Age Of Eagles II, Napoleonics for Christmas!

The French march on.

The French march on.

Merry Christmas to all! I had a few great games over the holidays, both Napoleonic since I had gotten a copy of Age Of Eagles II (AOE2) from Steve G for Christmas. We decided to try them out at my place and see what was new. It was going to be a  “learning” game but we found that AOE2 was really unchanged! A lot of elaborations, explanations, and clarifications, but basically unchanged! Yea!!!

I really like AOE for its very simple yet elegant style of play that plays fast and give pretty consistent results based on the commanders play. I’m not going to give a big detailed report on AOE here since I’m dying to hit the painting table and work on my Russian “line in greatcoats”

I have found that over enough battles in the Napoleonic period you see how much initial deployment and the first opening moves counts for winning or losing a battle as troops are not that maneuverable. The first game, just Steve and I was over pretty much after turn two, we played out to about turn 10 but the writing was on the wall early.

Initial layout

Yellow shows Austrian deployment and movements. Red shows French moves and counter moves. The Blue lines show French artillery lanes of fire during the game.

Steve and his Austrians came on in the center of the table and I with the French on the right flank of my table side. I pushed forward in a sort of “bloom move” with the object of reaching a commanding hill near the center of the table. Troop movement was equal as I was Impulse and Steve was Columnar. I had the edge in shooting.

Initial layout2

Deployment from the French side.

I decided to place most of my artillery on that hill with a covering force to the left (I tried to give the appearance of a flank attack by sending the Hussars all pushing out that way) On the right of the hill I pushed part of my force towards the town and the rest flanking Steve’s right. My Heavy Cavalry drove forward in the direction of another hill already occupied by Austrian Hussars (his infantry deploying to the rear along the road) My plan was simple, defeat in detail, Steve was already splitting his forces (he had more troops 60 infantry, 16 Cav, 5 guns, to my 48 infantry, 16 Cav, 5 guns) by swinging half his force wide to counter my force on the left. He fell into my trap! I was not attacking there but defending! This kept half of his force moving, trying to deploy for most of the game, and ineffective with me just having to toss a bit of artillery at it to further slow it’s attack while I concentrated on flanking and overwhelming his other flank.

The Austrian "right" moves off to stop the French left, an attack that never materialized. This kept them out of the battle!

The Austrian “right” moves off to stop the French left, an attack that never materialized. This kept them out of the battle!

Austrian4My command of the central heights with my concentrated artillery able to switch fire to either flank was also very effective especially when he attempted to move troops out of the center town to reinforce his threatened right flank (hitting them in enfilade as well as in movement mode!)

French Artillery controls the center! These are ESSEX figures painted 20+ years ago and recently rebased for AOE.

French Artillery controls the center! These are ESSEX figures painted 20+ years ago and recently re-based for AOE.

AustrianDeploy

Austrians push on, deploying into a small tight area….

Steve’s and his Austrians fought well but they were off balance from the beginning and the ponderously large Austrian formations were so closely packed that maneuvering became impossible! My cavalry gave the small hill to my infantry who were now also backed up by some of the infantry that had feinted attack up the center towards the town.

The Austrian light cavalry make a valiant but vain attempt to stop the French Heavy Currassier

The Austrian light cavalry make a valiant but vain attempt to stop the French Heavy Cuirrassier and Lancers!

As the French Heavy horse moved off to try and flank the Austrians the Austrian infantry made a bold move and launched an attack at my infantry as it crested the hill in an effort to regain the initiative or disrupt my attack but some good rolls on my part disordered him further pinning him while my Cavalry forced one brigade into square while it was under infantry fire!

The small hill was the point of the heaviest fighting of the game with both the cavalry and large infantry battles taking place there!

The small hill was the point of the heaviest fighting of the game with both the cavalry and large infantry battles taking place there!

"En Avant!" "A La Bayonette!" The "Hill" receives yet more spilled blood!

“En Avant!” “A La Bayonette!” The “Hill” receives yet more spilled blood!

The Cavalry continued into the Austrians rear and with out much fighting it was decided that there was no way the Austrians could recover and fight it out, it would just be a slaughter…the honorable Austrian commander vonGausche not wishing to toss the lives of his countrymen away in vain surrendered…his other forces not even really committed yet quit the field and the game went to the French.

The French press hard on the Austrians who taking fire from three sides, disordered, unable to move, and seeing Heavy Cav in their rear, surrender!

The French press hard on the Austrians who taking fire from three sides, disordered, unable to move, and seeing Heavy Cav in their rear, surrender! The line of French troops in Red jackets and Buff pants are Swiss!

