F&F: The Plains outside of Essling

Zoomed out shot of the battlefield at 20:00 hours.  The Austrian left is vulnerable to Pire, Von Freystadt and Bruyere's cavalry brigades on the French right.

I woke up before dawn this morning with a high degree of expectation.  In my mind, trumpets were bugling and the French and Austrian lines were shuffling together for a climactic battle for the village of Essling.

Today's goal for gaming, was a one hour test of my cavalry formation and movement rules (8 turns). I finished as the sun set over the Marchfeld with more questions than I expected about this new set of additional rules for my Formations & Firepower system.

What I learned:

I undervalued the light cavalry combat roll when I said these units were 1D6 instead of 2D6.  With a lot of bad rolls early on, Pire's Hussars and Chasseurs didn't inflict the kind of damage they should have on Gratze's Mahrisch Freiwilliger (Volunteers that I classified as Militia units) when they charged into them.

I went into today's playtesting thinking there were two cavalry formations (Loose or Compact) but there might just need to be a third formation (regular) and a fourth formation (column).

My command system of assigning command points to commanders and having them expend them by drawing brigade cards to assign orders, worked well again.  Lannes the French commander at Essling, had four command points, five brigades and basically moved his formations about the battlefield at will.  The unit not under orders each turn never seemed to matter.

Hohenlohe with three points and five brigades had problems.  The attack on Essling was disjointed (Riese and Reinhard's brigade attacked separately) and at a crucial moment when Pire's Hussars were plunging deep behind Riese's brigade of infantry in the center, Lederer's Cuirassiers remained out of command and unable to pursue.  The disjointed and ineffective nature of the Austrian attack perfectly models what occurred historically right before the sun set on the first day of battle and so overall I was pleased.

The artillery, when it is not in close with enemy formations is particularly useless.

Combat in the village really slows down the battle.  With the combat modifier of +1 for all combat rolls, there was more disordering and falling back by units than actually inflicting step losses on the enemy units.  I am not sure how I feel about the way the fighting in the village went.  Historically, in Aspern the bodies were piled high.

The terrain prevented Reinhard's full brigade from approaching the village in a continuous line.  Hiller's regiment #2 was very exposed as Valory's brigade of French line troops swung into action.  They suffered 400 casualties in the open fields near the cemetery to 100 French casualties.

 A formation of light cavalry moving over open ground is an incredible threat.  The French in this slice of Aspern-Essling had a 2:1 cavalry advantage. It was only a healthy fear of the power of Lederer's brigade of Cuirassiers that kept me from completely outflanking the Austrian infantry brigades.  My only other Napoleonic war-gaming is Total War Napoleon the John Tiller Software Napoleonic titles, neither of which do justice to the power of a cavalry formation.

Anyway, this morning went well. I definitely need to tweak the rules but things are progressing.


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