Sometimes, when I have a big chunk of painting to do, I like to lessen the overall number quickly by painting the easy stuff. I find it boosts my morale. Fortunately, for Operation Zorndorf this is easy. By picking on the Observation Corps I can quickly reduce the number of infantry I have to do from 516 to 336. Here are the first 108 figures painted since the last Zorndorf post.
Here are the first three (of four) regiments of the Russian Observation Corps. These are giant regiments, they each comprise a nominal three battalions rather than two, of 36 figures each (in fact, they are 35 figures strong because of what I actually managed to get hold of from Dave Thomas - they are all ebay purchases - but that is close enough). Firing regiments all have extended depth bases to prevent 'bayonet clash', and the bases have a notch to mark the actual size that they should be.
I will have two regiments in a shooting pose and two regiments in a marching pose. So that I can field them as units of 24 figures if I need to, I have chosen to give one regiment in each pose two flags - to make four units into six, each with a flag. So that regiments can be distinguished I have chosen to do four regiment flags as coloured Ordonnance flags - here are blue for 1st, green for 3rd, light blue for 4th and there will be yellow for the 5th (the 2nd Regiment, red flag, was never completed or mobilised). White flags were colonel's colours. I'm not 100% happy with my rendition of the flags, but I can always plead "hand painted".
These are almost entirely Foundry figures. These Russians, without coat and personal 'marching' equipment, are possibly the easiest Seven years War figures you are ever likely to paint - fill your boots. Next up, the last regiment of Observation Corps musketeers and one regiment of OC Grenadiers.
This very short report caps off the action in the Reserve Demolition game. The action was over in the blink of an eye. In fact, we were left with enough time to completely reset the battle and get in the first turns of it - which may be reported on later.
We left the action with the Prussians (yours truly) out of morale chips but defensively set, and eager, to receive the Russian onslaught. Then this lot rolled up for their quality. They mostly rolled up as determined (Up 2 to all rolls) with an incredible series of D20 rolls of 20! My goose was cooked.
And I felt a little surrounded.......
It didn't take long for the Russians to close to point blank range. Whilst they blasted the Prussians to pieces, a regiment of Horse Grenadiers managed to break through to the bridge. The scattered pioneers, busy preparing the bridge for demolition, were duly slaughtered. With no way of destroying the bridge and, with the enemy everywhere, I said "Bonjour, mon ami" and surrendered my sword like a Frenchman in a brothel.
I deployed around the bridge and on the southerly knoll. Then the first Russian command came on table - they chose to attack from the south.
The Russians led with their cavalry, which charged under a hail of well timed canister shot from my artillery on the grassy knoll. The cavalry were eventually repulsed by Prussian infantry, but not before the guns were lost - honours equal.
This charge successfully allowed the Russian infantry to get organised. I had hoped to give it a pounding with my guns. The Russian guns were prolonged forward with undue haste - even further ahead than this shot shows. They were charged by rapidly deploying Prussian dragoons. Before the first gunner could pull the sponge out of his arse the Prussian cavalry was on them - Huzzah!
Around the knoll, I formed up to make a stand, reinforcing the knoll with grenadiers. Word arrived that the powder train to blow the bridge was en route. Better late than never.
With the arrival of the grenadiers, the cavalry turned into column of march to redeploy against a second attack coming in from the north. The Prussians would be hard pressed to hold the knoll, and what was left of their artillery was rushed to form a second line of defence - just in case.
The northern attack force was a strong one, and it wrong footed the Prussians completely - I had banked on at least one attack coming from the east.
What was more, it came on at great speed, and my eastward facing troops were in serious danger of being outflanked.
The attack from the south was now at close quarters and the musketry of both sides was deadly.
The Russians superior numbers began to tell. My gallant Prussians were being destroyed.
To the north, as the powder train made its ponderous way to the bridge, and I desperately withdrew troops to form a new northward facing front with secure flanks, the Russians came steadily on......... To be continued. All in all, the scenario is proving to be good fun. It will take a Prussian miracle to win though, I'm already out of morale chips.
The war game planned for last week did not come off quite as planned (the above shot is from the game played solo) so, at present there is no report to post. But we are going to fight it again tonight - Huzzah! - so a report is in the pipeline. Earlier this year I started to think about the demo-game we will do at Sheffield Triples next year. Triples is a two day show, so a big game is always worthwhile, and we always like to vary the period of our games so that we don't become known for just one thing. It has been years since we did a Seven Years War game at Triples using 28mm figures - Lobositz from memory - and the rebuilding of my SYW collection was in full swing, so I thought, why not? The 'why not' was not hard to find. My SYW collection was in pieces (converting 16 man units into 24 man units) and, quite frankly, there was not much of it. I had been successfully, if slowly, building the lead pile with purchases from ebay (mostly WF Russian and Prussian - my Austrians are no where using this strategy), but when I totted everything up, re-fighting a historical battle was only possible (with my mix of troops) if it was drastically scaled down. This is not the kind of thing I like to do at Sheffield, so I put the idea on the back burner.
