Sunday 26 November 2023

Landshut Campaign – Day 3

Campaign Map

Austrians attack Muhldorf
1st Austrian army – regroup and resupply
2nd Austrian army – occupy Reisbach
3rd Austrian army – attack Muhldorf

7th French army – regroup and resupply
8th French army – retreat to Landshut
9th French army – defend Muhldorf

End of battle of Reisbach

The Austrian plan was to pin the French on their left, ignore the town and attack on their right. To achieve this general Merveldt took command of 2 infantry brigades from 7th and 8th corps, plus artillery from 7th corps. They were deployed on the left bank of the river Danube.

The remainder of 7th corps was on the right bank of the river. They would pin a similar sized Bavarian force near the main bridge

8th corps would deploy in front of Muhldorf. They would not advance on the town until Merveldt had delivered his attack between the town and the river.

9th corps would deploy on the left and occupy the nearest half of the pass. They would attack in support of 8th corps.

The plan worked perfectly. The French had to keep most of 26th corps in and around the town. They held the town throughout the battle, and only retreated when 25th and 27th corps were forced to do so.

The Austrians won the battle.

The French lose 5 infantry, 6 cavalry and 2 artillery casualties (2800 men)
The Austrians lose 3 infantry, 3 cavalry and 1 artillery casualties (1600 men)

It has taken a long time to determine the best tactics to attack a strongly held town.

I soon found that with a maximum of 12 moves per game an attack on the town itself ran out of time, even if the attackers did well.

In this game I commanded the 3rd Austrian army, the attacking side. The defending army had to deploy first, with the Austrian troops arriving on the table at the start of move 1.

A glance at the table will show that the weakest part of the French defence is between the town and the river. Both the centre and Austrian left have hills which delay the attacker.

The only problem for the attacking player is the river Danube. It can only be crossed by one of the three bridges. The French had left two infantry and one cavalry brigades to hold the bridge. I did the same. But I put two elite brigades, to give me an advantage. One was a jager brigade, who could skirmish across the river and support the main attack on the left bank

As always, things did not go smoothly for the Austrians. Artillery plays an important part in the attack, and particularly with my new rules. 12 pdr guns require 5 or 6 for a hit against enemy artillery. Both the French and Austrian guns on this flank were 12 pdr. With the opening shot the Bavarian gunners killed 10% of the Austrian gunners. Worse still the Austrians lost their morale test and had to retreat shaken. It would take three moves to rally and bring them back to their abandoned guns. This delayed the attack by three moves. However the actual attack went well and the Bavarians were forced to retreat.

On the opposite flank the Austrians were less successful, but they did eventually force the Baden corps to withdraw.

With both flanks gone, the garrison had to retreat without firing a shot.

Sunday 19 November 2023

Wargame Rule Review


It is seven months since I did a comprehensive rewrite of our wargame rules. During that time we have fought almost 15 wargames, more than enough to have discovered whether they work or not.

My objective was to create a fast moving game with a distinct feel of Napoleonic battles. I wanted to remove as much checking of plus and minus factors for combat and morale as possible. But most important I wanted to introduce a strong element of chance. My wife and I have wargamed together for more than 50 years. We are fortunate to have a permanent wargames table, so we game at least three or four days a week. So neither of us make any significant tactical errors, and both can anticipate what the other will do in most circumstances. This can lead to very predictable wargames. And one error, or one bad run of dice, can determine the outcome of a game.

I wanted to retain the roles of artillery, cavalry and infantry. But I also wanted the game to be decided by the infantry. This balance can be difficult to create, particularly in the early stages of writing rules. It is often only with extensive play that the weakeness can be seen. I have found this to be particularly so when using commercial rules sets.

The key to all of this would be the use of just one six sided dice for all combat and morale tests. There would have to be a minimum number of plus or minus adjustments. This is essential to cater for class of troops, supports, casualties and command. Particularly in my order of battle where troops are classed A, B or C for both morale, skirmish and musket fire. I have taken great care to create complicated orders of battle for each of my five campaign areas. I feel it is important for all armies to have historical national characterises. But also to give all armies a reasonable chance of success, even the Spanish.

With just one dice it was easy to control the eventual outcome. A roll of 1 would mean disaster, a roll of 6 would mean Prussian landwehr infantry could defeat French Imperial Guardsmen. But, of course, it must not happen too often.

