Friday, June 15, 2007

Battle of Bad Tannes

Pictures later:
Battle of Bad Tannes, description:

Battle is fought East to West (map needs to be rotated)

Middle of table holds Bad Tannes ... which is dominated by the bathhouse and hotel on the eastern side of town and the Cathedral of St. Zonker to the west.
Five roads come into Bad Tannes: two from the west, one each from the east, south, and north.
To the south of Bad Tannes is a large swamp, but between that swamp and the south road is a large mill pond and a large mill.
The east of Bad Tannes there is a large hill south of the road and some distance to the north a copse and orchard with a large sawmill and woodshop complex.
The road northwest from B.T. runs through a small forest. In the original map, there was a farm complex on the road to the southwest, but since one box of buildings didn’t make the trip, this was not placed. This absence may have influenced the development of the game.
A few hundred yards north of B.T. is Gristlehof ... a chateau complex which is joined to Bad Tannes by a tree lined road. This road exits from Gristlehof and continues off the table.

Gristlehof itself is nestled into the slopes of an “L” shaped hill complex which merges into the forest.

The army of Nidda has barricaded Bad Tannes and Gristlehof. About fifty yards east of the road connecting them, they’ve errected a barrier of chevaux au frise ... in front of a large gap in this barrier, about the middle point, a large fleche has been errected which provides some flanking fire to the entire front.

Game mechanics:
Using Koenig’s Krieg, slightly modified ... Battalions number about 24 figures, more or less. I did not use double strength cavalry only because of space limitations. Since I’d only enough artillery to arm one army, I divided them and gave them double dice to hit and kept track of casualties as if they had double the figures manning the guns. Obviously, range and movement measures were also doubled.
On a side note, this game was influenced by an error in my interpretation of the rules. I allowed units in “close combat” range to fire on each other, considering this reflected the greater casualties involved in close combat. However, I’ve since learned that the rules permit a unit only to fire upon a unit charging it ... and then only if it wins the initiative role!

Forces involved:

The army of Nidda
is commanded by Major General Rumple (1).
The cavalry brigade is commanded by Brigadier Flicker (0), and consists of several squadrons of Dragoons (6) x 14 figs and Hussars (7) x 14.
Stationed: Dragoons to the south of Bad Tannes and Hussars to the West.

The infantry regiments are broken into three small brigades:
Brig. Stiltskin (0) / I Nidda (5) x 24; U Nidda (5) x 24; and the Nidda Guard (7) x 18.
Stationed inside Bad Tannes.
Brig. V. T. Roll (0) / Nidda Blues (5) x24; Half Nidda Blues (5) x 12; and
(a volunteer brigade drawn from a fraternal society, Z. Boyz, ... uniformed like Indian Sepoys) Tannes Zboys (4) x 24; Blondie’s Zboys (4) x24 ; and a light artillery battery in the Fleche. Otherwise in two lines: one behind the barriers and one west of the avenue.
Blondie, Graf v. Gristlehof holds Gristlehof with militia (3) x 20 and an howitzer battery. Jaegers (4) x 16. are skrimishing to the east of the North road towards the orchards.

Another brigade is forming near Nidda under Drunklayin (0): Freikorps (4) x 23; New Tannes Zboys (4) x 12; Redsmoke (5) x24; with another battery of light artillery.


Lt. Gen. Osacra Mayer (2)
Summer Sergeants Guard (7) x 12 *this unit is trained to “double action” status.
two batteries of howitzers.
* Brg. Shlidelisht (1)
Porccelain Dragoon (6) x 16 ; Cellulite Cuirassiers (7) x 16
* Von Ballpark (0)
Chicken (5) x24; Relish (5) x 24
* Woad (0)
Black Kilts (6) x 24
* V. Phaulie (0)
Phaulie’s Fusils 2 x (5) x 24
Grenadiers 2 x (6) x 24 * also receive double action bonus.
IR Hottatrot 2 x (5) x 24; and a battery of light guns.

