Sharp Practice: Campaign Game 6

Heyhey, it’s time for the next installment of Capt.Cruchon’s amazing adventures!

 

The war is going well for the French. After minor successes, the Austrian army is tumbling back towards the Danube. Hot on their heels is Générale de Brigade Louis-Gaspar Delabréjaude. And hot on his heels: his Bavarian mistress, Cäcilia von Pfünz. She decided to get on a coach and follow her beloved, dreaming of scenes of her and Louis-Gaspar conquering Vienna arm in arm, and him carrying her over the threshold of Schönbrunn Palace.

sharp practice skirmish

The general’s pleas over the course of a longer mail correspondence couldn’t change Cäcilia’s mind. So Delabréjaude ordered Capt.Cruchon and his light infantry to escort the Bavarian beauty to her general.

Somehow the Austrians got wind of the transport and decide to intercept Miss von Pfünz. Will Cruchon manage to help the two lovers to get back together?

 

The Scenario

It’s the regular Escort scenario from the rulebook, with a tiny little twist, to get the focus from beating the enemy’s Force Morale into submission to physically capturing the coach. If at any point the French force morale is reduced to 0, but the Austrians aren’t near the coach the driver will try to escape, instantly moving 2d6 x2 inches towards the table exit. This should make capturing/controlling  the coach a bit more of a factor.

sharp practice skirmish

 

Here’s the table:

skirmish sharp practice

The French enter via a Deployment Point on the main road, they have to move the coach across and off the table and exit at the second arrow. If the Austrians capture the coach and want to drive it off the table they have to exit to the North or South edges of the table.

The terrain is pretty open. The forest in the lower left is Heavy Going, the row of trees above is a linear obstacle. Same with the fencing around the pasture. The barn above has two points of entry, but no windows, so it’s not a really useful building to capture.

As per the scenario, Cpt.Shandy, playing the French, would get a number of free moves with his force and the coach before we roll where my (Austrians) Deployment Point would be placed.

 

The Forces

French (Force Morale 9)

5 x Line Infantry, led by Capt. Camille Cruchon (Status III) and his second in command (Status II)

1x Voltigeur Skirmishers, led by a Sergeant (Status I) Notes: They got the Sharp Practice special rule.

1x Voltigeur Skirmishers, led by a Caporal (Status I) Notes: They got the Sharp Practice special rule.

 

Austrians (Force Morale 9)

3x Wiener Landwehr, led by Hauptmann Franz Schrammel (Status III) Notes: The Landwehr is rated one quality level beneath Regulars.

2x Line Infantry Grenzers, led by a Status II leader. Notes: They can not form a formation with Landwehr units.

1x Wiener Volunteer Jägers, led by a Status I leader. Notes: They’re armed with rifles and got the Sharp Practice special rule.

1x Grenzers Skirmishers, led by a Status I leader. Notes: They got the Sharp Practice special rule.

 

 

The Game

Capt.Cruchon reassures lady von Pfünz that he personally would take care of her well-being. So far, she hasn’t been impressed with Cruchon, but maybe an act of outstanding heroism or two may help win her over…

skirmish sharp practice

 

We rolled for the French (Force Morale 9) free moves before the Austrians (Force Morale 9) would get into the game. Cpt.Shandy got two free moves and cautiously deploys his men in line right away, flanked by skirmishers. Somebody must have told them that an Austrian force was nearby!

sharp practice skirmirsh

 

At the centre bottom you can see my deployment point, right at the edge of the pond. Which, as I’ll admit, is a bold move. I had some wiggle room with placing the deployment point, but i wanted to have it as far ‘into’ the table as possible. The downside of this of course is that IF the French skirmishers would get to go before I deploy anything they’d take the deployment point and I instantly lose. Well, Audaces Fortuna Juvat.

..and it worked! The French skirmishers did go first, they stormed towards the Deployment point, but luckily for me they fell 2cm short. Phew. This time we wouldn’t set up any new records for short game time.

