Historicon 2007 After Action Report, Part 3: Saturday

Saturday: Once more into the breach, dear friends! I was set to run my Eylau 1807 game starting at 11 AM, so after breakfast, Joe and I made a quick tour through the Flea Market (no purchases for me there this year) and then started to haul everything into the Showroom stage from the car , assisted by Jim. This battle set up fairly quickly, as I had run it at home back near the actual 200th anniversary of the battle, and thus all the terrain was set up and the troops organized by commands (Divisions). I carved the hills and ridges out of Foam-board, and if I do say so, I think the overall effect for this famous "battle in the snow" was very good.

Participants on the French included Jim himself as Marshals Murat and Augereau, Herman as Marshal Davout, and a fellow who walked up to the table and therefore I recruited to play in the game - sorry, don't recall the name, I keep telling myself to use a sign in sheet! He had the Imperial Guard, artillery reserve, and 2 Divisions of Marshal Soult's infantry. Anyway, after a few moves of advice, he got the knack of the game very well, and started regularly ignoring my kibitzing, and generally being proved right in so doing! On the Russian side, my friend Barry took the Russian right wing, which he'd played previously in the home playtest game, longtime wargames buddy Dave Sweet had the Russian center, and John Mumby had the hotly engaged Russian left flank.

Dave and John on the Russian side, with Joe looking on as an "advisor".

The French won the fist initiative roll, 10 or eleven I think, and the French opted to give the impetus to the Russians, figuring that really only their Artillery Firepower cards would be of much use, the rest of our army being too far away to use Infantry fire, etc., unless they were extremely aggressive and came down from their ridgeline position. If we won another large roll after that and went first, the Russians could be in deep trouble! The Russian phase panned out about as planned, with their three massive grand batteries dealing out death and destruction to one of Soult's Divisions and especially, the French Artillery Reserve. Almost all their other cards were wasted, with a few "lull" cards thrown in that allowed the French to "Seize the Initiative" several times. When the initiative passed to the French, an immediate assault was launched upon the Russian ridgeline by Soult's remaining troops and Augereau's small corps.

The attacking infantry, aided by the obscuring effect of a Heavy Snow squall, took the expected casualties but weakened the guns in return with close range fire and then a generally successful assault, slowly destroying or pushing back the massive Russian batteries.

Davout pursued a rather cautious advance, seemingly blithe to the fact that his turning leftward to turn the main Russian position was critical to the success of French arms.

Davout (Herman) and Murat (Jim) contemplate the battlefield from the French side. "I think you should start to move the Cavalry Reserve forward now, Jim", I said.

The French assault on the Russian Grand Battery and the Ridgeline is succeeding, but at a price.

Davout is still being distracted by the Russian left flank cavalry... (Marshal Murat's massed Cavalry Reserve is seen in the far background, still waiting for their moment.)

Augereau's Infantry assault upon the Russian center is making good progress. "Now, Monsieur le Marechal, take your cavalry and chargez!" "It is not yet time..."

As both of these attacks were making progress, the infantry of Barry's Russian Right wing began to move to the attack.

His Cossacks and cavalry had already been engaged with Lassalle's weak Light Cavalry Division for some time. This had the effect of forcing the French artillery reserve and their supporting infantry to first refuse their flank, and then later limber up and move to the rear, withdrawing to the ridge behind their starting position. At the same time, the cavalry of the Guard were dispatched to bolster the French far left wing against Barry's cavalry, and then the arrival of Lestoq's long awaited Prussian corps reinforcements, seen entering the battlefield below.

Then at last Murat released the Dragoons and Cuirassiers of the Reserve against the hard pressed Russian center.

The long awaited French cavalry charge upon the center was generally successful, although the Cuirassiers and Carabiniers never made contact with the enemy At the end of the game. The French had many impetus but couldn't find the crucial Move card in order for them to complete what was one of the most massive cavalry charges in history.

The game ended after 5 hours of play (and after dusk in game time) with the welcome arrival of Marshal Ney's French corps on the heels of Lestoq's Prussians, bolstering the French left. We judged it a winning draw for the French, about the same as in actual fact, and a better result than the froggies managed in the play test game. I had a blast running the game, and the players all seemed to enjoy themselves as well. Brent's Field of Battle rules are perfect for multiplayer Horse and Musket era Convention games!