Gallian “Force of Observation”
*Brig. L’Sorbet (0)
Hussars l’Sorbet (7) x 15
4th battalion, IR Laurie Anne (5) X 28
Brass Balls (3 batteries of 12+ pounders)

Battle of Bad Tannes
Part Two

Orders and agendas:
Normally, I’d put a lot more thought into this, but the occasion of the game was hurried (my mother in law needed the beloved quickly ... all turned out okay though). Further, given that my beloved was supposed to be gone for much of the time in which I actually played this as a solitaire, using the device of an attack on a prepared defense scenario which Koenig Krieg discusses. Pre-fight maneuvering was conducted as a pencil and paper exercise (with a few quick questions directed to my wife, who enjoys this campaign {yeah, I know how lucky I am}).
Mostly, the agendas of the various groups was fairly straightforward ... the army of Nidda needed to repulse the Frankfurter move to incorporate them into the territory of Frankfurt ; the Gallians needed to be sure that the Frankfurter forces didn’t get out of hand, nor build up any significant force for resistance to the Gallian occupation; and good, old, patriotic Frankfurt needs to unify a more cogent district in order to protect the autonomy of our native Deutsch peoples (according to the plethora of pamphlets and songs being expansively distributed by the court of Hag. Fahrtz).

There are some interesting side bits, however. Nidda seems to have some sort of connection to the nefarious agents of the Empire (after all, their regulars uniform seems to be identical to the Hungryman line), and Blondie, Graf Gristlehof, also seems to have some sort of connection with the Cheezer faction ... as he appears to be the leader of the Zboy militaristic fraternity, and their suspiciously cheese head style headgear ..... Thus Frankfurter was almost compelled to seize this opportunity to clarify the situation, to grind up the local opposition, and to link things in a better casing. Furthermore, this move does provide Gallia with better security for its supply lines and provided some very nice opportunities for its local leaders.

Broderick Woad, the Count Hiccup, needed to restore his relationship with the Frankfurters and demonstrate his value, most of the rest of the Frankfurter leadership had fairly straight forward military ambitions. The Marquis, however, was indulging his fantasy of being a great Renaissance leader, and thus he was motivated to attempt something spectacular with his personal regiment.

Battle Plans / strategies:

(A quick comment on how Nidda was run ... I considered the personalities and agendas of the officers and the position itself to guess at least two or more options and gave them equal value on a die roll).

I attempted to provide several possible options for a good defense for Nidda, while compensating in actual figure strength for their advantage of having good points to use. They settled upon a defense anchored on the village on their right and the chateau on their left. It was felt that these positions would cover their flanks for a while at least, and the road provided a good avenue for lateral reinforcement ... a la Wellington’s ideas. Their cavalry was weighted to the right flank in order to oppose any attempt at a wider flanking move. Initially, they kept most of the Zboys in the second line.

I thought of having Frankfurt swing very wide around the south flank and thus try to approach the position end on. However, Bad Tannes itself was a strong point sufficient in size to utilize most of the Nidda force on the field, and given the avenue, the Frankfurters would be attacking that whole force barricaded within it. (this was one of the options which was considered for the Nidda force, btw). So, I decided basically on a strong south thrust in order to engage the forces in the town with superior numbers while conducting a demonstration, holding operation against their line, fleche, and chateau.

In the event, bringing the figures onto the table, the French (holding the honorable right wing) were placed in a position in which they clearly could swing around the orchards and strike directly at the chateau ... possibly utilizing the hill to obtain enfilade fire for their longer ranging cannon. Thus a double attack would be attempted, each primary thrust aimed at the opposite ends of the Nidda position. Hottatrot was supposed to seize the orchards, etc. and hold that to be in position to interfere with any effort to flank these attacks from the center of the Nidda position.

The Battle of Bad Tannes

Breaking camp at dawn, the Frankfurter army advances Behind the screen of the Porcelain Dragoons towards the already scouted position of the Nidda army. The Left wing is led by Gen. v.Ballpark, Oscar Mayer takes the Sage Guards and the howitzer batteried onto a hill commanding the approaches to Bad Tannes. beside the hill, a column under Gen. Phaulie advances. Gen. Mayer has ordered the other elite troops, Woad’s Black Kilts and the two battalions of grenadiers to form behind his other infantry columns as an exploitation force of their attacks The Cuirassiers ride up the road in case the Dragoons need quick support. Beyond the road, Hottatrot leads a column towards the sawmill complex. The Gallians , finding their in line path blocked by the woodlot, decide to march around it.
This dismays Gen. Mayer, as he’d hoped to use their superior artillery to break the barricades of Bad Tannes, but given the necessity of Gallian participation, he withholds any public comment (his aides did notice his suddenly breaking his pipe on his saddle in irritation, and a comment sub voce that every battle he’d ever had produced at least one Oscar Mayer Wiener ....

