|French General Delzons at the Battle of Maloyaroslavets|
I have wanted to have a go at this one for abour 30 years, ever since I saw an article on it in a magazine (Military Modelling, perhaps? If there are any grognards who remember the issue, please let me know!) as a child.
The scenario is written for Over the Hills with suggestions for conversion to Grand Armee and Black Powder. It is bath-tubbed, so one real-life brigade is represented by a battalion. I prefer to use rules specifically designed for individual units to be brigades in these circumstances, so I used Phil Barker's Horse, Foot and Guns.
|Horse, Foot and Guns|
1 x Command Post (Eugene)
5 x Light Infantry* (2 x Italian)
14 x Bayonets (2 x Italian)
2 x Elite Bayonets (Italian)
3 x Field Artillery (1 x Italian)
4 x Light Cavalry (1 x Italian, 2 x Bavarian)
1 x Elite Dragoons (Italian)
*assigned as per scenario; in HFG, all French Napoleonic Infantry is typically counted as 'Bayonets' rather than 'Light Infantry', despite formal designations.
1 x Headquarters (Kutuzov)
1 x Command Post (Docturov)
4 x Light Infantry
15 x Stoic Foot
3 x Field Artillery
2 x Heavy Artillery
3 x Light Horse
Both the Imperial French and the Russians arrive piecemeal. The terrain was very difficult off-roads, which is all counted as 'Slow Going' (or rough/broken ground in other rules). The stream has high banks, so it is potentially fordable by infantry (HFG has specific rules for this, as does the magazine scenario) but not other arms.
Imperial French: CP, 1 x Lt Inf, 3 x Bayonets
Imperial Russia: CP. 2 x Lt Inf, 6 x Stoic Foot, 1 x Field Arty
Turn 1: France: 1 x Lt Inf, 3 x Bayonets, 1 x Field Arty, 2 x Lt Cav
Turn 2: Russia (A): 3 x Lt Horse
Turn 3: France: 2 x Elite Bayonets, 1 x Elite Dragoons**, 2 x Lt Inf, 2 x Bayonets, 1 x Field Arty
Turn 4: Russia (B): 3 x Stoic Foot, 1 x Field Arty
Turn 4: France: 2 x Lt Cav
Turn 6: Russia (C): 1 x Lt Inf, 3 x Stoic Foot
Turn 9: France: 1 x Lt Inf, 2 x Bayonets
Turn 10: France: 4 x Bayonets, 1 x Field Arty
Turn 11: Russia (C): 1 x HQ, 2 x Heavy Arty
Turn 13: Russia (B): 1 x Lt Inf, 3 x Stoic Foot, 1 x Field Arty
The letters refer to which road the reinforcements come in on. A is the road going to the left of Maloyaroslavets, with B the next one counter-clockwise (i.e. left road on the Russian baseline) and C the next one again (the road on the right of the Russian baseline).
There is one thing I don't understand about the WSS article as written. It looks like the infantry and perhaps cavalry have been bath-tubbed, but not the artillery. This leads to each side having roughly a battery of artillery per brigade-equivalent of troops. This seems much too high, even for the Russians. So I assumed that each French battery was 6-8 guns, each Russian battery was 12 guns, and then converted them into an appropriate number of artillery bases for HFG.
As part of the scenario, I slightly changed the break point rules so that an Army broke once a quarter of the bases that had entered the table by that time had been eliminated. This was to stop a too quick break for either Army.
|View from behind the Russian lines looking towards Maloyaroslavets.|
|And a wider aerial shot. From the left counter-clockwise, the Russian reinforcements will enter on Roads A, B & C respectively. The French reinforcements all come down the road at the top leading to the bridge into Maloyaroslavets|
|Another shot from behind the Russian troops|
|Delzons' Division of Eugene's Corps starts with its leading brigades just entering the town|
|And a view along each line; initially the Russians have more troops but the French have the better position|
|The French have entered the town, which the Russians have advanced towards and are preparing to assault: Franco-Italian reinforcements speed down the road (top)|
|The first Russian assault fails, with the right-hand brigade being destroyed by musket fire and the bayonet! The French infantry moves forward (centre-right)|
|A wider shot of the same|
|The central French unit (i.e. occupying the nearest part of the built-up area) is showing signs of weakness (note the single figure denoting this result) so Docturov throws further troops at the town.|
|That assault was defeated, but the Russians rallied and have tried again. Note that this time both French brigades are showing disorder. Meanwhile, the French infantry brigade presses forward and attacks another Russian formation (bottom-right)|
|The fighting is intense at the edges of the town as the Russians try and break in. Eugene is just about to get his second Division into the action (centre-top) whilst the Italians approach in the background|
|The Russian infantry recoil from Maloyaroslavets again (top) whilst the French infantry continues its attack (bottom-right)|
|Riding their fortune, the counter-attacking French infantry are again victorious! The Russian reserves (bottom-right) move to counter its advance|
|But this brigade of heroes remains the hunters, not the hunted...|
|And rout a third Russian brigade!|
|They pursue them into the woods, where the Russian infantry dispersed|
|Struggling over the broken ground, Eugene brings more troops into action|
|The French infantry brigade that has successfully destroyed three times its number of Russians - MVPs!|
|A wider shot of the battlefield. Not looking great for the Russians: they have not managed to get into the town, and a French brigade has broken their initial right-flank, whilst Eugene is getting stronger by the minute as his reinforcements arrive|
|The Russian artillery is finally starting to have some real effect though: the edge of Maloyaroslavets is ablaze and the defenders are disordered...|
|...and are driven out by a combination of Russian musketry and artillery fire|
|A wider shot|
|Russian reinforcements face off against the victorious, but now very isolated, French infantry brigade|
|Russian infantry have finally managed to take part of the town (left) - and have routed another French brigade in the process, although this one subsequently rallied (top), but French infantry have started another counter-attack (right)|
|After some initial reverses, the Russians are finally managing to push the isolated French infantry brigade back down the road|
|The French infantry attack is again successful here! (right)|
|Unfortunately for Docturov, his infantry were no more able to hold onto the burning part of the town than the French were, and they are routed after some close-range street fighting|
|Finally the leading French brigade has succumbed to the vastly superior forces (centre)|
|Eugene develops his counter-attack, pushing past Maloyaroslavets (right)|
|The Russian position is starting to collapse...|
|The coup de grace was given by the French artillery (right) which destroyed the opposing Russian Jager. At that point, Russian morale collapsed and Docturov ordered a retreat.|
A good scenario led to an excellent game. Since it is a while since I have played Horse, Foot and Guns, there were a few disjointed moments and my tactics were pretty unhandy (for both sides). I am a fan of the simple die-roll PIP mechanic of the DBx family of games, although I know that it has its opponents. It does give a tense and interesting game though and works very well solo, being the "distilled essence" of many of the other systems which try to limit command and control. Likewise, the combat system is quite stripped down compared to many other systems, although how much this matters is a matter of taste: it does contain the distilled essence of others, except for its emphasis on shock rather than attrition. This seems a much more debatable point than in the ancient and medieval period, in which shock action clearly seems more important. However, I mainly play Polemos which fundamentally shares the same outlook. Rallying routed troops is possible but difficult. Anyway, the plan is to get a few more games played and then do a fuller review. Like all DBx games, it really does rattle along and it is also quite a complete set: there weren't too many moments of doubt about how to resolve any given situation.
Figures and buildings by Baccus 6mm (I clearly don't have enough Russian artillery so the Austrians were helping out! I need to remedy this...).