Franco-Prussian War Battle 10

A few modifications were tried out in this latest Principles of War battle, fought at Tom's house in early May 2023. My thanks to Tom for providing the following report and photographs.

In this Franco-Prussian War game we are trying something different. Each side will start off as normal with their base forces but they will also have a set of reserve commands that may or may not arrive. In this game when a dummy blind is spotted or declared the controlling player will roll a D6 to see what’s on that blind. It may be nothing or a random command from the reserve. In this way, players cannot do a head count of troops currently on table and calculate when the remaining blinds are all dummies. 

In the game itself, a drawn first initiative roll meant the game was a set piece battle with both sides already setup up 12” on table. The French, despite having a low initiative general (d4), went on to win the second initiative giving them the initiative for the game. Having won the initiative the French get to choose two objectives and select the village on their left flank (Objective 2) and the hill on their left flank (Objective 4) and put the maximum 30 points on each. The Prussians get to select three objectives and choose the crossroads near the centre of the table (Objective 1). The village to the right of the crossroads (Objective 3) and the hill near the centre line on their right putting their maximum 20 points on each objective. Both players are playing conservatively and choose not to put points on their opponent’s objectives.

The French 7th Corps Cavalry and 2nd Division 12th Corps deployed on the left flank with orders to move towards the hill on the Prussian right flank (Objective 5). The 2nd Division 7th corps were deployed with orders to move to the wood in the centre of the table to threaten the village (Objective 3). The 12th Corps C-in-C and artillery, together with the 1st Division, were deployed on the hill (Objective 4) with orders to move to take the crossroads in the centre of the table. To the right of them was the 3rd Division have orders to move through the wood to attack to the right of the crossroads. To their right was the 7th Corps 1st and 3rd Division with orders to take the village (Objective 2) and then to move through the wood to threaten the Prussian left line of communication. On the French right was the 12th Corps Cavalry and Marine Division with orders to move round the Prussian left flank and to take the Prussian left hand line of communication.

The Prussian organisation was simple - 1st Corps deploys on the left with the 1st Corps having orders to move forward to the woods in order to hold the left flank and protect the left hand line of communications. The 2nd Division and 5th Corps Artillery deploys to their right with orders to move to the crossroads (Objective 1). On the right hand flank the Prussian 2nd Cavalry Division and 12th infantry Division were ordered to move forward and deploy in front of the hill (Objective 5). To their left was the 11th Infantry Division and 6th Corps artillery move forward to take and hold the village (Objective 3).

In the game the French push slowly forward while the Prussians quickly advance and take all their objectives and prepare for the French attack. The French on the left move forward and engage in a long range fire fight with the Prussian 12th Corps but suffer heavily from the concentrated fire from the Prussian 6th Corps artillery. Luckily for them, the reserves arriving are found to be an Infantry Division from the 4th Corps.  The French and Prussian cavalry have a stand-off in the woods on the flank.

In the centre, the French 12th Corps Artillery, 1st and 3rd Divisions move forward, the French artillery getting into an duel with the Prussian 5th Corps guns while their infantry moves through the woods to threaten the Prussian positions on the crossroads. The infantry get into a tangle in the woods but finally deploy on the edge and engage the Prussians in a heavy fire fight, the Prussian artillery turning the balance and finally forcing the French infantry back, leaving the Prussians in control of the crossroads.

The French on the right move forward and take the village (Objective 2) and deploy ready the move through the woods to attack the Prussian 1st Division. Unfortunately for the French, the broken ground on the right is very slow going, so the cavalry and Marine Divisions are forced to use the road and suffering delays due to the traffic jams. When the flanking attack finally manages to deploy the Prussian dummy blind rolls a ‘4’ and turns out to be HRH Prince Albert of Prussia and the 4th Cavalry Brigade who manage to hold until the end of the game.

At the end of the game both sides hold their chosen objectives and therefore have 60 objective points each. With the French suffering 10% casualties and the Prussians suffering 5% casualties the narrow victory goes to the Prussians. Their artillery managing to rout the French infantry in the woods by the crossroads in the last turn was critical because if the French were still in the wood a 5 point victory for the Prussians would have been a 15 point defeat.

Overall the game went well and the look and feel was good but for a three hour game there were too many troops on the table. Looking forward, we need to look at reducing the number of troops to allow for a faster game for the limited time period.