The approach of the Frankfurters is announced to the Nidda army by the appearance of dragoons skirmishing towards them. Suddenly, a large sergeant on a quick horse rides out towards the Nidda lines and begins shouting:

Oh pity the poor soldiers from Nidda Town.
Whose leaders all dress in such pretty gowns.
They are trained well for show,
But when cannons all blow,
Their flags and their shirt tails turn brown!

Hurrah for the Baron von Gristle!
Whose beautiful sheep love his sweet whistle.
Their wool is so soft,
He keeps them in his loft,
And combs them lovingly with thistles.

How people admire your bad tans
Which simmer so long in witch’s pans.
So be careful in rain,
Because melting is pain
And stains all your clothes when you’ve ran!

As they spread into the fields before Bad Tannes, the Porcelain Dragoons come under murderous fire from the angry Nidda battery emplaced in the Fleche as well as shells from Blondie’s howitzers.
Hottatrot had deliberately pushed the light battery under his command well forward of the column, and this joined with the howitzers under Gen. Mayer to attempt counter batteryfire.
Meanwhile, seeing the large columns approaching directly towards Bad Tannes, Gen. Rumple orders that the regulars manning the line beside Gristlehof be exchanged for Z’boys. Both brigadiers involved are glad to do this: v. T Roll gets rid of the glory mad amateurs, and Blondie gets his fellow fraters. Also, Rumple orders Flicker to pull his dragoons back west of the south road in order to be covered from hostile artillery but still in position to menace an attempt to attack the south of Bat Tannes.

The Frankfurter infantry begins a general advance into the field while their dragoons reform towards the left. Meanwhile, Blondie orders his jaegers to skirmish towards the head of the advancing Gallian column to delay it. The Gallian Hussars rapidly drive them back onto the north hill. The Gallian artillery is still limbered and rushes after them.

The main Frankfurter advance slows as their cavalry begins to move towards the open area south of Bad Tannes. While this maneuver is in progresss, V. Ballpark orders his battalions to form square as they are actually nearer, at the start, to the hostile cavalry than the Frankfurter horse.
Meanwhile, Mayer orders his artillery units to prolong forward a bound. “Give the pig a poke,” he shouted to his gunners as they moved to shorten the range.
Seeing the cavalry concentration developing on his right flank, Rumple orders Flicker to concentrate against it, but to stay behind the road. Meanwhile, his excellent gunners in the fleche fire upon the advancing light artillery, disabling one of the Frankfurter guns.
Finally, Phaulie’s Fusils advance close enough to Bad Tannes for Nidda’s defending infantry to begin firing. Unfortunately, Hottatrot had decided to advance to support the artillery and also comes under fire from the Nidda Blues behind the cheavux au frize (Another dog on the barbeque, sighs Mayer) ... Given that the pressure on Nidda looks to be increasing, the Half Nidda Blues are brought into town while the U Nidda Blues are deployed to its south edge to support the cavalry. One Battalion of Z’boys is moved to support the fleche, but kept behind the barricade line.
Rumple sends a messenger ordering the reserve column to advance.

At this point a furious fire fight develops along the east edge of Bad Tannes with the Nidda troops firing from behind hasty barricades and out of cottages into the exposed, deployed line fusiliers. Hearing the eruption of musketry to his south, L’Sorbet, crying, “give them their just desserts!” charges the jaegers on North Hill ... They flee into Gristlehof (Rumple later derided this decision, pointing out that they would have been better protected and more effective had they simply fallen back into the forest...).
On the south wing, Flicker charges (proving that both sides had officers with sawdust in their casings). The Porcelain Dragoons are still in advance of the rest of the army, and already heavily savaged by Nidda artillery while facing better than two to one odds, they break. Flicker, of course, flickers on .... into one of V. Ballpark’s squares and the countercharging Celluilite Cuirassiers. The Nidda Dragoons are scattered by the Cuirassiers, while Flicker’s Hussars simply are knocked out of the Ballpark.
Brg. Shlidelisht, seeing the Nidda Hussars reform across the road, and also noticing that he would have to pass directly in front of the infantry defending the south face of the village holds his men in check

