Borodino 20 – Fading Glory (GMT Games)

Napoleon’s 1812 campaign culminates on the fields around Borodino. The Russian army erects a series of earthworks to stand against the Grand Armee and to deny the invader the victory he so desperately needs.

The entire Russian army is on the field but the new commander, Kutuzov was certain that the French army aimed to attacked south across the Kolotcha River. This is reflected through a Release Plan mechanism in which the Russians must roll at the beginning of each turn to see if a Russian unit will be activated and permitted to move. This paralysis threatened to undo the immense amount of earthworks constructed to the west of the Russian positions: the Schevardino Reboubt, the Great Redoubt and the Fletches.

Fortunately for the Russians, Napoleon has planned an unimaginative frontal assault, forgoing an alternate flanking attack proposed by Davout. If the Russians can release enough units, they could stall Napoleon and deny him his decisive victory.

Murat arrived on September 5th, 1812 with several cavalry corps and engaged the Russian VII corps entrenched in the Schevardino redoubt which held against overwhelming firepower. Another assault was launched with the arrival of Napoleon, commanding the III and IV corps but the Russians continued to defy French efforts to dislodge them. Going into the night, the French remained ensconced around the redoubt.

On the morning of the 6th, the Russian sought to extract the VII corps but with the major generals arguing, this prevented the orderly withdrawal of these forces. However, the elite V corps was activated and moved forward, sealing up a tight bottleneck just west of the Great Redoubt.

Remaining in place, the Russian VII corps broke and the French took the Schevardino Redoubt. But an onset of imperial indecision halted any major follow up to these gains. To the south, a weak militia unit guarded the road running near Utitza and Bagration’s cavalry screened the forests south of the Fletches.

Understanding that daylight was rapidly fading, Napoleon launched Murat’s cavalry and the I corps across the Kolotcha River, seizing the Great Redoubt and repulsing a series of Russian counterattacks. This stunning loss unlocked the rest of the resting Russian units. Napoleon followed up the gains in the north with an attack on the Fletches with the VIII and IV corps, successfully pushing back the Russians. Limited counterattacks by Kutuzov contracted the bridgehead across the Kolotcha but the Great Redoubt and the Fletches were held.

With the coming of night, the Russians had lost all their major earthworks and set up a last line of defense anchored in the town of Gorki.

The morning of September 7th brought calamity to the Russian army. A forceful French attack engaged the majority of the Russian line and instead of pulling back and utilizing the opportunity to raise morale by extracting units via lines of communication, the Russians counterattacked along the line. With a series of failed and ineffective attacks, 4 corps were routed and Russian morale plummeted. All it took was a minor French counterattack, and the last requisite morale point was lost.

With that, the French achieved their decisive victory as the Russians quit the field. With the road open to Moscow, it will still have to be seen if the victory here on the fields of Borodino will compel the Czar to surrender and yield to French dominion.

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