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Thursday, 6 December 2018

Hungary 1849 - Komarom II

After a bit of a lull (not least because I was separated from some vital books for a while), I have been bitten again big-time by the Hungary 1848 bug. In the last few weeks I have written two scenarios, done a fair amount of research on the next two, and this week got to playtest one.

The state of the Hungary 1848 project now is:
- 9 scenarios written and playtested
- 1 written and ready to test
- probably 3 left to do.

Given my current level of enthusiasm and motivation, it shouldn't take too many months to finish the remaining writing and playtesting, so publication of a campaign book some time next year is a realistic ambition.

 
Austrian's-eye view from behind the Austrian main line,
looking towards the Hungarians pouring out of Komarom.
10mm Pendraken figures from Dave Whaley's collection. 
Nice Peter Pig ACW fort in the background finds itself on the Danube. 

With my obsession bubbling the way it is, it was particularly good to get the latest scenario on the table. The club was buzzing last night - including some reinforcements who discovered us at Warfare last month - so there were two fully staffed BBB games going, Stones River (ACW) and my Hungarian one.

Our Hungarian action was the second of three big battles fought outside the fortress of Komarom (nowadays Komarno in Slovakia), this being the one from 2 July 1849. Hard to believe it is a year already since we fought the first - report here. The main Hungarian army was holed up in the fortress, observed but not besieged by a somewhat larger Austro-Russian force. Anticipating rightly that the Hungarians intended to slip away east to join another Hungarian army, the Austrian commander, Haynau, feinted against the Hungarians' western defences, while striking to seize a village to the east that would cut their escape route. He meant this to be a limited attack, but an aggressive Hungarian response turned it into a general battle. The Hungarians saw the chance to chop off the left Austrian pincer and sallied forth in force. Haynau was obliged to commit his Russian allied division from reserve. The Hungarians were eventually driven back into Komarom but they had repelled the Austrian blocking move, and it was effectively a draw.

In our game the Austrians decided feinting against entrenchments was a mug's game, so their left wing just holed up in its wood, hoping the Russians would arrive before any aggressive Hungarians turfed them out. Meanwhile their right wing of tough grenadiers and superior cavalry saw off the weaker Hungarian left wing and on the last turn got into not only the blocking village but also the main redoubts. The Austrians didn't have it all their own way, though; the Hungarian right did take the Acsi wood, and briefly took another key position in the Austrian line, with a chance of retaking it a second time on the last turn. Thus although it ended as an Austrian win, it was in the balance right to the end, and wouldn't have needed too many dice to fall differently for a Magyar victory.

The game was therefore rollicking good fun as it stood, but the playtest was productive in making me rethink the scenario rules for commitment of the Austrian reserves. Originally I had them just turn up automatically halfway through if they had not been triggered earlier by some Austrian success. This just made the Austrians act cautiously and wait for Turn 5. I have therefore changed it so the reserves will only be released either to exploit success, or to salvage failure (strictly defined). This gives the Austrians more incentive to act as boldly early on as they did historically. We'll play it again next week and see how that goes.

Scenario will go in the files of the BBB Yahoo group after a second playtest.