Sunday 29 November 2015

Battleground 2015 and the 'Man of the Match Award' goes to Seydlitz playing away at Rossbach!

Saturday saw us off to the Battleground show in Stockton. This is actually a really good medium-sized event with excellent lighting, parking and facilities in general (IMHO) except that the cafe is across the car park and it was bucketing down for much of the day!

John and Neil were putting on a demo using gorgeous 10mm figures and the new Blucher rules, while Robbie and I refought the battle of Rossbach in 28mm. Actually, although we'd played this game earlier in the year, it was Robbie's idea and I was therefore sure he had worked out a master plan that would  reverse the course of history and allow the Franco-Imperial army to win. Mmmm?

To add to the visuals (or detract from them?) I'd prepared some cards for each of the commanders, showing their command level and any attributes, as well as in almost all cases a portrait of each individual on their card. (The real reason is that I recently found my laminator and had a spell when anything not moving was laminated!) The orders of battle were pretty much the same as for our earlier refight (see the earlier post on this blog for full details as I don't need to repeat them here), although I did add a couple more units of infantry and cavalry to both armies while still maintaining the appropriate ratio as in reality the French-Imperial army outnumbered the Prussian by almost 2:1, the odds being evened slightly by the detachment of Louden and St. Germaine to watch the Prussian camp and the small holding force left their by Frederick.

As usual we used Black Powder with suitable amendments to reflect the quality of the troops and leaders involved, i.e. the Prussian infantry at this stage were excellent; the French were 'average' and the Reichsarmee were pants. So, having had a quick scoot round the other games and check Graham  from Cran Tara had my order ready to collect we set to it. In the end I twisted John McC's arm into playing Frederick, while I 'umpired' and stuff, chipping in as (in)appropriate ( and helped with the Prussians).
 The French and Imperial infantry had been left behind by their cavalry and were well in the rear, and although placed on the table for convenience they wouldn't activate until turn 3.
 12' is a long table. The Allied cavalry can be seen in the far distance, and it is just possible to make out the Prussian cavalry and artillery with the infantry lurking behind the Janus Hill.
 The Reichsarmee brigade on the march.
 The Austrian/Imperial cavalry, well in advance of the French horse and even further ahead of the infantry. They were oblivious of the danger posed to them by the Prussian cavalry under von Seydlitz and remained in column of march.
 The French commander's card,
 As seen from behind the Janus hill, the Austrian and Imperial horsemen left of centre about to be 'bounded' by Seydlitz's cavalry.
 The man himself, looking just like his picture.
 Frederick on the Janus Hill with the artillery of Colonel Moller.
 In turn one the Prussians under Seydlitz crashed into the heads of the enemy columns and drove two regiments back. The two victorious Prussian regiments then carried out a sweeping advance onto the next two Austrian/Imperial cavalry which were also either broken or forced to retire. Only one of General Schonach's regiments was able to charge as he failed his second command roll, leaving Seydlitz momentarily unsupported.
 But not for long.....
 Robbie's master plan had been to extricate as much of his cavalry as possible and withdraw them out of harm's reach and give himself a greater before his infantry arrived. 
 The master plan unfortunately didn't survive first contact with the enemy as the Prussian cuirassier and dragoons came sweeping on, either breaking or driving back the Austrian and Imperial horsemen. The Reichsarmee cavalry were historically pretty bad and in the game history wasn't changed! Only the Austrian regiments made much impact in trying to halt the tide of Prussian cavalry, but one of the Austro-Imperial brigades was completely shattered  while the other lost two regiments while still managing to pull back. Casualties overall were heavy among the Allied cavalry. Prussian losses were insignificant at this stage with the exception of a dragoon regiment which bit off more than it could chew and fled the field broken after coming off worst in a melee with Austrian cuirassiers.
 Robbie then threw in some of his last remaining cavalry, i.e. two regiments of French,  but they were swiftly driven off by the Prinz von Preussen Cuirassiers.
Robbie's Austrian hussars performed heroically on the day, fighting several rounds of melee with Prussian cuirassiers without being broken. They were finally forced to withdraw behind their infantry to rally along with the remains of their brigade.
 Turn three saw the Prussian infantry march rapidly over the Janus Hill and towards the Allied army. Actually, the brigades of Anhalt-Dessau and Henri of Prussia bounded forward while that of Forcade didn't get the order to move so annoyingly stayed where it was.
 Frederick on his white horse advancing with his infantry. The Prussian artillery only got one shot off before the cavalry melee swept off into the distance so they were forced to limber up and find a better position closer to the action.
 Looking down the table again from the Prussian end, the battle has swiftly moved away from their original positions. The Allied infantry has also made an appearance, and Robbie was desperately trying to get them into formation and out of march columns.