So the skirmish develops. Mostly by me deploying everything at my disposal to destroy those skirmishers. I like getting rid of enemy skirmishers asap. So I set up a line of Viennese Landwehr and have them open fire. They hit the skirmishers as well as the big infantry line behind the fence. Right afterwards I deploy a group of Viennese volunteer Jägers, who take another shot at the enemy skirmishers. And then two units of Grenzers in line formation, who do the same thing, again hitting the skirmishers as well as the long infantry line. Due to how many units soak up the damage from the salvos the results get a bit ‘dilluted’.

skirmish sharp practice

Meaning the French skirmishers actually get away, while the French lines takes some casualties, but nothing that would put them into any sort of actual danger. My Jägers (left) take off to take position down the road after they short their first salvo. However, they don’t get far for now.

 

While my units’ initial strike is rather nice (especially due to a random event which made my Grenzers fire twice), it leaves me with a pretty complicated situation: My two infantry lines are right in front of each other, and the line in the back (Landwehr) are on Uncontrolled Fire! And those French skirmishers are taking off across the fence again!

Throwing caution in the wind I order the Grenzers to hunt down those skrimishers without paying attention to either their comrades possibly firing into their backs or the French line catching them.

sharp practice skirmish

It actually works. Okay, the Grenzers aren’t in any sort of formation any more, their muskets are unloaded, and one of their two groups is pretty shaken, but they run after the French Voltigeurs in what might become a breakthrough. The Landwehr are quick-witted enough to stop firing when Hauptmann Franz Schrammel orders them to and instead advance into the pasture, carefully avoiding several phlegmatic cows on their way.

The Grenzers are hot on the heels of the French Voltigeurs, as my last unit, the Grenzer skirmishers, show up to charge the enemy skirmishers in the rear.

sharp practice skirmish

Once more the skilful French skirmishers slip away under few casualties. They’re barely in fighting shape, but they’re still there.

skirmish sharp practice

So I urge my Grenzers on to get rid of these skirmishers, break through, and capture the coach. However, the French overcome the initial paralysis and start forming resistance.

Capt.Cruchon’s second in command (by proxy of poor Merlot, who was captured by the Austrians again last time) takes two infantry groups and mounts a counter-attack against the Grenzers who just crossed the fence. The attack is beaten back though.

skirmish sharp practice
Dotted arrows depict retreats.

Capt.Cruchon will not allow for his troops to be treated that way in front of a lady. “PIVOT!” he orders his infantry line, and drives his horse to help bring order into the ranks of the two groups who just unsuccessfully attacked the Grenzers.

sharp practice skirmish

Things got really hectic, so I forgot to take pictures for a while. Cpt.Shandy reminds me that this isn’t Dux Britanniarum, as I drive single groups of  soldiers on to throw themselves at any possible weak spot, devoid of any tactical finesse.

My Landwehr line advances a little, as the French line (who still haven’t fired a shot) maneuvers to link up with the two groups led by Cruchot. Those two groups are locked in grim mêlée with the Grenzers. The other group of line grenzers withdraws behind the Landwehr line to rally. There’s no real way to achieve that without Hauptmann Schrammel taking care of that personally, but he probably won’t leave his line. The fact that this full, but shaken, group of Grenzers would sit in cover and be out of the game concerns me at this point.

On my right though the skirmishers do well in shoo’ing off the French Voltigeurs, who eventually break and flee off the board. This reduces the French force morale to 4 whereas mine sits more comfortably at 7.

kirmish sharp practice

Here below we see the nucleus of the whole situation: The Grenzers (lightly shaken, leader wounded, but fighing on) push back one of the battered French groups and make ready for the final push…

sharp practice skirmish
Don’t mind the French skirmishers in the back. They aren’t firing at the coach, they just reposition and carry their “our muskets are unloaded!” puffs of smoke around with them.

…as Capt.Cruchon masterfully dresses the ranks by sending one of the battered groups back, grabs a fresh group from the line and charges home against the Grenzers. They fight with the grim determination of men who know that a lady is watching, the Grenzers flee and leave their wounded leader back in the fields.

sharp practice skirmish

At this point the French Force Morale is 1. Hauptmann Schrammel is sure of victory, as he sees his line Grenzers run off in the wrong direction! The French, rallied by this heroic charge led by the Capitaine, start peppering the fleeing Grenzers with shots. The loss at the mêlée, the wounded leader, and the subsequent breaking and flight of the Grenzers puts a huge dent in the Austrian force morale, which all of a sudden rattles down to 2!

