OHW Scenario One – 1809

Niel Thomas’s One Hour Wargames (OHW) provides very simple quick-play rules for players who simply want to move lead around the table without a major time investment. I am preparing several posts on how I am planning to use these rules in the future but begin with an account of my first play through – a mythical encounter between the British and the Russians in Estonia in 1809.

Notes on my One Hour Wargame modifications can be found in the page index or here.

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Scenario 1 terrain – a pitched battle to be fought on completely symmetric terrain. North is at the top.

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Scenario 1 deployment – the British have six units: three infantry battalions (two can barely be seen on the northern board edge), two cavalry regiments and a rifle battalion. The Russians (bottom) have two artillery batteries, three Infantry battalions and a cavalry regiment.

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The goal is to destroy more enemy units than you lose. The British Cavalry exuberantly crosses the field and engages. The Life Guards (Blue) against the  Russian extreme left and the 10th Hussars on the right against the Russian heavy dragoons.

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The cavalry assault, although inflicting some casualties on the Russians but have received significant casualties from cannon and musket fire. The 60th rifles (left, above) were severely mauled by the Russian cavalry and have checked their advance. The Life Guards (center) are now attempting to maneuver to assist the hussars against the Russian heavy Dragoons. The British infanty is coming into musket range of the Russian left flank.

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The British cavalry, with the aid of well aimed artillery fire, has taken heavy casualties in their melee’s  against the heavy dragoons. The British 45th Foot was eliminated by Russian musketry and cannon fire. On the left the 60th rifles have been pushed back by the approaching Russian grenadiers. The British, having taken three casualties for each one inflicted call it quits!

This was a solo game in which I played from the British perspective. The British deployed first, and I split the cavalry between the flanks (the influence of my ECW wargaming), a decision I later regretted.

I had a two to one advantage in cavalry (and a fast moving rifle battalion) which gave me a significant speed advantage over the Russians. The fact that the enemy had two artillery batteries place on the hill in their center convinced me that I did not want to make a ponderous advance. The cavalry was thus launched with only the rifles in support (I had evidently forgotten various maxims about the need to support cavalry frontal attacks with artillery and heavy infantry!)

That decision was the key mistake. While the cavalry certainly inflicted casualties on the enemy they got hammered in both the approach and retreat. I realized that I needed to have the cavalry together to take out the single Russian cavalry unit (and I should know this also since other than scouting and security, the major mission of cavalry is to neutralize the opposition cavalry!)

As I was maneuvering the Life Guards to join the hussars I realized yet another unintended consequence – all this running about was forcing my infantry to approach the enemy in a piecemeal fashion – thus allowing the enemy to focus their fire power on one unit at a time.

By acting on  the single-minded goal of rapidly engaging the enemy (think Jon Snow at the Second Battle of Winterfell) I had allowed the enemy (in fact, forced them) to remain in their strong defensive line and blaze away. I believe I had the vague notion that if I could pin them against the back line I could get some easy unit eliminations. But in these rules you have to do that with firepower not shock.

This played very fast, well less than an hour. I technically could have kept playing (the scenario allows fifteen turns – I had just gotten to turn five) but most of the British units were within one or two hits of breaking. I had already lost a unit and would quickly lose more with the hope of taking out one (certainly) or two (possibly) Russian units.

It was quit a fun play and the rules worked very well to give a sense of the period. I will discuss in later posts some of the “home field” rules that were added on all, I think, honoring the simple design imperative of the OHW rules set.