Saturday, 10 December 2011

The Battle of Krookwurst Bridge - Part 1

Battle of the Day

Starting the holiday gaming period a little early this year. Well, there is quite a bit of homework to do first.

The battle of Krookwurst Bridge is a playtest scenario to iron out some rule modifications for a mini campaign in the theme of 'Death or Glory' Napoleonic slightly-historical battles.

Still a stack of troops to get ready - I have managed to paint heaps this year, but its only the tip of a very big iceberg I think.

Aside from that, there is the magnificent gaming area. Rescued a lot of room from the dark corners of the shed, and created a little private zone for indulging my 'hobby' .. or 'profession', or whatever you want to call it.

I have been lucky to have the luxury of 2 small areas that I have been able to put together. Behind the working area of the shed, past the secret door, there is now a high security secret room that contains the gaming table, a few shelves, some military paraphenalia, and a computer loaded with period videos and music.

Its also a great place to hang up uniforms and other excellent ebay finds that you collect along the way.

So, the period campaign map is up on the wall, the table is set, OOBs defined, and preliminary blinds placed on the table.

This is the view of the table looking to the North.

The Allies are advancing from the NorthWest, and the French are advancing to cross the river from the SouthEast.

In the center of the map lays Krookwurst - a town, a fortified redoubt, and outlaying farm yards (the wurst processing plant).

Playing this set of games using Republique, but I will be using a card deck for random unit activation. Republique uses a tradtional IGOUGO mechanism, which actually works just fine the way it is set into the game.

I am experimenting with this one with a rudimentary card activation scheme.

The basic rules go something like this :
  • Sides are divided into 'Red Force' and 'Black Force'.
  • Each Division gets a unique number, and a red or black card of that number is placed in the deck.
  • A red or black joker is placed in the deck to represent reinforcements. Each side has reinforcements, that come on the field after a certain number of Jokers of their colour are played. In this case, each side has jokers in the deck.
  • The Ace of Spades is placed in the deck as a 'Tea Break' card, ala IABSM. When the Ace o' Spades is drawn, then the turn is over. If your card didn't come up during the turn, you didn't move that unit. (or get your reinforcements, etc)
  • A King card is placed in the deck for each exceptionally gifted commander. In this scenario, the French get 1 King card. The Allies are without a King card, but have vastly superior numbers, and more reinforcements.  On playing your King card, you can activate any unit within command range of the gifted commander, and move / rally / attack with that unit. (even if that unit has already been activated this turn). It is effectively a 'free move' card to simulate the extra haste and elan that the French are well reknown for.
  • Move rates slightly altered to accomodate blinds - per 40 minute turn, blinds move 10 inches, infantry in line move 6, in column 8, cavalry move 14.  1 inch = approx 100 metres.  Movements on roads is doubled, movement in bad going is halfed. Keep it simple.
  • Spotting attempts to uncover a blind ... if ((8 + 2D6) >= Distance to target blind in inches), then the target is spotted. Simple mechanism, seems to work pretty well.
Also with the Victory conditions in this game, it is slightly different to your average Napoleonic scenario.

Whilst the units in each side is on the same 'team' so to speak, it is a competition between the 'players', or Formation commanders, to accumulate the most number of Glory points in the game.

Troop losses are of little significance to glory points, these are instead awarded to the commander who achieves certain objectives in the most timely fashion, or is deemed to have conducted himself during the turn like a true officer of merit.

I wont even attempt to quantify a system for dealing out glory points - it is entirely subjective, at the whim of the players, and not even fairly dealt .... When it comes to Glory, objectivity and fairness must take a back seat to favoritism, nepotism, bribery and personal bias,  as you will see.

Those are the campaign rules, and they are not negotiable.

Lets see how it plays out :

View of the table from the Allied corner. I am using poker chips here as blinds for each Division. Up on this distant hill, following the road to Krookwurst, is the main Allied force. In this case, the red tokens represent forces from the 1809 Austrian Advanced Guard Division.

Closer to the action, in the town of Krookwurst itself, there is an 1813 Prussian Brigade, and an 1807 Russian Division.