I am very pleased with how our new rules have developed. They give a distinctive Napoleonic feel to our games (at least in our opinion). Equally important they allow the battle to develop and reach a conclusion within the 12 moves (equal to 12 hours in the campaign) maximum

The result of casualties is particularly pleasing. When a brigade has a “hit”, which is 10% of its strength) is must test morale. It deducts 2 points for the hit and for being disordered. However it gains 1 point if supported by a formed brigade within 4” and another 1 point if the corps commander is within 4”. It also gets 1 point if elite or loses 1 point if conscript. The dice is then thrown and with the following consequences:

5 or 6 – pass morale
4 - disordered
3 – retreat full move disordered
2 – retreat full move shaken
1 – retreat full move in rout

However it is relatively easy to rally shaken or routed brigades, providing that they roll a good dice. But if they retreated they then have to form up and move back to their original position on the table.

The overall effect is a much more fluid wargame than we have ever experienced. An attack or defence can crumble with just one roll of 1. Using previous rules this would have resulted in certain defeat for the side which rolled the poor dice. But in these rules it is quite possible to recover, but it will take two or three moves.

It is great fun to play a wargame which is so unpredictable. It means that the outcome of a game can change right up to move 11 or even 12. We are both very pleased with the new rules.

Sunday 12 November 2023

Landshut Campaign – Day 2

Campaign Map

7th French army retreat to Esenbach
1st Austrian army occupy Dingolfing
2nd Austrian army attack Reisbach

1st Austrian army – regroup around Dingolfing
2nd Austrian army – attack Reisbach
3rd Austrian army – hold Bad Abbach and resupply

7th French army – retreat to Esenbach
8th French army – redeploy in and around Reisbach
9th French army – redeploy in and around Muhldorf

Start of battle of Reisbach

The Austrians have the advantage of all three corps starting the battle closer to Reisbach. The Bavarians have one corps in the town, but the other two are four hours (moves) in the hills behind the town.

The main Austrian attack is in the centre against the town itself. 6th corps race to secure the hills to the left of the town, and 4th corps the hills to the right of the town.

24th Baden corps arrive in time to hold the road to the left of the town, thus depriving the Austrians from occupying the high ground. 22nd Bavarian corps does the same to the right of the town.

5th Austrian corps is allowed to deploy their artillery within close range of the town, supported by their jager and grenadier brigades. Despite this formidable attack force, the garrison hold out for a considerable time. They start to withdraw when both brigades have suffered 20% casualties. The elite Austrian brigades immediately storm the town and rout the retreating garrison.

On the right 4th Austrian corps finally take the hills after considerable fighting. By then the town garrison has abandoned the town, and 22nd Bavarian corps is ordered to retreat.

On the left there is very little fighting. Both sides deploy on their own side of the hill, neither are prepared to suffer the likely casualties should they attempt to advance over the hill. 24th Baden corps finally retreats when ordered to do so.

The French suffer 5 infantry and 3 cavalry casualties (2300 men)

The Austrians suffer 4 infantry and 4 artillery casualties (2000 men)


From the battle casualties it would appear that neither side has suffered sufficient casualties to warrant a French general retreat. However 4 of their 18 brigades are in rout. The rout of the Bavarian garrison with 20% each spreads to the two intact infantry brigades in support. There is no chance for the French to attempt a counter attack to recapture the town. With the loss of Reisbach there is no point in suffering further French casualties, so the retreat makes sense.

The light casualties on each side appear to leave both armies relatively intact, however numbers do not tell the whole story.

The French have lost 3 cavalry casualties spread over two corps. One of these casualties will be replaced, but this will leave two cavalry brigades with 10% casualties each for the rest of the campaign. The Austrians have suffered no cavalry casualties, this will give them a strong cavalry advantage in future battles.

But the Austrian losses are far more significant. They have lost 4 artillery casualties spread over all three corps artillery. Again one casualty will be replaced, but this will leave all three batteries with 10% casualties in future battles. The French have lost no artillery casualties

In counter battery fire 12 pdr require 5 or 6, 9 pdr require 6, 6 pdr cannot hit at long range. The French have one 12 pdr and two 9 pdr. The Austrians have one 12 pdr, one 9 pdr and one 6 pdr. Of the three only the 12 pdr will be able to hit at long range, and will require a 6. All three French batteries will be able to hit at long range.

In this campaign the Austrians are the aggressors, which means that they have to attack and the French can sit in defence. An attacker must suppress the enemy artillery to have any real chance of success. This can only be done by their own artillery or their cavalry. The Austrians will have to use their cavalry in risky charges against the French gunners. If they fail the infantry are unlikely to succeed without any cavalry or effective artillery support.

