Wargame Thoughts and Commentary

The Battle of Mouzon

This battle was a real change of pace for our group in many ways. First, it was our first battle outside of the WSS in many months, and marked a return to the Franco-Prussian War, which we had not played for quite awhile. It, also, used my FPW 10mm figures that had been on the shelf ever since the development of Zouave II. This made for a far different visual look and a nice contrast to my WSS 28mm figures. It also was the first battle we had fought using a scenario from a previously fought game played at Brent Oman’s house in 28mm using the FOB Rules. Many of the Player’s in the FOB game were present to play their same roles in the DF game which was held one week later.

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The preceding week’s game using FOB

I was interested in seeing how the two systems and the tactics of the player’s might differ under two different systems and the degree that the system’s altered or changed the outcome, if at all.

I set up the terrain to match, albeit on a table that was three feet longer, and one foot narrower. It looked like this:

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The first things I noticed is that this is far less terrain, and troops than I usually use in a DF game. There was going to be a lot of opportunity for the Krupps and Chassepots to wreak havoc with little cover, except fro the forest of Class II (small stands) and Class III woods on the far left looking from French Position. The Hills were Class I denoted by the faint line of Lichen, and Class II (the actual hill terrain pieces) The village was all class III.

I then translated the original FOB ratings to DF equivalents. Roughly speaking, any units that in FOB were rated 12 or 12+ were rated Crack in DF; 8 to 10 were average, and 4 or 6 were rated Poor. Any unit that entered the battle with an existing UI were given a proportional number of Black Dice (which could be rallied “off” the unit) Officers were rated as the troops-Except if they were poor in the FOB rating-I rolled a single D6 which, using the table found on Page 22 of DF, automatically gave them an additional “flaw”. The final rating OOBs for both armies may be found in the Mouzon folder on the Yahoo! site.

The signal difference between FOB and DF was that, in FOB, the officer ratings influence the national decks, and in that game, the Prussian’s surprising lack of skill in command, and the French Army’s unusual high abilities, gave the French army a noticeably better deck. This would account for the French being uncharacteristically aggressive in that game. In DF the command quality differential gave the French more command dice, and fewer “problem” generals than the Prussians who not only had fewer dice, but a few limitations of commanders that caused some inefficiencies. This had an equivalent effect as in the FOB encounter as the French were to prove aggressive, and the Prussians far less so.

In the FOB game the French were blessed with a few more morale chips, and in the DF game, as ratings transpired by type and the infamous + or - minus roll, the French started with more dice, which serve an equivalent purpose of ending the game. There were objective markers at the road exists on the hills and in the town, ranging from 4X to 8X potentials for adding dice. (IN DF the taking of an objective gives you a morale gain, and the ability to pay in part or whole for the losses incurred in the attack)

Both games allowed for hasty entrenchments, which were not used in the FOB game, but were, Briefly in the DF game.

The other distinction between the games is that an FOB deck is quite a bit larger, usually 27 cards more, DF uses a standard 6 per game. They work in a similar fashion, but the FOB deck allows an Army’s personality to be modeled using the frequency of certain card types, while the DF system uses the command dice, and period or scenario specific uses of the Specialized Action, Rally, Reload, Restore, and Creative action card to provide similar effects. Both are sequenced “narrative” war-games.

In this game, the The Specialized Action Card allows an additional reload to breech loading weapons, and RRR was to allow tests for Prussian troops to enter the field. Each Prussian unit had to roll before the game to see if it was still marching to the guns, rather than initially present. As luck would have it, the Prussians made the roll for every unit, and started with all hands on deck! NO further tests were necessary. (You may see the special rules for the game, including this rule, in the Yahoo! Mouzion Folder)

On April 19th, the commanders assembled at Chez Jones and the forces deployed.

The French immediately opted for hasty entrenchments to provide extra cover on the ridegline, and deployed opposite the village, just as in the previous game.


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While the Prussians went almost immediately into a rope-a-dope defense anchored on the village on their right and the table edge on the left. The center of their position was a massive grand battery of Krupps artillery.

