Saturday, January 27, 2018

Sidi Rezegh - A Hexblitz Scenario

Having played out this scenario, I reverted to my original intention and played it as a Hexblitz game.  Having had a chance to rethink how I was going to do this, the thing actually played more quickly than the Portable Wargames Development (PWD) system did.  For anyone unfamiliar with these rule sets, they spring from the ideas of Bob Cordery whose own blog spot you'll find here.
I won't go into a detailed account, however, mainly owing to my camera choosing mid-battle to run out of battery.  That in fact I did have a fresh set in plain sight (having failed to find them after an extensive search) I did not discover until the action was almost over. 
The action followed lines similar to that of the PWD game, except that this time, I started the 361st Afrika Regiment slightly further to the east.  The clash between 15th Panzer and 4th Armoured Brigade also took a different path from the first battle, neither approaching further west than Sciuearat or Zaafran.
But the main point to note was that I used the Moving/Stationary/Defending system, and priority chits.  Instead of priority chits by unit, which was such a hassle in the Operation Uranus action, I tried them by formation instead.  That limited the priority stack to 1-7 - for four Eighth Army and three Afrika Korps formations.  The respective commands I left free.  Otherwise we would have been looking at 15 chits a side: 30 altogether.  The reduced number seemed to work very well.
This version of the action seemed to be the more exciting somehow, although whether this had to do with the the game mechanics or the dice rolling, or simply the effect of chance, I couldn't say.  One thing was certain: it was easier for units to drop out of the action through losses - and several did.
The first to do so was I Battalion 361st Afrika Regiment.  The picture below tells the story.  The 2/ Rifle Brigade and I/ 361 Rgt had both already taken one hit each.  In this particular turn, the Afrika Rgt (4 units) drew the '4' chit, the 7th Support Group the '6'.  I use these in numerical order.
Combat resolution is 'competitive': both sides roll, initiated by the 'Moving' unit(s).  First went I/361, SP=3 plus 2SP from artillery support: 5 dice requiring 6s to hit.  Three hits! Wunderbar!  2RB reduced at once to 1SP only.  Return fire: SP=4 plus 2SP also for defensive artillery support, 4,5, and 6s to count: Three hits - about what you'd expect.  Of course, that wiped out the remaining SPs of I/ 361st, which accordingly fell back out of the action.  Naturally, it was not long before 2RB also fell back and retired from the battle.
Meanwhile, the arriving 15th Panzer and 4th Armoured turned upon each other, mauling each other to a standstill in fairly quick order.  Although in the picture the Germans look to be getting the better of the battle, the Honeys were to prove hard to eliminate outright.  In effect the two formations cancelled each other out for the whole action.
It was about this time the camera batteries gave out. By the time I could resume taking photos, the action was nearly over.  The Afrika Korps had cleared the escarpment either side of Belhamed and carried the feature itself.  But the Afrika Regiment had but one battalion still in action, and that much depleted.  Sidi Rezegh was still held in strength, and it was clear that 21st Pz was not going to force any time soon 22nd Armoured Bde away from Ed Duda.  On balance the end result was rather less conclusive than the PWD version.
On the whole I liked the way this game played, but I probably ought more closely to have monitored the time scale.  The ground scale being roughly 8000:1, the time scale of roughly 90:1 is indicated.  That suggested for a winter's day in North Africa, maybe 6 x 90-minute turns.  The \overnight' turn could have restored to the surviving depleted units, say, half their lost SP values.  I didn't keep track of the moves, but I am pretty certain the action lasted well into the second day.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Sidi Rezegh - A Portable Wargame scenario.

Halfway through the battle.  In the foreground, 4th Armoured
Brigade and 15th Panzer Division duke it out.
A while back, I set out a scenario based upon the Sidi Rezegh battle of 20 November 1941. an episode during Operation Crusader - the attempt by 8th Army to relieve the siege of Tobruk.  Unable to make my mind up what rule set to use, I decided to play it as two games.  

