Thursday, October 18, 2012

Maloyaroslavets - Dak-Kon Convention Game

For the Dak-Kon convention this year, I had decided to run a Fast Play Grand Armee game of Maloyaroslavets.

iPad photo from Eric - my opponent in this game where I commanded the Italian/French forces
I had the task of also being a presenter and co-host of the event, which had role-playing, card game and other board game activities going on at the same time.

The game was ready to start on time, there was only me as the player though.  I thank my middle son, Victor, for getting things going in coming forward to handle the miniatures for the Russians.

He wasted no time in driving hard at the important center village of Maloyaroslavets - pushing out 1/2 of the Italians in there.

Here we see Maloyaroslavets village, 1/2 taken by Russians, the top of the hill still held by Gilleminot and his Italians
By turn 3, the Russians had formed a solid line facing off the town and had driven off one light battery formation.

overview of the situation in Turn 3
closer view of the Russian lines
Russian assault gets into Maloyaroslavets
Russian far left, the Cossacks had driven off the French light batteries, now the Cossacks were to have to hold back ... something that Platov is not well known for!
 Italian cavalry had become halted on the south side of the one bridge over the Lusha river causing some 'back up' of the traffic flow ... a thing that could undo the whole French/Italian position!

The light cavalry arrived, getting in each others way in the process
Turn 4 was a short 2 pulse turn, that I did not get any pictures from, it was a critical time for the Russians, as they did not roll very many command dice, so they ended up having one division stuck in a hold on the critical access road.  I really like this scenario for the requirement of BOTH SIDES to have to use up their command functions to keep troops moving with the potential for bad things to happen from a lack of movement!  This is a part of what I call important to good generalship, seeing where the important action is in the moment and dealing with it as best you can.  Sadly it was beyond Victor to keep on top of, and ultimately he did not have the CD's to spare!

Through turn 4 and early turn 5 the French were sending out the light cavalry into their left wing, to go along the far side of the Russian right.  It was during turn 4 that a new adult player, Eric, came onto the scene and took on the command functions for the Russians to 'help' Victor.  It was his choice to redeploy Platov and his Cossacks to cover the left wing.  He could also see that at least one division of French were moving on the far side of the hill to flank him on the other side.  The end of turn 4 was also the arrival of Kutuzov and the three massive heavy reserve position artillery batteries.

Unable to contain himself, Platov charged into the Chasseurs of Ornano, only this time the Chasseurs were set for the charge!

the wild Platov strikes at the Chasseurs
The Cossacks of Platov were not prepared for the engagement
Turn 5 was to be a three pulse turn, neither of the commanders had enough CD's to keep on top of their troops.  This turn was also to be the one where my elbow would catch on the top of my church steeple and send the model tumbling over breaking off the steeple (look closely at the church in later images and you will see either no steeple or the broken sections of it).

Overview of the field from the Russian side (backed up troops that have not yet arrived can be seen in the foreground)
Overview from Russian left
One of the problems the Russians had, beyond the interrupt in troop arrivals, was a retreat by the leading brigades that blocked off the forward artillery then the division got a 'hold' order without enough command dice (CD's) to make it change.  This would prove to be fatal to the Russian cause in this game as they could not act while French artillery were able to get into position.

Kutuzov assembles a grand battery on the far south of the battlefield, while (seen in the top left corner) brigades are blocking the forward artillery
French Divisions were seen moving from the Russian left flank
The blocked Russian batteries were unable to fire on the opposing French/Italians
Platov's Cossacks were to be thrown into the fight again on the Russian right, to only the result of slowing down - just barely the Chasseurs, there were Cheveauxleger coming up also ... so the Russian right was going to have to be re-positioned.

Cossacks were used to slow down the French on the Russian right
Turn 6 was to be another 3 pulse turn.  Now the Russians were having to re-position, they had been unable to break into the other half of Maloyaroslavets, now with light cavalry on their right and French divisions coming on the left, the whole line of the battlefield was totally in action.  Certainly the first time since a game of Austerlitz I have ever seen this much action all across the whole line of battle.

