There is currently a wargame exhibition called “Krigsspel” at the Swedish Army Museum. Last weekend me and three friends joined a 15 mm napoleonic battle arranged by OSS, Organisation for Strategy games Stockholm, at the museum. OSS supplied a large gameboard, lots of fine 15mm miniatures and rules. Visitors had a chance to join in and at times there were around 20 people playing. The setting was great and there is a special feel to play in an old hall under the vaults with real artillery pieces and other Napoleonic equipment around.
The game board depicted a section on the north side of Leipzig 1813 with 5 victory objectives. In the center was a village called Möckern. Me and my friends were given forces and I ended up with a veteran infantry brigade with strong artillery and excellent leadership at the extreme left. Next in line was my nephew Björn who had great luck and got a crack heavy cavalry force including cuirassiers. Even general Ney himself was in the vicinity to lend a hand if we experienced command problems. In front of us and between the lines was an important victory objective in a church and a walled village. There was som some small fields at the end of the game board but our approaches looked really cramped and we had no room for maneuvering. If we adopted attack formation or fire lines two thirds of our force would have to be in reserve. We surveyed the situation and came up with a rudimentary plan. We were to play a small part in a really large tabletop battle.
When the first turn began the cavalry swung left and headed for open ground and the infantry ended up in cover next to the wall surrounding the village. The forces thus switched place and as we wanted cavalry securing the flank and infantry in the cramped alleys and gardens in the village. Our command rolls was excellent, and continued to be, and everything went as planned.
Meanwhile the rest of the French line came into motion. Since many were newcomers to the game, yes even tabletop gaming, and there were large numbers of small miniatures to move around the turns progressed at a snails pace. We however enjoyed the game. It looked awesome and talking to fellow French players making up plans was really cool. We had two overall commanders used to the game and they drew up the strategy and gave orders. Our orders were simple. Try to secure the church and anchor left flank. In the pic above, the French forces on our right advance with German allies in support. When we went over to this part of the game board me and my nephew saw that the forces here were weak ordinary line and the small miniature generals of much bader quality rules wise, meaning it was harder to get things to work. German allies were around and their activation probability was a disappointment but they had some fine skirmishing forces (jaegers ?) in forward positions.
Near me and my nephews forces but on the other side of the church, hussars and dragoons went forward and concentrated infantry used the roads. These forces had luck and great die rolling left them in command of the church victory objective in the first turns. There was some heroic stuff with French hussars charging and delaying enemy moves towards church.
Situation left flank.
Soon my force was bottlenecked in the small approaches around the church and the enemy forces proved to be really strong so we played it out safe and went for a defensive stance. We did not have to attack since we controlled the church. Meanwhile the battle raged on other part of the battlefield. On our flank there was a lull for much of the day and we traded artillery fire and made minor adjustment. One can say that we checked the strong enemy force. There was a mutual cavalry charge around noon and we forced enemy infantry into square pinning them but got the worst of it and our dragoons came back depleted and shaken. We kept the elite cuirassiers as a reserve. Then the enemy slowly approached us and we were, to be honest, outplayed by more experienced tabletop enemies using infantry, cavalry and artillery in deadly combinations but it was to late for ’em. We still had two thirds of our force left when the game ended in the evening. We lost a horse battery, dragoons and our forward infantry regiment but had fresh troops that never saw combat. At that time a big hole had been punched in the French centre by Prussians (?) and 5 brigades were destroyed. Far from us on the right flank things looked better and the enemy Swedes committed there were on the run. Flanks holding and center defeated. When counting victory objectives the French won! Had play continued into the night I think that we would have lost as the enemy forces had numerical advantage and more reserves. For our own part we had a chance to try this great game and our cautious play may have been the right way?