Monday, 11 January 2016

Montebello 1859 - A Bloody Big Battles AAR

For our first game of the New Year, it was once again Bloody Big Battles, pretty much starting off where we had finished off before the Xmas break. As planned it would be the Montebello training scenario from the BBB Yahoo Group files. Dave would take the role of the Allies whilst I would be the Austrians.

Set Up
The table was set up pretty much as per the map shown below, but without the villages shown at the top. The Austrians would deploy first followed by the allies, who would take the first Turn.

The table based upon the map shown above.
Looking from Montebello towards Genestrello and the Allied troops.
The Sardinian cavalry followed by 84th Line of the 1st Brigade.

Turn 1
With the troops deployed as per the scenario restrictions, it was time to commence hostilities. It was imperative for Dave to be agressive to try and prevent the early arrival of the Austrian re-inforcements. To this end the Sardinian cavalry charged straight into the head of Schaffgottsch Brigade which were deployed in column of march, only to be defeated in close combat. However they had achieved their aim. The Austrians tried to move out of their bridgehead over the River Coppa, whilst the head of the Brigade attacked the French 84th Line, but to little effect.

The Austrian Brigades struggling to advance out of their bridgehead
Schaffgottsch's Brigade attacks the 84th Line, whilst Brigade Braum and their artillery follow on closely behind.

Turn 2
Beuret's 1st Brigade arrived, accompanied by General Foret and quickly advanced along the Voghera road towards Genestrello. Once again the French troops were agressive and managed to force Schaffgottsch's Brigade back. As Brigade Baum had failed to move whilst still in column, this caused all sorts of problems in and around the bridgehead. Due to this blockage, Gaal's Brigade had to deploy over the railway line to try and gain room to manouevre.

The French agressive action is bearing fruit as the Austrians are hemmed in around their bridgehead.
The 84th Line are holding up 3 Austrian Brigades!

Turn 3
The French are in full flow as General Blanchard arrives with his 2nd Brigade, but the terrain will hamper the movement. General Beuret and his 1st Brigade seizes control of Montebello whilst the Austrians are in disarray as a result of the 84th Line catching Braum's Brigade in column of march, forcing them back over the bridge. With things looking pretty bad for the Austrian's, Bils Brigade arrives and moves as quickly as it can towards the sound of gunfire.

Beuret's 1st Brigade siezes Montebello.
The Austrian's are struggling to make their numbers count, before Blanchard's 2nd Brigade arrives to negate the advantage.

Turn 4
With Montebello now in French hands, the 84th Line withdraw to form a better defensive position at the foot of the hills, their heroic attacks possibly having won the French the battle. As the 84th Line withdraws, the Austrians are simply unable to co-ordinate their movements to bring their numbers to bear to try and dislodge the French from Montebello.

The French in a very strong position.
The French troops await a possible Austrian assault, safe in the knowledge that they are in a strong position.

Turn 5
General Blanchard's 2nd Brigade advanced towards the final stream before Foliarna, thereby threatening the Austrian flank if Bil's Brigade advanced too close. In a desperate attempt to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, the remants of Schaffgottsch's Brigade advanced towards the 84th Line, only to be broken as a result of a Double 1 on the movement table! This was the final straw and the Austrian's conceded the field of battle to the victorious French.

Post Game Thoughts
Well yet another very enjoyable game of BBB, despite such an overwhelming French win. Even thought it appeared very onesided, there were a couple of points during the game that could have turned it in the Austrians favour. So a few thoughts on the game and scenario:

  • Despite the Xmas break, we got straight back into the game with minimal reference to the rulebook, which speaks volumes IMHO. The only thing we missed was the reduction in firing for Disrupted troops. so not bad for the first game back.
  • The Allied/French player does need to be agressive straight from the off. If the Austrians get a chance to bring their numbers to bear early on, then it could be 'Good Night Vienna' for the Risorgimento.
  • The 84th Line were the stars of the show. After the Sardinian cavalry had sacrificed themselves to slow the Austrian advance, the 84th Line single handedly held up and defeated nearly 3 Austrian Brigades. Catching Braum's Brigade in column-of-march before they could deploy pretty much ended any hopes of an Austrian win.
  • I would like to play this scenario again, but using Bruce Weigle's deployment to see how differently the scenario would play out. Even using the BBB deployment, if the Allies fail to move on Turn 1, the game could be very, very different indeed. One for the future I think...
  • Not having any General to hand certainly slowed the Austrians down. Also having Passive and Fragile troops was a real eye opener. But then it really helps you to understand the battle and why the Austrians performed so poorly.

The next game is going to be 1st Bull Run from the American Civil War, but cut down slightly for our 4'x4' table which is perfect for an evenings gaming. Dave will be bringing his 6mm troops on 1"x1" bases, so we are both looking forward to seeing how these play, both from a gaming perspective but also a visual one.


  1. What a lovely game!

    If you're casting around for more small BBB scenarios, I recommend Velestino (1897) as another little tactical puzzle in similar vein to Montebello and Langensalza. There is also a small Russo-Turkish War one from 1877, Katseljevo-Ablava, which you could probably squeeze onto 4'x4'. All available in the BBB Yahoo group files of course.


    1. Glad you enjoyed it Chris:). Thanks for the recommendations which I will take a look at.