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The Battle of Fontenoy: 11 May, 1745» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Fontenoy Scenario 5 0700 to 0800 rss

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Alasdair Campbell
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Second session report on Scenario 5 - The Battle of Fontenoy (early start)

Entering the second hour of the battle, the Allies are looking to engage with the main French defences and the report of muskets and the cries of men can be heard from Bois de Barry. The Dutch on the Allied left wing seem strangely subdued and little interested in the battle, their compatriots under the urging of Prince Waldeck continue to march straight towards the French guns.

Allied report

In the Bois de Barry the English cavalry continue to make slow headway through the forest, as do Ingoldsby’s infantry. The French skirmishers opposing them can retreat before combat and if they are lucky they can get a shot in if they activate first.

The main activity in the Allied lines centres around the vanguard of the Dutch infantry and the English and Hanoverian foot. Cumberland hopes to send the Dutch Musketiere up to the outskirts of the village of Fontenoy screening his main attack on the French lines with the English and Hanoverians. He has little patience, and does not even want to wait for his artillery to deploy.

On the left, the Dutch forces have received orders to support the attack on Fontenoy by neutralising the redoubts to the left of the village. No easy task!

French report


Maréchal de Saxe feels he has Cumberland right where he wants him. The formidable barrier of the Bois de Barry is proving a valuable ally in delaying the Allies on his left, and the main Allied force under Cumberland appears to be marching right into the teeth of his defences centred around Fontenoy. He is confident the fire from the 8lb batteries will soon dull the martial ardour of the advancing Allied foot.

0700 turn

The Dutch cavalry in the centre continue their slow and deliberate move to the north. What part they will play in the battle remains to be seen.



The Dutch foot form up in anticipation of their assault on Fontenoy, few among them relish attacking the fieldworks the French have built around the village. The French 8lbers have already began to exact a toll on the massed ranks.



Far to the north the first French reinforcements have arrived, the Royal Infantrie under Croissy. It will take several turns before they can have any impact on the battle.



Campbell and Ingoldsby are closing in on the northern edges of the Bois de Barry. Once they move beyond the north of the forest, that triggers a large French reinforcement under Lowendahl. If you were playing an opposed game, as opposed to solo, you may want to prevent that happening early on. The other triggers are a 1200 time trigger and cracking the French perimeter. However, even when one of the conditions has been met, the French reinforcements can still take some time to enter the fray, and it will take them some time to reach the battle. However a very lucky die roll could see them enter the battlefield in a hour’s time.



0720 turn

The main body of Allied infantry closes in on the French lines, and French artillery fire is beginning to have an effect. Units are taking losses and becoming shaken and disordered. The French got a lucky Free Combat roll on an Special Initiative result which gave the batteries in Fontenoy a bonus Fire Combat. The Dutch approach to Fontenoy, however, has been fairly lucky, as the Opportunity Fire from the French guns has not been as brutal as it might have.



Below you can see that the 1/Salis Musketiere under the yellow marker are shaken. I attempted, probably rather foolishly, a Close Combat across the fieldworks and thankfully for the Dutch they failed their Attacker morale check and so no combat occurred. If they had made the Morale Check they would have had a -4 attacker modifier for attacking across the fieldworks and as the French are in a village, they would have had a +3 defender modifier. So it would have taken some really good luck for a positive result for the Dutch.



Meanwhile the Dutch infantry on the left begin to swing right in front of their cavalry. They have received orders to attack the redoubt to the west of Fontenoy.



