Wednesday, August 9, 2017


     What an eventful, and slightly crazy, first hour. Though making progress, the French are taking grievous losses to artillery fire -- mainly, but not only, from the Bagration Fleches. Their 12-hex range "Positional" artillery, the 27-18-9 guys, are killers. The French have lost a number of artillery increments to "ricochet" without ever having had a chance to unlimber. When that artillery chit is drawn, you can't help but wince a little.
     Here's the overall situation:

     The action is taking place in 3 sectors: Borodino, III Corps and the Fleches. Let's have a look at Borodino first.



     By rule, Infantry deployed in Skirmish formation must Retreat Before Assault. This spells trouble in a congested area like Borodino. After one of these retreats, the assaulting unit must advance and can, if there is a unit in front of it, declare that it is assaulting again. This led to multiple retreats and advances. This French battalion advanced all the way through the town and across the river, driving skirmishers before it. It is about to get a snootful of canister, though. Inside the orange square is one of those brutal 27 FP arty units. That'll be a 27:6 shot, +2 columns right, or -- gulp! -- 6:1. "Say 'ello to my little friend!"
     Red lines show French advances, light blue is a repulse along the steep bank, and yellow are Russian retrograde movements. Er, I mean "advances to the rear."


     III Corps is just beginning to come to grips with the enemy. Skirmishers exchange fire. The artillery slogs through the rough terrain. Marshal Ney, now Activated, will be bringing the rest of the III next turn. 


The brown lines show where some units have taken shelter in a gully.

     Just as in the real battle, General Compans, leader of the 5th Division, goes down with a wound. But, hey, a little shrapnel in the head never hurt anybody. He'll be back in an hour. 
     But in the meantime, the 5th is nothing more than a Russian pinata. (A little cultural appropriation there, methinks). General Rapp, an ADC from Napoleon's staff, takes command (as he did historically). He's an excellent leader, so I think it's just about "go-time" for the 5th. (Davout, now also Activated, is bringing up the rest of the I Corps, too.)
     Earlier in the turn, the route through the woods to the flank of the Fleches was opened by a squadron of lancers. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Here's how it went down.


     Having last turn retreated before assault, this Russian Jaeger finds his hind end hanging out in midair. Something like that is hard to miss, and these Lancer's eyes light up like full moons. (Get it?) "Le Charge!!" they cry. 
     The Rooskies could have done a number of things, but they attempt to form square, which fails. This is actually a good thing, because the battalion "disrupts" back into the brush. The Lancers strike, but in the rugged terrain they are repulsed. 

     The French are calling this a moral victory, however, if not a decisive one. The path to the Fleches Flank is now open. 

     It is now 7AM. The Russians should have a nice response coming in the next hour. 
     Until then, don't take any wooden rubels!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017


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Monday, August 7, 2017


       The first couple turns of the full battle scenario of my new favorite game, La Bataille de la Moscowa, are in the books. Well, almost. I still have the 6:20 AM Fire and Assault Phases yet to play. The Assault Phase should only take a minute or two. The Fire Phase will consist of hot Russian cannonballs slicing through Frenchmen like ninepins. Maybe that's why I put it off until later. Gulp!
     Let's have a look at the early action.

Follow the bouncing balls.
     Speaking of ninepins, here's the bowling alley. The red lines are the trajectory of Russian cannon fire from the "Bagration Fleches." This is where I made my first mistake of the day. As the French player, I forgot to bring my artillery forward on the first turn (circled in blue). This leaves the 5th division at the mercy of the Russian guns. And effective they were, too. Several disruptions, 3 increments KIA and half-a-battery of limbered artillery all shot to hell.
     The idea here was to screen my advance with my light cavalry (the blue wavy line -- the screen on the French right has been dismantled). The problem is the cannonballs go right through them, causing all sorts of havoc to my infantry columns in the rear.
     On turn 2, I started to bring the guns up and spread out my infantry, putting all my battalions in line. This will help a little.
     I want to at least get in a few shots at the Russians before launching my assault. But standing still under that fire is going to be hard.
     The 61st Bde of the 5th engages the Russian jaegers in the brush. An assault will push them back. The idea here to get through the skirmish line and attack the earthworks from the flank.
     (The little blue arrow at the top of the picture shows a confab taking place between Napoleon and two of his marshals, Davout and Ney. Davout wants to hit the Fleches with his entire 1st Corps. I think Napoleon will go for that idea.)

