Thursday, 11 March 2010

Morschauser at the Charge!....The Aftermath

I apologise in advance for the apparent brevity of this report - this is due in part to the frenetic nature of the action not allowing sufficient time to record specific details!

It was a pell-mell kind of a battle from the word go! We were using the 'blind card' system with the unit activation cards placed in plastic door stands from an early edition of Space Hulk. We also used the version of Morschauser's rules without commanders.

The defending Germans had deployed well forward (I am sorry I don't have a map to hand but reference to the book Charge! should supply the topographical details!) with infantry in the left hand woods and on the right hand hill; together with the buildings close by the French entry edge. A small garrison was deployed in Sittingbad itself and the cavalry supported the foremost infantry in front of the village. The French were tasked with securing the bridge in Sittingbad itself within 12 game turns whilst the Germans were to prevent this before retiring across the river and blowing the said bridge.

The French cavalry surged on to the table on turn one and almost immediately came into action - with both the outnumbered German horse and whatever infantry was close enough to open fire. A swirling cavalry melee in the centre developed with saddles being emptied on both sides. Although the French superiority in numbers eventually overcame the Germans it was at a heavy price as the beau sabreuers of France were effectively ruined as a fighting force. The shattered survivors from both sides were however, allowed scant breathing space before being used again in ever more desperate circumstances.

At this point (turn 3) the French infantry arrived and from here on in there was only going to be one winner. Remorselessly (and due to the canny German deployment) the blue tide pushed forward; taking horrendous casualties as it did having to winkle out the stubborn Germans from the woods and buildings. This the French were able to do eventually but not without substantial loss and it took time. As with the cavalry action, eventually numbers told and with the massed French Artillery about to enter the lists the battered German survivors prepared for a last stand in Sittingbad itself.

The German fighting retreat from the forward positions was conducted almost too well as the withdrawing troops were for the most part caught up with by swarming French Infantry and ruthlessly despatched.

The action came to a halt (at the end of turn 7)as time had run out and we were at a convenient lull in the action as the French needed a breathing space in order to organise themselves before assaulting the town itself - an undertaking probably more to the liking of the high command than the troops involved; especially after having seen the horrendous casualties already suffered. Sittingbad would fall but the German forces had extracted a very high price for the dubious delights of securing such renowned buildings as the famous Grunterhof!

Overall the game went very well and the use of 'blind' cards was a great idea and really added to the uncertainty each turn. Casualties were severe - neither side had any cavalry left and infantry casualties were in the order of nearly half the French and three quarters of the Germans. Cavalry need to be used very carefully (historically accurate in this period!) and troops need to get into action quickly to try and minimise casualties. Cover is vital where possible and the butchers bill was probably a fair reflection of the way the battle developed.

The French plan was to simply batter through the Germans and rush the town (prior to the engineers blowing it up!)as soon as possible. They say that quantity has a quality all of its own and thus the lavish expenditure of Frencg soldiery may well have been in accordance with their doctine of the offensive but when faced with determined and resolute defenders is a recipe for heavy casualties.

This was a gloriously satisfying affair with the role of fate in the shape of the card draw and the dice rolls favouring both sides equally - there were some dramatic saving rolls made; equally fortuitous melee results and some spirited firefights.

The only observations about the rules that both Mr.Hardman and I agreed upon were that they are fine as they are but that a command group would be nice - if only to add to the flavour - and that perhaps some morale allowance could be made. A suggestion would be total up the number of figures in the army and to have a percentage of losses based on this score requiring the army to pass a morale test. Given the size of the units it would not be practical to adjudicate it at this level but as an overall army score may be more effective.

In summary then this is exactly the kind of game I got into wargaming for - fast, furious, easy rules and mentally challenging. What more could you ask for?

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Chris Hardman for the game and the use of his superb 28mm Early WW1 collection; not too mention the coffee and biscuits and the flash of the ginger terror!

2 comments:

Robert (Bob) Cordery said...

Ogrefencer,

It sounds like it was a great battle that was enjoyed by both players. It vindicates my belief that simple rules can produce interesting and eventful games.

Well done!

All the best,

Bob

PS. Any chance of some pictures, or was the action so intense that you were not able to take any?

Ogrefencer said...

Hi Bob, Sadly in the heat of the action we did not take any pictures. The scenery for the play test (which in effect is what the game was)was drawn out on coloured paper and so looked a little basic. I will certainly try to get some pictures when we game this on a more formal basis. The rules were spot on and we really enjoyed it - many thanks once again for bringing this set back to life!

All the best,

Ogre