The battlefield, looking west.  The design of the escarpment
features might need to be rethought.

The first game was played as a Portable Wargame but with the ground scale stretched to the point that the only 'ranged' fire was by the artillery. One hex represented an area about half a mile across. Tank and infantry fire took place at adjacent grid-areas (hexes) only. The thing seemed seemed to work OK, but I now think that AT fire could have stretched to the second hex.
The battlefield looking northwest towards Tobruk (off
the map).  Features identified are referred to in the text.

The action opens with 7th Armoured Brigade, having captured the airfield above Sidi Rezegh, then  pushed on towards Tobruk in the hope of easing the break-out by the Tobruk garrison, and perhaps even securing a breach.  Accompanying the Armoured Brigade is the 7th Support Group, comprising a couple of infantry battalions, together with a regiment of 25pr artillery, and portee-mounted 2pr anti-tank guns in similar strength.  The infantry and anti-tank guns are lined up facing north along the escarpment about the Belhamed ridge.  The supporting artillery is close by the Sidi Rezegh mosque.
The action opens...

The primary German objective was to maintain the siege of Tobruk.  That would be achieved if the Allies failed to break through the German lines to the northwest. A breakthough could be said to have been effected if the Allies could occupy and hold northern edge hexes west of the Bypass road. However, the German object was more ambitious that merely to hold.  The plan was to drive 7th Armoured altogether from the area.  It would have been sufficient to capture the airfield above Sidi Rezegh to carry out their instructions.

You will observe at the outset the Hexblitz order chits.  I began with the idea of playing that rule set, but quickly switched to the Developing the Portable Wargame WW2 set.  The game was later replayed as Hexblitz.
361st Motorised Infantry advancing into action.  The 'order'
chits were to be abandoned as I was using a different rule set.
The early action brought the Afrika Regiment up against the positions held by 2 Rifle Brigade (2RB), the leading battalion of 21 Pz Div (I/104) against the King's Royal Rifle Corps (KRRC) , and I/8 Pz Bn clashed with the armoured cars of 11 Hussars and the Crusader tanks of 7th Hussars.  Though the early exchanges favoured the panzers, that was not to last.

Some mislabelling I overlooked on the German side
The 'Afrika' Div Artillery is actually 155th Artillery of
21st Pz Div.  The unlabelled art'y belonged to 'Afrika' Division.
The brunt of the fighting fell upon 2RB, outnumbered about 3 to 1 (actually 12 to 5 in SPs, both sides augmented by artillery support at 2 SP each).  It was none too long before the Rifle Brigade found the pressure too heavy and the incoming fire too hot.  They soon abandoned the escarpment position, and fell back upon the supporting artillery about Sidi Rezegh.  Surging over the escarpment, III Afrika Battalion followed up.

22nd Armoured Brigade advancing to the rescue.

This opened the right flank of the KRRC holding on to Belhamed.  Even so, it was to be a long time before they could be levered off that feature.  The portee anti-tank to their left helped, that particular unit scarcely coming under attack all day.
Arrival of 15th Pz the 4th Armoured.
The early German successes looked as though they might continue with a rush with the arrival of 15th Pz Div from east of Zaafran.  But hard upon the heels of that arrival, the eastern dustclouds heralded the arriving Stuarts of 4th Armoured Bde coming down the Trigh Capuzzo.  Better placed to intervene betimes on the 7th Armoured Division's east flank, they soon brought II/8th Pz Bn and the I/115th Infantry into action.
15th Panzer's rearguard action against 4th Armoured.
The battle between 8th Hussars and the 115th German motorised infantry ground into a stand-off that was to last the rest of the day; but the armoured battle between the County of London Yeomanry (3 and 4 CLY) and 8th Panzer was to develop into a running fight that took them almost as far as Sidi Rezegh.
361 Rgt forces 2 Rifle Bde from the escarpment
Meanwhile, close by Ed Duda and Belhamed, the II battalions of the 5th Pz and 104th Schutzen Regiments had arrived. 7th Hussars drew back, leaving most it its tanks on fire and littering the battlefield.  Into the gap surged the leading tanks of 22 Armoured Brigade.  This fresh enemy drove back the 39th PaK unit, and added to the discomfiture of the panzers as well.  Even so, they pulled back only a short distance before once more presenting a front against the British armour.
I/8Pz Rgt still distant from 15Pz Div's battle.
Honours were shared in the early exchanges between 4th Armoured and 8 Pz Rgt, both losing a portion of the strength in the exchange of fire.  I/8th Pz Bn was still a mile distant toiling up the wadi close by the Zaafran feature.  [A note here about the terrain.  I made the escarpment hex-sides uncrossable by tanks (and only for convenience crossable by the vehicles integral to motorised infantry - a matter that might require revisiting some time).  Tanks could still move as if in good going into and along escarpment hexes, just so long as they crossed no scarp hex side.  The effect of this was, for I/8 Pz Bn that it had a rather tortuous route by which to ascend the 'wadi' to join II Bn in its fight just west of Sciuearat.]
21st Pz Div pull back for a breather.