     At the same time, Ney's 3rd Corps struggles through the rugged terrain toward the Great Redoubt. A steep bank of a dry streambed is defended by a screen of Jaegers. The Corps artillery has one path through the woods (shown in green) and then only a single path beyond the streambed. I'd like to set the guns up at the edge of the woods and blast away for a while, but it's pretty slow going through the brush.

The Marshals meet with Napoleon's vest in an open field. Getting the okay to unleash the I and III Corps. 
I pilfered some "General Order" counters from BAR.

     17 Bde/1st Div/I Corps crosses a swampy stream towards a steep bank guarded by Russian Jaegers. That's called "doing it the hard way." With Ney coming through the woods on the right, these guys look to make Raevesky's Redoubt not so great. 30 Bde crosses the bridge and launches an assault into the village.
     At the same time, IV Corps makes for the flank. The town is held only by some light infantry. The French catch them lounging ingloriously in the town's saunas. (Russian historians will cover this up for years afterward.)
    Russian VI Corps wants to push its Jaegers into the bend of the river at the top of the screen and into the village on its far bank. Cossacks approach from the top-left, off the screen.
     Also on the Russian side, Barclay and Bagration station themselves with various Corps leaders, awaiting their chance to "activate" for a counterattack as Kutusov can't be bothered. Other ADCs and Artillery leaders move to where they might do the most good. This is probably the most challenging part of the game, both mentally and physically. (It's hard to tell one leader from another -- this is the hunt-and-peck of wargaming. Slightly annoying, but awesome!)
     Until next time, don't take any wooden nickels!

Friday, August 4, 2017


     No more screwing around. This time, I mean business!
     La Bataille de la Moscowa on one table, Advanced Squad Leader on another. And even though I just bought Revolution Road and Redvers' Reverse, I have a feeling another newcomer will soon occupy the third: 1914, Twilight in the East.

On Table 1: La Bat. I'm still working through the Shevardino scenario. Huge amount of play value in this package.
     I like La Bat more every time I play it. The rules are what wargame rules should be. They don't force you into historic tactics. Rather, they encourage you to use them; i.e., you're a fool if you don't. Many games I've played lately simply dictate this or that. This happens. Period. Why? Shut up! It just does. By the way, you're banned.
     For example, in Washington's Crossing (not to just pick on this game, of course), Rall suffers surprise automatically when Washington makes his attack. Yawn! I think we can do better, fellas. I expect better.
     That's one of the reasons I've deployed the A-team this weekend. I want to play some games that I know deliver. These two are proven winners.

On Table 2: Advanced Squad Leader. "War of the Corporals," a scenario I downloaded from the net. The boards are from Beyond Valor and counters from the original Yanks
     Besides my beloved rulebook, all that was left of my original ASL collection were American counters from Yanks and British counters from West of Alamein. I repurchased the original BV ( before I even knew there was an updated one -- d'oh!) and downloaded a bunch of new and old scenarios from the internet. I just put in an order from MMP for mapboards 1-6, so I should be up and playing some of those old classics in no time.

What is left of my ASL stash. American and British armies in sandwich bags inside a shoe box. The light! It burns! It burns! The boys have been waiting thirty years for this moment.  
Here's a pic of a page from Chapter E that came with Yanks. It's all gliders, and paratroops, and air support and rubber boats and a bunch of other stuff I never used. Look at the page here: it's in totally mint condition. The little-used counters too. The bag they're stored in still has counter chaff inside. LOL! 
     I've only played a couple turns of "War of the Corporals" and the narrative is already strong and engaging. The first turn a German HMG and a 80mm Mortar broke down. The Yanks are rapidly advancing and Jerry's cussing up a schnitzelstorm trying get them fixed.
     The unknown this weekend is 1914, Twilight in the East. I will make no snap judgments. But it's giving me that "play-me" look. Brazen hussy!