Monday, 20 July 2020

The War of the Rhabarberian Succession - Turn 6 Miracle on the Marne?

With the Campaign Turn 6 map moves already made, it was a fairly simple task to transfer the battle area to the table top. Once again the terrain was very open, with a few woods and some fenced fields. The river was fordable for most of its course due to a period of dry weather. Not the best defensive terrain it must be said but the Ruthenian troops would have to make the most of it. Both sides had units that started the game with one hit, to reflect the action they had just been and the damage taken.

As before, information and 'photos of the table were sent to both players who then fed back to me their plans of attack or defence. It was then up to me to try and implement them to the best of my ability.

Ruthenian Orders
Overall: the combined army will defend the line of the river, using it as an obstacle between them and the enemy. This is the occasion to hold at all costs and drive off the enemy with a very bloody nose.

1. 6th Division. 2 battalions will defend the bridge from the river bank left and right of the bridge. One artillery unit will be deployed on the road near the farm with a direct line of fire to the bridge. 1 battalion will occupy the farm, with the other artillery battery supporting it to its right. The final battalion will form a reserve behind the farm. The 1st Cavalry will form on the road in front of the wood, ready to commit themselves to a reckless charge whenever the situation becomes desperate.

2. 2nd Division must lose no time in fording the river to form on the right of 6th Division. 1 brigade will link with 6th Division and line the bank of the river. The other brigade will form behind the right of the other brigade, to guard the right flank of the army, particularly against any enemy units crossing the wooden bridge.
Prusskian Orders

With both sides having cleary set their stalls out, it was an easy job to deploy the various Division & Regiments.

An overview of the table, with the Ruthenians in Blue and the Prusskians Red.

The Ruthenian 2nd Division in the process of trying to ford the river.

The Ruthenian 6th Division deployed ready to meet any attacks over the bridge.

The Prusskian 5th Division & 6th Cavalry Regiment.

The Prusskian 3rd Division & 4th Cavalry Regiment.

Turn 1
The Ruthenians started the game and the 2nd Division were only able to make one move even in march column. One unit already deployed in line prepared to cover their withdrawl. The 6th Division failed to receive orders whilst the 1st Regiment held their position, awaiting developments.

The Prusskian 5th Division was only able to make one move onto the table and stayed in march column, whilst the supporting 6th Regiment failed to appear. Both the 3rd Division & 4th Regiment made two moves onto the table and followed their orders as much as possible.

The end of Turn 1.

The Prusskian troops begin to arrive and their intentions are clear.

Turn 2
The Ruthenian 2nd Division made three moves and formed a good defensive line as per their orders, but a lack of artillery might hinder their efforts. Once again the 6th Division failed to receive any orders, but the 1st Regiment moved across the rear to try and support the 2nd Divisions right flank.

As the Prusskian 6th Regiment arrived, the 5th Division moved towards the river and deployed into where line where possible. The 3rd Division managed to make one move due to being in march column, whilst the 4th Regiment carried on pushing forward with flank protection. 

The end of Turn 2.

The Ruthenian 2nd Division form a good defensive line.

The static 6th Division can only watch on as the enemy arrive.

The Prusskian 5th Division begin to form up for the attack.

The 3rd Division are somewhat tardy and could do with getting a move on to help pin the enemy left flank.

Turn 3
The Ruthenian 6th Division suddenly burst into life and redployed to meet the expected line of attack from the Prusskians. Their artillery opened fire at long range but failed to hit. The 2nd Division held their line and opened fire on the Prusskian Light Infantry, causing two hits and Disorder. The 1st Regiment continued to edge forward to cover the flank.

The Prusskian 5th Division pushed forward as the 6th Regiment moved over the wooden bridge to cover their flank. Fire burst out along the line causing Hits and Disorder (note that the Stubborn unit from the previous games made a load of Morale Saves to avoid having to take a Break Test). Again the 3rd Division failed its order but chose to deploy from march column into line as the artillery continued forward, covered by the 4th Regiment.

The end of the Ruthenian Turn 3.

The end of Prusskian Turn 3.

The 2nd Division begin to engage the enemy.

The 6th Division has formed up along the river, but is still covering the bridge.

The 5th Division is pressing the enemy whilst the 6th Regiment moves across the bridge.

The 3rd Division are not really playing ball at present.

Turn 4
With the obvious threat to the 2nd Divisions position, the 6th Division failed to send its reserve unit to support them. However the 1st Regiment moved up to try and restrict the ability of the enemy cavalry to deploy into the open space behind the Ruthenian lines. Shooting across the front was rather ineffective, with only one hit caused but some counter battery fire caused one hit and Disorder on the Prusskian 5th Divisions artillery.

