Over the first weekend of October I was fortunate enough to take part in a multi-player refight of the Battle of Leipzig 1813. This was put on by Alex Testo, who is one of the original authors of the DBN rules and who runs a very nice hotel in Scarborough. October being closed season, Alex likes to arrange a big game for people to come and play, and to stay in residence over the weekend. I attended the Gettysburg game a couple of years ago and when I heard about this year's subject battle, I signed up immediately as it's one I've always been fascinated by.
In the end there were 10 players (some of whose names I've forgotten in the intervening weeks - sorry) who assembled on Friday evening to receive a warm welcome from Alex and his family, an introduction to the custom-built table, the rules and the background to the battle itself. Then off for an excellent fish and chip supper, followed by some social time over a beer or two, during which we divided into two sides/teams to look over the table and forces, and make some plans for the battle.
Some of the armies, laid out by Corps:
I fancied playing on the French side and duly became that dashing fop, Murat. Our leader was Phil, who made a fine Napoleon (or possibly Custer), and our plan was reasonably historical - to hold Blucher in the north and try to bash the Army of Bohemia among the high ground and villages in the south. I had the left flank, from Liebertwolkwitz onwards, to defend against hordes of Austrians, Russians and Cossacks.
We hid the whole army behind the high ground and villages, leaving only 2 artillery batteries in view. The enemy didn't seem fazed, and deployed in strength pretty much everywhere.
Needless to say, a 2-day multi-player wargame is about as difficult to accurately recount in detail as a real battle, so I won't be attempting this!
The gist is that there was hard fighting everywhere, with the allies trying to take Mockern in the north in the face of desperate defending by the French. There were cossack shenanigans all over, trying to get behind the French into the baggage and to occupy objectives (fortunately I dealt with the attempt on my flank).
Mockern as the storm approaches:
The big fight was around Liebertwolkwitz, stretching away to both to me on the left, and the Imperial Guard on the right flank. Everyone seemed to have good and bad turns, and the combat swayed back and forth around the villages and ridges. The Guard went in, and a lot of it went down, but not before taking a lot of Prussian and Russian Guard with it.
Leipzig and its garrison:
I got hold of the Reserve Heavy Cavalry Corps (lots of tough elite Saxons, etc) and managed to crush much of the enemy's right flank, shoring up my own position at the same time. That was a lot of fun, and a highlight for me!
At the end there was a very fine line between winning and losing, and it came down to a couple of key combats to see which army would reach its break point first. The French just fell short, and Napoleon would once again have to retreat over the river to live to fight another day.
All in all it was a brilliant weekend, with very good company and an excellent game that played out so well. The social side was very good too, including some beer and curry on the second evening, and lots of banter throughout the two days. Thanks go to Alex and family for putting on such a great event, and I look forward to another one of these weekends next year hopefully.