We jump across to the other side of the table now, where the French are entering the table from an opposite corner.

The blue poker chip blinds represent a small French Division on one blind, 2 regiments of Imperial Guard on another blind, and the Bavarian 1809 2nd Division on the third blind.

Not a bad quality force that main group.  Just a shame there is a bridge in the way creating a bottleneck. Should be able to rush over that before contact is made. That is the French plan anyway.

If you look closely at the town of Krookwurst, and the redoubt to the right of it, there appear to be a couple of allied 'green' blinds. Should be just a small advance party - nothing to worry about.

Over to the French right is a stack of blinds turned upside down. This is for the French off table reinforcements ... being a few rather large Divisions of 1806 Saxons.

Hopefully, they wont be long in arriving, because there is a ford on the river over to the French right.

Here is the whole table seen from the French corner, whilst scenes from Barry Lyndon play on the computer terminal above the gaming board.

Behind those flags, is another secret room that I have managed to create from the dark corners of this ancient tin shed .. but thats a another story for another day.

Moving across to the opposite corner of the table, and taking in the magnificent view from the Austrian commander's viewpoint, you can see the storage racks behind the table for boxes of figures ... a genuine period Austrian flag, Aussie army slouch hat (being a descendent of the Austrian Jaeger Corsehut !!) .. and some helpful red arrows pointing you back towards the light, and civilisation.

Game starts - 0600hrs game time.

First move, nothing much happens. The Russians are represented by the green blind in the middle of the table, between the town of Krookwurst and the small farmyard.

At 0600hrs, the Russians were the only ones to be up and ready to go, with their tents dropped, their packs packed, and their muskets at the ready.

They managed to make a full move down towards the bridge whilst everyone else busied themselves with breakfast and other preparations.

By 0640 hrs, the Russians had made some progress in the dark hours of the morning, but dawn was otherwise uneventful. No contact at this stage.

As the sun began to break, the first offboard reinforcements made their arrival - pleasantly ahead of schedule.

The first of the Saxon forces arrive on the French side, and take up positions by the Ford in the river.

By 0720hrs, the Austrian force had made good progress marching towards Krookwurst, and the first elements of the 1806 Jena Prussians made their way onto the edge of the table.

That was some lucky card draws for each side, so this may get pretty congested pretty quickly .....

Note the small green popsicle sticks on the blinds with arrows on them .. these are the 'order chits' that I am using for this game.

A green chit with an arrow represents a 'march' order, with the direction of march. On the opposite side of the chit is a line of silver bayonets - representing a hold action.  A red popsicle stick with an arrow is for an attack order, and red with bayonets is for a rally / reserve order.

Meanwhile, over on the French corner, the Bavarians got their act into gear first (their card came up first), and so General Wrede gained himself 5 glory points for being the first French unit to cross the river.

Score so far :  
  • 0720hrs  Bavarian GM Wrede :  5. Everyone else : Zero.

Next card to go is the Saxons.

Since that wretched Bavarian Wrede has stolen the glory by being the first to cross the River, the Saxon Prinz Ferdinand can see the ominous movement of several red blinds over the hill, and decides to make use of his turn by ordering his columns to deploy, and prepare a defence.

He rolls successfully to change orders, and the green popsicle stick is turned over to display a 'hold' order.

Meanwhile, the farmyards to his right continue to burn.

By 0800hrs, the morning fog lifts, and all hell breaks loose on the southern flank.

The Bavarians have been held up for some time crossing the bridge. They would normally have made it across by now in a regular turn sequence, but their cards never came up before the tea break ... so you can assume that they had a few logistical issues getting a whole Division plus guns single file across the bridge.

Annoyingly for the French commander's behind the Bavarians, their cards did come up, but they were caught in the traffic jam .. so they to were stuck on the wrong side of the river.

By 0800hrs, the Bavarians had finally got their logistical act into gear, and gained the initiative for this turn.

Their first action was to attempt to spot the green blind to their front.

