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AAR first Kriegspiel Game, Bakersfield, California

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AAR first Kriegspiel Game, Bakersfield, California

Post  Calpurnius on Mon Jan 20, 2014 10:53 pm

In setting up the scenario for the French and Prussians, I selected a portion of the Metz map from Too Fat Lardies.  In an attempt to create a challenging situation I created a French force with more manpower and the ability to soak damage as he would be the aggresor.  For the Prussians, to make up for their lack of manpower I gave them much more artillery to help break up and repulse the French attack. The winning would be done by the French if they could quickly capture all objectives and minimize their casualties, the victory given to teh prussian if he could maintain his objectives for a period of time. The scenario was set up so that the Prussians could not hold the objectives, but their points would be given for the amount of time they could deny the french from capturing them. Before battle started, a couple days before I sent out the packets to the respective sides.  For the Prussians Side they received

OPORD


1. Situation - That Swine Napoleon has sent his eagles marching towards us my dear  Hans Ernst Karl Graf von Ziethen II.  Our spies indicate that his Corps are converging on Metz.  I have dispatched that old dog Blucher with our forces to reinforce your garrison in the town but our forces won’t be there for some time.  It is down to you Sir to buy us the time needed to move our forces to bleed the French forces on our sacred ground.  But to do this, it saddens me to inform you that we will need to bleed first.  Place your forces in the best defensive positions you can to hold and slow the frog eaters and bleed them dry.  We expect them to arrive around St. Marie-aux-Chenes by 0500.

Weather has been Cloudy and we expect it to continue with a 50% chance of rain showers expect 1/10”, a low of 57F and a high of 72F and the barometer is rising, predicting 70% humidity.  Wind direction is expected to be sustained at 10mph from the South West. The local Almanac says that the Sun rises at 6:37am and sets at 8:36pm in this region, begin morning nautical twilight at 5:20am end evening nautical twilight 9:25pm  The moon will rise at 8:44pm and set at 7:59 am just past full at 99.3% illumination.  Good fighting conditions for our troops then with night maneuvers well illuminated by a near full moon, soft ground should make our cavalry’s job easier and the temperature should be comfortable for us and make the Froschfresser sweat from the heat of our shot eh!

Metz is historically a garrison town so we have plenty of cannon to place.  In the area there are 2 castles, more of a fortified farm house than a castle, at strategic high points, offering good fields of fire covering the towns they watch over. The first is at Montigny-la-Grange with views to the North where the main road approaches, and the second in the South West at Verneville covering fields of fire to the North East.  There are plenty of low hills offering cover and concealment but not many woods to take advantage of, except for the South and East.  Key terrain and avenues of approach are the crossroads at St. Privat in the North which is the top of the main Metz approach road South.  The castle of Montigny-la-Grange and town of Amanweiler offer strong defensive positions and block road movements.  Finally, the strongpoint of Verneville with its fortified space, needs to be defended to block Southern movements of the Franzacke in the future campaign.

Enemy forces are expected to be present in force, but our scouts have not yet determined their strength or composition, but speed is of the essence as our spies inform us that the Franzacke forces of Napoleon are coming from Paris to strengthen the attack on your Metz garrison.  Use your cavalry to its best to screen your forces and feel out the enemies positions, use your cannon to hold key terrain, extra artillery regiments have been detached from Metz and attached to your Corps for this purpose.  The enemy is likely to push hard and without mercy to push us back.  Do not let them.

2. Mission

Herr Hans Ernst Karl Graf von Ziethen II you are ordered to take command of the I Corps, 1st Infantry Brigade GM Karl Friedrich Franziskus von Steinmetz, 2nd Infantry Brigade GM Otto Karl Lorenz von Pirch, 3rd Infantry Brigade GM Friedrich Wilhelm Christian Ludwig von Jagow, and the reserve 4th Infantry Brigade GM Graf Henckel von Donnersmarck, as they become available. Hold St.Privat (Objective 1) as long as feasible, hold Amanweiler (Objective 2), hold the Castle of Montigney-la-Grange (Objective 3).  Hold Verneville and its castle (Objective 4). Hold out with as many objectives as possible until 1900 on 22 August 1815.  Inflict as many casualties as possible and hold until the last man.  Reserves will be rushed up to you as quickly as possible and you will receive notice of when and where they arrive.  Good Luck Sir.

