Campaign: Leipzig – The Two-Sided AAR, part 4

19 March 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.

As a reminder, we are alternating between Jim (in blue) and Doug (in green)

As always, click images to enlarge

 

The tough part about doing an AAR and playing a game like this is that my aging brain forgets what the hell I was trying to accomplish during the long stretches between turns. I believe this to be a deliberate French tactic as Jim is younger than I am and less likely to forget why he walked into a room, for example.

Fortunately I drew a map early on and have previous entries in this AAR to remind me what group of pixel troops was doing what to whom. As a reminder, my strategy: 

Lowenburg_Plan

 

There are any number of reasons that I was never actually given the command of men in the field — not having enlisted surely among them — but I have to think that a profound lack of patience never looks good on an OCS evaluation sheet.

It’s been a little over two-and-a-half hours (this scenario used 10-minute turns) since the start of Doug and my dust-up in the area of Lowenberg and I am having a deuce of a time figuring out what he’s up to in the north.and central sections of our battlefield.  In the area around Ludwigsdorf, where it will be remembered I had once thought to reinforce troops to the south before bumping into Doug’s advancing army, he’s presented himself, but in numbers well short of those he’s going to need to dislodge me and make his way to the objectives further West.  Doug is no fool so I conclude, lacking evidence to suggest alternatives, that he’s up to something.   Then again, the Ludwigsdorf VPLOC is only worth 50 points and its road is hardly the direct route to the main cache of points at Lowenberg that Plagwitz is.

tippytap 

I’m going to push up from the south with the Russians (green troops/arrows) while feinting in the north with the Prussian Advanced Guard and striking in the center with the remainder of the Prussian army (black troops/arrows). The Russians in the south are already across the Bober and so in a great position to move on Lowenberg without having to force a river crossing. Unfortunately their advance elements are entangled with a French division at Siebeneichen.

2014-11-11 20_59_39-Greenshot 

Jim’s French Division is giving the Russian 15th Division a mauling, mostly because he has artillery up and I don’t. I’m pushing to get the rest of the 10th Corps across the river and get some guns into play. 22nd Division has just about reached the village, giving me a force I can bring in on my left and use to envelope Jim’s right and crush it. If I can hold on to Siebeneichen while building up more strength on the French flank I think I can clear these guys out of the way for a run at Lowenberg.

Speaking of Upper and Lower Plagwitz, if the Ludwigsdorf area has me scratching my head, that around Plagwitz has me full near terrified.   One of the great things about the best scenarios in the Tiller Napoleonic series is that they let you maneuver much as the troops in the era would have done.  Cavalry screens and skirmishes become very important and, despite commanders’ absolute knowledge of where their troops are, there’s still a grand guessing game to be played as to where his opponent might be hiding, headed or both.  When one guesses correctly, there’s a rare sense of satisfaction that comes with swooping down on an unsuspecting train of limbered artillery or the like.  When one guesses incorrectly, however, or suspects as much, one is left looking, well, a bit like this:

tippytap2 

Now, it isn’t just that I’ve got the better part of a division staring up a valley at almost no one.  It isn’t just that Doug’s regiment of horse is trooping off in the direction of Siebeneichen to increase the challenge factor of that situation.  It’s why Doug has deployed that artillery piece on a ridge several kilometers from the nearest skirmisher.  He and I have spent hours fighting each other on various battlefields so he knows I can be persuaded into Cardigan-esque charges, but that’s a bit much.  Unless he clarifies things for me in the next few turns, I may have to push a few squadrons of horse out just to see what he’s up to.

Meanwhile, the Russian cavalry is moving to block Jim’s small cavalry force from the village. I’m moving an entire division of Dragoons to the north of the village as well, in the hopes that I can have them hit the French right and rear as they engage 10th Corp. I really want to try and shatter this division quickly so I can time the Russian advance to coincide with the main Prussian attack at Plagwitz. With any luck Jim will end up like a fat man in bed with a too small blanket – not enough to cover everything!

2014-11-22 21_01_38-Greenshot 

Meanwhile, the Prussian Advance Guard works to develop the feint east of Ludwigsdorf. I am sure that Ludwig would rather that we stayed out of his dorf with all of these unruly soldiers. With a bit of luck and some maneuvering on the part of the Prussian cavalry I might be able to oblige him by causing Jim to fall back. Here I’m moving to deploy my infantry and force Jim to deploy in line. Once he’s done that I will try and slip some cavalry around his flank and head for the victory location at Ludwigsdorf. If nothing else I should be able to discover if he has more troops back there. If I’m lucky I can force him to fall back to defend the town and I can repeat the maneuver to the point where he either bugs out and concedes the northern route to me or he brings up more troops to hold me off, which is what I want.

Down near Siebeneichen, matters are far more clear.  As suggested earlier, I rarely regret dashing cavalry charges as they seem so in keeping with the period, but the men of the 6th Chasseurs can’t think over-much of me right now.  Moreover, given that several hundred other troopers are heading their way, matters are not likely to improve.

siebeneichen15 

One of the great limitations of this system is that there’s no morale failure above that of the individual unit.  Units are either disordered or routed, the latter causing them to run off as much as circumstances permit and forbids them from being moved closer to any enemy within LOS.  This can, however, leave troops trapped behind the lines of enemy units waiting for the moment when they pass a morale check at the start of their turn, return to disorder, and suddenly become usable troops again.  Doug, therefore, has to commit troops to chasing down my routers to make sure they don’t become guerilla fighters behind his lines.

I have to say I appreciate the subtlety of these Napoleonic fights compared to the bare knuckle bashing Jim and I are engaged in right now at Kursk. Prokhorovka is awesome in terms of the scale and ferocity of the action, but no one is ever going to claim it was a maneuver battle.

2014-11-22 21_49_22-Greenshot 

And a turn later, here are Jim’s French forming a line of battle under harassment from my horse artillery. Prussian cavalry screens my infantry while they deploy. I’m convinced the key to winning this will be using my cavalry advantage over the French effectively.

2014-11-22 21_47_10-Greenshot 

Meanwhile, not much has changed in the center, as Blucher and Yorck try and shove the rest of the Prussian Army of Silesia into place around Petersdorf/Lauterseifen. The roads are crap or non-existent, going is slow. Russian and Prussian cavalry screen the concentrating troops from any French movement from the west. Again, the lack of French cavalry means Jim has a significant disadvantage in terms of being able to detect my movements. With luck I can hit Plagwitz hard while moving on Lowenberg from the South with my Russians.

The fight further south and to the west, General Zucchi is doing a fair job holding his ridge against Doug’s attacks.  One of the great truisms of warfare in this period — and in this game — is that the cone of fire for artillery pieces is best avoided if at all possible so, accordingly, Doug’s men are being marked off to my right, both to avoid the guns and work around my flank.  In return, I’ve got to try and keep my main line secure while still extending my right to meet his efforts.   It’s a reminder of why “GO” is considered such a good primer for war.  It will also be noted in passing that troops former routed have returned to my lines.  If Doug has as many troops as it appears he may, I’m likely going to need them.

I am getting concerned with the time it is taking to get the Army of Silesia in place. We’re not halfway through the battle yet but we’re getting close. I’m feeling pressure to start moving on Plagwitz.

 

So when will Doug’s flanking maneuver land on Jim’s Frenchies?  Can Napoleon maneuver his way into a victory?  Stay tuned!


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