Friday, 6 December 2013

Somewhere In Russia - 1812

Last night we played Back Powder; set in Russia in 1812, a force of French (three infantry brigades and one cavalry brigade), plus some Austrian allies (one cavalry and one infantry brigade) had to drive off some Russians defending a position based around a small village. The Russians had, I think, three infantry brigades and some cavalry.

The French had ten turns in which to destroy or shake nine Russian units. Capturing and holding the village counted as having destroyed two units, so was worth considering as an objective.

Caesar commanded the French, with Peter and I as underlings (he actually controlled the late-arriving Austrian allies himself). Ralph, John and Austin took the Russians. I ended up with three infantry brigades, facing one rather stolid looking brigade commanded by Austin.

Here we can see Ralph demonstrating some cool dance-moves to Caesar. Or explaining what troops are what. One or the other. The troops are the French.

Mark adopted a more thoughtful approach. In the foreground you can see the Russians.

Russian infantry.

Austin's infantry were supported by howitzers, which were a complete pain because they could shoot at my troops over the heads of his. Very unsporting.

It's rare for me to be given infantry; normally I like to have cavalry and make a considered and thoughtful assault. So I decided to treat my troops as cavalry with no horses and go for a plan which involved a rapid assault on two likely looking infantry lines opposite. A key part of the plan was to dazzle the soberly-dressed Russians with my troops' colourful hats.

My cavalry infantry advances ...

A key feature of my plan was to lead with my elite, Russian-hating, Polish infantry unit. This failed on the first turn when it refused to move. The Poles' plan was obviously to use the French as a protective shield.

Caesar rapidly demonstrated why you should never let him roll dice if you need to score more than a couple of hits. Our grand-battery initially failed to make much impression on the village.

Peter got stuck in with the cavalry, and gave us our first victory when the Cossacks routed pretty much without a fight.

My infantry piled into the Russians. the Russians stood like a stone-wall. It was very frustrating; generally I won the close-combats, but the Russians just calmly gave ground. And when I lost a close-combat my units retreated or routed.

The Poles moved up. We had great expectations of the Poles.

And in they went. The Russians finally found themselves fighting an opponent who didn't run away. And they started to waver.

On the other flank, things were getting messy. The French cavalry were suffering from inertia, and our fourth infantry brigade found itself outflanked by Russian reinforcements. There was lots of fighting, which I didn't really keep track of.

Turning up late, but expecting to take all the credit for any victory - The Americans! Sorry ... The Austrians!

Their cavalry looked very dashing and, to its credit, did a nice job providing support for my infantry when my own skirmishers, to a man, downed tools and refused to move and do it themselves.

One more attack from the Poles, and the surviving French saw three Russian units flee the field. Adding them to the casualties inflicted elsewhere gave the French the victory.

And here's the mess that had developed on the other flank. Actual Russian casualties were evenly spread along the lines; some in the centre, including the infantry unit defending the village, a few on this flank early on and my own late contribution.

The game was good fun, with lots of troops but still played to a conclusion in about three hours. Black Powder certainly delivered in that respect. We also managed to keep the game flowing by virtue of the fact that the rules are simple enough that we could all remember most of them.

Thanks to Ralph for organisation, figures and caramel wafer biscuits, as well as Caesar and Austin for more figures. I just turned up with some dice.


  1. If the "Austrians" hadn't shown up, you'd be speaking Russian these days.

    1. Я, например, приветствуем наших российских повелителей.

  2. Caesar (Austrian Commander)6 December 2013 at 12:22

    I have to agree with Stu Rat. The Austrians saved the day, or at least the very late afternoon, despite being waylaid at a bratwurst stand in lower Silesia. Their grand battery was breath-taking, pounding the village defences from a safe distance, and their dashing commander, the Casanova of Vienna, was instrumental in arranging moustache nets for the grenadiers, greatly raising Austrian morale whilst the French were able to profit from much-needed battle experience among their greener units.

  3. Great Batrep as ever Kaptain! Shame that your intrepid 'foot cavalry' fetched up against the most stubborn and obstreperous bunch of Russian peasants that ever donned Russian Green! From the Russian perspective the sudden disappearance of our Cossacks and Hussars would normally have forced a rethink of my battle plan - but it was at this stage I realised I didn't have one, having been hoping, deep down, to play on the French side!

    So we fell back on the default Russian SOP - sit tight and be bloody minded... It worked for Austin, but not so much for Mark and I!

  4. Wow there are some seriously nice figures on the table...nice stuff guys.

  5. Wow, the pictures are AWESOME !!!
    I love battles with many troops.



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