The rest of the front had meanwhile separated, the initial German attacks against Belhamed having been repulsed - though not without heavy loss to KRRC, down to about 40% of effectives still in action.  The armoured units near Ed Duda eyed each other balefully, whilst deciding their next course of action.  

4th Armoured Bde vs 15th Panzer Div.  Honours so far even.
At last the I Bn 8th Pz Rgt arrived and at once made its presence felt.  Quite shortly, the CLY tanks deemed it wise to draw back a little, leaving a third of their tanks burning.  But 8th Panzer had, for their part,  lost a quarter their own strength.  
The heat getting a bit much for them, 3rd and 4th CLY break off
(as an alternative to taking hits). 

Seventh Support Group and cruisers of 7th Armoured Brigade
coalesce about Sidi Rezegh.
The withdrawal of 2RB had permitted the Afrika infantry to seize a good mile and a half of escarpment, leaving the Sidi Rezegh position badly exposed.  Seeking to exploit the eagerly beckoning opportunity, General Cruewell ordered 8th Panzer to drive off or destroy 2nd RTR that was then covering the right flank of 7th Support Group.  The Afrika infantry I Battalion was to strike along the escaprment onto the flank of KRRC, whilst the other two battalions overran - it was hoped - what was left of the Rifle brigade.  104th Infantry was to attack up the Belhamed feature.  The combined attacks, it was hoped, would bring about a general collapse of the British position.
A bold move by 8 Pz Rgt to join the attack on Sidi Rezegh.
with 4th Armoured Brigade tanks still very much in action
to their rear.
Greatly daring, for it left two active enemy tank regiments in their rear, 8th Panzer did as they were bid. But for one relatively minor success, the whole thing was a frost.  KRRC remained as obdurate in defence as ever, I/361 made no progress, and 8th Panzer were stopped cold, I Bn losing more of its tanks for scant reward.  The sole success was the elimination of 2RB, its scattered remnants becoming POW, or straggling as best they might away from the battle (in short: it took a hit, was unable to retreat, and removed from the table).
The demise of 2RB.  But KRRC still clings on to Belhamed
The above picture presents an apparently dismal scene, only 2RTR between Sidi Rezegh and masses of German infantry and tanks.  But looks are deceiving.  Sixth RTR has yet to join the action, and out of the frame are two Stuart regiments about to recover their umpty-poo and rejoin the action.
Lead elements of 22nd Arm'd Bde strike at I/5th Pz Rgt.

Around Ed Duda, apart from some desultory bickering, something of a lull descended upon this part of the battlefield.

