The Battle of Niederheim, 1809

Started by Last Hussar, 04 October 2023, 11:25:02 PM

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Last Hussar

04 October 2023, 11:25:02 PM Last Edit: 04 October 2023, 11:42:18 PM by Last Hussar
The Battle of Niederheim

 "Tell me, is he a lucky general?"

A game of Blucher, set during the War of the Fifth Coalition,  1809.

Sunjester and I had been planning a day out, but due to the train strike we broke out the Little Wooden Men at my place.
I gave Sunjester choice of forces, he took the French. Both were pointed at about 290.

French forces
The Imperial Guard (5 bases of Guard, including the Old Guard, 1 of cavalry)
French Infantry (III) Corps (6 bases, 3 with attached artillery)
Bavarians (4 bases infantry,  all with attached artillery,  cavalry base, 1 unit of artillery)
Cavalry Corp (4 bases cavalry)

Austrians
Vanguard (6 infantry units, including 2 Avant-garde, who have attached cavalry and skirmishers)
Brunswickers ( Everybody's favourite Men in Black, 3 bases of infantry, 2 cavalry, horse artillery)
Infantry  (4) Korps (5 infantry,  3 with attached artillery,  2 Grenz)
Cavalry (2 Kurassier, 2 HUSSAR!, 1 cavalry)
We used the generic 'Southern Germany' map from the Scharnhorst section.
A base of infantry at 'Grand Scale' is 3-5000 men. The table is about 6 miles by 4, and is defined as 24 Base Widths (BW) by 16.


Jean drew himself straight and saluted as the Colonel exited Napoleon's tent. "Well sir?"

The Colonel rubbed his eyes with his right index finger and thumb. "The Emperor says send all the cavalry scouting."

"Yes sir, how many do we retain with the army?"

The colonel looked at him "No Major, all of them."

"All four divisions? But that's thousands..."

The colonel shrugged. "Yes Jean, all of them."


Committing all his cavalry, compared to just my two, Sunjester had the initiative during the pre-game map movement. He chose to enter on the east of the map, and make me, entering opposite on the west, move first.

We made a small error – having committed his entire cavalry there should not have been a column marker for the cavalry. Let us assume it was just a show of Napoleon's brilliance that made the Austrians think there was a column when there wasn't!


The Austrian Avant-garde passed through the town of Neiderheim, pipes playing, as their General Staff unrolled maps on the inn table.

"So, the French are in two columns. One here, on the Wunsberg road, and one here, marching through Karlsbech," said a colonel. "If they take the road between them, it is about half a day's march." He looked up at the Arch-duke. "Our cavalry is in the south – we can send a column to engage near Karlsbech with them, while the rest of the army turns north to Wunsberg."

The Arch-Duke shook his head. "No, the Corsican wants us to fight two battles on his terms. We will fight one on mine. The army is to head north."


I decided to try and get as much of the Royal and Imperial army into action against just half his army as I could, attempting to win the table before Sunjester could reinforce. As it was, the half I chose was the one without the phantom cavalry, which is no different to what I would have chosen if the phantom column had not been there. Turning against the southern column would have meant the northern columns arriving in my rear.

The battle field was set on 'Day three'. The long edges were east/west. A 'Blucher' table set up is a rectangle 2 x 3. In this case the long edges were the East and West. North-south on the western half of the field ran a road, ending at the southern edge in the town of Niederheim. From the middle of this a road ran east to the eastern edge, with Muhlenau village in the middle of this table square. Just to the south of this junction a forest enveloped the road. A river ran along to the east a third of the table down (so about 8 cm north of the road). A field (which is slowing) was placed centre of South east square.

As additional terrain I chose a river crossing, Sunjester chose two woods, which he placed along the road to the north of the junction.

In the North West square was 4 Korps, in the middle was the Kurassiers and cavalry – they ended up in the middle rather than flank during the rush to get to the battle – and to the south the Brunswickers. The Vanguard were in the centre east square facing north and south with Muhlenau in their middle.
Sunjester had the Bavarians north east, and Imperial Guard in the South east.

The scouting cavalry returned – I lost 1 Elan (strength point) from each, and these I placed between the wood and the Brunswickers, Sunjester placed his four in column in the field shielding the Guard – one of his cavalry had lost nothing in the scouting. From turn 4 onwards Sunjester would dice for the remaining III Corps to arrive on his centre east edge. I took the odd number turns (1, 3, etc) and Sunjester the even numbers.


The Duke of Brunswick leaned towards an Aide-de-Camp. "Ride over to those bastard Austrians to the north, and tell them I will be sending my cavalry to clear the French horse in front of us, and I would appreciate it if we were not doing it alone. Once they are gone, my men will make it unpleasant for whoever they are shielding."


My basic plan was to use Brunswick to threaten the Guard, pinning them in place, then turn my attention to the north and use 4 Korps to batter the Bavarians.

The thing about Blucher is you don't know how many Momentum (action) points you have. Each unit moved costs MO, but it is your opponent that rolls 3d6 and keeps them hidden, and tells you when you have used them all up, and have to stop. You can at any point you haven't been stopped declare your C in C is ordering everything in a radius of 2BW. However that stops your movement for that turn.

