Saturday, 26 November 2022

The assault on ‘Epic’ Bridge!




A few posts ago (there is a link at foot of this post) I put forward the outline of a multi-period scenario that involved the taking of a bridge over an uncrossable river as the objective.


As part of developing the scenario, today I am running it with a twist. For each unit in the original scenario, I will convert it over to a 3 unit brigade and the artillery unit will become three batteries for allocation to the brigades. Collectively this will put a couple of big divisions onto the table.


Click for a larger image - the battlefield



To get this to fit the 6’ x 3½’ table, Warlord Games Epic Napoleonics are in play with each individual battalion / battery being represented by just two bases. Moving the order-of-battle up to a level of around six brigades per side, allows me to use the Valour and Fortitude rules by Jervis Johnson which I like and they are hosted for free on the Perry Miniatures site.


I will be using Prussian forces (in black plastic) and French forces (in blue plastic). These are being slowly painted, so today, the few already painted infantry bases will indicate the ‘elite’ formation included in the scenario for each side, just as an easy visual marker.


Pre-game, as per the original scenario, I diced for each side to see whether they would gain or lose a unit or just keep the same strength. This adds a variable to what are otherwise mirror forces. Both sides lost a regular infantry unit (or in our case today - a brigade).


Having brigades on the table, highlights the sense of compression / containment to the army that chooses to set up behind the river, which has a smaller deployment area, but has the advantage that the uncrossable river refuses their right flank and being an important consideration because both sides will get a flanking reinforcement at some point.


Another twist that I have added is that the reinforcement must be the cavalry. This just reflects that sense of a mobile action occurring on the flanks of this battlefield and that troops that spill over from adjacent fighting onto our battlefield will be cavalry.


Anyway, 50% losses to one side halts the game and at that point, the winner is the side that can claim to hold both ends of the bridge, anything else is a draw.


A brief overview of the action. 

It was a very enjoyable game, with highlights of importance as follows;


French guns concentrate on their left, with one battery up on the hill, they dominate this part of the battlefield, putting the Prussians behind the river under a lot of hurt.





Above - The French take the bridge, but the Prussians make an immediate and successful counter attack, regaining their end of the bridge.





Above - The Prussian cavalry reinforcement (3 regiments in black plastic to the right) arrives on the battlefield on the French right flank, intending to isolate the French end of the bridge and to support the Prussian counter-attack there. 





Above - This heavily distracted the French, forcing much of their right wing to go into square and a cavalry Vs square contest ensued …. supported by Prussian artillery from the other side of the river.





Above - While the Prussian cavalry kept the French reserve tied down, the fight at the bridge continued with neither side giving ground.





Above - Though a couple of the squares wavered, due as much to artillery fire as the cavalry, the Prussian cavalry were eventually beaten back to the river’s edge with heavy losses (losing two regiments). With their backs to the river, they could see the ominous presence of French Dragoons in force moving towards them. But then, Lady Luck struck, very nearby, a Prussian brigade had found a ford (see scenario tweaks below) and were sending troops across to the far bank to support the cavalry.


But the French dragoons were all over them before the infantry brigade could fully cross the river. Their 1st Regiment went into square on the river bank, but with the dragoons destroying the last of the Prussian cavalry, the French cavalry were able to keep the Prussians in check and something of a stalemate was developing across the field!


Both sides were becoming exhausted and neither side were making any headway at the bridge. Then the moment in time came when the game had to be called because one side had reached 50% loss, it was the Prussians who had lost the most units, but in truth, the French were not far behind, it was that close.


However, the only thing that matters in the scenario is control of the bridge and at the point of calling the game, each side held their own respective ends of the bridge …. so a draw was called and looking at the situation, that felt about right.


Rule Developments:

Mid game, I added a rule to the scenario, which allows for the exploring for a hidden ford to open the game up and create a new dynamic, giving a reason for troops to deploy further along the river bank, away from the bridge.


As a provisional rule I tried this - At the very start of a player’s turn (or first activation depending on your rules), a unit that is touching the river bank can test to see whether they have discovered a fording point. A ford cannot be discovered within 12” to either side of the bridge.