 

If the French hold out and manage to take the Grenzer officer prisoner they would snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat! Also of course Grenzers don’t leave a wounded officer behind, no matter what. But mostly they don’t want the French to win. So the Grenzer skirmishers dash over to the officer and barely manage to deploy between him and the enemy.

sharp practice skirmish

Luckily I have two command cards at hand. Sharp Practice! The Grenzers fire a salvo at one of the French groups which only hold together by a thread, the group breaks, and it’s an Austrian Victory. (a really, really close one)

 

Debriefing

Phew. A hard fought game, and rather odd as well. As big lines of infantry proved to be a pretty solid way to victory in the earlier games, this doctrine seems to get tested lately. The space just wasn’t there for either of us to make good use of such long infantry lines this time. Due to my force composition it was impossible anyway (Grenzers and Landwehr wouldn’t form one formation), but despite this, the space just wasn’t there.

skirmish sharp practice
“Capt.Cruchon leads the charge”, artist’s depiction. [French Light Infantry in the Woods, by Victor Huen (Source: Wikipedia)]

The French deployed in a long line right away, which isn’t a bad idea, especially given how I couldn’t, but with my frankly negligent move of  placing the Deployment Point as  close to the enemy as I did, the game took on its own odd dynamic, which led to a whole lot of charges, evading skirmishers, and little in the way of actual firefights and space (or time) to maneuver.

A toughy. We’re getting the impression that Escort missions are pretty tricky on the defender.

Either way, this was a very hard-fought game. The French just refused to give up, even when left with no command cards, and it almost worked out. It’s remarkable how hard these games are to predict. Not only in result, but also in the events which lead there.

 

Campaign Phase

Without much further ado we proceeded to the campaign phase by working out if Capt.Cruchon had gained any honour during the whole affair. He did not win, but fought gallantly, and even led a successful charge, which gained him 7 honour points. It also counts as a heroic deed in the eyes of Cäcilia von Pfünz, which probably would have helped Cruchon wooing the lady. If she wasn’t on her way to Austrian battalion headquarters for questioning right now.

sharp practice skirmish

Filled with dread, Capt.Cruchon sent a runner  with the news to Générale de Brigade Louis-Gaspar Delabréjaude. The return message Cruchon receives gets him much more upset than anything – Delabrejaude seems relieved about his mistress having been taken away by the enemy! (this was one of the possible results of how brigade command reacts to a loss of this scenario)

Capt.Cruchon though will not accept such behavior and already works on plans to find Cäcilia von Pfünz and rescue her!

But first the wounded have to be taken care of (Random Event!). As if out of thin air, Hypolite Pincecourt (the doctor he met travelling with Capt.) Charles Benés shows up on the battlefield, demanding Cruchon for help with getting the wounded proper treatment. Capt.Cruchon, being a man of honour, immediately orders one of his Voltigeurs groups to help the doctor. This group will be delayed for the next game.

sharp practice skirmish

If you’ve been following this campaign for a while, you will notice that this is the same random event which happened to my Captitaine Benés after his first mission. From now on, Capt.Cruchon will also be able to rely on the services of the physician Hypolite Pincecourt.

sharp practice skirmish
“I heard you had a tough fight today, comrade?” – “Yes, we tend to stay and fight instead of rushing headlong off the battlefi-” – “…and that you lost the general’s petite-amie?” – “Yes. Rumour has it the general is pretty happy with that. But our capitaine isn’t. He seems to take it personal.” – “God save us from officers who take things personal. Means it’s usually us who have to do the work.” (Artist: Dionisio Alvarez Cueto)

 

Well, that’s it for this installment of Star of Bravery. I hope that you enjoyed the battle report. Stay tuned for the next game!

 

As always, Cpt.Shandy also wrote a battle report on his blog, which you can find here.

 

Leave a Reply