The game was fought over a 6' x 4' table using Hexon tiles to create the terrain. That involved some simplification of the contour lines, but none significant IMO. The river, roads, railway (black), towns, villages and ponds were fashioned from felt. Buildings were from a wooden toy village set. The bridge was resin. Matchsticks at the edges of the hexes were used to indicate steep slopes. Hexes that contain tree models or lichen (not enough trees) were wooded.
Turn 1My leading unit (the 27th Brigade) had deployed as close as possible to the French and attempted to assault straight away, but it was stopped in its tracks by defensive fire and was disordered. This pretty well set the pattern for the initial turns.
I was confident that I could overwhelm the isolated French units in the north by pinning them frontally and turning their right flank. However, despite their strategic passivity and lack of good generals, a series of very exceptional movement rolls allowed the French to bound forward.
|End of Turn 1. The French are moving into good defensive positions before the Prussians are fully on the table. A precipitous Prussian assault has been beaten off.|
The French begin to create a strong and continuous line on the edge of the steep and mostly wooded slope that runs north-south. This position provided cover, impeded any assaults and gave the French a clear field of fire over the open approaches. It represented the ultimate achievement of the French tactical doctrine of obtaining a "position magnifique".
|End of Turn 2. The village just behind the French line is Spicheren.|
By moving another unit to complete an 'L shape', my advance was not only boxed-in but dangerously enfiladed. The leading Prussian units were decimated. This was going to be a costly day.
|End of Turn 3|
I continuously attempted to assault the French line but by the end of Turn 4 the Prussian units in the north were suffering variously from being spent, disordered and low on ammunition. The situation looked grim!
Under the scenario rules, the Prussian reinforcements can enter from the west on turn 4 or delay their arrival to turn 6 and enter from the south. I decided to enter on turn 4. Had I delayed things I might have been able to stretch the French a little further.
|End of Turn 4. The Prussian reinforcements have entered at Schoeneck and are making for the objective of Stiring Wendel defended by the southern-most French infantry unit.|
Despite my difficulties, this was no time to stand around. I pressed home the attack and by coordinating it I prevented the French from concentrating their fire. By sheer weight of numbers I finally burst through the centre of the French defensive line.
|The French are thrown back and I occupy their position, taking my first objective - the Rotherberg. That should form a little spur (see map) but is simplified in my terrain without any particular significance at this scale.|
My southern force, meanwhile, attacks the objective of Stiring Wendel. The French are thrown out. I now hold two objectives - a draw under the scenario conditions.
But the French counter-attack and I lose Stiring Wendel...
|A combination of French infantry and cavalry destroy the Prussian victors.|
The French also counter-attack in the north but they are not so lucky...
|The French counter-attack but the odds are not in their favour.|
It's difficult to find much use for cavalry in this period but I sent my single cavalry unit on a wide outflanking march which obliged the French to divert two artillery units to protect their rear.
|Prussian cavalry creep round the northern flank behind the cover of the woods.|
By the end of Turn 5 the Prussians had lost 11 bases to the French 3.
|End of Turn 5. The Prussian breakthrough can be clearly seen.|
|Prussian cavalry attack the French rear.|
Emulating the Charge of the Light Brigade, the cavalry attacked the half-strength French artillery protecting their rear. The artillery should have counted as only one base which would have given me this combat. As it was, my cavalry bounced and were subsequently destroyed.
|End of Turn 6|
By the end of Turn 7 the French centre is weak and open. We are waiting for Turn 8. It's do-or-die for both sides. By this time the French player is complaining bitterly about low dice rolls. C'est la guerre.
|End of Turn 7|
In the final turn of the 8-turn game I had another go at taking Stiring Wendel but was thrown back.
|Second Prussian attack on Stiring Wendel|
|The victorious 10th Brigade now exploits towards the two limbered French artillery units (squiggly blue and red tablets) and in so doing is able to clip the outskirts of Spicheren and claim another objective.|
|End of Turn 8 - end of game.|
I always find that these grand-tactical games representing the great narratives of military history have an epic quality. Our next game will be an American Civil War one so that we can see how the rules play out at the early end of the technological spectrum. By now we have gained a reasonably good grasp of the rules and are enjoying them.