Thursday 26 July 2018

The Battle of Gross Mittelmassigkeit, 25 July 1761

I had originally planned for this week's game to be a historical refight, of either Burkersdorf (21 July 1762), Paltzig (23 July 1759), or Hastenback (26 July 1757). Burkersdorf looked a good bet but was perhaps too complex for a six-player game. Paltzig I've played before but with the Prussians outnumbered more than 2:1 it's a little one sided. Hastenback is eminently doable but the one 18th C army I don't possess is a French one (yet), so although I could have fudged it I decided it wouldn't feel right so shelved all of the above options for the present and went with a scenario of my own making.  I thought I should get my Saxons, Hessians and Brunswickers on the table so put together two numerically balanced ('ish) but qualitatively slightly unbalanced armies. A bit of wargamers' license but what the hell.

Conrad and Nigel on the right survey the field of battle while Jim strikes a suitably heroic  pose.
I had a houseful with Paul S, Conrad, Jim, John, Nigel and myself, plus at various times my wife, my mother in law, her friend, the dogwalker, the cleaner, two noisy dogs and two cats! The kettle was on overdrive.  Conrad and Nigel had the rather dubious honour of commanding a joint Saxon/Reichsarmee force. John, Jim and I took a conglomerate of Prussians, Hanoverians, Hessians (from Hesse Casel not the other one), Brunswickers and even a unit from Schaumberg-Lippe. Classifying the troops under Paul's rules (Panoply of War) appeared simple enough. The bulk of the Reichsarmee contingent were pretty ropey, while some of the Saxon infantry were average at best. The Saxon Guard, grenadiers and their cavalry were pretty good. On the other side, the Prussian cuirassiers were excellent, as were a couple of Hanoverian and Brunswick cavalry regiments, but the Bosnian Uhlans and von Kleist's Frei-Uhlanen and Frei-dragoons were below average. The Prussian infantry contingent included three average line battalions, a garrison battalion (below average), two Freikorps battalions (even more below average) and two Militia/Recruit battalions (barely trained rabble) . The Brunswick and Hessian infantry were average, while the lone Hanoverian infantry unit was excellent. Many of the troops had never been out on the table before. Ominous or what?

There were three objective markers placed along the centre line of the table, and holding these, together with giving the other side a good pasting, were the objectives for each army. As usual the narrative of the battle will accompany the photos of the game, which together will hopefully make sense of an incredibly tough and frankly knackering (but highly enjoyable) game.

The Saxon corps.

We had the strategic initiative so could place a unit in ambush. The Bosniaken  Uhlans lurk out of sight behind  the Reichsarmee's right flank.
"There's an awful lot of them" say Conrad and Nigel. Actually the numbers were pretty even, but I detected a slight defeatist aura at the start. That was my intention when putting the armies together as in reality the Prussian Collective's army was a mixed bag; for example, all the infantry between the stream and the town were Freikorps, Militia or Garrison battalions.
The Prussian left wing.

The Reichsarmee's vastly outnumbered right wing cavalry. Hardly the Empire's finest but very pretty. 

My Prussian brigade in the centre - three second rate line battalions and a garrison battalion.
Tabitha my cat made an appearance, stepped lightly over the Prussians and took an interest in the Reichsarmee cavalry.
Clearly favouring the Reinchsarmee she then spotted and stalked the Bosniak uhlans lurking behind the hill. The  ambush  was sprung by my traitorous cat!
Our right wing included units from several German principalities, including a historically far too big a regiment of  Schaumberg-Lippe Carabiniers. 
Brunswick Carabiniers, Hanoverian Garde du Corps, Hessian dragoons and Hanoverian horse on our right wing.
Six regiments of Saxon cavalry; three each of cuirassier and cheavau-leger.
Jim launched his Prussian cuirassiers at Conrad's cavalry. Miraculously the Prussians were bounced.

