Sunday 28 February 2016

Some of my SYW Saxons on parade

I have far far far too much stuff. I've been sorting out my troops' accommodation this weekend, as I need to make room for another couple of infantry btns, two heavy cavalry, another couple of guns and and squadron each of the two polish Uhlan regiments (I am working on those as we speak), so while the Saxons were out of their box, er, barracks I lined them up for a few photos. They will be joining with Robbie's Saxons at the AMG16 event in June.
 Saxon 32pdr siege mortar.
 The cheveaux-leger brigade - Graf Bruhl, Prinz Karl and Prinz Albrecht
 Von Rochow fusiliers lead the infantry forwards - Graf Bruhl and Pr Gotha
 Combined grenadiers - Btn Pfundheller in the lead (Leibgrenadieregarde & Pr. Clemenz) followed by Btn Milkau (Konigen & Rochow)
Furst Lubomirsky infantry regiment.

I have a game to prepare for on Thursday and at the moment I have no idea what to put on. Plenty of time and plenty to choose from. 

Thursday 25 February 2016

The Austrians on parade

After their last victory at Liegnitz I thought I would take a few photos of the whole of my Austrian army.

 The army on parade.
 Six units of Croats.
 Two regiments of cuirassiers (O'Donnell and Alt-Modena) headed by a unit of combined carabiniers on the right and three regiments of dragoons (Hessen-Darmstadt, Sachsen-Gotha and at the back Jung-Modena) led by combined horse grenadier companies. The Palatinal hussars at the rear.
 The mass of Austrian, Hungarian and Auxilliary infantry and some of the Generals.
 More infantry, the artillery train and Feld-jager
 A close up of the artillery and Jager.

I actually have two more battalions ready to base up along with a final Croat unit, a couple of guns and a 12-figure unit of dragoons (they will be the Stabsdragoner regiment) to complete the collection.

Tuesday 23 February 2016

In memory of an old friend.

I learnt yesterday that one of my oldest friends had passed away in what can only be described as tragic circumstances. Colin Smith had been my Best Man at my first wedding, and I probably first got to know him at the Durham Wargames Group around the mid-1970's. Colin's passion was naval wargames and we enjoyed many a game using his beautifully scratch built 1/1200 ships. Many of Colin's games and especially his campaigns are etched in my memory. We refought the attack on a fabulous looking Pearl Harbour in 1/1200 scale - on the floor! Next up was a refight of the ENTIRE Pacific campaign in WW2. A map of the Pacific was hand-drawn on the wall of the clubs games room. The amount of planning and detail that went into this campaign and indeed all of them was vast. I think the campaign went on for several years but work took people away and in the pre-Internet/email age it fizzled out. I had been the Dutch, gallantly defending the East Indies, and failing in the best traditions of the Royal Netherlands Navy. A WW2 aerial role play also sticks in my memory. Using that wonderful range of plastic 1/1200 aircraft produced by Helmet Miniatures together with numerous fabulous conversions we all took on an individual persona, joined a squadron and refought all its documented actions, getting promoted, wounded, shot down, posted away, etc. I remember I was a Belgian, starting with the German invasion and surviving through the war, finishing on Tempests with 34 or so kills. Other campaigns followed. World War One, but assuming the Kaiser's 1918 push had worked and the British ejected from France in a 1918 version of the Battle of Britain, World War One and a Half, a naval campaign set in the 1920's, the Great War of 1898 pitting the Royal Navy against the combined 'might' of Imperial Russia and France, and the Great South American War of 1980, with Argentina, Bolivia and Peru against Brazil, Chilli and Paraguay. That was an interesting one as we were still playing it at the time of the 1982 Falklands War. There were more, including a range of massive 6mm ACW games, but too many to list. In terms of wargaming, Colin always did it big, even with 6mm figures and 1/1200 or 1/2400 ships and aircraft. His memory as a friend of 40+ years, our holidays with a dozen or so other friends on the Norfolk Broads, drinking beer in the smokey Colpits Pub, Wednesday night boardgames, cheese and wine, and as a wargamer will live with me forever, and my thoughts are with his wife Linda and their family.

