Monday, May 25, 2009

Theatre of War: Turn 1

It's time to get caught up with the Theatre of War campaign currently underway. The French began to move their forces into the operational area from the south and south-east. Napoleon placed his administrative and logistical resources in Oberdorf, declaring it his Base of Operations. Looking on the map you can see the blue and red arrows, showing French and Allied movements in Turn 1 respectively. The numbers beside each arrow (i.e. 1-2) indicate the turn number and the initiative. The large red numbers indicate Victory Points for important areas on the map. As the French moved north to Oberdorf, the Allies (me!) fell back but simultaneously moved forces south from Grasselfing to investigate the reported French movements near Oberdorf. It was here, just to the west of Oberdorf that the Allied movements ran into an enemy force under the command of Napoleon himself (French "A" on the map). Thus was the first battle of the campaign created.

The situation at the end of turn 1.

Napoelon brought along a respectable force, including some of the Imperial Guard (drat!). See the French OB below:The Allied Order of Battle was somewhat less spectacular:
The astute observer would notice that the Allies had no artillery present in this battle group. The artillery commander had been late in reacting to his orders to march south and thus was far behind the lines when the battle began. In fact, his lethargy would deprive the Allied commander of much-needed fire support for the entire battle. A map was generated as per the rules (link) and seemed to favour the Allies, in that it was well-clogged with terrain features that would theoretically inhibit the effectiveness of the French guard cavalry and artillery. The initial dispositions and first moves can be seen below:

first phase of the battle

As you can see, the Allied cavalry decided that it might be a good idea to test their mettle and move boldly against the French guard cavalry. In fact, one unit was actually able to catch the Imperial Guard Chasseurs a Cheval fully in the flank. Unfortunately, it was like watching an apple thrown at a brick wall. The chasseurs calmly watched the pieces of the Austrian lancers fall limply to the ground and proceeded to trample the remains under their horses' hooves. Meanwhile the rest of the French army advanced to take on the remainder of the Allied army. The British infantry in the center moved to take the bridge and also advanced boldly against the Old Guard infantry. Here, the result was more favourable to the Allies as the steady lines of redcoats held Les Grognards in place.

second phase of the battle

La Garde Recule! Yes, it's true, the Old Guard infantry found it prudent to back off from the stubborn redcoats. It could be characterized by a precipitate withdrawal more than a rout (the guard never routs!). Unfortunately for the Allies, this unexpected success in the center was tempered by the complete collapse of the Allied left wing. Meanwhile, the guard cavalry was following up on its success against the Allied light cavalry.

third & final phase of the battle

In the final phase of the battle the Allied left wing was able to re-establish itself (albeit , further back) and the French advance in that sector ground to a halt. In the center, the guard cavalry was beginning to make its presence felt but it was too late. With the withdrawal of the guard infantry, the British infantry and cavalry in the center were able to counter the threat. At this point, the French were dangerously close to failing an Army Morale Check and to make matters worse, the Fates decided at that moment to serve the French army a serious blow. The Emperor suddenly reeled in his saddle and fell to the ground wounded by a stray musket ball. Surgeon Larrey rushed to his side and decided that His Majesty would need to be removed from the field immediately. The army, seeing (or sensing) the fall of their glorious leader decided that enough fighting had been done for one day and prudently surrendered the field.

In strategic terms, Napoleon was rendered hors de combat for three full turns (i.e. he will come back into action at the beginning of campaign turn 4). The battle group involved in the battle was assessed a "10% downgrade" modifier for all future battles. This means that whenever this battlegroup is engaged again and after all the units are graded, a random 10% of the units in the battlegroup are downgraded one level. The Allied battlegroup received the opposite "10% upgrade" for this Marginal Victory. The French also lost 17 National Will Points (when an army's National Will Point total is reduced to zero, the campaign is over).

Overall, a satisfying result for the Allies, given that they were faced with the best troops in the campaign. My thanks to Vidal, my campaign mate and my sympathies for the wound he received!

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