Now the Gallian Hussars form up on the hill overlooking Gristlehof. Blondie quickly gets the jaegers into firing positions to engage them from behind the estate’s walls and structures ... however, the Gallian 12 pounders are also ascending that hill overlooking the estate behind the Hussars. L’Sorbet keeps his Hussars in their covering position. Encouraging them with things like, “Don’t worry about their amateur firing boys, they’re just prodding around with forks and can’t get down to slicing yet!”
Mayer orders his own artillery to fire into the town (Grind them up, boys!) to support the fusiliers. Then, he dashes off to rally the Porcelain Dragoons, crying, “Are you guys Porcelain or just cheap china? You’re breaking up like a poor man’s tea cup! You were made in hotter fire than this!!!”
Expecting the artillery on the town to be the opening of the actual assault , Rumple has Flicker bring his hussars closer into the town’s southwest corner ... unfortunately, the dragoons fail to rally and flee off board.
Fearing that this will interfere with the reserve column, Rumple orders another messenger out to hasten their march.

Meanwhile the firefight extends around the village. Stiltskin arrogantly orders the rest of the regulars into town, and moves the Z-boys onto the road line. V. Troll, however, countermands Stiltskin’s orders and keeps his Nidda Blues firing into the advancing Battalions of Hottatrot. Stiltskin is left aghast, however, as the I Nidda battalion collapses under the artillery fire and disintegrates deeper into town. Stiltskin orders the guard to man their position on the barricade and brings up Half Nidda Blues to support them. .
On the north end of the conflict, L. Sorbet orders the hussars to circle behind Gristlehof through the woods while his artillery opens a devastating fire at close range. The artillery officers had already noted the positions of the jaegers and rapidly crush them. Blondie quickly brings the last uncommited unit of Z’boys into his chateau to defend that front ... which is now menaced by the advance of the Fourth Lourie Anns (a side note, Blondie shifts the howitzer fire from supporting the fleche to the 4th L.A. ... which does not significantly slow them down, but does expose the fleche). This move, however, leaves only two battalions facing the advance of Hottatrot ... given the performance of the artillery in the fleche, however, v. T. Roll is still confident ... he does not realize that the second battalion of Z’boys is no longer available. (Okay, that’s a bit of editorial idea to explain the gap which developed).
Meanwhile, the Fusiliers attempt to storm the barricades at Bad Tannes where they’re held by the Half Nidda Blues. The Nidda troops manage to hold, but the Fusiliers recoil, one battalion finally succumbing to the close range musketry. This resistance against better than two to one odds is one of the other remarkable achievements of the Nidda forces.
Seeing this repulse on his flank, but noticing that his own fire seemed to have suppressed the defenders of the fleche, Hottatrot orders his first battalion to storm the fleche ... and captures the guns while overwhelming the surviving gunners.
v.T.Roll attacks into the fleche in an attempt to recover it. Even though Hottatrot is wounded in the fray, he retains his position and calls for his 2nd Battalion to come up (incredible die rolling there, I guess I had to get a terrific roll sometime!).
Meanwhile, V. Ballpark lines up his squares to cover the advance of the Black Kilts against the south side of the town, Brg. Shlidelisht keeps his own cuirassiers moving to the left to try to get a flanking angle on the Nidda Hussars, the Porcelain Dragoons are returning to the front.
However, the squares are now under fire from the Bad Tannes infantry, and Col. Rosenschnauz is hit. The bullet lodges in his fat, and he is carried from the field by a section of musketeers (he still claims to weigh “only” 300 lbs..)

Brig. Schwan brings the grenadiers onto line to relieve the fusiliers and reopens the firefight at Bad Tannes eastern barricades.
The Gallian artillery continues to devastate the chateau, and now the light artillery with Hottatrot also engages the howitzers there.

