Category Archives: Volley & Bayonet

Dusting off the Austrians

Our Napoleonic gaming kicked off last Friday with our first Volley & Bayonet game of the year. Despite a range of armies to hand I was particularly keen to see my Austrians take the field. Further, while we have been playing a few 1813 games of late I find the 1809 campaign equally interesting and worthy of a game or three.

Why, well the 1809 campaign has a mix of battles of various sizes. These range from the massive battle of Wagram and the equally dramatic battle of the Aspern-Essling to the smaller, but equally fascinating, battles in Italy.

However, despite a good selection of historical battles we thought a good place to start the year was a fictional engagement.

Both the French and Austrians deploying some 3000 points of troops which for these armies amounts to around 50,000 troops. Now, who better to command the Austrians than Archduke Charles. With the 6mm miniatures deployed we were set for a great multiplayer game on a Friday evening. If you are interested you can find a short report here.

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Eugene on Campaign

During July I’ve managed to fit in three Volley & Bayonet games. First an American War of Independence refight of the Battle of Cowpens, in 3mm scale. This was in turn followed by a fictional 1864 American Civil War game in 6mm. Most recently, shaking free of the American theme, a Marlburian game in 15mm hosted by Robin and drawing on the well painted armies in Adrian’s collection. Three very different, due to the period specific rules, but fascinating games.

As I’ve mentioned previously Volley & Bayonet works just as well irrespective of the figure scale. Fortunately our group of gamers are more than happy to switch between either scale.

Here are a handful of pictures of the most recent game, where the Allies are attacking a French army deployed in a defensive positions comprised of towns, hills and woods. To make matters worse several field works have been placed to further bolster the French positions. Each infantry or cavalry stand represents around 1000 to 1500 men.

Above the Allied left wing prepare to engage the French right wing. The artillery once deployed were unable to move due to the civilian teams. As it transpired the limited Allied artillery was woefully ineffective in this sector.

Below, a view of the Allied right and the focus of the Allied main attack. The Allied artillery is not unlimited yet, which accounts for it’s facing. After several failed attempts the nearby town was taken by Allied Grenadiers with Prince Eugene, the Allied commander, at their front.

During the course of the battle increasing French reserves were dispatched to the French left, thus weakening the centre. This eventually resulted in a massed attack by Imperialist cavalry. In time this was supported by more cavalry and Imperialist infantry.

Above, the French cavalry on the left cover the hole in the French centre.

Another view, this time from the French lines on the French right. The French works here were eventually taken when the French infantry retired, a reaction to the worsening situation in the centre.

A fascinating game for the three players and a great way to spend a winters evening. Next, I think it’s back to the American Civil War…

Lee & Meade at Hazel Run

Continuing what seems to be an American Civil War theme, I’ve recently posted a report of one of our recent Friday evening Volley & Bayonet encounters. Using armies based on the Bristoe Campaign of October 1863, we deployed the figures for what was a most enjoyable game. Enjoyable from a game perspective, but equally interesting from an historical perspective.

To place it in some context just outside of Fredericksburg are the battlefields of Chancellorsville, the Wilderness and Spotsylvania. The last two cover Grant’s 1864 Overland Campaign – where Meade commanded much of the Union army. Unlike the Campaigns of 1862 here Grant, despite being fought to a standstill, just wouldn’t break off. Instead the Union army slipped east, eventually ending around Petersburg.

For me this most recent fictional battle reminded me of the impacts of the terrain and the resolve the commanders had to damage the enemy army. In our game our “Wilderness”, despite being much smaller and of course meaning the field was considerably more open, had a similar impact. Further, like the actual battles at the Wilderness and Spotsylvania, casualties were horrific.

You will find a summary of Hamstrung at Hazel Run, our fictional game, in my Volley & Bayonet section. For those interested in a summary of my visit to the Wilderness Battlefield posted a couple of years back, it can be found here.

In the Field with Grouchy

One of the aspects of Volley & Bayonet which I particularly enjoy is the ability to refight the great battles of the black powder period. Over the years I have indeed been fortunate to refight many of these famous battles, including many from the Napoleonic Wars. These include all those from the Hundred Days Campaign.

Over the last week I’ve revisited the smaller battle of Wavre and twice resolved this battle on the table. First playing against Jim, who I unfortunately infrequently manage a Volley & Bayonet game against. You can find an account of the game here.

Then more recently, we refought the battle as a multiplayer game during our usual Friday evening gaming slot. A report of this game can be found here.

Both refights of course had similarities, yet each was different as players all approached the battles from a different perspective, each with their own views of what could be effective. Indeed at one point there was significant debate in the second refight between the two Prussian commanders who had very different styles – one deliberate and one more aggressive.

Few rule sets produce a narrative which is so similar to these great battles. Yet the games don’t become bogged down with excessive detail. Indeed, as I’ve read accounts of the action at Wavre during the week I’m reminded of the similar narrative that could easily be applied to our refights. A fact that even after using these rules for over 23 years continues to fascinate me.

On Campaign with the Count of Nassau

I’m very fortunate with my wargaming. Yes, it’s true and every so often it’s worth reminding myself of that. I’ve been playing Volley & Bayonet since 1994 when the first edition came out. Despite playing the rules for 23 years now the rules keep producing outstanding games. Partly that is because there is a such a pleasant group to play against locally. However there are other reasons, including the obvious – the rules are just really good!

In the last few weeks I’ve played a couple of outstanding Napoleonic encounters, while just a week ago a challenging American Civil War battle with a completely different feel. Then, last night I was able to try another sub-period, in particular a Marlburian game. Above, Dutch infantry advance against the French during the game.

So what is different? Well, in the Marlburian period the infantry are slow, musket fire is poor and artillery is moved by civilians. A far cry from the Seven Years War never mind the Napoleonic or American Civil Wars. The basic rules are of course the same, so the mechanics are familiar. However, each sub-period has several small differences and these transform the game. 

These much to be said for wargaming the black powder era and I just can’t go past Volley & Bayonet. If you are interested in our latest game have a look at a series of photos which can be found here.