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.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Battlegames Campaign - Battle of Iferbrucke

Situation: After being defeated in his attempts to gain the capital city Martinstadt from the Austrians, General Prost was faced with a significant strategic choice.  Should he gather his forces for a third attack on the city?  Attempt an attack on a different axis?  Attempt an outflanking movement?  Or concentrate his forces defensively and cede the initiative to the Austrians?  Being a true child of the revoultion, Prost immediately ruled out a passive defence but doubted his ability in the short-term to succeed in a renewed attack on the capital.  Thus, he decided upon a small flanking attack to threaten the Austrians line-of -communications.  Not wishing to waste time re-deploying his main army, he directed his reserve, consisting of the Imperial Guard division and the reserve artillery to march North and attack the town of Iferbrucke, ungarrisoned towards the Austrian rear and supply lines.
Prince Lauda immediately and sent his own nearest units - his Grenadier Division and his Cuirassier Division, moving rapidly backwards, as soon as another division could arrive and take responsibility for the siege train.

Fortunately for the Austrians, their troops (who started later but had a shorter distance to go) reached the town first and were able to set up to defend it from the advancing French...

Orders of Battle:

The French:

C-in-C: Gen Laffite (Capable)

Imperial Guard Division: 6 Veteran/Elite SK1 Infantry, 6 Trained/Elite SK1 Infantry, 1 4lb Hs Arty Bty

Artillery Reserve: 3 12lb Ft Art Btys

The Austrians:

C-in-C:Gen Wallner (Capable)

Grenadier Division: 12 Veteran SK1 Infantry, 2 12lb Ft Arty Btys, 1 6lb Ft Arty Bty

1st Reserve Bde: 2 Veteran Cuirassier

2nd Reserve Bde: 2 Veteran Cuirassier

(n.b. Those really paying attention will note that the Austrian Reserve Division commander has assumed command of the force, and thus his own formation has been broken into its component brigades;  similarly the French Artillery general has taken command of the French force)

The Set-Up:
View from the south, from behind the French lines: Prost has deployed his heavy guns in the centre, with the infantry division in four brigade columns behind

View from the west looking at the gap between the two armies.  The Austro-Hanoverian right (near) is protected by the Hanoverian troops, the centre and left by Austrian grenadiers, occupying a hill and some farms.

Looking from behind the hill towards the advancing French.

And from slightly further back; here the Austrian Cuirassiers in reserve in the dead ground can be seen

A close-up of the French reserve artillery with two French Imperial Guard infantry brigades on either side
 The Battle:
The battle begins with the French 12-pounders achieving a degree of superiority

The first French attack goes in in textbook style (centre-left)! The French Divisional commander leads his troops into the famrhouse after routing the Austrian Grenadiers defending it; the heavy batteries of both sides continue their artillery duel; the Austrian general brings up a couple of regiments of Cuirassiers to protect his flank (right)

A slightly closer view of the French gaining one farm (left), whilst its infantry approach the second farmhouse (right)

The French launch their attack!  Good progress is made, pushing one of the defending battalions back

The Austrian Cuirassiers charge!  One Young Guard battalion is broken and routed (bottom-left) but the remainder of the French brigade holds on, just; the Cuirassiers are disordered and back to their starting positions

Both sides fail their morale checks and both brigades are spent, retreating towards their own lines

The French renew their assualt on the farmhouse, but this time the French are pushed back in severe disorder; not shown, but the French have failed to make progress in the centre up the hill

The Austrian grenadiers have counter-attacked from the farmhouse and routed a French battalion (top-right); with Hanoverian and British grenadiers pushing on the French left, Gen Laffite decided that he probably couldn't win but risked destruction in his present position with the Austrians about to turn his right flank; he thus withdrew from the other farmhouse too to form a strong defensive position

The Austrian opposition on the hill was too strong to break quickly and the grenadiers on the flank (bottom-right) convinced Laffite he couldn't win

With very little real fighting, the French are able to break contact; Gen Wallner declined to commit his remaining Cuirassier brigade since his army's morale was quite shaky and if the remaining cuirassiers were defeated, he knew his Army would plunge into retreat, so he was only prepared to use his infantry in the attack, and no good opportunity arose
Game Results:
The Austrians had one Grenadier Bn broken and one Cuirassier Brigade shattered.
The French had one Middle and one Young Guard Bn broken and one Young Guard Bde shattered.  The French units were both permanently lost.