It was a Great game and really well played on both sides, fun! Got me interested in painting and playing more Age of Eagles Napoleonic battles soon! Check out the AOE website in the links section. If you are in the Los Angeles area and want to play give me a shout via the contact form on the site!

TB buildings

I now use 10mm TOTAL BATTLE miniature buildings from their Black Powder range! There’s a link to them in the link section. They really make towns look like towns!

Our Napoleonic battles expand (or shrink?)

Always start a Napoleonic post with the French marching!

Always start a Napoleonic post with the French marching!

Been doing so much SAGA (battles in the Dark Age Skirmish) around here and painting 3 Warbands for it from scratch that there has been little time for any other projects or gaming in any other periods. So after finishing my last Warband, Anglo-Danes, I decided to take a break from SAGA painting and dive into the prepped and primed set of Napoleonic buildings that I had gotten over the summer from “Total Battle Miniatures”. I had looked at re doing my Napoleonic buildings for some time now as Steve and I have a collection of random 15mm buildings but we were just not real happy with their effect on the battlefield.

One of our "15mm" buildings by I think "hovels" its not really true to scale either. This building is about medium size for a 15mm building.

One of our “15mm” buildings by I think “hovels” its not really true to scale either. This building is about medium size for a 15mm building.

Our 15mm buildings looked fine paint wise and good on the field but the size of the building meant that in the scale we play (Age of Eagles rules) towns were represent by one or two buildings and even then the large size of the buildings did not give either a good look or anywhere near the correct ground scale. Now ground scale was not that important to me as I was going to modify the AOE town combat any way into something slightly simpler and I really just wanted towns to look like towns, or closer than what we had now.

The way we had been showing "Hamlets" or "Villages" not very satisfying in my opinion.

The way we had been showing “Hamlets” or “Villages” not very satisfying in my opinion. I later went to placing brown felt under the building to show the towns outline for troop disposition.

I had looked over the “net” for over a year at different building manufactures, comparing look, variety, size, and price. I finally settled on “Total Battle Miniatures” because their “Big Battalion-Black Powder Europe” line was not only beautiful it was extensive, giving me a selection of 20 different buildings and 3 different bases to use. The line is well thought out, well cast, and priced very fairly. I liked the novel hamlet, village, town, base system they have where all the buildings in the line have “foot prints” that fit into the village, town, or hamlet, so that you can vary the look of several villages infinitely! Some footprints allow either 1 big building or 1-3 smaller footprint buildings to be placed in them. The bases are made of a soft synthetic material and allow a bit of conforming to uneven terrain. The buildings could certainly be used with out the bases but I like to over all effect as well as it would give me a definite “boundary” to define units being in or out of the urban area.

Now that is not the end of the story or even the reason for this post….. the real reason is to talk about the decision I made to go with their “10mm line” instead of the 15mm buildings, YES they not only make this line in 15mm, they also do the line in 10mm!!! and they also have some of the buildings in 20mm and 28mm!!! So after a bit of discussion with the chaps (Pete & Mark) at Total Battle about the size difference in 15 verse 10mm they mentioned that a few of their customers had used the 10mm for 15mm games and had good feedback on this. They were also kind enough to send me some comparison pictures showing a 15mm figure next to the 10mm buildings. Looking at the pictures I was sold on 10mm and decided to order the complete line, well actually more… I ordered 2 Hamlets, 2 Villages, and 2 Towns, that gave me 6 bases and 29 buildings! This is plenty for even large Napoleonic battlefields up to 4’x12’. (we play mostly 4’x6’)

This shows the difference in the building scale between 15mm (left) and 10mm (right) with a similar foot print. The 15mm occupy an area of aprocimatly 9" by 10" while the 10mm are 8" x 8" to the base edge. Figures are "Old Glory 15mm.

This shows the difference in the building scale between 15mm (left) and 10mm (right) with a similar foot print. The 15mm occupy an area of approximately 9″ by 10″ while the 10mm are 8″ x 8″ to the base edge. Figures are “Old Glory 15mm.

We just did our first battle using the first of the painted 10mm buildings and both Steve and I were quite pleased with the look and playability the 10mm scale gives us. We used two “Hamlet” sized bases with 6 buildings, 3 finished painted, and 3 almost finished. They look awesome and give a great look. You now have several buildings representing a small hamlet instead of one and you have some room around them on the “base” to deploy troops, clearly defining who is “in” town and what bases are “out”. The scale of the 15mm figures is in my opinion fine compared to the 10mm buildings and the look on the field more than out weighs the slight loss of real scale figure wise after all the figures are already much larger than the ground scale so this puts the buildings closer to ground scale.

