Sunday, April 29, 2007

Havoc - Napoleon's Battles

One of the best things about going to Havoc is the chance to see old wargaming buddies. And boy, are we all getting rather old. I remember so many of these guys from when we were all skinny, had a lot of hair on top of our heads and that hair was full of color. Now most of the players weigh a lot more and their hair has migrated south, while getting grey as well.
One of my old wargame friends is Peter Landry -- who hasn't gotten any fatter in the last 30+ years (dammit!) nor has his hair turned gray (dammit dammit!). He's still a great player, too, although today I was lucky enough to be on his side!
We played a straight-up slug fest Napoleon's Battles scenario. Three Austrian corps against three French. I had the center Austrian corps, while Pete was on my right flank. Another gentleman was on my left. I haven't played NB in more than 10 years, but that still made me the third most experienced player behind Pete and John, the French overall CO and gamemaster. The other two French players and they other Austrian were newcomers to the game.
Napoleon's Battles is a medium-complexity grand tactical miniatures wargame. The maneuver units are brigades. Each corps had five infantry brigades,one cavalry brigade and two batteries of guns.
On my left (the French right) the two new players settled into a draw-ish duel atop a partially forested hill. Neither player wanted to risk a general advance and nothing much happened on that flank during the game. I think no more than one Austrian brigade ended up being dispersed.
I faced John in the center. Pete and I briefly discussed a strategy. He'd played against John quite a bit and counseled that John could be counted on to attack as aggressively as possible. Given that, we decided that I would try to hold my ground and tie up John's corps while Pete tried to defeat the French corps opposite him, which was led by an inexperienced commander.
Things went according to plan. I was able to advance close enough to begin shelling John, as well as fighting against part of the French flank corps. John tried to restrain himself, but after taking a few turns of "galling" fire (which included counter-battery fire that wiped out all his guns), he attacked, taking along part of the French flank corps as well. While he succeeded in gutting my corps (Destroyed: One battery, two infantry brigades; Routed one infantry and one cavalry brigade) he also had half his command routed, including his large cavalry brigade, which never managed to rally.
Meanwhile Pete did his thing, routing the whole French left wing and starting to roll up the flank. When we called the game two French corps were ineffective (fatigued) compared to one Austrian (mine) and seven of the nine geographic objectives were in Austrian hands.
Sitting next to Pete also gave us a chance to catch up on things and renew acquaintances.
All-in-all a well-run and enjoyable game with congeniality all around.

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