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.

Tuesday 4 December 2018

The Battle of Wertingen - A Polemos General de Division AAR

The Battle of Wertingen was the first major clash of Napoleon's famous Ulm campaign. A French force of cavalry and grenadiers commanded by Murat overcame and destroyed an Austrian detachment under Auffenberg.

Scenario Notes:

This scenario was taken from Michael Hopper's scenario book for the campaign, Rise of Eagles 1805.  Since these scenarios were written for the Shako II ruleset, they were then extensively modified by me for use with Polemos Napoleonics.

The game features a French force trying to destroy an isolated Austrian detachment.  The French troops arrive piecemeal and are quite cavalry heavy, whilst the outnumbered Austrians defend a hill.


French Army:

Exelmans (Capable C-in-C), then Murat (Decisive C-in-C) (arrives after 1 hour)

1st Division:
Beaumont (Capable General)
3 brigades of 3 bases of Trained Dragoons; 1 base of 4lb Horse Arty

Lt Cav Brigade (arrives after 40 minutes): 2 bases Trained Light Cavalry

Grenadier Division (arrives after 40 minutes):
Oudinot (Decisive General)
1 brigade of 4 bases of Trained/Elite Infantry SK1
1 brigade of 3 bases of Trained/Elite Infantry SK1
1 base of Sappers

Dragoon Brigade (arrives with Decisive C-inC or after 2 hours): 2 bases of Trained Dragoons

The Decisive C-in-C must physically go to the Capable C-in-C to take charge.

Austro-Hungarian Army:

Auffenberg (Plodding C-in-C)

1st Brigade: 6 bases Trained Infantry SK1
2nd Brigade: 3 bases Trained Infantry SK1
3rd Brigade: 1 base Trained Cuirassiers

The French are aiming to destroy or rout the Austrian force.  The Austrians must either lose less units than the French, or keep some of their forces on the table.  The time limit is 48 turns.

The Set-Up:

The Austrians are on the high-ground to the top-left; the French are on the hill to the right, in front of the town and along the stream.

The Austrian position on the forward slopes of the hill.

The French C-in-C and a brigade of dragoons on the opposite hill.

The remaining Dragoons around the village.  The last brigade has pushed forward over the stream, but the French commander declined to attack before his reinforcements reach him.

The Light Cavalry Bde and the Grenadier Div arrive.

As the reinforcing French column comes into view (top-right), the Dragoons feel empowered to push forward (bottom-left)

The grenadiers (top-right) have slightly fallen behind the light cavalry (top)

The new French C-in-C arrives!

The dragoons continue to push forward, organizing for an attack; Auffenberg has also pushed a battalion into the woods towards the two (top-left) to hinder any flanking movement

Which is then launched!  The French launch six regiments of Dragoons supported by a battery of Horse Artillery into the fray...

The Austrian infantry generally remains steady and the French are thrown back.  The flanking Austrian battalion (left) showed signs of shakiness but delivered a ferocious volley anyway and pushed the Dragoons back.

After rallying, the Dragoons attempt a second charge...

But are thrown back for a second time; the majority of the centre brigade (bottom centre-right) refused to charge at all

Once again, the French cavalry have been thrown back in disorder, with severe casualties

Some of the Austrian infantry advance to try and push the French Dragoons back.

This succeeds.  However, the French grenadiers are moving up to position now (top-right); note that the Austrian cuirassiers have moved up in support of the infantry units facing them (centre)

The Dragoons are pushed back with further loss towards the road (bottom-left)

Oudinot forms up his grenadiers ready to attack, supported by two light cavalry regiments (centre-right); Auffenberg brings up two reserve battalions to reinforce his lead units; the Dragoons prepare for a third assault (bottom-right)

A closer view

The leading Grenadier brigade and one of the Dragoon brigades attack along the Austrian line

A closer view of the French Grenadiers clashing with the Austrian infantry

For a third time, the dragoons are beaten off with loss

The reinforced Austrian line holds and the French grenadiers recoil

The French light cavalry was so shaken by the intensity of the resistance that they retire from the field; Oudinot's second brigade approaches the town on the flank (top)

Murat sends the French third Dragoon brigade forward to replace the beaten light cavalry in support of the grenadiers (right)

The French units prepare for the fourth assault of the day; the second Grenadier Bde is also ready to attack (top-left)

The assault on the village goes in first: can French elan and numbers tell?

Yes!  The Austrians are driven back into the heart of the village

A second effort clears the village totally and routs the Hungarian infantry...

