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.

Monday 14 March 2022

Battle of Golymin: A Polemos General de Division Refight

Since Golymin is quite an interesting battle, I thought there would be no harm in giving this scenario another go.  This time I used the 'stablemate' (and perhaps also, 'ancestor') of Polemos Ruse de Guerre (which I used for the first battle), that is Polemos General de Division.


 Although structurally reasonably similar, there are some crucial differences in the rules which affect tactics in the game a lot - but more on this in the game notes!

Before you get to into it, I must write that I only took pictures for the first half of this game.  Something came up yesterday which meant the my family and I were unexpectedly busy, so I had to wrap this one up in a hurry.  

I won't repeat the  scenario details or orders of battle, which can be found in the write-up of the Ruse de Guerre version of this scenario.  I will just link to this map from Wikipedia though:

This scenario covers the fighting to the North-West/top-left of the image. I have 'wound the clock forward' to allow Desjardins to occupy Ruskow, but one could move him back to the baseline, in which case one should remove the Russian infantry from the rear woods too.


 For those who are familiar with the rules, the following changes of nomenclature apply:

Well-Trained = Veteran
Light Infantry = SK2 (other infantry is treated as SK1)
Russian Cavalry = Dragoons
French Cavalry = Light Cavalry
For this battle, Augereau is counted as a Capable leader, as are all the divisional commanders on both sides.  Prince Gallitzin is counted as Decisive.
The Set-Up:
Same as before: French approaching from the bottom (North West-West), with Heudelet's Division on the left, Desjardins' Division on the right.

Heudelet's Division facing Russian Foot and Guns defending the woods

With Desjardin's Division concentrated around Roskow.

The Russian centre.

The Russian right.

The Russian left is refused; the Russian position is quite strong but the woods aren't totally handily placed for economical defence

The Battle:

The Russian artillery drives French light infantry back from the road

A closer look

Desjardins tries to begin his flanking movement, but Russian artillery drives back his right-hand column.

Meanwhile, Desjardins' infantry also advances to try and clear the edge of the woods (left)

Heudelet's left is slow to get forward in the face of the Russian artillery, but his right moves up towards the woods

Desjardins leads his men into the assault and despite taking casualties on the way in, they push back the Russian musketeers with loss

Tcherbatow restores his line, tries to rally the wavering musketeers

Gallitzin has moved up his Grenadiers early to support the artillery on the road

Prince Gallitzin surrounded by ADCs and messengers

and Marshal Augereau surrounded by his

Heudelet's first assault on the wood is thrown back with heavy losses

And that regiment routs!

Heudelet's first attack has almost totally miscarried, with a routed regiment on the right and his left-hand regiment entirely failing to get forward in the face of marshy ground and fierce artillery fire

On the principle of 'if you want to do something properly, do it yourself...', Heudelet puts himself at the head of his middle regiment and launches another attack

The fight at point-blank range is bloody for both sides, but the French come out on top!

The defeat Russian musketeers run, and the French infantrymen follow up.

The musketeers have dispersed, leaving a gap in the Russian lines

Apologies, the light was changing rapidly at this point - showing the progress of Heudelet's centre brigade

At the other side of the woods, Tcherbatow leads a bayonet charge to try and restore the situation here!

Heudelet deploys his infantry in the woods to try and stop the Russian defenders concentrating fire on any one part of the attack

Under Desjardins' eye, the French infantry repulse Tcherbatow's counter-attack

Meanwhile, Desjardins' other brigade is about to turn the Russian left flank

Unfortunately, the photo record of the game stops here!

Game Notes:

I wouldn't usually put up a game where more than 50% of the battle was unrecorded, but I thought that it gave a little bit of a sense of how Polemos: Napoleonics and Polemos: Ruse de Guerre, although ostensibly quite similar, have quite different game-play feels even though lots of the mechanics are the same.  In mitigation, the Polemos General de Division game described above actually has somewhat similar events to the Ruse de Guerre game.

This is not an exhaustive list but one can consider the following points:
1 - In Ruse de Guerre, most of the destroyed units were destroyed by fire; in General de Division, units were mostly destroyed in close assaults.  This is partly because units are more brittle in RdG, partly because fire is much, much more effective.  This affects both artillery and infantry but primarily the first: artillery can be devastating in RdG in a way simply impossible with GdD.
2 - There were many more retreats in GdD compared to RdG.
3 - RdG generally allows a side to 'do more stuff', whereas the tempo environment in GdD can be a lot more restrictive.  This accounts for the more disjointed nature of Heudelet's attack, for instance.
4 - Commanders really must lead from the front in GdD, and must not in RdG; that is because the bonus is more important in GdD than RdG (+1 on d6 opposed system versus +1 on a d10 opposed system) and the chances of losing a commander are much lower.

Saturday 12 March 2022

Battle of Golymin 1806: A Polemos Ruse de Guerre Refight

 For the first battle of 2022 for the Napoleonic Miniatures Wargames Society of Toronto, the Battle of Golymin was chosen.  The battle took place on Boxing Day 1806, as French forces under Murat, Davout and Augereau clashed with a Russian rearguard under Prince Gallitzin.

As ever for these battles I am using the Polemos Ruse de Guerre rules and a scenario written by the rules' author, Glenn Pearce, adapted for my own circumstances.  I have actually played this battle before a while ago, from a scenario in the Polemos Napoleonic Companion; Glenn's scenario is quite a bit different though in terms of forces, terrain and starting positions.