Roll a d6 and on a result of 1 or 2 a ford has been found. Each player can only ever make two such attempts (across any two separate turns) of discovery during a game and once a ford has been located, further tests cannot be made (i.e. there can only ever be one ford …… if there is one to be found at all!).


I thought this worked quite well and if the rule had been introduced at the start of the scenario, there would likely have been every chance of the focus for new action, threat and counter-threat to be created at the other end of the table (the quiet end!).


Conclusion.

The scenario seems to be working well and re-running it with the ‘ford discovery’ rule available from the start would certainly bring the early stages of the game onto a different path as both sides try to take advantage of a potential ford crossing …. or perhaps more importantly preventing the other player from gaining such an advantage at their chosen point!


There is now enough going on here to keep some freshness and  allow for another re-run. The testing to see if forces are gained or lost at the outset, the possibility of finding a ford and the randomness of the cavalry arrival, all contribute to that.


As an aside, I think that overall, the upscaling of the action to the divisional level worked quite well.  


Resource Section.


Previous post on the multi-period scenario used here. LINK

http://battlefieldswarriors.blogspot.com/2022/11/generic-multi-period-scenario-creation.html


A post by fellow blogger (Mark N) of the ‘My Brave Fusiliers!’ blog, who has had a go at the original form of the scenario (thank you). LINK

https://bravefusiliers.blogspot.com/2022/11/multi-period-game-rev-war.html


My sister webspace ‘COMMANDERS’ is being re-configured to showcase various figure and boardgame systems that I am enjoying and gives a flavour of where current ongoing projects are up to. Link.


https://commanders.simdif.com


30 comments:

  1. Looking really good, Norm! I love the action shots of the fighting on the bridge. Good to see V and F giving a satisfying game and equally happy to see even more stuff painted! I'm still painting Russians for Eylau (no surprise there)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Steve, V&F is giving up more subtlety each time I play. Looking forward to the mega Eylau game.

      Delete
  2. That worked well I thought. I like the table layout and those Epic Warlord really look good, they give a very Napoleonic feel. If I was a few a years younger I would definitely have a dabble

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Phil, I’m glad Warlord Games stuck to their belief in the Epic line, its fanbase seems to be growing.

      Delete
  3. A fine game there Norm and the upscaling certainly worked well. I think the having a chance to find a ford is nescessary to give a bit of width and added variety to the game. I know a few of the scenario books take a similar approach to this. IIRC normally artillery cannot use the fords, only Cavalry and Infantry.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Steve, I’m sure the Prussians would have found it useful very early on, on their right, to try and do something about the artillery that was pounding them - good shout about the artillery not being able to use a ford.

    ReplyDelete
  5. The ideas of having cavalry as the flanking units and searching for a fordable crossing certainly add to the scenario you are developing here. I will have to give you scenario a go.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Peter, I would like to take it into different periods to see whether it stands up to ‘generic’ credentials. WWII and Wars of the Roses are next.

      Delete
  6. Lovely game and table Norm! The Warlord figures make for a very impressive sight even though still unpainted. I saw somewhere they are about 12mm scale? Which makes them a great choice for smaller tables. Glad that V&F are working out well. I should give them a look….

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Mike, V&F are certainly worth a peek. They were written for the demo scene by a 28mm group who use big tables, but for anyone using smaller tables / smaller scales at home, they do an equally good job of giving a streamlined fast / decisive game.

      When the ACW Epic came out, they were classed as being 13.5mm. The Napoleonics are a tad bulkier and reminiscent of early (true) 15’s.

      Delete
  7. I echo Phil's comment, I'd definitely be up for Epic Napoleonics but for age related issues. Nice to see your painted elements are increasing steadily Norm.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why is Blogger making my comments anonymous?

      Delete
    2. Thanks David, I know when I use blogger on the iPad, I become anonymous if I have the ‘cross tracking’ feature switched on in the browser (safari). Cross Tracking is where a company can follow your browsing habit. I switch mine off when I do blogger stuff and then switch it back on for everything else. I have no idea whether that is a good or bad thing.

