooses a fine position and the first casualties of the day are inflicted, on an Austrian Landwehr unit. 

The French extreme left seemed secure only for a brief period of time, before a battalion of Austrian foot occupied the hill and the Uhlans were redirected from the left in a dashing 'flying' column.

The French center approaches, and to prevent the Austrian cuirassiers from outflanking them, the French heavy horse enters the fray. They are broken and routed.

The French dragoons are not very eager to engage the Uhlans on their left. It's a rare opportunity to mow down a French attack column.

Nonetheless, the advance of the blue-coat infantry is a spectacular sight.

The French dragoons feel contended to defend the cannon, while the lonely Voltigeur detachment holds the vineyard valiantly.

The French advance slowly moves to shooting distance. A rather effective Austrian volley (for its extreme range) pushes some of them back.

This is a very bad French hand. Numbered cards are basically useless. On occasions like these, a X can be played to activate one or two units.

The first wave of French infantry fails to uproot the Austrian line defending the woods.

Both the Voltigeurs and dragoons are fighting desperately to push the enemy back.

Two French battalions charge the Landwehr battalion. Having no wish to give up their position, the Landwehr routs one enemy group and puts the other one under flanking fire.

The Austrian cuirassiers see an opportunity: instead of fighting the reorganized enemy horse, they charge & throw back the infantry reserve.

The Landwehr stand a second charge before being brought down by enemy volley fire. 

The Austrian uhlans are charged simultaneously by the dragoons and a foot battalion. They rout the dragoons and push the infantry back with heavy casualties. 

Now the way is clear to capture the guns.

Their charge to glory ends with rounding up the remaining few Dragoons.

On the other side of the field, the Austrian cavalry finally turns against the French, and after bitter fighting and receiving a volley from a nearby square, the boys in blue are chased off the field.

The voltigeurs fight until the last man.

The French are failing to inflict damage on the Austrian foot. The reserve quickly takes the Landwehr's place.

Another bad hand, at the worst possible time. Fortunately, the French win the initiative for the next turn.

With their rear now seriously threatened, and the Austrian foot deployed in a clumsy line, thus being unable to pursue, the French take the opportunity to extricate most of their infantry and head for safety. 

The game seems to work well, with some fine tuning it will be great. I think I'll 'borrow' Blücher's solution for splitting combat dice between multiple attacking units, because a single Uhlan unit fending off two attackers seemed unlikely (although heroic). 
To deploy a successful frontal hammer blow, the French were ought to guard their flanks better. Not keeping any infantry in reserve also botched up the attack, as the enemy's frontage was not wide enough to strike at all points, so some units just lagged behind. These could have been better used to support the artillery, freeing up the voltigeur detachment and dragoons to roam the field more freely. 
As I have overestimated the number of painted French infantry, each of the four fusilier units consisted of one voltigeur and two fusilier bases. 


  1. Günther von Pleasureman... I thought he is on Sun Trip in this time of the year ;)

  2. Whatever tweaking the rule set requires, to my mind both Austrian cavalry units deserve a battle honour, and that Landwehr unit too.

    As far as the Austrian headgear is concerned, the crested helmet has such a 'coolness' factor, I preferred it for my own army. Some second hand shako wearing dudes I painted up as Hungarians, forming a corps comprising two fusilier and one grenadier unit. I also reversed my convention with flags. The 'German' grenadiers and fusiliers receive white and yellow flags respectively. My Hungarian grenadiers and fusiliers receive yellow and white. There is no historical basis for this: just my own whim.

    I like the look of your armies. Very pretty.

    1. I agree on the helmets, the other thing to consider is that I can only buy the Italeri Austrian figures from local shops, and those only come with helmets and bearskins.

  3. The point I forgot to make: I have taken historical licence for my Austrian Army, and even in 1815, my guys will still, for the most part, be wearing helmets. Having said that, it is known from pictorial evidence, that not all line infantry battalions had made the transition to the shako by 1809.

    1. Yes, I've read the same thing. I have also been only slightly concerned by the small overlap between the 1808-12 French uniforms and the pre-1809 Austrian headwear. Thanks for the encouragement!