I said that I would do a replay of the Flank Attack Scenario, but sometimes something else comes up, for example that one happens to flip though the scenarios of Sam Mustafa’s “Grande Armee”. I did and just happened to set up for the battle of Friedland 1807, coincidental of course with the fact that my napoleonics are French and Russian. It’s an interesting battle where the Russians have a minor advantage initially, but French reinforcements soon arrives.

My table is only 6’x4′ instead of 8’x4′ and I didn’t have troops enough (artillery mostly) to play with the full rosters provided in the scenario. So instead of playing with brigades, each unit had to represent a division, and with some adjustments and recalculation of strength points the rosters came out as follows:

Russian Left Wing under Bagratian
2 Jägers (Lights), 3 Infantry, 3 Guns (of which 1 horse-drawn medium), 4 Cavalry (of which 1 Cuirassiers)
Right Wing under Gortchakov
4 Infantry, 2 Cavalry, 3 Guns
Reserve under Benningsen
2 Infantry (of which 1 Guard), 2 Guns, 3 Cavalry (of which 1 Cuirassiers and 2 Cossacks)

French VIII Corps under Mortier
3 Infantry, 1 Cavalry, 1 Guns
Reserve Corps under Lannes
5 Infantry, 1 Cavalry (Cuirassiers)
VI Corps under Ney
3 Infantry, 2 Cavalry, 1 Guns

French Reinforcements
Guard Corps and Napoleon (all units Guard)
2 Infantry (of which 1 Veteran), 2 Cavalry, 2 Guns (horse, medium)
I Corps under Victor
3 Infantry, 3 Cavalry (1 Cuirassiers), 1 Guns (horse, medium)
I’d start rolling for reinforcements after turn 2 and 3, with a 4+ needed to arrive.

Since my plan originally was to play “Eagles cheaper than brain cells” with open movement, not hexes, I at least stuck to that part of the plan. The rules are for Grand Tactical and with more than 50 units on the table, this would be a good chance to explore it as such. (Because of family matters the battle was thought in many days and I never had a really good plan for either side.) One more thing. In Grande Armée the Russian infantry have no skirmish values and therefore all Russians except the Lights (Jägers) have only Limited Skirmishers. But instead the Cossack cavalry in GA have good skirmish values, and so I played with them having the ability to Skirmish Fire. (And they did, twice.)

Since I mostly got all my Napoleonics by chance I haven’t had any schedule for them to be painted. And therefore I only pictures in an artsy sepia-tone to hide the grey, blue and green plastic in plain sight. Sorry about that.

The Russian deployment was very much decided by the scenario with to wings on either side of the Mühlenfluss and the reserves around the small town of Friedland.
The French started with three corps on the table, Mortier (closest), Lannes in the middle and Ney at the far right. The gaps between the river sections are bridges (have to build more terrain.)

Before the French reinforcements arrive the Russians have an advantage in strength, but since Benningsen had “not one of his best days” they are also a bit hindered by the command. I rolled 1d6 for each commander so the Russians would only be able to order roughly half of the units. The Russian plan was to use the advantage in the center (with the reserve artillery) to cause as much damage to Lannes and Mortiers corps as possible before the French could bring more troops. The French would try to delay, while Ney was attacking the Russian left wing.

A handful of turns in, the Russians had brought up the reserve artillery in the center and were pounding Lannes’ infantry. Also Mortiers infantry had, even though they stayed at long range) taken much damage from the Russian batttery on the hill, but Mortier rolled extremely well when he again and again rallied his troops.

He was also helped that the Guard Corps showed up early and closed the gap between him and Lannes.
Over at the Russian left, Ney had been succesful in his attack and quickly wiped one of the Russian infantry units. But the Russian cavalry counterattacked and brought Ney’s advance to a halt.
Order-wise the Russians had been quite successful for a number of turns being able to both maneuver and bombard with the guns. The French at first struggled to get things going, but had time on their side.

