Fall 1813 Campaign Game at the Levee Cafe

We had another fun dust-up at the Levee Cafe in Hastings last weekend as 14 players duked it out in a short campaign game designed to generate battles leading up to Leipzig. Once again, there were thousands of figures on the various tables.

Here’s a picture of the Army of Boehmia prior to the games getting going… it gives you an idea as to how many figures were being used:


Army of Bohemia

Army of Bohemia



The game was designed such that there were five battlefields arranged in the pattern of the number 5 side of a d6.   The allies were to fight their way on to the four boards in the corner prior to entering the central board.  If we could win off the central board and get into the French rear area, we would score a decisive victory… needless to say we ran out of time before we could even make it on to the central board at all, and had we done so we would have run into Napoleon and the entire French Guard along with 2-3 other corps.   Each table had several entry/exit points on them where either side could feed in one corps per turn if desired.   If these entry points were captured, we could make life very difficult for the other side to either feed in reinforcements or extricate their forces from the table.

I acted as a combo platter of Czar Alexander, Schwarzenberg and Wittgenstein all in one and as such directed the general strategy for the Army of Bohemia.  The plan along our two boards was to try and draw off the French corps away from the exit points leading to the central table.  

This worked well on the ‘Dresden’ board, where Fitz, acting as Bennigsen managed to surround St. Cyr (Noel) and his two corps on three sides and came close to pinching him off from his road home.  The timely arrival of some French Guard Cavalry kept the road open for a while, but if he had more time I think the issue would not have been in doubt.  Noel anchored a good chunk of his forces on the large hill that dominated the board.  Fitz ignored this terrain choosing to instead work his way around the flanks, and it took Noel a very long time to try and pull his forces out of a position that was very strong, but also pretty immobile.


Action shot from the Dresden board

Action shot from the 'Dresden' board



On the Erfurt board, Jack L. had a similar plan but ran into a combination of bad terrain and some deployment issues, stringing out his Prussian corps in a long line and leaving several divisional generals on their own each turn to roll for command. In his defense, it has been a loong time since he played the rules.   He eventually got to grips with Murat (Trevor), who both played a smart game and had ungodly good luck with his dice… he rolled many tens and therefore was a Napoleon’s Battles military genius.   I eventually had to start feeding the small Russian Corps of Wittgenstein’s wing in from another flank to take some pressure off of Jack and start causing some damage.    Napoleon threw a wrench in the works by ordering Renyier’s corps forward from the Frech rear area, where he managed to come on the table behind Jack’s extended left flank.  Jack was able to turn and face him, but it was clear that those two forces would be tangled for the rest of the day.  In my personal opinion I think we would eventually have forced Murat off the table, but it would have taken some time and probably some more forces from the AoB reserves.


The Erfurt board

The 'Erfurt' board



The ‘Wartenburg’ table featured the whole of the Army of Silesia trying to force it’s way across a veritable minefield of gullies, marches and generally bad terrain to try and put a hurting on MacDonald (Tony W.) and his forces.    This turned out to be the real meatgrinder board.  The French committed a lot of their reserves to bolster MacDonald and to try and wreck the AoS for good, including a flank march and apparently they were about to come in the rear area of AoS as well.   


The Wartenburg Table

The Wartenburg Table



The ‘Torgau’ battlefield featured Ney sweeping aside a small Prussian corps of observation (i.e. landwehr) and then spending a few hours waiting for Allied reinforcements that never arrived, since Crow (Blucher) made the decision to send his entire force after MacDonald at Wartenburg.  After spending some time talking smack to both the Allies and the Emperor, Ney eventually sent his forces on the long flanking march that was due to hit the AoS in the rear as the game was called.


Neys Moment of Glory at Torgau

Ney's Moment of Glory at Torgau


Overall I had a great time, even though my personal troops didn’t get engaged that much.  The strategy element with the mini map campaign was interesting and lead to some cool decisions that the CinC’s would have to make regarding where to push, when to feed in reinforcements and when to pull out.  There are some refinements I can see needing to be made in the rules but overall it was a lot of fun and well-thought out.

The terrain boards were gorgeous, but you could tell that they were originally designed for World War II action, since most of the boards were 50% (or more in most cases) rough terrain.  It would be great infantry terrain for WWII, but it was terrible for Napoleonic maneuver for the most part.   I do like the idea of having more rough ground on the boards… it makes decisions for where to attack & defend that much more interesting… but with the exception of the central board and Torgau there was little of what could be considered ‘good ground’… I heard that MacDonald at Wartenburg sent Napoleon a message asking him why he was sending more cavalry to that board when he could really use more infantry.

