16 November 2014

BF&S Huge division battle Poland-Lithuania vs a Muscovy and Ottoman army

This Saturday David, Johan, Robin and I played a big By Fire & Sword division sized battle. The division structures were not "100% legal" due to me running a an additional regiment of western type troops and the oppossing army was made up of 4 Muscovy and 2 Ottoman regiments. Nevertheless, the point was to show the guys at the club how a big division battle could look and play. Johan and I played the Polish Crown army while Robin and David were playing the Muscovite&Ottoman alliance.

The armies included the following troops and regiments:

Polish Crown Division

General with 4 command points (CP)

Polish Cavalry regiment 1667-76
Colonel 3CP
Rotamaster 1CP
6 Bases of Pancerni with spears
6 Bases of Pancerni
12 Bases of Cossack style cavalry
6 Bases of Winged Hussars

Volunteer Regiment
Colonel 3CP
11 Bases of Volunteers

Elite Dragoon Regiment
Colonel 3CP
8 Bases of Elite dragoons

Foreign Contingent infantry New type regiment
Colonel 3CP
Lieutenant-Colonel 1CP
12 Bases of musketeers
2 regimental guns

Reiter Regiment
Colonel 3CP
6 Bases of Reiters
4 Bases of Armored Reiters

Artillery
Artillery Colonel 2CP
2 Falcons
1 Organ gun
1 6pdr Medium gun

Additional Units
3 Bases of Polish Hungarian infantry
6 Bases of Lan infantry

51 FSP in total  (including "Financial troubles" being paid for)
........................

Muscovite-Ottoman division

Muscovite General 3CP

Muscovite Soldat Regiment
Colonel 3CP
12 Bases of Musketeers with Berdishe
6 Bases of Pikemen
3x Falconet light guns

Muscovite Pomiestna Cavalry Regiment
Golova 2CP
8 Bases of Boyar Sons with Spears
8 Bases of Boyar sons


Muscovite Border Dragoon Regiment
Colonel 2CP
16 Bases of Muskets
8 Bases of Oike
2x Falconet light guns

Muscovite Servant Cossack Regiment
Golova 2CP
15 Bases of Servant Cossacks

Ottoman Feudal Sipahi (European Provinces) regiment
Sanjakbey 3CP
18 Bases of Sipahi

Ottoman Privincial Force (European Provinces) regiment
Mounted Aga 2CP
9 Bases of Besli
6 Bases of Segban infantry

Artillery
1 Muscovite medium gun

Additional Units
4 Bases of Muscovite Reiters

44 FSP in total
.........................


Preparing for the battle

The Muscovite-Ottoman army was smaller in points and was defending, choosing a defensive battle - and spending their point difference on turning and narrowing the battlefield making the battle be fought across the short edges. They also invested some of their points into buying field fortifications and finally spending their last 3 points of difference between the armies to roll additional effects, which generated "Good omen" for the Soldat regiment boosting their Motivation level by 1 point and inflicting Panic on a squadron of Pancerni and a Squadron of Cossack style cavalry in the Polish cavalry regiment.


Both sides sent a regiment on reconnaissance, the Poles sent their Volunteers while the Muscovite-Ottoman army sent its Provincial force. As it turned out the Ottoman regiment was stronger and won the recon phase, allowing 1 friendly regiment to make an advance move prior to the battle.
Both recon forces however had trouble finding a safe way back to their Divisions and both sides had half their regiment stuck behind enemy lines at the start of the battle.

The Battle

The Muscovite-Ottoman army had deployed its infantry in a gunline covering the holes in the village perimeter, most of the buildings were to be occupied with Border dragoon musketeers while the Servant Cossacks moved up and took positions on the frontline in the farm. Heavier Muscovite cavalry was placed in the rear while lighter Ottoman cavalry and troops were placed in a forward center position.

The Poles focused their heavy hitting Crown regiment on the left flank, and the infantry and guns on the right. The rear was guarded by small infantry units and the Reiter regiment. At the center there was the returning remnant of the Volunteer regiment, which was almost at its breaking point when the battle started and was moved away from the enemy while the rest of the friendly cavalry moved out.

Progress of the Polish army was slow, the infantry/artillery gunline were moving cautiously due to enemy cavalry units moving back and forth at the front posing a serious threat should they charge, on the left flank the Polish cavalry needed a turn to fully regroup and move out as one.

The approach to the enemy was not easy, the Muscovite gunline guarding the only big opening was standing safely behind plowed fields which would slow down any attack while being able to catch approaching units in a crossfire of muskets and artillery. The main Polish cavalry force soon split ut, one squadron of Pancerni and one squadron of Cossack style cavalry was sent towards the center to clear the way and neutralize the threat to the friendly infantry, while the remaining Pancerni, Cossack style cavalry with spears and Winged Hussars moved towards the clearing and enemy gunline.

