Saturday, February 13, 2016

Solo Scharnhorst: Day 1

Following my musings a few days ago on I might play Scharnhorst, the Blucher battle generator, solo.      I decided to play an ahistorical campaign, so apologies to historical purists.  As with the Scharnhorst rules, it is a five day campaign, though it can end before then if a battle occurs.  

What follows is pure war-game wonkery.  You may think it a crazy amount of thinking and writing in order to dump some toy soldiers on a table, but it amused me.  So here goes.

I drew up two 400 point armies, Austrian and French.   Without going into the details, here are the OOBs;

Austrian Army

CinC:  Marshall Kurvi-Tasch

Col 1 I Korps , Kurvi-Tasch (1 infantry division, 1 cavalry division, 1 Avant Garde/Grenz division)

Col 2 II Korps Groll  (2 infantry divisions, 1 cavalry division)

Col 3 III Korps  Grosbeeren (1 infantry division)

Col 4 IV Korps Sachsen (1 cavalry division)

French Army

CinC Napoleon

Col A Moisan II Corps (i infantry division)

Col B Noel Cav Res (1 cavalry division)

Col C Napoleon I Corps (Guard infantry div), IV Corps (cavalry division)

Col D LeGros III Corps (Infantry Division)

Col E Marsan V Corps (Infantry Division)


I started by plotting some basic orders for the French, who would advance from S to N along the two parallel roads, Cols A and B on the left and Cols C, D and E on the right.  The basic idea was that the two wings would be close enough to support each other using the E-W road on Row D, and would concentrate to destroy the Austrians.

I then wrote three sets of orders for the Austrians, with different entry points on the N, E and W sides of the map, and the basic idea of the Austrians moving N to S, with different areas of concentration on the south part of the map. I then rolled to see which of those three plans the Austrians would follow.

The plan I rolled had the following result.  As per the Scharnhorst rules, on the first day, columns only have 3 movement points, rising to 5 mps on the subsequent 4 days.

Austrian  4th column entered the map from the left hand edge, with orders to proceed C1, C2, D2, but did not have enough movement this turn to move south without a road from C2 to D2.  Col 3, following behind it on the road, ended its move on C1.

Meanwhile, Austrian Col 2 moved A3, B3, C3, while Austrian Col moved A6, B6, with orders to leave a brigade as a garrison in the village of Wunsberg.  Its orders for the following day are to press on south C6 D6 to the town of Karlseck and then turn west along the road running through Kaltenbeck towards Frischbach in the SW.  The Austrian objective is to mass and exit the map using the road on the W side of the S edge.

The French orders are for Col A (II Corps) and Col B (Cav Res) to march north F2, E2, D2.  Col C  (I Corps) marches north F6, E6, D6 to Karlseck for the first day, with Col D (V Corps) marching behind (F6, E6).  Col E (III Corps) is to march off road through the mountains F5, and then rest and forage in E5 the village of Hagenbesen.  It only has the movement to enter F5 this turn.  

As evening falls at the end of Day 1, Fr Col A (III Corps, General Moisan) has blundered into Austrian Col 4 (IV Cav Corps) under General Sachsen).  III Corps is all infantry but has the benefit of the three cav brigades allotted to recon before the game started.  I give a 10% chance percentage per cav brigade of gaining useful information but the French roll high and learn nothing.  All they know is that there is a screen of cavalry blocking them at C2.  The Austrians have three cavalry brigades allotted to recon, plus the two uncommitted light cav brigades of IV Corps, and they roll low enough to ascertain that French Col A is an infantry corps,   With the alert passed from Austrian IV Korps to the adjacent Austrian columns, I give them a chance of scouting the squares in front of them.  Col 3 has no idea what may be in D1, but Col 1 learns that there is no French presence to the E of Col A in D3.  So, as night falls, the senior Austrian commander, Groll, commanding II Korps in Col 2, knows that he faces a French infantry corps (Col A) which is unsupported on its right flank.

Groll sends a courier off to his superior, Marshall Kurvi-Tasch, who is with 1 Korps in Col 1.  The courier has to travel four road squares, B3, B4, B5, B6 to reach K-T at Col 1.  That’s four squares at night.   I decide that it will take the courrierand escort all night to travel and they will reach KT early morning.   In the meantime,General Groll has a decision to make, which I decide is as follows.

1) Attack the French Corps with his three Korps and try to crush it, even though he has no idea what supports might be behind the French Corps. (1-20% chance of doing this)

2) Push Cols 3 and 2 forward and try to envelope Col A.  This will be easy for Col 2 because it has the road south from Niederhelm and once across the river in D3, the Austrians block the road E, a likely source of reinforcements. (21-50% chance of doing this)

3) Keep his three Cols on line and block the French road north, while waiting for K-T to march W and bring the weight of I Korps to bear on the French.(51-100% chance of doing this)

What sort of man is Groll?  I roll 1d6 and get a 4, which suggests he is of normal temperament, neither rash nor timid.  

Meanwhile, at III Corps HQ, General Moisan has some hard choices to make.  All he knows is that he has Austrian horse to his front.  They could be scouts, nothing more.  Or they could be the first sign of the whole bloody Austrian army to his front.   Typical of our own cavalry to swan off and leave me blind, he thinks.  Moisan also knows that he has the Cavalry Reserve of General Noel  (Col B) behind him.   He knows that the Emperor and the rest of the army are some miles to his E, advancing N on the parallel road.  That is all.   He knows his infantry can block the road south should this be the main Austria advance, so he feels fairly secure for now.  More information would help.   The easiest thing would be to shift III Corps E along the road to D3 and ask Noel to bring up the Cav Res to take his place.  Noel’s heavy cavalry and horse artillery can see of the pesky Austrian light horse, if that is all they are, and he can keep his LOC open to the east.   Unfortunately, Moisan does not have the best relationship with Noel, and neither is superior to the other.   Moisan dashes off a dispatch informing the Emperor of his plan, and sends it off along the road to the east.  The courier has to travel four road squares E to Karlbeck, where he suspects the main army will be.   Once that dispatch is sent off, he decides to ride south with his staff to Noel’s HQ, to discuss the matter in person.  Before he gets in the saddle, he speaks to Col. Codina, his Chief of Staff.  “Prepare the Corps to march east at first light for D3.  I”ll be back before then.  Let us hope that blockhead Noel sees sense."

Arriving in Frischbach near midnight, he rousts Noel from his comfortable billet and explains the situation.  It’s a chilly conversation at first, but Noel warms to the chance at glory and agrees to the plan (I roll 1d6 and get a 5,  Even with a -1 mod for their bad relationship, that seems enough for the two commanders to be in accord).

So, what decision will General Groll make?  I roll a 51 on percentile dice.   That means Groll, like an unimaginative Austrian commander, will hold fast and wait for his boss to come up.   There will be no battle in the morning.

The situation now gets more complicated.   More to follow.



  1. To follow with interest
    This set has not hooked my gaming group who are still for the "definite" Napoleonic rules book... (sigh!)

  2. Disappointing... no battle. Yet I like the preamble so far: a fine little campaign/operation.

  3. How did I miss this?

    Looks like interesting stuff Mike. The kaiserlicks being characteristically unaggressive.


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