Thursday, 22 August 2013

Great Northern War bridge scenario

Following a first run out with the Ga Pa rules, Steve and I decided to invest in the 2nd edition.  This was a good move as the second edition is an improvement and explains the rules more fully.  The greatest improvement is the inclusion of an index, which proved invaluable during our second game.

Our scenario concerned control of a vital bridge over the Dvina river. Both the Swedes and Russians were determined to control this bridge and despatched forces to accomplish this.  Marshal Sheremetiev's Russians arrived first, but by a narrow margin, with the rearguard, comprising the field artillery and a dragoon regiment still on the far side of the river.  The Swedes under Rehnskold arrived in column close by a wood.  Both sides had reinforcements heading for the area, but their arrival would be decided by dice roll.

The Russians deployed their infantry in two lines, (the single Guards battalion forming a third 'line' with the Horse Grenadiers and a unit of dragoons), and the river covering their right.  Any reinforcements would arrive over the bridge,so that needed to be kept clear.

The Swedish guards battalion led the infantry forward with the two units of cavalry deployed on their right, hoping to lap round the infantry line before the cavalry closed up.

The rules give the Swedes an advantage in leadership and initiative which I hoped to utilise to get the infantry into combat before the Russian artillery did too much damage.  Unfortunately, the expected 2/3rds success rate for orders (dice dependent) became a 2/3rds failure rate, depriving me of a second 'march' move (not available for the automatic orders for units which have not already moved). 

Carrying on regardless the Guards moved forward and the next two battalions formed line on their right flank.  As they emerged from the cover of the wood they came in range of the Russian field gun.  Against the odds the Guards became disorganised and fell back under the artillery fire, requiring the intervention of Rehnskold to rally.  Whilst the Swedish infantry reformed their cavalry swept forward.  With the Finnish Abo regiment in the lead they crashed into the Russian dragoons which Menshikov, the Russian cavalry commander had led forward.

(Steve, commanding the Russians, had decided to offset the low Russian leadership value by attaching his commanders to specific units or groups.  This had the effect of having orders obeyed on anything but a '6' on a d6.  The drawback being that the commander would have to use one of his four available orders in order to move to a unit/group and another to move away in order to issue orders to  another unit/group.  As long as the groups stayed intact this worked well.)

The second unit of Swedish cavalry was on automatic orders (Rehnskold again having problems issuing orders!), and were given the order to charge. However, the Russian infantry were out of charge range and after their move the Swedish cavalry were within musket range.  The first battalion Tobolsk regiment then fired a devastating volley which destroyed the cavalry as a fighting force.  (Though the Swedish cavalry are powerful in melee, they have only one 'step' for losses, whereas the Russians have two)

Undeterred, Abo routed the leading Russian dragoon regiment in melee and in the next move charged the supporting regiment and routed this as well.  With the enemy fleeing the Finns set off in pursuit, but advanced too far and were caught by the Horse grenadiers, led by Menshikov.  The Finns veteran status enabled them to turn to face the threat, but caught at the halt and disorganised they sustained the 'step' loss and were eliminated.

Meanwhile the two infantry lines were coming into combat.  The Russian artillery was causing problems for the Swedes and presented them with the classic dilemma of whether to advance disorganised or, reform the ranks and then advance, taking more fire in the process.  In true Swedish style, Rehnskold
continued the advance and the Swedish infantry crashed into the Russian line.  The Viborg regiment pushed back both battalions of the Narva regiment, punching a gap in the Russian line and creating problems for Steve when issuing orders.  However, not all the Swedish units were successful and the battle on the Swedish right became a musketry duel, where the advantage lay with the Russians.

On the Russian right the four battalions of the Tversk and Smolensk regiments advanced on the initiative of their colonels, (Steve was busy trying to get the Guards forward to oppose the Viborg regiment and also rally the battalions of the Narva regiment.).  This threatened to outflank the Swedish infantry line and the Swedish guard battalion turned to face the Russians.  The 1st battalion Tversk were driven off, but the 2nd stood their ground and with the support of regimental artillery forced the Swedish guards to fall back.  In the next move the Guards were fired on by three Russian battalions plus some regimental artillery.  Against this storm of fire nothing could prevail, two step losses meant that this elite unit was eliminated.

Russian reinforcements now began to arrive, with three dragoon regiments in the lead.  The Smolensk regiment attacked the flank of the Savolax regiment (holding the Swedish left), but were repulsed with heavy loss. 

However, with his reinforcements only just arriving on the field and being outnumbered 2:1 before the Russian reinforcements came on the scene and Russian dragoons threatening both his flanks, Rehnskold decided that he would have to withdraw, leaving the Russians victorious.

This second game with the Ga Pa rules was much better than the first; partly due to us understanding the rules better, but also because the changes made in the second edition helped the game flow.  We reduced the size of the infantry units to 12's rather than 24's which meant that the frontages were more in keeping with those proposed in the rules.  The principal thing that gamers need to grasp is that this set of rules is about command of the battle, not command of battalions or regiments. 



  1. Lovely report David.
    Those pesky Russians eh?! As always the gallant Swedes come up against the green wall!!
    Wonderful to see the homecasts in action.

  2. "Unfortunately, the expected 2/3rds success rate for orders (dice dependent) became a 2/3rds failure rate"

    Well done back to low rolling after britcon

  3. Yes Will, normal service has been resumed, after a rather worrying interlude.