The next battle between 8th French army and 2nd Austrian army is going to be very interesting indeed.

Sunday 5 November 2023

Landshut Campaign – Day 1

Campaign Map


The campaign opens in the north

1st Austrian army attack the northern border town of Dingolfing.


1st Austrian army – attack Dingolfing

2nd Austrian army – hold centre, east of border

3rd Austrian army – hold south, east of border


7th French army – in and around Dingolfing

8th French army – hold Reisbach

9th French army – hold Muhldorf

Start of battle of Dingolfing

Most of the French are deployed west of Dingolfing

This is for ease of supply

19th Bavarian corps in reserve the top right

20th Bavarian corps in and around Dingolfing

21st Bavarian corps in reserve top left


The Austrians are deployed out of artillery range

1st corps on the right

2nd corps in the centre

3rd corps on the left

Austrians win battle of Dingolfing

1st Austrian corps attack through the woods on the right

Schwarzenberg has taken half of 2nd corps to support this attack

They break 19th Bavarian corps and then swing left to outflank the town


2nd Austrian corps artillery fire on the town, supported by half the infantry

Only when the garrison is weakened, do the infantry advance and skirmish

No attempt is made to attack the town until the defenders withdraw


3rd Austrian corps have orders to pin 31st Bavarian corps

Their artillery are deployed on the right

The intention is to create a gap between the woods and the town

Towards the end of the battle their jager brigade enter the woods


By nightfall the Austrians have taken the town and broken the French right

With half of his army in retreat, Massena orders a general retreat.

The French have lost 12 infantry, 3 cavalry and 1 artillery casualties (5100 men)

The Austrians have lost 2 infantry and 2 cavalry casualties (1000 men)



Normally we accept the outcome of each wargame, no matter how it affects the campaign


This goes back to the PBEM campaign, when it seemed like cheating not to do so

However it does seem silly to ruin a whole campaign phase, just because of bad dice rolls


And this can happen more often with our new rules which rely heavily on the luck of the dice.


This game was a good example of how things can go wrong.


Each campaign phase is based on one side crossing the regional border to attack

It is important that the attacker wins the first three battles, or at least two of them

Otherwise he has to retreat and the campaign is at an end

The campaign should provide six battles, one for each town

So one which produced just one or two would be disappointing


Therefore the first battle of a campaign is particularly important

A defeat for the aggressor makes it hard to justify the winner retreating

If it is the third battle, and the attacker has won the first two, it retreat is reasonable


The first time we wargamed Dingolfing everything went wrong right from the start

On move three the Austrians had advanced within artillery range

The first shot fired by the Bavarian gunners (rolled a 6) hit Austrian gunners.

The Bavarians failed their morale test (rolled a 1) and they routed

A nearby infantry brigade had to test, failed (rolled a 2) and also routed

Without artillery that Austrian corps would find it difficult to continue to attack


To recover the situation they ordered their cavalry to charge the enemy guns

This is always risky, particularly if the guns have their own cavalry support

The Bavarian gunners hit the charging cavalry (rolled a 4)

The cavalry failed their morale and halted disordered

The Bavarian cavalry charged and caused more casualties

The Austrian cavalry failed their morale test (rolled 3) and also routed

The Austrian corps now had no cavalry or artillery, and only three infantry brigades


The Austrian attack moved to the opposite flank

They had a 6 pdr gun, which cannot hit enemy artillery at long range

So once more their cavalry was sent to removed the enemy gunners

They received fire at short range (rolled 5) and had to test their morale

They rolled 1, and routed without any help from the Bavarian cavalry


Meanwhile the other two Austrian corps artillery were firing on the enemy gunners

Counter battery fire requires a roll of 6 for a hit, 5 or 6 for 12 pdr guns

The Bavarian 12 pdr battery in the centre rolled 5, which was a hit

The Austrian gunners tested their morale (rolled 1) and routed


At the start of move 6 the game was half way through

The Austrians had lost two artillery batteries and two cavalry brigades

It was clearly impossible to continue to attack

It was bad enough that the aggressors had lost the first battle of the campaign

Worse still their cavalry and artillery would start all future games with 10% casualties


It is really important to accept setbacks in a wargame, particularly dice

Otherwise what is the point of Wargaming?

However this defeat would, in effect, end the whole campaign phase


We solved the problem by accepting that Jan had won the wargame

But we would ignore the rest and refight the wargame for the campaign

The battle report above is the result of that refight

The Austrians won, as they needed to do


However we both felt very guilty “cheating” the campaign!