 Fleeing Allied horsemen in the foreground while the last remaining Allied cavalry (to the right) prepare to meet the Prussians and attempt to delay them long enough for the infantry to deploy. A note here: the Allied infantry had to remain in column of march until they came within 24" of the Prussians in order to reflect their sluggish response to the Prussian menace.
 The Prussian infantry has now almost overtaken their cavalry.
 Robbie's infantry begins to deploy. Two Irish battalions (masquerading as Swiss for this game) shake out into line in the nick of time as the Prussian horse were well within charge reach had the infantry chosen to remain in column.
 The Prussian Garde du Corps led by Seydlitz in combat with French cuirassiers, who they subsequently broke.

 The Allied cavalry streams back shattered past the Reichsarmee infantry brigade, giving them a boost to their confidence......not!
 John managed to catch one French battalion after driving off the Austrian hussars which had been to their front.  A French regiment was also on the infantry's flank but were destroyed by Prussian dragoons. The infantry broke, leaving their supporting battalion in a precarious position.
 However, at this point Robbie conceded defeat. Nothing had gone right for him, the speed of the Prussian advance kept him on the back foot and he threw some dreadful dice to boot.
 The Prussian artillery finally found a new position and unlimbered, just in time for the Allies to concede the game.
General Forcade's brigade of Prussian infantry never got over the hill. Thankfully they weren't needed.

Well, I think it was a great game, very colourful and it attracted lots of interest and positive comments and I spent lots of time talking to people about the game and the pleasures of 18hC wargaming in 28mm. Its just a shame that the Allies didn't have the same good fortune that they had the first time we fought this game a few months ago but there you go. The Prussian infantry never even got into action! Seydlitz had almost single-handedly defeated the Franco-Imperial army. With all the latter's cavalry out of action it was never going to be a good day for the rest of the Allied army.

Thanks to Robbie for the idea and for providing the terrain boards and the French, and to John McC for taking part in the game and helping out. Also big thanks to John and Neil who helped my wife bring all my troops and terrain inside from the car.

As for the show, it seemed be well attended and there was a good range of games on display, although  not all of them were good. Many were though. Plenty of trade, but apart from my pre-order from Cran Tara and some paints I didn't buy anything. My wife, fresh with new hairdo and fed and watered by her mum, duly collected me at 3pm and we were all packed up and home by 5pm. All in all it was a good day out and hopefully Robbie won't be too bruised by the battering his army took.

Next week we are planning to try out the new 'Honours of War' rules as a possible alternative to Black Powder.

Friday 20 November 2015

Seven Years War - end of season results

For a bit of fun I thought I'd do a comparison of the historical vs war-game outcomes of the WAS and SYW games played over the last two years and award points to the Prussians and the combined Allied efforts (I pinched this idea off someone else by the way). Points were awarded as follows:

Historical outcome                                      1 point each
Historical winner does significantly better  2 points
Result reversed                                            3 points

I'll apply this to all future games and the points system should give the Prussians the incentive to be aggressive in order to do better than they did in the original.

