Battle of Privden Swamp, 1812: A Hypothetical Battle
Updated: Apr 30
On Saturday, April 17th, four members of the Yale Military History Club (YMHC) faced off against 3 representatives of the Georgetown University Wargaming Society (GUWS) in a Napoleonic battle set in Russia, 1812. Rules used were Chris Pringle’s Bloody Big Battles (BBB), modified for online play.
The day started off with a short seminar on the 1812 campaign. Jared focused on the key themes, moments, and turning points of such battles as Borodino, and the general retreat from Moscow undertaken by surviving French troops. The 7 players got a crash course in the importance of the campaign, and the ramifications of the Grand Armee’s defeat on the remainder of the Napoleonic Wars.
This was followed by a discussion led by Chris Pringle, author of BBB. He walked the players through elements of game design, as well as the philosophies that govern what BBB is trying to teach players about warfare. Chris was incredibly engaging, clear, and provided the players a framework with which to understand the context of BBB as a ruleset.
After a brief discussion of the scenario and victory conditions, Jared explained his reasoning for a hypothetical battle vs a historical one. Ultimately, Privden Swamp was designed to be a caricature of a battle that could have taken place anywhere along the line of march by the Grand Armee. Given the smaller board sizes necessary for virtual play, this worked out well, and gave the players an understanding of Napoleonic warfare.
Game play took place over the course of three sessions, one of which was on Saturday afternoon, and the other two on Sunday. The game was virtual, with Jared running one board and his students Will and Max running the other. Players planned out the battle on maps, decided on deployment, and devised overall battle strategies.
The game went really well, and the players had a good time rolling dice, chatting, and getting to know one another. Ultimately, the battle played out with a Russian flank being crushed on one of the boards, and a failed French attack on the other.
Players got to see what many battles of this era were like. Because the boards were small and contained a lot of terrain, it made maneuvering difficult. Troop density was on the high side, and without a well formulated attack, it would prove difficult to dislodge the Russians. It will be interesting to see how the players apply the lessons they learned in this game to future battles.
Huge thank you to Sebastian Bae of GUWS, who helped sign players up and manage the event. For more information about GUWS, please click here.
All said, the day went well, and we at Next Gen look forward to working with Yale and Georgetown again. If you are interested in an event like the Battle of Privden Swamp, 1812, please reach out via the contact form.
The Next Gen Team