Sunday, 25 October 2015

The Battle of Leuthen, Thirty Years War style

The Johns (Reidy and McCann) came up on Friday for a game. I'd promised then a Thirty Years War game so, keen to use my SYW Leuthen church again I set up the table for said battle, without the snow, which gave me a bit of license in what I could add to the tabletop to liven it up a little. I used exactly the same scenario and 'converted' the forces into Swedes/Saxons and Catholic League/Imperial. I made the Swedes take the role of the Austrians, which was a calculated decision in giving an 'offensive' army a defensive objective. I couldn't really give the Swedes the dreadful commanders the Austrians had on the day so there the similarities stopped, with Gustav II Adolf leading their army. Their Saxon allies provided the original Reichsarmee element though. The Catholic League/Imperial force was to be on the offensive, led by Tilly with Pappenheim commanding one wing of cavalry.

Imperial/Catholic League Army: John McC

C-in-C:  General Graf von Tilly (9)
Lifeguard Cuirassiers        

Right Wing Cavalry:  
FM Count Gotfreid Pappenheim(8) 
Cuirassiers                 2  
Harquebusiers           2  
General Timon von Lentelo (7)
Cuirassiers                 2  
Croats                        2
Left Wing Cavalry: GFeldWachM Egon, Graf von Furstenberg (8)  

Infantry Centre:
Advance Guard: Count Isolano (8)
Croats                         2  
Commanded Shot    
Battery                       2 light guns

1st Line: General Heinrich Holk (9) 
Elite Catholic Tercio            Pike 1; shot 2
Veteran Bavarian Tercio      Pike 1; Shot 2 

GFWM Graf von Wahl (8)
'Mercenary' German Tercio      Pike 2; Shot 4
2nd Line:General Freiherr von Schonberg (8)
Veteran German Tercio           Pike 3; Shot 6

Heavy Battery            2  heavy guns
Medium Battery        2  medium guns

All troops except the left  wing cavalry and the second line/artillery entered the table on turn1.  The left wing cavalry was off table in the SW corner and appears on turn 4 or if Swedes reach the hill. The 2nd line and the artillery were supposed to appear on turn 2 in the centre (they didn't throw very good command dice). West by the way was the table edge with the scenic backdrop.

Troop-wise the Elite and Veteran units were pretty good, as were the cuirassiers. The Croats should have been a waste of paint but they were to do ok, well some of them.

 Swedish/Saxon army (John R)

C-in-C:  King Gustav II Adolf (10) 

Right Wing Cavalry:  OFF TABLE TO NORTH WEST (until Turn 3)
Count von Rockow (7)                         
Saxon Cuirassiers                 
Saxon Harquebusiers          
General Ake Tott (8)                                                  
Swedish Horse                      
Commanded shot                  1

Right Wing Inf. Gen Maximilian Tueffel(8) (Off table until at least turn 5)
Elite Swedish Blue Brigade           3 Pike, 9 shot, 3 v light guns 

Left Wing Infantry: General Dodo von Knyphausen (8) (Deployed in Leuthen)
Dragoons                                1
'Green' German Brigade         2 pike, 6 shot, 2 guns

Heinrich von Thurn, (8) (Deployed in and around Leuthen)      
Elite Yellow Guard Bde         1 pike, 3 shot, 1 gun
Heavy battery                        2 guns (emplaced)

Saxons: General Hans George von Arnim (7) (In middle of the table retreating towards Leuthen)                                                                        
Saxon brigade                       2 pike, 4 shot, 1 gun

Left Wing Cavalry: General Johan Baner (8) (Would arrive on turn 2 plus 1D3)
Finnish Horse                         2
Swedish/Livonian Horse        2   
Commanded shot                  1 

The Yellow Brigade was rated as excellent and the Blue brigade almost as good. The Green Brigade were steady reliable troops and the Saxons were, in this game anyway, not supposed  to be especially good, i.e. a polite way of saying they were rated really bad, especially the cavalry. I was struggling a bit with my back so decided to let the Johns fight this out between themselves and acted as umpire, purveyor of refreshments and tried to keep my boisterous Chocolate Lab out of the games room.

 Move 1 with the Imperial/League forces entering the battlefield.
 The Saxons can be seen retreating towards the town which is garrisoned by the Green Brigade.
 In the rear of the town is the Yellow brigade, the best troops on the table but not many of them.
 The Swedes had managed to prepare a redoubt for their artillery.
 The garrison of the churchyard.
 The Imperial right flank, Croats followed by cuirassiers and Harquebusiers, led by Pappenheim. They made very slow progress as they tried to push past the Swedish left flank.

 Pappenheim threw a blunder which delayed his advance and threw the entire flank into some confusion.
 An Imperial trek engages the retreating Saxons. Ultimately, but after a long fight, they would drive them off the field.
 The Imperial centre with its crack Catholic League treks, led by Heinrich Holk.
 The Swedish redoubt. The guns did little physical damage but the psychological effect on the Imperial troops was more significant.
 Turn 3 and the Saxon and Swedish horse arrive on the right flank.
 A unit of Imperial shot tries its luck against the garrison of the churchyard, but were driven back easily.