II/115 infantry launches its assault on Belhamed.
For their part, the panzers were inclined to wait upon the events around Belhamed, in the hope of broadening the overall attack.  The same possibility had as an inhibiting effect upon their adversaries. (Aside: Actually, if memory serves, I was using a unit activation system based on Bob Cordery's card method.  Both sides having 15 units (including commanders), they were given a 'median' of 8.  Rather than cards (bit of a nuisance, in some respects) I rolled a D6 for each side in turn with 1,2 subtracting 1 from the 8 and 5,6 adding 1, to determine the number of units to be moved.  Although I took it strictly in turns, beginning with the Germans, it is possible top randomise the turn sequence from the strict IGo-UGo regime, with a die being rolled every odd move to determine who plays, with the opponent responding on the even moves.  That means it will be possible for one or other side to get two turns in a row.  But after that, only the OTHER side can get the benefit.  At any rate, the action died down around Ed Duda for a considerable time, as the Germans strove to carry the Sidi Rezegh position, against determined British resistance.)
Trouble for 8 Pz Rgt!
The failure of 8th Panzer at once to chase off 2RTR was not merely a setback, but a reverse that might well have led to disaster.  Two regiments raced up and struck II/8 Pz Bn in the rear.  In the confused fighting that ensued, the panzers held up magnificently.  A swirling fight developed with 2 RTR and 3 and 4 CLY, with the advantages of numbers and position, quite failed to eliminate either battalion of 8 Panzer.
II/8 Pz looks to about to take a mauling.
To be sure, I/8 Pz took some losses from 2RTR, and, when they could, drew back to reorganise,  For some time that left II/8 Panzer completely surrounded and down to half strength.  Their chances of survival looked very slender.  Here seeemed an opportunity for the 6 RTR to intervene, but they were quickly prevented from doing so by the  Afrika Regiment.

Distant view of the action.  Tobruk looks far away...
III/361 Regiment actually reached the 7th Support Group gun line but, despite doing considerable damage to the crews and guns, were pretty much stopped before they could drive off the whole unit.
I/ 8Pz pulls back.  II/8 has no such option.  Fortunately
British tank shooting is even more dismal than the German

361st Infantry pressing home their attacks.

Stand-off at Ed Duda

Stand-off at Zaafran
Somehow, reduced to a quarter of their original strength, II/8 Panzer survived long enough to drive off 2 RTR with the help of the returning I/Bn.  All this time 4th Armoured even with 4 to 1 odds seemed quite unable to finish of the II/8 Bn.  That survival was as decisive, finally, as the Germans' final attack on Belhamed.  At last they prised the KRRC fingers loose from the escarpment, overran the ridge and brought what was left of the Rifles 'into the cage'. 
2RTR falls back to avoid losses...
 It was about this point that I thought to check on the states of the two forces.  Losses had been heavy on both sides.  All three Afrika Korps formations were much reduced in strength, just 31 SPs surviving out of 52.  Seventh Armoured Division had given almost as good as it had taken - but only almost.  Seventh Support Group infantry had borne the brunt on the side of 8th Army, losing all 10 SPs.  Of the whole group, but 3SPs remained out of 14.  Only 22nd Armoured Brigade had got off fairly lightly.  The result was, however, conclusive: having lost 24 from 48 SPs, 7th Armoured Division had reached the point of exhaustion.  The whole formation might have gone on grimly to prevent German capture of the airfield above Sidi Rezegh, but its commander instead conceded the palm and evacuated as best he could the smoking battlefield.
Belhamed falls at last!
That was the battle according to a slightly modified Portable Wargames game system.  The modification lay in the gunnery ranges, due to the scale of the battlefield, one 4-inch hex representing an area a half-mile across.  Using the same scale, I was to repeat the action using the Hexblitz game system.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Napoleonic Clash - continued

The Austrian cavalry having routed the chasseurs, they await
the response of the French husaars.

