Blucher at the Club
Last Friday I ran a four-player game of Blucher at Staines Wargames Club. The scenario was Laichling 1809, on the scenarios page here. This was the fight between Davout and Rosenberg on 21 April, the day before the battle of Eggmühl. Ian and Harry led the French against Chris and Nick’s Austrians.
This scenario is unusual in having a lot of woodland, especially on the French side. In the real battle, Friant’s division moved northwards through the woods without much difficulty, before emerging to assault the village of Ober-Sanding. I found the Blucher rules as written too restrictive to permit the French to recreate this advance, since reserve movement is not permitted in woods and all movement in them is classed as ‘difficut’. I introduced a house rule for this game only, that infantry with the skirmish ability is able to make an easy move in woods. This covered all French infantry and the Austrian Grenzers, but Austrian Line did not benefit.
Chris as Rosenberg set up the on-table Austrians, with garrisons in the villages of Unter and Ober Laichling and his cavalry on his far left. Ian deployed the Bavarians on the French right and Friant in the Centre, and Harry took St Hilaire on the left. The game began with Ian/Friant assaulting Unter Laichling and Harry moving north through the woods towards the Sandings. Ian’s first two attacks on Unter Laichling were repulsed at some cost, but he was third time lucky. The rest of the game saw Austrians and French taking and retaking the village, with possession finally in French hands. The Bavarians also advanced on Friant’s right. The infantry held their own but their cavalry were given a bloody nose by the Stipcisz Hussars.
Meanwhile Nick’s first Austrian reinforcements arrived and moved to occupy Ober Sanding before Harry could get there. Harry was so fixed on reaching this village that he veered a bit too close to the Austrians around Ober Laichling and Chris charged two of Harry’s regiments in the flank. Harry got off very lightly in the ensuing combat but he was obliged to turn two regiments to face the Austrian centre, which reduced the French resources available to assault the Sandings.
Crunch Time at Ober Sanding
Harry’s first assault on Ober Sanding was seen off in style, with Nick rolling either a 5 or 6 for every single combat die. Harry’s next attempt succeeded and his depleted regiment occupied the village. At this point, the French already held Unter Laichling and would win the game outright if they held both villages at the end of the next Austrian turn. Chris and Nick tried their damnedest to evict the French, with Nick sending in two units against Harry’s regiment in Ober Sanding. Despite having many more dice than the enemy, Nick’s rolling let him down for this combat and both Unter Laichling and Ober Sanding remained in French hands, bringing the game to an end.
This was a tense game, which almost went the full 26 turns. It rattled on at a good pace and the players seemed to enjoy themselves. I thought the scenario was well balanced and could genuinely have gone either way. Had the French sudden death conditions not been met, I reckon the Austrians may have inflicted enough damage to win the day. As it was, the honours went to Davout.
Thanks to all the players for getting stuck in. Commiserations to Chris and Nick and congratulations to Ian and Harry.