The whole picture, now that looks like 2 "Hamlets" instead of two buildings!

The whole picture, now that looks like 2 “Hamlets” instead of two buildings! Sorry forgot to place the “trees” in the green cutouts.

The battle we fought was fairly small 2 “division’s” per side with a small Cavalry Division…30 infantry stands and 8 of cav apiece. It was a meeting engagement with the Hamlets and control of the road net the objective. Steve’s Austrians reached one town first and deployed, other Prussian brigades turned both north and south to counter expected French thrusts. The French commander (me) however used the legendary French marching speed to fall instead on the center where the Prussians had occupied the town.

Wide

Austrians move around and into the Hamlet of Hoffbrau, drinking a bit to much on the way through…..

The French assembled 2 battery’s, a 6 pound horse battery, a 12 pound infantry battery, and 3 Brigades for the assault on the Prussian held Hamlet. Preliminary fire by the French got lucky and rolled very well disordering the Prussian defenders while only suffering “disorder” to one of their own brigades. The French assault threw the smaller Prussian force back out of town with a “breakthrough” charge catching and “shattering” the Prussians fleeing the town as well as over running a Prussian Heavy battery. This pretty much ended Prussian hopes and the game.

French Breakthrough3

While he Austrians set up to fight a proper battle the French cheated as usual and out marched them arriving in mass at the Hamlet before the other Austrians were were close enough to lend support.

People who know me “know” that I am the first to speak out when shits not right and conversely I like to sing out when companies get it right and in the “miniatures” hobby it is sometimes rare to find one getting right, well “Total Battle Miniatures” got it right start to finish! from their great packaging (from England), to the casting, the range of beautiful terrain pieces, and even prompt answering of all my email questions!!!

They paint up very easily, typical resin buildings, wash, dry, prime…paint. The bases however are a SOFT synthetic material so you must use paint that has the ability to flex over time as well. I was told no primer was needed…things are so far OK with only minor chips in just a few spots…I would have like these bases to be resin or at least had the choice…that’s just me. I will do a separate post soon on the painting of these guys, I’m currently on three out of the six you see here!

Here's the whole set as ordered.

Here’s the whole set as ordered.

Here are some more pictures to give you all a chance to decide for yourself, and if you buy from Total Battle Miniatures please tell them you saw it here!

 

 

AOE Napoleonic’s “The Battle of Souffel”

In an attempt to guard Frances borders while he defeated the main Allied force (British and Prussians) Napoleon had stationed several “Observation Corps” on the most vulnerable approaches. On June 28th 1815 French General Rapp and 19,000 French infantry and around 2,000 cavalry squared off against Austrian Crown Prince Eugene, 34,000 infantry and 4,500 cavalry, this was the very last battle of the Napoleonic wars.

Newly conscripted French infantry prepares to defend the town and river crossing

Newly conscripted French infantry prepares to defend the town and river crossing

 

An English reporter for the London Times (Percy Wordsmith) sent this eye witness report while traveling with the Austrian army.

Map showing initial French deployment (Yellow) and Austrian advance (Orange).

Map showing initial French deployment (Yellow) and Austrian advance (Orange).

French troops had spent most of the early morning pushing civilians out of their homes and out of the villages. Other French units set to work clearing fields of fire building barricades, and improving their lines along the river until the scouting Hussar units galloped back across the bridges with reports of Austrian columns fast approaching. As the French hunkered down in their defensive positions the far side of the Souffel river bristled with the bayonets from half a dozen Austrian columns. Huge Austrian brigades nearly the size of French divisions maneuvered around each other in an attempt to quickly close with the French. The French artillery opened up on these columns, seldom causing real damage but throwing them into disorder and slowing them down. In the center Austrian heavy cavalry pushed to the center causing the French horse batteries to withdraw and French heavy cav to counter the move in order to guard the flanks of both towns.

AustEarly1

Austrian commanders position their supporting Artillery battery’s with a cheer ans a “Hats off” salute!

FrenchEarly2

French Cavalry and a Horse battery cover the center

Austrian forces in the center had finally started to push across the bridges but were repulsed at both crossings by stubborn French resistance losing a few troops along the way. The Austrians retreated back across the bridges to regroup and await the redeployment of their gun batteries in a better supporting position. Over two hours had passed by now and as general Rapp anticipated the Austrians had detected his weak undefended left flank. Reports of Austrian cavalry and guns crossing there in force were now coming into his headquarters, Rapp quickly dispatched an ADC to Colonel Merlin commanding the French cavalry to move west to block the Austrian flanking move. Rapp also gave orders to send a brigade from each of his other divisions to also move into a blocking position to the west allowing his cav to resume their job as a mobile reserve in the center.

