This blog is dedicated to those esoteric activities directly or indirectly related to miniature gaming, boardgaming and Euro-gaming.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Refight of the Battle of Raab, 1809. Part 1: Preparations

Our progress to this refight can only be described as “A marathon … and then a sprint … and then a game!”.

This is the first in what will be 3 parts covering our experience of firstly preparing for and then playing what turned out to be a fun game.

Our project to refight the Battle of Raab has been in progress for literally years. This is evidenced by the age of my blog posts with the label ‘Raab’ (see them all here – including this one!), which stretch back to 2010!

Well, a few months ago, we committed to putting it all together. The original plan was to hold the game over the long weekend adjacent the Melbourne Cup Day holiday as a part of a regular annual event for our gaming group. For various reasons this event didn’t happen (we were not ready in any case) and we ended up organising an ad-hoc, short notice outing for the scenario version 0.1 in mid-December. What follows is the preparation, the refight itself and the wash-up.


The Rules:

We have used Napoleon’s Battles for many years. The recently released version 4 was used for the first time by us in this game. As we had a noob, we opted for using the standard rules (with a few minor, but playable optionals, but importantly no Initiative or Re-rolls) and played the slightly less onerous interpenetration rules. We own NB2 and NB3 and used various items from these rule sets, such as markers and templates, as these are not changed in NB4.

The updated NB4 Built Up Area and Fortification rules are relevant for Kis Megyer and forces the French to attempt a cold steel approach to taking it.

For those not familiar, these rules are designed for Army and Corps level actions and the basic unit is a brigade of infantry or cavalry. Only Heavy and Horse artillery are present, with medium guns abstracted into the brigades. A heavy reliance on command and control exists in the game and as will be seen, is a problem for the army structure of the Austrians which without Corps.

The Painting:

While we didn’t quite achieve what we were hoping for in terms the painted figures in the order of battle, we fielded the full scenario OB.

The original goal was to field a pair of armies consisting entirely of only AB (Anthony Barton) figures from Eureka. In our collections are significant numbers from the Hinchcliffe, Minifigs, Empire and Battle Honors ranges, and these filled the gaps where our painting plans fell short.

These two brigades of French Cavalry were painted on commission by Gunner Dunbar - my basing.

Reinforcements by (Australia) Post courtesy Gunner Dunbar and 'benefactor'

Some last minute ring ins (more French Cavalry and the Baden Brigade) came from Hinde’s.
However, I have to say that the 4 weeks leading up to the game saw significant personal production output, including the completion of painting of 5 brigades of Insurrection Hussars, the basing of 9 brigades of Cavalry and one of Infantry, and the painting and basing of two divisional commanders and a limber. This is a record for me, and likely never to be matched. I was helped by the earlier mass painting of the horseflesh.

WIP Insurrection Cavalry – ready for basing

Basing Production Line

Austrian Divisional Commanders - WIP

Cavalry Panorama – that is a LOT of (extra) cavalry!

The Battlefield:

This was the most prepared part of the event. Details of the terrain board can be found here.
Below is taken from Gill (my grid pattern, slightly compressed scale, 1:1.2, with each square, 1.2km square to fit into a 6’ by 5’ table). Note: Raab city is to the NE.

A couple of additional shots are below which include the entire final setup including the 30cm modular extensions are below. Note that the fields and trees are cosmetic.

A French perspective of the field.

From the Austrian side, with Kis Megyer in the centre. The town of Szabadhegy is 3 Built Up Areas.

From the Austrian side

The Scenario:

We drew inspiration from the official NB3 Raab scenario, but also from the works by Bowden & Tarbox, and the more recent trilogy from Gill. Gill was used heavily for the OB. Bowden (and also Gill) for the terrain and initial dispositions.

A link to the Scenario Card we used is here. It is somewhat in draft! As this was a first attempt at the scenario, we were guided by the NB3 scenario for Victory Conditions, based on control of the major battlefield features being Kis Megyer, Szabadhegy, etc.

Three key elements of the battlefield that strongly impact the balance are Kis Megyer (a fortified farm), the historical difficulty the French cavalry had crossing the Pandza on their left and the movement penalty presented along the length of the Pandza. How much of an impediment and protection these are for French and Austrians is key to a balanced game. Gill referred to two items which we incorporated into the scenario terrain, i.e. the discovery of a small bridge that enabled the French left to finally cross the Pandza, and the way in which the Viscay (a rivulet) disordered the inexperienced Insurrection cavalry. There are many options for the scenario in relation to the terrain itself, however we settled for the following special rules (and adjusted as below):

"All buildings have a +1 combat modifier, except Kis-Megyer, which is a +3 fortification.
The Pandcza stream is fordable by infantry and generals at all points, although infantry must be in column or march column formation to cross. It is fordable by cavalry and artillery only at a ford and they must be in column, march-column or limbered formation to cross, or at a bridge.
The Viscay rivulet is a minor obstacle and the following scenario special rule applies: Inexperienced Cavalry are disordered crossing this obstacle unless they do so in column or march column using a ford. No movement penalty applies for crossing this obstacle (Designers note: historically, the Insurrection Light Cavalry were disordered by this obstacle and this rule is present to represent this)."

We also opted for a D10 roll for the French to find the crossing. On arrival at the location (1), a 1, then 3, then 5 etc per movement phase spent searching for the crossing, before being able to cross on the subsequent movement phase. The crossing was deemed a Bridge (after Gill) rather than a ford. This makes a difference under NB4 rules.

A similar approach for the arrival of the RD Austrian reserves was taken. Neither of these updates are in the draft scenario card.

(Next up the refight itself)

Drop any questions in the comments below, or just let me know what you think!