Friday 16 August 2013

1866 and all that!

At the club on  Thursday Nigel and Conrad staged a small Austro-Prussian War of 1866 game. We used slightly adapted Black Powder in an attempt to replicate the superior Prussian musketry and inferior artillery, the excellent Austrian artillery and the silly Austrian infantry tactics of forming attack columns and hurling themselves fruitlessly at lines of Dreyse-armed Prussians. The figures were a mixture of North Star (ex Helion) and Foundry. The scenario was fairly simple. The Austrians had a corps of 4 infantry brigades and a cavalry brigade trying to defeat a smaller Prussian force before it was reinforced.

The Austrian plan was simple and reflected their tactical thinking of the day, i.e. we were to launch all 14 battalions at the Prussians in the hope that numbers would prevail. It all went horribly wrong from turn 1. My brigade failed to arrive on the table and Nigels only made a single move onto the battlefield. One Austrian brigade managed three moves and raced 36" across the battlefield, while the final brigade made reasonable progress compared to me and Nigel. The Austrian reserve artillery did manage to get to a prominent hill in the centre but the cavalry didn't make an appearance either! Firing was ineffective. The much vaunted Austrian artillery had been allowed to re roll one miss per gun but even then still failed to score a single hit!
The Prussians just stayed where they were but did manage to disorder one Austrian battalion on the right flank. In the next Austrian turn the leading brigade on the right flank charged the Prussians and two battalions actually survived the bullet storm and got into contact. On the far left I didn't see what happened but the Austrians there were also charging towards the enemy. I think at least one battalion was broken in the process. Meanwhile, my brigade made a leisurely appearance onto the table and Nigel's brigade blundered and retreated off table! Not quite the 'let's swamp them with numbers' approach we had hoped for.


 (Above: Prussian firing line. Below: Austrians surge forward on the left flank)

 (Austrian columns smash into the Prussians)
(Austrians blundering off the table)
On my flank the Austrians were able to destroy a Prussian jäger battalion in the melee and held on for  two rounds of combat with another unit before the brigade became shaken and had to try and extricate itself as 50 % was shaken or destroyed. On the Austrian left the same was true as Conrad's troops were in the middle of the Prussians, being shot at from several sides and charged by cavalry in the flank.

I had to leave at that point so have no idea how the game panned out. It looked like at least two Austrian brigades were out of action or were about to be, leaving the Prussians, now reinforced, to deal with the two remaining brigades.

The game certainly had the feel, based on what I have read on the subject, of what I would have expected an 1866 battle to look like. The Austrians were able to get very close to the Prussians or were even able to close to melee, but they had no answer to the Needle gun and suffered some quite heavy losses as a result. In addition, the Austrian plan went to pieces from the outset. It was a good plan and had it been executed as intended the Prussians would have struggled to hold on. As for the Austrian artillery...........?

Nice troops, enjoyable game even though we still have some trouble with the rules, and I wonder what happened at the end of the evening? I am tempted to push my unpainted Austro-Prussian figures to somewhere a bit nearer the frot of the painting queue. I forgot my camera so only had my phone to take pictures with.


  1. Excellent report and pics, Colin. It's very good to see a game in this period - not something you see very often!

    Best wishes


    1. Thanks Giles, I think a re-match is planned at the club this week. not betting on a different result though, but you never know......

  2. Colin, I took over your Brigade as mine made its fighting withdrawal from their bravehardy and as it turned out unsupported assault. The artillery, also in line with history held off the pursuing Prussians. i also continued the practice of the Austrian command and rolled a 10 for your brigade in its final turn and no move was made!!

    Brigadier Conrads attack succumbed to a prompt counter attack. the final appearance of the Austrian cavalry, lead to a storm of shot and shell routing them before they come anywhere near the Prussians. So ended the battle in a straight defeat.

    The only rays of light, being the rout of the Prussian Jaeger at the far end of their line and repelling the Prussian cavalry when they swept into Conrad's sole regiment which penetrated the Prussian position (briefly).

    A historic result but we did struggle with the rules, or rather reading them properly.

  3. Good report aar Colin and thankfully finished off by John.

  4. Great report. It's the first time I've seen an 1866 game in 28mm. Increasingly tempted by this period!

  5. It was fun even though the gallant Austrians were onto a looser! I have a brigade of Austrians (7 btns) and one of Prussians nowhere near finished (or started) and had plans to do the campaign in western Germany as the armies are ever so small compared to the hundreds of thousands involved in Bohemia. The North Star range is good but lacks enough cavalry types for both sides although if you have money much of the gap can be plugged with Foundry for the Prussians at least,and maybe the Hessians Wurtemburgers and Bavarians even if they didn't wear the taupe helm in this campaign apparently. Irregular do a nice looking range of mid 19C stuff which could be used to fill the need for Austrian Kurassier, limbers and generals. I need to see if they will do for the Nassau brigade in the Federal VIII Corps.