David Groves
United Kingdom
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GGs Epic version of the Battle of Berezina
This battle, as found in the Russian expansion, was never one of my favourites but GGs epic version does it justice and with GG’s French infantry evacuation strategy rules and double VP to the Russians for French infantry kills the battle is not only exciting but takes some thinking about as the French player balances evacuation with the ability to offer battle. Ideally, battered French units would retreat to the rear before complete destruction to gain a French VP and, at the same time, deny the Russians 2 VP, but this can be easier said than done.
I’ve played the scenario twice, the first time forgetting the 2 VP rule for Russia and so the French won. The second time with the rule with a different outcome. This scenario really is a challenge for the French.
Both games had a similar overall pattern with the numerous Russian units facing the lightly held French left trying to cover ground to engage with the French before they escape over the bridge and move into the evacuation phase. The troops on the Russian left do not seem strong enough to overcome the masses of French troops but the interesting element of the scenario is the Russian need to pin the French right while some of the troops hamper the French troops coming over the bridge. Holding the village of Zanivki could be key to both sides.
The left and Right flank mother Russia roll also strengthens the Russian hand and the battle opened with two full-strength infantry brigades and a four-battery artillery brigade on the right; while on the left they had three full-strength infantry brigades and another Cossack unit.
The opening moves for the scenario I played with double Russian VP for French infantry kills consisted of Victor, Girard and Fournier starting the rush for the bridge; Founier’s light cavalry and lancers offering a screen while sheltering in the woods on the French far left. On the French right, Oudinot started moving units forward to strengthen the French far right and hold back any Russian interference in hampering the evacuation.
The Russians under Berg, Fock and Wittgenstein raced artillery, infantry and cavalry forward to offer up a balanced pursuit. It would have been pointless to have sent the mobile light cavalry forward prematurely without infantry or artillery support. These moves continued for some time as Victor put a defence in place around Studyanka to cover Girard and Fournier’s retreat.
Eventually, the Russians under Fock started to catch up with the French rear guard and his artillery was in position on a ridge to open fire on the retreating French forces. Fournier launched a cavalry charge from the woods while Girard moved some infantry forward in support. The attack did not go well and Fock’s cavalry and artillery destroyed Fournier’s lancers in a combined arms assault. Fournier organised a counter attack with his remaining light cavalry.
Meanwhile, Ney took the all-important Zanivki with a brigade of light infantry with his Grenadiers in support. Oudinot organised a spoiling attack against the Russian far left but was repulsed with heavy losses.
Berg’s forces arrived at the outskirts of Studyanka and all but destroyed a brigade of Victors stragglers (represented by militia). However, Berg was killed in a French counter attack, which stalled the Russian advance towards the bridge. Fournier’s cavalry forced some of the Russian infantry units into square, which held up Wittgenstein and Fock until reinforcements could arrive to break the French hold.
Once again, Oudinot launched yet another formation at the Russian left but again was repulsed with heavy losses. Russian Jagers fired on Ney and all but destroyed his grenadiers. Later, the same Jagers ejected Ney’s light infantry from Zanivki.
Fighting continued around both Zanivki and Studyanka for some time with Victor’s grenadiers all but destroyed by Russian musket fire.
The evacuation continued in earnest as Victor led more French infantry and stragglers over the bridge.
Tchitchagov and Czaplic then organised some cavalry charges against some weak French infantry and horse artillery; battered from Oudinot’s failed assaults on the Russian left. Squares and gun battteries collapsed across the French flank with the Russian cavalry charging deeper into French lines. The attacks were halted by the French light guard cavalry, Ney’s heavy cavalry and four battalions from the eight Old Guard battalions stationed nearby to Napoleon.
Napoelon’s marshals finally stabilised the French right flank and the battered Russian cavalry, grenadiers and infantry fell back to their rear. Zanivki fell, once again into French hands which protected the evacuation from Russian interference from the Russian left.
However, if Napoleon had stabilised the Zanivki sector the defences around Studyanka were beginning to crumble. The French cavalry was blown and the last of the French infantry trying to evacuate were continually harassed by fresh, Russian light cavalry. Although three infantry brigades had been evacuated, including Victor and his battered grenadiers, infantry losses were mounting up.
Fournier took command of the last brigade of stragglers and was just crossing the bridge when the Russians arrived in force. The stragglers fought bravely but were eventually overwhelmed.
The battle was over with a casualty ratio of 19 to 12 to the Russians. (French distribution – nine Russian kills and three evacuated units).

A fantastic battle that I shall play many times.

PS. I forgot to say that I also like the fun mix of units given to the French in GGs scenarios, such as, Grenadier, guard light cavalry, horse artillery and of course, the Old Guard.


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Guillaume Gleize
France
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Hello David,

Thank you so much for your time spent testing my Epic scenario, for your report of the battles and for your kind words!

To build it I used the official scenario as a starting base then I did read history, watched historical maps, found historical Leaders and tried to mix all that in a funny & playable scenario!

About the balance: I wanted something around 60% Allied odds ... But the next reports will tell us about the actual odds!

To be said: We (bad bad boys) use to play it here 2 vs 2 with 6 SECTIONS! Meaning that the French team (for example) is made of two players with each player playing is own hand in front of his 3 own sections! In the case of this scenario it may change the odds because one player take care of the right side of the river (evacuating) and the other player manage the left side (trying to cross the river) ... So it may be slightly easier with our rules for this French team than for a single player with only 3 big sections that must constantly make choices between crossing, fighting or evacuating!

So I hope that what we found to be a 60% Allied scenario (with 6 sections) is not a 80% Allied with the official Epic 3 sections rules!?

Regards,
GG
 
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David Groves
United Kingdom
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It's been a pleasure, GG. I enjoyed Berezina so much that I've played it a couple more times since writing the report. I use the Russian 2vp rule for taking out French infantry and both sides have enjoyed a win. But as you say, the game may play out differently with more players.

I want to play Waterloo again because I very much liked that one as well.

If you are planning any more epic scenarios please let me know as I would be only too happy to test them out for you.

All the best.
Dave
 
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Guillaume Gleize
France
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Hello David,

A last point about the Berezina: Did you check the "little" change I made in the special rule (on the original post)?

It goes:

• Once a turn, ONE ordered French unit or Leader may exit the battlefield from any French right bottom hex ("exit").

This to slow down a little the French evacuation when playing our 2vs2 6 sections way ... But maybe not useful when playing the official 3 big sections? Did you played it this way or with free evacuations each turn?

About some next Epic, I'm afraid I have no much time soon but there are two temptations:

1) A GG version of Epic AUSTERLITZ ... Because I disagree with some historical details but in the other hand I don't want to redo something already existing.

2) A GG Epic version of LEIPZIG ... Because of the colorful situation but the difficulties would be the scale and the representation on of a big round historic front on a linear map!

Thanks again for your support!

GG



 
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David Groves
United Kingdom
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Hi GG

Yes I did use the one unit per turn rule and it does a good job of buying the Russians more time.

I very much like the sound of Leipzig but would be more than happy to try out Austerlitz.

Cheers
Dave
 
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Guillaume Gleize
France
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Great new if the ONE single escape per turn also works with 3 sections!

This game is the absolute must-have for anyone in love with history and wargames!



 
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