Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Battle of Frontenard - October 16, 1745 - the battle fought

I embarked on another fine trip to Chez Bairos last Friday evening for another installment of our ongoing ImagiNations campaign. A note about the structure of this campaign may be in order. Although we have a map of the ImagiNation world in which we play, we did not start a traditionally structured campaign with map moves and logistics etc. Rather, I think of it as a narrative campaign. It started with choosing one of C.S. Grant's TableTop Teasers, a series of gaming scenarios published in various magazines and books. The first battle of the campaign, The Battle of Lugio, was based mainly on Teaser 8 from Battlegames Tabletop Teasers Vol 1. After the game, we talked about what would happen next in the narrative and decided that the loser (in this case, Gourmandie) would fall back to the Cabrera River and there would ensue some sort of forced river crossing scenario. I once again scoured the available TableTop teasers and other scenario collections and found one that eventually became The Bridge at Petit Montagnac. The next battle followed a similar process, and so on...until we reached The Battle of Frontenard.I embellish the scenario description to fit our campaign context and Voila! ... narrative campaigning. 

For a full description of The Battle of Frontenard, go here. To avoid duplication, the basics of the game were an aggressive Libagioni move into Gourmandie territory confronted with a well-entrenched but numerically inferior Gourmandie army, again under the command of Le Marquis de Fromage.

First up some shots of the initial dispositions of the armies outside Frontenard. Unfortunately, I forgot my 4x6 light green gaming mat that matches Vidal's and we were forced to use a darker 8x5 cloth. I prefer the lighter green for the ImagiNation games because I think it brings out the colours of the figures much better. Ah, well. C'est la vie.

View from the left rear of the Libagioni army, with the outskirts of Frontenard at the top of the photo and the Gourmandie entrenchments across the top left. The Libagioni army L-R: cavalry brigade, Libagioni infantry brigade, KaiserReich infantry brigade, independent light troops.

View from the right rear of the Gourmandie army.

Gourmandie grenadiers holding the foremost buildings in Frontenard.

Gourmandie artillery and infantry defending the entrenchments. This is the wonderful sectional model I picked up at Historicon this year from Architects of War. I had just finished painting and flocking this the evening before the game and, truth be told, was the incentive for the scenario. I really just wanted to put it on the table and see it filled with troops. The scenario was secondary.

Another shot of the earthworks from the front. The entire piece is about 40 inches long, made of six separate pieces which can be deployed in various configurations as part of the whole or separately. In this photo you can see why we wanted to use the lighter green mats. The flocking on the earthwork pieces was meant to match the mats. Oh well...

The battle began with a "large" (can't quite say "massive" yet but soon) cavalry melee on the Gourmandie right flank, as all proper eighteenth century battles should begin.

The brand new Ulanen Hasseroder, a portion of the KaiserReich contingent serving with the Libagioni army, take on Gourmandie Grenadiers a Cheval Boursin. The KaiserReich cavalry are a 16-figure unit, thus "standard" size in Black Powder. Vidal chose to field the three 8-figure Boursin squadrons as separate "small" units rather than a larger whole. Each of these "small" units suffer a -2 Hand to Hand penalty but this is more than made up for by their initial 9 HtH rating, the Heavy Cavalry +1 combat result modifier, and their elite status. Facing them were Ulanen Hasseroder with a HtH rating of 6 (thus already lower than the Boursin 7) but with the lancer bonus in the first round of combat. It was an entertaining rumble.

Meanwhile, in the center of the field...

The Libagioni infantry launch themselves at the earthworks. I chose not to waste time and rolled for a charge order on the first turn, even though I needed a three-move result. Luckily, I rolled just that and the green horde swept across the field and crashed against the earthworks. "Against" is the operative word here. Although they were able to push one Gourmandie battalion back momentarily, they never were able to cross over the massive obstacle. And why an immediate headlong charge? Libagioni infantry do not have the First Fire characteristic but they do have Terrifying Charge and Bloodthirsty. Thus, no sense getting into a firefight with the well-protected defenders. Rather, it seemed a good chance that one or more of the defending units would fail the Break Tests dictated by the Terrifying Charge rule and leave their comfortable perch upon the earthworks. Unfortunately for Il Prinicipe Martellato and his loyal regiments, the Gourmandie defenders held firm. It was then just a matter of time before the Libagioni infantry were forced to retire in the face of disciplined Gourmandie musketry.

The Libagioni - KaiserReich artillery park. They had little effect in the game save to add immeasurably to the aesthetic effect. As in golf, as it is in this ImagiNation world: "It's not how you play, it's how you look when you play."

An utter failure against the Gourmandie entrenchments, an inconclusive cavalry battle, and a less than enthusiastically executed attack on Frontenard itself by the Kaiserreich contingent has forced Il Prinicipe Martellato  to concede at least temporary defeat in his attempt to wrest territory away from Gourmandie. Of more immediate and pressing concern is the reaction of KronPrinz Friedrich Wilhelm to the Libagioni failure. Will the KaiserReich contingent be recalled? Meanwhile, the Libagioni army limps back to the frontier.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Battle for Frontenard - October 16, 1745 - scenario notes

Flush with success at forcing a crossing of the Lower Cabrera at Petit Montagnac, Il Prinicipe Martellato pushes onto the southeast toward Frontenard. With this move he hopes to cut off the border fortress of Champaigne from communication with and succour from the bulk of Gourmandie territory to the west. Martellato also knows that his fragile alliance with KronPronz Friedrich Wilhelm could at any time devolve into a purely business arrangement (more so than it already is) and the KaiserReich ruler could quickly demand the return of his troops marching with the Libagioni army.

Unfortunately for Martellato, when his columns pull close to Frontenard and shake themselves out into battle order, he sees through the morning mist that the Gourmandie army has not been idle in the weeks following the crossing of the Cabrera. Before Martellato's eyes and spanning the plain to the east of Frontenard are substantial earthworks and artillery emplacements!

However, in Martellato's favour... he enjoys a substantial numerical superiority. A number of units have joined his field army since the last encounter with Gourmandie, including the newly raised Ulanen Hasseroder from Das KaiserReich as well as Libagioni siege artillery.

Defending Frontenac, the Gourmanide army again enjoys the presence of Le Marquis de Fromage and the most redoubtable Arch-Bishop Ambroise de Chabichou du Poitou. Le Marquis is fresh from the recent marriage of his eldest son Michel-Davide, Comte d'Auvergne and is in fine fighting spirit, despite the daunting odds before him.

The Libagioni army need only oust le Marquis from Frontenard to effect the isolation of the fortress of Champaigne. Martellato can then decide to invest the fortress or move farther south into the heart of Gourmandie.