Friday, September 4, 2009

Treffenwasser post-mortem

First, a big apology to all for the long delay in a post: I had it in mind to wait until I had another battle report ready to give, and then publish all the 'intervening' stuff in a big rush! I decided against this however, and shall just post as I go. So, here's the analysis as promised for the last post - the battle of Treffenwasser! I don't know how others' tastes run, but I always like these sort of things in history books and it's a good way of examining how a game went and making yourself rethink things.

Good grief, but Napoleon was having an ‘off-day’: in a nine-turn game, the first seven turns saw the allies take the initiative! Despite this lack of ‘double-moves’ by either side, the game still proved massively back-and-forth. I’ll just quickly round up my thoughts on how each sides’ strategy unfolded, and the review of the rules set – which I’ve used for the first time on a big scale.

The allies called the tune for most of the battle, so we’ll look at them first. The flanking swing, reaching right to the far side of the board, worked nicely – or would have done, if the allied right wing hadn’t been annihilated by the French attack! Similarly, the allied grand-battery in the centre didn’t do anything like the job it was meant to – the fight took place further south from it, and didn’t really develop around the Grosshugel at all. The allies, if anything, swung too wide! A smaller turn would’ve kept the French fighting close in under the hostile guns and would’ve also enabled the two wings of the army to provide a bit more mutual support.

What of the French? Well, the attack on the left went well, after the jager-infested woods were finally cleared. Sadly by that point, the troops weren’t able to roll up the allied line but rather had to go rushing back to stop the French from being swept away! Mind you, the French had some lucky rolls, particularly in their first attack that collapsed the allied right and in their last-turn counter-attack which took handfuls of units off the table. The allies’ continual winning of the initiative proved something of a blessing in the end, as it meant the French counterblow was made at the very tail-end of the game, when each side had virtually no reserves left and the blow proved mortal.

The French also handled their reserve Guard well. Each side had guard troops, but the allies never brought theirs into play until it was too late while the French made energetic use of their Guard to hold up their right flank and finally threaten to take the Grosshugel. I was always told units in reserve are powerful because they can ‘potentially’ be committed anywhere and so influence several sectors, but they do ultimately have to be committed somewhere to avoid just being well-dressed spectators! The French timed the commitment well and ultimately made the transition to ‘actual’ commitment and scored crucial kills in the sectors that mattered.

So, a valid strategic lesson? I think so, anyway. The rules proved good, and provided a colourful back-and-forth effect to the battles. Terrain like woods and hills were fought over and over by each side, changing hands several times. It was fast-moving and a lot of fun, so I’d recommend them! As to our (literally) little Napoleon, what did the victory mean? Size-wise and casualties-wise, it was on a par with massive battles like Bautzen, which the allies recovered from. Plus, the French lost all ther cavalry and the allies kept all theirs largely intact, so no pursuit for our rotund Corsican. Looks like the battle of Treffenwasser will be just another entry in Napoleon's list of glorious but futile victories in the run-up to Leipzig!

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