Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Prague Wargames club annual Christmas game

On Sunday we held our annual Christmas game at the Prague Wargames Club. Every year between Christmas and New year we try to put on a large Napoleonic game (usually in 15mm using General de Brigade rules). This year we managed to rent a hall opposite the Historic Prague new Town Hall (this is where the first Defenestration of Prague took place in 1419, which effectively started the Hussite Wars). You can see the tower of the New Town Hall below from the courtyard next to our gaming hall.

Usually we play a well known battle either from the Peninsular War or Central Europe. This year though one of our key members Petr came up with a new scenario based on a fictional encounter in 1813 in Central Europe. A French Corps was seeking to escape west and had to secure and cross a bridge in the town of Halle. Behind them in pursuit was a Prussian and an Austrian Corps, who themselves had to cross 3 defended bridges to get onto the campaign map.

The game began with orders and map movement. Each side played on a blank map (with just their own forces showing). The Umpire took the movement orders for each turn, and tracked them on his master map. After each turn he would inform each side if they had detected any enemy formations. On the map Light cavalry brigades could spot up to 3 squares away, whilst if any battle took place, the gunfire could be heard 6 hexes away (as in marching to the sound of the guns). You can see a copy of the map below, and the next map with movement counters for third force on it.

Unknown to the either the French, or the Austrian and Prussian Commanders was the fact that there was a third Corps of the British Expeditionary Force which appeared on the flank of the Campaign map. Their objectives were to link up with the Allied army, to delay the French were possible and try to capture either Halle (the prize), or a key crossroads and warehouse in the middle of the map.

The map maneuvering went on for an hour or so and enemy units were spotted and recorded, and some minor engagements began with the river crossings of the Austrians and Prussians (see the photos below).

After slowly advancing towards the centre of the Campaign map, my British Force decided to pin a French Division once we had confirmed that a large Austrian force was fighting its way over the river just to our North (we could hear the battle).  Below you can see the British marching in column onto the table from the bottom of the picture.

The British deployed in battle order just in time to receive a charge of massed French Columns of attack.
Meanwhile on the right flank, the Portuguese Brigade refused the French flank. The plan was to hold and defend against the French in anticipation of the arrival of a British Cavalry Brigade and the main Austrian army and so catch the French from both sides.
Below the British (the Welch Fusiliers to be precise) bring the French massed charge to a standstill with a well timed volley and canister from the artillery battery. Several more volleys and canister eventually routed a number of the French Units, until the French Brigade failed its morale test and retreated.
Eventually the British Heavy Cavalry Brigade appeared on my left flank and quickly saw off the French Light Cavalry.
Unfortunately, also marching to the sound of the guns another French Cavalry Brigade along with a Guard Brigade appeared behind the British line. While the British Cavalry held their own, one regiment of French Lancer regiments got through and smashed into the rear of the British line, routing the Welch Fusiliers (echos of Albuera I hear you say...)

As things were getting hot for the British, the Austrians, top heavy in artillery, finally turned up. But their slow plodding style had little effect on the outcome apart from pinning a few French battalions.
Whilst the British centre was unravelling, the British cavalry successfully stalled the advance of the French until daylight time ran out. The French centre was blown open, but the British in the centre had lost a key battalion and had only just passed their Brigade Morale Test. And so the game ended.

The result was a minor British victory in the battle. The other half of the British Corps had been involved in a holding action against the French further south, on the eastern approach to bridge to Halle, with their left flank anchored on the river. This was a mixed battle, disaster on the left flank where two whole brigades were routed, but success on the right where the French received a bloody nose from the Highland Division.

Overall a very bloody affair with several battles being fought simultaneously over several tables. In total we had over 20 divisional commanders in the whole campaign battle. The British emerged victorious having stuck to their plan to hold and stall the French, without themselves getting destroyed by superior numbers until their allies turned up. In the end it was an Allied victory, as one Austrian Division got around the French and marched into Halle first, thus holding the bridge and Halle's heavy fortifications; the French were thus trapped on the wrong side of the river as more Austrian and Prussian divisions concentrated on their position.

In conclusion, a great day's gaming and hats off to Petr for organizing such a clever and intuitive campaign game/battle day.


  1. A great looking game! Looks like everyone enjoyed it.

    1. Thanks Ray. It was great fun. We started at 9am and finished at 6pm, but the hours really flew by.

  2. A very nice report, love the colors of the battleground!

    1. Thanks Phil. The terrain is getting a bit old now, so will need a revamp in 2014. Might need a bit more grass as well :-)

  3. Now that was a good looking and sounding game!