Thursday, February 26, 2015

Along the Danube - First Play of Blucher

Last night, with just one read of a redacted set of the rules I attempted to umpire my first game of Blucher. Mark B took my French against Stephen N's Austrians in the introductory scenario for the new Blucher rules - Along the Danube.

I had made up some movement trays and labels to use with our miniatures that are based for Napoleon's Battles (mine) and Empire (Stephen).  The plan is to invest in some metal 3x2 inch bases which my troops at least will adhere to due to the wonders of magnetism and can also double as movement trays for Napoleon's Battles.

But this post is about Blucher.

Apart from the determination to play with miniatures I also researched names for each brigade and created my own labels/roster.  The resultant document can be found here and one of its two pages can be seen in the following picture.

The Austrians have deployed in a very linear fashion and are not yet revealed.  The French have deployed very compact.  There are more Austrians to the right and left of their line.  There are also more French to their rear.  The shining round things are coins denoting objectives.

The French advanced in the centre and came under fire from the Austrians who held their position.  One mistake we initially made was in not applying the penalty for infantry skirmish/long range fire.

The Austrians attacked with their Reserve Corps on the French right.  I used cotton wool balls to mark fire combats and close combats - for visual appeal and as an aide memoir.

On the third turn the French start to return fire in the centre and on their right.  They had repulsed one of the Austrian Grenadier brigades, but the other one was proving more resilient.  I have to double check, but don't recall any restriction on firing into a melee.

The centre fire fight continues, while the Austrians try again on the French right.  The Austrian's own right flank is advancing through the wood.  

The French start to break into the Austrian centre and have repulsed the Austrian attack on their right.

We played ten turns all up before calling it a night (approximately four hours casual play including set up and packing away).  We were close to a result.  The Austrians had four broken units while the French had two (and had retired two more).  However the French Reserve Corps was getting ready to exploit the break in the Austrian centre.

The movement system using momentum (MO) rolls worked well and was fun.  Most of the time each side got to move three corps, although the French lucked out badly on one occasion (although they were in a position to fire so it turned out to their advantage anyway). 

We didn't use reserve movement - something we are yet to learn.  I think it would have aided the Austrian right wing advance, provided they skirted the wood.

Also we might not have done the correct thing when units were engaged (I need to read that part again).

We did have a few units fatigued, but I couldn't find out what the penalty for that was (only reference I have found so far is on page 12, but it might be something in the advanced game that I am yet to study).

I need to do some more thinking on the aesthetics.  I find the labels detract from the visual appeal, but there are a lot of options and ideas to consider for alternatives (and two good ones are mentioned in the rules - put them underneath or use a roster).

I like the big bases and in fact, the basic mechanics of the game.  It is the kind of thing I would like to think I would have come up with if I had Mr Mustafa's talent for writing wargame rules.  Definitely simpler than what I am used to, but still with lots of command challenges and tension to make for an engaging game.

The rules are well written and laid out.  I was working from a PDF copy that hadn't printed well in black and white (most of the coloured headings and diagrams were just black rectangles), so it is a tribute to the rules that they survived that challenge.  (Aside: my hard copy rules and 100 Days Campaign arrived today - thanks Nic Robson of Eureka for such prompt service and Australia Post too).


  1. The game certainly looked interesting last night mate. Mine arrived from Nic today as well mate so we may need to exchange notes!

  2. Great stuff :)
    Good to hear another perspective on the game!

  3. And thanks to Cam on the Honour forum on Mustafa's website, the answers to my rule uncertainties are:
    - units can not fire on an enemy unit that is in contact with a friendly unit
    - fatigued units cannot charge