Saturday, March 27, 2021

15mm Napoleonic Battle - March Attack Redux rules

 15mm Napoleonic Battle - March Attack Redux rules

On Friday I rolled out my most recent edit of March Attack Redux and it was a game of firsts.

  • First time I had played this as a multi-player game (6).
  • First time I used my rebased and painted 15mm Minifigs armies.
  • First time that one player with 40 years of wargaming experience had played a 15mm game.
  • First time I used my home-made felt roads and tree bases. They looked pretty good!
The scenario is a slight adaption of the sample scenario in the original rules - Advance to Plancenoit, 18 June 1815

The battle involves a Prussian Corps advancing towards Waterloo while a slightly more weary French Corps attempts to hold them back. For this game I made the French-held crossroad the objective. The Prussians had to take it and the French had to hold it as long as possible.

For those that haven't heard of March Attack, they are from Crusader Publishing and are designed for players to control a Corps per side. Units being infantry battalions, cavalry regiments and artillery batteries. 

Being the first game, everyone had 1 or 2 divisions each.

Opening moves. Prussians pushing cavalry on the flanks and the infantry intending to punch the left of centre. Room was left in the centre for the artillery reserve to deploy once they arrive.
The French anchored their left flank on the town with the 20th division. Guns in the centre to deter a direct attack and the 19th division slightly held back to react to the direction of attack. The 2 light cavalry divisions were placed back on their centre-right.
Landwehr cavalry approaching the town defended by a French infantry division.
The Prussian Corps artillery arrives with an escort of Prussian grenadiers.
The 2 Prussian infantry divisions advancing to the designated focal point - one division supporting the other. Lots of landwehr infantry amongst the formations.
Prussian regular cavalry division anchoring and threatening the French flank.
French batteries cover the crossroad and assess target options; ready to deliver first blood.
Contact along the battlefield as the units become engaged.
The French 19th infantry division checks the Prussian 15th brigade as heavy skirmishing breaks out. The Prussian 16th brigade changes facing and the angle of attack to the crossroad.
Prussian regulars soak up the damage of the French skirmishing.
The French position is resolute to this point.
The French orders get confused/lost and a light cavalry division gets committed to attacking the landwehr cavalry. 
Situation at the end of game.
Fast forward several turns and we can see the Prussians have turned the French right flank. Cavalry in the rear is not good.
The Prussian light cavalry defeated a French light cavalry division and are now free to harass the rear of the position.
The French infantry division has broken after charges by the Prussian infantry. They exchanged musketry for a couple of turns which weakened both lines.
The French batteries have suffered badly from the Prussian Corps artillery and now break as the Prussian infantry hit them. Crossroads secured and a rare Prussian victory!
Remnants of a French cavalry division that could not be rallied.
The second French cavalry division took heavy casualties and retired to the reform area. They can now at least cover the infantry retreat.
French 20th infantry division hold their position, virtually unscathed. However the position is now untenable and they withdraw in good order.
French artillery are battered and limber up to save the guns.
The landwehr cavalry division has taken damage, but can't do much except watch the French pull back.
The Prussian Corps artillery enjoyed their dominant position and suffered little.

The rules played well and they have a great Napoleonic feel. Really interesting decisions have to be made and timing was an important component. It might take 2 turns to react to an event and commanders have to decide whether to kick on with the plan or make significant adjustments.

The game itself took a lot longer to complete being the first time we had played them as a group. Lots of good questions and they wanted to have an understanding of options before going too far ahead. Players were generally cautious before really committing to a fight.

The points that held up the play were, order selection (and what can/can't be done), artillery unlimbering and firing, the difference between strategic and tactical movement and what can happen in those phases, and the charge sequence.
Those points were all eventually resolved and we progressed well as each were clarified. Towards the end we were getting through the turns more efficiently. Everyone looks forward to trying them out again. The rules give a really good mix of playability and period feel.

Main concepts:
  • These are Corps/Army level scale - Each player will usually have a corps. However, we started with a division or two each.
  • Each unit is a battalion/battery/cavalry regiment but are organised into 'Major Formations', known as MF (brigades to divisions).
  • Each unit has a Combat Value (CV). The combat value determines how much punishment a unit will take before breaking. High CV is better than low CV.
  • CVs get eroded through firing, melee and skirmishing. They break once they reach 0.
  • If the Major Formations lose too many units, they too will break. So managing your weaker units is important.
  • There are two levels of Disorder. D1 and D2
  • There are two main phases: 
    • Strategic - stuff happens at the macro scale (outside 9" of the enemy)
    • Tactical - stuff happens at Engagement range (within 9" of the enemy)
  • Each MF has a set of orders they have to follow. Change of orders is required to do different actions.
  • Skirmish ability is rated by nation and date. Post 1808, most nations have improved their skirmish doctrines

Summary of main changes to original rules:
  • Turn sequence updated to reflect newer rules.
  • Skirmishing - this was originally an abstracted phase that involves maths and was boring and did not, in my opinion, reflect the point of skirmishing. Now the skirmishing can be seen and each commander must make decisions on how many skirmishers to commit and for how long. This can be a wasteful drain on resources and achieve nothing (as quoted by an Austrian General) or be a real PITA if left unchecked.
  • Infantry base sizes have been halved to allow for more realistic formations and skirmishing options.
  • Cavalry and artillery bases have been doubled to better reflect actual frontages - and it looks great...
  • Added rally points for retiring units. Broken units have predetermined areas to rally where officers run around reorganising units at the rally point.
  • Using historical formations and benefits from using those formations. They were used for a reason, but many rules ignore this and allow "wandering battalions" that all flit around doing their own thing.
Some things I may have borrowed from other rules.