Hottatrot’s valiant stand in the fleche enables his second battalion to engage, even though the fire from v.T.Roll’s Nidda blues harasses its flank. In the crush, Hottatrot’s horse is killed, and his men, enraged smash over the remain Z’boy’s and burst through the opening behind the fleche.
The two strong points are now completely separated from each other.
T.Roll pulls the Nidda blues back into Bad Tannes and tries to deploy them on its northern edge, but advises Rumple that the time has come to retire.
Rumple, having failed to ralley the I Nidda battalion now observes the Gallian Hussars coming down on the north side of the town behind his lines and realizes that not only is his retreat implausible, but that the reserve column will not arrive in time. He orders the drummers to beat “Parlay.”
Blondie holds out a little longer, until he realizes that his torn up Z’boys and militia will not stand the charge of the 4th L.A. Furthermore, Hottatrot’s Oberst Lieutenant is posting the remanants of the 1st battalion to face the south side of the now completely surrounded and burning chateau. Blondie sounds parlay, and turns his survivors to fighting the fire.

Flicker manages to escape with his hussars and some elements of the I Nidda battalion.
They follow the Dragoons down the road to Gen. Drunklayin’s column, which turns around and falls back to Nidda.

Battle of Bad Tannes
Game Analysis:

First of all, I followed the rules as printed, which did not adequately clarify that only a unit being charged can fire in close combat, and then only if it wins the initiative roll and passes its morale test. I had assumed that this reflected the increased casualties of close range combat ... this misunderstanding probably shortened the game by several turns, and made it much more bloody.

Secondarily, an awful lot happens in a single “turn” of Koenig’s Krieg. Every turn, I experienced some surprising and / or exciting development. The ferocity of the Nidda artillery (which unfortunately got wiped out) was a major factor in the first two turns and still influenced events in the third turn when if finally succumbed to the close order attack of Hottatrot.
I did not expect the jaegers to fall back into the chateau ... only 1/3 chance to make that choice and they rolled it.
I did not expect the Nidda leaders to not send infantry into the fleche once the Frankfurter forces got too close. The absence of my wife’s hand on the dice was clearly demonstrated there ... in fact, had my wife been playing, instead of photographing only, I doubt either of the last two mistakes would have occurred.

As I already noted, the absence of a good fall back position beyond Bad Tannes itself precluded any last minute turn around by Rumple.
On the other hand, this is the second game on which expected reinforcements simply didn’t arrive. I’ve been using a private method to determine arrival which keeps me from being fully godlike in these games, but it obviously isn’t working, so it’s back to the basic rules for this one.
The collapse of the Porcelain Dragoons without even fighting came as a bit of a surprise, but the failure to control the charging Nidda cavalry (I rolled on the commander, not the unit, another error) perhaps actually saved that whole flank operation. The fourth turn threat of double assault on Bad Tannes might not have materialized if both of Nidda’s cavalry units were still on the table.

I had designed the scenario thinking that either the Frankfurters would unravel attempting to storm the strong positions, or that the Nidda army would pull back to fight again on other ground ... and basically gain much better terms for Nidda. Getting the place basically surrounded before such a fall back could be attempted was unexpected. I had even made the village area larger and placed a viable strong point on the back side of it expecting such maneuvers ... again, the collapse of the Nidda dragoons and Blondie’s sucking everything into his chateau sort of foiled that idea ...



Stokes Schwartz said...

Hi Arthur,

Great description of the battle! And I really like your buildings. Did you use foam core to construct them? Looking forward to more photos of your figures in future battles too.

Best Regards,

Stokes Schwartz

Bluebear Jeff said...

The photos and paragraph breaks helped a lot. When I first saw this post (before the pictures), my old eyes just weren't up to the task of such a huge block of text.

It was still a very long post, but the visual "breaks" helped me get through it.

I'll second the comments on the good battle description. It did take me a while to twig that the numbers in parentheses were morale ratings (haven't played KK in a very long time).

I loved the word play and the taunting limericks . . . wonderful color.

Thanks for the post.

-- Jeff of Saxe-Bearstein

Frankfurter said...

I know what you mean about lo-o-ong post ... I actually originally wrote it as four separate posts ... but I'd finished 90% of the writing before I got my wife's photos back ... and then I had such a nightmare getting the photos to upload ... I only posted a tithe of her shots!
By then, making a whole slew of lesser posts seemed a burden (sigh)
Glad you enjoyed it! I actually had more fun in this game than in many previous ones.

Fitz-Badger said...

I agree about long blocks of text in posts. The photos help (even if a bit impressionistic :-)).
The fun certainly comes through! :-)