Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Langensalza Take 2 - a Bloody Big Battles AAR

As planned this week we were re-fighting Langensalza. Last weeks game was very much about getting to know the rules and testing various different things, such as close assaults etc. We both learnt a lot from that game and were able to pick up on things we had missed out on when reading the rules again in the cold light of day.

So with a bit more time, I was able to do some research on the battle, mainly in regard of the terrain. Using the map from the BBB Yahoo Group, the one in Bruce Weigle's 1866 rules and the following from 1867, I had a pretty good idea of how to lay the table out.

My plan was two fold:
  • If attacked de Vaux's Brigade would defend Merxleben and the Kirchberg, whilst von Bothmer and von Bulow would come in from the flanks and mass their fire in the centre in and around the bridge over the Unstrut.
  • If the Prussians held back and defended from the mills and spa back towards Langensalza, von Bothmer's Brigade, supported by the cavalry, would advance from Nagelstadt and swing around to threaten the Prussian right flank. Von Bulow would move from Thamsbruck towards the bridge at Merxleben to support de Vaux's Brigade in their attacks, with the aim of pinning the Prussians in and around the bridge.
So with my plan laid, the table set, we were ready to commence battle. 

Both sides deployed as per the BBB scenario. Hills were added under the gaming mat, using some small books that fitted the bill rather nicely. In fact it reminded me of being a kid again with stacks of books under any old cloth to help create the required terrain.
Fabeck and his Prussian advanced gaurd chose to hold their positions and formed up in the mill and spa by the bridge.The Landwehr moved rather smartly to the right flank by Langensalza, whilst supporting artillery moved or deployed as best as possible. So with the Prussian plan revealed, the Hanoverians moved somewhat piecemeal from Nagelstadt, whilst poor old von Bulow didn't understand the plan and stayed put at Thamsbruck.
Knesebecks's Brigade moves up to support de Vaux at Merxleben. Both sides exchange fire, with the Prussian advanced gaurd becoming disrupted.
The Landwehr shake out into line to meet the threat to their flank, whilst artillery deploys on the Judenhugel. Von Bulow still hasn't got a clue at to what he is supposed to do, but at least the cavalry and supporting artillery move across the Unstrut to support von Bothmer.
Von Bothmer comes under fire from the Prussian artillery, that shoots too enthusiastically, leaving itself short on ammo.
Fabeck's advanced gaurd starts to smart under the weight of Hanoverian fire, losing their skirmishers as a result.
Von Bulow finally gets moving after Arentschildt moves over to 'have a chat' with him. As the attacks continue in the centre, the Landwehr advance to cover the guns on the hill. Some cracking shooting sees the demise of one Prussian artillery unit, but at the expense of themselves becoming low on ammo.
The 25th Regiment, seeing Fabeck's units under pressure, moves through to take over at the mill.
The massed fire of the Hanoverians sees the 25th pushed back out of the mills, with them poised to cross the Unstrut if required.
The way to Langensalza is nearly open...
As the Landwehr and von Bothmer's Brigade exhange fire, the Hanoverian cavalry moves round to try and cut of the Prussian lines-of-communication.
The Hanoverians continue to fire into the mills and Fabeck's advanced gaurd, wary of getting too close, too soon.
Despite the Hanoverian pressure, the Prussians still hold Langensalza, which would be a tough nut to crack.
Von Bothmer's Brigade form 'in depth' to assault the Landwehr, only to be repulsed and to lose their skirmishers. At least the cavalry have now cut the Prussian line-of-communication.
Under pressure now on their right flank, the Landwehr wisely withdraws into Langensalza, as does the supporting artillery.
After a brave fight, Fabeck's advanced gaurd succumbs to the weight of Hanoverian fire, but they have done their job in delaying the Hanoverian advance.

At this point we called it a day. With 2 Turns to go, we knew that it would be impossible for the Hanoverians to close quickly enough on Langensalza and to bring enough firepower to bear to remove the Prussians.

Post Game Thoughts
Well this was a great game that was closely fought right to the end. So how did it compare to last week? A few thoughts on the game and BBB in general:
  • Despite having played only one game, we hardly had recourse to use the rulebook. The QRS was enough, which speaks volumes about the rules IMHO. This allowed us to concentrate upon our tactics, which is just what you want in a game.
  • The addition of the hills, although not clearly visible in the photos, did make a difference to the game. Not only do the look nice visually, the way they blocked line-of-sight did come into play at several points during the game.
  • Think carefully about how and where you want to deploy your artillery.
  • Having a plan in advance did help as I knew exactly what I wanted to do. Executing it is another matter entirely...
  • The 'Low Ammo' rules have caused comment on several Blogs and not everyone likes them. Personally I liked the effect they had on the game.
  • At one point Dave was able to regain a unit of Fabeck's Advanced Gaurd, which really helped prolong the defence of the mill and spa. This is a nice little touch to the C&C in the game.
  • To help make the game run more smoothly, I made some simple labels of each unit, givings its name, its training etc. This meant that we knew what each unit had when we came to firing, whether they were spent or not etc. I will definitely use this in all future games.
  • Terrain. To help me fulfil the varied requirements for terrain in BBB, I have ordered some 1mm felt in a variety of colours. This will allow me to have roads going over hills, rivers and streams as required etc. More on this when it arrives, hopefully before Xmas. 
  • Hills. The books under the cloth worked well, so now that has solved my 'problem' of how to respresent them. Now it is a case of making a variety, approximately 10mm thick for each level to give a nice feel of 'height' to the game.
  • The Langensalza scenario, although a training one in essence, actually provides quite a few nice tactical challenges and as a result can be played many times, yet not feel the same.
I must say that I really enjoyed this game and these rules do promise great things. We are now on a Xmas break from gaming, so I can't wait until we resume in early January, all being well. We plan on fighting Montebello next which looks to be an interesting game. Plenty of time to plan, organise the terrain and get more au fait with the rules. 

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