Saturday 20 February 2016

Liegnitz 15 August 1760

On Friday we fought our next SYW game. My previous post describes the background to the battle and the game so I won't repeat myself. Robbie and John the Red joined me for the game, which looked like it'd be a tough one for both armies. We threw for sides and John ended up playing Frederick, leaving Robbie and I as the Austrians.

Austrian Order of Battle:
Commander: FM Ernst Gideon Baron Louden (DASHING)

First Line:

Cavalry, Left Wing:  (DEPENDABLE)
Cuirassiers x1*
Dragoons/Cheveauxlegers x 2

Infantry, Centre: (DEPENDABLE)
Musketeers battalions x 5 (one unit *)
6pdr battery x 1* medium gun

Cavalry, Right Wing: (DEPENDABLE)
Cuirassiers x 1*
Dragoons/Cheveauxlegers x 3*

Second Line:
Cavalry, Left Wing: (DASHING)
Cuirassiers x 1*
Cheveauxlegers x 1*

Infantry, Centre:  (DITHERING)
Musketeer Battalions x 5
6pdr battery x 1*  Medium gun

Cavalry Right Wing: INDEPENDENT UNIT
Cuirassiers x 1*

Light troops: GM von Nauendorf (DITHERING)
Hussars x 3**
Independent units 
Grenz x 3** No battalion guns
3pdr battery x 1*  light gun

Reserve: FML Baron Muffling (DEPENDABLE)
Grenadier Battalions x 3* No battalion guns
Combined Horse Grenadiers/Carabiniers x 1*
12pdr battery x 1* heavy gun
Howitzer battery x 1* medium howitzer

Prussian Order of Battle

Commander-in-Chief: King Frederick II of Prussia

(The right wing of the Army. The left is off table under Zeithen facing FM Daun)
Left Wing: GL von Buelow (Dependable)
Musketeers battalions x 2
12pdr battery x 1

Centre: GL Wied (Dashing)
Grenadier battalions  x 1*
Musketeer battalions x 1
12pdr battery x 1

Right Wing: GM Saldern (Dependable)
Grendiers (Garde) x 1*
Garde x 1*
12pdr batteries x 1

Reserve: GL von Finkenstein (Dependable)
Grenadier battalion x 1*
Musketeer battalion x 1
Fusilier battalion x 1
12pdr battery x 1

Cavalry, Left wing: GM Krockoew (Dependable)
Hussars x 2
Dragoons x 1

Cavalry, Reserve: GL Holstein (Dashing)
Cuirassier x 4*

As usual * denotes superior units and ** inferior ones. I decided to make the Grenz inferior otherwise they might have had a greater impact on the game than they did in the actual battle. I also tend to make all Austrian battle cavalry superior. We were using the post-1760 abilities table for the Prussians, so they weren't quite the lean mean killing machine of the early part of the war due to their high losses.

The Austrians were not all on the table to start but would be by the end of turn 2. So, to battle.

 The table on turn 1. The Austrians in the distance have just appeared but the 3 battalions of grenadiers in the centre are yet to move.
 The Prussian left.
 FML Louden at the head of his grenadiers as they prepare to attack the Prussian right.
 The Austrian Sachsen-Gotha dragoons ride through the village of Platten.

 Austrian grenadiers marching into the face of Prussian 12pdrs and musketry from the Guard in a calculated plan to start wearing down the Prussian right.
 The Austrian centre slowly advances.
 Croats in the distance skirmishing with Prussian hussars while Robbie's leading infantry start to take heavy casualties from Prussian artillery.
 In the foreground the Austrian grenadiers have been forced to retire. One battalion was also broken. Meanwhile John and Robbie are exchanging fire and banter in the background.
 The Austrian reserve artillery rarely managed to score any hits on the Prussians, but when they did it was critical in slowly grinding the Prussians down.
 The commander of the Austrians in the middle ground was a ditherer, and consequently their advance was punctuated by frequent stops to dress the lines.
 The Prussian IR6 Grenadier Garde standing stoically on the Prussian right.

 After the Grenadiers had been bloodily repulsed I threw caution to the wind and charged the Prussian line. IR II/15 were the target. The dragoons survived the closing fire (just) and crashed into the Prussians, but were thrown back immediately. However, they did inflict damage on the Garde, which was to be crucial later in the game.
 A view along the Prussian line on their right flank as for the moment they are under no pressure from the Austrians.
 Taken from behind the Prussian left, John had committed his cuirassier reserve.