Prussian Army I Corps  
22 August 1815
Corps Commander: GL Hans Ernst Karl Graf von Ziethen II  

1st Infantry Brigade
Commander:  GM Karl Friedrich Franziskus von Steinmetz
Line Infantry- 2nd Brandenburg Inf. Reg. [900 men]
4th Brandenburg Inf. Reg. [900 men]
1st Westphalian Landwehr Inf. Reg. [900 men]
Cavalry - 3rd 'Brandenburg' Uhlan Reg. [150 men]
Artillery - I Position Battery(PB) [8 Guns]

2nd Infantry Brigade
Commander:  GM Otto Karl Lorenz von Pirch
Line Infantry- 1st West Prussian' Inf. Reg. [900 men]
1st Berg' Inf. Reg. [900 men]
2nd Westphalian Land. Inf. Reg. [900 men]
Cavalry - 4th '1st Silesian' Hussar Reg. [150 men]
  Artillery - II Position Battery(PB) [8 Guns]

3rd Infantry Brigade
Commander: GM Friedrich Wilhelm Christian Ludwig von Jagow
Line Infantry- 2nd West Prussian' Inf. Reg. [900 men]
2nd Berg' Inf. Reg. [900 men]
3rd Westphalian Land. Inf. Reg. [900 men]
Cavalry - 5th 'Brandenburg' Dragoon Reg. [150 men]
Artillery - III Position Battery(PB) [8 Guns]

4th Infantry Reserve Brigade
Commander: GM Graf Henckel von Donnersmarck
Line Infantry- '1st Reserve' Inf. Reg. [900 men] This regiment was in Metz at the time.
                    '7th Reserve' Inf. Reg. [900 men] This regiment was in Metz at the time.
Reserve Artillery
II Position Battery(PB) [8 Guns]
VI PB [8 Guns]
IX PB [8 Guns]
I FB [8 Guns]
I Howitzer Battery [8 Guns]
Company of Engineers

TOTAL 9,900 MEN 64 guns 450 Cavalry


The French received

OPORD
1. Situation - Prior to the initial battle of Metz, it is essential the we seize a forward operating base for our baggage and stores to be brought up and secure road routes for our forces to use in the advance.  The target will be the area around the town of Amanweiler. Operations to be launched from the objective rally point at no earlier than 0500.  Capture and hold all objectives by 1900 and minimize casualties as far as possible.

Weather has been Cloudy and we expect it to continue with a 50% chance of rain showers expect 1/10”, a low of 57F and a high of 72F and the barometer is rising, predicting 70% humidity.  Wind direction is expected to be sustained at 10mph from the South West. The local Almanac says that the Sun rises at 6:37am and sets at 8:36pm in this region, begin morning nautical twilight at 5:20am end evening nautical twilight 9:25pm  The moon will rise at 8:44pm and set at 7:59 am just past full at 99.3% illumination.  Good fighting conditions for our troops then with night maneuvers well illuminated by a near full moon, soft ground should make our cavalry’s job easier and the temperature should be comfortable for us and make the Prussians sweat the heat of our shot eh!

Metz is historically a garrison town so we expect opposition.  In the area there are 2 castles, more of a fortified farm house than a castle, at strategic high points, offering good fields of fire covering the towns they watch over. The first is at Montigny-la-Grange with views to the North where the main road approaches, and the second in the South West at Verneville covering fields of fire to the North East.  There are plenty of low hills offering cover and concealment but not many woods to take advantage of.  Key terrain and avenues of approach are the crossroads at St. Privat in the North take this and control of the Metz approach roads South and capture of the castle of Montigny-la-Grange and town of Amanweiler can be ours.  Finally a strong push for the strongpoint of Verneville with its fortified space, to allow Southern movements of our forces in the future campaign.

Enemy forces are expected to be present, but our scouts have not yet determined the garrisons strength or composition but speed is of the essence as our spies inform us that the Prussian forces of Blucher are coming from Berlin to strengthen the Metz garrison.  Use your cavalry to its best to screen your forces and feel out the enemies positions, extra lancer regiments have been attached to your Corps for this purpose.  The enemy is likely to fall back as they have always done when they see our Eagles glittering and advancing towards them.

2. Mission

Maréchal Soult, le Duc de Dalmatie you are ordered to take command of the Old Guard Général de division Francois Roguet, the 1st Young Guard Division Général de division Dumoustier and 4th Young Guard Division General de division Friant advance and hold St.Privat (Objective 1) and seize the crossroads, advance and hold Amanweiler (Objective 2), advance and hold the Castle of Montigney-la-Grange, do not destroy as its facilities are need for storage (Objective 3).  Advance and hold Verneville and its castle (Objective 4). Before 1900 on 22 August 1815.  The objectives can be taken in any order but must be held by the time stated above as the Army’s wagon trains will then be arriving and will be exposed for destruction or capture.  The 1st and 3rd Brigades of the Tirailleur Regiment will be available in reserve as a last resort only.


