Recently I had the very enjoyable experience of being a guest of the Christchurch Wargaming Club during mine and Carolyn's trip to New Zealand with our journey progressing to South Island and with a few days stay in Christchurch and Carolyn needing to pay a visit to the hairdressers, happening to coincide with the club's meeting calendar.
So after dropping a hello on the club's Facebook page and a few messages in between I was able to link up with the guys below to enjoy a day at the club rolling dice and chatting wargames nonsense over a very nice collection of figures provided by Mark and Paul; as we set about fighting Duben, a Napoleonic scenario originally created by Rafael Pardo, recreating an 1813 style action between Russians French and Saxon forces, although we had a few Prussians joining the Russians to make up the numbers.
|Time for a team picture. From left to right, Mark, Paul, Ion and Yours Truly, ready to fight Duben in glorious 28mm.|
If you are interested in this scenario, you can get the orders of battle and the map below from Rafael's blog, Project Leipzig (1813) in the link below.
The premise for our game was that a French division with expected Saxon reinforcements whose precise arrival point was uncertain, but somewhere on the French right flank (Row D squares 2 & 3), was attempting to force a river crossing and intercept a Russian corps, attempting to march across the front of the French on the road D4 to A3 with a supply column under their charge, also expecting support from some Russian cavalry likely to appear on the left flank of the French (Row A squares 1 & 2).
|Our scenario underway as the French force the river crossing and attack the Russian skirmish line ahead|
The Russians were able to take advantage of a couple of hamlets in front of the road, that would enable them to defend against the French attempts to force a bridgehead over the river whilst they looked to speedily march their supply train off the table.
Mark and I took the French command with the two French infantry brigades under my command and Mark commanding the Saxons and French cavalry, whilst Paul and Ion took the Russo-Prussians, with Paul hoping to frustrate French plans with an early arrival of his cavalry on the French left flank.
|Mark moves the French cavalry out to the Russian right flank to stymie any attempt to get their supply wagons off the table.|
As well as enjoying wargaming again after a long few weeks of no gaming and seeing the chaps at home in the Devon club busily preparing the club big Xmas game it was really nice to chat to the guys about wargaming in New Zealand and comparing and contrasting the hobby experience with that in the UK.
|The French light cavalry formed an imposing threat once amassed on the Russian side of the river.|
It turns out wargamers are pretty much the same animal no matter which side of the planet you are on and we all share a common love of history, collecting rules, figures and enjoying the social side of the hobby and I found myself enjoying the chat and banter as much as trying to work out what I was supposed to be doing in the game.
|French assault columns move up to put pressure on the Russian line having driven off their skirmish screen|
We were using a fast play set of Napoleonic rules developed by Mark with very much a focus on allowing a fast resolution of combat and morale implications when playing large Napoleonic games which the chaps like to do.
Thus the combat resolution saw die scores causing hits to the enemy or ones own troops with 5's and 6's tending to be the former but 1's tending to be the latter, with aspects such as friends in support or better quality versus poorer quality adding to those effects.
The end result was a very intuitive game that had me playing it as I would have expected a situation to resolve itself with most other sets I've played but with the fast resolution allowing us to roll through the moves whilst enjoying chatting over the play.
|Russian columns move out on their right flank to engage the Saxons|
The French managed to make a fairly rapid advance over the river on the only bridge and fan out to attack the Russians defending the two hamlets whilst driving in the Russian skirmish line.
Mark speedily advanced his cavalry out to the French left and placed them across the Russian exit point on the road forcing several enemy battalions into square as the French columns charged in in support, later supported by late arriving Saxons and another French infantry brigade.
The French guns amassed on the river bank to ply the Russian positions with roundshot as the Russian opposite numbers attempted to support the hard pressed infantry with their own rounds of cannister.
The Russian supply wagons were brought to a halt and then disposed of by assaulting infantry and cavalry, only blemished by the French cavalry commander getting taken out by some well directed Russian artillery fire and support from nearby squares.
|The Russian right flank is trying to hold off the threat of the French cavalry to right. The Saxons are up on the road on their left and the supply wagons have been destroyed|
The poor old Russians were pretty well on the back foot from turn one and desperately in need of relief when they finally managed to get the cavalry to turn up on their side of the river perfectly placed to attack the French left flank.
|The Saxons boldly advance into the Russian lines|
|Saxon grenadiers have ejected the Russian garrison from the village on the right as French legere come up to support|
The newcomers to the table required the French cavalry to turn to face whilst the French infantry, keen to hold on to the territorial gains made, pushed in among the hamlets as the Russian infantry was forced back or routed and with the follow up French brigade covering the exposed flank with multiple interlinked infantry squares.
|With the arrival of Russian heavy cavalry and Cossacks on the French right flank, the French form a line of squares as follow up units move behind them to press the attack|
The French didn't have it all their own way as the Saxons got a bit of a mauling on the French right and several French infantry units got chewed up forcing the Russians out of their defences, but with the Russian line reeling back from the buildings and their supply column destroyed, the French were well and truly in the driving seat.
The chaps have played this scenario previously with quite a different outcome after the Russian cavalry turned up much earlier and made the French advance over the river that much more problematic and so it seems to have a lot of replay value, with the variables built in.
|The French have pretty well taken control of the road ahead and have driven the Russians back|
The figures on display are a small selection of those available to the chaps and the quality of their presentation is there to be seen, namely first class and it was a privilege and delight to play with them.
|The opposing cavalry come to grips and the veteran French hussars make short work of the Russian dragoons with poor old Paul commanding them having a bit of a day with the dice!|
My thanks to Paul, Mark and Ion and indeed Tony, who joined us for a chat whilst playing, for making me so welcome. It was a real treat to be able to play a Napoleonic 28mm wargame whilst on our travels in New Zealand and of course there is a standing invite to the chaps, should they venture to the other side of the globe, to join us at the Devon club for a return match.
The adventure down-under continues.