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.


  1. Interesting post game thoughts on the differences in the rules. I'm quite surprised at how different they are, considering they are from the same stable so to speak. I would have thought there would be more similarity re: fire vs assault and the commanders leading or not.

    1. Thanks Steve. It just shows, I think, how what appear to be small changes in calibration can have big effects on gameplay because the balance for optimal strategies can change quite quickly. Mechanically of course the games feel pretty similar, but they don't behave similarly in terms of tactics.