Two previous games at Sheffield Triples - Cerignola and Lake Trasimene
Come October, and with no definite plan, I had to decide on something. Again I counted up my Russians and Prussians, painted and unpainted, new purchases and old. Now, I was quite close, but not close enough to fudge it. Bollocks - time to splash the cash! It will be Zorndorf! So, now I've decided, here is what I need to do. I will stage Zorndorf using my collection of SYW troops. Each regiment will be represented by a single unit of infantry or cavalry. (I organise my units by the correct[ish] frontages so most infantry regiments will be 24 figures on an 18cm frontage, and each five squadrons of cavalry will be represented by 8 cavalry on a similar frontage). Here is what I need: Got and painted is the first number in black, the total needed is the second number in red, the third number, in blue, is the number of units that I'm still (even after a significant spend) required to purchase.
Russian: Line Infantry Regiments: 12 / 16/ 2 Grenadier Infantry Regiments: 4 / 0/ 0 Combined Grenadier Infantry Regiments: 0 / 3/ 0 (Representing 6 Btns) Observation Corps Infantry Regiments: 0 / 4/ 0 (36 man units) Observation Corps Combined Grenadier Infantry Regiments: 0 / 1/ 0 (36 man unit) Cuirassier Regiments: 2 / 4/ 2 Horse Grenadier Regiments: 1 / 0/ 0 Dragoon Regiments: 0 / 2/ 2 Hussar Regiments: 3 / 5/ 0 (Representing 4 regiments - one of 10 squadrons) Cossack Regiments: 5 / 8/ 3 (Representing 7 units) Artillery: 8 / 12 / 4 (guns - a slight fudge on numbers, this represents 17 batteries) Note: On the day, not all cavalry regiments will be fielded at full strength, but they will be collected as such to future-proof.
Prussian: Musketeer Infantry Regiments: 10 / 1/ 0 Fusilier Infantry Regiments: 1 / 4/ 0 Combined Grenadier Infantry Regiments: 2 / 5/ 0 (Representing 9 Btns) Cuirassier Regiments: 4 / 6/ 0 Dragoon Regiments: 3 / 6/ 0 (Representing 5 regiments - one of 10 squadrons) Hussar Regiments: 1 / 6/ 0 (Representing 3 regiments - all of 10 squadrons) Artillery: 6 / 12 / 2 (guns - a slight fudge on numbers, this represents 18 batteries) So what do I need: I need to paint: 516 Infantry, 144 Cavalry, 14 Guns and crew. I need to buy: 48 Infantry, 56 Cavalry, 12 Guns and crew. Now, that's a mouthful. I'd better get chewing.
It is time to ring the changes and, with next year's demo games at the back of my mind, I have decided to do some Seven Years War gaming to inspire me to get more painting done. And I do need to get inspired because I have over 500 more SYW figures to paint by the end of next spring if the Zorndorf demo-game is to become a reality. In need of a quick scenario to get the juices going I turned to my book shelves and took out an old favourite. This scenario is largely based on Reserve Demolition by Charles Grant in his book Scenarios for Wargames (published, WRG 1981). This is a book of 52 scenarios, one for every week of the year, covering all periods of historical war gaming and including tactical teasers for everything from basic attack defence set ups, through ambushes and coastal raiding, to games involving helicopters and trains. It is one of my all-time favourite war game books and definitely worth picking up if you don’t already have a copy – although many of the scenarios are oft run and commonplace wargames fare (in one guise or another), having them all in one place as an aide memoire is always comforting when you are stuck for a scenario to do. Reserve Demolition is scenario number 20; it features in Part 2 of his book dealing with river scenarios.
What follows here is my adaption of the scenario for a game, with a fictional Seven Years War backdrop, to be played using Classic Piquet rules. Because of the armies and the rules, changes have been made to the detail of the scenario, but the general underlying ‘plot’, terrain and overall force sizes are mostly unchanged.
“A “reserve demolition” is the modern parlance for a bridge prepared for demolition but which must not be destroyed until the time is right.”
The year is 1759 and Frederick the Great has been rebuffed at Kunnersdorf. His army has ceased to exist as a fighting force capable of strategic action. Nothing but small forces now remain between the Russians and Berlin. Frederick has given orders that all bridges that might be used by the enemy are to be prepared for demolition. They are not to be blown without direct orders from the King as he might yet use them, if he is given time to concentrate a new army, for a counter-stroke.
The object of the scenario is a single stone bridge that crosses a deep and swiftly flowing river. At either end of the bridge three ‘town sections’ make up a small village. Due east of the village, commanding a crossroads, is a walled farm (single ‘town section’). North of the farm is an open wood (type II terrain), south of it a small gently sloping hill (type I terrain). To the south east a large, steeply sloping, flat topped hill dominates the whole area (slopes are type II terrain). All other terrain is ‘virtual’. In the photo above, the 'chain-line' marks the limit of Prussian deployment east of the river.
