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Rank & File Battle of Wethau 1814

This weekend we fought a 15mm Napoleonic battle using Rank & File, partly because we hadn’t had the Napoleonic figures out in an age and partly to test some of the new rules for 2nd Rank & File.

Using 15mm for Rank & File we still kept to all of the same ranges, distances and rules but has two of the 15mm figure bases representing a single R&F base except for artillery where we kept 1:1. As all of the rules use the number of bases to calculate firing, break points, melee and so on it was an easy conversion to make and the game played much the same as it would in 28mm.

The first photos show the battlefield and the units available to both sides, though these turn up at various points during the battle. As umpire I knew when and where they would come on but the players didn’t.

The battle itself starts at midday with the French crossing in two grouping at a river and a ford. The Austrian Avante-Garde division is seriously outnumbered and needs to hold on long enough for their reinforcements to arrive on the field. As more Austrians arrived the battle swung with the French actually pushed back to the stream before their Dragoon division arrived on table.

What followed was a messy cavalry action with both sides throwing in more and more troops until finally the French forced the stream again, the weight of their dragoons along with the supporting infantry and artillery being too much for the Austrian cavalry.

In the meantime some much needed Austrian line infantry arrived along with a Russian cavalry brigade. Unfortunately two regiments of these were Cossacks but surprisingly they managed to pass their Elan tests and actually make a charge! Even so their main contribution was to increase the Austrian army break point.

Both sides continued to fight each other to a bloody standstill until we called it a draw as darkness was falling.

I think I’d be quite happy using 15mm figures for Rank & File again in the future but my plan is still to paint up a brigade or so of French so we can do some more 28mm Napoleonic games next year.

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The Battle of Dennewitz using Great Battles rules

The Great Battle rules had been playtested with smaller games of approximately a Corps a side but this is the first large game that would test how a full battle actually plays out.

I chose Dennewitz as it was roughly the size of game that I wanted and fairly evenly matched with troops arriving throughout the day. It also helped that I had plenty of Prussian troops available. The image below shows the initial deployment of the forces at midday. I started the battle slightly later than historically to save taking up time moving the divisions into position.


Both sides had been instructed that there were troops turning up throughout the day. The French plan was to advance on their left while holding back on the right. Rather than any kind of preparation two Divisions from the VII Corps and one more from the IV Corps immediately began to advance towards the Prussian right and centre.

The picture below shows the French positions after their first move. At 8 hexes to a mile this attack was being made over a very wide front.


The two French divisions pictured below represent 15,000 men and almost 40 guns. The idea behind the rules is that large formations are made up of lots of individual stands rather than a few brigade sized blocks. This gives the flexibility to alter formations, expand or contract frontages or detach units.


Of the three attacking divisions the one in the centre pushed forward while those on both flanks halted. I’m not sure this was in the original plan and it had some unfortunate consequences for the French centre.

The Prussian defenders were fairly active and moved troops to block all of the French attacks, some brilliantly executed (or was it lucky dice?) cavalry charges stopped the outermost French divisions and allowed the central French attack to be flanked.

By this point in the game we had been playing turns pretty much in real time, a game turn in GB is 30 minutes and that is how long we took to play them through.


It came as no surprise when the French centre started to crumble and after an hours fighting they were starting to suffer from Major Formation morale – it was only a matter of time before the divisions would break and the French attack was called off all along the line. The troops remaining started falling back closely followed by the Prussians.


At this point in the day (4-00pm) the first division of Oudinots XII Corps arrived and was immediately ordered to bolster the French centre. With the two French divisions that did not push forward in the initial attack mostly intact the Prussians still had a fight on their hands.

Unfortunately by now it was 4-00pm (real time), we played through from midday to the 4-30 game turn in 4 and a half hours but had to call a halt here. As the Prussian objective was to halt the French drive on Berlin they deserved to claim the victory.

As a first large scale playtest the game was fun, everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and picked up the rules very quickly, they are really quite straightforward. The game mechanics worked as I had hoped though I think I may be close to taking out too much detail out if I ‘streamline’ any further.

Even though the game ran in ‘real time’ unfortunately it still doesn’t allow a battle of this size (50,000 troops a side, approximately 150 units on table) to be completed comfortably within a day. We didn’t push ourselves by any stretch of the imagination (it was Sunday afternoon after all!) but I think some modifications to the scale could be in order while keeping the game mechanics pretty much as written. Updated version of the rules on the web site soon and hopefully I will have had time to work on some better terrain!