Sunday, September 9, 2012

Borodino 2012- Battle Report


Well, what can I say?  Totally awesome weekend. I’ve never seen so much lead on one table with up to 30 players commanding the various units. I took command of Raveski’s Vii corps, Bagrations Corps,  and was ordered to defend the Great Redoubt while to my left the VIII Corp (Borodzin) was tasked with defending the Fletches. We arrived at the venue at 8 and by 11:30 the tables were set up and the reserve tables groaning under the weight of the French reserves. A quick pep talk from Kutuzov and we were ready to go.

The battle was huge, you looked one direction and it was figures as far as you could see, look the other direction it was the same. A truly inspiring spectacle that was a privilege to be part of. 

I hope these pictures do it justice: there was nearly 4500 infantry, over 1000 cavalry and 160 guns and we played for about 14 hours over two days.

John and Phil did final plans for the tables on the ferry to the South Island. They came up with a very cool layout that made for a very engaging game. We had 11 6x4ft boards to make the design which was almost a number 4- two long legs and a centre which meant that there as room on the flanks for battles that could create flanking movements and really gave the impression f depth.  .  
 The French Reserves that are to be fed into the battle as they march up the reserves table and get to the end of it- holy crap!

 After a few hours set up and organisation, checking each division and corps was complete, and allocated to a commander and by 11:30 in the morning we are almost ready to begin.
 Raveski's corps deploys to defend the redoubts.
 The first French are sighted.
 The first clash. Jagers throw Kent's French back as they advance on Borodino- to much cheering and catcalling- a couple more turns of fierce fighting occur before Borodino falls.
 Kutuzov ordered us to hold our cavalry reserve on the right flank for a turn or two to see what happens. Martin replied with words to the effect of "fuck that! I'm off to cross the river". A reconnaissance in force with his whole corps was to follow. And off he went starting a very large right hook that drew in hordes of French divisions into a maelstrom that lasted for the next two days!
 Meanwhile the French transferred Junot's 8th corps to reinforce Poochie Poniatowaski's Poles in an attempt to crush our left flank and outflank the fletches. Holy crap!
 On the far right Martin is drawing the French like bees to honey. If only they'd pulled back to stop him getting through to Borodino he would have been bottled up on the wrong side of the river.
 Meanwhile a crisis is rapidly developing on our left.
 Dave (on the right) checks the French progress on the far left, hmm that's not looking good. Paul Goldstone (who popped down from Wellington) is giving him his best "no, no its not, and its about to get a whole lot worse, watch this." look.
 Dave and I are tasked with holding the Fletches and the Great Redoubt. We thought things looked quite good at this point, till the French surged across the river and attacked the fletches in force. One minute the field looked relatively empty then a host of triple move brigade commands later and they were upon us. 
An infantry division marches through the swamps to support Martin's cavalry expedition.
Here they come! The French juggernaut engulfs the fletches.
 Cavalry reserves are released as Dave and I struggle to throw the French back. Over the next 8-9 hours of game the Fletches change ownership at least 8 times in an epic struggle. Alas we are unable to make much of a dent in individual divisions and- the French masterfully recycle worn battalions back to recover, while soon we are running short of infantry. In the end  we were forced to throw cavalry into the French infantry and force them into square then blast them with artillery. But soon we lacked infantry to clear the troublesome French off the ridge. And compared to our far right flank we were holding quite well!
 About 4 pm my command is ordered forward to make room to commit the Guard. about bloody time!
 Still the battle rages over the fletches.
 Dave "Scruff" who often posts on this blog, looks slightly worried. His command is on the other side of the Great Redoubt and fighting another French corps.
 My cavalry are worn down and close to breaking, I husband them, pulling them back and giving them a chance to recover.
 We finally break two divisions at the fletches but as we now the French cavalry reserves have started to arrive.

 A shot from the French positions towards the Great Redoubt.
 Meanwhile Martin continues to cause havoc- eventually breaking Eugene's command for the loss of none of his divisions,a  great achievement. an he break though before our centre or right collapses under the ever increasing French pressure?
 Dave Hancox breaks the French forces to the right of the Great Redoubt but he is also broken soon after.
 The french have forces us back from the fletches and driven a wedge between my forces and Dave's. Dave's divisions have been broken and Bagration's Corps is under threat as we have now lost 5 divisions. Sensing the opportunity Noel and Nick storm towards the Great Redoubt and smash both of my divisions breaking Bagration's corps. Our centre has gone! 
 A view towards Borodino.

 The French surge up the hill and captured the great redoubt despite Tim's valiant attempt to steam the French tide.
 At this point Kuturov sends a message to the Tsar stating that the French are defeated the the Russians are withdrawing in good order to Moscow. In reality our centre has been crushed and the right flank is retreating is disarray while Barclay's army is left to ponder what might have been.

The roll call of broken divisions and corps
Update:
Rodger has some more amazing pictures on the Rebel Barracks blog:

Final comments
A fantastic game that really was lot of fun throughout- it looked truly amazing. so many figures! A well deserved French win. Martin did an outstanding job on our right flank, while Phil somehow managed to keep the French from breaking through on the left despite Poochie and Russell Briant's aggressive outflanking movements. Our left was under pressure and threatening to collapse throughout but it was out centre that took the hammer blow and was unable to respond effectively enough. A great game and I thoroughly enjoyed being part of it. Well one everyone and especially John for such fantastic organisation.

