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Quebec 1759» Forums » Sessions

Subject: The "Rundstedt" Defence - Also: Non-Wargamer Wife Wins! rss

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Christopher O
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Summer grasses / All that remains / Of soldiers' dreams. - Basho.
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I've been recently introduced to this light and fun game. I've played a few other block games, including Hammer of the Scots, Crusader Rex, Rommel in the Desert and the War of 1812, so the basic mechanics were easy to pick up and explain.

My wife, an eager Euro-player, is not a wargamer (she feels that statistics and rules exceptions in many wargames make them too finicky) but she often expresses an interest in playing games that I like, so after "discovering" Quebec 1759, I thought that this might be one wargame she might enjoy.

I felt it was also a good opportunity to test out the so-called "Rundstedt" style of defense as mentioned by wargamer55 in this thread - that is, instead of setting up all of your units in potential beachhead areas around the Bason, be prepared to manoeuvre units using interior lines to counter-attack.

My wife is not a "military" thinker, but she does have a lot of experience in chess and also is an equal or superior opponent in many Euros, so I thought this, combined with the apparent inherent advantage of the British would make up for her lack of experience. I'm writing this report from memory three days after the fact and without the aid of the order sheets, so factual or recollection errors around timing or number of units are quite possible. I apologize for them in advance.

SETUP

(for ease of reading, I'll abbreviate "REG" for regular force 3 CV units, "Q-MIL" for 2 CV Quebec Militia, "M-MIL" for 2 CV Montreal/Trois Rivieres militia, and "IND" for Indians)

I distributed my forces unevenly around the Bason; 2 REG + 2 Q-MIL + 1 M-MIL in Levis, 1 REG + 3 Q-MIL in Beauport, 1 Q-MIL + 3 decoys in St. Charles, 1 REG + 1 Q-MIL + 2 decoy in Montmorency, 1 REG + 4 M-MIL + IND in Abraham, 1 REG + 2 M-MIL in Etchemin. In retrospect, I should have put the forces I had in Etchemin in Levis instead, but live and learn. My intent was to defend Levis strongly and retreat after inflicting amphibious casualties, then have additional forces to back them up in Etchemin if it went badly. St. Charles and Montmorency were essentially scarecrows with their decoy compliment, with Beauport as the place from which I could launch a counterattack. Similarly, if she went straight in for St. Charles, I had a significant force to stall her from going straight for the throat at Abraham. Beauport was also strong enough that I could inflict casualties and then retreat.

TURN 1

After a rules run-through, she took a deep breath and we both wrote our orders for the turn. As I did on my own first play as the British, she bulled ashore at Levis with 3 x 4 CV units plus one unit which remained hidden in reserve. Unfortunately, my Levis force did very little damage on the initial double fire, and then fared poorly on the one subsequent round of combat. I withdrew the force to Etchemin, holding with the idea of giving ground for time. I assumed that the light infantry had also come ashore in Levis, so I shouldn't be sending my Indians in there. To satisfy the Quebec militia elimination rule, I removed a Q-MIL that had been reduced at the Levis attack.

TURN 2

I decided to pull 2 M-MILs from Abraham to send to Sillery in the event that the British attacked at Etchemin and forced a retreat. I still had a decent force in Etchemin. She wisely sent an additional four units to reinforce the beachhead at Levis.

TURN 3

I decided that even with the presence of Light Infantry in Levis being likely, it was too tempting a target to pass up. I sent the Indians on a raid. Even with double-fire, they somehow inflicted no casualties. The Light Infantry, stunningly, hit the raiding Indians twice. They fell back to Cap Rouge, licking their wounds. Her move that turn was to send two ships up river (strange, I thought to myself).

TURN 3

On the next turn, I crossed the two M-MIL units from Sillery to Etchemin. I was hoping that some of the units that had landed at Levis were decoys. She sent two regulars into Montmorency. Once again, despite amphibious fire, I inflicted minimal casualties and was forced to retreat with the now-reduced REG and M-MIL to Beauport. I removed a reduced Q-MIL in Beauport, thinking that Levis remained the greater threat.

