Last Saturday we played our large Borodino game at Willy's place. He added a table to extend the length of the sand table to over twenty feet, and we played right across the whole table. The force ratio was roughly one unit to two infantry battalions, cavalry regiments or artillery batteries. Mark from Northern Ireland came over with most of the French and Poles in his car, and his forces were supplemented by William's Westphalians and some others. I provided most of the Russians, with some extras from Willy and Euan. We had players from Glasgow, Ayrshire, Coventry, York and of course Mark. Figures were 15mm and the rules were Shako II, with a few minor tweaks to speed up such a large game. Willy reckoned there must have been almost 7,000 figs on the table. Photos of the Russian deployment:
We had to stop there because we ran out of time. Overall, the French were held at their left. Morand had taken the Grand Redoubt, but his division was destroyed and Paskevich recaptured it. Junot appeared with the Westphalians at the edge of the table to form the next wave. In the centre, the French were pouring through in great numbers, with Ney and Davout leading the way, supported by Murat's cavalry and the Imperial Guard. The Russian guards had just received their orders from Kutusov to go onto the counterattack. The Combined Grenadiers were still just about in existence, and the Polish attack on Utitsa had been repulsed.
All in all we managed twelve turns, which is pretty good going for a game this size in one day. The discussion afterwards was quite interesting, as the commanders revealed their pre-battle intentions. As Napoleon, Mark had always intended the two extreme flanks to be holding actions, so Eugene and Poniatowski both did what was required. Napoleon's main attack was supposed to be Davout and Ney in the centre, and he was pleasantly surprised by Davout's success. He had timed his commitment of Murat and the Guard to follow through after Davout had cleared the fleches. The one thing that didn't go according to the initial plan was the direct attack on the Grand Redoubt. I think the division there was simply supposed to hold until Junot arrived, and then the two forces between them were to assault it at the same time as the main forces to their right came forward. Still, it was a great attempt and the commander was acclaimed after the game for his elan.
Euan as Bagration saw the relative thinness of the area across from Ney and Davout, and immediately decided to ask Kutusov to release the Guards to move in this direction. He knew this would take a while, and was determined to hold on as long as possible. If we had time to play more, there would have been an enormous clash in this area as the Russian Guards were committed. Elsewhere, Barclay held quite nicely, as did Tutchkov around Utitsa. The surprise assault by the French on the Grand Redoubt saw it fall, but it was then quickly retaken by Paskevich's counterattack, with the French division destroyed.
Everyone seemed to enjoy it. I learned from my recent large Heraclea ancients game and gave out command cards so that everyone would know what they were doing, so far as possible. Each card showed what a division had, as well as its morale decision points and any modifiers. I also modified the Shako victory conditions to make it easier to play such a large game. Basically, I borrowed the legion rules for Republican Romans from Tactica II, in which the legion is the unit, not the indidual sub-units. In other words, broken battalions or cavalry regiments didn't count towards army morale until the whole division was destroyed. I also varied the values of the various divisions with a numerical score, so that, say, Karpov's Cosscaks were not so valuable as the Grand Redoubt. I kept track of the scores, and it seemed to work well on the day. By the time we finished, the French army had lost one-sixth of its value, and the Russians one-quarter: a French tactical victory, then.
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