Having reformed, the first Grenadier brigade launches another assault, with Murat at its head (bottom)

Mixed results: the nearest French battalion was again driven back with loss (bottom-right) but Oudinot has at last managed to make some progress up the slope (centre-top)

Beaumont's Dragoons again charge into action

And are again forced back with loss!

Auffenberg is forced to detach a battalion to shore up his turned left wing (centre, in woods)

Murat and Oudinot make another effort to force their way up the slope

And this time they are successful, the Austrian infantry is now forced back onto the crest

The French Grenadiers push forward...

And Beaumont leads his troopers into the fray once again

The attack is general on the Austrian's right flank

And finally some of the Austrian infantry break!  The centre holds but the two flanking battalions have both routed on this slope

The single battalion, supported by Cuirassiers which still faces the French grenadiers continues to deal out significant damage to the French troops...

Realizing only desperate measures might save the day, Auffenberg actually orders his remaining battalion to charge, which routs the opposing grenadier battalion and shakes the supporting dragoons

A wider shot of the action at this point

This is too much for the second French Dragoon brigade, which retires (right) but the Austrian infantry is exhausted too, and it retreats also (left)

A closer view of the moment that the Austrians began their retreat

The Austrians in nearly full retreat.  Only a single Hungarian infantry battalion remains on the hill, plus another in the wood guarding the flank, with the cuirassiers still on the slope.  But with two-thirds of their strength in rout or casualties, Auffenberg has no choice but to order sauve qui peut!
Game Results: A really good game, if somewhat closer than the original battle seems to have been.  The Austrians did not fight amiss and in effect only lost by two bases (they lost seven routed or spent against five for the French).  The basic scenario from Rise of Eagles really worked well.
The major question for this game is a scenario design one: how much (if it all) should the French be than the Austrians? 
The French command system is better and this has a strict meaning in Polemos: it means that the French are more efficient at turning orders into activity. 
The French cavalry was rated the same as the Austrian, although since the Austrian cavalry were cuirassiers, they would have had the advantage if sabres had been crossed directly (they weren't).
So the infantry: the French Grenadiers were rated as trained/elite with a skirmish rating of '1', the Austrian infantry as trained with a skirmish rating of '1'.  This boils down to a +1 to the French when attacking.  If the French had been given a higher skirmish rating than the Austrians, then this would have been +2 to the French when attacking in infantry combats, +1 when attacking generally, and +1 in defending in infantry combats.  If the French had been made veteran instead of trained/elite, that is a +2.  How much better do you think that French infantry should be over Austrian infantry in 1805?  The scenario designer's answer is "appreciably": he rates the French here as 'elite' and the Austrians as 'second-rate'.  I made them closer in ability and got a closer game. 

Incidentally, I used the disrupted green felt cloth since it hangs over the hills better than my typical home-made mate, which I think looks a little nicer.

Figures by Baccus 6mm, buildings by Total Battle Miniatures.


  1. Nice looking game, impressive mass effect!

    1. Thanks very much Phil, I appreciate that. There should be some more 1805 battles coming up during the next month.

  2. Very good. I have a board game on Austerlitz 1805, which I rate as being well researched (Eagles of France by Hexasim) Troops are given a quality rating, if we accept 7 as being an average rating, I can generalise by saying French infantry are either 7 or 8, heavy cavalry is 9, dragoons 8, light cav 8 and Grenadier guards are 12 and Guard Chasseurs are 11.

    The Austrian infantry is generally 6, Grenzers are 7, light cav are 7, heavy cav are 9, foot art is 6, horse art is 7

  3. Thanks Norm. Those ratings don't sound too far off, although I have my suspicions about the top end of the French guards!

  4. The 'Quality Ratings are compared in battle to bring about shifts. So a Quality 7 unit fighting a Quality 6 unit would give a one column shift modifier. The max no of modifiers for everything including terrain etc is -5 / +5, so in effect, the French Grenadier Guards, more-or-less ensure a maximum column shift in their favour, compared to other units doing the same task.

    So a 10 strength unit v a 4 strength unit would give a 2:1 combat value ratio .... then you apply the difference in the quality ratings to get a modifier, this is rather a good way of showing those big Prussian Landwere type units against a smaller but better trained French Line Regiment, as typically that 2:1 advantage would drop a column or two and become 1:1 or worse 1:2 after the quality difference is applied.

    1. Norm,

      That's interesting. That looks like an effect that a French line regiment in 1813 is somewhere been twice and four times as effective man-for-man as a Prussian Landwehr unit, and an Imperial Guardsmen multiple factors better still. To me, that doesn't seem credible in describing the effects of troop quality in combat in this period.