Tuesday 30 May 2017

Mollwitz - a fast game and speedy conclusion.

It seems like a long time since I've had my 28mm Prussians and Austrians on the table, so with Conrad Cairns and Dave Jarvis coming up for a game today I thought it'd be a good battle to fight. I've played Mollwitz a couple of times over the years, indeed it was the first game I played using Black Powder when they were first published. Remarkably the Prussians lost on that occasion (or maybe unremarkably given that we didn't know the rules and  were unaware that in BP cavalry have a good chance of breaking formed infantry from the front). The next time the Prussians won convincingly, using Honours of War, the set we used today.

Mollwitz is a battle with problems and opportunities for both armies. For the Austrians its a race against time for them to crush the Prussian cavalry on both flanks quickly before turning on the infantry in the centre. For the Prussians they need to hold back the far superior Austrian cavalry to give their infantry in the centre time to close with and dispose of the Austrian infantry. With the exception of the hussars on both sides who were inferior, all the  Austrian horsemen were classed as superior and all the Prussians as standard. The Austrian infantry was a mix (50:50) of standard and inferior battalions to reflect the large number of recruits present, while the Prussian infantry were all superior. None of the Austrians had battalion guns present, although what artillery they did have once it arrived, were classed as superior for firing.

Conrad wanted to be von Nieppberg in command of the Austrians so Dave took command of the Prussians as Frederick assisted by me.  The roads, marshes and stream are there purely for show as the ground was frozen and covered in snow up to 2 feet deep in places.

 The armies deployed for battle. What can't be seen off to the top right is von Romer's Austrian cavalry, waiting to sweep away the Prussian right wing.
 The centre of the Austrian line, eight battalions of infantry screened by some hussars of dubious value.
 The aforesaid cavalry of von Romer.
 Facing von Romer's cavalry was a much weaker Prussian force, stiffened by a battalion of grenadiers.
 In turn 1 Conrad threw a 5 and got two moves with the dashing von Romer's command, which formed column of regiments and steamrollered towards the waiting Prussians who gamely charged. The result was never in doubt and the Prussians were forced to retreat, closely pursued by the weakened Austrians.
 The Austrian centre remained immobile as the Prussians very slowly advanced thanks to some unlucky command rolls by both Dave and I.
 Von Romer's cavalry crashed into the rallying Prussian dragoons and drove them off the field, unfortunately following them off table for a couple of turns.
 Conrad's cavalry continued their assault and hit the second regiment of Prussian dragoons, breaking them easily! So far so good for the Austrians and pretty much as expected.

 The Austrian hussars seemed happy to stand in the middle of the battle field while the Prussian artillery took the odd pot shot at them!
 Meanwhile on the other flank the Austrians had beaten the first line of Prussian cavalry, destroying one regiment of dragoons and forcing a regiment of cuirassiers to retire.
 Historically, Frederick was advised by Marshal von Schwerin to leave the battlefield on the collapse of the Prussian right. To represent this, once three Prussian units had been broken Frederick had to throw anything but a 1, with a further minus 1 per extra unit broken. Dave threw a 2, minus 1 for an extra broken unit, so Frederick left the field in haste.  This was actually good for the Prussians as von Schwerin took over and he was classed as a better commander than the young King.
 The victorious Austrian left wing cavalry reformed but was unwilling to risk attacking the Prussians who had turn to face them.

  The remains of the Prussian right supported by a further battalion of grenadiers and a battery of artillery.
                      The Prussian front line closes to musket range and opens fire, creating a growing number of casualties on the Austrians.
 Over on the Austrian right, the Prussians had pushed their hussars into contact in order to slow the Austrian advance, while one battalion from the front line had been held back to cover the exposed flank. The Prussians were driven back but the Austrians didn't pursue. A succession of poor command rolls for both sides plus the effect of Prussian musketry on the Austrian cavalry meant that the action on this flank ground to a halt for a while.
 The Prussians in the centre are poised to close with the Austrian centre.
 A lucky cannonball hit the Austrian Commander in Chief and he was bowled out of the saddle minus his head. Amazingly his headless corpse managed to avoid spilling a drop of the wine it was holding!

 The Austrian 3pdrs have finally deployed, making the task of dislodging the Austrian infantry just that little bit harder.
 Dave closed the range to point blank an won the fire initiative, and one crashing volley down the line saw the entire Austrian first line destroyed or forced to retreat in confusion. In return, the Austrians caused few casualties on the Prussians except for their artillery that forced the Prussian Garde to withdraw,
 The extreme right of the Austrian infantry.

 On the Prussian right the line had been reformed and any thoughts of rolling up the Prussians were quickly banished from the mind of the Austrian cavalry commander.
 The Austrian second line was about to be engaged by the Prussian centre.

 The Austrian second line about to dissolve in front of the Prussian advance. Two battalions sought refuge in the town while another was broken.
 Von Schwerin (centre) urging his men on to victory.
 A lone Austrian battalion on the right/centre, exposed and out of command.
 The Prussian flank guard.
 A period of inertia set in on the Austrian right flank with neither side either willing or able to advance.

 The lone surviving Austrian battalion in the centre.
Austrian 3pdrs. They did succeed in driving off the Prussian 'Garde' and another battalion that stepped up to replace them, but that was not enough to stem the Prussian advance. The late arrival of the other Austrian artillery meant that they didn't get a chance to deploy before the battle was lost.

Much to our surprise, we had reached a conclusion and it was only lunchtime!  The Austrian success on their left had not been as decisive as it needed to be, and the Austrian right was too focussed on destroying the Prussian cavalry before sweeping round onto the Prussian flank when it would have been quite possible to commit fewer troops to the former task and have sufficient left to execute the latter part of the plan. The Prussian centre had been slow to move off, but once they got into rage the effect of their superior musketry immediately began to tell, leaving the Austrian centre crushed and reeling in the smoke.

A cracking, fast-paced and enjoyable game (I hope). It went more or less according to history and it really was a race against time for the Austrians on the flanks and the Prussians in the centre, a race won this time by the Prussians.  But at least the Austrians had the pleasure of seeing the Prussian King gallop from the field of battle with his tail between his legs!


  1. A rattling good game by the sound of it!

    1. Thanks. It certainly flew over and I was caught on the back foot when lunch wasn't ready by the time the Austrians admittted defeat!

  2. Beautiful figures and terrain, a fantastic report...and a very impressive mass of cavalry!

    1. Many thanks Phil. Yes, there are rather a lot of Austrian cavalry, and there were still some left in the box!

    2. It always hurts me to leave nice troops in the box ... next time!

    3. They'll all be out in 2 weeks time when we're refighting Leuthen!

  3. great stuff. looking forward to seeing these close up in a few weeks.

    1. Think of this battle as a bit of pre-season training, it not a friendly!

    2. And the sad thing is you so t get to play Leuthen as you're running your WSS game 😣

  4. great game, thanks for sharing

  5. Very impressive armies and buildings. Thank you for taking the trouble to present it so well. I'm amazed you got so much done in the time, was it mainly down to dashing commanders with double moves?

    1. There were a couple of dashing commanders but the game.just flowed really well, especially the rout of the Prussian right wing and the inability of the Austrian infantry to shoot straight

  6. Good to see people making sensible adaptions to the rules to cover the WAS. Even better to see people having a good game that finished quickly and decisively, and with a reasonable level of historical veracity. Thanks for the post.

  7. Excellent looking game Colin, and it seemed to play out very well. Good old HoW deliver again!