Yesterday evening saw us gather at Monty HQ for another Franco Prussian War bash using “Bloody Big Battles”. There were 4 of us this time – Steve and myself as usual with me being French and Steve German. I was joined by Jimmy, who had played at the Club, and Steve was joined by his friend, James, up for the weekend. We had the same 3 German Korps as follows, each with a General,
GERMAN ORDER OF BATTLE
3 Div: 6 S Trnd NG
4 Div: 6 Trnd NG
9 Bde, 5 Div: 4 Vet NG
10 Bde, 5 Div: 5 S Vet NG
11 Bde, 6 Div: 5 S Vet NG
12 Bde, 6 Div: 4 Vet NG
13 Bde, 7 Div: 6 S Trnd NG
14 Bde, 7 Div: 5 Trnd NG
15 Bde, 8 Div: 5 Trnd NG
16 Bde, 8 Div: 5 Trnd NG
6TH CAVALRY DIVISION
2 Vet Lt Cav
12th CAVALRY DIVISION
2 Vet Lt Cav
against the same 2 French Corps, also each with a General.
FRENCH ORDER OF BATTLE
1 Div: 4 S Trnd LB
2 Div: 4 S Trnd LB
3 Div: 4 S Trnd LB
2 Trnd Lt Cav
1 Div: 5 S Trnd LB
2 Div: 4 Trnd LB
3 Div: 3 Trnd LB
4 Div: 4 Trnd LB
2 A Trnd Lt Cav
We also used the same 3 ‘special’ rules:
- The Germans had to advance if they rolled 10 or more on the movement dice and were not spent. We actually dispensed with this as the Germans needed no encouragement!
- Each German Korps rolled 1D6 at the start and counted as Tactically Inept on a roll of 1 or 2. This resulted in the right and centre Korps both being Tactically Inept!
- We gave both French Corps an MG unit but reduced them in effectiveness to reflect the parcelling out of these assets rather than their concentration. We counted them as FP 4/2 rather than 12/6 and they were removed if a Reduced result was scored. I felt this worked well.
The table looked like this – a purely fictitious setup, with the French determined to hold the 2 roads exiting their table edge (right of the top picture) against the German hordes.
The French deployed as shown below:
Once again, the French deployed thinly but, crucially in this game, too far back. They should have moved further forward to make sure all the hill crests were in Chassepot range. This was a fatal error.
German tactics were text book and superbly executed. Even though the left hand Korps rolled to be tactically inept, it remained the Main Effort, the Schwerpunkt. The Germans were able to mass 6 units of artillery on the hill, some in the cover of the wood, and they proved devastating. This mass of over 200 guns brought section after section of the French line under fire and simply blew them away, with the infantry following closely and assaulting the tattered remnants. First to fall was the village on the French extreme right flank and then the Germans simply wheeled right and began to roll up the French. The second French Corps, over on the left protecting the second road, had little to do. The Germans never really threatened this road, although their cavalry cut it late in the game. A French attempt to move forward and provoke the Germans failed. The French simply could not move fast enough or in a coordinated manner and the Germans were able to form a solid defensive position. Had the French assaulted, they would have become fixed and too far forward, allowing the German left hook to come in behind them. They therefore pulled back to roughly their starting positions.
Some game shots:
The German advance, showing the attempted French left wing counter move in the last shot:
The Massed guns:
French cavalry ride to glory! They got in without taking fire although not a flank attack and, although wiped out, killed a German base!
German infantry closing in for the kill:
We brought things to a close after 6 moves with the French right non existent, even their second General had managed to do nothing other than become a speed bump! The left was largely intact and we did consider how things would have played out had we continued. The first conclusion was that the French would not have hung around in the face of the massed guns and the left hook – once the flank was turned, it was time to retreat and conserve the force in being. However, we were not playing a campaign and so on we went. We agreed that the cavalry did not constitute possession of the left hand road – the French would have been able to push at least 2 divisions off down that road. We did debate whether the Germans would have reached the second road with only 4 turns to go and decided it was too close to call.
One other point of note was our abysmal dice throwing, with the French noticeably having the worst of it. Even when the French did mass fire, throwing 3 on 2 dice is not going to do any harm except for the odd German splitting his sides laughing! There must have been half a dozen assaults and I can’t think of the French winning the initial dice roll on any – if they did, it was only one and only by 1. Usually, the process started with a +3 or 4 to the Germans. The Germans did have their poor throws as well but, given the massed firepower (credit to them) they still caused damage.
However, yet another fun and interesting game with all round positive comments on the rules. We were slow, but we are still new and there was a lot of chat going on, so we could have been much quicker than we were. Key points from my perspective:
- A fun, challenging and realistic game. This has to be top of my list. Once again BBB delivered for us.
- The German assault was textbook – massing their guns, turning a flank and shooting the infantry in. That said, with the movement rolls, this was not as easy as it sounds and credit must be due to the German players for holding it all together.
- The game lacked a context – was this ‘do or die’ for the French or not?
- The Germans were blessed to have all their combat power available from first thing in the morning and in having a full day to achieve their objectives – I need to challenge them more next time out!
- The German assessment of time and space was a close call. By relying on their left hook to roll up the French, they risked not reaching the second road before nightfall and therefore not achieving their victory conditions. They might have destroyed the French but, in scenario terms, it would have been a draw. The key here is to focus in on the objectives and really think through how they can be achieved in the time available.
Monty the Desert Rat