The French move was imaginative and could have led to far-reaching results; luckily for the Austrians they were just able to counter it in time.  The opening moves of the battle were very good for the French and it appeared that they might be able to force an Austrian retreat.  But the combination of the cavalry charge and the stern resistance of the two Austrian Grenadier Bns defending the second farmhouse ended up in the French right giving way and without significant reserves at this point, Gen Laffite had no real choice but to call off the action.  Strategically the French have at least succeeded in giving the Austrians something to think about but without reinforcements neither side is likely to make much progress here.

Game Notes:
A pretty standard, fun game of Polemos General de Division.  With relatively few bases, the game really does rattle along. 

Depending upon a rules interpretation, fighting withdrawals can either be relatively easy or hard in Polemos.  Withdrawing in a line facing the enemy is painfully slow and thus favours the attacker, who can normally get enough infantry in position to mount an attack at a place of their choosing.  However, you can retreat by using "reform" moves of 2BW a turn, which are slightly but not prohibitively more expensive in terms of order points (i.e. PIPs), and this effectively represents breaking ranks or retreating in loose order and then reforming.  I sway about which is the more realistic!  I think that the ruleset's author, Chris Grice, prefers a slight modification the rule at the moment, which says that he prefers that at least one base in a given group must remain static during a reform move.  In this case, the best tactic for breaking contact is to do it by alternating battalions (i.e. units in the same brigade or division reform on each other alternately; it takes a little more organizing and a few more TPs but achieves a similar effect).

Figures as ever by Baccus 6mm, most of the buildings by Total Battle Miniatures.


  1. The Austrian commander showed quite a bit of initiative and forethought to get there first with enough to thwart the French outflanking attempt. Could the French commander have demonstrated against Martinstadt to pin the Austrians while he sent the Guard on its sweep north? Faced with renewed attacks by the main French force, I wonder how the Austrian commander would have responded?

    Very interesting stuff!

    1. Good question and it goes to the heart of solo play, I think. Obviously, I can't intentionally fool myself so what I am trying for on each side is an exercise in game theory: knowing that the "enemy" must know what "I" know (i.e. when I am the active player), what is then the best move? So if you refer back to the initial map, the difficulty for the Austrian commander is at what point to commit his troops to move North. If he commits them to0 early, or commits too many, then the French will merely converge on Martinstadt again from both South and West, so the Austrian couldn't commit until after the French had committed. Knowing that, the "French player" is hoping that the tempo bidding will allow him to get his forces quickly into Iferbrucke before the Austrian could. Unfortunately for the French, the dice were friendly to the Austrians and they had enough tempo points (i.e action points) to be able to make a rapid march and beat the French to the town. The French main body is only ten miles away from Martinstadt anyway, so the Austrians were pinned to that extent: the Austrians then had to work out what was the maximum force that could be sent North without making Martinstadt itself vulnerable to a renewed French attack.

    2. I managed to track down a copy of 'programmed wargame scenarios' by charles grant. It's pretty interesting book, allowing for single or double sided programmed actions. It might not work too well for this situation, but it could certainly give some 'impartial decision' with regards to setups and strategies.

    3. That's an interesting idea. I saw the book years ago and IIRC played a couple of scenarios from it. I had never thought of using it as the basis for the tactical side of a campaign though. If I can find a copy at a reasonable price I will have a look.

    4. Another idea I have used in solo play is to delegate overall commands to actual players. They are given situation reports, make their decisions, and issue orders. I then play out the maneuvers as directed and conduct the combat on the game table. Great fun for me and my "virtual" commanders have enjoyed the experience too.

      For me, solo play offers such rich rewards.

    5. I had thought about doing something like that and I will likely do it in the future. I'll only do it however when I am sure that a given combination of campaign rules and tactical rules will work together; this campaign now is a sort of test drive of that concept.

  2. I feel like I might be biased towards the French. They dont seem to win many of these aars! selective memory on my [part perhaps.

    Thanks for writing these up. I do enjoy following the campaign action.

    1. No, I think that you are right - certainly in recent months. I don't think it is anything apart from a run of bad luck though!