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Evidently, The Prussians took one look at their command, and remembering the previous FOB battle where they deployed evenly in line across their front and were badly mauled by the French attackers, and did not form grand batteries, decided to simply let the French come to them and use their guns to mow them down.

This was to prove a very bad decision. On the first turn, the French watched quizzically while the Prussians went into their sitzkrieg. But the French Commander (Greg Rold) immediately decided that he would exploit their hesitancy by an immediate attack on the village. Hoping to use the woods and village as cover, while capturing some objective points (dice) and bleeding the Prussian force. He intuitively realized that by defending the Prussians were giving up advantages that the rules provided the Prussians in movement and combat fire and melee when using the Zug Formation. If the French maintained the initiative and attacked they would actually, given their superior command and the Chassepot have the advantage in combat!! He attacked the village with gusto!


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The French Attack on Mouzon!


He flanked the Village and sent several Prussian units back in disarray>

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The French were masterful in their attack, and the Prussian left was taking extensive losses. However the French center and right were not yet pressing the enemy, and Krupps long range fire was taking a toll on a few units in the center that were in range. Fortwo turns that had pummeled the center in the class I ridge, that was taking some losses though, thanks to the Hasty entrenchments holding their position. The French Commander was reluctant to move them out of cover, but concerned for the losses. He then ordered his sub-commander (John Mumby) to swing his right wing troops on the ridgeline around and down toward the Prussian left flank.

The French Moved out with a cheer!

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The French Right begins its attack!

This had the immediate effect on the Prussians of fearing envelopment, they moved their cavalry out to challenge the French, and began to dismantle the Grand Battery to resight it to protect the flank. They ceased their fire on the center, and lost several turns of fire as they attemptted to relocate.

The French Right continued its turning action with great alacrity advancing smartly on the Prussians. In desperation the Prussians sent forward the Cuirassiers to confront the French and buy time for the Krupps to come to bear.

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The French move on the Prussians-Note the Prussian Cuirassiers
and Dragoons moving on them (far center)


The Chassepots rang out and many a cavalry man was sent reeling backward, with most of the saddles empty. It was glorious, but most certainly a very ugly loss. At that same moment, the village fight was also turning very ugly for the Prussians. The French brought up an artillery battery that, bad as the French 4# were was having some effect on the reforming Krupps guns. exposed as limbered targets.

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French fighting house to house, note 4# at bottom

The French Right was moving with alacrity on the Prussians, who only had two badly hauled cavalry and a poor infantry unit to immediately oppose them.

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Their losses in the village had mounted, and having lost many dice to several attacks by the French on both flanks, and having started with fewer dice the Prussians announced that their left and center had run out of dice, and the reserve was also gone (much of it spent keeping the Village forces in play)

Conclusions:

The Prussians made two essential errors. They chose a defensive posture which robbed them of their Zug advantages, and they didn’t get good use out of their Krupps Grand Battery because it was too far toward the center and was not in position to quickly counter the French flank attack, and could not do too much against the village attack. The possibilities for the guns were clearly shown in their initial rounds against the French dug-in center forces, but events took them out of play as they attempted to meet the flank threat.

It must be said, however, that the outcome was not much different than the FOB game where the Prussians were attacked in the village and from the ridge, and never got their Krupps into effective action. The Prussians were soundly defeated in both battles, and ran out of chips and dice in a definitive conclusion.

The fact is, the unusually good French Officers, and the rather weak Prussian officers, both through the composition of the card decks in FOB, and in the initial Command Dice quantities in DF had significant effect on the outcomes.

Rules

The New Hasty Entrenchment Rules look to work very well.

We also tried just giving the losing dice in DF to the other team instead of the used bucket. It accelerated the conclusion, but the penalty on early losses when using the flip method of dice buckets may be too severe.

The Transition period rules seem to work very well.

All the rule adjustments and modifications may be found in the Mouzon folder on the Yahoo Site files section.