We left the narrative in my previous posting (link HERE) with the French hussars seeking to administer a harsh requital for defeat of their chasseur comrades.  But before returning to the outcome of that clash, let us review what was happening elsewhere upon the field of battle.
Klenau's Division under pressure; arrival of cuirassiers from
the reserves.
In and around East Village, Kaiser's Division continued to maintain its 'hesitant'stance.  Paul allowed afterwards that at no time during the eight or nine turns he had the Division under his command did Kaiser show anything but an extreme reluctance to do anything positive.  The lead column stalled, and even lost its fire discipline.  It was probably fortunate that the French made no serious effort to attack this Division or to carry the East Village, beyond pressing in a crowd of skirmishers on three sides.
St-Julien's Division falters, just as the cuirassiers arrive.
The arrival of the Cuirassiers, followed soon after by the two 12-pr position batteries, we hoped would give weight to St-Julien's effort against the North Village.  These arrivals coincided unfortunately with the collapse of St-Julien's lead regiment, which also caused the whole division to falter.  Rather than reinforcing what little success the Austrians in this sector had so far enjoyed, they rather reinforced failure.  It is true, however, that the French seemed to make no determined effort to follow up their success.  Possibly that was due to the hurts that the lost regiment had themselves inflicted before their collapse, and the deterrent posed by the heavy horse and guns.  Subsequent pictures indicate several French units with wounds to think over.
All quiet on the northern front.

On the extreme north flank, only Pieterwardeiner Infantry and Vukassovic's artillery sustained the fight against the village garrison.  This was never going to be more than an affair of popping musketry punctuated by the odd shell burst.  The respective light cavalries continued to eye each other, both as yet unwilling to chance their arms.
French infantry around the North Village look as though
they have recently been in a fight!
 Although the French infantry continued to occupy the area around North Village, several showed visible signs of the battle they had endured, as the above picture shows (the orange markers).  (Aside: At some point around this time, I carried out a count of 'hits' taken by my wing - a total of 44.  If the rule set ran to figure removal, this would have amounted to 44 figures out of a whisker over 300 - over 14%.  That's quite severe, and we weren't done yet!  Mark did a quick count and his wing had taken something over 60 'hits'!  This mauling was not at all obvious from my side of the battlefield).
The southern wing cavalries square off

By contrast, the action in the southern half of the world continued here and there to spark into violent life.  Having seen off 1st Chasseurs, the Austrian horse clashed with the enemy hussars.  The chevauxlegers - for the first time in more than a merely supporting role - faced 6th Hussars, the uhlans took on the 5th.  Perhaps coveting the laurels that the uhlans had already won, the chevauxlegers dealt brusquely with the 6th Hussars, flung them back beyond their own infantry, and, with hardly a loss to deplore, pushed into the ground won.  The outcome of the uhlan's battle was not to be the same.

Defeat of 6th Hussars.  5th Hussars and 1st Uhlans fight
each other to a standstill.
Flushed with the tide of success so far, the uhlans might well have anticipated a repetition.  They didn't get it.  Unlike their comrades of the 6th, the 5th Hussars did not give way at the first shock, but sustained the fight into for long enough to persuade the unlans that this unit was not for turning.  (The first dice rolls were evenly matched, which took us - from memory - into a second round.  That, too, proved indecisive.  At this point, both players had the option to withdraw.  Honour satisfied, I didn't wait for the hussars' decision, and opted to pull out the uhlans. Back they trotted past the churchyard, pride intact).  The drawn fight between 1st Uhlan and 5th Hussars satisfied the pride of both sides.  For mine, there seemed to be nothing to be gained from sustaining a chancy battle in such an exposed position.
Weber's Division pulling back to form a new line well short
of the South Woods.
The fact was that Weber's Division was in no position to support the light horse, being rather inclined to pull back well out of range of the skirmishers in the South Woods.  This might not have been the smartest policy, in the circumstances.    But I felt that this formation was too small to achieve much against the French right wing.  Had I (Feldzeugmeister Kollowrat-Krakowsky) appreciated more fully how much of a mauling the French had so far taken, I might have tried something a bit more aggressive here.
Brady's Division in a holding action against the French
It was upon Feldmarshalleutnant Brady's front that I had my eye.  For the moment Brady's Division was carrying out a holding attack against the French line.  What was wanting was the masse de rupture - the Brigade of Grenadiers.  Where were they?  Good question!  For three turns in a row I waited in vain for their appearance. (Aside: one rolls for the availability of aides-de-camp by which one issues orders. The Austrians could get a maximum of 6 - 3 per wing - with one added for the cuirassiers and for the grenadiers when they arrived.  It required two of such gentry to call up the grenadiers, and then with no certainty of their arrival.  Having said that, General d'Armee seems to be one of those rare rule sets in which a holding, or pinning, attack is feasible and worthwhile.  On this occasion it was prolonged farther than I would have preferred).

