Saturday 25 November 2023

Gumbinnen yet 54mm!

I'd run this battle - one of the opening encounters in East Prussian in August 1914 - several times previously using Op14 and 6mm toys on a 3x4 foot table.  This time we has rather a lot of 54mm toy soldiers and a 20x20 foot floor!  I used my cut-down version of Funny Little Wars, adapted for the Great War.

A number of more experienced players correctly identified this as a map.  If you're still not sure where Gumbinnen is, look to the extreme right (or East, if you prefer) of the map below.

One of the challenges of recreating battles in this part of the world is that place names and indeed countries have changed several times since 1914.
And here is the town itself, looking suitably prosperous and Prussian.  What could go wrong?
This lot will stir things up!  Just two of the four Russian divisions deployed.
Toys were provided pretty much equally by Lloyd (that's his Russians in the photo) and myself.  We had an excellent turnout of players: John, Martin, Lloyd, Pete, Matt, Jack, Bish, Andrew and FLW author Mr PHW.  My thanks as always to all who participated and provided photos.
The three German divisions provided by Lloyd.  I provided another two.
The German HQ
Russian HQ and Cossacks
The German HQ deployed in Insterburg.  And blocking the railway line with lorries.
German 1st Cavalry Div screening their left flank.  We used a degree of hidden movement, with playing cards representing units.  Or blanks.   Is there anyone out there?

The Umpire (your humble correspondent) completely making up the resolution of a cavalry melee while in the background, Pete, Lloyd and Matt look on despairingly.
By now quite a lot of units were visible.  Both sides had wisely deployed their divisions' cavalry squadrons to scout ahead.  In the distance can be seen some unpleasantness brewing north of Gumbinnen.
Battle lines forming....
...while officers urge their units forward...
...cavalry scouts fall back and machine guns are rushed forward.
In range!  An exchange of small arms fire.
Gaps soon appear in shot-up units.
A lot of angry Russians heading for Gumbinnen!
Field artillery is deployed and opens fire.
While an infantry battle rages to the north (right) of Gumbinnen, the Russian Naval Battalion (centre) has been badly shot up by German fire.

Russians in firm control of Goldapp (left) with the Germans looking too weak to take them on.
Meanwhile, all is calm and serenity at the German HQ.

Gumbinnen is by now looking a bit knocked about....
...but a relief column is on it's way.  Note Russian aeroplane looking out for just this sort of thing.

...and another Russian attack sees them reach the town.  But watch out for those newly-arrived Germans!
The confident Russians advance west from Goldapp.

The view from German HQ.
Grimness in Gumbinnen.  The Russians have broken in to the town and overrun the German artillery positions.  But they're now under attack from more Germans!
In front of Goldapp, both sides are digging in.

The fighting intensifies!
There seem to be enough Germans to give them the upper hand.
At this point we drew a veil over proceedings.   In Conclusion, we decided that the game was an honourable draw with advantage to the Germans.  The Russians had captured Goldap but the Germans, but the Germans had worn out the Russian corps.  Historically, it was news of the German reverse at Gumbinnen which finally broke the nerve of 8th Armee command and led to the appointment of Hindenburg and Ludendorff.  The rest, as they say, is history...

A very enjoyable game to plan and run.  It's always nice to get the toys out and this was the first time that my Great War Russians have been deployed en masse.

More of this sort of thig coming soon!


Pete. said...

Excellent game Tim- really enjoyed this one. It had the right kind of epic sweep of history feel.



Archduke Piccolo said...


Martin Rapier said...

That was an excellent game Tim, very enjoyable. As I never left my HQ, I was also soared all that unseemly crawling around on the floor! Another Iron Cross to add to the collection.

Brad DeSantis said...

These monumental and wonderful war games are becoming the norm for you Tim! You make them look so easy, and I'm sure that they're not! Thank you for creating and sharing these epic battles! I love to see them in all of their glory!

John Y said...

"A number of more experienced players correctly identified this as a map."

That wins the internet. I nearly lost my morning coffee to that!

That game looks epic It's the kind of thing that should be shown to tweens who think they have to give up toys and playing on the floor just because they've gotten a little older.

Tim Gow said...

Thanks. One of the reasons I like historically based games is that there’s something to measure against.

Tim Gow said...

Archduke Piccolo
Most kind sir!

Tim Gow said...

Martin Rapier
Your masterly inactivity was much admired!

Tim Gow said...

Brad DeSantis
I’m fortunate to have access to a lot of players, a lot of toys and a big room. So a small game would just look silly….

Tim Gow said...

John Y
Thanks for your kind words and sorry about your coffee. We did have two young persons (in their twenties) but most of us were of a dignified vintage. And it’s a surprisingly comfortable carpet….

Robert (Bob) Cordery said...


I only wish that I was able to join in one of your games. They look magnificent … and great fun!

All the best,


Tim Gow said...

Bob Cordery
While I appreciate the logistical issues, you are of course welcome any time!