Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Pferdweissgasthaus, the first encounter

I've recently acquired some new SYW rules, called BAR (Battalions d'ancient regime, or as I prefer, Big-assed Regiments), which uses fairly simple Grant-esque rules, and substantial formations (ideally up to 60 figures a regiment). This is a series of gradually-escalating solo games I've been fighting to evaluate and learn them.

Young Kurt von Bulow cursed, and pulled his boots on again, over his sore feet. March all day, then the verdammt Major General wants to send a brigade off to seize some gotverliess hovel of an inn, just because it holds a case of Mouton Rothschild '24, supposedly: and of course the Margrave is already in his cups, and unrousable, so it's up to the Brigade Major to take charge, again. He stamped his foot in irritation, then moaned at the pain.

Nevertheless, he got the brigade swinging down the road towards Pferdweissgasthaus, ready to seize the Gasthaus as instructed, and alert to probing French patrols in the same direction. As the leading regiment, the Oldenburgs, approached, they could see in the distance a similar cloud of dust. Peering through his eyeglass, Kurt could make out the billowing ensign of the Normandie Regiment, in column of march, with the dust promising further arrivals.

Hustling the Oldenburgs into line rapidly, he sent his aid galloping back along the column, sending the Ostergotland Regiment swinging wide, while the Erprinz made for the gap between the two.

The French Brigadier, Guitar, meanwhile had tugged and pushed the Normandie Regiment into line, and brought the Bourgogne Regiment up beside them. Lacking room to deploy further right, due to the inn and its' outbuildings, the French converged grenadiers (the Alacarte battalion) headed left, towards the Ostergotland Regiment

This left the Ostergotland regiment at somewhat of an advantage, as the french Grenadiers, deploying to line from the right (as all infantry do), were markedly slower forming into line (seen here, with the head of column ready, and the other companies about to extend the line leftward).

Both sides elected to press forward, the French hoping to delay the Prussian advance, the Prussians eager to catch the French grenadiers still in column - in which pursuit they were partially successful, catching them halfway formed to line (the head of the grenadier battalion just visible here).

However, the overeagerness (or something) allowed the French infantry to fire first, all down the line, producing fairly shattering results on the Oldenburgs, and severely marking the Erprinz Regiment: their return fire, both having lost a third of their strength, were somewhat less devastating, although fortunately poor dice throws were matched by poor saving throws by the French.

However, the Alacarte Grenadiers got caught by the steadily advancing Ostergotland regiment, and lost almost half their number at the first blast of musketry, leaving their own reply truly derisory.

Guitar, now anxious for his left, decided to lead the Bourgogne regiment in a charge against the Oldenburgs, and pressed home through fierce musketry, putting the Prussians to flight (upper right, with the Oldenburgs hovering around the edge of the board at this point).

Kurt, cursing volubly, led the Erprinz regiment forward, their superior training and morale coming to play, and they outshot the Normandie regiment, helped by a truly daunting blast of canister from the battalion artillery (the french failed all 6 saving throws), while the Ostergotlanders pressed forward to take the most advantage of the disordered Grenadiers, whittling their numbers down further - the Grenadiers return fire was scattered, although their spirit remained intact, as their cheers showed.

Guitar, after taking some time rallying the Bourgogne regiment, then debated briefly whether to try and swing to take the Erprinz regiment in flank, but noticed that the Oldenburg regiment, having decamped to a safe distance, were now rallying, so he elected instead to press forward and scourge them before they recovered good order: and so it proved, another blast of musketry decisively outshooting his opponent and routing them again, this time for good.

However, that drew him well away from the rest of his brigade, for better or worse - the Normandie regiment, woefully depleted, decided that without leadership, it was time to seek reinforcements and fled pell mell: they attempted a brief rally, but a further volley from the Erprinz saw them take to their hells.

Meanwhile the Grenadiers earned unbounded Prussian admiration, by remaining, fighting to the last man, attempting to cover the rout (note: 1 company of 6 left, with 4 casualty markers on them).

Both Prussian regiments then turned to deal with Guitar and his heavily damaged Bourgogne regiment, but the latter decided enough was enough, formed march column, and stalked off the field, leaving Kurt to lead the Erprinz Regiment to seize the Inn, while the Ostergotlands, nothing loth, seized both the overrun French battalion gun (and claimed it for their own), and the provisional flag of the Alacarte Grenadiers, to grace their permanent headquarters.

A good day for the blues, Kurt thought, seated in front of the inn with a spare bottle of brandy, soaking his longsuffering feet.

Prussian Losses:

Oldenburg: 18:32 and routed
Ostergotland: 9:32
Erprinz: 14:32
1 Gun crew

French Losses:
Bourgogne: 23:36
Normandie: 26:32 and routed
Alacarte Grenadiers: 36:36
1 4lber and 2 crew, all captured

Observations: quick and bloody rules indeed! Not sure morale has quite enough factors, and having other units rout affecting you only when burst through, seems a little too restrictive: certainly the grittiness of units not testing morale until under 50% for -anything- makes casualty rates skyhigh ... which is OK if you assume a high rate of return to the colours after battle (troops run, or helping the wounded, or whatever), but can look a little odd.

OTOH the manouevring is quite awkward and un-Napoleonic, which is definitely a big plus. Have to see how artillery in quantity, and cavalry, affect things.

My overall inclination would be to add a morale test for friends of same/higher quality routing within 6"; adding a -1 to morale for losing a firefight (not just a melee); and adding a -2 to morale for having enemy behind flank within 12". I daresay a lot more factors will occur to me, but I do want to keep things fairly simple, and not fall into the perils of 5th Edition/Gushite tests.