      Delete
  8. Nicely done Norm. We’ve seen a few bridge scenarios in the dungeon recently so I know they can be tough. I think the option for alternative crossings is a good idea to avoid a head on slog fest. I am sorely tempted by the epics now the Prussians are available.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Matt, the Prussians are nice sculpts and the starter set gives a good range of their units. They have said that in the future they will release Austrians and Russians and it is the Austrians that I am particularly interested in, but for now, the Prussians are getting plenty of atention.

      Delete
  9. Replies
    1. Hi, they are nicely posed and sculpted and look like they will take the paint well. I pressed Landwehr lance and line Dragoons into service for this game, but classed them all as Dragoon medium cavalry.

      Delete
  10. In my limited experience, river crossing scenarios need more than 1 crossing unless one side is only afforded enough to delay the other side's crossing and the meat of the action is meant to take place on the other side of the river.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hi Renaud, that problem is exacerbated here by the fact that the forces are essentially mirrors of each other.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Handsome battlefield layout as always, Norm. Is a six-foot table stretching your space constraints? You may need a larger table.
    Playing with unpainted plastic figures? Well, that brings back memories from a long, long time ago playing with Airfix ACW armies as a young 'un.

    It is interesting to see this resurgence in small figure, large unit gaming. Old Glory went down the 10mm figure in-strip route many years ago and I do not recall seeing this level of excitement.

    I have large ACW armies using Old Glory 10s and these armies are perfect for fighting out the large ACW battles. These EPIC figures seem to be targeting the same level of battle. As EPIC armies grow,
    I hope to see large scale battles.

    Just downloaded the rules. There is a lot that is very familiar in these.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi Jonathan, I could probably go another 2 foot, though my Geek Villain cloth is a 6 x 4 and I have this inbuilt thing of keeping things constrained! (Yes I know!) Plus,I don’t really want to paint 20 - 30+ battalions per side etc, especially over all of the periods that interest me, which is why my 28mm Pocket Army project(s) has held appeal for me.

    My space has some temporary limitation, so long games (often a translation of big games) don’t appeal either - I have my boardgames for the big battles (I am about to put an Antietam boardgame to the table and played the ‘Morning Assault’ scenario face-to-face last Friday).

    The V&F rules are quite interesting, together with the special rules and then the specific army rules, they throw up a bit of chaos and nuance during play. Most things will get a chance to move, the failing of activation adds some spice, it is not too much to annoy (which some criticise Black Powder for) and not underplayed that one would start to disregard it - it needs a little respect.

    For example, at one point a Prussian Brigade on the bridge was badly mauled and needed to pull out of the line and have a fresh brigade replace it. To do that, one first attempts activation of the the worn unit on the bridge and (if) getting it, they retire, leaving the bridge vacant ….. next is to activate the fresh brigade who will take up their positions on the bridge …. but what if they fail to activate and that bridge is left fully undefended and so there is a bit of breath holding when that fresh brigade test to activate and I like that sort of emotional drama and anything that puts the hand of restraint on perfect choreography that gamers often get drawn into (fancy footwork!) must surely be a good thing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the process detail in your last paragraph. Emotional drama. I like that.

      Delete
  14. Thanks for an interesting and informative post Norm.

    Willz.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thanks Norm, a rwally nice report, and those 'Epic' figures look great en masse, as they should be! I think the 'discover a ford' rule is a really good idea, moving some of the focus away from the bridge.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hi David, during play, with so many units sitting on their hands, the scenario pretty much demanded a ‘ford’ element, so now it has one and I will revert back to the single units order of battle and see how it goes.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Some how I managed to miss this post Norm, but a draw seemed a fair result. I have read all of Marks posts over at My Brave Fusileers blog, three different era's and they all seemed to work pretty well! (Possibly the third -Crimean War- is still to come, but it's been mentioned!)

    ReplyDelete
  18. Hi Keith, I have been enjoying Mark’s table, the Crimean game is up and I think it is my favourite of the three.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I always enjoy your AARs! Especially the extra twists or slight alterations that you use. They always give me food for thought! Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hi John, thanks for the thumbs up :-)

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for taking the time to comment