Russian right flank formed up to receive the onrushing French
Now the Russian guns were able to fire, they were faced by equal French batteries, coming off the worse in the exchange
Russian left, now a division of infantry had formed up to block the French light cavalry
It was during the decisions of turn 6 that caused the Russian commander to commit his final infantry Division, Kovonitzen of III Corps to the left flank and halting the light cavalry that proved to be the game ending decision.  As the French commander I still held Lecchi and the guard division (with infantry and dragoon brigades) in reserve.  I am constantly reminded of Bonaparte's plans to constantly keep one division back from the fight as much as possible (I was having to put CD's on Lecchi all the time to keep him from going over to the attack on his own).

By pulse 2 of turn 7 the situation on the Russian left had collapsed, most certainly the French were going to get though that flank.

Field overview from the Russian left

Field overview from the French left
In the center, the Russian guns had been 1/2 destroyed, now the weight of French artillery would overcome all troops on the first 'slope' or 'level' of the hill south of Maloyaroslavets.  The French had Lecchi and the Italian guard to move into the open ground, while the Russians had no reserved divisions to use to halt this at all.

Russians were being driven away to the south of Maloyaroslavets
The 'back' side of the central hill showing the Italian guard, Lecchi's Division ready to move into the open ground
Platov's Cossacks had shot their bolt, only a remnant barely enough to keep the division as counting as 'effective' and permitted to stay on the table (in a game sort of way) and thus keep the 'score' close - ultimately there was no more Russian cavalry to face down the marauding French horse on the left and nothing at all to challenge the Italian Dragoons of Lecchi.

Russian left facing destruction at the hands of French light cavalry
View from far French right looking towards the open center
The end of turn 7 after 3 pulses had a score of French 3: Russian 1; this was the first moment when there was any score at all, as other brigades had all been successfully pulled back from conflict before they were utterly destroyed.

Turn 8, my opponent could see that he could not stop the French, though he was willing to stay on - only to see if they could be prevented from dominating the south river line.

Ultimately the Russians were unable to even really slow down the French, they were able to keep 1/2 of the town of Maloyaroslavets, yet even Eric was able to see that there would be no way to stop the French here and Kutuzov would have to withdraw the grand battery and move off the army 12-20 miles to the south - thus OPENING the way for the French to move on the Kaluga road to Smolensk ... what a change of history that would have been!

Victory!  Eugene's view of the Russian center, with French infantry on the open ground to the south of Maloyaroslavets
Final score French/Italian 6 : Russian 4 with the French holding 2/3rds of Maloyaroslavets and all of the hills up to the south stream, there were NO RUSSIANS on the north side of the Lusha tributary.

The ragged Russian left, only wounded battalions left to cover the retreat
Ornano's hard road, littered with the Chasseurs in order to open the French right and win the way to Kaluga
Just past midnight, south of Maloyaroslavets, Lecchi and the Italian guard hold the high ground with three massive heavy batteries, Guard Dragoons and Guard Infantry, all ready for action.

RESULT:  French Tactical victory, not an outstanding victory though certainly enough to have convinced the Russian commander Kutuzov to have withdrawn and open the way for Bonaparte to use the Kaluga road to Smolensk

Eric and I pose for a photo after the end of the game
Thank you to Victor for starting me off in the game (playing solo is dull at a convention) - he was patient with so much table-talk happening.  Over and over again new folks would stop by and talk about the game, history, tactics. leadership, strategy etc.  Because I also cast and paint most of the troops there are also painting technical talk that happens.

Eric was a good sport in taking over for Victor and good on him for sticking with the battle to the end.

You can see more of Eric's pictures, taken with his iPad, here.


James Fisher, FINS said...

Lovely pics and report MurdocK. Great to see that the scenario worked so well and that it generated so much interest at the convention. Is it mainly a role-play and card-playing event? If so, did you get any converts to the "real" stuff!


MurdocK said...

Thank you James,

the Dak-Kon has been cards and RPG's right from its start 18 years ago.

I have done RPG games, big boardgames and plenty of minis games at Dak-Kon. The pirate and cowboys games always are the best draws.

This time I got a few historical minded adults (parents of some who were RPG or card players) coming over to chat, sadly they were not keen to take on the task of the game.

I did recruit one of the GM's for the Campaign of Nations coming up next year - he would be able to take on the Austrians. Plus one of the others who have played in my minis games before has also expressed interest in the upcoming campaign.

I also got in a SHAKO game on the Sunday, just have not posted it all up here on the blog yet with a player that has been in two others of the bicentennial games over the past 7 years.