Garage Gamer SteveT was having one of those birthdays that feature a ‘0’ so he decided to host a Game in his Garage. Steve has written the report and I have added pictures.
Battle of Bautzen Report by Steven Thompson
Why host a big Game?
There was two key reasons why I wanted to host a big game for the Garage Gamers using my own old school 20mm Napoleonic armies. I wanted to celebrate a major upcoming birthday milestone (how the hell did that happen – one year at a time I guess) but more importantly I wanted to do it to thank Terry Swain and the other Garage Gamers for allowing me to participate in their garage gaming nights.
I was very much a solo gamer before Terry invited me to the Garage Gamers nights. It is the best thing that has happen to me in the hobby as I have enjoyed playing with beautifully painted 28mm armies, experienced a wide range of periods that have included ancients (elephants!), ACW, WW2 Sea battles (battleships!), Napoleonic sailing ships (which brings out the kid in us all) and recently Flames of War modern battles.
The forward to the Black Powder rulebook says it best, ”let us remember that ideal accompaniment to the journey [in our hobby] maybe found in good brandy, fine cigars, and the companion of like-minded enthusiasts.”
We may not be big on cigars but we do like fine brandy & whiskey and I cannot think of a finer bunch of like-minded enthusiasts to share the hobby with than my fellow Garage Gamers.
Planning a Scenario
I have long been fascinated by the 1813 campaign which featured a number of epic battles which are rich in the element of “what if” scenarios. Bautzen is one of these, and I was interested when reading Michael Leggiere history of the 1813 Spring Campaign about the debate in the Allied HQ for a counter offensive against the initial three French Corps that crossed the River Spree on the first day of battle.
My Bautzen game was more in the spirit of the battle rather than a historically accurate refight. I wanted to use the terrain boards from the epic Wagram battle at Call to Arms in 2019 as I have fond memories of that game and the boards lovingly built by Paul Weakly deserve to be used.
This still allowed me to retain the key elements of a Bautzen game, Allies in strong defensive position on heights, a number of fiercely contested villages as the French launched pinning attacks before the arrival of the sledge hammer flank attack. The layout of the terrain boards also allowed the Allies the opportunity to use their advantage in cavalry to inflict a punishing attack on the initial French deployment.
I added a bit whimsy to my scenario by making the Czar as a very distracted CnC for the Allies as Terry had wanted to spend part of the day drinking whisky while listening to 70/80’s Lps on my stereo. However this did remove the best player on the Allied side from the game at important moments.
In planning any good scenario game you should try for an even match in player abilities and temperament and this was where I came a bit unstuck due to unexpected late withdraws. I had Paul Goldsmith commanding the Austrian Bde (I know but I did say it was in the spirit of Bautzen!) and a Heavy Cavalry Bde as he knows how to get the best out of those big battalions in white and is an aggressive cavalry commander. Rob Parks who was to command the French VI Corps and I Reserve Cavalry was a good match against the Allied commanders he was likely to face in the opening stages of the battle.
However due to illness neither could attend which meant I overloaded poor Keith Gates with the Austrian Bde when he enough on his hands being Blucher. Rob’s unavailability meant that Keith & Stephen Clarke had to face Russel Briant in command of 3 French Corps from move one.
Russell is a player I have huge respect for as he sees the angles in BP rules for flank attacks just quicker than anyone else. When playing him you are constantly under the threat of your units being overwhelmed by a never-ending wave of flank attacks and playing with French he rarely fails any command rolls so these attacks come at a speed that is difficult to defend against. He only failed one command roll all game.
I also learnt a lesson about not laying the units on the table at 2am as you will make deployment mistakes which allows one side an unfair advantage which was never your intention.
How did it Play?
We managed to get six full moves completed by 4pm. Robert Nippert had the heavy lifting role of storming the heights defended by Alan Hollows entrenched Russian & Austrian Bdes.
Robert is an experienced French player and due to my early morning placement blunder he quickly crossed the River Spree, stormed the village at the foot of the heights and pushed a Russian Bde back into the woods at the top of the heights. However he could not sustain his position and his Bde representing Oudinots XII Corps settled for retaining control of the village.
His second Bde representing McDonalds XI Corps also managed to make it to the top of heights, storming a redoubt before facing fierce cavalry and infantry counter attacks which drove his units back down to the river line. Fighting in this zone of the battlefield settled ended in a stand-off but Robert had achieved his objectives of pining Alan’s Bdes in place and seizing the village.
The key battle was in the centre between Russell, commanding the French IV & VI Corps, I Reserve Cav Corps and the Guard and Keith and Stephen with Bluchers I Prussian Corps, & 3rd Army of the West. Keith took my “what if” scenario to heart and advanced boldly forward to attack the French VI Corps but did not use the heavy cavalry Bde to provide flank support.
Russell took one look at the open flank and reoriented the Swiss Bde he was planning on using to attack the town of Bautzen, to slam into Keiths advancing Prussian Bdes. The poor Prussian Bde was hit by the 2nd Bde of VI Corps to its front and the Swiss Bde to its flanks and eventually destroyed.
Stephen moved this Bdes into the gap and launched a series of attacks against Russell’s advancing French. This involved a series of heavy cavalry battles which despite losing some units Russell managed to prevail, destroying the Allied heavy cavalry Bde. The end of the days play saw Stephen and Keith cobbling together a make shift defensive line as Russell was bringing up his guard units to deliver the coup de grace.
Terry deployed the Russian Guard and Reserve Cuirassier Bdes to face Ney’s flank attack which finally arrived in turn four. We ended playing a game divorced from the rest of the action which more resembled an Age of Marlborough game as we both deployed our units in line to blast away at each other as Terry used his cavalry to try and take out my artillery.
We are planning to rerun the game in the summer when everyone is fit and healthy and it will give me a chance to tweak the scenario to make it flow a little better so we can fit more turns in a day’s playing which is always the challenge for big Napoleonic games.
But as for my two personal objectives it was very much mission accomplished!
So that is Steve’s report! I must thank him for his hospitality…fully stocked fridge…hot tea..and his lovely wife Clare provided a sumptuous feast for lunch! I personally enjoyed the bottle of Monkey Shoulder Whiskey while I listened to music before my occasional visists to the Game room…. this was the role as per the scenario instructions! PERFECT! As Steve said…he plans to replay game in summer when hopeful everyone is free of Covid.
So the Whiskey of the Week has to be Monkey Shoulder.
Color: Dirty gold.
On the nose: A faint mix of honey and chili flakes make up the top notes, accompanied by sliced white bread. The base notes are all about malt: porridge, oat cookies, and the slightest touch of starch. Then, it transitions into old bananas, apple skins, and cotton candy powder. These aromas blend too soon until only the malt notes remain dominant.
In the mouth: The core of malt remains but with added light citrus peel and toasted rice. The fruity aromas are less distinct, giving way to wood spice, old gumamela flowers, and Manila paper. The texture is thin. It has a medium-length finish, beginning with powdered nuts and weak Victorian perfume before trailing away with toasted wood and old flowers.
Must say that is one of most ridiculous tastings have read…its a blended whiskey…was quite pleasant and on a cold day….warmed me up nicely….what more can one ask for! Thank you SteveT!!
Til next time..Terry out.
p.s Garage been out of commission for a month….we have been replacing furniture so old stuff was in garage until all sold…then popped down to the Winter playground of Queenstown to visit one of my daughters who is working there at moment. Normal gaming resumes next week.