Cannae Revisited

Andrew put on another of his great Fast Play Grande Armee games on Sunday – the the Battle of Lutzen in 1813.

Map of the battlefield from the FPGA scenario

The start of the game, Allies on the right. Not sure where the large wood in the centre came from.

I played the Allies, with Andrew in charge of Yorck’s 2nd Prussian Corps and later the right wing when I was busy with the left. Mark played the French.

There was a bit of a culture clash in this game because Mark decided to play ahistorically. I took Andrew’s lead that he seemed to want historical play and because I had only a sketchy knowledge of the battle I was none the wiser. In the actual battle the Allied attack bogged down against the villages of Gross and Klein Gorschen etc in the centre of the map, and the Allied cavalry on the left and the French infantry facing them engaged in something of a standoff. I played along and was pretty successful in the centre, because Mark was retreating there – but funnelling reinforcements to his right. The result of this was that my left flank, which was basically just screened with cavalry, took a beating from a superior and aggressive French right hook. It wasn’t until I asked why this hadn’t happened in the real battle that the ahistorical play was pointed out to me. The end result was something like the Battle of Cannae, especially as the French reinforcements started arriving on the flanks. Another problem was that Andrew was cramming my reinforcements onto the baseline wherever they would fit, which resulted in problems later on as corps were jumbled up and corps commanders were placed the board out of command distance of Wittgenstein. Also on reinforcements I was told basically that I had three boxes of reinforcements but I didn’t know or ask what was in them. I think historically that Wittgenstein would have had some idea.

Next time I’ll ask whether we are limited to historical play, familiarise myself more with the reinforcement pool, and I’ll try to supervise the placement of reinforcements. One thing I couldn’t help was my miserable initiative rolls – I think Mark had the initiative about 90% of the time, without even having to use any of his superior number of command dice to do rerolls.

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