Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Austerlitz 1805

It's was a week late for the the 214th anniversary of Austerlitz, but I only thought of setting it up on the actual anniversary & I wanted to knock up a new set of rules for the job.   To make a good simulation of a large historical battle it is necessary to use a ground scale of something like 12" = 1 km to fit the battlefield onto a practically sized wargames table.  Even at that, Austerlitz requires a 12'x6' table.  Given that scale, 6mm figs are the best choice as larger figs are way out of scale with the terrain.   I also happen to have a vast pile of 40 year old 6mm Napoleonic figs that only need a bit of base repair to get back into service.   In the 1990's we had house rules for this scale of battle in "Marathon to Mafeking" but rules have moved on a bit since then so I wrote a new set rules for large black powder era battles.  I chose Austerlitz to play test them because it was arguably Napoleon's greatest victory & it has all the elements to make it a good test bed.  This set of rules (with the working title Austerlitz Rules are a mix of my Musket Action & my old Marathon to Mafeking 6mm rules.  They are basically a simplifying edit of Musket Action, with less tactical options to sped up play, but more emphasis on grand tactics with a chain of command CIC-Corps/Division-Brigade.  The turn sequence is IGoUGo, because as much as I like the Bolt Action system, it is isn't practical for very large numbers of units.  
The initial set up is historical.  The main French army is in the foreground, Davout's Corps will be coming up in the far right hand corner.  The Allied army is on the far side.  The Allies started with each of their "columns" having historical orders. 
Pics are now from behind Allied lines:  The French are advancing on the Allied right & centre as Allied columns continue marching off across the Pratzen towards Davout.  Couriers are galloping after them to call some of them back, but the wheels of Allied command turn slow. 
Lannes & Murat are attacking Bagration on the near flank.  The Russian Guards & Lichtenstein's cavalry are moving from the centre to support Bagration.  The Allied columns on the left are still moving away as the French advance onto the Pratzen.
The Allied columns have finally got new orders.  One to continue against Davout, the others to turn back to contest the Pratzen.  The 1st column is way in the rear because it consistently failed its command test, which turned out to be good thing. 
The Allied right is now a chaotic mix of foot & horse.  The Allies are doing pretty well, but Bernadotte is coming up from the centre to support Lannes & Murat.  
The Allies are finally getting some sort a line together on the Pratzen, but a gap has formed where the French Guard cavalry has forced a column into square (denoted by blue counters).  The Guard is on the right of the French line supported by Oudinot.  Soult's big corps is facing the much weaker 1st Allied column in the foreground.
On the Allied right it was tough fight, but the French have prevailed & the remaining Allies are now retreating to save what they can.
On the Pratzen, the Austrian infantry combined superior numbers with hot dice to defeat the Imperial Guard infantry, but Soult is steamrolling the much weaker 1st column.
While the Imperial Guard & Oudinot's infantry have been broken, Soult's Corps has finished off the 1st column & is redeploying to counterattack with plenty of fresh units.  On the far left, the Russian attack on Davout is only just starting, but getting nowhere.  The Allied forces on the Pratzen are cut off from their Line of Communication by Soult.  They lose the will to fight & the French have won.

Even though we allowed a bit of latitude in what the Allies could do, the simulation demonstrated clearly how bad the historical Allied plan was.  Too many of their troops were not able to be used effectively.

As the first play test of a set of rules always does, the game showed up a few items forgotten & some opportunities for improvement.  But they did the job in getting a big battle fought & decided by 10 pm.

These rules include details of how to convert an historical OOB into a wargame OOB where the units (which are brigades of 1800 infantry or 800 cavalry or 12 guns) are in scale with the terrain.  It is striking in this simulation how spread out the battlefield of Austerlitz was & how small a proportion of the space is covered by figures. 

1 comment:

Gonsalvo said...

I've done Austerlitz in 25 mm several times, but it takes an 18 - 24 foot long table at least! :-)