Battle of Lesnaya 9.10.1708
Our Great Northern War campaign continued with the Battle of Lesnaya. Marko and me were delighted for the opportunity to try out the Maurice -systed demoed and umpired by a soon to become a club member Antti H. Marko was the first of us in the club and had set up the battlefield...
Read on to learn how did it go and how we liked it!
OOB, Deployment & Scenario
Antti had made the OOB and I had drafted the scenario to gamefy this historical battle
These were formed into 3 divisions: artillery, regular cavalry and infantry. Cossacks were sent out to outflank and harass the Swedish baggage train.
ScenarioOur scenario was quite historical and simple:
* Swedish army under Lewenhaupt needed to hold (and not break) long enough for the baggage train to evacuate from the field
* Baggage train would move D4 inches at start of every Swedish turn, this would be modified by + Swedish units in reserve organizing transport and - for Russian units sent to harass
Russians had a clear advantage in numbers, while Swedes had a better cavalry and they were better charge. While this was an introductory game, we left pike rules out for now. Swedish Morale was 13 if I remember correctly. Russia had morale around 20. When a unit is lost, one most roll a die and lose 1-3 from Morale.
Let the battle commence!
Ok, we had quite a few miniatures on the table,
so setting this up took more than an hour...
History tells us:
"Around 11:00, the battle began. Peter I's column under Menshikov had reached the Middlefield from the north-west, finding the 900 Swedes deployed there. Unfortunately for Menshikov, the commander of the heavily outnumbered Swedish outpost, Lieutenant Colonel Freijbourg, seized the initiative and launched a Carolean-style surprise attack which threw the Russian column into confusion, while the sudden musket and cannon fire alerted the nearby main Swedish force.:142−144 After this initial success, the Swedes were forced to retreat with many wounded through the southern fringe of the forest." - Wikipedia
As we were playing a historical scenario, my deployment also included the small force under Freijbourg acting as a vanguard and facing the Russian army (historically they didn't meet the Russians so prepared I think).
Soon the vanguard battle escaleted into a bloody melee, where my brave Swedes were able to send the Russian (already depleted) guard packing! Huzzah!
This was a heroic feat, even if suicidal as well; soon after my vanguard was wiped away...
I was also holding a card in my hand that would stop Russian infantry for entering the forest - the very same card he played stopping me to retreat into it. This would seriously slow them down and give my outnumbered army time to deal with the approaching cavalry.
Meanwhile behind the mainlines: we realized that the planned scenario for retreating baggage train would have worked for BP, but not for Maurice, so we quickly adapted it to match these rules: BT would move d4 inches every third Swedish round- with +/- modifiers.
My Artillery started moving towards the road - it was anticipated, that the main Russian push would come via this road... Rest of my forces were staying put.
Just in time as the Russian cavalry was massing for the attack!
Erm... what was that sir?
Marko played a cunning ploy with cards: me moved one of cannons! Naturally it was now pointing towards a very wrong direction... I guess the crewmen were Finns, whom were given orders in Swedish! My other cannon opened fire and scored a hit! Without Markonovich's dirty tricks my
artillery would have dealed much more damage to the approaching cavalry!
artillery would have dealed much more damage to the approaching cavalry!
Melee breaks out!
An event card came up in the deck and made the Russian reserves available (lead by Bauer).
Wikipedia: The intention of Peter I was to attack Lewenhaupt with 13,000 regular soldiers along with thousands of irregulars initially available, in order to pin him down long enough for the rest of the army to arrive.:224–225 The closest division available was that of Bauer at Berezovka who marched with about 4,976 men :123 along with thousands of irregulars.
In our game Bauer lead a force of cavalry, whom arrived to my right flank! I hastily tried to manouver my infantry to face them, but this wasn't very successful.
In the initial charge I lost one of my units, but the others fought back with great valor!
In this flank manouver Maurice's game mechanics really started showing: Markonovich had paid a high price in cards to command them - they were quite far from his CinC. After the initial shocking charge the cavalry fell back and regrouped and this gave my infantry enough time to form a proper defensive line and open fire! Infantry within 4 basewiths (in this game 1 BW = 40mm) will automatically fire at enemy. Markonovich's cavalry spend several rounds standing in front of my battle line, taking fire. This was maybe a bit weird... (then again disordered units in Blackpowder will also just stand in the enemy fire)
A swirling cavalry melee ensued and blows were exchanged - Russian attacked needed to be contained - otherwise my infantry would be left between the hammer and the anvil!
Luckily my brave cavalry faired well, as in history:
Lewenhaupt (who sought to gather his cavalry to support the Swedish infantry during the fighting at the Middlefield and Crossroads) came under attack by Russian dragoons who swept eastward through the southern fringe of the forest and headed for the Swedish dragoons deployed east of Lesnaya, on the open field. The Russians had some success at first, but as soon as the main bulk of the Swedish cavalry arrived and charged in typical Carolean wedge formation the Russian cavalry was being repulsed and quickly broke
In the meanwhile...
Russian infantry and artillery were still almost in their starting positions. Another example of Maurice dynamics: you only command one of your divisions during your turn...
And Swedish Baggage Train was making good progress in leaving the battle field.
But the Russian cavalry was all but spent and cavalry charges from
both sides were thrown in. This mighty cavalry battle had first been engaged by the Swedish
dragoons, but now the more Elite Swedish Horse drew their swords and that started to tell... first
Russian units broke.
End gameMy morale level was really quite low now after some bad morale rolls. Also the baggage train had gotten stuck. I played an event card to raise my Morale 1-2 points (I rolled and got 1 point). This kept me in the fight for now...
Finally Markonovich had gathered enough command cards (choosing certain commands like "pass" and "march" will allow you to draw more cards to your hand) to make Bauer's division active again; two of them charged against my battle line. Bloody fight ensued - unfortunately I had spent some of infantry & melee cards to give commands. Still my infantry (even without pike-rules) fought with great determination! Two from Bauer's four units were now taken out, while I had also lost two infantry units in the flank attack - muss less than what I had feared!
In the big cavalry fight my four units had taken out 5 Russian units while losing two of their number. This was a very satisfactory result indeed! Unfortunately the cannons were lost as well - easy pray for cavalry!
All this had lead to my morale reaching zero and the battle was over, which was good too, because it was already pretty late. I had destroyed clearly more Russian units, than I had lost, but unfortunately the baggage train was still very much in the battle field!
Victory for Russia
- I really liked Maurice (already ordered my own copy)! I felt that it captured the 18th century somewhat rigid tactics and maneuvering well.
- Game and scenario worked pretty well, even if the Russians had a very clear advantage in numbers - they couldn't get their forces into a joint & coordinated attack
- A few better morale loss rolls and not losing the artillery so easily, could have won me the day