The battle started off with great tension. Chris, the Russian commander, sought to clear lines of fire for his artillery, which was ordered to bombard immediately afterwards. The French Guard Foot Artillery was shaken by this opening salvo, but Ney rallied the shocked gunners back to full fighting strength. Ney then brought his Young Guard forward and opened what would turn out to be a lengthy shooting duel in the centre of the battlefield with various Russian units being cycled forward as their comrades suffered losses.
The first devastating blow of the battle occurred on the French right, however. After some initial maneuvering into place, Nansouty unleashed a Cavalry Charge with his Guard Heavy Cavalry as well as the nearby French Cuirassiers. Not without suffering some losses, the French troopers managed to destroy the Russian Horse Artillery and to severely weaken the Russian Heavy Cavalry unit in the sector. The Russians attempted a bold counter-charge on the subsequent turn, but Napoleon inspired his cavalrymen to strike first, weakening the impact of the Russian hussars. Immediately afterwards, the French cavalry routed all remaining Russian horsemen. Brave Wassilitchikow was not spared the slaughter. 0-4.
The intensity of the battle dropped slightly after the tumultuous action on the French right. Both commanders maneuvered and fired in the centre. The French contested the area around Marchais after Russian advances in that sector. Meanwhile, the Russians checked the further advance of Ney's Young Guard. Accurate Russian musket and artillery fire, while holding, forced the Guardsmen into an ignoble retreat.
Napoleon, unable to relay the orders for a coup de grace on the Russian left (where one unit was forced into a square for many turns), sought to decide the battle in the French left and the centre-left. After many maneuvers and cycling of units, the final clash indeed to place in that sector of the battlefield. Ricard took personal command of first a unit of Light Infantry, which was ordered to charge into melee, and then a unit of Line Infantry, which received the same order. The untested French conscripts did not falter. Liewen's depleted regiment could not maintain cohesion in the face of French bayonets and broke. 0-6
Played this twice, both were French victories, 6-3 and 6-2. On both occasions a Russian Fire and Hold in the centre had extremely poor results, but would not have been decisive. The French are just too strong and any Russian player will do well to snatch a victory here.
I feel like the best option for the Russians is moving the infantry back to the Baseline, which gives them a better field of fire, and let the Artillery do the fighting.
That being said, a clear case of the weakness of Russian 3 block infantry.
Glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever.
The stats say this is a 71% French win, which is not very encouraging as I'm playing the Russians. This means I start with the Mother Russia roll. I was able to add a block to the two Line infantry right of centre and the artillery behind them.
And I got to play first. Which was an ineffective pot-shot from my artillery (it's on a hill, so can fire over the heads of the infantry right in front). This used up a "Scout Center" card to, hopefully, get something better.
Cautious movement on both flanks eventually saw a Russian Line infantry bite the dust centre-left after coming under fire from French Light infantry in the woods supported by the artillery. This makes the score 0:1 to Evert.
General Tallisin led more Russian infantry forward to take revenge and eliminate the French Lights, despite their cover in the woods - 1:1.
Evert pushed French infantry, including the Old Guard, forward in the centre only for the Russian infantry to fix bayonets and destroy the Guard. A "Bayonet Charge" did the job and I'm feeling like a winner - though the score's only 2:1.
The Young Guard and conscripts promptly smashed the advanced Russian centre, removing three Line infantry to make it 2:4. Oops!
The remaining Russians in the centre got one back with their musketry, but the Young Guard completed the carnage amongst them to make it 3:5 and only one more needed for a French victory.
Time for the French cavalry (on the right) to get in on the action. A "Cavalry Charge" saw them launch into their Russian counterparts and take out... the Horse artillery - 3:6.
This was another fast game - less than an hour's play (we got through 16 turns - 8 each) - and an emphatic win for the French. We both had some decent cards (though no "Grande Manoeuvre" in evidence this time), so it must be the dice to blame.
Time for me to play the French in our return match, so Evert starts with the Mother Russia roll. He was able to add a block to two Line and two Light infantry and chose the four on the left of his front line. (I'm using left and right as in the set-up picture, not according to each army's point of view.)
I wanted to get the French cavalry into the action, so I moved the French right flank forward and engaged the Russians with my infantry. The idea being to tempt the Russian cavalry into a position where the Guards and Cuirassiers could have them.
Evert played "Cavalry Charge" and threw the Russian cavalry in. So far, so good, though I could have done without the extra dice from the card. The forwardmost French Light infantry went into square in response to the attack from the Russian Light cavalry. The Russian Heavy cavalry attacked the French Cuirassiers and eliminated them! Then they hit the French Guard cavalry whom they wiped out as well (General Nansouty escaping)!!
What just happened? Evert rolled 6 dice against the Cuirassiers with a one-third chance of hitting and got four hits. Bye, bye, Cuirassiers. Another 6 dice against the Guards produced 5 hits! Ye Gods and little fishes, the score's 0:2 and my cavalry has gone. This is not good.
The Young Guard moved into the woods and drove off the Russian Heavies, but Evert played another "Cavalry Charge" and the Youngsters formed square. This preserved them, but I'm down to four cards in hand, restricting my options each turn.
Evert moved infantry and the Horse artillery forward centre-right to shoot at my squares, but I moved some infantry across as well and took out one of the infantry units - 1:2. The other Russian eliminated one square and it's 1:3.
A "La Grande Manoeuvre" card made its appearance (well, I had two in hand), allowing me to move the rearward French units forward and form some sort of line across the battlefield. After several exchanges of fire, the French muskets destroyed the Russian Light cavalry and General Stawitsky's Line infantry outside the town of La Chaise (the General retired to the security of the artillery) - 3:3.
The Russian Heavies swung round the Young Guard's square and put the Old Guard into square (I'm down to four cards again), but more musket fire in the centre took out a Russian Light infantry - 4:3 and this is looking better.
Evert's "Bombard" card didn't do much damage with his artillery, but I played "Counter-attack" and the Guard artillery wiped out the Russian Heavies. My turn to get four hits from 6 dice at a one-third chance and that's 5:3.
With the Russian cavalry gone, I could finally take my infantry out of square. To do this I played a "Bayonet Charge" that had Marshal Ney leading the Young Guard into the woods to finish off the one-block Line infantry hiding behind them - 6:3 and the French are in control of the battlefield.
Phew! That was one hell of a come-back. Made possible because Evert wasn't able to exploit his cavalry after that initial shock. Once it had gone, the French infantry asserted its usual superiority.
It was a longer game than our first, though: 24 turns and nearly an hour and a half's play. However, both games were won 6:3 by the French, so the aggregate score is 9:9 and a tie overall.