The Prusskian 3rd Division finally moved forward and their artillery carried on limbered. Shooting at the Ruthenian 6th Division by the bridge, they caused Hits & Disorder, but the 6th Division units made many good morale saves to avoid going Shaken or having to take Break Tests. The 4th Regiment moved across the Prusskian rear to support the 6th Regiment.

The 5th Division Blundered but at least moved forward and their shooting caused Hits, Disorder & one unit becoming Shaken. Again the Ruthenians made many good morale saves to avoid having to take Break Tests.

The 6th Regiment seeing an opportunity charged the Ruthenian 1st Regiment who counter charged. In the ensuing melee one Ruthenian Squadron broke whilst a Prusskian one retreated Shaken.

The end of Ruthenian Turn 4.

The Prusskian cavalry charge is met by a counter charge.

Both sides retreat but the Prusskians are in a stronger position.

The end of Prusskian Turn 4.

The Ruthenian 2nd Division are really in the thick of it.

The 6th Division come under fire.

The Prusskian attack from their left flank is developing nicely.

The 3rd Division finally get going and pin the enemy left flank.

Turn 5
The 6th Division managed to send a reserve Battalion to support the pressed 2nd Division, whilst across the whole front they held firm and fired upon the enemy. The shooting was pretty ineffective but at least one unit became Shaken and an artillery unit was finished by Counter Battery fire.

The 6th Regiment pushed on but was unable to charge the enemy 1st Regiment, whilst the 4th Regiment moved up in support. The 5th Division made a small advance and their shooting took its toll, causing more Hits which led to one Ruthenian unit breaking.

The 3rd Division pushed forward as their artillery started to deploy, with their shooting causing hits, with one unit ruthenina unit passing their Break Test. Again lots of good morale saves prevented the situation from being far worse than it was.

The end of Ruthenian Turn 5.

Counter Battery fire sees the loss of an artillery unit.

The end of Prusskian Turn 5.

The cavalry really are in danger of breaking into the Ruthenian rear.

A Ruthenian unit breaks.

The Ruthenian 2nd Division is coming under severe pressure...

... as is the 6th Division.

The Prusskian 5th Division and combined cavalry are pressuring the Ruthenian right flank.

The 3rd Division push forward to pressure the Ruthenian right flank.

Turn 6
With little room for manoeuvre, the Ruthenian troops largely help their positions. The remaining squadron of the 1st Regt retired to be closer to supporting troops and the 'reserve' unit moved to support the 2nd Division that was under severe pressure. Shooting actoss the front saw another artillery unit destroyed, but for once some good Prusskian morale save prevented a rash of break tests.

With the withdrawl of the Ruthenian 1st Regt, the Prusskian 4th & 6th Regt's advanced into the enemy reat, threatening their lines of communication and waiting for possible stragglers etc. There was little movement other than dressing lines to try to bring more units guns to bear. Shooting led to the loss of another Ruthenian unit and an artillery unit Disrupted.  However three infantry units were shaken and the Stubborn unit had used its 'free' auto break test.

The end of the Ruthenian Turn 6.

The Prusskian artillery loses another battery of guns.

The end of the Prusskian Turn 6.

The 4th & 6th Regt's get behind the Ruthenian line.

The 4th Regt has many targets of opportunity.

The Ruthenian 6th Division is under a lot of pressure.

One infantry battalion breaks.

The 5th Division very much in control on the Prusskian left flank.

I fear the Ruthenian flank is about to be turned.

Another view of the 5th Division commanding position.

The 3rd Divisions grand battery finally in position.

The 3rd Division almost ready to start crossing the bridge.

Turn 7
All the Ruthenians could do was to withdraw parts of the 2nd Division to try and protect the right flank. The 1st Regt moved to try and protect the artillery from any Prusskian cavalry attacks. What little shooting there was caused Hits & Disorder, but at least another artillery unit was destroyed.

In a strong position the Prusskian forces broadly held their positions and opened fire, leading to two units breaking and one being forced back, leaving the Ruthenian right flank in tatters. Seeing an opportunity the 4th Regt manoeuvered around the woods and charged into the lone 1st Regt squadron, who borke after failing a break test. They were then able to make a sweeping advance into the artillery by the river, breaking one battery and then retiring to reform. A rather successful action one might say.

The end of Ruthenian Turn 7.