Battle Combatants Gamers Original Winner Game Result Prussia Allies
Lobositz Prussia v Austria JR PR v CA RR Prussia Prussia 1 1
Reichenberg Prussia v Austria JR JMC NR v CA RR Prussia Prussia 1 1
Prague Prussia v Austria CA JR v RR JMC Prussia Prussia 1 1
Kolin Prussia v Austria JR JMC v CA RR Austria Austria 1 1
Landshut Prussia v Austria PN v CA Austria Austria 0 2
Gross Jagersdorf Prussia v Russia RR PS v JR CA Russia Russia 1 1
Moys Prussia v Austria PN v CA Austria Austria 1 1
Rossbach Prussia v Franco-Imp CA JR v RR DJ Prussia Prussia 1 1
Leuthen Prussia v Austria CA PT v RR JR Prussia Prussia 1 1
Zorndorf Prussia v Russia CA DJ v RR Draw Prussia 2 0
Hochkirch Prussia v Austria CA v JMc Austria Austria 0 2
Kunersdorf Prussia v Russia JR JMc v RR CA Russia Prussia 3 0
Mollwitz Prussia v Austria RR JR v CA PT Prussia Prussia 1 1

14 13

Key to gamers: CA (Colin Ashton - Me); RR (Robbie Roddiss); JR (John Reidy); NR (Neil Reidy); PR (Paul Robinson); PT (Paul Thompson); PS (Paul Stevenson); DJ (Dave Jarvis); JMc (John McCann); PN (Peter Nailon).

Next season the Prussians will need to do a lot better if they are to beat the Allied total

Wednesday 18 November 2015

The enemies of Louis XIV - my Dutch

Here are my Dutch infantry together with a lone unit of cavalry to face the French. The cavalry and two of the infantry units are Warfare Miniatures, the rest are Copplestone with a few odd Front Rank thrown in as supernumeraries, etc. The cavalry and a couple of the infantry units were painted for me.

Monday 16 November 2015

Kunserdorf refought

The next episode in my headlong dash through Frederick's battles of the Seven Years War was Kunersdorf. Robbie, John R and John Mc braved the elements and my man flu and came up on Saturday for the game. This was a difficult battle to recreate on the table but in the end with a bit of stretching and squeezing I managed to get it to something I was happy with. I had plenty of reference material on the battle and as usual Charles S Grant's scenario in Wargaming in History Vol 5 proved to be invaluable in helping me bathtub the orders of battle down to something manageable.

(Map from Project Seven Years War at

Robbie quite sensibly doesn't like being Prussian so he took the role of  the Russian CinC, Saltykov, supported by me as Golitsyn, commander of the Observation Corps. I was as usual also in charge of tea/coffee, lunch, dog control etc etc). I was also a bit under the weather. The two Johns were Prussian. John Mc was Frederick, (recently released from captivity - see the Hochkirch post).

Prussian Army
C-in-C: Frederick II King of Prussia (9) Headstrong/Decisive

Left Wing Cavalry:
GL  Eugene von Wurtemberg (8)
Cuirassiers                 2 x 12
Dragoons                    1 x 12
GL von Platen (8)
Cuirassiers                 2 x 12
Hussars                      2 x 12
Infantry: Main Body:
Advance Guard: GM Schenkendorf (8) Aggressive
Grenadier Btns                      2 x 36
1st Line : GL Hulsen (9)
Grenadier Btn                        2 x 36
Musketeer Btns                    2 x 36            
2nd Line: GL Itzenplitz (8) Decisive
Musketeer Btns                    5 x 36
12pdr battery #1                  2 x heavy guns (Kleiner-Spitzberg)
12pdr battery #2                  2 x heavy guns (Klosterberg)
12pdr battery #3                  1 x heavy gun, 1 x Howitzer (Walk-Berg)

Right Wing : GL von Finck (8) Commands infantry bde.@
GL von Seydlitz (9) Aggressive/Decisive
Cuirassiers                             1 x 12
Dragoons                                2 x 12
GL von Schormeler (8) Aggressive
Cuirassiers                             1 x 12
Dragoons                                1 x 12
GM von Putkammer (8) Headstrong
Hussars                                  3 x 12
Infantry: GL von Finck (8) Hesitant @
Fuslier Btns                2 x 36
Artillery                      2 x 12pdr guns