Anyway, kudos to Jeff for setting things up.  It was a fun game.  The next one is tentatively scheduled for May 16th and right now it looks like it will be 15mm Seven Years War action.   Stay tuned…

For more photos of the weekend, please check out my Photobucket album.


1 Response to “Fall 1813 Campaign Game at the Levee Cafe”

  1. 1 Joe Knight March 3, 2009 at 11:45 am

    Well I (As Napoleon) can offer the opposing strategic objectives.

    My goal was to hold the Erfurt and Wartenburg boards. With those held, anything approaching the center from Dresden or Torgau could be kept to one end (or “In Front” of the rest of the Grand Army) of the Leipzig battlefield. Also the Grand Army’s escape route could not be opposed as long as Wartenburg and Erfurt were under our control. I viewed the possession of those two battlefields as the primary objectives at the start of the game.

    Each of those boards were given two Infantry Corps and a supporting Cavalry Corps to start. Each also had (Unknown to Murat and MacDonald) another Cav Corps and a Young Guard Corps a piece ready to be allocated should they need it. Lastly, as it turned out each would also receive and additional, flank marching, infantry corps that was send to secure my escape route.

    Erfurt: What can I say here except that Murat (Trevor St. Germain) was brilliant exploiting all the opportunities he received from himself and his opponent. With 3 infantry corps engaged he was successful in stopping the advancing Coalition forces to the conclusion of our time available. With the introduction of his reserve Cav Corps and a Young Guard Corps I was confident in his ability to hold off anything from the AOB until nightfall.

    Wartenburg: Here, MacDonald (Tony W.) was in a outright cage match with Blucher and the AOS. This was a meat grinder for the French with MacDonald’s own Corps taking the brunt of the hurt. Many, many Frenchmen lost their lives against the downpour of cannonballs being shot from Blucher’s guns. I reinforced MacDonald first with Kellermann and his I and IV Cav Corps, then with Mortier and the II Young Guard Corps. Lastly as the game was called, Augereau’s IX Corps was matching in from a flanking position to the left of MacDonald’s line. All in all, MacDonald was doing his job in holding the battlefield, but at great cost in men for the French. Now let’s talk controversy… First was the eminent arrival of the V Cav Corp to the rear of Langeron’s forces. (Which was already semi-beat up) This was a consequence of Blucher’s decision to ignore the Torgau approach. With it free and clear, Marshall Ney (Joe Z.) proposed a lengthy flanking march that could have an effect on the battle to his SW (?) and I approved it. This would have been a huge development for the French at Wartenburg and a large problem for Langeron and eventually Blucher. Langeron was on Blucher’s right flank and would have (I believe) been overwhelmed from three directions (Front, right and rear) which in turn would have forced Blucher out of his death grip on MacDonald. Not to mention that Solkolnicki’s Cav Corp on Blucher’s left flank was starting to tear huge holes in the Prussians unopposed with his 3 batteries of horse artillery. This had a couple flank cavalry routed and was rolling forward protected by the two totally fresh cavalry brigades Solkolnicki commanded. In the end, I believe the French, with the forces allocated at the end of our session could have delivered a defeating thrust at the AOS that would have forced their retirement from the field. The second bit of controversy was the claim that MacDonald’s original supporting cavalry corps had been fatigued and needed to retire from the field. (Which it did.) Upon further review, that cavalry corps was not fatigued.

    Dresden: Here St. Cyr (Noel) was being bypassed by the majority of the forces under Benningsen? (Jim Fitzgerald) Much to Ney’s dismay this was partially according to plan. I had hoped that St. Cyr would be able to tie up far more of the forces then he was actually able to, however he was under orders to allow the entry point of the main board to be open so that a trickle of Coalition corps would make it through to my awaiting army which included III, VI, and VIII Corps as well as a reserve of the Imperial Guard, the Guard artillery and the Guard Cav Corps. (Additional forces were more than likely going to be available, but I only included what was certain and ready) This stated, a combination of really bad ground slowing the overall progress of the allies, and a late afternoon stunt by Ney stealing a division of the Guard Cavalry kept any forces from reaching the Leipzig battlefield and probably would have made it unlikely they would have before nightfall.

    Overall it was a great time pulling the puppet strings of my Corps to try to make things happen in a favorable way. My hat’s off to BJ (Czar Alex) for his unending river of forces. (May they rot in the Pleisse.) I absolutely loved the strategic element of this game. Jeff J. did an outstanding job in coming up with the framework for this type of “unscripted” clash to develop into a really interesting set of battles. We had a meat-grinder, a stale-mate, a classic pin in place and bypass and several flanking forces arriving. Thanks to everyone that helped put this together and get it ready.

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