This they did, revealing an Eylau period Russian Division, firmly ensconced on the slopes leading up to Krookwurst, and with their gun batteries deployed and their powder stacked ready to fire.

View from Wrede's position on the bridge.

Having passed the spotting test, Wrede holds the initiative, and can attempt another action.

These actions are limited to :
  • Spotting attempts   (Die roll to succeed, up to 3 per turn allowed)
  • Rally attempts  (Die roll to improve morale state, once per turn)
  • Change order attempts (Die roll to succeed, once per turn)
  • Change formation / Movement  (as per orders, once per turn)
  • Change orders (Die roll to succeed, once per turn)
  • Close with enemy to engage. (turn ends for this unit after contact)
On any action that requires a die roll to succeed, if you pass then you can choose another action. Otherwise the next card is drawn.

Seeing glory close at hand, Wrede decides to push forward with his columns straight at the Russian centre !  A reckless gamble in the face of those Russian guns ... perhaps ... but worth it for an extra 5 glory points to be the  first to initiate contact with the enemy.

Contact is made on the outskirts of the farmyard, as opposing skirmishers exchange aimed fire at each other from around 150 meters.

The skirmish fire is of little significance, not scoring any significant morale hits, but none the less, Ostermann Tolstoy is awarded 2 Glory points for taking the first pot shots at the enemy.

Meanwhile, over to the rear of the Allied position in the NorthWest, the Austrians draw their card, and GM Nordmann rolls successfully to change the direction of his advance.

Nordmann can sense Glory awaiting him at the shallow river crossing .. the first Allied troop to cross the river, and the possibility of smashing into the rear of the French as they queue up to march over the bridge.

He wheels his Divisions to the left - facing East, and heads straight for the shallow ford crossing of the river.

Onward to Glory !

Meanwhile the 1806 Jena Prussians, marching in perfect order with drums beating and fifes playing their regimental anthems .. make good time up the road and take up a position at the crossroads to the immediate West of the town of Krookwurst. 1 Glory point is awarded to the Jena Prussians for their fine example of disciplined marching, immaculate dress sense, and spirited music.

Situation at 0800hrs : 
  • Wrede: 10 points
  • Osterman Tolstoy: 2 points
  • Blucher: 1 point
  • Everyone else: Zero.

Next turn, the Russians under Ostermann Tolstoy gain first initiative.

Oh dear .. 3 medium foot batteries, at effective range, with saved fire .. and deep targets advancing towards them in column.

He orders his Jaegers back to safety on the left flank, and opens up with the cannon.

View from Wrede's wretched position.

He has managed to extricate himself and 2 regiments of Chevealeger to the safety of the right flank, however the artillery train is still dawdling on the bridge, and the 2 brigades advancing towards the Russians have been shot to pieces.

The brigade on the left has become disorderd and the skirmishers scattered by the cannonade. The main formation advancing up the road has taken a dreadful toll, losing 2 whole battalions incapacitated and morale severely shaken. In this morale state, they can no longer move any closer to the enemy ... which is a shame since they are blocking any further advances from the troops on the bridge.

Confusion and gridlock take hold on the eastern banks of the bridge.

5 glory points are awarded to Osterman Tolstoy for a magnificent display of artillery fire.

Wrede tries to claim 2 additional glory points for holding his line whilst under such dreadful fire .. but the referee declines.

Meanwhile, on the northern flank of the battlefield, all is quiet. The sound of cannon fire echoes across the valley, placing all commanders on alert. They hold their position and send out scouts to gather information.

Now that gunfire has been issued, the command deck changes to reflect the new reality of the battlefield.

A second ace is placed in the deck, and has the following effects :
  • Turns now represent 30 minutes of battle time, instead of 40 minutes.
  • When the first ace is drawn, any unresolved combats are now resolved. 
  • Continue to draw cards from the deck and activate units. This represents the sudden haste that falls upon the battlefield once the commanders know that battle is near. Units activated in this 'second half' of the turn can spot, change orders, rally, and move .. but cannot move into contact with the enemy.
  • Once the second ace is drawn, the turn is over. If a unit's card still didn't come up, then assume that that unit is doing a Bernadotte for another turn.