 The object of John's attention was this brigade of Austrian cavalry advancing on his line.
 This time the view from behind the Prussian centre looking out towards the Austrian left and the village of Platten.
 The much weakened Prussian IR II/15 was charged again, this time by Austrian cuirassiers. The cuirassiers weathered the closing fire but were broken in the melee, but so too were the Garde!
 On the Austrian right the opposing cavalry begin a marathon series of charges and counter charges over the same patch of ground with neither side gaining any advantage and both having units broken or shattered.
 The Austrian de Ligne regiment (in pink; everyone has this unit in their Austrian armies) closing with the Prussians and about to take some very short range canister fire. In the background the clash of the opposing heavy horsemen continues.
 In the centre I finally got my infantry into range and despite considerable losses managed to engage the attention of these Prussian grenadiers.
 Now rallied, the Austrian grenadiers try again, this time advancing on one of John's reserve battalions, IR40 which had moved up to cover the rallying IR6 (again, everyone with Prussians has this distinctive unit). John's reserve was nicknamed the 'pink brigade' as it contained IR40 and IR18, both with pink elements to their uniform, and a combined grenadier battalion where half were from IR18.
 The cavalry fight on the Austrian right continues.
 The leading battalion of Austrian grenadiers is shattered by close range musketry from the now rallied IR6 and canister from one of John's 12pdrs.
The final encounter of Prussian and Austrian cuirassiers on the Austrian right.

It was at this point that John conceded defeat. We'd played from 11 through till 4 with about half an hour for lunch and got a good result. The Prussians had done well in terms of blunting numerous Austrian attacks but we managed to co-ordinate our attacks far better than FML Louden did on the day. As the war progressed Frederick increased the number of guns in his army to compensate for the lesser quality of troops under his command, which explains why in many of our re-fights the Prussians have a high gun:unit ratio and often outgun the enemy. At Liegnitz he had 70 heavy guns available, of which 40 were with his half of the army. This why when I bathtub the armies, we get 4 gun models as I represent 10 real guns with 1 model. In the same way, I represent 5 squadrons with 1 cavalry unit and in this game 3 battalions are represented by 1 on the table. With a bit of rounding up/down as appropriate.

In the game, John's guns certainly earned their pay, as they helped considerably in breaking up  every attack in the centre. The battle was decided on the flanks. On the Austrian right, weight of numbers was beginning to tell as the Prussians had in my view been too cautious and should have committed their cuirassier reserve much earlier in the game and forced the Austrians on the back foot. But that is just my untested opinion. On the Austrian left the Prussians beat back two assaults by my grenadiers and held off my cavalry for a while but they were worn down by the Austrian reserve artillery and the  casualties lost as a result of holding their ground. When the Garde were broken they had already suffered heavy losses and were on the brink of being forced to withdraw, so the result was I think reasonable, as was the reciprocal damage my cavalry suffered which took them out of the game as well.

Losses among generals were higher than normal. Frederick survived but our hearts stopped momentarily when Robbie threw a 10 (11 or 12 is a hit). Similarly Louden escaped unscathed, unlike two of his commanders. The Prussians lost 3 generals in the game. I like to randomise the rating of replacement generals rather than make them one level lower, which adds to the fun. In one case the 'dependable' commander of John's right wing brigade was killed but his replacement was 'dashing'.

Again, the rules worked really well and are easy to learn and flow well. The Prussians could have won it, and being more aggressive might have done the trick. We shall never know. 

Tuesday 16 February 2016

Leignitz, 15 August 1760 this week, weather permitting......

This week I am hoping to refight Leignitz using Honours of War.

Throughout August 1760 Frederick was manoeuvring  between much larger Austrian and Russian armies which were attempting to encircle his army. Frederick managed to slip out of the trap but was unable to link up with Prince Henry’s army in Silesia as he had planned. He faced the combined army of FML Loudon and FM Daun.  There was also a fair chance that a Russian force of 25,000 under General Chernyshev would soon join the Austrians near Breslau. 