Imperial Guard
22 August 1815
Commanding General: Maréchal Soult, le Duc de Dalmatie


Old Guard 1st Foot Grenadier Regiment
Commander: Général de division Francois Roguet
1st Brigade 1/1st Chasseur à pied Regiment (900)
2/1st Chasseur à pied Regiment (900)
1/2nd Chasseur à pied Regiment (900)
       2nd Brigade 1/1st Grenadier à pied Regiment (900)
2/1st Grenadier à pied Regiment (900)
1/2nd Grenadier à pied Regiment (900)
               Artillery 1st Old Guard Foot Battery  (8 guns)



1st Young Guard Division
Commander: Général de division Dumoustier
2nd Brigade 1/,2/1st Voltigeur Regiment (900)
1/,2/2nd Voltigeur Regiment (900)
1/,2/3rd Voltigeur Regiment (900)
Artillery 1st, 2nd & 3rd Young Guard Foot Batteries (8 guns)
      Cavalry 1-6/1st Guard Lancer Regiment (150)
1-10/2nd Guard Lancer Regiment (150)
1/,3/,4/Berg Lancer Regiment (150)

4th Young Guard Division
Commander: General de division Friant
2nd Brigade 1/,2/8th Tirailleur Regiment (900)
1/,2/9th Tirailleur Regiment (900)
1/,2/10th Tirailleur Regiment (900)
Artillery 1st Co/Guard Administrative Artisan Battalion
Cavalry 1/7th Chevauléger-Lancier Regiment (150)
2/7th Chevauléger-Lancier Regiment (150)
3/7th Chevauléger-Lancier Regiment (150)

Reserves       1st Brigade 1/,2/4th Tirailleur Regiment (900)
1/,2/5th Tirailleur Regiment (900)
1/,2/6th Tirailleur Regiment (900)
        3rd Brigade 1/,2/11th Tirailleur Regiment (900)
1/,2/12th Tirailleur Regiment (900)
Total Infantry 14,400 Men 16 Guns 900 Cavalry


and a basic map showing the objectives


We spent about an hour setting up the maps and I had spent the day before organizing all the pieces from Photo cutters studios, so we could start quicker.  We spent another hour briefing the majority of the players unfamiliar with the Napoleonic setting and strategy on how to play and we started at 1500 on Sunday afternoon.

Opening Moves

The French players forces could only enter on to the map from the NW corner  at St. Marie-aux-Chenes, while the Prussians, marching from Metz in the SW already had one of their commanders in place at Amanweiler and the rest of his forces marching up the road in column.

" />

With orders in hand from both the French and Prussian players.  I went to the umpires map to plot the routes and calculate all the timing on the plexiglass

" />

The next half hour had the Prussians deploying in their line formation.  Due to their inexperience, they failed to adequately use scouts or cavalry to screen.  At 0530, game time, the Prussian map looked like this.
" />

This next image is a close up of the Prussian far left wing.  The Prussians still had no idea where the French were.  They had set up their troops facing in all directions ( the red indicates the front of the formation) but still had not sent out any scouts or cavalry to screen and probe.  However, the piece at the top right of this picture indicates a group of engineers busily working on demolishing a small bridge over the creek, and the commander had made good use of the terrain, seizing the high ground and securing his flanks between the woods to either side.

" />

The French meanwhile had not only coordinated an attack on objective 1 (St. Privat) unopposed, but they had also moved up their supply train up to the village and made it their new HQ.  French forces were continuing to stream in from the NW road and with the successful capture of the objective, the French could now also use the road from the North (by B1 in the photo) for their reinforcements and reserves.

" />

The French scouts had a good idea where the prussians were distributed by now, and had secreted a cavalry squad in the forest to the South of the Prussians far left.  I had informed the relevant Prussian commanders whenever the scouts or cavalry were seen and where they moved from, so the Prussians knew they were being observed.

" />

The Prussians deployed a huge skirmish line around them.  Again with no idea where the French were coming from the skirmishers were set out in a circular formation around each commander, but the individual command elements were out of touch with each other and no concurrent line being maintained.  

" />

The French commander decided to head South in 2 separate columns, to set up for an assault against the Prussians.


