Friday, 19 July 2019

The Battle of Loigny/Poupry 1870 - a Franco-Prussian BBB AAR

For this weeks game we ventured into the territory of the Franco-Prussian War, something we had not gamed for quite some time. A conflict famously (or infamously) dismissed by the authors of Black Powder, but one that has an awful lot to offer, for those adventurous enough to give it a go. The only slight downside of this period is that the games are rather on the large side and so not ideally suited to a mid-week game played by chaps in their mid-50's. 

However the solution can often be found in bathtubbing the forces involved or focussing on only one part of the battle. We chose the former and as always Dave did a great job on coming up with the goods for the Battle of Loigny/Poupry (the latter town being called 'pot-pourri' by us as we are, if nothing else, creative...). As this was a two day battle, we chose to commence hostilities on the morning of the second day, with the French having taken Loigny the day before and the German troops in and around Lumeau, another one of the objectives. Both sides had re-inforcements due at various points in the game, with the Germans due on at the start.

In keeping with recent games, Dave took on the role of commanding the Army of the Loire (a mixed bag French troops of various quality and armaments) whilst I was in command of the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg's Detachment (Bavarians, Holsteiner's and Hessians, again of mixed quality). In hindsight I think I should have been awarded some victory points for having the best sounding force by a country mile.

As this was going to be a tricky old game to play, I didn't bother making any notes, which proved to be a good move as the game ebbed and flowed throughout. As is usual in these cases, hopefully my annotated pics will help give an idea of how the game played out.

The French are in the top left corner, with their left flank anchored on Loigny. The Germans are facing them, split between Lumeau and the Chateau Goury. Poupry can be seen at the bottom to the left of the Turn marker.

Both sides face each other in the early morning light.

The view from the German side, facing quite a few French troops and guns.

The German re-inforcements at the start of the game.

The German re-inforcements have arrived, with some heading towards Poupry, but don't quite have enough movement to deploy in the town. The others have headed off towards Lumeau, but to be in a position so as to be able to re-inforce other wing.

The French advance aggressively, hoping to be able to push the Germans off the objective by sheer weight of numbers.

A view from of the German re-inforcements.

The French 15th Corps, a real mixed bag of red pantalooned Zouves and Gardes Mobile, due to arrive on the second Turn.

The French rightly feared the German Krupp guns (I know how deadly they can be having been on the receiving end as an Austrian player), which rolled rather well on some already disrupted and shaken troops.

They hit them with full force

This caused two bases to be lost.

With only one base left, they ceased to be (rather like the Norwegian Blue Parrot).

Undeterred by the loss of a whole unit in the centre, the French left attacked the Chateau Goury, with every expectation of being able to evict the Bavarians that were holding it.

Defensive fire disrupted the troops in the way in, but not enought to halt them. Offensive fire failed to do any damage to the Bavarians.

In the ensuing assault, the Bavarians somehow managed to repell the French. So for the first Turn things had been going well for the Germans.

The timely arrival of the French 15th Corps put pressure on the Germans by Poupry, as the other French troops had taken a real pasting from the Bavarians in and around Lumeau.

The French 15th Corps are deployed in depth, ready to assault Poupry. The Germans in column of march are not ideally placed to meet the threat.

A view towards the Bavarians at Lumeau.

The German cavalry, seeing more French troops disrupted and spent, assault into their flank.

Unsurprisingly the French lose the battle and are forced to retreat back, losing a base.

The German cavalry are able to exploit and have tow targets in front of them.

They chose to assault the French gun line that has been causing problems for the Bavariasn in Lumeua.

The French gun is forced back and is disrupted.

The French left is a spent force at this point, but the right is in a very good position.

As the French 15th Corps prepares their assault on Poupry, they disrupt the German troops as well as silencing the supporting German guns.

The Germans have moved up re-inforcements towards Lumeau, when in fact they are needed at Poupry. Mea Culpa.

The German cavalry in position to cuase real problems for the French. However this was not to be as French artillery fire from the 15th Corps saw their demise, thus saving the French left flank.

The French assaults go in on Poupry. Things don't look good for the Germans.

The Germans are pushed back and the French move into Poupry.

Both sides face each other, but it will be hard for the Germans to take back Poupry without artillery support or other troops.

The Germans try and move troops over to Poupry, but it will take time before they are in position to aid an assault.

The French have strengthened their position at Poupry, making it an even harder task than it was.

At Lumeau and Loigny, both sides do not have enough strength left to take offensive operations, especially the Germans who have lost their guns and their cavalry.

The French battered and brusied but still in control of Loigny.

End of Game.
At this point it was obvious that the Germans did not have the strength to take either of the objectives held by the French, certainly without a protracted and potentially bloody assault on Poupry. And this was before more French reinofrcements were due. So looking at how things stood, we called it a day and a French victory.

Post Game Thoughts.
That was an intriguing and fun game, where the action ebbed and flowed, with first the Germans seeming to have the upper hand, only for it to suddenly swing back in favour of the French. So I'll try and sum things up as usual;

Post Game Thoughts.
  • Bath tubbing and reducing the table side did give something that could be played as a mid-week game. Of course it would have been better to have played it as written, but sadly we don't have that luxury. One day it would be nice to replay this as and when time allows. Something for the future that's for certain.
  • The Krupp guns proved to be devastating once again, but Dave wisely chose to target them early on to silence them, which he did rather effectively. I did think about using them against the French gun line early on, but the French troops attacking I took to be a more immediate threat. in hindsight maybe I should have had a go at the French guns, but I might then have lost Lumeau to a combined French assault.
  • The mix of troops quality and armament made for an intriguing game. I didn't know what I was facing, so had to make an informed decision as what to attack (or not) as commanders on the ground would have had to. This fog-of-war really added something to the game. 
  • Prior to the game I went to the rulebook to check something, only to find a few areas we had forgotten about in previous games. Nothing major but re-reading the rules post game did throw up a few points that we had missed. So the old adage of 'read the rules' still holds true!
  • The German cavalry threatening the French flanks and guns could have turned to game, but some poor die rolls for movement and assaults, put pay to this. However it was nice to have the chance to use them, as often they fail to have areas they can exploit during a game.
  • The French Mitrailleuses are nasty. Enough said.
  • Getting units out of towns is damned hard, unless you can get a good numerical advantage over the defenders, supported by guns. Dave did this admirably well with the attack of the 15th Corps on Poupry.
We are sticking with BBB for the moment and a delayed trip to the Crimea is planned, subject to the usual work and family pressures. Not sure on the scenario, but one with some cavalry and a mix of troops is hoped for, so I'll await and see what Dave comes up with. So until next time...



  1. Enjoyable report, Steve. This appears to be a smallish game with few maneuver elements. How many BMUs were on each side? I am somewhat surprised that the shorter range French guns managed to take out the longer range Krupps. Well done to the French for accomplishing that task. Neat looking Corps and divisional markers.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it Jonathan. In the full game, there is much more room for manouevre and many more units. Roughly speaking the French have a 2:1 advantage, but their units arrive piecemeal and over the two days of the battle. Both sides reinforcements are spread out, with the French not receiving some until the last 3 Turns of the game.

      The French guns rolled well and concentrated their fire. Also in our game both sides started deployed relatively close, nullifying many of the advantages of the Krupp guns.

      The markers are all Dave's handywork and really do look nice on the table. Mine are much more utilitarian due to complete lack (and interest) in cad skills!

  2. Nicely done Steve, I do like the unit labels, the colours are very sympathetic and do not distract.

    1. Thanks Norm and again kudos to Dave for the unit labels.