Frederick’s army was near the village of Leignitz on August 15th when he was attacked by the Austrians. Daun's plan was to launch his entire force at Frederick in order to destroy the  Prussian army. FML Loudon was sent with 25,000 troops to act as the anvil to keep the Prussians in place while the main Austrian force, the hammer, under Daun crushed them. Luckily for Frederick he had abandoned his camp and moved his forces further to the East out of the trap. He left von Zieten behind to block Daun, who would be faced with the unpleasant task of crossing some pretty bad terrain in order to attack him. Meanwhile Frederick moved 30,000 men to a plateau near Panten on the Katzbach and attacked an unwary and surprised Loudon. Louden reacted quickly to this threat by launching his combined grenadier battalions at Frederick's centre. but they were driven back with heavy casualties, mainly from the fire of over 30 Prussian 12pdrs! Frederick followed this up with a combined cavalry and infantry attack on his left wing and pushed the Austrians off the plateau. Louden established a new defence near the village of Bienowitz. However, after two hours the battle was over and Louden driven off. His rapid defeat meant that there wasn't enough time for any intervention or reinforcements by the mainAustrian army. However, when Daun finally got his act together and advanced Frederick was gone and Louden's force was in no state to continue. Daun chose not to continue with a new attack and consequently completely missed his chance to destroy Frederick with his superior forces. 

It'll be an interesting one to set up and will present several challenges.

For example:
  • For the first couple of moves its still night, so visibility will be restricted to 30cm and movement to 30cm without incurring the chance of going off course or provoking a 'blue on blue' incident;
  • Frederick will need to move fast and defeat Louden's force within a set number of moves. I think 8 should be enough;
  • Louden will start the game with his grenadiers poised to attack and much of his army in march column;
  • Frederick's army is split in two, with half under Zeiten off table facing Marshall Daun across some pretty difficult terrain. Daun 'dithered' and didn't offer any support to Louden in command of the Austrians facing Frederick so should I factor in the possibility of either/or Daun intervening or Zeithen providing additional troops for Frederick? No, too complicated.
  • This will also be the first time I use the 1760 onwards ratings for the Prussians in Honours of War. It will be interesting to see how they perform as they are not now the supermen of the earlier part of the war or the Silesian Wars due to the horrific casualties received.

And what soup shall I make this week.......?

Saturday 13 February 2016

The Battle of Leuthen - an excellent and demanding game!

As stated in an earlier post, this week's game was another go at Leuthen. It's not my favourite Seven Years War battle and we've already done it twice in the last 12 months, but we were using Black Powder. This time we were to use Honours of War, our now much preferred ruleset for the period. It also meant I could strip my table back to reveal my roofing felt snow terrain and use my new winter backboard. (Quite apt as, living as I do in the North Pennines, there really was snow on the hilltops outside).

Robbie, Robbie's nasty cold which I think he left for me to catch, John, Dave Jarvis with some hand-baked cupcakes, and Mark Dudley joined me for the game. Robbie and Mark took the Austrians, I had the Reichsarmee with added catering responsibilities, and John and Dave were Prussians. Robbie was Charles of Lorraine and it was  John's turn to be Frederick.

The orders of battle were largely derived from those use in my last refights, which in turn were based on the scenario described in Charles S. Grant's Wargaming in History and piles of other stuff I have on the subject.

We're doing the final phase of the battle, i.e. the Prussians have already rolled up the Austrian left flank and are heading towards Leuthen while the Austrians are desperately trying to redeploy their line around Leuthen. Map from Kronoskaf.

Austro-Imperial Army

C-in-C:  Prince Charles of Lorraine DITHERING
Assisted by FM von Daun DEPENDABLE (off table to the north, 2D6 to recall – any double needed then he takes over command in D3 turns)

Right Wing Cavalry:  OFF TABLE TO NORTH WEST enter right of Leuthen T4
Gen der Kav Lucchesi DASHING
Cuirassiers                                         2 x 12*
Imperial Cuirassiers                         2 x 12**
GM Esterhazy (8) DASHING T5 as above
Dragoons                                            2 x 12*
Cuirassiers                                         2 x 12*

Right wing reserve: GM Herzog von Arenberg DEPENDABLE in column behind Leuthen.
Infantry btns                                     2 x 36 (no battalion guns)

Right Wing Infantry: FzM Kheul  DEPENDABLE (enter behind Leuthen in column T3)
Infantry btns                                     3 x 36 (no battalion guns)

Left Wing Infantry: FzM Colloredo (8) DEPENDABLE (deployed in and around Leuthen)
Infantry btns                                     4 x 36 (incl Rot-Wurzberg* in church)
Artillery battery                                2 x 12pdrs* (on windmill hill)

Hussars                                              2 x 12** Independent units

Reichsarmee Bavarians/Wurtembergers from Nadazdy’s Corps:  Marshal Spitnatz  DITHERING (On table withdrawing to Leuthen)
Infantry btns                                     5 x 36** (No battalion guns & 1D3 cas/ea.)