Situation at 0830hrs : 
  • Wrede: 10 points
  • Osterman Tolstoy: 7 points
  • Blucher: 1 point
  • Everyone else: Zero.

Next turn - all remains quiet on the Northern flank of the battlefield, as both the Austrians (red poker chips) and the Saxons (blue poker chips with yellow centre) continue to let discretion overrule valour.

2 Shame points awarded to both the Austrians and the Saxons.

At the crossroads, the red poker chip shows the Jena Prussian position, as they hold their objective - +1 glory point for displaying Prussian old-school efficiency.

Thee other the green poker chip marked 'A' represents the 1813 Prussians holding the redoubt. 

Ostermann Tolstoy once again gains the initiative by the bridge. The guns open fire once again, reducing the Bavarians by another battalion in each group, and totally demoralizing the brigade positioned on the road.

Russian skirmishers in the wurst processing plant - now unopposed, manage to sneak closer to the Bavarians to their front, and open a hail of skirmish fire from 2 skirmish bases.

Disaster !

Ostermann Tolstoy is awarded a further 5 glory points for the excellence of his firepower ... but is deducted 5 shame points for the cowardly manner in which he refuses to advance. Making a total of 0 points gain for this turn.

The Bavarians remain stuck on the bridge as panic and confusion begins to take hold.

Next to take control of his troops is GdD Dorsenne, in command of the French Imperial Guard regiments. In an act of utter cowardice, he orders his guardsmen to disengage from the logjam on the bridge, and form up to the safety of the flank, where he can prepare a plan of attack.

Since this has some practical advantages, (and since GdD Dorsenne has friends in high places), he is given the benefit of the doubt, and awarded 2 glory points for keeping a cool head in a tight situation.

Situation at 0900hrs : 
  • Wrede: 10 points
  • Osterman Tolstoy: 7 points
  • Blucher: 2 points
  • Dorsenne: 2 points
  • Nordmann: -2 (shame) points
  • Prinz Ferdinand: -2 (shame) points
  • Klux: Zero.

Next turn.

Once again, Ostermann Tolstoy's Russian artillerymen are the first to act. Firing with increasing accuracy, and improved dice rolls, they rip into both Bavarian units once again ... leaving both brigades battered beyond recognition and utterly demoralised.

Plus 5 glory points for technical merit in the field of gunnery.
A massive 10 shame points for a stubborn and cowardly failure to exploit the situation with the bayonet, for a nett loss of 5 glory points.

Wrede draws the next card, and spends the turn valiantly attempting an emergency rally .. risking his own life to restore order to the troops.

Amongst the confusion and gunsmoke, alas, the rally attempt is a failure. 5 glory points though for a heroic effort.

At this critical moment of the morning, when all appears to be falling into ruin, GdD Morand, in command of the French 1st Division of the line ... draws the King card, and steps forward.

Wielding his baton of command, he uses the extra free move awarded by the King card to force the battered Bavarians to shift foward off the bridge, and clear a path for his leading regiment of Legere to advance towards the Russians.

Under the able command of GdD Morand, the Bavarians are moved aside, and the 15th Legere take up the advance against the Russians.

The action on the bridge as the 15th Legere are now clear to advance.

... opening the floodgates for columns of eager troops to avenge the carnage on the bridge.

For this superb example of leadership, GdD Morand is awarded a record breaking 12 glory points.

Wrede is penalised 2 shame points for having his troops commanded by another officer during a crisis.

The Ace of Spades is drawn, ending the first active phase of the turn .. the only phase in which glory (or shame) can be earned.

Both the Austrians and Saxons accumulate 3 more shame points each for their complete failure to do anything useful.

Dorsenne spends the turn dressing the lines of the Imperial guard, and barking orders as if he was on a parade ground, running the men through a lengthy series of drills. 1 Glory point is awarded for being thorough.

Therefore ..