Most embarrassing moment. Dave lost a divisional commander early so I sent Bagration over to give his division orders. Instead of waiting till the end of the turn to issue his orders he went first and blundered, so no more commands for his Corps- and this just as the French first gained the fletches!

Black Powder was perfect for the game like this, the action was intense there was always plenty happening and the game flowed well. At one point today two spectators were discussing trying to do a game like this using FoG Napoleonics, they decided it would take about 8 months to play. 

26 comments:

  1. That looks epic Craig! It would have been very cool to be a part of this to be sure.
    Maybe something along the same lines could be done for ancients using the Impetvs rule set?

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  2. Not sure if anything that big would work with Impetvs, Hail Ceasar could work given it is the same engine. There was whole lot of lead on the table and it was a truly grand sight. More pics to follow no doubt. Everyone is keen for Leipzig next year to follow it up.

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  3. "At one point today two spectators were discussing trying to do a game like this using FoG Napoleonics, they decided it would take about 8 months to play."

    Well i'm bloody right aren't I ? :))))

    Loved the rules ,thought the game flowed very well.Was a fantastic thing for me to see.Has got me interested in Historical gaming again.I have one more Warhammer army to finish off then i think i'll take a stab at ACW using the BP rules

    Cheers fellas

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  4. What a table!! Very impressive pictures!

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  5. Excellent report Craig. Love the photos too. Thanks for a fantastic weekend.

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  6. Cheers guys- I think you need to thank John though Rodger- it worked really, really well thanks mainly to the amazing work he put into organising it and the OOBs.

    Warpmaster, funny you should say that. We have decided to try and do something similar using BP for Gettysburg's 150th anniversary next year- of course we don't have any ACW yet (unlike the southern Strategists) but we've a few months to get cracking. BP seems to really work well for this style of game.

    Absolutely loved being part of such an epic event and was great to see that we can pull something like that off. I've only ever seeing games like that in the gaming mags and I don't think there would have been a game of that size in 28mm in NZ for a very, very long time.

    Rodger, Kent and I will have to pop up for game with the Strategists at some point.

    Craig

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    1. We would love to host you fellas sometime. I have thanked John on my blog and also linked to your report here.

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    2. We's love to pop up for some sort of game- love your pictures, they really capture the epic sweep of the game

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  7. Nice report on what looks to be a great way to spend the weekend! Thanks for sharing.

    Jason

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  8. Excellent job Guys! Simply amazing, and great to see probably the perfect set of rules used to handle such a scale of conflict in a timely manner. Any plans for a 200th Anniversary Waterloo game???

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  9. Fantastic stuff absolutely love too see people put on games of this size

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  10. Hi Scott, Yes. Leipzig (sp?) hopefully will be held in Wellington next October and several people have already discussed doing Waterloo- since this one went so well, I have total faith in BP being able to allow us to get to a conclusion to that one in time too.

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  11. Great game to see, and the game-table presented just about the ideal: plenty of well-painted figures, well-made and finished, and functional, terrain pieces, 'wargamers' clutter' kept to a minimum. And even in the short time I was watching (2-3 hours), things were happening, events unfolding. Just the sort of thing that distinguishes a spectator sport from drying paint.

    Excellent.
    Cheers,
    Ion A. Dowman

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  12. The funny thing with the Terrain literally came from all over the country. John was originally not keen on the GW cloths but had a last minute change of mind so we organised to get a lot of them together and they gave a suitably uniform look to the whole event. The Fletches & Redoubt came from Mark in Wellington (I think) and the rest of us bought terrain and threw it together, the BF rivers made a nice uniform look and somehow the various bits of terrain worked as a whole- pretty damn lucky, it could have looked like a dogs breakfast.

    One rule that John did enforce rigorously was no dice on table unless being rolled and that made the pictures so much better.

    Craig

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  13. What a fantastic game! An epic struggle...

    Cheers, Simon

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  14. Amazing game and an inspiring report. Thanks for sharing it.

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  15. Guys any chance to see your OOBS and blackpowder unit ratings please for both sides.Peter

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    1. OObs can be found at:

      http://forum.nzwargamer.net/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=9822&start=15

      John bathtubed the divisions- most were BP brigades, 5 batts for Russians, 6 for French.

      I'll try to format a copy of the unit ratings.

      Most Russians were stanima 4, shooting 2

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  16. That is an amazing looking game and you guys did a really good job getting the tables to look uniform. It would have been a shame to let all the great work on the figs be let down by terrain. The whole thing looks really impressive, a bit sad I couldn't make it but the weekend fell in the middle of a FN of late shifts so was catching up with family. All the batreps are great, and the youtube, so I get get to participate vicarioisly through that! Will be great when I am back to normal wargaming...

    I think large scale Impetus could work very,well if you divided the table into sectors. However, there are millions (well four of us have them at least) paimted roman armies already in chch in 28mm and I like any new rulebook for the pictures so would jump in with both feet if a Roman Civil wars (year of four Emperors?) game was to be done using HC.

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    1. I think you'd need to change the command system in Impetvs as the one in the book means players need to wait for each other to finish before the next command is activated, not a biggie though.

      Craig

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  17. This is the way these battles should be played!

    Nice report and pictures!

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  18. Same. The game really deserved to be posted- every wargamer should be involved in a game like that once in a while!

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