Heretical Gaming is my blog about my gaming life, featuring small skirmishes and big battles from many historical periods (and some in the mythic past or the far future too). The focus is on battle reports using a wide variety of rules, with the occasional rules review, book review and odd musing about the gaming and history. Most of the battles use 6mm-sized figures and vehicles, but occasionally 15mm and 28mm figures appear too.

Thursday 10 August 2017

Battlegames Campaign - First Battle of Martinstadt

The first clash of the new campaign occurred on 6th May 1809.  The Austrians had seized Martinstadt and were in the process of preparing a magazine there, to enable future operations.  In order to seize the city, or at least forestall the Austrian logistic process, the French decided upon immediate attack.

The French main column advanced straight on Martinstadt, whilst a secondary column marched on Niffelgletsch first and established a supply magazine.  The Austrian main column also marched straight against Martinstadt and seized it first, whilst light forces demonstrated to the East and the reserves took Iferbrucke.
The Forces:

The French Army consisted of:

C-in-C Gen Prost

1st Division (Carriere - Decisive): 12 Tra SK1 Infantry, 3 Tra SK2 Infantry, 1 8lb Ft Bty
3rd Division (Dupraz - Plodding): 10 Tra SK1 Infantry, 3 Tra SK2 Infantry, 1 8lb Ft Bty
Guard Cavalry Brigade: 2 Vet/El Heavy Cav, 1 4lb Hs Bty
Dragoon Division (Maas - Decisive): 4 Trained Dragoons, 1 4lb Hs Bty
Lt Cavalry Division (Desmenez - Decisive): 4 Trained Lt Cav, 1 4lb Hs Bty

The Austro-Hanoverian Army consisted of:

C-in-C Prince Lauda

1st Division (Weissenberger - Plodding): 12 Tra SK1 Infantry, 1 Tra SK2 Infantry, 1 6lb Ft Bty
2nd Division (Wagner - Capable): 12* Tra SK1 Infantry, 1 Tra SK2 Infantry, 1 6lb Ft Bty
3rd Division (Bosnar - Capable): 11 Tra SK1 Infantry, 2* Tra SK2 Infantry, 1 6lb Ft Bty
Advance Guard Division (Manninger - Capable): 2 Raw SK2 Infantry, 2 Tra SK1 Infantry, 2 Veteran Lt Cav, 1 3lb Hs Bty
Rearguard Division (Pogatetz - Plodding):  2 Raw SK2 Infantry, 2 Tra SK1 Infantry, 2 Veteran Lt Cav, 1 3lb Hs Bty
Dragoon Division (Wawra - Capable): 4 Trained Dragoons
Independent Cavalry Brigade: 3 Trained Heavy Cavalry*

* = incorporating defecting Martinstaadt units.

The Deployment:

The battle lines, looked at from the west, behind the French positions.  The battle was fought to the northwest of the city.

The French Left: Carrière's Division faces that of Weissenberger.  Wagner's Division occupies that central hill.

View from behind the French Right: Dupraz' Divison faces Bosnar's troops, supported by Desmenez's Light Cavalry.  Manninger's Advance Guard Division is in support of Bosnar, with Wawra's Dragoons further back still.

And finally, the centre: Maas' Dragoons and the Guard Cavalry face the open fields in front of Wagner's Division.

The view along the line from North-to-South

The view from behind Weissenberger's troops on the Austro-Hanoverian right.

And the far-right-rear of the Austro-Hanoverian position.  These three units are Martinstaadt Heavy Cavalry from the base in Martinstadt (the city) who defected en masse to the Austrians...

And a view from the Austro-Hanoverian left-rear

A closer view from behind Weissenberger's battalions, facing their French opponents
 The Battle:

The battle begins with Dupraz' troops on the French right preparing to advance (note the mounted figures on circular bases - these represent the tempo points allocated to this particular division); note the gap in the Austrian lines: effective French artillery fire has forced the Austrian artillery and supporting infantry back.  This persuaded the French commander to attack early, for better or worse

Similarly effective French artillery fire on the left achieves the same effect

The attack goes in on the right; Dupraz leading his light infantry from the front

The Austrians deliver a perfect volley at point-blank range and decimates the leading French battalion, which breaks instantly: the supporting battalion recoils shaken too (single dismounted figures represent shaken units)

A little disheartened, Dupraz leads another, larger attack

The pomp of Napoleonic warfare: French infantry, following its skirmishers, beat the pas de charge into the attack!

Carrière closes up to the Austrian Right; the smoke marks a temporarily ineffective Austrian battery

Back to Dupraz' attack: although a bit less crushing than the first volley, the other Austrian battalions deliver very effective fire and the French recoil again, with all units very shaken.