Situation at 0900hrs : 
  • Morand: 12 points
  • Wrede: 8 points
  • Osterman Tolstoy: 2 points
  • Blucher: 2 points
  • Dorsenne: 3 points
  • Nordmann: -5 (shame) points
  • Prinz Ferdinand: -5 (shame) points
  • Klux: Zero.

During the second (inactive) phase of the turn, Nordmann gains the opportunity to move.

He advances towards the ford, eager to find Glory for himself by being the first Allied troops to cross the river, and opening a gap to hit the French in the flank.

Meanwhile, back at the bridge .... the demoralised remnants of the Bavarian 2nd Divsion take up a position behind the hedge.

Local nuns from the convent on the outskirts of Krookwurst offer their prayers to the fallen.

Whilst the Russians hold their ground, carefully reloading their guns for the next round.

2 Glory points to Wrede for stubborn defiance and refusal to retreat in the direct face of the enemy.

Next turn, the Saxons are the first to gain the initiative.

Having spent the entire morning cautiously emcamped behind the ford, listening to the (not too) distant sounds of cannon fire, we can only assume that they have taken up a safe position in dead ground, and sent their fusiliers and hussars forward to scout out the enemy intentions.

A successful scouting report returns ... and the news is not terribly good.

Thats ... ah .... a few regiments of Austrians making their way at full speed straight towards the ford.

Solid columns of infantry regiments on either side, a large mass of light troops in the front, and what looks to be a significant reserve of light cavalry to the rear. A large artillery train is also being man-handled down the slopes from the road.

Not a good situation ... Prinz Ferdinand has a force of less than half this size, and there is no sign of the other 2 Divisions of Saxon reserves yet. Where are they ?

A seemingly endless stream of fresh Austrians coming down from the hill.

There are still 2 more Divisions of Jena Prussians on their way .. and a full strength Corps of Austrian veterans are also rumoured to be on the march from the NorthWest.

What will unfold as the situation develops at the ford ?

Can Morand continue to show exemplary leadership and take the fight up to the Russians ?

Can the Jena Prussians outdo the Imperial Guard in their parade ground discipline and selection of music ?

Not sure .... but thats all for this session. Will shuffle the deck again, and pick up play from 0930hrs and see how the first day of battle unfolds in part 2.

See you then.


  1. Loved the reading and the action. Play by play kept the interest going. Part II should be another fun read. Thank you for the effort.

    Interesting game set up. Similar to the set up we use.
    Blog...plug. Maybe take a glance at my blog site. Look at the system of block movement for future ideas. We use a similar order system which you described...which defines the capabilities of the command when in action (Attack, Defend, Engage, Defend, March, Reserve). There is a orders summary on the blog's rules and videos tab plus lots of other material.

    Michael aka WR

  2. Wow!!! Fantastic looking game!!! And a great batrep as well.

  3. Love the flags in the "War Room", and the "Glory Points"! Interesting mini campaign; I'll definitely tune in again next time.


  4. Thanks for all the feedback there. I had a scour around for ideas some time back, and found a lot of really good resources on wargamerabbit;s site ... and your youtube vids as well. The whole series of videos you have done is excellent, and well worth getting ideas from that system.

    What you have done there can be applied to all sorts of different games ... so I took some bits out of them and applied them to this game. Highly recommended for everytone to take a look at.

    I did a report here some time back :

    But Ill continue to look at those vids for more inspiration next round.

    I think the card activation system (taken verbatim from TooFatLardies systems), is working well adding some uncertainty and tension to the game ... but it is also acting as a leveller for the leadership abilities and C2 aspects of the command. Not sure that is the effect that I am after though.

    I want to capture the feel of better commanders being able to seize the initiative, hold it, and start forcing the opposition onto the back foot. That aspect will take some refinement yet.

    I have a different system again that I am using in big scale WW2/Modern gaming ( that does manage a better job of capturing that feel.of ebb and flow of the battle.

    This one is feeling more like a role playing game at the moment, with a more level playing field. I will cook up some more ideas to the C2 system and play them out in the next session over the next few days.

    The flags by the way, are available from ebay - seller 'fivepsales' .. has a whole range of different designs and they are only $6 each ... bargain !