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Thursday, 12 November 2015

Balaclava – End Game

From the Sapoune Heights Lord Raglan watches the Light Brigade regiments withdrawing back to their start positions, satisfied that they have driven off the enemy cavalry, albeit with serious losses.  Below him to his right the 1st Division is positioned at the mouth of the South Valley and the 4th Division is almost deployed on their left. In addition a French infantry division is establishing itself opposite the North Valley. Raglan knows that to secure Balaclava and resume the siege of Sebastopol he will need to regain control of the Causeway Heights and recapture the redoubts, whose guns have been taken by the Russians. He is troubled by the torrent of strong messages coming from the Sebastopol siege lines that suggested that the siege was threatened by the removal of so many troops. Over his shoulder the sun is sinking below the hills in the late October sky.

As for the Russians, Liprandi, gazing across the valley towards Raglan, weighs up the situation.  He is convinced that the British will attack the heights and, with the Battle of the Alma fresh in his mind he knows that he could not defeat an assault by three allied Divisions. There is no sign of movement as yet, so he decides to consolidate his defensive posture on the Causeway heights and await Raglan’s next move:

Raglan calls in the Division Commanders as well as the French leaders for a council of war. He issues orders for an attack at first light on 26 October. 1st Division is to drive up the South Valley and retake the eastern end of the Causeway heights, including Canrobert’s Hill (off the board). 4th Division is to storm the heights and recapture No 5, 4 and 3 Redoubts; while the French are to sweep around the North, secure the Fedioukine Hills and the North valley.

26 October:
The allied staffs, including Lord Raglan, arrive at HQ on the Sapoune Heights. Below the British and French infantry are preparing to move. A messenger from Lucan arrives advising Raglan that light cavalry scouts report that the Russians have gone. During the night they have withdrawn back to their positions occupied before the battle. The allied assault is cancelled and the battle is over.

Balaclava Analysis:
Who won? Based upon the game objectives it is clear that this is an outright win for the Russians. To win they had to be in control of the Causeway Heights at the end of the battle. That was achieved. The Russian strategic objective was to undermine the siege operations against Sebastopol and that too was achieved by threatening the main allied supply base at Balaclava harbour and by drawing large numbers of troops away from the Sebastopol siege lines. That said, the effect was short lived as the Russians withdrew during the night, allowing the allied forces to return to the siege. Overall I consider this to have been a total victory for the Russians.

Introducing the variables of characters and reactions to orders added enormous fun to the battle. It also meant that the outcomes of actions could not be easily predicted and brought in an element of realism, especially for the allies, which suffered from the clash of personalities, confused command and delays.

The rules:
Once again I used my own rules and mostly they worked well; however, I had to modify the melee rules somewhat to take into account fresh troops being committed to an ongoing melee, flank attacks and multiple unit action.

Overall this was the most ambitious Crimean action so far – but very enjoyable.


  1. As a reader, it was quite enjoyable too.

    Great job!

  2. An excellent and exciting game ! , Tony

  3. Bob, I think your entire presentation was expertly curated.

    I also like your terrain. What're you using as the table-top material? I haven't built my gaming table yet, so I'm looking for tips!

    Cheers, WM

  4. Thanks for the compliment. For terrain I am using a big roll of Woodlands scenic grass mat - not sure of the colour, a sort of browny green. I made the hills from foam board. I bought big sheets from Hobbycraft who are selling them off cheap at two for £7. I used three sheets. I then took a small sample of the terrain mat to Homebase and got them to match the paint and bought a small amount. You need to paint both sides of the terrain (which is double thick) as it will curl when the paint dries out. That's it.