Wednesday 4 March 2020

Battle of Fismes 1914

Over the weekend Postie ran a WWI game using his homebrew rules, Home for Christmas. This focuses primarily on the opening months of the war before the conflict got bogged down in trench warfare. We've played a few games with these rules, and ran a demo game using them at Broadside a couple of years ago, and they work really well. For this game, Richard and I would face Surjit and Ray in a very long and drawn out tussle. 

The Setup
The game is set during the Second Battle of the Marne and sees the French on the attack against a weakened and dispersed German force. When the game opens the Germans are massively outnumbered but unbeknownst to me and Richard (because Postie doesn't tell us these things) we had a lot of reinforcements that would arrive steadily during the game. 

Order of Battle
Ordinarily, I would type out the order of battle, but I have a growing list of things to do tonight and decyphering Posties handwriting isn't on it! 

The Action
The German positions are closes and we had a difficult choice to make. There were 12 objectives to hold on to, but they were scattered across the length of the table. Basically, all the hills, woods and buildings would be worth 2 points each to whoever held them at the end of the game. 

Our General (Richard von Elderman) hard at work planning the defence!

Meanwhile, we move all our gun batteries into position. Artillery will make a big difference in this game. 

Another Panoramic shot showing the entire length of the battlefield. My troops are on the left and Richard is on the right. We deployed most of our troops forward of the hedges and forests, fully expecting to be pushed back at some point. At least we planned not to be pushed into open country where we could be more easily targeted. 

The French begin their advance across the open fields. Our artillery drops a lethal barrage on them forcing a handful of regiments back, but only for a short while. 

Over on the right the French advance steadily and in numbers against Richards regiments. 

Artillery is now added to with direct rifle fire and the casualties mount. At least we were able to dig some slit trenches when we set up. 

View down the field of battle. 

I put a machine gun team and a company of men in this farmhouse. They were crucial to my defence. Later when Surjit tried to use his mounted troops to get behind my lines I was able to turn that MG on them with deadly effect, forcing them back. The team was eventually killed but they earned their stripes. 

Casualties build on both sides. 

Most of the French units are now inside rifle range and the game starts to hot up. It's not looking for Richards and I as we are seriously outnumbered. 

Phew! A whole Battalion of Reinforcements arrives behind Richards lines. 

Not a moment too soon however because the men at the front are being pressed hard and are likely to fall back soon. 

Over on the far left, way out from my apparent flank, there is a single building. Inside I have hidden one company of men. They are a bit of a sacrificial offering but they hold up the french advance here for several turns. 

Double Phew! Just as it looks as if my undermanned flank is about to be turned I get a Battalion of Reinforcements. Now I just need to get them into position. 

Richards Regiments are forced back into the woods closely followed by the French. The fight here turns into a bit of a stalemate with both sides reluctant to get into Melee. 

I start to move my reinforcements up to plug the front line and send one regiment to support the flank. With hindsight, I think it would have been better to have sent two to the flank, but at this point, I was expecting a French breakthrough in the centre. 

Another panoramic shot. Both armies are now on the German side of the table. Good, if the French players have to stretch to move there troops all the better! 
More reinforcements, this time another battery of guns. Richard can use these to best effect on his flank. 

On my flank, the French are starting to lap around the and of the line, now that they have finally cleared out my suicide company in the farmhouse on the extreme left. Those boys earned their medals! 

In the forest the French have pressed up close to Richards men but are not getting drawn into a melee. It's looking like a stalemate...but Von Elderman has a plan!

My regiments square up against the French and shot at each other across a hedge. It's a bloody affair. 

General Von Elderman does a voluntary withdrawal, pulling back a full 12 inches and getting to redeploy with a load of open ground in front of them. With two batteries of guns and four regiments training their guns on the open ground the French understandably do not want to come out of the woods. 

My flank is being turned and there is little I can do about it. From the very beginning we knew we couldn't hold across the whole length of the field and elected not to put troops at the end of the line (other than a single company in the building). Again with hindsight, I think it would have been a good idea to put troops in the forest but it still takes the French a long time to get to this position. I now need to make a decision, do I withdraw my gun battery from the hill and risk looking them or keep them here for one more round. Keeping them here denies the VP's for the hill to the French, but only for one turn. 
I shift one of my fresh Regiments into the centre and face off against the only remaining French Regiments here. 

General Von Eldermans perfect killing field. The French are not budging from that wood. 

Surjit and Ray look a bit knackered. Postie calls the game to an end, we've been playing for nearly seven hours and completely lost track of time. Now hove the German players done enough to hold on to victory? 

Postie added up points for objectives and lost units and...drum roll please...declares the game a draw! Both sides are equal having fought each other to a standstill. While it would have been good to have had a clear winner the fact is we all enjoyed the game and both armies were largely spent by this point. Time to start digging trenches boys!


  1. Lovely looking game and the opening pahses of the war are the most interesting to game.

  2. Great report Lee, That was a hell of a hard game!


Thank you for leaving a comment. I always try to reply as soon as I can, so why not pop back later and continue the conversation. In the meantime, check out my YouTube channel Miniature Adventures TV