Thursday, June 26, 2014

Big Battles for Small Tables - Playtest

The battle opens.  Voltigeurs of Loison's Division, crossing the Danube from
the south to the north bank, engage the first line of Austrian Grenadiers
between the river and Elchingen, supported by the VI Corps artillery
firing across the river.  The rest of Loison's Division, and the VI Corps cavalry
make their way across the river bridge.

Whilst my rule set for BB4ST remain mostly in my head or scratched out on bits of paper, I bethought myself of carrying out a quick 'first pass' playtest, just to see how the thing would look.  For this purpose, I chose one of the early actions in the 1805 Campaign, namely, the combat at Elchingen.  The forces were small enough: the single VI Corps of Marshal Ney, and a rather smaller force of Austrians under Generals Riesch and Werneck.

From David Chandler Dictionary of the Napoleonic Wars,
Arms and Armour Press, London (1979).
Orders of Battle:
The Austrian Corps commanded by Generals
Riesch and Werneck (Minifigs).
Austrian Command (Divisions of Riesch and Werneck):
- Corps command: 2 figures
- Grenadier Division: 16 figures
- Fusilier Division: 16 figures
- Cuirassier Brigade: 12 figures
- Corps Artillery: 4 figures; 1 gun.
Totals: 50 figures and 1 gun (the equivalent of 10,000 troops and 32 guns under my scaling.  A little generous, but see below).

The orders of battle I have seen indicate that the Austrian force comprised a high proportion of heavy cavalry (cuirassiers, the lights being mainly uhlanen) and grenadiers, but lacked light troops (grenzers or jager).  It seemed therefore meet that the Cavalry be represented by cuirassiers.  Of course, splitting the grenadiers and fusiliers as I have is simply convenience on account of the scale I'm using.

Probably the number of gunners is excessive, 3 gunners being a better representation of the Austrian strength in artillery.  And that very notion leads me to the idea that the effectiveness of gunfire be determined by the number of figures crewing the pieces, as by the weight of metal.  A fellow blogger did make a suggestion along these lines, but at the time I was thinking more in terms of formal organization than game terms.  In this action, I drew no distinction between French 8pr and Austrian 6pr equipments.
VI Army Corps, commanded by Marshal Ney (Minifigs).
French Command: VI Army Corps of Marshal Ney.
- Corps Command:  2 figures
- Loison's Division:  24 figures
- Mahler's Division: 24 figures
- Dupont's Division: 24 figures
- VI Corps Light Cavalry Brigade: 12 figures
- VI Corps Artillery: 4 figures, 1 gun.
Totals: 90 figures and 1 gun (approximate equivalent of 18,000 troops and 32 guns).

1.  The first thing to note is the difference in 'unit' (Division) sizes.  One of the things I want my rule set to accommodate is the disparity that can develop among the units and formations within and between armies. True, this can be accommodated by a 'strength point' system, but one way and another, that requires bookkeeping.  Why not let the figures carry the information?

2.  Dupont's Division having been badly mauled the previous day at Albeck, whilst preventing the Austrians breaking out eastwards, ought probably be weaker than the 24 figures allowed it.  A reduction to 18 or even 16 figures might not be too punitive a cost of the gallant stand this Division made the day before.  But that would also indicate  a fairly similar reduction to the Austrian corps, at least some of whom were involved in the same engagement.

To be continued: How the play test went...

Acknowledgements: ...and thanks to my 107th follower, 'El Grego.'  You might want to check out the link through his icon in my Follower list.  He has a number of blogs with a wide range of wargaming interests.

Links to past postings in this topic:
Big Battles for Small Tables
Big Battles for Small Tables continued 1
Big Battles for Small Tables continued 2
Big Battles for Small Tables continued 3

Past postings on similar topics:
Napoleonic Division Column 
A Napoleonic Battle - River Crossing 1
A Napoleonic Battle - River Crossing 2
A Napoleonic Battle - River Crossing 3


  1. Very interesting. Sorry I've bee AWOL, so much to read and so much to do. I like the Austrian jungle too ;).

    1. It's meant to be reeds and other river-edge plantery things. None too convincing, then?

  2. Thank you for the warm welcome! I wish that I had found your blog earlier - I have some reading to catch up on...

    1. Enjoy! I am becoming aware that my blogs do jump around a bit, so I'll probably add links to past and present postings to allow readers better continuity.

  3. These look promising Ion. You told me about the Auckland campaign (ACW I recall) last time I saw you it sounded interesting.


    1. The ACW Campaign was the year previous to the Napoleonic one described in my posting. I recently described that one in one of my groups. The Airfix figures we got together for that campaign was the first army I ever had. I still have the figures, and I bought I think all of the other guys' figures when they lost interest and went on with their careers.

      In about 1980 or 81 I bought another war gamer's entire ACW collection off him. One of these days I want to have a giant battle with my whole ACW armies. I suspect it will have to be a lawn game comme ca Murdock's Marauders.