The withdrawal of the uhlans having left the chevauxlegers isolated, the latter, too, began to with draw to their own lines. Those lines had been slowly receding before the crowds of  French skirmishers.
At last, at the fourth (!) call, FZM Kollowrat sent three ADCs to bring up the grenadiers.  There they were, advancing up beside the east Village, three splendid battalions, the force of decision.
Here come the Grenadiers - 3 turns later than hoped for, but
here they are!

Awaiting this reinforcement, the Division Brady regiments had extended its front - Coloredo Infantry shook out into line formation, whilst Zettwitx Infantry formed a refused flank.  Even so extended the Austrian musketry was hardly equal to the musketry incoming from at least three French regiments and a skirmish line as well.   The small band of skirmishers available to FML Brady might have to be called upon to protect the line, if only a little.  When Zach Infantry lost some of its cohesion, that intervention seemed to be indicated.

The sector of decision, seen through the 'Zeke' filter

Weber, of course, continued his retrograde, under the pressure of heavy French clouds of skirmishers.  Already, FML Klenau had ordered counter-measures.  Pulling back the uhlans to his main line, he left the chevauxlegers covering the left of the churchyard.  his artillery and jagers he swung leftwards towards the flank of the enemy skirmish line.  The Austrians had little fear of a disaster on the south flank, not with this flanking counter-attack in train. 

Austrian cavalry have pulled back; Jagers and Klenau's
artillery moving to rake the enemy's advanced
skirmish line
All that, however, was mere diversion.  The centre would be the decisive sector  - supposing a decsion were possible in Austrian favour.  I'll admit right here, that, although I'd been having a lot of fun, I still didn't think an Austrian victory likely under the terms of the scenario.  There I now think I was mistaken, but I daresay that sort of thing can easily happen in warfare.  The commands of Gudin, St-Hilaire and Pujol (Mark) had taken already a greater battering than I realised at the time.  A stronger, more aggressive effort might well have been feasible.
The plan of attack.  But I want to broaden it to more than
one column width.
Having said that, the Austrian cause had been helped in no way by the Grenadiers' tardiness.  Dependent upon the Grenadiers' masse de rupture, the attack had to await their arrival.  That left Brady's strong Division, assisted it is true by the churchyard garrison, to sustain the holding action.  Losses to Zach infantry caused its temporary loss of cohesion, and losses were mounting rapidly to Coloredo as well.  We could count ourselves lucky (though henceforth I assigned ADCs to prevent it) that there were no further delays to the Grenadiers' march.
This one almost snuck under the spyglass: the French
chasseurs wake up and charge!

Almost unnoticed amid the unfolding drama in the south, on the extreme northern flank, General Jacquinot nerved himself to charge the Austrian hussars.  Possibly the latter were surprised at such belated hostility, or maybe had simply been lulled by the relative peacefulness that had prevailed all morning and well into the afternoon.  The qualitative superiority of the Austrian horse seemed to avail them little as the Frenchmen struck home.

Hessen-Homburg Hussars taking a mauling.

At first contact, the chasseurs concentrated their assault upon the Hessen-Homburg Husaren (probably everyone's favourite Austrian hussar unit, certainly mine, for the colourfulness of its uniform, its known military record, and the name of its Inhaber).  Colour, name and reputation seemed to count for little on this occasion.  Inflicting five hits to one, the chasseurs beat the Austrians back, coming within an ace of driving them pell-mell from the field.

