Monday, 2 August 2021

The Battle of Burnt Oak - a Shadow of the Eagles trial game

Having read through the SotE rulebook over the past few days, it was time to bung some figures on the table and give things a little run out to see how the core mechanics worked. Nothing too fancy so I could concentrate on nailing the basics, so kept everything small and only used infantry, leaving artillery and cavalry for another time. I loosely based both forces around the 1809 Danube campaign, using the 'War & Campaigns' section as a guide and came up with the following:

Austrians (Red)
1 x Capable Commander
1 x Inferior Line Infantry
2 x Regular Line Infantry
1 x Regular Grenz Light Infantry

French (Blue)
1 x Superior Commander
2 x Regular Line Infantry
1 x Superior Light Infantry

Nothing complicated at all, with the basic premise that the Austrians have formed a blocking position by the Burnt Oak and the French have been ordered to break through. The French will have +2 Initiative due to their National Characteristics and their Commander being Superior.

An overview of the table, with the French in the bottom left hand corner.

The French in company columns for speed of advance and ease of manoeuvre, with the light infantry in front as a potential skirmish screen.

The Austrian in line with the Grenzers in front of the weaker inferior line infantry.

The French won the initiative and chose to move first, with the light infantry getting a double move and changing into skirmish order to mask the line infantry's advance, which only moved once. The Austrians pushed their right flank forward one move as the Grenzers held their position to improve their shooting prospects.

The French light infantry in skirmish order.

The French light infantry took 3 hits from shooting and only managed 1 hit on the Grenzers in return. The French commander was too far away to be able to move up and try and rally hits of the light infantry.

The Austrians won the intiative and once again the Grenzers held their positions as the line infantry moved forward to try and make their weight of numbers tell early on. The French light infantry formed back into line and wheeled to the left to support the line infantry moving up to attack the Austrian right.

The French light infantry took a bit of a hammering from the Austrians, becoming weakened in the process, but managed some hits on the Austrians in return. The French commander attached himself to the light infantry in the rally phase but failed to remove any hits, which would have removed their weakened status.

The French won the initiative and chose to move first. The light infantry could not advance being weakened and didn't fancy assaulting the Austrian line, even with the support of their General.

The French line infantry on the left assaulted the Austrian right flank, surviving incoming fire on the process. Unfortunately for them they lost the combat and were forced to retreat, becoming weakened in the process, with the Austrian line infantry just managing to catch them in their pursuit, with the combat being fought in the next Turn. The French light infantry were lucky to survive due to some rather poor Austrian shooting, but managed to weaken the Austrian line infantry to their front. 

The end of the Turn with the French left flank under some pressure as the Austrian line infantry certainly have the upper hand. Both sides centres are not in the best of health and could easily crack in the next Turn.

The French once again won the initiative and the French line infantry on the right charged in against the Austrians Grenzers who held firm, but were weakened as the French closed, who took hits in return. On the French left the Austrians made short of the weakened line infantry who routed, which in turn led to the French light infantry in the centre routing too, leaving the French line infantry on the right flank the only unit still on the table! a close run thing and it could easily have been the Austrians who were fleeing the table.

Post Game Thoughts
Well that was fun, nice and quick and certainly gave me a good little introduction to the core mechanics of the game. I certainly look forward to re-reading the rules in the light of this to see if I went wrong anywhere and to gain a better understanding of the rules themselves. so in no particular order a few thoughts:

  • The French really should have been in line to start with, to potentially weaken the Austrian line before forming company columns and then going in for the assault. Still, it was all about learning so a point to remember for future games. Still they speed and manouevreability of the company columns if very useful, much more so than line, just as it should be.
  • The French being able to win the initiative more often than not due to their National Characteristic and Superior commander felt right.
  • Early on it was obvious that you need to think about where best to position your commanders, not only for their command radius but just as importantly for the use during the rally phase. Not that they managed to rally any hits in this game, but if they had, it might have made a difference for the French and to the outcome.
  • The game was very enjoyable and nothing jarred or felt wrong. The book is very well laid out so it is easy to find the rule you want during the game that may not be on the QRS. A big 'thumbs up' for this.
  • Next game I want to add in some artillery and maybe cavalry, but again will keep it small. Adding in terrain after that so as not to complicate things too much.
  • Skirmishers can make a real difference I'm sure, certainly in terms of providing skirmish screens to mask advances etc. Something I'm not used to for sure so this will be an interesting lesson to learn and certainly one pivotal to the period.
  • I certainly look forward to reading some of my Napoleonic books to gain a better understanding of the period, having played plenty of 18thC and 19thC games, but precious few Napoleonic ones. Hopefully this won't be a case of old dog and new tricks!

I'm certainly looking forward to more games of SotE and certainly some FtF games with my friends in the hopefully not too distant future. The rules have certainly kindled an interest in this period, just as HoW did for the 18thC and Bloody Big Battles did for the 19thC, which is rather nice to be honest. So time to go and do some reading and plan my next game. Until then stay safe and keep healthy!


  1. Looks like your first game went well. Good start!

    1. Thanks Jonathan and indeed it did go well.

  2. Thanks Steve, I enjoyed that. I think it is a game that needs some reserves or an attack in depth as front line units become weakened quickly and regularly cannot withstand first contact. Rallying is a key and I think that needs to become part of player discipline.

    1. You're welcome Norm and you're right about the reserves and attacking in depth. This is something to build upon in future games. The use of Generals will certainly be a key part to the game, in terms of C&C, assisting in close assaults and rallying. Lots to look forward to:)

  3. There’s nothing like learning about a new period! Are those figures 6mm or 10mm?

    1. They're my 8mm mdf figures Keith, although marketed as 6mm IIRC. As for learning about a new period, I'm enjoying the start of hopefully a long and enjoyable journey:). I'm certainly looking forward to having a game with your goodself!

  4. Looks like a nice set of rules although in this period, one might expect a smaller French force to smash through a larger Austrian one?

    1. They are Keith. I expected the French to give the Austrians a tough time, but poor tactics on my part along with the die Gods favouring the Austrians meant they came of worse. Hopefully as my knowledge of the period develops I can improve my tactics etc.