 As the Imperial right wing pushes forward the Swedish left flank horse arrive on the battlefield directly to its front. The Croats had been skirmishing with the retreating Saxons and supported by a unit of Harquebuses had destroyed some Saxon shot and overrun a light cannon.
 Meanwhile, back in the centre the veteran Catholic tercio blundered and charged the churchyard. The  defenders proved to be  a tough nut to crack as the pikes couldn't dislodge them from behind the walls.
 The opposing cavalry on the Swedish left clash. Initially the Imperial cuirassiers gained the upper hand.
 Then the Finns attacked and the advantage passed to the Swedes.
 On the other flank the Saxon cavalry reach the top of the hill to be faced by rank upon rank of Imperial horse.
 The fate of all deserters!
 Back on the Swedish right it was still swings and roundabouts.
 Swedish cuirassiers supported by Livonian horse face the remains of the Imperial horsemen.
 The Saxons were finally overwhelmed and broken, the surviving units took refuge in the outskirts of Leuthen.
 Meanwhile, the remaining Swedish horse had made a slow entry into the battle, so were joined by Gustavus. Galvanised by his presence they surged forward.
 The Imperial/Catholic League centre moves menacingly forward, but too slowly.
 Finally, after five turns of trying, the Imperial artillery train arrived and prepared to deploy the edge of the cornfield. Tilly and his Lifeguard got in the way slightly.
 The defence of the churchyard continues with more Swedish (German) shot coming up to support their comrades among the gravestones.
 The Swedish right wing included a large unit of Commanded shot who advanced to support the flank of the dismounted dragoons who had been taking pot shots at the artillery and Croats to their front.
 The Saxon horse were flung back and broken by the superior Imperialist cuirassiers. Thankfully for the Swedes their second line was well placed to stop any breakthrough.

 The Imperial forces continue their attack on the churchyard.
 The Swedish Yellow brigade had been held back trading shots with the Croats while the cavalry engagement was fought to a conclusion. With one Imperial command broken and another on the verge of breaking they advanced to relieve the pressure on the surviving Swedish horse.

 Gustavus leading the Swedish right wing horse to cover the centre. However, with the departure of the Saxon horse they would have to turn to face the victorious Imperial cuirassiers moving in on their right.
 Imperial dragoons. They spent most of the lurking in the woods and successfully drove off an attack by Saxon harquebusiers.
 The Imperial artillery train was so slow in arriving that the battle was over before they had the opportunity to open fire.I took intervention from Tilly to get them to move at all!
 Imperial Croats from the left wing. They were effective in screening the enemy marauders from the Imperil baggage while they looted it.
 Elements of the Green brigade defend the outskirts of Leuthen.
 The Catholic League veterans make another attack on the churchyard, but it stalls.

 The Saxon horse in full retreat after being cut up badly by the Imperial left wing.
 Gustavus leading the Swedish cavalry reserve forward to threaten the Imperial centre as it begins its retirement.

So ended the battle. I declared it a draw, with perhaps a slight edge going to the Swedes as they'd held off the Imperial assault without the benefit of their reserves, the Blue brigade which was held up and only entered the game in the very last turn. I've played this scenario out three times now and its true to say that they key to winning, as in many battles of course, are the flanks. In the two Seven Years war iterations of the battle the Prussians soundly defeated both Austrian cavalry wings and were able to claim victory. In the second the Austrians crushed the Prussian cavalry making any attack on the town pointless and very dangerous. In this game the Imperial right flank had worn down their opponents but had lost one command of horse in the process. On the Imperial left the horse had driven off the Saxons but was left facing the Swedish reserve under Gustavus, so the fighting on both flanks was inconclusive in terms of its impact on the battle in the centre. 

I was a great game and looked splendid if I say so myself. The rules worked well and both sides played the game in the spirit of the period. Everyone had a thoroughly enjoyable day, even though, or especially as, the rules (Pike and Shotte) proved to be as frustrating and unforgiving as usual! It was John McC's first game with Pike and Shotte too.

I almost forgot. The Imperialists managed an unprecedented number of blunders (handling errors in Rugby terms?) in this game (10) but this mostly resulted in troops veering off course rather than anything silly, except for the time the Catholic League shot took it upon themselves to charge the churchyard!

I now need to do some make and mend on these troops before they go back in the box. Pikes need re-fixing, some flags need replacing, and some rebasing needs doing. 


  1. A fine looking game, as ever,Colin! Always enjoy reading your battle reports and enjoying the eye candy.

  2. What a brilliant looking game!
    Lovely figs and table terrain

  3. Super looking game and nice report

  4. Great game, fabulous looking armies, I love this era but since I have to paint both armies I know I am never going to field such large well painted armies as this. Least I can enjoy reading about your games.

  5. Papa Tilley here, and I m afraid i did rather dilly, dally through the battle, personally bringing up the gunnes but then getting in their way when they did finally arrive !!. As our host graciously did not mention, the main problem facing the Imperialists was their lack of any coherent plan. i hoped to catch the Saxons in the open and managed to do so in a manner of sorts and to press my Cavalry wing around the side of Leuthen to attack from the flank. Not being aware of the Swedish reinforcements, this plan turned into a cavalry fight on my right wing. Here I did not make the most of Papperheimer and his men, who enjoyed charging down hapless heretics. As a headstrong commander, he was at his best moving first, something i regularly forgot and compensated for his rashness (higher blunder rolls). He did rout one Swedish unit merely by heading in thier direction, but it was not quite enough to clear the flank. It was in the centre where my troops seemed to be drawn like moths to the flame of the fortified churchyard. I had two units charge in without orders, so keen were they and so prone to rolling 12s was I !. I was worried Gustavof with his wing of horse may have swept my left wing away or rolled up the centre, but luckly for the true Catholic cause, he failed to do either. A draw was perhaps a little over generous (for the Imperialists) but taken with good grace all the same. Great game to play and excellent host. I should mention, one possible reason for the delay in my reserves arriving could have been a large labrador dog careering around to the rear of our lines ??