Intense fighting between Ottoman and Polish cavalry swirled around in between the village buildings as Border dragoon units
were firing from the houses at the clashing troops. Bows, pistols and muskets accompanies the slashing of swords and the fighting moved back and forth before the Ottoman troops were beaten back. The Poles having taken acceptable losses but were now being fired at from behind cover and moved back to avoid taking more casualties while friendly infantry was marching up.

On the left flank the Winged Hussars joined battle first, taking heavy fire from artillery on their way across the muddy field, they were charged and countercharged by two Ottoman squadrons. The fighting ended a draw with both sides backing away to catch their breath. Pancerni and Cossack style units were moving on their flank as the Winged Hussars renewed their attack. Two Ottoman squadrons were beaten back and one of them was caught in the fighting to the right in the village. Muscovite cavalry rode up to stem the tide of the Winged Hussars and managed to hold them off for long enough to allow friendly infantry and artillery to cut down some more with canister shots.

The Cossack style cavalry now rode up and charged the Ottoman unit caught in front of the Muscovite infantry line but was taking crossfire from everything the Muscovites could muster and was thrown back with heavy casualties. The sacrifice of the light cavalry allowed the Pancerni to finally move up on the leftmost Muscovite gun and destroy it, continuing their onslaught into the infantry which began to fall back.  

Back on the right flank Polish infantry and artillery was having a duel with the entrenched Servant cossacks and enemy artillery but the Muscovite troops proved very hard to dislodge from their position.

Still not having had enough, what remained of the Winged Hussars, plunged themselves at the disorganized Muscovite cavalry , riding through a hail of canister shots and muskets being fired off at close range they somehow pulled off a draw with the outnumbering enemy and pulled back - having been reduced to a single base accompanied by the Rotamaster.

The battle had lasted 10 turns, and the cavalry on both sides was in
a very bad shape, having done most of the fighting. The Polish Crown cavalry regiment had taken 19 breaking points and finally succumbed at the end of turn 10 and left the battle. The opposing army had lost both their Ottoman regiments. Had the fighting continued it would have been between the Polish infantry and Reiters and the Muscovite infantry and cavalry.

Battle results 

The Muscovite-Ottoman army lost 32% of their fighting force in dead and withdrawn troops - which equals "Heavy losses" (+ 0 Victory Points). 
+3 VP for not having the main force (Soldat Regiment) wiped out
+3 VP for the remaining Regiments still in battle (1VP per regiment)
The Polish crown army lost 35% of its fighting force dead and withdrawn troops  - which equals "Heavy losses" (+ 0 Victory Points). 
+2 VP for wiped out enemy regiments (1VP per regiment)

The battle score 6-2 equals a Tactical victory for the Muscovite-Ottoman army.



Thoughts

It was great fun to get to play a division level game again, after all this is what I played at the start of my By Fire & Sword gaming before switching to the Skirmish level gaming which dominates at our club.

It would have been great to have proper objectives, since I think the Defender has a lot easier to get victory points than the attacker considering the difficulty of wiping out regiments compared to preserving them. Sadly I did not have time to come up with anything of my own prior to the battle so we just used the "generic" Victory point list for playing a pitched battle with no clear objective.

The second complaint is a rehash of what I had felt 2 years ago already, about the tactic where the defender turns the table deployment and makes the battle being fought along the short edges. The tactic is way too cheap imo and a no brainer if you have to pick tactics as the defending player. It also makes the game not as fun as it could have been since the area to maneuver for both sides is reduced. This makes it a more "head on" fight rather than maneuvering into position. But perhaps most importantly it makes artillery and infantry units lag behind the cavalry and end up doing little to impact the tide of battle. In this fight the Polish infantry and artillery joined battle around turn 8-9 .
Next time I hope we will play along the long edges and have a proper scenario written, but I'm still happy that the guys were interested in trying out a division battle and I think we were all happy with the game at the end of a very long day.

I now also look forward to trying out new divisions and regiments that might be released in the upcoming "Deluge" expansion book and perhaps see if we can start some kind of campaign game at our club if enough people are interested.

7 comments:

  1. It was a fun day but i agree, short edge to short edge is not something id like to play again. If i had to choose again it I would rather be worse of tactically than having to wait 8 turns to see battle. I spent alot of time painting those horrible horses and I want to use them. Not having them sitting as a reserve for 9 turns

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  2. Massive looking game - with great looking figures and terrain. A genre/period under played IMO.

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  3. Fantastic armies, fantastic terrain. Great report.

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  4. Thanks guys , glad you enjoyed it :-)

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  5. I am no expert but I can clearly see that the polish artillery regiment was lead by a very competent commander!

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  6. Great pictures, a fantastic looking game!

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