Commander in chief, three field officers.
2 units of elite grenadiers – Fire D12, Melee D8, Morale D8.
6 units of line infantry - Fire D10, Melee D8, Morale D6.
2 units of elite cuirassier – Fire D4, Melee D12, Morale D8.
1 unit of elite horse grenadiers – Fire D6, Melee D10, Morale D8.
2 units of hussars – Fire D8, Melee D6, Morale D6.
1 medium artillery battery – Fire D8, Melee D4, Morale D6.
1 medium howitzer battery – Fire D8, Melee D4, Morale D6.
Note: Officer Quality deduct - 2; Unit Quality - no change; Opportunity Chips - 3; Army Characterisation Deck cards (divisor 4) - 3; Sapper Task - D6.
Capture the bridge intact.
You command an advance guard tasked with seizing a vital bridge over which the main army will cross to reach Berlin and end the war. You can advance on the bridge from any of three directions east of the river – using the east road, the north road, or the south road. You can divide your force into two columns, sending one by a circuitous route and approach from two directions, or keep your force concentrated and approach from just one.
In game terms: You must choose one or two roads on which to enter the battlefield. If you choose two you must choose the mix of each force and choose which will include the commander-in-chief before the battle begins. The force with the commander in chief will arrive as soon as the game starts with the first units being allowed to make an on table march of one move at full rate before the first throw for initiative. Units entering the table need not be in column of route but must start their move in contact with the road. The second force, if there is one, arrives immediately following the second appearance of the player’s Stratagem card, as per the main force (the delay is caused by the circuitous route the second column must take).
Intelligence suggests that the Prussians are preparing all of the bridges in the immediate area for demolition. For the operation to succeed speed is of the essence. Once on the bridge any demolition charges must be neutralised and a bridgehead on the western side of the river established.
In game terms: If the bridge has been prepared for demolition, and you have infantry on the bridge, you can clear the charges by making a successful check on your sapper task card. Because your infantry are not sappers they carry out this sapper task with a down 1 modifier. A bridgehead can be established by occupying the two buildings on the western side of the river, which incidentally also prevents the bridge being blown.
Commander in chief, two field officers, one officer of engineers.
1 unit of elite grenadiers – Fire D12, Melee D8, Morale D8.
4 units of line infantry - Fire D10, Melee D8, Morale D6.
1 unit of sappers - Fire D10, Melee D8, Morale D6.
2 units of elite dragoons – Fire D4, Melee D12, Morale D8.
3 medium artillery sections – Fire D8, Melee D4, Morale D6.
Sappers can be deployed at the bridge (they must be there to effect preparation but not material acquisition or destruction). One unit, or up to two artillery sections, can be deployed west of the river. All other units must deploy east of the river within the marked deployment area. Prussian forces deploy after the Russian player has organised his attack but before the Russian player deploys his first forces on table.
To hold the bridge, with minimal losses, until ordered to destroy it.
You are responsible for holding and, ultimately, destroying the bridge if the orders arrive to do so. Unfortunately, although the enemy are within a day’s march of the bridge, the officer of engineers and his sappers have not received sufficient explosive and other equipment to blow it up – though the arrival of the powder train is imminent. The officer of engineers has told you, in detail, what is required to blow the bridge.
In game terms: A series of sapper task checks (detailed below) must be made on the appearance of your Sapper Task card. One test is allowed each time the card appears. Failure at any stage will require the check to be retaken on the card’s next appearance until the check is successfully passed. The bridge is old and in a state of some disrepair so all sapper task checks will be made with an Up 2 modifier.
First you must pass a sapper task check to acquire materials (the powder train), which will arrive by the northern road on the western side of the river (wagons count as medium artillery for movement).
Second, and after the powder train has arrived at the village, you must pass a sapper task check to prepare the bridge for demolition.
Third, you must pass a sapper task check to blow the bridge.
This morning you sent a dispatch rider to the King to inform him of the presence of the enemy and requesting further instructions. The rider returned with frustratingly awkward orders: The bridge must be held at all cost and is not to be blown without express orders to do so. You must maintain your force as intact as possible as the King will require it later.
In game terms: Under no circumstances must you let the bridge fall into the hands of the enemy. You can only destroy it if the King orders it directly – orders may arrive to blow the bridge on a successful check on the appearance of the player’s Stratagem card; the player will roll D4 vs D8 on first appearance, D6 vs D8 on the second, D8 on the third, and so on. Whilst fulfilling your orders concerning the bridge you must maintain at least forty percent of your force (14 stands). They must be west of the river if the bridge is blown. My next post will, with a bit of luck, be a battle report of this river action. Until then I'll leave you with the only worthwhile shot I took (before I smudged the lens) of the last game the Lads played: Sidi Rezegh 1941, at The Venue Formally Known As Saville's - our Fiasco 2013 demo game last month.