In a moment of desperation Jim ordered the Bosnaik Uhlans to charge the Reichs Hohenzollern cuirassiers.  Un-nerved by this the cuirassiers broke in rout, hotly pursued by the victorious and somewhat surprised Bosnaiks!
The Prussian cuirassiers continued to batter their way ahead against the Reichsarmee horse, making hard work of it.

Meanwhile Jim's infantry were now within close musket range of the enemy. The Feldjager had been forced to retire leaving the Freibattalion de l'Homme de Courbiere to exchange volleys with the Reichsarmee. 

On the Prussian right the opposing cavalry were now locked in combat. I must admit to loosing track of what was going on but there was lots of charging, retreating, routing and stuff going on.

The Saxon Karabiniergarde in melee with the Hanoverian Gaede du Corps.
The Bosnaiks in pursuit of the Reichsarmee cuirassiers!
Meanwhile back on the other flank the Bosniak pursuit smashed into the flank of another Reichsarmee regiment, which was broken in route. The Bosnaiken were rated as pants and the Reichs cuirassiers and dragoons as 'requires improvement' but the latter were bundled unceremoniously away in rout. It was probably down to some anomalous dice scores..... As it turned out their pursuit had to stop at some point and they were forced to withdraw to the hills where they remained for the duration of the game.
Saxon infantry (the Guard no less) in the centre close with the Brunswickers and received a boatload of casualties from shooting. They shrugged it off though.
More Brunswickers extend the line to the left, with the Hanoverian battalion in reserve.
Suitably rallied and reformed the cavalry on the Prussian left wing went at it again with the equally suitably rallied Reichsarmee dragoons and cuirassiers. This time the Prussians were to punch through their opponents.

Back over on the other wing the pell mell melees, advances, withdrawals and routs continued. Von Bruell's chevau-leger were to be contenders for 'man of the match' alongside the Bosnaiken Uhlans, as they managed to punch hole sthrough John's lines of allied horse.

For a moment however the Saxon cavalry were in disarray, but the Brunswickers et al were unable to capitalise on the situation.
The Saxon Karabiniergarde were down to half strength by now and out of it as far as the game was concerned.

Little has been said of the stirling work the Hanoverian jager did in the centre of holding the coaching house. They caused some telling casualties on the Saxon Karabiniergarde and von Arnim cuirassiers and prevented the von Rochow fusiliers from driving them out.
The Reichsarmee centre and right was by now crumbling. All their horse had been finally driven off, several battalions were in rout and the Prussian cuirassiers had placed themselves ready to roll up the flank.

The Karabiniergarde still had some fight left in them, managing to beat the Hessian dragoons and force them to retreat.

Skylights allow lots of light but can play havoc with photos. Here we have a battalion of Saxons wilting under from Prussian and Brunswick battalions.

The Saxons were starting to be driven back, albeit slowly.

However much of our right wing cavalry under John was in retreat or routing, being unable to stem the tide of Saxon horse.

Hessian dragoons about to be beaten again by the Saxon Karabiniergarde.

Our artillery in the centre served their guns well but failed to cause more than a few insignificant  casualties on the enemy.

The chaos on the Prussian right against the Saxons continued.

But in the centre the Saxon foot could make no headway against the Brunswickers.

The Brunswickers. Hurrah!

More Brunswickers. Hurrah! Hurrah!

Conrad's right wing was being hard pressed by the Prussian cuirassiers and infantry facing them.

One Reichs battalion even formed square to try and hold off the Prussian attack.

Contenders for 'man of the match', the Bosnaiken Uhlans, recovering on the hill out of the way of any further action.

Von Kleist's Frei-Uhlanen regiment did nothing throughout the entire game apart from block the line of sight for  the  Prussian horse battery deployed on the hill. Mind you, the uhlans classification was even lower than that of the Bosnaiks!
Nothing much happened in the town. Half was held by each side for most of the game proving that built up areas can easily become troop magnets.
The Reichasermee commander of the joint Reichs/Saxon army. 