At once, the victorious chasseurs turned their attention upon the Archduke Ferdinand Hussars, and served them out the same way.  Back went the Austrian horse, though, again, not so as to abandon the field.  At the same time, the Pieterwardiener Grenze and the horse artillery bethought themselves of their own safety.
General view from south wing, looking north along the
Austrian line.
As Vukassovic's Division was being driven in on the northern flank, Weber's in the south had stopped their retrograde and were holding up the oncoming French skirmishers.  Losses mounted on both sides, but the intervention from Klenau's light infantry and cannon were to tip the balance well in favour of the Austrians.  It was not long before the French skirmish line began to feel the weight of the incoming musketry to heavy to bear, and to pull back.

For his part, FML Klenau was beginning to feel his oats and joined the chevauxlegers by the churchyard.  The troopers could see by the maniac glint in his eye that the good Feldmarschalleutant had some deviltry in mind.

Klenau's charge for glory!
His thirst for glory as yet unslaked, Klenau and his men dashed forward, 5th Hussars their target. (Aside: This is one of the 'chrome features' of General d'Armee - special orders, some of which are as you would expect, such as the Grenadiers' receipt of  'Infantry Assault' orders that apply to the Brigade or Division as a whole, others a little more ... erm ... subjective in nature.  This was the 'Glory' order that you might see in the picture.  This presents certain advantages to the side attacking under it.)  Manfully, the hussars counter-charged, but to no avail.  The Austrian horse hurled them aside in as brusque a manner as their comrades had been by the uhlans.  The affront of the 5th Hussars' halting the uhlans' tide of success was thusly summarily avenged.

5th Hussars retreat.
The developing attack...
Events at this point were unrolling with ponderous deliberation in the centre.  One thing about this rule set, is that infantry attacks do seem to have a sense of weight that can not be hurled about with the lightness of the cavalry.  Brady's Division had to contract its front, the main reason to poke the small force of skirmishers in between the lines.  The was little to be gained from the Grenadiers attacking on a single regiment front.  Even as it was, the crowded field presented a superb target to the French battery close by the West Village.

Grenadier casualties mounting uncomfortably rapidly...

Before resuming the tale of other dramatic events, another quick survey of the quieter parts of the field seems in order.  In the south, the French skirmish line, quite unsupportrd by any close order troops, had reached their high-water mark and were beginning to come under counter-pressure themselves.  The Austrian right centre were still unable to unravel themselves.  The lead Hungarian regiment had taken a fearful battering all day, without the slightest support (you can see the 'hesitant' marker that obviated any means of relieving the situation from within the Division, and no help was to be had from St-Julien's Division, which, failing to rally, was in the process of quitting the field altogether.
FML Vukassovic leads Hessen-Homburg's unexpected

The one ray of sunshine that was to pierce the northern darkness was to come from an unexpected quarter.  Placing himself at the head of Hessen-Homburg, FML Vukassovic rallied the hussars, exhorted them to a supreme effort, and led a headlong charge into the flank of the 18th Chasseurs.  In a trice and despite the presence of General Jacquinot, the chasseurs broke and vanished westwards.  Paul had to leave at this point.  Having gained the initiative the following turn, I would have liked to have sealed the Austrian resurgence here by attacking the other chasseur regiment.  This turned out to be mot possible on account of one unit being obstructed, and the other unable to wheel betimes.  Instead, they could do no more than to form a line of regiments and present a united front against the 19th Chasseurs.  The latter soon made off to join their comrades.

After that there is little more to relate.  For some time the weather had been threatening, the distant thunder (rattling of the dice, which began from move 10 to determine when it struck) heralding an approaching storm.  That didn't stop the counter attacks by Weber and Klenau Divisions

The grenadiers storm the French line...
Nor did it halt the long awaited assault bu the Grenadiers.  Much as I would have liked to have sent the two columns to attack simultaneously - I do like to hit hard - this turned into a right-and-left, one-two combination.  The right column went first.  Braving the defenders' musketry, gunfire and fire from a flanking line of skirmishers, the grenadiers smashed the French line back with ease.
... and break through on a wide front -
just as the thunderstorm breaks and ends the battle.