Trying to co-ordinate horse belonging to two different Korps, while keeping the Vanguard in shape, meant that 4 Korps was a poor relation when it came to choosing. For the Vanguard sandwiched between them, Bavarians slowed by crossing a river were less threat than the Imperial Guard and Cavalry to the south, I needed to stop the Guard first.

For Sunjester, not having the Bavarians and Guard linked was a real pain, and he had to spend time clearing the Vanguard before he could turn east against the main line. Action by the Bavarians against them was not only complicated by the river, but by the two units of Kuirasse ready to sweep in as they crossed.

The cavalry on both sides charged and counter-charged in the south. The Brunswickers didn't need a sweeping cavalry victory, just a chance to pin the Guard long enough for 4 Korps to attack the Bavarians.


"Your Majesty, please will you retire your person to the east, just two hundred paces, away from the fighting. The Austrians are upon us. Our men are under great stress."

Napoleon rounded on the young major. "AND THAT IS WHY I AM HERE!" he shouted. He looked across sharply at the men streaming to the rear. "Where the hell are they going?"

The Young Guard had been able to take no more, and, battered by cavalry and infantry charges, were in flight.

"Will somebody go and find Davout, and tell him if he doesn't bring Three Corp here now, there may be nothing to arrive for."


The first loss of the day (I think) was a unit of Guard for Sunjester. At this point he only had to lose five units before the army would collapse, and losing a guard unit was a loss he didn't need. Once III Corps arrived that breakpoint would go to seven, against my eight. I was trying to co-ordinate three separate Korps – Vanguard, Cavalry and Brunswick – in an attempt to pin the Garde.

To the north I pushed 4 Korps through the woods, trying to get to the Bavarians.


The general of the Vanguard looked at the map. "Well?"

An aide gestured to an area to the east. "Cavalry caught our east most brigades not formed, and have pushed them back, but that appears to be the only problem so far. We are holding along this southern line, and the French appear to have stopped and are happy to just exchange fire. Their cavalry is too busy with ours, the Bavarians to the north are scared of our horse so won't come south. It couldn't be a lot better really."

"That means it can only get worse," muttered the General.


Reinforcements are rolled for at the end of your turn. It is a d6 x 4, and if this result is less or equal to the turn number, that Corps turns up on the edge they are due to enter from. On turn 8 or 10 Sunjester's Lucky Dice rolled a 1 (because of course he did). This meant III Corps turned up right up against the Vanguard. Units in the way don't take damage, but have to retire enough to let the arrivals on up to 2BW, and if there is anything in the way keep going until they can be placed.

Instead of trying to fight two battles, each on two fronts, the French could start to turn into one line and face east.
Slowly Sunjester was able to push forward. It was hard going, but little by little the Austrian centre was pushed back. I then encountered a problem – my lines worked when I could have five units facing south or north, but it meant that it was difficult to turn them to face east, and when I did I had a narrow frontage.

The battle was still in the balance, helped by a turn of quite astonishing shooting by the Austrians. You need a six on d6s to cause a hit – units will throw up to 6 or 7 dice, lessening as their élan drops – and I had a turn where just about every unit that fired caused one or two hits, somewhat to Sunjester's consternation! 4 Korps in the north made some progress, and started to clear the woods to try and engage the Bavarians.

However it wasn't to be, and then even the MO dice turned against me. On one turn he rolled 6, then a 4 the next, for me, so I had virtually nothing moving to pull the situation round (chance of 4 or less on 3d6 is 4 in 216). Sunjester was also able to risk blowing his cavalry to rout mine.

We stopped after turn 20 (about '7-8 hours') . I had lost 7 units from a break point of 8. He had lost only 3, with a breakpoint of 7, but had retired another 2 to stop them routing and counting towards that.

It was a close game, and Sunjester said that he had serious concerns in the middle of the game when he could make no progress with the Bavarians or Garde. My Cavalry ending up in the middle of the table had slowed his advance in the centre, as he couldn't attack the Vanguard like he wanted.

Thanks to Sunjester for the game and the company.
I have neither the time or the crayons to explain why you are wrong.

GNU PTerry

Duke Speedy of Leighton

You may refer to me as: Your Grace, Duke Speedy of Leighton.
2016 Pendraken Painting Competion Participation Prize  (Lucky Dip Catagory) Winner

fred.

Good write up!

Any photos - I think I was following the action, but quite hard without an overview photo to get a view of the table. 
2011 Painting Competition - Winner!
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Last Hussar

There will be, when I can log into Flickr!
I have neither the time or the crayons to explain why you are wrong.

GNU PTerry

T13A

Hi

Excellent write up, many thanks.

Cheers Paul
T13A Out!

sunjester

An excellent(and accurate!) write up of a superb game. Thank you for organising another game of Beat The Austrians, it's always a lot of fun. :d

Blucher is a great set of rules, I would describe them as deceptively elegant (although probably not the way Last Hussar and I play it!).

Last Hussar

Quotea game of Beat the Austrians
You can really go off people...
I have neither the time or the crayons to explain why you are wrong.

GNU PTerry