Sunday 21 July 2019

Bohemian Rhapsody! White Mountain in 1/72nd Scale

Yesterday I'd been invited to take part in a recreation of the Battle of White Mountain at the outset of the Thirty Years War in 1618. A battle between the Protestant 'Winter King', Frederick I of Bohemia, who was also Elector Palatine. He was also married to James I/VI of England/Scotland's daughter, and father of, amongst others, Rupert of the Rhine of English Civil War fame. More info on the man here.

Anyway, back to the game, which was organised by Mike using his extensive and lovely 1/72nd scale plastic figures. We knew from the start that it would be a hard game for the outnumbered and outclassed Bohemians but we were determined to make a game of it. The Catholics were commanded by John H (Catholic John) as Tilly on their left and Neil W was Bucquoy on the right. The Bohemians were led by me as Thurn on our left flank, with Matt as Anhalt in the centre, and John the Red (Bohemian John) was Schlick on our right.

We used a set of rules provided by Mike. I don't know what they were called but they were easy to follow and worked well. We used rules to determine the weather, and as it turned out most of our battle was fought in rain, limiting movement and firing. As usual I will let the pictures tell the story of  how the game unfolded.

Both armies deployed for battle. The Bohemians are on the right on the slopes of White Mountain.. There were an awful lot of Catholics and their six tercios looked menacing.
The Bohemian left wing commanded (up the edge of the cloth) by me. The three infantry regiments  were rubbish, the Harquebusiers in the background were ok and the Cuirassier were good. They were going to have to be!
Lots of Tercios!
The Catholic centre.
One Tercio. Each one was over twice the size of our regiments.
My one regiment of cuirassiers was facing all this Catholic horse.
My soon to be heroic cuirassiers.
Wicked Imperial cuirassiers. (booo!)
More wicked Imperial/Catholic cavalry.
The Red, Green and White regiments. All of very low morale.
This is what my three regiments of foot were facing!
The battle began with a general advance by the Catholic army and a desultory cannonade from our side. We did force one enemy battery to break before it could deploy.
Another Tercio.
The Catholic centre, advancing slowly due to the rain.
Faced with overwhelming numbers of enemy cavalry my only obvious course of action was to retire in front of them. Nope. My cuirassiers charged the leading enemy unit, bringing the advance of the whole wing to a halt.
While the Red and White regiments withdrew, refusing my flank, the green regiment advanced  to bring the enemy horse under fire.
In the centre a gap had opened up between two Catholic Tercios so I ordered my Harquebusiers to charge.  Their target was unfortunately able to form a hedgehog so my cavalry pulled up short.
Neil reinforced the melee between the cuirassiers but still my regiment held its own for another turn.

The Red and White regiments withdrawing up the hill.
The Tercio charged by my  Harquebusiers was now pinned and unable to move until the threat from my cavalry was removed. Neil's artillery eventually drove my horsemen off to rally on the Mountain.
My musketry had been less than effective and the return fire shattered the Green regiment, seen here routing from the field.
My cuirassiers were still fighting, although Thurn was knocked from his horse and unable to influence the game for a turn.
Sadly being outnumbered four to one had only one possible outcome and the surviving Bohemian cuirassiers fled.
The Catholic cavalry pursued my fleeing troops up the hill. To add to the chaos Thurn was killed in the rout.
Matts cavalry exploited the gap in the Catholic line and attacked their Croats.

My Red regiment soon followed their Green compatriots in flight!
My now rallied harquebusiers charged the Catholic cuirassiers, blown from their pursuit. Sadly my men bounced and in the following move were chased down by all of Neil's cavalry and driven from the table.
In the centre Matts cavalry struck the enemy Croat cavalry and routed them and the unit following.
A large gap in the Catholic line of battle now filled with Bohemian horsemen.
Back on my flank the sole surviving infantry regiment and the battery of cannon in the earthwork were all that was keeping the enemy from rolling up our flank. My cavalry seen here lasted only another turn before being shattered. 
Over on the other flank I am unsure as to what exactly happened. I do know that Catholic John managed to throw three 1's in succession which resulted in three of his units routing! He failed to take Bohemian John's battery in the first attempt but pressed on again for another go.
This time Catholic John's Tercio hit one of Bohemian John's regiments and completely destroyed it in a couple of rounds of melee.
The battlefield at the end of the game. Our left was gone, with the White regiment finally being surrounded and destroyed to a man. 
So what was the result? The game had been set to run 12 turns, which we played out comfortably. The weather rules played a big part in the game as the game started in light rain, then cleared for a while, then the rain came back, torrentially for the final couple of turns. The effect on the Catholic army was profound as with movement reduced to 50 per cent and no firing permitted their victorious right wing was never going to get to grips with our centre. All bar one of the catholic Tercios was pinned in hedgehog by Matt and Bohemian John's cavalry so was unable to move. This allowed our surviving infantry to withdraw safely without the danger of a damaging pursuit, although I suspect we would have lost all of our artillery, being unable to extract any guns due to the weather. The Bohemians had done far better than in the real battle (not too difficult as the entire army was broken) and managed to withdraw to fight another day, so the game was declared a Bohemian victory, or as Matt suggested, a Bohemian Rhapsody!!! Mama Mia!

Thanks to Mike for setting the game up and for umpiring. The game was played in the usual gentlemanly way and was a pleasure to be involved in, even if I got my figure killed and my entire command was routing from the field or surrounded and wiped out to a man! A grand day out (and thanks to Bohemian John for the lift).


  1. Thunderbolts and lighting, very, very frightening!

    Great looking game. A toughy for the Protestant forces so it sounds like you did well compared to history.

    1. Beelzebub was definately very very frightening and screwing things up for the Catholic army! The Bohemians got to break free in a flash. Nobody Lives forever but we got to live a bit longer to enjoy the fat bottomed girls of Prague.

  2. Very nice to read this. I never thought that the battle of White Mountain could be an interesting game for both sides, because - as you said - the quality of troops was very different. I had the Impression that you didn't fielded the Hungarian Allies, which didn't had a great Impact on the battle, leaving the battlefield without real fighting.

    1. Thanks. We did have the Hungarians but they were covering our extreme right wing and were happy where they were.

    2. And the weather played a big part in our "not defeat"

  3. See, that’s what happens when you play with plastic! And not in the one true scale either...😉

    1. Very easy on the back though as the whole army weighed less than one of my metal 28Mm regiments. They're actually very appealing but I have too much invested in 28mm to switch. It's not like changing gas supplier sadly 🤔😉