Left Wing Cavalry: Gen der Kav Serbellini  DASHING (off table NE corner enter T2+D3)
Cuirassiers                                         2 x 12*
Dragoons                                            2 x 12*

Marshal O’Donnell DEPENDABLE (off table NE enter T3+D3)
Dragoons                                            4 x 12*

Prussian Army

C-in-C: Frederick II King of Prussia DASHING

Right Wing Cavalry:  GL  von Zieten DASHING (Lt-Gen)
GM Scipio Baron von Lentelus DASHING, on table
Cuirassiers                            5 x 12*
GM Czettritz DEPENDABLE, T1 behind Lentelus
Dragoons                                3 x 12*
Hussars                                   1 x 12    

Left Wing Cavalry: off table SW short edge and enters after the right wing Austrian cavalry have exposed their flank, come within 30cm of Butterberg, or T5 on roll of 6 on 1D6 (+1 for each subsequent turn).
GL von Driesen DASHING
Cuirassiers                            3 x 12*
Dragoons                                2 x 12*

Infantry Centre:
Advance Guard: GL Prinz von Wurtemburg DEPENDABLE on table right centre
Grenadier Btn                     1 x 36* (No battalion gun)
12pdr Battery                     1 x heavy gun***

Hussars                                   2 x 12 (Independent units)

1st Line:  GderI Prinz Moritz von Anhalt-Dessau DASHING (T1 right half of baseline)
Guard Btn                                              1 x 36*
Grenadier Btn                                        1 x 36* (No battalion gun)
Musketeer Btns                                     1 x 36*
Fusilier Btns                                          1 x 36    
12pdr battery                                         1 x heavy gun     ***

2nd Line: GL Frederick William Quirin de Forcade de Biaix DEPENDABLE (T2 right half of baseline)
Musketeer Btns                                   1 x 36*
Fusilier Btns                                        1 x 36
Grenadier Btns                                    1 x 36* (No battalion gun)
12pdr battery                                       1 x heavy gun***

Artillery: Colonel Moller DEPENDABLE (T3 on Butterberg)
12pdr battery                     1 x heavy gun
Howitzer battery             1 x medium howitzer
Fortress battery               1 x super heavy ‘Brummer'

