Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Scenario 7 Rear Slope

With Scenario 6 played just under the 1 year mark, it seemed like a good idea to make use of renewed familiarity with the rules, and the fact that the German forces for Scenario 5 were still barely half complete, to get Scenario 7 on the table. With the (6mm) score level at one game apiece, it was time to have the Prussians defend for a change. In this scenario they are supposed to take advantage of a reverse slope to conceal part of their forces from the French. Always tricky for the solo gamer, but MdE includes a combat modifier for fighting troops that were not previously visible, and I suspect a generous interpretation of this, plus my own incompetence, should help us through.

So it is that we go back to earlier in 1813, long before Lebasque’s daring maritime escape, to the maneuvering that preceded the major clashes. The twin towns of Nordcoggondorf and Sudcoggondorf sit astride a major north-south road. They are, in turn, dominated by a large hill. Whoever holds the hill, controls the road, and so it was that General Lebasque was tasked with driving the Prussians from the heights to allow the French free passage. After the depredations of the Russian campaign, the French force is unsurprisingly ‘raw’, while the Prussians are a more mixed bag. Both generals, new to their commands, are ‘plodding’. (Thanks again to the MdE random force generator for being judgemental about my abilities.)

Prussians (Blue)

1 General Plodding
1 Infantry brigade of 3 regiments Trained SK1, Trained SK1, Raw SK1
1 Infantry brigade of 2 regiments Veteran SK1, Raw SK1
1 Cavalry brigade of 1 regiment Cuirassiers Trained, 1 regiment Dragoons Trained
2 batteries Artillery

French (Red)

1 General Plodding

1 Infantry division of 3 brigades Trained SK1, Raw SK1, Raw SK0
1 Infantry division of 3 brigades Trained SK1, Raw SK1, Raw SK1
1 Infantry division of 2 brigades Trained SK1, Raw SK2
1 Cavalry division of 2 brigades Dragoons Veteran, Trained
1 Cavalry brigade Chasseurs à Cheval, Trained
2 batteries Artillery

Von Wreckedoffen will get 1d6+2 Tempo points and Lebasque 1d6+4. I will use the same Tempo bidding method with the French rolling an average die this time and the Prussians a d4.

The map looks like this…

…and my table looks like this:

The defending Prussians were required to place 4 units in front of the line XY, and therefore visible to the French. Von Wreckedoffen decided to keep the French guessing by placing his cavalry to guard the right flank, and threaten the flank of any assault on the hill, while his artillery was massed on the heights. All his infantry remained concealed, and I decided to leave its deployment until later in the game to keep the French (and me) guessing.

Lebasque decided to use his light cavalry brigade to screen the Prussian cavalry and focus the rest of his forces on seizing the hill. Given the apparent concentration of Prussian forces on the eastern side of the hill he planned to launch his main assault on the western side and then roll up the Prussian line. A secondary attack on Nordcoggondorf would keep the Prussians from concentrating against him and the heavy cavalry division in reserve could exploit any breakthroughs or prevent the Prussian cavalry from intervening if the screening chassuers were ineffective.

Turns 1-3

Plodding generals suffer from a significant lack of Tempo Points (TP), especially when attacking. So things got off to a relatively slow start, with Lebasque focusing on advancing his three infantry divisions. The central, holding, column was driven back by heavy fire from the Prussian guns, but the eastern division advanced along the road, over the brow of the hill and into Nordcoggondorf.

Now, attacking into a town is a dangerous business at the best of times, but especially when you are surprised by the presence of the enemy there (‘Veteran’, no less). Proceeding to roll a ‘1’ in combat is just adding insult to injury. The lead French brigade was routed and the Prussians charged out of the town, driving the supporting brigades all the way to the bottom of the hill. At least Lebasque knew where some of the Prussians were now.

A nasty surprise lurking in the streets of Nordcoggondorf

Turn 4

Keeping the initiative, the French advanced the other two columns up onto the ridge. The central column looked forward to wreaking revenge on the unsupported artillery in front of them. Instead, as they crested the rise, the Prussian guns pulled back and a long line of Prussian infantry appeared momentarily, before disappearing just as suddenly behind a thick cloud of powder smoke. It was too much for the leading French brigade which routed, and was soon followed by its supporting brigade as the Prussians charged down from the ridge and drove them off at bayonet point.

The other French column saw the Prussians to their right as they reached the top of the ridge and turned towards them. But the Prussians had seen them too and the end regiment wheeled to face their attackers.

Von Wreckedoffen realized this was the crucial moment of the battle, and placing himself at the end of this ‘Raw’ regiment, led them in a headlong charge into the French. The Prussians pushed them back and von Wreckedoffen was able to restrain his troops from pursuit. They reformed at the end of the ridge as their victorious comrades formed up behind them. Further west, the Prussian dragoons wheeled around to threaten the rear of the French brigade.

Things were delicately poised. Winning the initiative next turn would be vital….

Turn 5

The dice love irony. The French won initiative, but only by bidding all their Tempo Points, so were unable to do anything! 

In contrast, von Wreckedoffen used his limited TPs to lead his victorious regiment in another charge at the French, who were driven off the ridge and routed. Not enough to shake French ‘Force Morale’, with all the cavalry, artillery and 4 infantry brigades intact, but still not looking good.

Turns 6-9

The French made two more attempts on the ridge. The first was turned back but the second, now supported by artillery, saw both sides retire exhausted, leaving the high ground unoccupied. Meanwhile, the French dragoons advanced to provide support and a threat to the Prussian right flank.

Turn 10

Finally, Lebasque managed to acquire a decent fist of Tempo Points and put them to good use. He launched attacks all across the front, with the eastern division attempting again to take Nordcoggondorf, while the dragoons and chasseurs launched themselves at the Prussian cavalry in the west.

It did not go well.

The French attacking into the town were ‘Raw’ and short of skirmishers. The ‘Veteran’ defenders made short work of them and routed both brigades. Despite the French outnumbering the Prussian dragoons 2:1, the cavalry melée surged back and forth (literally, each side scoring 2 recoils in 4 rounds of combat) and was inconclusive (the outcome roll was a tie!) Further west, the folly of charging cuirassiers with chasseurs was amply demonstrated as the heavy mob put their green-jacketed opponents to flight.

Which was enough to break French ‘Force Morale’ and the ridge, and road, remained in Prussian hands.

The dénouement


I’ll admit it, having the chasseurs charge the Prussian cuirassiers was a folly worthy of Brigadier Gérard. I’m not sure it would have made any difference though, the French were within a bad die roll of failing the Force Morale test anyway. By the times the defenders of Nordcoggondorf had made their way onto the ridge the French goose would have been well and truly cooked.

A fun game, in which artillery again played more of a role and lots of melées see-sawed back and forth before producing decisive outcomes. No doubt I will have forgotten everything I’ve learned by the time the next game of MdE rolls around.

What is next? If there’s a long enough gap for me to build another ten or so German vehicles it will be Scenario 5, but hopefully it won’t be that long. In which case, it will be a giant ancients clash for Scenario 8, with the first appearance of my Byzantines, safely returned from Sri Lanka in October and fully based up before the end of 2022.

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