In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Vorwarts with Blucher and the Mad Padre.

The great thing about the Mad Padre, well one of the great things about the Mad Padre- he has many fine attributes, is that he will buy a set of rules and diligently play it solo to teach himself.  Then he will bring it out to play with others. This weekend he did just that with Blucher, the new Napoleonic rules by Sam Mustafa and also showing us the spiffy 6mm Napoleonic hordes he has been quietly putting together this past year.

6mm does have it's appeal. His urban sections are quite top drawer.

Plus being able to have huge numbers of troops deployed is also great for the spectacle of a big horse and musket battle without the cost. Last night I was commanding 4 smallish corps on my table facing an equivalent body of French and we still had loads of room.
Austrian army less artillery
The Mad Padre has painted some of these himself but most of the armies are from a large collection he bought on line and has been busy rebasing. The original owner had them on tiny, fiddly little 6-8 figure company stands. There are still more French, plus Prussians and Russians in the pipes. Be still my beating heart!
Austrian Hussars
French Uhlans
Austrians occupy Fahrfrompuken
French across the river in Neufahrfrompuken
More French infantry painted by the Padre himself
The coloured blue and white disks in the pictures identify the Corps (we used them for semi-hidden deployment as well) and the multi-coloured rods are measuring sticks marked out in base widths; red white and blue for the French and white, red, yellow and black for the Austrians. Like all of Sam Mustafa's games Blucher is pretty broad church for scale etc. so it uses common base widths to quantify movement and shooting.

The Austrians were trying to push across the Pukenbruck and occupy the Klumpenberg heights dominating the river crossing at Fahrfrompuken.

Our large but lower quality corps went to the right, supported by 2 independent hussar brigades. There it tangled with a corps of pretty decent French infantry supported by a Light Cavalry Corps of 4 brigades who pushed across the river, demonstrating that a good defense is a good offense.

Wierdy-Beardy's corps of conscripts and Grenz actually gave a good accounting of themselves. Holding their own and breaking a few French brigades plus Patrick's corps artillery.

In the center both side's 1st Corps rolled up to the village on their side of the river and stopped. The Austrian artillery did some barraging which knocked down a couple of French brigades, but it took a while before we had enough command points to get things moving. A cool twist with Blucher is that the opposing player rolls the 3 dice for your command pips and keeps the total secret, so you just move corps and brigades until he says "You're done," so the challenge is to make sure the important bits get done without knowing how far you can go.

On the left I had a Corps of crack troops supported by 2 independent hussar brigades trying to force a river crossing to outflank the French position. I found myself opposed by the French Heavy Cavalry Reserve of  some 5 brigades of Cuirassier and dragoons. Trying to get across a river with cavalry charging at you before you can form squares is a bitch. However the Austrian Hussars showed their mettle and beat up quite a few of the French heavies. One nice thing about Blucher though is that even if you win a melee, you still lose a point of elan, so your fighting ability gets slowly worn down even if successful.

Another thing I really like is that flanks matter. Unlike another popular set of Napoleonic rules which frankly has the units acting like battalions, but uses some specious logic that a brigade can project it's combat power in any direction (the wargame unit is just a 'footprint' and the battalions within the brigade can be facing in any direction) without any movement limitation or penalty. To which I cry a resounding BS! From my readings, the bigger a formation the harder it is to change it's axis of attack and redirect it's combat power (like artillery batteries etc.) and when you get to corps and armies then you have even longer and more vulnerable lines of communications. Which is why all the top generals try and make flank attacks.

French Heavy Cavalry
Hussars beat Cuirassiers!

Bit of a mess

Finally towards mid-afternoon we released the Austrian Heavy Cavalry Reserve in a dash for the Klumpenberg. They had been hiding patiently behind my Corps of crack troops fighting along the river. A mis-read of the command rules slowed them down unfortunately, otherwise they would've been a lot more dashier.
Austrian heavies move up between 1st and 2nd Corps.

So there we have it. Fun was had. Even with our inexperience the game cracked along pretty quickly. We completed 28 of 30 possible turns by 00:40hrs. A few mistakes were made which would've helped our attack get some better momentum but I thought everything made sense and the abstractions feel right to me. So for more big battle Napoleonics I'd definitely play Blucher again.

Mike's analysis of the game with more details on the rules are here.


  1. Blucher looks good with 6mm. I really like those building complexes.

    For units that represent brigades, 6mm seems to have an advantage in presenting the right visual. My preferred rules are Napoleon's Battles (which could well be the rules you were disparaging) and I started with then using Heroics and Ros 5mm (after having a go at Empire 3). However the compromise (I had previously collected 1/72nd scale figures, still do) ended up being 15mm. My brigades may look like battalions, but at least they don't get surprised by flank attacks :-)

    1. You would be correct.
      I dislike NB quite heartily. What is the point of trying to use tactics and maneuver if the enemy you have taken in flank can just magically oppose you with their complete combat power?