After the game was all taken down and stowed back I the car, once again with the kind assistance of most of the players, Joe and I chatted at length with Freddie Avner and his friend, and made plans to have a largely Piquet dinner at the "hidden" pan-oriental restaurant a short drive from the Host. Dan "the Heretic" Beattie (who so kindly assisted with my Wagram 1809 games last year) dropped by briefly trying to buy up some of my Minifigs Napoleonics again (sheesh, I only have about 7,000 to your 20,000 plus, Dan!) After a brief trip to the Dealer's area, followed by a glass of wine, we all assembled and walked to dinner. Rob, Jim, Jeff, Joe, Fred, Milton Soong, and Todd form the Midwest were among the crowd of 10 -12 occupying a long table making up about 25% percent of the total floor space! A wide variety of delicious foods from Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai, and Chinese traditions were happily consumed - good find guys!

After dinner we walked back to the hotel, narrowly avoiding a thunderstorm, and sought out Pat and Chris Velas' 1814 Napoleonic pickup game. Much has already been said about the very attractive table, and the gorgeous figures painted by Pat (28mm Front Rank). I think there were five players a side, each commanding a small Corps of two or three Divisions. I had the Wurttemburg corps, and also rolled as the Army C-in-C, Schwartzenburg. Bad idea! Historically, the Wurttemburgers were perhaps the best of the minor German state armies during the Napoleonic Wars. On the tabletop this day, that did not pan out to be the case. As has been related previously, Andy Finkel must have taken over my die rolling, out of frustration at crossing the pond again this summer but coming too late to make the Convention. Suffice it to say that I can't recall the last time I was thrashed as soundly on the battlefield; within a few moves, almost all of my Corps was routed or destroyed, with Ken Baggaley (playing the Bavarians to my left) having to form square to protect himself from the marauding French Dragoons and Cuirassiers. He became infected with the Finkel curse as well, and before you knew it we were down to zero Morale chips (out of 35, compared with I think *six* lost for the French), and failed our first Army Morale Check, resulting in the retreat of the one command that was actually threatening the French jugernaught. Der Konig von Wurttemburg was reportedly ":not amused", and is alleged to be opening negotiations with the French to return to their camp! "Gonsalvo's Gallop" indeed! Snort!

Actually, I had a wonderful time despite having my ass handed to me on a silver platter courtesy of Jeff and Jim's very aggressive, skilled play and their superior die rolling. The Piquet crowd is always so much more fun to play with than the average Convention gamer - everything moves along quickly, accompanied by lots of bad jokes, abundant potables, and good sportsmanship. The traditional pick-up game is always a highlight of the show. After some pleasant conversation with Ken, Pat, and others as we all helped take down the game, Joe and I headed back to the hotel, pretty well spent out (both financially and otherwise).

Sunday (and beyond)

As is our usual pattern, we packed up in the AM and headed over to the flea market and then back to the Dealer area for last minute shopping. I picked up a large amount of flocking in various colors. That's intended in part for the project for next year that had been brewing since Joe and I exchanged ideas on the drive down.

I'm going to take a break from Napoleonic games for Historicon 2008 (but returning with a vengeance for 2009 and the 200th anniversary of the 1809 "Crisis on the Danube"). For 2008, at present I'm planning on doing an all Renaissance convention, with the return of my 15mm galleys, laternas, galleasses, and so forth using Ken B's "No Heaven for Cowards" Renaissance naval rules, perhaps a game based upon the siege of Durazzo (Turks vs. Venice) if Joe can put it together, and running multiple small walk up games of Pikette, Ken's very clever "Piquet Band of Brothers II meets DBA" simplified rules. I plan to use a 4" square grid (sorry Ken, but I think these rules cry out for a square or hexagonal grid) and make a number of ground cloths, using flocking in the form of various fields to create the square grid. With some help from Joe's collection, I can already filed armies for the Great Italian Wars French, Spanish, Italians, Ottomans, and Imperialists, plus the Hussites, Catholic Crusaders, and Swiss. I plan to add armies for the Burgundians of Charles the Bold and the late Hundred Years War French and English. Lastly, I want to do a high level Renaissance economic/military multiplayer game of the Great Italian Wars era, kind of like Milton Bradley's Axis and Allies (One of the designers of which was a friend and gaming opponent back in Medical; School) meets Machiavelli. My 28mm figures will be used as the units on a very large map of Europe of the time. I think that would be a blast, and a good way to introduce players to this fascinating but relatively unfamiliar era of history.

Rich Knapton, President of the Renaissance Wargames Society (to my VP - mostly all title and no work), dropped by at my Thursday game and asked how we could get more guys to run non-tournament Renaissance games at Historicon. Well, I'm planning on doing my part for 2008, and yes, I'm happy to have the RWS as sponsor! It was good to see so many friends, old and new, and I look forward to more of the same next year. Special thanks once again to Joe Fish and Jim Mauro; guys, you know I couldn't pull off so many games in such a short period of time without your help.


Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Page Last Updated On: 18 Aug 2007