Yesterday evening, I went to my wargamer club in Brittany and we played scenario 1 about the battle of Davout in the south. I let my friend choose the side. "Good guys" he said, abviously thinking about Davout. Ok, I'll take the good guys then, thinking of the Coalition.
First of all, sorry for the spoiler, but the game was already an outstanding victory for the Coalition by turn 3. The French player made some mistakes that you should never, never do if you want to hold your position. I will tell the story of the battle by listing the mistakes and their effect.
Error 1 : Retreating too early from the orchard hill, east of Telnitz.
This may sound a good idea to retreat, since the position on the hill seems not be that strong. It is not a wooded hill, but just an orchard ; besides, it is easy to bring some people on top of the hill. For sure. But if you leave this position, the Coalition player can bring in all his Vanguard horse artillery on the hill and bombard the city ; surrounding it and protected by French returning fire by the orchard and the hill.
The Northern orchard hex on the hill is of strategic importance to start attacking Telnitz ; the Southern one is also of strategic importance to fight the reinforcements the French would soon send into the battle.
So basically what happened ? All the above. I was quickly able to send my Vanguard's light troops on top of the hill and bombard the town and its defenders. They suffered high losses from artillery fire. I even took the first objective without melee combat, after a french retreat.
Error 2 : Retreat from the castle of Sokolnitz.
The castle of Sokolnitz is a fantastic position to be hold by a few light troops like the "Tirailleurs du Pô". These Italian skirmishers were highly trained and effective in their duties. They do have only 3 SP but with good quality and "L" which is always nice for infantry.
The castle itself is not that close to the main axis of attack to Sokolnitz, so you could wonder about the importance of the castle ? Well, it does protect the northern bridge, of strategic importance for the coalition.
If the French manages to send the 26ème Léger in Sokolnitz with the artillery, it may easily hold the town for hours if the Russian does not send a flank troop by the northern bridge. There you understand the importance of that bridge and therefore the strategic importance of the Sokolnitz Schloss. A force may cross successfully but with no artillery and will then be blocked there. So the castle must be assaulted...and it is not an easy task.
Error 3 : Going east of the Goldbach to protect the bridge of Sokolnitz
I don't think I have to explain the reason why it is not a good idea to put your artillery [and the Tirailleurs du Pô] on the hexagone just across the bridge of Sokolnitz...It seems really obvious.
So, what happened ? The French player retreated from the Sokolnitz Schloss to send the Tirailleurs du Pô in support of the artillery in Sokolnitz ; and advanced the whole on the eastern bank of the river. Therefore, they were quickly attacked by infantry on the front and cavalry on the flank and obliterated by a double 1 minus 5. And the Coalition took the flag of the Tirailleurs du Pô. Thus, I could quickly cross the river, take position in the town and protect the bridge, send my own light troops in the castle so that the French cannot take it back from me. The 26ème Léger would be surrounded completely by Bagration on the next turn.
By turn 2, I had taken control of Telnitz and Sokolnitz. For Telnitz, only the Vanguard had been engaged and I was positionning my 1st Column to support the defense against a possible French counter-attack. During turn 3, my 2nd Column destroyed the 26ème Léger and then received the order to move south to help fight the French reinforcements. The 3rd Column received orders to move north and threaten French communications. This Column had not see a French soldier since the beginning of the battle.
At this moment and despite good quality reinforcements to come, with very high losses already sustained (3ème de Ligne, 26ème Léger, Tirailleurs Corses and Tirailleurs du Pô were all eliminated ; the cavalry had suffered heavy losses and was routed), the French player gave up.
Defending Telnitz and Sokolnitz require precise maneuvering from the French player. The Brigade Merle (the Général de Brigade commanding Legrand troops available at the beginning of the battle) is meant to win some time, what ever the losses it will sustain ; to have time to bring in the Division Friant. It will arrive slowly, but each troop arriving as reinforcement for Davout is a deadly opponent for the Coalition. But there again, you just have to win time. Blood for time is Davout's way for this battle.
For a good start, here are some advices for the French :
- Hold Sokolnitz Schloss with the Tirailleurs du Pô and don't move them ;
- Hold Sokolnitz objective with the 26ème Léger and the artillery ;
- Hold Telnitz objective with 3ème de Ligne and Margaron's artillery ;
- Hold the northern orchard hex on the hill east of Telnitz with the Tirailleurs Corses ;
- Use Margaron's cavalry to harass the troops that would try to turn your right close to the bridge south of Telnitz.
- Win some time and try to at least hold ONE of the two main objectives : either Telnitz or Sokolnitz, because as long as you still hold one, the coalition side can't change its orders and you will block two columns ;
- Last but not least...do not engage Davout in melee if the battle does not depends on a single melee...if you loose him, you loose much !
And some for the Coalition :
- Kienmayer's vanguard may seem very poor but its artillery is only horse artillery ; therefore you can bring it close to enemy's position and bombard : it is in fact a very good small and maneuverable unit ; take advantage of it ;
- Be careful of French counter-attacks, they can be deadly...as such, protect your flank, keep some cavalry for counter-attacks, protect your big batteries ;
- Your artillery is your best weapon against the French !
- For Sokolnitz, use Bagration to attack the town and Przybyscewsky to attack the Castle. Keep some good lines of fire for your artillery to support your attacks.
Jim O'Neill (Established 1949)
Graduate of Barlinnie
VENI, VIDI, VISA - my reaction on entering my FLGS.
Like a good red wine, I improve with age... and being laid.
Good advice, and good writing!
I really like this scenario, it is a good introduction to the game's core mechanics with a minimum of special rules that you normally need when you focus on just a part of the battle like this.
Maybe the newbie should play the coalition when teaching the game?
On this scenario, mmmh, yes and no. Because a newbie would not be able to use properly his artillery and without artillery, it's almost impossible to win.