Towards the end of the turn, the value of keeping on rolling for initiative is shown, well almost. Most of the key units have been activated, and so it can at times feel a little futile to have to roll on and on until everyone has been activated or the end of turn has been triggered. However, the Vive le Roi! event for the Allies, with an initiative roll of 0-7 for the French, gave the Allies the chance to choose one French command. If the commander of that command failed his initiative check, then he and his men would have to move towards the Allies and if possible engage them in Close Combat. The idea being that the French by nature liked to be seen to attack, and not sit in on the defensive, and thus inspired by the King and national pride, they burst forth to attack the enemy. I at first toyed with trying my luck at dislodging the French Guard from the ridge, but with their commander having a 7 Initiative, I decided that d’ Anlezy with 4 Initiative and his Courten (Swiss) Infantrie were a better bet. The French rolled high, and d’ Anlezy held his men in check. I love the way that various Special Results on different checks (Morale, Disorder, Initiative, Close Combat, Fire) can really change the course of an action which might have at first seemed predictable. If the Courten Infantrie had advanced, then the French line may have been weakened at a key point to the east of Fontenoy. Or perhaps they would have advanced and routed the Dutch!



And finally, on a quieter side of the battlefield, Ponsonby has been tasked with making sure the heavy English guns get to the battlefield. It could take some time.



0740 turn

A pivotal moment in the battle has arrived early on, or so it seems to me. What unfolds over the next 20 minute turn may prove to have a significant impact on the battle, as the perceived ‘weak spot’ in the French defence is fully engaged for the first time.

The first moment of truth has arrived for attackers and defenders alike as the Dutch infantry to the east of Fontenoy are ordered to advance and take the ridge held by the d’ Anlezy’s Swiss foot and engage the westernmost regiment of the Gardes Francaises as well as braving the 4lbers on the ridge and enfilading fire from an 8lb battery in Fontenoy. The Dutch strike lucky in their approach to the ridge as two 4lb batteries on the ridge are hit by the Ammo Exhausted Special Result which means they have to limber and move back one space. Having safely made it to the ridge with minimum casualties, they decide to press their luck and engage in the lottery of Close Combat! The ensuing close-quarters tussle sends two Dutch units routing past their bemused Wing Commander, they also move through two Dutch batteries which were looking to deploy and rout them also! Routed guns in BAR are removed from play. The routing for the Dutch could have been worse, as a Special Result on a Morale Check gave a Suave qui peut result which routs a unit automatically and all friendly units within 2 hexes must check for morale, if they fail they too rout. The Courten unit engaged is left disordered (green counter) and with its fighting strength halved, and the sole Dutch success sees a shaken unit rout the French Guards and move onto the ridge. One of the retreated French batteries also routs. So although the Dutch troops are shaken, they have made a small indent in the French line.



The next action of the turn sees Ingoldsby’s infantry threatened by Pons and his French cavalry. Ingoldsby’s emergence north of the Bois de Barry means that the countdown to the entry of the French reinforcements under Lowendahl has begun. They will not enter for at least an hour, and perhaps not for some time after that depending on die rolls. Pons and his cavalry decide to deal with the Allied infantry tout suite, and charge.



In the ensuing Close Combat, despite charge and heavy cavalry bonuses, all of the French cavalry rout with some heavy casualties, Duroure’s Foot also takes a pounding losing 3 Strength Points. But for some fortuitous die rolls for the Allies, the Close Combat could have ended very differently.



On the Dutch left things are much quieter as they attempt to manoeuvre into position. Dutch 6lbers and Howitzers combine to inflict some casualties on the French infantry to the west of Fontenoy.



In subsequent activations the English foot moves closer to the ridge and southernmost Large Redoubt. And the Hanoverians remain to the rear (southeast of the picture below) awaiting the outcome of the Dutch attack. As the turn edges to its conclusion, one Special Initiative result allows Churchill’s Allied infantry a free movement, which I use to send them to attack the French Guard on the ridge, cutting across the field of fire of the Large Redoubt and in front of the Dutch. The resulting Opportunity Fire takes its toll on the Royal North British Foot (3 SPs) and shakes them, but the rest of Churchill’s men make it to below the ridge. And then a second Special Result later in the turn allows Churchill’s men a Free Combat. The English foot are +5 in Close Combat as opposed to +3 of the French Guards, and they also are able to enfilade attack (+3) the French on the ridge who were expecting a Dutch attack and not that the English and Scottish infantry could cut across with such speed. The ensuing combats result in two more regiments of the Gardes Francaises joining their comrades in retreat and the English foot drive up the ridge. The picture below shows the carnage on the ridge. French Guards stream northwards (red counters), Churchill’s infantry are disordered on the ridge (green markers), Dutch troops stand shaken (yellow) and routed (red), and Brigadier d’ Havre has moved forward with his infantry to try and plug the gap left by the Guards’ flight.



