Below you will see a section of scenario notes, an order of battle and then battle reports submitted to me by my friends. In other words they role played as generals for their respective sides and gave a report from their perspective. I found the reading of these reports to be quite fun and interesting and hope our blog readers will as well.
Asking my friends to do a battle report from their perspective was not part of what I planned but after receiving one (the Russian) I thought it would be fun to have the Russian add more detail and ask the German player to write one up.What you have read above is what I received. I did minor editing without changing content.
In my study of military history I've learned that generals frequently disagree with one another when analyzing their part in a given battle. Sometimes they are even on the same side and argue quite vehemently for their perspective.!
What most have in common is a reluctance to admit mistakes, miscalculations or underestimating the enemy as well as misunderstanding their orders. Battle reports frequently read as a defense of their actions (or in some cases inactions) as well as putting a positive spin on their own performance and thus leaving future historians to judge the accuracy of their reports.
In other words, a battle report simply represents a certain perspective driven by the general's personality, desire to look good, willingness to admit mistakes and consideration for how history would view his actions on a particular day.
In that both of my friends did very well in their reporting and I enjoyed reading them.
The Russian was from the onset in a world of hurt. As the scenario designer I only gave the Russian a 33% of pulling off a victory. While the Russians did lose the game I thought the general's comments that spoke of partial successes to ring true and in a historical context I doubt he would have been sacked and probably credited with doing the best he could.
The steadfastness of the Russian infantry is legendary and certainly he gave ample credit to his units that were in fact quite stubborn.
I do believe that German victory condition was fair and not all that easy to obtain. In my rules getting a 2-1 attrition rate is not all that easy even when you outnumber your enemy by 2-1 in field artillery and have a heavy advantage in infantry especially of the elite variety.
The German too gave ample credit to his units that performed well. The Jaegers in particular seemed to hold off long enough to limit the Russian counterattack on the German left
When it came to total units actually destroyed the game was a draw. Each side lost one battery of field artillery and about 3 bns of infantry but when it came to stands lost the destruction of the Russian right was decisive. In all that I found the German report as accurate as the Russian one since it really came down to the final attrition numbers.
From a historical perspective the Russian 3 Corps was badly mauled at Stauponnen and it was the pressure from the Russian 20 Corps that caused the Germans to withdraw to the Gumbinnen lines. I thought the simulation reflected that well as the game ended.
Historically, had von Francois not achieved a considerble victory he would have undoubtedly been sacked by von Prittwitz. Von Francois was not only skillful but also lucky since had the Russians been more on the ball he himself could have been surrounded and the best Corps in the 8th German Army wasted.
History is such that eventually it would be von Prittwitz who gets sacked and gets replaced by the Hindenburg\Ludendorff team who would achieve the most remarkable victory in the Great War at a place called Tannenberg.
What I learned as the simulation designer....
One, I misinformed the Russian player as to the victory conditions and had to make a mid-game calculation. He took it in stride but I need to come up with a little better system of determining victory in a 1914 game. Attrition is certainly important but terrain and road exits from a game board can matter as well. I'll have to tweak that.
Below are some pictures of the action in no particular order.
|German infantry meet a Russian counter attack on the Russian center right. The Russian regimental command stand is in the center of the picture.|
|Russian infantry and the remnants of a 76mm battery make a stand on good defensive ground.|
|German infantry push the Russians to the board edge but have a hard time eliminating them.|
|uRussian defenses in the center. A machine gun company is in support.|
|A Putilov 76mm battery in action. The divisional staff looks on.|
|The Russian center counterattacks the German Jaeger battalion holding a fence line.|
|Another Putilov battery and Russian infantry battalion taking advantage of some good defensive ground. The flag is a nice touch! (and yeah they really did that in 1914)|
|Two battalions of a German infantry regiment cross the river and press on as part of the German left pincer.|
|The Germans occupied the small village pushing back the advanced Russians. Villages are strong points and hard to take. Te Russians had no need to contest the village.|
|A German 77mm "whiz bang" named for the sound it made.|
|Airfix Germans, pride of my collection. This battalion is in the village.|
|German infantry advance across a wheat field in East Prussia seeking to drive the Russians out! (These figures are metal and I think they are Irregular Miniatures out of the UK)|
|Close up of a Russian infantry battalion. Figures by HAT.|
|Overview of the German left flank-the better part of an infantry regiment supported by a 77mm battery and a MG company|