And decided now was a good time to bring his reserves on to the board.
" />

From the French players map we see his troops forming line
" />

A daring move by the French cavalry to slip between a gap in the Prussian forces to reach there rear, results in an ambush and heavy casualties.  51 dead and missing out of a squadron of 150 in a mere 2 minutes.
" />

Meanwhile on the Prussian right a sacrificial move by one French cavalry regiment allows 2 more to slip into the woods unnoticed and unmolested, to prepare for a flanking march and harassing the enemies rear.  A quick charge into the far right Prussian skirmishers, results in them being recalled back into line and about 13 casualties for the French cavalry resulting from his demonstration.
" />

Unfortunately with the hour getting late the French commander was unable to execute his flanking maneuver on the Prussian right and roll up his wing. One of the final views as seen by the British " />

Result

The Prussians still control the majority of the objectives.  However the French forces are about to launch a torrent of shot and steel on the Prussian right.  The Prussian commander has surrendered the high ground and will find it difficult to fall back and collapse his right to protect the objective.  With cavalry roaming in his rear it is only a matter of time before the French has the Prussians baggage, and effective some damage from attacking forces in the flanks or rear.  At the conclusion of the game all players agreed that the French player was in a winning position ad gave the game to him.

Conclusions

Well I solo'd my very first game as umpire, managing 7 players.  This is clearly not enough umpires for the players involved.  In the future I will have more umpires for sure.  Having an ipad handy as i visited the teams allowed me to accurately take photos of the troop dispositions and what they could see and allowed me to keep the umpire map and player maps in synch more accurately.  My players really wanted to micromanage their troops, as in maneuvering their guns to face different directions, making tiny changes to the positions of their skirmishers.  I feel that by allowing this I really ate into the time of play as I had to coordinate not only the orders and dispatches to other generals, but I now had to try and remember that a certain gun piece was limbering or unlimbering, or a gun was to fire only 16 shots at a certain detachment.  All the while trying my best to answer the players questions on what they could and could not do, how long it would take to do something etc. etc.

I think that the game plays really well.  The players I spoke to had fun with it and would do it again.  It would play out really well in a convention setting over a couple of days.  But the umpire, I think, needs to limit the amount of micromanaging his generals are doing.  Force them to make their orders as detailed as possible and accept the fact that his players may be angered by his decisions, such as not halting the troops soon enough before reporting back.  This would allow the umpire to manage the flow of information in a more limited fashion and allow gameplay to move faster.  Being a learning game, and my first, I was trying to make everyone happy by getting their input on everything and trying to accommodate their wish lists.  It is only now that I am realising how limited a real commander would be and how having an umpire make a decision and report back simulates this same feeling of powerlessness in a player and that is something I should strive for in a game.

Pieces are very well made, but as we play more in the future we will need more.  Maps from too fat lardies are excellent and were printed on 80lb cardstock from Kinkos-Fedex for a reasonable price.  Americans be warned that they are meant for English paper size A3 (11.5"X16.5") which in the USA the nearest I could get is B or Ledger size which is 1/2 inch smaller around and the map should be resized.

Hope you had a good time reading this.  Thoughts appreciated.


Last edited by Calpurnius on Tue Jan 21, 2014 1:07 am; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : Incomplete)
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Calpurnius

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Re: AAR first Kriegspiel Game, Bakersfield, California

Post  Father General on Tue Jan 21, 2014 1:52 am

I had a few ideas, although the veterans here may refine them.

1. Make everyone write orders with the understanding the orders are not going to be highly detailed and specific.

One of the challenges of command is giving and order to a subordinate officer and seeing him mess it up by posting his line a bit too far forward, and other such silliness. This happens all the time. Don't be afraid to make a mistake when carrying out the orders as YOU understand them. Only ask basic, clarifying questions.

2. Keep each turn down to 5 minutes. Give each side five minutes to hand you their written orders, give them a quick review and YOU ask the questions, not them. If they want to learn a minute mechanic, well, there's the rulebook with a beautiful, fully functional index. You take general orders and apply some common sense to them, and what happens happens. No good general micromanages --meaning they cannot micromanage their forces. At the end of five minutes, if they have not handed you a slip of paper, then some men will continue marching or will be standing around... At 5 minutes per 2 minutes of game time, plus time you need to process orders, you're looking at 10-15 minutes of game time per real hour.

3. Consider umpiring from sequester with 1 or 2 aides who visit each team to collect orders and return reports. You don't come out of the office, instead you spend your time managing pieces and rolling dice.

There's a lot of desire for control, yet the one experience I have always had of well-simulated combat is an abject lack of control. The most a commander can really do is formulate a general plan, appoint able subordinates, give general orders, and rely on planning, practice, and luck to win the day.

By the way, a HUGE thank you for organizing this. It was an amazing experience that I know will get even better the next time around. I'm hooked!