A close-up of the ridge shows the two English infantry units (below green counters) sitting either side of the remaining French Guards and an artillery battery.



The English foot certainly showed their worth in the Close Combat, the Foot Guards, who are following up on Churchill’s infantry are +6 in Close Combat. So the Allies perhaps have a chance to drive home an advantage. The system however, allows for any number of swings of fortune via the dice. Yes you can mitigate it with playing the percentages, but Special Results and bad/good luck can make the improbable very possible. This is exactly the kind of system I like, and I presume mirrors the warfare of the era. Command and activations also play a very large part in the game.

And finally in a very much quieter corner of the battlefield, the Austrians are finally moving out of Vezon.



This turn has shown me the system’s ability to produce a great narrative, driven by the initiative of commanders and extra activations. There are quite a lot of die rolls on any given turn and chrome, but for me it’s worth it in terms of the results produced.


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Mathew Hinkle
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Alasdair--Lovely narrative again. Your Allies are doing well. If they could get their reserves up for what seems an imminent breach of the French lines, they may well win.

I like your analyses throughout the commentary of the BAR system. I am a long time gamer (almost 40 years) and when I first undertook to play the BAR I was quickly smitten with the Special Results and the unpredictable nature of things. It is a great game system.
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Alasdair Campbell
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Mathew,

I am very much the new gamer, really got into it about 2 years ago. So everything is new to me. Started with GBoH and then moved onto Musket and Pike, and now BAR. Also looking to try La Bat. The BAR system with its rules and components is a joy to behold. The rules are complex, no doubt about that, but the dividends they pay are well worth the effort.

I too feel the Allies may have reached a key point, already, in the battle. The closest Allied foot to the 'breach' are the Foot Guards, but they will have to brave the crossfire of the Large Redoubt to add their weight to the breach. Or should I push them up to attack the redoubt itself... decisions, decisions.
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Stephen Parker
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Excellent! I can't wait for the next installment. We're playing this on Tuesday nights.
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Alasdair Campbell
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Thank you Stephen,

I can't wait for the next session myself! Alas, work and family commitments will put it on hold for a while, but not too long I hope. It's taking longer to play a turn now as the fighting begins.
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Paul Borchers
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Your game has taken some interesting twists. Please keep us informed!

I'll be interested to see how the Allies keep their troops coordinated as the action continues to escalate. If they can drive toward the French in Fontenoy and to the large redoubt north of it, that helps as the parts of the army are driving inward to the same area. At some point, however, having some English north of the woods and the bulk of the Dutch to the south and west of it might mean you have to prioritize which one activates (and guarantee that that portion stays in Cumberland's command range). The Allies will then be at the mercy of a die to keep everything "In Command."
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Alasdair Campbell
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Yes, I've already had to deal with the fact that Cumberland cannot be everywhere at once. As long as units are not fighting, the penalty for that has not been too severe. But certainly some wing activations have not occurred, due to the Wing Commanders' being out of command and failing their activation rolls. This especially hurts with the Dutch who have such low initiative ratings. I'm tempted to keep Cumberland with the English and Hanoverian foot and leave the rest to their fate...

The Dutch on the left are very much a long-term project, with the luck of activation rolls dictating what they can and cannot do. Luckily, Campbell north of the woods has a high initiative, which certainly cannot be said of Ingoldsby. The French would be wise to leave him alone, as his chances of activating for combat are slim.

The French are in a much better situation, with de Saxe in the centre and with an 8 command range.

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