Friday, September 7, 2012

Borodino 200th anniversary today

Battle for the Great Redoubt at Borodino

Two centuries ago today Napoleon's fortunes changed for good when he defeated the Russians at Borodino -- but at a heavy cost. He managed to make it to Moscow, but ended up losing nearly his entire army when he was forced to retreat.

Borodino was an extraordinarily bloody battle, but not really a battle of generalship or finesse and wargames depicting it reflect that characteristic.

Game Store Tony and I got in a commemorative anniversary game of the battle using Napoleon's War II -- The Gates of Moscow.

It ended up being an interesting battle because I was able to use a little psychology to salvage a narrow victory from what was shaping up to be a pretty decisive defeat.

My initial plan was to make an early push on each flank and then hit the center hard, but this soon came afoul of bad dice and Tony's astute counter moves which negated every effort I made to advance. By Turn 7 I was facing a 7-2 deficit in victory points (The game to 8 VP)!

Well, a popular definition of insanity is  doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results. I clearly needed to take a different approach. I decided to pull pout of range of most of his guns and redeploy my cavalry to the left for a long sweeping flanking move. Not so much because I expected much out of it, but to provoke Tony into making his own attack into my guns. He's a good player, but does tend to be aggressive and impatient. While I couldn't just goad him into attacking me by doing nothing at all -- he was well aware that the onus for victory was on the French -- I figured he'd be unwilling to just sit there and watch my wide sweeping move unfold unmolested over the dozen turns he would have to watch.

And indeed, he marched to the attack. His cavalry that attempted counter my cavalry was pushed aside with loss and he then tried to counter attack my center and right. Before long he lost another five units and suddenly the game was tied at 7 VP each. There were several more turns of cat-and-mouse sparring before I was able to knock off the 8th unit for the win.

Like Napoleon, though, I paid a very heavy cost in casualties, so it did feel very Borodino-like in the end.

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