The Saxon commander.

Finally, the commander of the Reich's contingent.
So there you have it. A fine battle and as it turned out a very marginal victory for the Prussian Collective as their opponents held most of the physical objectives. Paul's rules are still a work in progress and are getting better with each iteration. However, for a big multi-player game at the moment I still think I prefer, warts and all and with some well-researched twiddling and fiddling, Black Powder (or Honours of War for the SYW). For me the ability to be able to play a very big multi-player game such as this to a satisfactory conclusion is what counts. That said, I don't dislike the rules and am getting my head around the mechanics, and do like very much many of the concepts, and will continue to play them happily when the opportunity arises. The rules also certainly survived my attempt to stretch them by having armies composed of troops classed from the very best to the very worst (wurst?) on the table.

I have to say thanks to Paul for umpiring a curmudgeonly bunch of old gits playing the game (ok, John, you're not that old). Thanks to everyone for playing the game in good spirits and in a most gentlemanly way on rather a warm day. Finally, thanks to my long banished Saxons, Brunswickers, Hessians and Hanoverians for putting up such a good showing.


  1. Lovely figures and flags, though I cannot seem to find Tabitha's uniform in my Funckens. Which regiment was that?

    Best Regards,


    1. Thanks Stokes, she’s in the Chocolat Von Spotz Purrassiers

  2. A lovely able and I like the idea of the 'hearts' as casualty markers.

    1. Thanks Norm. Not my idea but one eagerly borrowed.

  3. What a cracking looking game Colin. Those massed ranks of cavalry are just fantastic!

    1. Cheers Mark. Some of the RSM figures are looking a bit tired now and need some tlc.

  4. excellent game Colin, great photos as usual. The burrow looks now fully equipped for war and I wish I was there!

    1. Better start saving up for another trip to the UK, focussed entirely on NE England.

  5. Splendid looking game with a wonderful collection on the battlefield 🙂

  6. What a wonderful looking game (as always) and one full of action. The Bosniaks get my vote for 'men of the match' as I just love it when the 'rubbish' guys perform so, so well:)

    1. Thanks Steve. A pure fluke of the dice rolls helped the Bosniaks.

  7. A rather splendid looking and sounding game Colin...
    I love the mix of forces ... it makes a nice change from Prussians v Austrians/Russians.

    All the best. Aly

    1. Thanks Aly. One gets tired of the 'big' players in the SYW. I just need to work out a scenario for my army of the Duchy of Modena!

  8. Thanks for all the positive comments. For those wondering, my understanding of the name of this fictional battle means ‘great mediocrity’ in German, at least according to Google Translate.

  9. Wow what an epic struggle - great report Colin and excellent pics too!

    1. Thanks Ross. Epic it certainly was. We were all knackered at the end.

  10. Wonderful looking massive game Colin, and you did well to get a result in the day. The Von Rudnicki Uhlans would have fitted in well if you had got them ready :-) Love all the massed ranks of cavalry boot to boot - terrific. Chris

    1. Thanks Chris. Check out photo 24 or thereabouts. They can be seen lurking in the rear out of the way. Minus lance penons still though.

    2. Ah yes, I see them now. I had thought you did not intend to use them without the pennants!

  11. So many different casting designs, but successfully painted and based so they all look great, and fully integrated. And who cannot be impressed by that leopard-skinned formation prowling on the table lol.

    1. Cheers Michael. One day I will stick to just a couple of manufacturers but you're right, painting, and more importantly basing can tie different style of figures together, especially en masse.

  12. Grand 1:1 scale cat there! Figures and terrain are nice too. I get almost overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of your posts! Going to Claymore by the way?

    1. Thanks David. Yes, I shall be at Claymore.

  13. I don't think 'impressive' quite covers it Colin. Definitely 'inspiring' for me. Thanks for sharing this fine piece of wargaming.