AustBridge2

Austrians mass and move to the assault. Austrian Cav gives french Cav something to think about in the center.

The Austrian commanders however had planned this diversionary attack on the French left flank to do just exactly what it had done, weaken the center, and they choose that moment to launch a renewed assault, a much more coordinated, powerful, attack. The Austrian batteries roared, slamming shell after shell into the French defenders. The French defense remained firm and the artillery had little effect but that of making a shambles of the town. Now over the bridges came the renewed attack of the Austrians, two brigades now reformed into assault columns (thanks AOE Yahoo group) and combining their numbers for the assault against the small French brigade left in town.
On the eastern side of the battlefield the Austrians were finally sorting out the traffic jams caused by their massive and unwieldy brigades. One of the Austrian brigades charged forward across the bridge but suffered the same results as the Austrian attacks across the bridges there. The eastern Austrian push settled down to an artillery dual with the Austrian commander waiting for developments elsewhere on the field. To the west the French and Austrian forces squared off and waited for one another other to see make the first move.

Auststare

Austrian troops across the river at Souffelweyersheim spend most of the battle just tossing angry shouts and an occasional cannon ball at the French.

The center now erupted into pitched battle over the bridges of Mundolsheim and again the Austrian dragoons once attempted to cross the Souffel in the center, succeeding in causing the French cavalry to move back from their blocking position in the east  to the center, again countering the Austria dragoons. This time the Austrians Dragoons charged, the French Hussars counter charged and after a brutal fight the weight of Austrian heavy cav succeeded in crushing the French Hussars. The Austrian commander had watched intently this clash and was now joyous with the possibility of splitting the French center and even falling onto the rear of the French line to the west. However he had no cavalry reserve to push across the center and the Dragoons were far from fresh. The Austrian Dragoons sensing that this was the moment, their moment shook off their disorder and preparing too charge the rear of the French defenders to the west.

Austrian columns assault and shatter the french center, the french Officer and gun battery in the picture have been "captured" survivors flee to the rear.

Austrian columns assault and shatter the french center, the french Officers and gun battery in the picture have been “captured” survivors flee to the rear.

Meanwhile the Austrian infantry attack on the French center had succeeded in forcing the crossings, nearly destroying the defending French brigade, the French losing two regiments, their guns and their commanding general captured, the remnants falling back out of the town.

The final positions just before dark and the close of the Battle. French / Yellow, Austrians / Orange

The final positions just before dark and the close of the Battle. French / Yellow, Austrians / Orange

The Austrians now sensed the French were in trouble and pressed on, their infantry columns flooding through and out of the town in pursuit, forming up in line of battle preparing to roll up the French left flank. Once again as they had done several times already this battle French forces despite being of less than normal quality (50% of the infantry were conscripts) rose up in defiance and struck back.

French Infantry and Cavalry make a last ditch counter attack to stem the Austrian tide!

French Infantry and Cavalry make a last ditch counter attack to stem the Austrian tide!

The French reserves had finally arrived in the center and deployed with a heavy battery with in effective range of the reforming Austrian dragoons and just as they were about to charge, delivered a devastating combined volley killing several stands, throwing the Austrian dragoons back into disorder, and pinning them in place where they stood till they died. A small victory for the French but it had little effect overall the Austrians had pushed back the french left flank and now four huge Austrian brigades had were in position to move forward taking the rest of the French positions in the flank or rear…. Fate and darkness intervened at this point with the battle ending at 7:30 pm. General Rapp ordered skirmish screens and a general withdrawal towards Strasbourg.

From the Austrian camp,

Percy Wordsmith, London Times

When the victory points were added up the French were ahead, coupling that with their success in keeping at preventing the Austrians from archiving a quick crossing of the Souffel and possibly trapping Rapps main force gave the French an overall win. Herr Gausche playing the part of Archduke John did a splendid job in forcing the river crossing against a determined opponent. We learned how to do a few things within the rules that we had not come across before. Once again the “Age of Eagles” rules rose up and proved to be equal to the task and provided us with one of the best Napoleonic battles yet played by us over the years.

Rules: Age of Eagles (AOE) by Bill Gray from Fire and Fury

Scenario courtesy of the Susquehanna war-gaming group

French, 5 Commanders, 50 infantry stands, 11 Cavalry stands, 4 Batteries

Austrians, 6 Commanders, 90 Infantry Stands, 25 Cavalry stands.

A Balloons eye view of the Battlefield at the end

A Balloons eye view of the Battlefield at the end