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Re: AAR first Kriegspiel Game, Bakersfield, California

Post  Calpurnius on Tue Jan 21, 2014 2:08 am

Agreed. I think next game we run I will have to enforce this. I think the majority of the time was eaten up by micromanaging and trying to keep the battlefield accurate. It takes an effort of will coming from minis though and playing games like Scourge of War to prevent yourself or your players from managing everything. I do feel that the game clock would play out quicker if I'm not reporting everything in 2 minute increments in detail, but rather broad strokes after I've calculated the minutiae of results from combat etc. Next game we play, I'll do this and see how it plays. I might even draft you in as an umpire, and we'll see how Cody, Brian, Jack and Dennis do in a 2v2 game against each other. That would be interesting.
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Re: AAR first Kriegspiel Game, Bakersfield, California

Post  Father General on Tue Jan 21, 2014 2:12 am

While I would prefer to play, I'll do whatever it takes for the success of the endeavor (ahem: endeavour).

I will be fun, and I'm a bit antsy, so I do prefer to move around rather than sit.

In a dungeon.

Next to a deadbolted door in the basement of an attorney's office with an iron security bar keeping it shut... as the souls of the damned cry for help that will never come from the other side...

LOL
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Re: AAR first Kriegspiel Game, Bakersfield, California

Post  Leffe7 on Tue Jan 21, 2014 11:14 am

Thanks for sharing the AAR. It was a nice reading. I imagine that was a lot of work for just 1 umpire!
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Re: AAR first Kriegspiel Game, Bakersfield, California

Post  Martin on Tue Jan 21, 2014 5:36 pm

Nicely produced AAR, Brett.  So glad you’ve started a new group.  

You seem to have already drawn some excellent conclusions from your first game.  

I also mostly agree with the FG’s numbered comments.  Here’s a few additional suggestions based on our group’s experience, using his numbering.

Martin (J)


1. Make everyone write orders with the understanding the orders are not going to be highly detailed and specific.

Good idea.  We normally require written orders, unless they are very simple, limited, clear and straightforward (eg just ‘send that battalion to retake the farm’).  

One of the challenges of command is giving and order to a subordinate officer and seeing him mess it up by posting his line a bit too far forward, and other such silliness. This happens all the time. Don't be afraid to make a mistake when carrying out the orders as YOU understand them. Only ask basic, clarifying questions.

Agreed.  To assist players and umpires, we use standard order sheets.  These include columns for units, what they are to do, and (equally important) what the general intent of the order is.  The latter makes it easier for the umpires to make decisions acting as the commander of a detached unit, without referring back to the commanding player and thus slowing the game.  I’ll email you & Neal a pro forma.

2. Keep each turn down to 5 minutes. Give each side five minutes to hand you their written orders, give them a quick review and YOU ask the questions, not them. If they want to learn a minute mechanic, well, there's the rulebook with a beautiful, fully functional index. You take general orders and apply some common sense to them, and what happens happens. No good general micromanages --meaning they cannot micromanage their forces. At the end of five minutes, if they have not handed you a slip of paper, then some men will continue marching or will be standing around... At 5 minutes per 2 minutes of game time, plus time you need to process orders, you're looking at 10-15 minutes of game time per real hour.

The original Reisswitz approach was to use flexible turns (equivalent to modern VLB systems) on the approach to battle.  Once combat was underway however, they looked at things in more detail using 2 minute increments.  There was a tension there between accuracy and a good reasonably speedy game.  But then they viewed k/spiel as a training exercise rather than a game, and the young officers needed to acquire a good & detailed understanding of what happened in an action.   They could also order the young men to play!

We have moved away from that in pursuit of a better game.  We normally work in 15 or 20 minute increments, and will occasionally run 2 or even 3 such periods together if the forces are initially some way apart.  That needs to be used with care though, as it’s easy to move the clock on too fast.  For example, one of the players might have intended to turn off the main road in about 20 minutes, but you’ve just moved the clock on 30!

3. Consider umpiring from sequester with 1 or 2 aides who visit each team to collect orders and return reports. You don't come out of the office, instead you spend your time managing pieces and rolling dice.

Agreed.  We normally aim for one liaison umpire per player, with an additional controlling umpire who remains in the map room as the FG suggests.  It’s tempting to skimp on umpire numbers, as with more players you can potentially create more interesting situations.  We have found that this rarely pays off.

By cutting these various corners, we usually manage to run a Reisswitz game at faster than real time.  So in say 5 hours of actual play, we might cover 6 or 7 hours of battle.

Hope that helps.

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Re: AAR first Kriegspiel Game, Bakersfield, California

Post  Father General on Wed Jan 22, 2014 1:01 am

Thank you Martin for your feedback.

I'm already looking forward to the next game.

In the meantime, it'll be SOW as time allows!

-Neal
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Re: AAR first Kriegspiel Game, Bakersfield, California

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