The situation after almost another handful of turns. Mortier (closest) and the Guards (on this side of Mühlenfluss) were slowly pressing the Russian right wing back, both sides trying to preserve their strength. The only casualties this far was one cavalry each and one unit of Russian grenadiers. Having the guards this thick in the battle line felt a little inappropriate, but to even out the odds a bit decided that any Guard unit lost would count for three (if the battle would come to counting casualties).

Over the Mühlenfluss, in the center, the French I corps had arrived and tried to make way between Lannes’ and Ney’s corps. This was also the signal for the Russian attack on the center-right to halt and start withdraw towards the rest of the battle line. Lannes’ infantry had taken heavy casualies (but only lost one unit this far), but had held.
Over at the far left wing the Russian cavalry were trying to regroup for another glorious charge. In the meantime Ney’s infantry attacked the Russian infantry and guns with success. General Bagratian had his horse shot under him and took some time to find a new one before he could make his way over to the cavalry asking(?) why they weren’t attacking the French. While the two cavalry units finally regrouped, the general played a game of chess or two… (They rolled horribly for rally even with the +1 for a commander present)

The last turns was a very bloody affair (I played one turn after the photo was taken). Ney, supported by Victor’s I corps had started to roll up the Russian left wing, while Bagratian were still playing chess. One of the Russian cavalry units had returned to the fight and did their best to halt the French for a turn. Benningsen who had taken over the command in the center was really struggling and tried to ward off the French at both his flanks but the French momentum was to great and the Russian battle line started to crumble.

At the Russian right thing were going a little bit better for Gortchakov. The Guard corps had pushed back the Russians between the hill and Mühlenfluss, and were now holding back to regroup and let Mortier’s infantry attack for one last time. The guns on the hill hadn’t been silent for the whole day and continued firing at the attacking French. In one last charge the infantry made it up the hill, but to great costs (notice the die showing 6 hits taken out of 7). The Russian artillery crew were torn between the orders shouted at them from general Gortchakov to turn the guns and the will to run towards the forrest on the other side of the hill. But then the Cossacks “charged”. They had been waiting behind the hill all day, but now they blasted up the hill towards the exhausted French infantry. After a full day of advancing towards the guns on the hill the soldiers couldn’t take it any longer. So victorious just a few minutes ago they now threw their muskets on the ground and ran down the hill, fleeing.

At the same time Benningsen ordered the Cossacks forward to the left wing to cover the retreat towards Friedland and the bridges. The French infantry mistook the cavalry approaching for Russian cuirassiers coming up from the reserve and the same scenario was repeated.

These two attacks wern’t really assaults, just the Cossacks being in position to skirmish fire (for the first and only time during the battle, doing anything at all actually besides riding up from the rear “when there was an order to spare”.). By chance they both were in position to fire at a French unit with only one SP left and hit.

The aftermath
The Russian left wing’s retreat over the Alle River was more of a rout with Victor’s I corps close behind. Even though the right wing had held its ground the battle was lost. Most of the Russian infantry was destroyed, and mostly the guns from the right wing and cavalry from the left wing and reserve were intact. Almost two thirds of the units were lost.

The French had lost one third, and Ney’s corps, which had been most aggressive early in the battle, stood for most of them, with Mortier’s close. Lannes had done well to delay and preserve his strength and the Imperial Guard had withdrawn in the right time to keep all units intact.

The Battle
Since I knew what was going on I could have played the Russians a bit differently with maneuvering into a better defensive position with the left wing. But the historical battle started with Benningsen believing he could (and had the time) to catch and destroy Lannes corps before the rest of the French army could arrive. So I wanted to try to deliver an attack and then defend from where I was when the reinforcements arrived. At the same time, Ney’s attack hindered the Russians from attacking with all their strength. On the French left the Russians had strong positions and the French (superior in number when the guard arrived) had a long way to break them. Had I continued the battle the Guard would have been able to attack again and cleared the hill, but I would probably have extended the battle with another third in game length or more.