The 2nd Division begins to withdraw.

Another Prusskian artillery unit broken.

The 6th Regt charges in...

... breaking the enemy cavalry and...

... then charging into the artillery...

... which is easily destroyed...

... and finally retiring to reform.

The end of Prusskian Turn 7.

The 5th Division about to turn the Ruthenian right flank.

The 6th Regt poised to exploit as the 5th Division advance.

The 'Stubborn' unit finally breaks.

Another unit is forced back by a break test.

The 4th Regt in control of the Ruthenian rear.

A unit breaks at the bridge, leaving it largely undefended.

The 3rd Division face little opposition by the bridge.

A final view of the battlefield.

End of Game
With their positions completely untenable, the Ruthenian troops surrendered after a staunch defensive action and were granted the Honours of War, quitting the battle field with drums playing, flags flying and their heads held high. With this loss the Ruthenians left Rhabarbernland to the Prusskians, who would 'guard it' whilst Crown Prince Ruprecht continued to look for his chin.
Post Game Thoughts
It was always going to be a tough ask for the Ruthenian forces, given they were outnumbered, especially in artillery and cavalry. However they held on a lot longer than I thought they would and gave a good account of themselves. So as always a few thoughts on the game:
  • Really the game was over at the end of Turn 6, but I thought I'd play one more Turn just to see what would have happened. I'm glad I did as it clearly showed (to me at least) a clear and decisive Prusskian victory.
  • Morale Saves really kept the Ruthenians in the game, as early on they could have easily lost quite a few units in opening moves, which would have spelt an early end to the battle.
  • Both sides artillery was pretty ineffective, often due to the above. However rifle fire accounted for most of the Prusskian artillery losses, which I haven't really seen before. Something to bear in mind for future games. 
  • Despite being outnumbered by Prusskian infantry and artillery, it was really the Prusskian cavalry that were a constant threat. As seen in this and previous games, once in the enemy rear cavalry can be devastatingly effective.
  • I must say that yet again Black Powder II, with the Glory Hallelujah! supplement,gave a very nice game that gave plenty of action throughout. You can add 'chrome' if you want, but I feel using 'vanilla units' makes game play much easier and allows one to concentrate on the game. A case of 'less is more'.
So there we have it, the campaign has finished and the Prusskians are victorious! I must say it has been great fun and could not have happened without the great support and co-operation of Dave & Keith, who have been fantastic thoughtout. I will post some thoughts on the campaign as a whole in another post, but suffice to say I already have another campaign in mind. A clue can be found over on  Jon Bleasdale's excellent  Blog. Until next time...


  1. An action filled game. I had assumed the artillery losses were due to counter-battery fire, which I thought was unusually effective for BP ..... so found it interesting that those losses had come from the rifles.

    Things didn’t look good once the cavalry got behind the Ruthenians, though in BP, failed commands and blunders can always be relied upon to give the other side hope!

    All in all, a very interesting campaign, look forward to your deliberations post.

    1. I'm glad you've found the campaign interesting Norm, as it's my first stab at this sort of thing. The counter battery fire/rifles was largely due to a lack of other targets at various points in the game. Needing 6's to hit, the Die Gods were on the Ruthenian side at this point, hence the losses. It was nice to be able to use cavalry in a historical context, both during the campaign and in the various games.

  2. What a great way to finish Steve, that looked like real fun surprising how your don't miss the figures, when a challenging scenario presents itself.
    Excellent stuff.

    1. Thanks Stu. To be honest I find it easier to play this without the figures, as it's so easy with just the wooden blocks, meaning it's easier for me to focus on the game etc.

  3. As I have said before, Steve, the combination of your 3D terrain and your distinctive red and blue blocks looks great. Really a unique and pleasing look.

    I figured Blue would have trouble holding the line but they performed better than I expected thanks to several timely morale saves. Neat stuff!

  4. Thanks Jonathan and as you know I love the look too! Blue really did make a fight of it but once the cavalry were free to roam, it was just a matter of time really.

  5. It is always interesting playing the odd game where one side is going to be hard pressed, these always seem to occur in campaigns. Your tabletop has a very pleasing look.

    1. Thanks Peter. The campaign has been fun in throwing up 'non-standard' actions, which gives some interesting and challenging games. But being part of a campaign they all make sense, where as a stand alone game you might not want to play it.

  6. Well, certainly a first for me and I really enjoyed myself. Thanks for all the hard work Steve.

    1. Thanks Keith, glad you enjoyed yourself and it was a pleasure to run.