After having some reservations about Sam Mustafa’s Longstreet last week, today’s offering from Sam ticked all the boxes. Previously we had played Blucher with cards. Older readers may well remember Principles of War. I thought the pre-battle movement “screens” were a novel approach to the all important manoeuvre before battle. Blucher actually encourages the player to think in terms of the battle line and those troops ready to reinforce or outflank. Colin “the volcano” Cavanagh brought both sides for today’s game, Prussians versus French.
The units are not revealed until moving. “Uncommitted” units can literally move half way across the table. It really does pay to keep a reserve in this game. My reserve was four demibrigades of good quality French infantry. In front of the hill were my Bavarians, two well trained brigades and two conscript regiments of unenthusiastic Germans. Mark lined his Marie-Louise’s on the left. He too decided on a reserve, a brigade of hussars and a brigade of heavy cavalry, Carabiners and Cuirassiers. Colin’s collection looked superb….. As the defensive corps, Mark and I immediately decided to throw our Bavarian allies in a feint against the central woods. Blucher’s handling on artillery is also credit worthy. As in real battles, the commander does not have an endless supply of ammunition. Rather, you have to decide when to expend your cannonade. I decided that the best way to use six batteries of artillery was to fire at long range against the Prussian lancers moving stealthily throgh the orchards to my right. They didn’t come any further forward at least.
We had stalled the Prussian cavalry probe but our retreating conscripts were unsettling the steady Frenchmen behind. It was time to throw in the French veterans. As more Prussians arrived in the centre, Mark deployed his heavy cavalry brigade.
The musketry duel was now all along the line. First long range skirmish fire and then volley after volley from the opposing ranks. Mark in command of our Marie Louise division saw an opportunity. His Demi-brigades advanced through the cornfields against the Prussian right. Fitting in with our initial plan for a spoiling attack, the Marie -Louise’s are better with the bayonet. Behind the newly recruited battalions came hussars. The hussars sliced through the German hussars. Retreating Prussians from the firefight in the central woods unhorsed a few riders but we claimed a breakthrough!
However, our hastily trained heroes were losing enthusiasm. Flanked by lancers and raked by fire, our battalions gave up the ghost. It had been a memorable battle. The rules were brilliant, clear and decisive. Complex situations like multiple assaults on squares, in cornfields, were all troublefree. My thanks to Colin and Mark for a great afternoon. Army lists for Marengo will shortly be appearing on this blog. Better still, come and join us at Cardiff’s number one games store, Firestorm Carpets and Church. I will be revenged………..