Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Varangian Wars - Flank Operations

It is the year 1539 OC and the Siege of Sjelle is being conducted on the central island between the narrow sea separating the Flossian Union and mainland Gluteborg-Varangia. To relieve the central forces in the way of the Union assault, a small detachment of Varangian and Sjelle troops advances on the Flossian hinterland positions. The Flossian defense rests on the River Marknog, and the careful commander of the area, Brigadier von Luchs has built strong defenses.
The river is calm and slow, but grants that any unit that crosses it will lose its coherence. The water is also deep, so only cavalry can get through it in any place; the infantry has to use the bridge on the main highway leading to the center of the island, or the ford upriver. 

The Flossian defenses are strengthened by redoubts on both banks, two protecting the bridgehead. These five redoubts are manned by seven infantry battalions and four guns. Von Luchs also has cavalry support in the shape of three cuirassier squadrons.

The main Varangian attack force consists of seven infantry battalions, four guns and four cavalry units. The Army of Sjelle provided a large irregular contingent, a mixed Freikorp of cavalry and infantry. The Varangian advance begins on their right, the cavalry conducting a series of maneuvers to form two lines and prepare to move through the river. The well placed Flossian guns bombard them relentlessly.

The combined Sjelle and mainland Varangian infantry moves to deploy near the bridgehead redoubts.

The Flossian reserve, noticing the large number of enemy infantry ahead, moves to aid the bridgehead.

A Varangian cavalry unit breaks formation, being confused by enemy artillery fire, and halts grasping on to the right bank of the river.

The Varangian infantry forms battle lines to commence the assault on the redoubts.

Now both sides' artillery is in position, and is shooting at the other's lines. The Sjelle irregulars arrive at the river in column.

The light infantry deploys to shoot across the ford and flank the bridgehead.

A Flossian infantry unit, the last reserve, is sent to defend the ford while the Varangian regular cavalry catches up.

The fighting begins at the bridgehead, close-range volleys fly over the earthworks, but the three Flossian battalions hold steady.

The Varangian cavalry grabs a hold on the Flossian bank of the river, and with a swing attacks the enemy cavalry on their flanks.

The infantry has to leave the redoubt to avoid the same fate as the two cavalry squadrons swept away in the charge.

The combined fire of the irregulars and the assaulting line of battle takes its toll on the left redoubt's crew, and the battalion breaks.

The Varangian cavalry charges headlong into the infantry line, and is repulsed.

The right flank of the Varangian infantry line wheels and the reserve Flossian unit is captured, the third one surrenders. Failing to maintain the bridgehead, but with relatively little losses, the Flossian army commences retreat.

A strategic victory on a narrowly packed battlefield with quite unique challenges for both sides. A detailed post will follow on Random&Creative about the new terrain pieces (except the hills, those are just cardboard covered in cloth and sand). I used standard hard cover rules for the redoubs: I think they should be made three-sided instead of just one as the flanking light infantry aided the main assault line too much.
Another thing I pondered about is using a greater difference in the size of forces. A well-entrenched but underpowered defender should then lose only one morale point for each unit lost instead of rolling and having the chance to lose more. In this setup, I followed the original rules because there was not such a great disparity between the opponents. I only remembered the line of sight rules for rivers from the basic rules, so I made up the infantry/cavalry crossing restrictions. It was not far off from the original intention of the rules.

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