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Campaign: Leipzig – The Two-Sided AAR, part 1

13 November 2014

Cyrano and PanzerDE face off in the age of muskets and sabers, and find themselves on opposite sides of an Eastern German battlefield, in the first of a series of AARs that give you both sides of the action.

I first met Doug (panzerde) at Origins in June.  Despite finding him an all-around fine fellow, I am now tasked with driving him from the field of honor in this scenario from John Tiller Software’s Campaign: Leipzig.  I picked the battle (all my fault) because I’d never played it and thought it struck a reasonable balance between variety of forces and size.  Leipzig can, after all, become ridiculous at the farthest end of things.

I’ve been playing the Tiller Napoleonic games for well over a decade.  I’ve been involved with the Napoleonic Wargame Club for just about as long and am therefore aware of all the theology concerning its alternative rulesets, homerules, optional rules, &c.  I offer only that I generally try to play the game as given in the hope of being able to play with the widest range of opponents.  I do, however, typically play with a standard set of optional rules given to me long, long ago by my most regular opponent (who thrashes me with unnerving regularity).  The rules are these:

oprules

I’d be happy to take questions and hold forth at length about why I prefer these rules, but it seems unnecessary here. I’ll only observe that deciding whether to play with “No Melee Eliminations” on or off is a choice that fundamentally alters the flow of the game and its outcomes.  With it off, units required to retreat that have no ZOC-free hexes to which they can retreat are eliminated.  This can lead to casualty rates far closer to those of the first day of the Somme rather than 1813.  I will admit, though, as someone who long lobbied for this rule to be included in the series, that, when this rule is on, the system’s lack of morale collapse above the level of the individual battalions, can result in the very best units hanging about far longer than they ought.

To the battle itself, then.  Lowenberg is one of those “extra” scenarios typical of a type Dr. Tiller’s developers have worked to improve their offerings.  It’s an early fight in the Leipzig campaign and the scenario description is a simple one:

19 August 1813 – Historical – Napoleon put Ney over four infantry corps and a cavarly corps and named it the Army of the Bober. Two of those corps, V & XI Corps were ordered to press on to Löwenberg and cross the Bober River. Facing them were elements of the Army of Silesia under Blücher. The goal in this scenario as the French player is to hold the village and gain a crossing over the Bober river if possible.

The victory conditions are interesting as detailed below:

victory1

The French (Jim) begin with a Minor Victory which under most circumstances would place the burden of attack on the Allies.  In this instance, however, there are multiple VP locations on the opposite side of the Bober that begin the game in French hands.  These are visible in the screenshot below.

thescene

At this point, we alternate between Jim (in blue) and Doug (in green)

0900 August 19, 1813

I therefore know that waiting for the Allies to pound their way to the outskirts of Lowe won’t do.  My intention, then, in this area, is to 4F Doug’s troops in the vicinity of those locations forward of the bridge and see how much he cares to bring to bear.  Part of this will involve marching the division that’s making its way through Lowenberg at game start to the victory location due east.

Lowenberg 

Well, the bloody French are across the Bober at Lowenberg, and we can’t really have that, can we? A combined force of Russians and Prussians under Blucher himself marches to oppose them.

My initial positions in this scenario place me with three columns on the eastern half of the map: In the south, the Russians, who are already in contact with a French force of unknown size.

Lowenburg_Plan

 

I reserve the right, however, to retreat over the Lowenberg bridge and blow it behind me.  This latter proposition can be a tricky one in the early-19th Century as, more often than not, a few fellows will get trapped on the wrong side of the bridge.

Further to the south, I’ve got a lone brigade facing off against a group of Allied skirmishers west of the bucolically-named hamlet of Siebeneichen.

Siebeneichen

 

In the north I have the Advance Guard and I.Korps of the Prussian Army of Silesia, commanded by Blucher himself. I.Korps is under the command of the redoubtable General Yorck. To the south I have two infantry corps and a cavalry corps of the Russian army’s Left Wing. The Russians are already across the Bober. Rather than move them northwest along the river and have to try and force a crossing, I plan to push through the French regiment deployed at Siebeneichen and push up the road along the Hellbach and between the Kugelberg and Weinberg to attack the town of Lowenberg from the south.

Meanwhile, I intend to concentrate the two columns of the Prussian I.Korps around Lauterseifen and advance on Plagwitz, where I expect to meet a substantial French force. I am hoping to either tie up enough of the French army to allow the Russians to take Lowenberg with minimal effort, or, if Jim has divided his forces to punch through and join the Russians for a two-pronged attack on the town. Alternatively, if the French make their main defensive effort toward the Russians, the Prussians will be the primary axis of attack through Plagwitz and into Lowenberg.

Along the northern tier of the map I intend to move the Prussian Advance Guard to sweep up the objective towns there until I draw some French attention. I don’t intend for this to be a major axis of my attack, but rather a means of drawing part of the French force away from the main action in the center. If I can advance to contact and then fight cautiously enough to keep from taking too many casualties while still appearing to be a threat, I may be able to draw off enough of the French force to significantly ease my path to the south.

2014-10-04 17_21_24-Greenshot

I’m aware that Jim doesn’t have nearly the cavalry he needs to scout and screen his infantry columns in this campaign. My horse significantly out matches his in number and quality and I intend to capitalize on that as much as I can. An early objective will be to use my cavalry to determine where his forces are as soon as I can.

 

I know enough about this series and its scenario design to know that skirmishers aren’t usually found wandering about by themselves.  I am pleased to note, therefore, that I have the better part of a division marching at speed north.  It is my intention, therefore, to defend the area west of Seven Oaks as long as is possible, inflicting casualties on Doug’s advancing forces in the process.  Given the overall situation, extricating them from their present predicament seems unlikely.  They must be prepared to win or die where they stand.

 

The action opens in the south with the Russian 15th Division already in sight of a French regiment holding the village of Siebeneichen.

2014-10-04 17_22_08-Greenshot

The remainder of the Russian force is strung out along the road to the east of the ford and bridge across the Bober at Zobten. The crossing itself is guarded by the Russian 1st Cavalry Corps.

2014-10-04 21_23_27-Greenshot

The first order of business is to clear the French out of Siebeneichen and get the rest of the Russian army across the Bober. 15th Divison advances into the village. North and south of the village I’m moving cavalry to scout the paths west as to isolate that French regiment so I can annihilate it

2014-10-04 17_22_37-Greenshot

While the Russians launch their attack, the Prussians march west, hurrying to meet at Lautersiefen.

 

As I write this, Doug and I have started the process of nudging our lads towards one another.  Questions, comments, opinions, and hallucinations about all this are more than welcome.

Come back next time for the smoke, blood, and mayhem!


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