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The Battle of Schwepnitz, 1813


The Napoleonic Wars, Black Powder, 28mm

For once Bill came to the club, bringing several boxes of toys with him. The thing was, he was laying on a Napoleonic game, so everyone could get a little more used to Black Power v.2. Frankly they look pretty much identical to version 1, with only a few minor tweaks. In fact the playsheets still have the same errors in them. Anyway, Bill brought along his Prussians, while Campbell supplied his Wurttembergers, and Bart his Poles. Essentially this was a divisional-sized game, with eight Allied foot battalions and four cavalry regiments, backed up by two gun batteries. The Prussians had a similar force, albeit with two more foot battalions. However, four of these foot units were inexperienced Landwehr. The game was played out on an 8×6 foot table. This game was set in the spring of 1813, a little to the south of Berlin. Bart, Campbell, Dougie and German Michael took charge of the Allies (Bart commanding the Poles of course), while the Prussians were divvied up between Alasdair, Old but New Michael, Peter and I. Bill played the part of the long-suffering umpire. Actually, it turned out his suffering had a finite end to it, but more of that later. Both sides sort of deployed facing each other, across a largely open field, interspersed with some small woods and hills. So, we duly formed our planning groups, got out beers in, then got started. The idea was that we Prussians would advance into the centre of the table, to constrict the Allies from deploying, as their front was broken up by woods. This worked well for me – my three battalion Landwehr brigade shot 36″ across the table – a three move advance. The trouble was, the rest of the Prussian infantry failed their command rolls, so they stayed where they were. That left my brigade – the weakest troops on our side – stuck out on a limb, right in front of half the Wurttemberg army! Still, I had high hopes that my opponents would screw things up, and let me pull back and rejoin the rest of the army. Of course, it didn’t really work out like that. The Wurttemberg heavy cavalry deployed ready to charge, while their guns pinned down one of my units by disordering it. The Allied infantry then made a pretty nifty two-move advance, to my front and flanks. things weren’t quite so entertaining now. the only bright spot was that the rest of the Prussian infantry had also started to roll forward on my right. So too did a Prussian light cavalry brigade on my right, which at least managed to pin down some of the Wurttemberg foot under Dougie’s command.  Over on the Prussian left things were going a little better. Alasdair swept forward – a rarity for him, and launched his infantry into the Poles. His cavalry did their bit too, pinning down Bart’s Polish foot and guns, while the Prussians columns swept forward. Bart’s own light cavalry did have a victory, destroying a Prussian dragoon regiment, but then the tide turned. Bart lost two of his Polish unit in as many turns. It was, of course, the first time they’d been out on the tabletop. After that the Poles were on the defensive, and Alisdair’s Prussians kept up the pressure, driving them back until they were no longer in contact with the Wurttembergers. Back in the centre though, things were going downhill pretty fast. I managed to do a single move back towards my own lines, but it didn’t save me from being disordered by the Wurttemberg horse guns, and then charged by their dragoons. My Landwehr battalion had to pass its command roll in order to form square – and it failed spectacularly. So, it was ridden down. the cavalry couldn’t exploit their success though as they’d become disordered. So, they retired back to their own lines and regrouped. Meanwhile the Wurttemberg foot were smelling blood, and advancing against my remaining two battalions. The Allied players (above – Michael, Dougie and Campbell) were feeling pretty smug by this stage, and getting boisterous. Bart wasn’t though – his situation kept on getting worse, as he lost his guns, and what remained of his command. So, he was out of the game. Moments later so was I. Those pesky Wurrtemberg guns kept on peppering one of my other battalions, as did their infantry. I had to take a morale test, and failed badly. So, not only did my second battalion go, but my third one broke as well, as for once we were using the brigade morale rules. So, like Bart I was knocked out of the game.

That though, seemed to be the Allied high water mark. When the Allied right wing disintegrated, Peter and Alisdair swung their Prussian battalions around to the right, and crashed into the advancing Wurttemburgers. What followed was a pretty hard-fought firefight, but by the end of it it was clear that the Prussians were gaining the upper hand. Unfortunately that was when it all stopped. Bill had to leave suddenly, and packed his toys away. So, the game was abandoned. I’m not exactly sure why, but it left us without one of the two sides. So, the game – with an hour to go and everything still to play for – was declared a draw. It was a fairly good one though, up to then, and while we had the upper hand, the Wurttembergers were still in a fairly strong position. As for the rules, they worked pretty just as well as Black Powder has always worked. they were fast, slightly quirky, and produced an enjoyable and fast-paced game. We’ll play it again – especially if we can entice Bill back to run it. 

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