Russian Army
C-in-C: General Count Piotr Semionovitch Saltykov (8) Hesitant

Observation Corps: GL Furst Golitsyn (7) 
Observation Corps Btns                               3 x 36
Artillery                                                        2 x 12pdr, 1 x Shuvalov Howitzer
Left Division:  (6) GL Count Willem Fermor  Hesitant
Musketeer Btns                                             3 x 36
Grenadier Btns                                              2 x 36
Artillery                                                         2 x 12pdr, 1 x Shuvalov Howitzer
Right Division: 
Infantry:GL Count Rumiantsev (8)
Musketeer Btns                                                         3 x 36
Grenadier Btns                                                          1 x 36
Cavalry: GM Piotr Jeropkin (7)
Cuirassiers                                                                 1 x 12
Dragoons                                                                    1 x 12
Horse Grenadiers                                                      1 x 12
Austrian Corps: FML von Louden (9) Decisive T5
Austrian Btns                                                             1 x 36
Austrian Dragoons                                                    2 x 12
Austrian Hussars                                                       1 x 12
GM Homiakov (8) Timid T5
Cuirassiers                                                                 1 x 12
Dragoons                                                                    1 x 12
GM Todleben (8)T6
Hussars                                                                      2 x 12
Cossacks                                                                     1 x 12

This was going to be a difficult game for both sides. The Prussians were faced with attacking entrenched Russians, well-supported by artillery, over difficult ground. Their cavalry superiority was unlikely to be used to any advantage but they would be able to concentrate their infantry attacks and hopefully win through overwhelming force at the point of the attack. The Russians obviously had the advantage of their entrenchments but the dead ground approaching the Observations Corps' position to the North would give the Prussians some protection. The Russian troops were as usual pretty stoic/stubborn in defence and this was reflected in the characteristics for the game, but the Observation Corps' morale was wavering to start with. The overall command levels of the majority of Russian commanders was mediocre to say the least, so redeploying troops once the attack began would prove difficult.

 The table from the North (garage doors end). The Russian position looking particularly impressive.
 The Muhl-berg, defended by three battalions of the Observation Corps and two batteries.
 The centre of the Russian positions, the sunken road represents the ravine that split the defensive lines along the hill.
 GM Itzenplitz blunders in turn 1 with the very first throw of the dice. Thankfully for the Prussians nothing drastic occurred as a result.
 The Prussian advance guard of two grenadier battalions begins its assault on the Observation Corps. The are they are marching through was designated as dead ground so this afforded them some protection from the ineffective Russian fire.
 GM Finck leads his troops across the stream. It took 1D3 moves to cross for each unit making the attempt so progress was slow, aided by some really bad command throws.
 Another view of the Observation Corps in their entrenchments.
 The Russians had little in the way of cavalry on table at the start. This was it! The grenadier battalion in the foreground had just blundered right into their path.
 Long lines of Russians behind their entrenchments.
 The Prussian artillery spent several turns giving the Observation Corps a hard pounding, and their supporting artillery was particularly singled out for attention. One battery which can be seen on the right of the picture was put out of action.
 GM Finck's forces, including Seydlitz and Schomeler's cavalry are across the stream ready to support the imminent assault on the Russians. The lead infantry battalion, IR40 Kreytzen in the pink outfits, were badly hit by some excellent shooting from my artillery and put to flight.
 Near the burning village of Kunersdorf Prussians from GM Hulsen's command advance cautiously towards the entrenchments. The other half of this command was forgotten by the Johns for several turns as they each thought it belonged to the other, before I chivalrously reminded them that they actually belonged to Hulsen!
 The first of the reinforcements arrive, Louden's Austrian Corps. The cavalry moved towards the Russian centre while the infantry (Louden's Green Grenadiers) advanced out of the entrenchments and as far as the swampy ground to engage the Prussian cavalry lurking on the other side.
 The Russian cavalry was terribly slow to get moving but eventually got into a position where it could offer support to the Observation Corps troops.
 Robbie redeployed some of the defenders, knowing that the Observation Corps might suddenly break. A battalion of Grenadiers (the same one that is featured in an earlier shot after blundering) moves along the ravine, survived a torrent of Prussian artillery fire without loss and deployed at the mouth of the ravine.
 This is where I think I started to loose the plot (blame the opiates I am taking for my back) and charged the Prussian cuirassiers with my Horse Grenadiers. I won the melee and drove the Prussian back but became shaken in the process and a sitting duck for all sorts of badness coming from the Prussians.
 The Observation Corps battalion guarding this sector of the defences broke under the pressure of the Prussian artillery and musket fire, enabling the Prussian grenadiers to scramble over the earthworks.
 The departing Russians did manage to set fire to the abatis in front of their position thus delaying the Prussians for a couple of turns.
 This is the next example of my loosing the plot, as I forgot to turn the Observation Corps battalion seen above around to face the oncoming Prussians. When I did remember it was too late and they were taken in the rear and bundled away in rout in pretty short order. Their supporting battery didn't last much longer. The Prussians then turned their attention to the remaining Observation Corps battalion just to the right edge of the picture and drove them off leaving them on total command of the Muhl-Berg.
 Louden's Austrians arrived in the Russian centre and proceed to sit around and do nothing.

