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 7 September 2019

Battle of Reinhausen - A Polemos General de Division AAR (First Battle)

Reinhausen was a small action in the 1809 campaign, in which an Austrian Advance Guard try to push some French defenders holding a bridgehead back over the River Regen.   This scenario is from Michael Hopper's scenario book covering the campaign, Eagles Over Bavaria, suitably converted into something appropriate for the Polemos rules and my table and collection.

Order of Battle:

Imperial France:
6 bases Trained SK1 infantry, 2 bases Trained SK2 infantry, 1 base Sappers, 2 bases Trained 8lb foot artillery

 (The infantry was organized into 2 brigades of 3 and 1 brigade of 2 bases).

Imperial Austria:
4 bases Trained SK1 infantry, 1 base Raw SK0 infantry, 2 bases Trained SK2 infantry, 2 bases Trained Dragoons, 3 bases Trained Lancers, 1 base Trained 6lb foot artillery, 2 bases Trained 4lb horse artillery

(The infantry was organized into two brigades of 2 infantry and 1 light infantry base).

n.b. As ever, all this is very arguable.  In particular, many players might want to modify the Austrian infantry to Trained SK0 to make them slightly inferior to their French opponents.

The Austrian aim is to clear the bank of all French troops.  They cannot cross the river themselves (there were more French troops there who would have destroyed any Austrians that got across).

 The Set-Up:

n.b. I am still in the process of gettings "just so" after the move.  The table location isn't quite right yet, and this did effect quite a few of the photos.  There are some dark areas on the furthest side of the board.  I think it is a bit better in more recent games.

The Regen valley. Reinhausen is the urban area on the far side of the river to the right.

The villages and slopes follow the path of the river

A single French battalion garrison Reinhausen...

...with the Austrian advance guard approaching (top-left)

The remainder of the French Division are strung out in the streets waiting to cross the bridge and strengthen the bridgehead

The Austrians organized for their attack: light infantry and horse artillery in the van

Another view
The Battle:
The Austrians lumber forward.  The French have managed to get some additional infantry into the buildings (bottom-centre) in support

The Austrian attack looks unsubtle: straight in they go!

The Austrian pressure - greatly assisted by their artillery support - forces the French with loss out of the left-part of the village (centre-left); the French reinforcing troops are trying to reform outside of the village (centre-right)

The Austrian brigades reform in the village and outside it ready to resume their attack: the Austrian general has brought up his Dragoons to support the attack outside the village (centre)

The French are desperately trying to rush troops in to aid the defence (bottom) whilst their forward troops resist further Austrian assaults...

The second combined arms Austrian assault outside the village takes effect, breaking a battalion of French light infantry and pushing the remainder back

The Austrian assault outside the village is relentless: another attack goes in...(the French have also been pushed out of Reinhausen (far-left) with heavy losses)

...and again is successful; another French battalion routs (bottom-right) and its support takes cover in the village (right)

At this point the French morale collapsed and the troops in the bridgehead were forced to surrender...

Game Notes: As usual, I used the Polemos General de Division rules with Baccus 6mm figures.  Buildings were a mixture of Timecast and Total Battle Miniatures.

It is nice to be back and playing!  A fun game, although it ended up being a bit one-sided.  Everything seemed to go right for the Austrians in this one.  In Polemos, in the open, you can create what amounts to a "killer stack" by combining infantry, artillery and cavalry in one force if you are facing troops lacking their own cavalry and artillery support.  It is expensive in tempo points (i.e. pips) to move, since the infantry and cavalry can't move in the same "group".  However, in this game, the Austrians managed to get away with this by always having enough tempo points.  The assault on the village was carried out first (which doesn't use cavalry support) and then all the generals' support was switched to the troops outside the village.  The French were forced to fight outside the village by the Austrians' successes in the first assaults, which then put them right in the way of the Austrian juggernaut.  And it is a juggernaut: the Austrians are then operating on a base "+4" on opposed D6 rolls...
The French can only reinforce a single base over the bridge per turn, so there is a heavy incentive for the Austrians to just go for it.  Conceptually, this is possibly the weakest part of the Polemos Napoleonic rules.  Despite what veteran DBx players say, attrition in "pips" just does not have them same effects as standard casualty loss traditional games.  In such games, the Austrians would be forced to set up first for an attritional phase to weaken the French defenders and then attack.  In Polemos (and similar systems) the incentive is to create the best force-package for the assault and then go straight it. It is an arguable point, but the attritional model perhaps resembles the accounts of combat the best.
The scenario is interesting and well worth a look.  I do have a specific criticism of it though: I don't think that the designated table size is appropriate or realistic: it is much too large!  The way that the scenario is set-up, I don't really see how the left-hand side of the board, or most of the French side of the river, can ever really come into play.  So even in 28mm, I think that this game could be successfully played on quite a small board.  The rearmost Austrian reserves will determine the top and left table edges, the French reserves will dictate the bottom table edge. 
Anyway, I decided to reload this one and have another go, so there will be another battle report of this one up soon...


  1. I like the compact nature of the forces in this scenario and that it has the urban element.

    1. Thanks Norm, much appreciated. This scenario is very doable for most gamers: small forces and a small board. And as you say, a good way to test out how ones rules deal with Napoleonic urban combat.

  2. Nice looking game, impressive mass effect!