* superior troops * * inferior troops

 The start of the battle. The Austrians are desperately trying to realign their army to face the Prussians while the Reichsarmee (representing the Bavarian and Wurttemberg divisions) in the centre of the table are retreating rapidly after being bundled out of their positions somewhere off table to the left.
 A lone Austrian hussar regiment on their right flank.
 Leuthen church held by the Rot Wurzberg regiment. The Reichsarmee streaming past them seeking safety in the houses of Leuthen.
 Zeichens cuirassiers on the Prussian left, led by the splendidly-named GM Scipio von Lentelus
 Mark asked if he could put some of his troops on the table so a squadron of never before blooded Saxon hussars were attached to the Austrian Palatinal Hussars. The combined unit acted as an admirable and colourful speed bump in the face of the Prussian cuirassiers.
 Robbie looking pensively at the open Prussian flank and wondering when their reinforcements would arrive, while the Austrian left tries to shake out into line to face the Prussian cuirassiers heading their way.
 The Reichs contingent continues to evaporate, with the notable exception of the Hessen-Darmstadt Leib-Grenadiers (left). The other battalions were being pounded by Prussian 12pdrs and encouraged to keep retreating.
 At last Mark is able to bring on Serbellini's cavalry, who did a fabulous job halting the Prussians and even driving them back. Dave had managed to create a bit of a traffic jam with his cavalry leaving them no room to manoeuvre if they had to retreat, which several regiments did!
 All the action was taking place on the Prussian left, but John was also advancing with the Prussian main body towards the Austrian centre, while Dave's infantry can be seen deploying behind the cuirassiers. Robbie, as Charles of Lorraine, looks on, powerless at this point to intervene and stem the Prussian advance.
 The Hessen-Darmstadt Leib-Grenadiers still covering their comrades' withdrawal into the town.
 Dave launched his cavalry at an exposed battalion of Hungarian infantry. Predictably they were beaten off and forced to withdraw.
 Mark inexplicably decided that the Rot-Wurzberg regiment should leave the safety of the churchyard and advance. In the background Robbie's Austrians were just about holding their own against the Prussian advance. 
 The Austrian left.
 The Prussian right still looking menacing after its first clash with the Austrians.
 Robbie's reinforcements streaming into Leuthen. Or dribbling?
 Rot-Wurzberg about to retire back into the churchyard.
 A rather large gap previously occupied by the now disintegrated Reichsarmee corps.
 The Austrian left flank from the Prussian perspective. Serbelloni's cavalry are on the baseline and O'Donnel's dragoons are not far behind them.
 Safely back in the church -Rot Wurzberg.
 Robbie's right wing cavalry under Lucchesi and Esterhazy make an appearance - ultimately eight regiments of cuirassiers and dragoons facing very little at this stage except Moller's artillery and the flank of John's infantry.
 Dave's Prussians have now swept the Reichsarmee from the field and are poised to advance on the town.
 The Prussian IR6 Garde, advance, with IR16 Graf zu Dohna on their flank.
 The cavalry battle on the Austrian left has ground to an inconclusive halt, both sides having pulled back to lick their wounds and reform. This left just two infantry regiments to withstand the Prussian advance.
 The Austrian right, Dreisen's Prussian cavalry have just appeared on the flank of the Austrian cuirassiers.
 Prussian dragoons and hussars reforming behind their infantry.
 Robbie tried to charge Moller's artillery with his cuirassiers, without success.  His cuirassiers and the Prussians lock sabres in the background.
  GL Lucchesi (left/centre in cuirassier uniform next to the cuirassier with the flag) just before a cannon ball took off his head. GM Esterhazy was to meet a similar fate in the same turn. When Robbie re-rolled to see what the quality of their replacements were, he threw two 1's so both became 'Dithering', a big drop from 'Dashing!" The remaining Austrian infantry on this flank were also driven off, leaving a large gap in the line with nothing to fill it. 
 The cavalry fight on the Austrian right continues. GM Esterhazy can be seen in the red coat just before his demise.
The Prussians gain the upper hand on their left, driving off the Austrians.

At this point the Austrians conceded defeat. Their right wing had been bested by the Prussians, and although they had four regiments of cavalry left, they were in no position to make any difference as they were hard pressed by Prussian infantry and artillery fire. The Austrian left was still a force to be reckoned with but only insofar as covering the army's retreat was concerned as the Prussian right flank cuirassiers of Zeithen had now recovered their strength after the earlier mauling they'd received at the hands of Lucchesi and O'Donnell. Sadly there was very little Austrian infantry left. The Reichsarmee corps had been disposed of with the exception of a single battalion holding some houses in Leuthen. Arenberg's and Khuell's commands had been destroyed in the centre and right flanks so only three or four battalions from Colorado's command were left to face the largely untouched strength of the Prussian main body. There were simply not enough Austrians left as at least 12 of their units had broken and several more were 'on the brink'. The Prussians had only lost 4 units but now outnumbered the enemy where it mattered, i.e. with Infantry and artillery.

It was a very good and satisfying game and the rules worked a treat. Again, the game was far more enjoyable than either of the versions played using Black Powder as there was far more thought involved in deploying and moving units and players are subtly encouraged to adopt the linear tactics of the day. Its interesting that in the two Black Powder games, both were decided by the collapse of the cavalry on each flank. In this game, both sides' cavalry pretty much fought each other to a standstill and it was the infantry and artillery that sealed the Austrian defeat. Command and control worked well, and had Robbie not lost two of his key right flank cavalry commanders he may have had the opportunity to wreak havoc on the Prussian centre. Unfortunately with their commanders hors de combat the cavalry was less than enthusiastic about following their 'dithering' replacements.