 Robbie desperately tried to feed in reinforcements to hold the Prussians at the ravine. The grenadier battalion he had rushed forward had become locked in hand to hand combat with Prussian grenadiers and broken.
 A view from the North, along the length of the Russian positions.
 The Prussians assault the Russian defences behind the village but are held for the time being.
 I then sent the remaining Russian cavalry, including some reinforcements, in a frankly daft attack on the Prussian cavalry. I didn't need to take the battle to them as I was at an immediate disadvantage once I left the security of my position as I came under artillery and musket fire almost at once. Also, I would have been hard to get at if I'd held my position and the Prussians had chosen or been forced to attack. The end result was that I lost five regiments of Russian cavalry for no purpose. I did manage to break one Prussian regiment led by Seydlitz, who unceremoniously routed off the field with them.
 The Russians at the ravine just about holding on. Not for long as the grenadiers were broken and the brigade became shaken under the pressure.
 The area of the cavalry action after the fighting had died down. Guess whats missing? My Russian cavalry!
 Robbie then had a bit of luck and successfully ordered a regiment of Austrian dragoons to charge along the face of the entrenchments and into the flank of the Prussian grenadiers. 
 Unfortunately the Prussian grenadiers were made of stern stuff and survived the charge. 
 GM Itzenplitz surveys the Russian defences as his troops begin to cross the marsh and ponds.
 The very colourful and stationery Austrian cavalry, and beyond them newly-arrived and equally colourful Russian hussars and cossacks. 
Louden's Green Grenadiers on the edge of the marsh facing several regiments of Prussian cavalry that were unable to get to grips with them.
 At this point it was clear that with half our army destroyed the Russians had lost as we were in no position to take back what we had lost or hold what we still had.
Even my resident group of Orthodox priests' influence failed to change the tide.

So there you go. Somehow the Prussians had managed to turn a crushing historical defeat into a convincing victory. Of course, the Johns took a great deal more care of their troops than Frederick did on the day and my drug-fuelled tactical ineptitude certainly went a big way towards the Russian defeat. If I'd not thrown my two cavalry brigades away needlessly the outcome may have been more favourable. If. Of course, making the Observation Corps so brittle didn't help either seeing as they all ran away in pretty short order! At least having so many Russian units break meant that putting the troops away was a little less onerous as half of them were already back on their shelves!

Never mind, I enjoyed the game even if it didn't go quite as I had expected. I know Robbie did too and I am sure the same goes for the Prussian commanders.

Our next planned game is Rossbach at the Battleground show on 28 November. I do want to play a small weekday game using the new Honours of War rules as soon as possible, an advance copy of which I received last week. They look quite good.