The fighting at Golymin took place over quite a wide area and this, more than any lack of troops in my collection, strongly suggested to me that I should choose a portion of the action.  In fact, I have actually created two scenarios for different portions of the battle; and the actual events of the battle support this.  The French made two major infantry attacks: the first from the North West by troops under Augereau, and the second from the south from two divisions of Davout's corps.  Murat was the senior general but the separate contingents all fought quite separately: Davout makes it clear that Augereau's combat was largely completed by the time his own forces got into action.

This scenario therefore concentrates on Augereau's attack.  The overall scenario order of battle isn't quite clear which Russian contingents were in which sector historically, so I picked the contingent which seemed to most resemble the account in Petre.

The Forces:

Imperial France: 
C-in-C: Marshal Augereau
1st Division: Gen Heudelet
1st  Brigade: 3 bases of Well-Trained Light Infantry
2nd Brigade: 1 base of Well-Trained Light Infantry, 2 bases of Trained Infantry
3rd Brigade: 1 base of Well-Trained Light Infantry, 1 base of Trained Infantry

2nd Division: Gen Desjardin
1st Brigade: 2 bases of Well-Trained Light Infantry, 4 bases of Trained Infantry
2nd Brigade:  2 bases of Well-Trained Light Infantry, 3 bases of Trained Infantry
Light Cavalry Brigade: Gen Durosnel
2 bases of Trained Cavalry
Imperial Russia:
C-in-C: Prince Gallitzin
Netting's Division:
1st Brigade: 3 bases of Trained Infantry
2nd Brigade: 3 bases of Trained Infantry
3rd Brigade: 2 bases of Trained Cavalry

Army Artillery: 6 bases of Trained 6lb Foot Artillery

Army Reserve: 1 base of Well-Trained Infantry

So the French have great superiority in numbers, but the Russians have lots of guns and the French have none.
The ground was notably marshy: therefore all movement is at half-speed except on the roads.

The French must clear the entire board of Russian troops in 15 turns to win (otherwise night falls).

Durosnel's cavalry arrived late, and so must roll each turn to arrive (on a 9 or 10 on a d10).

The Set-Up:

The French approach from the North-West and West (West is the bottom-right corner, more-or-less); Heudelet's Division is on the baseline to the left; Desjardins' Division is around the village of Ruskow to the right. Prince Gallitzin's troops are divided between the wooded areas, with his artillery in the gaps.

A closer look from behind Heudelet's Divsion

And at Desjardins' Division

Russian troops facing Ruskow (off to the right - Golymin itself is down the road behind the Russians)

A closer look at the Russian infantry and guns blocking the road to Golymin.

The Battle:

The battle begins in inauspicious fashion for the French: a battalion of Light Infantry is quickly destroyed by Russian artillery

More Russian artillery causes casualties amongst the garrison of the village.

French voltigeurs take casualties from the Russian musketeers lining the woods.

However, the French light infantrymen prove to be both more numerous and better shots, and the Russian musketeers are killed or left to flee.

More French skirmishers push forward...

But are quickly broken by Russian musketry!

Desjardin's right-hand brigade advances, although suffering somewhat from flanking artillery fire (from the left)

The Russian artillery has its range now, and the lead French battalion is routed by accurate, deadly fire.

Heudelet's men are slowly making progress into the woods, despite suffering from musketry and round-shot.

Desjardin has been too busy rallying his troops to really get his attack going as it should have been,

More Russian musketeers advance to halt the advance of the French voltigeurs into the woods

And, seizing the moment, one of the Russian musketeer battalions puts in a quick bayonet charge against some wavering French light infantry to its front!

The French are repulsed, and their morale collapses...

The French left-hand regiment has lost two-thirds of its combat power...

But meanwhile, the French light troops in the centre assault the Russian musketeers trying to restore the line...

And they too are put to flight!

However, the remnants of the French left-hand regiment have called it a day, and left the field, exposing the entire French Left...hopefully those French Chasseurs a Cheval will arrive soon!

Another of Heudelet's battalions are routed, this one again by the massed Russian artillery fire

A very smart charge by the Russian Grenadier battalion from the reserve retakes the wood for the Russians

Meanwhile, the flank of the Russian Musketeer battalion facing the village is threatened (left)

It dissolved in panic before it can rally!

Heudelet joins his lead troops to try and push them forward again

All of a sudden the battle changes:  a maelstrom of fire destroys half of Desjardin's attacking brigade in a few wild moments

Desjardin positions his men for a flank assault, but will their morale withstand the shock?

No!  They rout and the loss of both French flanking brigades has discouraged the rest of Augereau's infantry.  The Marshal cannot persuade his men to resume their advance against the reformed Russian line

The clearance of the wood has come too late

The battle dissolves into desultory skirmishing fire as night begins to fall.

Game Notes:

Nice to get Polemos Ruse de Guerre and an interesting Napoleonic battle back to the table.  As ever, the rules give a quick and smooth game.  The Polemos structures are generally pretty simple so even though it is a while since I played Ruse de Guerre, I was quickly back into it.  
I guess that the take-away is the reminder that in these rules, firepower can sometimes - not always - lead to very quickly destroyed battalions: there can often be a roughly 10% chance of getting an instant kill; or if two units are firing against one, there might well be a 25% chance of getting a one-turn kill (by getting two shaken results in quick succession).  And with some relatively high dice rolling from both sides, it led to quite a bloody battle.  This is a very different dynamic from the Neil Thomas' games I have been playing recently, as well as very different from Polemos Napoleonics in which firepower is very little, it is all about co-ordinating the close assaults.  In essence in RdG, roll the dice often enough and you will get some kills and thus make some space.
But not much to say overall - good fun game, good scenario, good rules - nothing not to like!

Figures as ever by Baccus 6mm; the buildings here by Timecast and/or Baccus.