The Scenario
I like the scenario but hindsight always has some points. I should have rolled differently for the French reinforcements. Now it felt they turned up a little to early (and all at the same time). Rolling for each unit instead of the corps would also have helped with the traffic jam at the center/right.
The Russians had advantage in numbers with 28-17 when the battle started but both armies rolled 3d6 (plus 1 for each commander) for Orders so the same number of units were ordered. When the French reinforcements arrived I rolled another d6 for each of them, meaning that the French now could order almost double the number of units, while having two more (28-30). That paid off in that Mortier could rally when the fresh Guard arrived and attacked, and then the Guard could halt/withdraw and rally when Mortier made the final assault. It was interesting to see it, but felt a little unfair. One could always discuss about historical command systems and organisation, and that should be represented I think. But when making a scenario one should also consider (just as numbers) those advantages. In this case as I played Russians had 9 units (10 with the cossacks) on the right wing and the French attacked with 11, but the French could order 2d6+2 to the Russian 1d6+1. The French will win/destroy the Russians eventually, and therefore the scenario needs some kind of condition to “limit” this. The easiest way is perhaps a time limit, but I had forgotten to think about this before the game, and somehow I felt it lacking. I guess much of this comes to re-calculate movement speed, unit effectiveness etc between systems or just within a scenario to set goals and conditions to be fought over.

The System
I again used “Eagles cheaper than brain cells” and really enjoyed it. It works for this size of battles but I have two things I’d like to think aloud about.
– Cavalry Exhaustion
Cavalry charges are often very successful against the right target (an ordered infantry unit with just two or three SP lost is not). But even the charges against weak enemies can make 2 or 3 hits on the cavalry. Having only 5 SP, makes you want to rally them before you make another charge. unless you find yourself in a position where the enemy cavalry can countercharge. With the “semi-random” initiative system (which I love) “the cavalry game” is really exciting and interesting. And I think it is quite realistic.
– Traffic Jam
Many rules are very specific on how you may turn and move the units, often resulting in some kinds of traffic jam. Myself I have a quite elastic attitude towards this. Turning/pivoting a unit to a slight degree over another units base before moving on is fine and so on. Works fine when you play solo or friendly. But even I cause traffic jams, and often when I want to withdraw a unit. Most rules seems puts most effort into moving units towards the enemy or retreating from an assault. Withdrawing a badly hurt unit can really be a pain. I therefore made up a house rule on the fly ordering a French attacking unit outside 1 BW to withdraw. Right behind the unit was a fairly straight route of more than 1/2 BW width, and I just removed the unit from the field. It couldn’t be in the fight anymore, but wasn’t destroyed either. I think this, or some better thought/phrased rule like it, could would be a nice addition to many rule sets. (I think “Blücher” has it, and I got the idea from there.)

That was all for this time, and I hope to get the chance to play the Flank attack as promised soon. But in my mind a thought of playing Friedland again, but just on the Russian left is taking form. We’ll see about that…


2 thoughts on “Friedland

  1. Erik,
    This looks great! This is also the first time a historical battle was fought using the “Eagles Cheaper than Brain Cells” rules!

    My next battle up is going to be an Eagles game, but your post has given me MUCH to think about and I may attempt a historical re-fight instead of a OHW matchup.

    I will also take a look at withdrawing units from the fight and how that works, especially in Blucher, which Eagles owes much to.

    Thank you for playing this out on the table and showing the versatility of the Eagles rules!


  2. Thanks Steve!
    About using Eagles for historical re-fight, its interesting that the results of my game was about the same as the historical outcome. Friedland is a pretty straight forward battle, and other battles may be more complex, but it seems to me that the system doesn’t “interfere” (or how to say it) with what the troops did/should be able to perform, instead it runs very smooth.

    Blücher is a favourite of mine, although I haven’t played it very much and only solo. The hidden units and momentum is fun for the fog of war. I don’t know if you’ve seen this page with lots of scenarios and rosters for Blücher: The size of the corps in Blücher is quite well suited to be one “command” in Eagles.


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