Monday, May 20, 2019
A game of the 1859 battle of Montebello was played Saturday at the Huzzah convention in South Portland, Maine. The rules were our usual Bloody Big Battles (BBB). Jerry and Mike commanded the French (and Sardinians) while traveling Fencible Bill led the Austrians. I game mastered. Since my camera and tripod were left back in New York, no pictures of the game are available. Some folks at the convention took pictures, so if any of them read this, please send me a copy and I’ll post it here.
The French had excellent movement dice, aided by their three generals. They avoided having any unit stall at a critical moment. Bill’s movement dice were kind enough to avoid the traditional traffic jam at the bridge over the River Coppa. But the aggressive French managed to launch at least one assault every turn and often two. Due to this not a single optional reinforcement arrived during the game, not unlike the actual battle. The Austrians, passive and bereft of any effective generals, got all units to move every now and then, had most stall every now and then and had a mix of stalled and moving units the rest of the time.
The Sardinian cavalry survived well into the middle of the 7-turn game. They charged just about every turn and survived several attacks by the Austrians, falling back instead of routing. But they rolled low on their last charge while the Austrians rolled high and that was the end of them. The lead French regiment, the 84th Line, drove past Montebello, keeping the Austrians away from the town for much of the game.
In the frequent assaults, the French had +1 for being aggressive and almost always a +1 for deep formation. The Austrians sometimes were deep but often in line. This meant the French survived some low roll attacks and won close fights. Still, French losses mounted from constant Austrian fire.
Late in the game the French began to lay some Austrians low. The 84th drove off a mass Austrian attack, which left the Austrian artillery unsupported. The 84th, caught within canister range, charged the guns. They were driven back but this attack kept the Austrians from rolling for reinforcements that turn. The regiment rallied, going low on ammo while silencing the guns. The 84th then charged the guns and overran them. Meanwhile the second French brigade advanced along the railroad tracks and engaged the Austrian right.
The Austrian left rallied and charged the shot up 84th, routing them. The white coats exploited on to Montebello village but were repulsed by the 74th Line. The French second brigade stormed the Foliarina objective in a coordinated attack and kept it against an uncoordinated Austrian counterattack. A second Austrian attempt on Montebello was narrowly repulsed. As the last turn ended, the French held all 4 objectives for a definite win, one more than needed for a victory.
7 turns were played in 140 minutes, slower than normal but this was the first try with these rules for Jerry and Mike. They were doing the calculations after a few turns.
The French lost 4 infantry bases (and one run off) of 13 engaged, higher losses than the actual battle. The Sardinians lost a cavalry base and the other one ran away. Austrian losses were 3 infantry bases of the 24 engaged and the sole artillery base overrun. This is the first time I’ve seen the Austrians denied a single one of their optional reinforcements.
I think all enjoyed the game. Mike said he would search out a copy of the rules. None were up on Ebay. Dennis at On Military Matters assured me he had copies for sale.
The Huzzah convention was a blast. Next to our table was a huge game of What a Tanker, which looks like armored fun of the beer and pretzel variety. There were many games with fabulous terrain set ups. In the foyer was a large game on what looked to be a 20-foot wide table. It had absolutely the best name of the convention, “I’m a Viking.. and a feminist!” One side of the table represented a Viking lass who had refused an offer of matrimony, accompanied by her warriors. The other side represented the spurned suitor and his forces, bent on renewing his claim. Having packed up, we set out for dinner before finding out who prevailed. If fortunate enough to be in Maine next May, I will attend Huzzah! 2020.