Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Bridge on the River Wrye, part 3

The Battle for the Bridge on the River Wrye (or Wreibrucke)
Initial reports of this small but important action were confused and conflicting. Everything from an almost total victory by the Soweiter forces over the Batrachians to the Batrachian forces handily gaining control of this key bridge.
(as I played the game I changed from using a die roll to determine which actions were taking place to using cards, with a few tweaks of my own. Sometimes, with the die roll or the cards you will get actions which you can't use or don't want to use, such as an action to fire when there are no targets in range or an action to move when you just want to stay put. I take those as lulls in the overall battle. It may be you get several of those in a row followed by a flurry of shooting, for example. To me that feels like a more realistic depiction where battles have lulls, intense firefights, spurts of movement, etc., and even the odd movement when one group decides to go head in some direction you hadn't planned. This can result in units messing up your plans as in the case here where some of the Batrachian infantry blocked their own cavalry. Or in another "play" of the battle, a cavalryman headed off on his own, found a ford (had to roll a 6 on a die 6), and nearly managed to cut off the retreat of the Saxe-Goldberg Engineers.)

The true story, as much as truth can be known in these matters, is as follows.

The Soweiter forces, comprised of a large contingent of Mayeux Musketeers (10 figures), a much smaller detachment from the Saxe-Urquhart 86th Highlanders (2 figures), and a detail of Saxe-Goldberg Engineers (2 figures), under the overall command of Colonel von Kleinewitz of Ober-Umlaut, were tasked with holding the Bridge over the River Wrye, or failing that, destroying the bridge to deny it's use to the Batrachian army. To that end the Soweiter forces arrayed themselves on and around the sturdy stone bridge.

The Batrachian forces approached the bridge with the aim of securing it for their own use as it would help shorten their supply lines. The Batrachian forces were comprised of the Queen's Musketeers (14 figures) and a small detachment of Moutarde Dragoons (2 figures), under the command of Captain Jean di Jean of that same cavalry unit.

The battle opened as shown in this first map.

As they appeared on the scene about half of the Queen's Musketeers moved forward to the northwest (this happened as the result of a "decision check", which can cause some figures to move in a random direction if you fail the check or give you the opportunity to choose your action if you pass the check with a high enough score. Otherwise there is no effect.). This was probably not a very good move on their part as it blocked the cavalry from moving forward.

After the 2 sides eyed each other just outside of effective musket range the Batrachians started moving their whole line forward (I drew several cards that were not usable by either side or resulted in no action before finally drawing a move card for the Batrachian side).
This brought the 2 sides into musket range and the first volley from those who could fire resulted in equal casualties. That could've been some concern for the Soweiter forces as they were slightly outnumbered and could not afford to continue to lose equal numbers of casualties.

After this initial exchange of fire the Col. von Kleinewitz ordered some of the infantry flanking the bridge to move onto the bridge to replace the casualties there. The Batrachians moved closer to the bridge and the Soweiter forces on the bridge itself moved closer to the center of the bridge to defend it.

There followed more shooting by both sides, less effective than the initial exchange. The Queen's Musketeers then charged onto the bridge and into melee with the Mayeux Musketeers and Highlanders defending the bridge. Because the bridge restricted acces the Batrachians were unable to take advantage of their slight advantage in numbers. In the ensuing melee both sides suffered casualties. For a while, though, it wasn't looking good for the Soweiter forces as 1 Queen's Musketeer seemed to be fighting like a man possessed (it was down to 1 Queen's Musketeer to 2 Soweiter troops - the most that could fight at a time given the width of the bridge. The Batrachians couldn't get more troops up because the next in line were cavalry. I could fit 2 infantry OR 1 cavalry in the width of the bridge.). In the end that lone Musketeer was defeated and the Moutarde Cavalry stepped up to take their turn at trying to take the bridge.

While the infantry on the bridge battled it out in hand-to-hand combat there was sporadic exchange of gunfire by those forces on either side of the river who had clear shots. This caused a few casulaties before both sides got their forces lined up on the bridge and further shooting would endanger their own men.
Meanwhile, back on the bridge the Mayeux Musketeers and the Highlanders managed to destroy the Moutarde Cavalry, mainly by being able to bring 2 infantry against 1 cavalry at a time (the infantry got 2 rolls and the cavalry only got 1, but the cavalry did have pluses for attacking on horseback). Still it was a close run thing.

With the cavalry destroyed the remaining Queen's Musketeers took their turn at trying to take the bridge. An extended melee took place, both sides growing exhausted. And even though the Batrachians had more troops they couldn't bring their superior numebrs to bear.
In the end the Soweiter forces emerged triumpant, if much reduced in number.

With this victory the Batrachian supply is more extended than their commander would like and they are vulnerable to raids on supply trains. The Batrachians may be forced to halt their advance or seek some supplies by other means.

(Sorry for the lack of good pictures - I guess I need more experience with photgrahphing during games. I can't really tell much from the little screen on the camera, but it takes time to download them onto my computer. I think I need to get the right balance of lighting, flash, distance, etc. Also need to make sure the batteries are charged before I start! lol).

(The Sacre Bleu! rules are pretty simple, without lots of modifiers and no real morale rules, just the "decision checks", but with some tweaking of the rules and the scenario I managed to play a fun game in a short amount of time. I will likely try more scenarios of my own in the future - and tweak the rules as I go. I can also add things like character and morale as I go if I decide to.)


CWT said...

I like your little maps, which are very nicely done.

The whole engagement sounds like a nice little scenario - and good fun. Thanks for posting the details!


Dave said...

Thanks for AAR. Enjoyed the read. The Lego bridge was a nice old-school touch.


Prinz Geoffrey said...

very nice report.

Bluebear Jeff said...

I also very much like the little maps . . . very clear.

For larger actions, you might want to include some sort of identifier on the stands (even if it is just a letter designation).

-- Jeff

Fitz-Badger said...

Thanks for the comments. It does take some work to make the maps, take photos, make notes and write up the reports, as I'm sure most of you know. So it's good to hear if anyone gets anything out of it (at least a little amusement if nothing else).

Yes, of course. In this case I felt extra desingations on the map were superfluous as the Batrachians only had one infantry unit and the League only had the addition of 2 Highlanders in with the Mayeux Musketeers. The Highlanders didn't act independently either. Things would've been exactly the same if I had used 2 additional Mayeux Musketeers in place of the 2 Highlanders.
I do know a little about mapmaking, having degrees in geography among other things. :-D

rpardo said...

The histrory is written by the... maker of the rules ;-)
Bravo for your maps!