OK .. I really like Blucher Napoleonic Rules and here is why .. Leipzig 1813 "Big" Game (Day One) .. [Long Post]

OK .. I really like Blucher Napoleonic Rules and here is why .. Leipzig 1813 „Big“ Game (Day One) .. [Long Post]

I had the extreme pleasure of participating in Leipzig 1813 refight (weekend Saturday and Sunday affair) at Pendrakon Games in Middlesbrough. Coming off the high of a two day Napoleonic frenzy (Leipzig) I can say hand on heart that I have never (previously) seen such a huge battle, played to conclusion so, so cleanly. I think we have Sam Mustafa’s Blucher rules to thank for that. They were brilliant, even in the hands of a „hard of thinking“ confused.com wargamer like myself, Full credit to the game’s organisers (David Lambert) for choosing the right tools for the job. The attention to detail and care was clear in this labour of love – the precise detail and level of organisation in the event. Thanks must also go to Pendrakon Games, for the event hosting and most convivial environment (including a wargaming shop selling fantastic pieces of 10mm kit). For the game itself, it was daunting also to see so much precious 15mm Napoleonic kit on the table. Total respect to all and apologies if I have left anybody out worthy of praise for contributing to the fine day, please excuse any ignorance on my part. Note: For me I found this game awe inspiring, as I have long since vowed not to paint 15mm Napoleonic’s – tried it once but it really burned me, I did it far too slowly and could not get into a factory mode of production – you need so much kit to do it justice! Ramblings over .. on with the game
Day One [Saturday]: Orders from Napoleon himself – Defend the Town, yes that Town (Gahlis, as it s on the left flank of the North French Table, do not lose the flank), defend it to the last man. Tactically the Left Flank lies across the other side of the river [units there cannot support the defence of the town], so use that area as a delaying mechanism – trade space for time as it is of no real significance (see below, the set-up – „my“ piece of land/real-estate to fight over for the next two days of wargaming, a town [called Gahlis – not even sure how to pronounce it correctly] commanding a bridge cross the river to Leipzig and a „hanging“ left flank over the other side of the river. I did not defend to the river line as I had no wish to be pinned there and be destroyed by the impressive Russian and Prussian grand batteries of artillery the Allies possessed ):

My French guns and Infantry hold the Town (see below, the figures are based on big blocks rather than fiddly small pieces (you know „those“ types of rules, with two man skirmishers that detach from the block) which thankfully makes them by contrast so easy to move about):  

As French Left Flank Commander I am pinning great hopes on the artillery disordering (or rather inflicting severe casualties on the advancing enemy infantry) on the Prussian attack (see below, a mighty French Grand Battery waits to speak):  

There is solid French Infantry to the right of the town (see below, all part of the same corps, so command integrity should not be a problem): 

My Right Flank (although it is the centre of the actual French line of battle [on Table 1 – yes there were two huge tables, as Leipzig and the French Army were the filling in the middle of a huge Allied Army sandwich]) consisted of excellent regular infantry .. but I am lacking in artillery – or rather Grand Batteries (see below, I am facing a huge coalition [I spotted Swedes (Bernadotte) and Russians) of „combined arms“ [Cavalry, Infantry and Artillery] Allied Corps – they simply have too much of everything! – Yes,, as a seasoned general  I am preparing my excuses early!): 

A local Corp Level Reserve in held on the baseline (see below, I am hoping to not need them sooner than later, but I know at om point  will need them – Blucher rules note, no they were not held in the wood as that is not allowed, this was the Reserve in a „sorting the troops out phase“ – and there were a „lot of troops“ on the table that day [candidate for understatement of the year]): 

Opening Rounds: The Russians are coming, quick deploy the Reserve Cavalry. The somewhat significantly unimportant „hanging left flank“ was sentried but not really defended. It was a lure that was aimed to entice the Allies away from the strategically important Town (how important depended on the value of a playing card hidden in a sealed envelope underneath the terrain piece – nice umpiring touch). As the Russians suddenly became interested in this piece of riverside real estate, two brigades of cavalry were despatched .. so the French would only be outnumbered three to one (see below, sometimes as a Napoleonic French commander you have to display a certain national „sang-froid“): 

A things were developing on the left, the Russians and Prussians were shooting .. very effectively. The massed grand battery of French artillery I had placed to much in store by became a graveyard of Imperial hopes and dreams, it simply disappeared under a storm of counterbattery fire (see below, as the French Commander I was left wondering if I had been too brave in putting it in the front line .. infantry in the same place would have taken more time to have been bled away, a horrible form of calculation to contemplate):  

I (as in the French commander on the spot) have a cunning plan to disrupt the Russian advance on the left with a bold and daring advance of a brigade of French Cavalry. The plan was to stop them as they crossed over, if I defended the river-line I would be meat for their guns (and I had already experienced that in the town). Therefore as the first Russian cavalry brigade crossed a French one was in position to attack (see below, this also showed the beauty of the Blucher game system, whereas in other rule-sets there would be forty pages of carefully worded instructions [whose interpretation that nobody ever agreed upon] here we would just fight a battle without angst and fuss, but with casualties): 

