28 January 2014

BF&S: Village fight in Courland AAR

Last weekend Andreas and I threw together a By Fire & Sword game since it had been a while and both of us wanted to play it. The funny thing was that I was looking over the Royal city of Gdansk and the Courland skirmish lists when Andreas asked me if he could borrow my Reiters since he wanted to try out a new list.

I bit bummed out but agreed, which meant I could neither play Courland nor any Lithuanian skirmish list either. I figured Andreas was going to try out the Swedish skirmish list made up of Reiters and  Dragoons so I geared up with a 12 FSP list of Poles that included:

6 bases of Pancerni with spears
12 bases of cossack style cavalry
4 bases of Volunteers
1 Colonel with 4 command points
1 Major with 1 command point

I left my Dragoons at home since I figured infantry support would hold me back against the Swedish cavalry.

Well... I arrive at the club and Andreas says "I'm going to play Courland"! And I think "Goddamn!" because I know my list is in trouble.

He had 6 bases of infantry, 11 bases of mixed cavalry militia and a single commander that wasn't upgraded at all.

Against my 12 FSP of Poles Andreas was going to field 5 points of Courland militia. For the scenario he rolls and picks the Village, then sets up two companies of his musketeer militiamen inside the village and rolls for additional effects. The Poles suffered 2 delayed companies (1 Pancerni company and the Volunteers), the village got flanking protection from a forest that was moved and to top it off my cossack style squadron began the game panicking (I did too at this point).

Around this time I completely lost my judgement and decided to actually weaken my force further by sending a company of cossack style cavalry on a long flanking maneuver. The enemy infantry in the village was my main concern, closely followed by the mass of enemy cavalry. What I hoped to do was to charge and scatter the infantry quickly, and then link up all my available forces to counter the cavalry. A huge mistake in all of this, induced by the time pressure, was that I left the large squadron of cossack style cavalry to be rallied by the Major with his single command point. I hoped they would get lucky and rally on turn 1 or turn 2 at the latest.

Well, the Poles were not only going to have a very unfortunate day, but the badly led attack would be a disaster as well.

The battle began with the cossack style squadron failing to rally, which meant that the lone Pancerni banner had to charge unsupported against the entrenched infantry. The spear armed cavalrymen rode up to the fence and attacked the unprepared infantrymen that were taking up positions along the fence and inside one of the houses. A few men were killed on both sides but the Pancerni lost combat and began to flee as their morale was shattered by a really bad roll. The embarrassing failure was followed up by the Pancerni fleeing from the battlefield - the Colonel despite his best efforts wasn't able to convince them otherwise. Thus the Poles had lost their only hard hitting unit on the battlefield, the two delayed units were still nowhere to be seen and the cossack style cavalry squadron failed to rally on turn 2 as well... The Polish commander got under fire from the enemy infantry inside the village but was able to doge the bullets.

A small comfort for the Poles came in the shape of the second banner of Pancerni cavalry arriving on the battlefield. The panicking Polish commander deployed them on the far flank against all common sense and the only thing they could do was to maneuver around the Courland cavalry to avoid getting charged, a task they managed quite well - leaving both enemy units confused and disorganized for a turn and two. Still, the lone Pancerni company would not be able to hold their own against the combined cavalry of the enemy. The Volunteers now arrived on the battlefield, got under fire and began withdrawing from the battle before even getting involved - though this time the Polish commander rallied them and threw them against the small enemy cavalry unit coming out to meet them from the village. A brief clash saw the Volunteers turn tail and run.

At this point the village was firmly in Courland hands and the enemy cavalry had the right flank locked down - Polish cossack style cavalry arrived from their flanking maneuver but were very far away from the village at this point - too far to get involved in the fighting. On turn 5 the Polish commanding officer was gunned down by enemy cavalry and the badly organized Polish attack ended as the remainder of the troops threw in the towel and turned back to the safety of the Commonwealth borders.

The Courland force won a strategic victory with a whopping 9-0.

A very bizarre battle that had a perfect mixed bad luck with bad decisions and a very painful display of "additional effects" played by the weaker player defending in his ideal scenario. There were very few actually killed troops in this fight, the Poles lost 1 base of Pancerni and 1 base of Volunteers killed, which would have been quite acceptable if not for the loss of the commanding officer! The Poles also lost 3 bases of Volunteers and 2 bases of Pancerni that fled off the table.

The Courland force lost (if I recall correctly) 2 bases of cavalry killed, and 2 bases fled.

We talked quite a bit after the battle about "weak" forces and the Polish tournament meta which from what we have learned has players field tiny and cheap skirmish forces to win battles by picking favored scenarios and effects. I'm not a fan of such meta gaming, and it makes me a bit worried about our potential visit to the Polish skirmish tournament during the spring. On the other hand we both found the Courland army list to be full of character and really fun. It really makes me want to try out the Gdansk skirmish list next time and see how two defensive "crappy" armies will do against each other. Andreas said the Courland force fitted his playstyle in BF&S perfectly and he will probably run a Courland list next time as well.

I myself am also considering how bringing Polish dragoons would have impacted the battle over the village. It will be very interesting to face Courland next time whatever list I decide to bring - I'm bent on defeating them in our next battle!

4 comments:

  1. Nice to see a BF&S AAR again.

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  2. Great game. :)

    About Polish meta. It is not true that players field forces as small as possible. Sure. Zasieczna Guard, Courland, Gdańsk (Danzig) and Prussian can field small forces but this is an army specific, not meta. Ottomans and PLC tend to field skirmish forces 9-11 FPS strong. Swedish can field 9-11 for infantry detachment and around 12 for reiter veteran skirmish. I play small, defensive forces a lot and 2-4FPS are to small in most cases (well, 4FPS Zasieczna is great vs Courland but it is an exception). Few bases can not be saved against 10-11 FPS strong opponent after he overcomes negative effects. Remember. You can take 1-3 army roosters to a tournament (You can choose them from all available army lists of the same type i.e. You can field Gosiewski, 5FPS from a rulebook and Obuchowicz as Your 3rd choice) so You can prepare for every possible opponent out there!

    One final thought. It is always a good choice to take a single dragoon company in PLC force. Why? You win recon against almost all small defensive forces with at least 8 points. That means that You can field those dragoons within their move distance (close to an important building to block it from being occupied etc.) It is crucial to buy You enough time to attack an unprepared defence of a smaller force.

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  3. Oh.. One more thing about defensive forces. Their main problem is very low command. 1 leader with just ## command points forces us to use small force. More than 4-5 units are impossible to lead.

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