TURN 4

Having seen two unscreened regulars at Montmorency, and not wishing to force the issue at Levis with a counterattack until I had better intel, I sent the IND on a raid into Montmorency. With only 2 CV, they inflicted zero casualties. She landed an additional two blocks at Montmorency.

TURN 5

At this point, I made a very stupid mistake and elected to try a counterattack at Levis without scouting first (rather than be driven into the river if the Brits attacked). After the initial landing and retreat at Levis, the force at Etchemin consisted of 8 CV surviving from the original Levis force, plus 7 CV, for 15 in total. There were two decoys, but the six blocks remaining were full-strength or slightly reduced 4 CV units plus the 3 CV light infantry. After seeing me set up on the battle board somewhat conventionally with a fairly even spread between columns, she stacked the centre column with three units and put one unit on each flank and the Light Infantry in reserve. The battle raged for a few turns. My centre was in danger of collapsing with the pressure of ~11 CVs against it, so I withdrew to Etchemin once again to avoid the pursuit fire. I had inflicted moderate casualties, but had taken quite a bit in return, reducing me to somewhere in the area of 8 or 9 CVs.

TURN 6

At this point she returned her attention to the Montmorency area and landed two more regulars. Once again I sent my Indians raiding into Montmorency, but they inflicted no casualties. She had remembered to bring up the Rangers in the last amphibious reinforcement, but they inflicted no damage on the raiders, fortunately.

TURN 7

I knew an attack was coming soon at Beauport. Once again, in retrospect I should have retreated the Beauport force towards the St. Charles line into Abraham. Instead I chose to pull some units across the St. Laurent into Sillery. I knew that an attack was coming eventually at Etchemin, and given the state of the forces there, I wanted to preserve some of the better units from a rout, and increase the CVs available for the amphibious fire when the Brits eventually did cross.

She attacked Beauport from Montmorency, and with 5 blocks of regulars in perfect or slightly reduced state, plus the Rangers, I was completely routed when one flank collapsed on the first round of attacking fire. She stacked the centre once again. I had even stacked my own centre in anticipation of her using the same tactic, but the dice weren't with me.

TURN 8

I used the next round to withdraw a unit to Sillery and another to Cap Rouge from Etchemin. She made a mental error and sent 2 units to St. Charles when she had meant to send them to Beauport. I offered to let her take her move back, but she insisted that she follow her written order. Fortunately for her, the sole force in St. Charles was the Q-MIL with a decoy screen. Once again, no hits on the amphibious fire. She inflicted a casualty on the militia. I retreated it and removed it for the St. Charles capture. She now had two blocks in St. Charles and five in Beauport.

TURN 9

The main threat was obviously now from the land side at Quebec, but there were few places to pull reserves from. I pulled one from Etchemin directly into Abraham and another into Sillery, leaving only a token force in Etchemin. She moved two more blocks into Beauport from Orleans.

TURN 10

She moved her force at Beauport into St. Charles. I sent my Indians into Orleans, hoping to catch some undefended units there. The grenadiers were present, but but once again, I inflicted zero casualties.

TURN 11

She made a strange choice on this turn. She sent a single unit into Etchemin to engage the screening force there (now just one unit). Defeating it, she forced the removal of the last remaining Q-MIL. I used the breathing room to consolidate forces in the Sillery/Cap Rouge/Abraham area by moving units from Sillery.

TURN 12

She moved the remaining units in Levis to Etchemin. I put another unit in Cap Rouge. At this point, it was a matter of time, so I used my turns to make sure I had the best possible forces in Cap Rouge, Sillery and Abraham.

TURN 13

At some point I must have made an error in relating the game turns, because I can't account for what happened on Turn 13 ( I know what happened on 14, 15 and 16). I must have missed or skipped a turn earlier in the game. Unfortunately, I've already recycled the turn record sheers.