In went the second column.  The defenders took a considerable toll as the attackers forged on.  Shrugging them off, these grenadiers repeated the performance of their comrades.  Back went a second French unit, through the woods, and beyond.

With this breakthrough, perhaps the Austrians might have been able to achieve more, with the grenadiers trundling on and Klenau's Division joining them in a general assault. It was not to be.  The long threaten thunderstorm broke, and the action came to an end.  We had played out the 12 turns.

Well, I knew the parameters of the scenario, and in those terms, the French had won.  Our one Victory Point came from the churchyard we had taken from the French.  They could count the North Village, the Southwest Village and the dispersal of St-Julien's Division. In addition, our call upon the reserves awarded the French a fourth VP.   Although several French units had taken heavy batterings, not one French Division had routed off and dispersed.   Not had Marshal Davout seen the need to call upon the heavy horse of St-Sulpice.

The remaining 8 pictures show the state of the battlefield at the close of the action. They begin at the Austrian south wing, travel north, and then repeat on the French side

End of Battle - Austrian left flank
I had a ball in this battle, and from my perspective, this didn't feel like a defeat at all.  But I have to acknowledge that scoring more in the way of VPs was, in hindsight, probably more achievable than I believed at the time.  At that, had the grenadiers showed up at first or even second call, we might have been able to mount a whole 2-Division general assault upon the French right-centre, and who knows where that might have led?  I don't believe we have much to complain of in terms of play balance play-balance.  After all, the French reserves amounted to no more than two cuirassier regiments, and they felt no pressing need to call upon them.  This defeat did not feel like a defeat.
End of battle: Brady's division
This was my second outing with this rule set - the first was back in July, also with Mark's kit at his home (July posting).  I'll tell you what: Mark had to work hard to keep track of combat results and morale outcomes.  I tried to follow on the quick play sheets (4 pages, colour coded), but it took a long time even to figure out what columns I was supposed to be looking at. 
End of battle: the Austrian centre
There is a heck of a lot of chrome to these rules, and that seems to lead, judging by my experience so far, to a great deal of command 'friction'.  That friction can lead to frustration, there's no doubt.  Kaiser's division did its bit protecting East Village, but Paul and I wanted more than that from such a powerful formation.  Unsupported, St-Julien was simply outmatched.  Having said that, it is still possible to do things, given the patience.  It's hard, but not impossible, even for an unhandy army like the Austrians.  I would like to try playing the French, some time, though!
End of battle: Austrian right centre
There is, I think, a fair amount of luck, as well.  I enjoyed good fortune all day with the combat dice.  Maybe I could have ridden that luck, but I'm not really inclined that way.  I'm no gambler - or at least, not much of one.  Luck for mine describes past events, and says nothing of the future nor one's stannic bunns.
End of Battle: Austrian right wing

End of Battle - French right wing
Initiative plays a big role in this game.  With the better commanders and the more flexible armies, it much easier for the French to win the initiative.  The Austrian army makes up for this somewhat by its large infantry units, which can hit hard and are the more durable (although I suspect not proportionately so).  All the same, the four occasions out of twelve the initiative fell our way, we found ourselves able to do more than on the other occasions.  This was especially true of the three-turn sequence beginning about the middle of the game.  I had the same 3-move experience in July; that was when the Austrians were at their most dangerous.  Winning the initiative on Turn 1 was of immense benefit to the French, though, as, by advancing rapidly with a special order, they were able to seize all three non-baseline villages.  Thereafter, they were inclined to stand rather on the defensive, which might well have proved a riskier option than it seemed.

End of Battle: French centre-right
 Thanks Mark for a great day, and for Andrew's and Paul's participation. 
End of Battle: French centre and centre-left

End of Battle: French left wing.