The result is not good for the French! Perhaps I should have used the Blue (French) dice [4 v 1]. Despite their „wet“ hooves the Russian Cavalry bested the French (causing two hits to the one on the Russians) and will cause them to retreat. Again another shout out to the beautiful Blucher system, simplistic but sane. If you fight you lose a strength point (regardless of if you win – so no superhuman Napoleonic Panzer Tank formations that never take a hit) and if you lose, you will take usually an extra hit at most (unless infantry caught out side of a square or grand batteries pummelled into kindling) but be forced to retire (see below, we are trading Russian Command Cards for time, but paying in French strength points – exchanges like that I think are the essence of the Blucher system):    

The battle on the French left Flank as see from the French Commanders perspective (see below, the French Infantry „eagerly“ awaited its outcome with some trepidation): 

The French Cavalry regrouped and were sent in again but in the meantime more Russians had poured across the river. To cover this crossing the Russians opened up with [devastating] long range artillery on the far right French Cavalry unit (remember it vaguely from the last photograph?) – teh „good dice“ meant it disappeared as an effective fighting force (as in, it was removed from the table). Blucher can be cruel, but the Allies were trading vast amounts of artillery ammunition for French strength points so there is a logic to it all (see below, the French left is beginning to look a tad precarious and sparsely held): 

A close-up of the second French-Russian cavalry action (see below, yes those are Cossacks following the Russian cavalry, with infantry on the Russian far right – thankfully artillery cannot cross the river unless at a bridge, the only one being behind the French held town): 

Sadly for the French it all ended in pretty much the same manner as the first (see below, French cavalry retiring, somewhat bruised, to the safety some low lying hills): 

Meanwhile the French Commander had deployed his local Infantry Reserve to a position behind the Town, as there were signs of an impending Allied attack (see below, there will be great need of French reinforcements and perhaps even a counterattacking force in the very near future): 

The first Prussian attack goes in 1-to-1 (and bounces, but it still serves to wear down the French infantry – some unlucky person has to be first in after all. It is very important not to let the attacker have 2-to-1 odds (see below, French infantry positions to the left and right of the town will move up to soak up the attention of additional Allied troops, if need be [or rather as it was]): 

Forward line of  French Defence. The French infantry is literally bled dry, dying in place but defending the town (see below, both of the French units left and right take horrendous causalities and are retired or destroyed in the course of the „hot“ action): 

The second line of French to recycle the defender but as the Prussians put in all-in Corps attack on the Town, the odds now go 2-to-1 in the „attackers“ (Prussian) favour (see below, the far right French reinforcements do not get to teh town in time to stop a 2-to-1 attack going in): 

The „Town“ (Gahlis) Falls to the Prussians (see below, the only concern the Prussians have is that the Prussian troops to their right fighting outside the town, were beaten back – which leaves the town environs as a Prussian salient surrounded by very angry Frenchmen): 

The French conduct a counter-attack with that „well placed“ Infantry Reserve (see below, it is imperative NOT to lose the town as it will unhinge the position of the French Right on the „southern battle board“ – [yes, directly behind me, there was either 28 foot or 30 foot of battle was in play, the French were in the centre facing outward and players „back-to-back“] AND it would mean that the French would have to re-take it [always harder] the next day – as in Day Two of Leipzig which we were going to play on Sunday): 

French honour is saved .. the Town (Gahlis) is re-taken .. done quickly before the Prussian are given time to prepare its defences (see below, as a result the Prussians are worn-out now and have little offensive firepower left in them, for the time being the town is safe and therefore by definition the French Southern Right Flank is merely fighting enemy to there front, not front and rear!): 

On the „Refused (some rude people would say „hanging“) Left Flank“ .. all is quiet but looks rather precarious in the longer term for the French (see below, the Allied command focus has been mainly concerned on the battle for the town, which has resulted in sluggish Russian movement [there are rather a lot of them] up to the river line – the French Commander had to activate his last local reserve [a cavalry Division] to fill out a rather pathetic looking ensemble of a defensive line – thanks to the ravaging appetite of the Russian Heavy Artillery): 

Meanwhile the Russians are crossing over the river on the French „northern board“ Left Flank in considerable force (and that is somewhat of an understatement if you ask me). It is a long route over but they are considerably out numbering the French defenders. The French Left Wing Commander (as in me) is facing the cream of Mother Russian – The Tsar’s Imperial Russian Guard. Thankfully by crossing the river they are leaving their Imperially Russian Guard Artillery on the other side of it and out of effective combat range (see below, the Tsar’s Imperial Russian Guard getting its bonny feet wet, included in its midst is a certain emigri French Colonel ‚A‘ who has a point of honour to sort out with the French Left Wing Commander General de Brigade ‚F‘ , they met at Tilsit in 1812 as friends but are now facing each other as deadly enemies in 1813): 

The Imperial Russian Guard Grenadiers are advancing in splendid form. The French can hear the terrible sound of their drums, but with it night approaches now, despite a few skirmishing rounds both sides bivouac – camps fires are seen coming to light around the battlefield (see below, these fine Russian fellows will see action tomorrow morning): 

Next – Day Two: Which will be to „Defend the Town“ against all-comers (again). As the Emperor wishes, so it shall be! I have been promised „quality“ reinforcements? I just hope it is not like that time in Russia all over again .. I don’t like crossing rivers, at least this one is not frozen.
Footnote: Aids that helped me to learn to play Blucher, plucked from the web:
The official Blucher site: 

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