Even though -like many gamers- I'll play just about anything, from Science Fiction-themed skirmishes to RPGs to quirky boardgames, it's historicals that I feel are what it is all about. For that reason it didn't really click that the new gaming season had started until a few days ago, when we played the first historical wargame of the new year.
The battle chosen was Batyn, from 1810.
No, I hadn't heard of it either.
Good luck transcribing 19th century cyrillic script.
The rules obviously were Volley&Bayonet, and here they showed one of their strengths: even though there's only sketchy information on the Ottoman army that fought the actual battle, V&B's coarse-grain approach allows one to put together a reasonable order of battle for gaming purposes. The Russian order of battle was a little easier to put together, apparently.
The setup was simple (here's the wiki entry for the battle, with a short account: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Batin ) . The Ottomans are deployed to defend the approaches to Batyn and the city itself, and the Russians aim to drive through those defenses. Historically the Ottomans were routed rather quickly, and the scenario was designed accordingly, with victory not being judged on if the Russians plow through them but how fast they do so. The battlefield had a river running through the middle of the table (I think this was a tributary of the Danube, but hey, it wasn't my scenario), Batyn and its city walls on one corner of the table, and assorted woods, hills and villages.
I held joint command of the Ottomans, and we deployed to defend the three locations that controlled access to the city, with a battery of artillery as the main strongpoint in each.
On the left, the bridge in front of Batyn:
In the center, where a ford allowed units to cross the river:
And on the right, around a cluster of fields and villages that (we hoped) provided some sort of defensible position:
The orders were, in effect, "hold on to your hats!" (turbans?) since the troops were generally of mediocre quality and fighting prowess.
The Russians, commanded by a triumvirate of experienced players, had a simple plan: attack everywhere, and exploit where you punch through.
They fared somewhat poorly on their right, where terrain chanelled them into frontal assault after frontal assault, which they kept up with grim determination.
They threw most of their light troops into the woods in the center, where they slowly overcame the Ottoman skirmishers after a fair bit of chasing them around in the undergrowth.
But they put a big effort into a left hook, throwing well-organised attacks forward and pushing back the Ottoman defenders.
The only thing we could do -besides praying to the dice gods- was to make use of our cavalry reinforcements, which certainly were an impressive sight.
However that turned out to be a brief interlude. Mounting casualties exhausted the Ottoman units defending the right flank, and the Russians pressed on relentlessly, rolling up the center as well, and reaching the walls of Batyn.
At the end of the game only one of the Ottoman commands was in any sort of fighting shape, the rest had completely dissolved, but we were consoled somewhat by the fact we had done better than our historical counterparts.
The game was eye-opening in some respects. It was the first time we had units on "brigade" (3"x3", the Russians) and "regiment" (3"x1.5", the Ottomans) bases fighting eachother, and they do make for a very different feel to each army. Kind of shows how the game system is flexible enought to accommodate widely different militaries with the same framework, too.
I guess we'll be seeing those turbaned figures more often in the future.