The French brigade fails its morale test and withdraws!!!  Dupraz's division is looking distinctly threadbare.  The French Light Cavalry starts to roam around the right wing.

The unlucky failure of Dupraz' division puts the pressure onto the French left to deliver results, so Carrière prepares his attack.

Dupraz hastily tries to reform his division; meanwhile Desmenez puts his light cavalry into line of battle.

Finally, a bit of French success!  The main attack on the left failed and was thrown back in considerable disorder, but the left-hand battalions manage to throw back the Austrians and get into the farm enclosures.

A closer view of the repulsed French units

Meanwhile, Desmenez's Chasseurs crasah into Wawra's Dragoons...

Another shot.  Note Austrian Hussars riding hard up in support.

The swirl and two-and-fros of cavalry melee: the Austrian Dragoons have the upper hand in one, or losing in the other

The Austrian commanders quickly restore a degree of order before the French can push their advantage on the other flank; Weissenberger himself seizes the colours and leads a single battalion into a countercharge

The reinforcing Austrian Hussars rout their French opponents (left); there was no decision in the centre, so both sides pull back to reform

Meanwhile the French Light Cavalry on the extreme right break the Austrian Dragoon regiment opposing them!  However, more Austrian Dragoons are approaching

Unfortunately the French yet again fail their morale check; this led to the entire French Division pulling out!  Luckily the Austrian Dragoons were similarly shattered

Wagner advances out of the enclosures to put more pressure on Dupraz's Division

Carrière's Division is pushed back, shaken.  And yet again, a French brigade fails its morale check!!  General Prost feels that he cannot win after losing four brigades and being back at his start line, and decides to withdraw.

The French withdrew successfully, as the Austrians decline to pursue closely, fearing the heavier French cavalry reserves.
 French: 2 x Inf units broken, 1 x Lt Cav unit broken; 2 x Infantry brigades spent, 2 x Light Cavalry brigades spent.  The Lt Cav unit was permanently destroyed.
Austria: 1 x Dragoon unit broken; 2 x Dragoon brigades spent.
Considering the results, the overall casualties were quite low; this is because French morale failed rather than enduring massive casualties.

The French Army has fallen back to regroup after its defeat.

Game Notes:
The French had almost no luck after the first few turns.  Indeed, their good luck in their artillery performing so well in punching holes in the Austrian lines worked against them, as this encouraged the early attack.  The failed infantry morale tests were against the odds - effectively two 1:5 shots, which they lost both times.  The main mistake - as opposed to bad luck - was to launch the French Light Cavalry independently, rather than support it with either the Guard Cavalry or the Dragoons - that might genuinely have turned the Austrian left.
The Polemos rules continue to give a good game generally.  I still have a few qualms about the calibration of some of the factors, but nothing too serious.  The main difficulty is to not make some troops too overpowering, but at the same time not unbalance the rest of the tactical factors.  What do I mean?

The basic combat mechanic is an opposed D6 die roll, like DBx.
If Veterans are +2 and Raw are -2, then the swing is +4, incredibly hard to beat.  The Raw troops need a lot of tactical factors (support, secure flanks, terrain) etc. to give them a chance.  We might feel that 1 or 2 of these should be enough to equalize things.  So we reduce the troop factors to +1 and -1 respectively.  But then we are saying that being Veteran is equivalent to having a supporting battalion on the flank which might not feel quite right either.  This is why I am still mucking about with these things!  However, this is small fry compared to the many things that I think Polemos gets spot on, so I persevere.

Incidentally, the actual way I am conducting the campaign is very old school - a small map and some home-made counters, with the army records on index cards:

Figures by Baccus 6mm.


  1. A cracking little/big game! Glad to see Martinstaad getting some action.

    1. Thanks very much Henry. I really like to get to the first battle of a campaign, partly because if the campaign can go from map to battle to map again, I know the campaign can work mechanically, and partly because - particularly for a solo player - the outcome of the first battle sets in motion events and prevents an early stalemate.

  2. Excellent report. How did you make the campaign map? Is that some kind of software program?

    1. The campaign map is all Henry Hyde's doing, I'm afraid. Far better than I could have done!

  3. If you are starting to fiddle with the modifiers, you might choose to use a larger die to give more granularity. +4 is brutal with d6 vs d6, but not as bad with d10's or even d20's. Even bumping up to a d8 with no change in factors might make a difference for you.

    1. Good point. I think D10s would need a major recalibration, but D8s might work quite well.

  4. Enjoyed the blog, must read more of it :) Our tastes are similar and I am a soloist too. Keep up the good work, I'm sure the hits will keep comimg. The comments may not (I find the same, lots of views but no comments).

    1. Thanks very much George. I like getting comments but they are definitely not the main aim of this blog.