Sunday, November 25, 2018

Auerstedt with the ANF

Saturday Stephen N, Mark B, Olivier and myself travelled out to the wilds of the Avon valley to join the ANF in a game of Shako recreating the 1806 battle of Auerstedt in 1/72nd scale.

My bias for the Napoleon's Battles rules should be well known and will of course colour my one sided commentary on this game.

I was Davout.

 A faceless man of the ANF completing the setup of the game.

James and Mark were Friant and Gudin (and later Morand) respectively.  Julian was Blucher.  The other NWS chaps were assorted Prussian commanders.

 Gudin is deployed in squares ready to face the Prussian cavalry that is about to appear.

 But there are a lot of Prussian infantry headed Gudin's way.

 There's Blucher leading his first cavalry charge.
This went in against the French cavalry.

 Friant has arrived.
Although his lead battalion has formed square just in case.

 Blucher's charge has been repulsed, 
but he has more from where that came from 
(the table edge)

 Blucher is busy looking for his next target
(as his previous one has withdrawn blown)

 Blucher charges one of Gudin's squares.

 Friant is a bit hemmed in by the table edge...
But Morand has just arrived
(must be around Turn 4 - possibly 10:30 - the battle started at 9:00).

 That's the town of Spielberg that Friant is fighting Blucher for.
Note the proximity of the table edge...

 Congestion at Spielberg.
Actually the French have just smashed some Prussians
and are about to hit the flank of some more.
That will teach them to use the table edge to deploy too close to the enemy.

 Things are looking good for the French.

 But the Prussians prove to have a bit more fight left in them...

 Gudin is still holding and Morand is moving up to his support.
The French cavalry is in reserve ready for any opportunities.

 The Prussians break!

It is Gudin who suddenly abandons the field.
This would never happen in Napoleon's Battles.  
Gudin would have just gone fatigued 
(basically held in place, not going closer to the enemy).

 Time for desperate French cavalry charges.

 All of which failed miserably as the Prussians, 
despite being staggered and in line, 
managed to form square.

Friant is holding Spielberg, but the Prussians hold Hassenhausen.

And at this crucial stage I had to take my fellow NWS players home and leave the game to the ANF to finish.  What will be the outcome?


  1. This is a huge game and well-suited to multi-player action. I think I notice some AWI troops in tricornes standing in as ersatz Prussians. Do my eyes deceive me?

    As for Shako, well, I agree completely with your assessment. Not a good game and even less so a simulation. Too much left to chance and the throw of the die. Good planning and execution can ALWAYS be trumped by the die. It takes a long time to paint and then set up all of the troops for a battle. I hate putting them back into their box so quickly once the fighting begins. Stands die off in great swathes and much too quickly. Even a retreat result carries a high risk of elimination. While I appreciate abstraction in a game, Shako takes it too far. Shako II did not improve upon Shako I and made some things worse. Whoops! What were we talking about?

    Thanks for sharing your battle report!

    1. I cannot argue with any of your observations/assessments Jonathan.
      There are compromises in every set of rules. Some of those in Shako that I am ‘uncomfortable’ with were in stark evidence; abstracted command, lack of any real impact of leaders, lack of firing except for lines, squares not being considered to support troops, the ‘Mc’ troops and hence ‘Mc’ combats, the decisiveness of ‘mêlées’.
      That said, the positives were also in clear reflection; ease of use, simple calculations, working well for a big group who do not know the rules, getting results (and damned near to a final one in this case)...
      The question for me is whether I can find another set of rules that will add the desired detail while still making it possible to do Napoleonic games on a grand scale 'without tears' (to misquote the title of an article from a volume of Battle magazine of the 80s--"Orders without tear" in that case)?! The rules that we playtested over 2010-2015 all failed dismally, but perhaps we tried the wrong ones for our, or maybe that should read my, purposes...

    2. As I said I am very biased towards the Napoleon's Battles rules; I have been playing with them for 30 years now. Shako is the ANF rules of choice for Napoleonics and has served them well and is playable. They like being at the battalion level. I find it frustrating not being able to maneuver or fire units as I can in NB and consider the NB cavalry react mechanism to be very effective.

      But it is good to be able to participate in such a huge game (based on table size, number of figures and the historical basis of the game) so I try not to complain too much.

      It will be interesting when I can put on the same battle using Napoleon's battles (although I will have to use late war Prussians).

  2. Nice report Mark and some beaut photos.

    Julian will do an overall report in time. The wind was taken out of the Prussian attack, but, sadly, we did not get to play out a French counter-attack. Having had success against Blucher's advance guard, Friant was ready to have a go at the left flank of Schmettau--once the Prussian cavalry had exhausted themselves against the French squares--while Morand was well-placed in the centre-right of the French line.
    Unfortunately, the 1/6 throw that meant Gudin retreated was not corrected after three rolls to rally. Hmmm!!

    1. Thanks James. The immediate and total collapse of Gudin was a bit of a shock.