TURN 14

She attacked the weak garrison at Quebec across the St. Charles River. I inflicted decent casualties on the amphibious fire, but not enough. Five full strength or near-full strength battalions, plus their Ranger screen vs. the Quebec which at this point was a full strength regular, two reduced regulars, and assorted reduced militia. It was a rout. I fell back to Sillery.

TURN 15

I gathered what forces I could at Sillery. She reinforced Abraham.

TURN 16

With nothing to lose, and the possibility of inficting enough casualties on the British to put them over the 20 CV ledge. I attacked, hoping to inflict maybe two or three CVs. I think I did, but by this point she had the majority of her regular forces in Abraham, and I was routed once again. Revealing her forces as she revelled in her victory, I saw she was down to 24 CV. I had something like 5 or 7 CVs left in total.

In retrospect, I did not handle the "Rundstedt" defense strategy well. At Beauport, I stood in place when I should have fallen back across the river at St. Charles. I should not have attacked the landing force at Levis without knowing its composition; letting her come to me instead. I did manage to stall her for a long time at Levis and Etchemin, and I did pull a number of units back to the Quebec shore in time to help out at Abraham, but in the end I was not successful.

Besides poor strategy, I also failed to roll hits on no less than three separate Indian raids, which should have inflicted at least 2-3 CVs of damage (rolling once with 4 CVs at double-fire and twice with 2 CVs at double fire, the odds should let me get at least two hits). I also fired poorly on amphibious assaults at both Levis and Montmorency, which should have allowed for at least another 2 or 4 CVs.

After one trial case, I don't think the Rundstedt approach is feasible. It's just too difficult to shuttle units around with a single movement area every turn. I will try the Rundstedt concept once more on my next game; after that I will likely abandon it in favour of a direct "Rommel"-style cut-them up on the beaches approach.

My wife enjoyed the game quite a bit. I hope to use the ease of block games to rope her into a game of 1812 or perhaps Crusader Rex in the future. She revealed that her use of the naval units up river early in the game was intentionally to deny me rapid reinforcement of the Levis side and to reduce my mobility. Smart cookie, she is.

Looking forward to future plays.
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Daniel Val
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Nice session report!

I recently played this game for the first time. As the french, I tried the "Rommel" strategy as mentioned by wargamer55. It did not work for me either, but I liked the idea of the "Runstedt" strategy... I'll try it next time.

BTW, the "double fire" you mention has been changed in the latest version of the rules. You no longer score with 5 or 6, but rather roll double number of dice rolled. Check it at columbia games website if you want... or don't if you like it better that way!

 
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Christopher O
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Thanks for the compliment. After re-reading Wargamer55's article, I realized that I effectively implemented neither the "Rommel" nor the "Rundstedt" defense, instead opting for a hybrid that combined weaknesses of both - I should have either concentrated my forces in the Abraham/Sillery/Cap Rouge triangle and hit them at the crossings, or try to defend the beaches, but not both. Next time I will try a more definite Rundestedt option.

I had run across that new double fire rule as a result of further reading here at BGG. Given the option, I prefer the old 5 or 6 rule, just because it minimizes dice rolling (especially on pursuit fires involving lots of units), but it might be interesting to try out sometime.

The first time I played, I played as the Brits, and I just bulled ashore at Levis and feinted a build up for an attack from Etchemin, but marched from Montmorency as usual. My opponent appeared to be using a Rommel-style defense in that game as well. However, we played the movement rules incorrectly in my first game (confusion on the part of the game-owner/rules explainer) so I'm discounting that run-through for now. (In the end, as a result of the multiple-group move error, I got sizeable forces across at Sillery AND at St. Charles and marched on Abraham from both directions... it was certain doom for the French).

 
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Weren't Rundstedt and Rommel a couple of the Hessians that General Washington later surprised when he crossed the Delaware River that winter morning in 1776?laugh
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Peter Bogdasarian
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Now this is the kind of session report I like. Reading carefully, you have two turn 3s, which explains the missing turn 13.
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