Sunday 8 January 2023

"I think the King will lose this day" said Marshall Daun before Kolin. Was he right?

The first game of the year was played out yesterday, a large refight of one of my favourite Seven Years War battles, Kolin. It was a full house, and Conrad, Richard, John the Red and Nigel were the Austrians while Dave, Paul, Shaun and John H were the Prussians. I decided to use Black Powder with some of our usual house rules.

Notes on terrain. Troops shooting through or into the standing crops did so at -1. The hedgerows and tracks are representing sunken lanes. Troops in the sunken lanes benefit from cover but if behind the hedges themselves they do not. 

The game about to kick off. Prussians looking worried on the left. Austrians also looking worried on the right.
The bulk of the Prussian army is either not yet on the table or strung out in column along the road, overlooked by the Austrians to their right. Shaun anxiously looking over his right shoulder towards their reinforcements.
The Austrian left wing. Thankfully for the Prussians these troops were not allowed to activate until turn four, or if the Prussians came within 24" of them.

The Austrian centre from their rear. Grenz and a lone battalion of grenadiers and a battery of artillery.

On the Prussian left, their hussars quickly became embroiled in combat with their Austrian counterparts.  By turn two the Austrians had defeated all four regiments of Prussian hussars thanks to some unusually bad dice scores from Paul, although the Austrians would say it was down to their tactical brilliance!
The flight of the Prussian hussars left the flank of their attack exposed and open to attack. The Austrians charged but superior discipline and some better dice rolls meant the Prussian grenadiers beat off the enemy attack, although their supporting artillery was overrun.

The Austrians tried to exploit their victory against the Prussian left but were countered by a brigade of Prussian cuirassiers. Sadly for the cuirassiers, by this time Nigel had brought his Saxon cavalry and attached Austrian elites forward, and the Prussians were pushed back and broken. 

In the centre after a delay the Austrians finally got their troops to move in order to counter the Prussian onslaught in the centre.

The Prussian attack in the centre captured the old Swedish earthworks and drove most of the Grenz out of their positions.

I should have expected this move from Conrad, as two brigades of heavy cavalry posted behind their left wing rapidly advanced against the Prussian right and suddenly surged forward for three moves as he'd thrown something ridiculously low. Eight regiments is a scary sight.

The presence of so much Austrian cavalry meant that the remaining Prussians due to arrive along the road were delayed and at no little risk once they appeared. The lead battalion (IR 15 Garde) did deploy to cover the entry of the rest of the brigade. They did not shoot such a tempting target as we only allow infantry to move once and still fire.

John H and his remaining troops arrived a turn late, which was to prove a critical delay.

Conrad's cavalry swept away a brigade of Prussian dragoons and a lone cuirassier regiment and galloped along the enemy baseline, pursued by John H's infantry and cavalry. 

The Austrians were held up by the valiant efforts of IR40, who survived a flank charge, reversed their rear ranks and prepared to sell their lives dearly. 

John's Prussians advanced against the Austrian left wing under Richard,  ignoring the threat of enemy cavalry to their rear as four regiments of Prussian cuirassiers had just arrived.
The Prussian right, with Conrad's Austrian cavalry in the distance behind the Prussian lines. 

Austrian and Saxon horse on the Prussian left.

The Prussian left, crumbling under the pressure from the Austrians, and due to Paul's continued and statistically unfair dice rolling!
Austrian cuirassiers seen through a window in one of the villages they rode past.

John the Red's infantry made it to the sunken lanes and began trading shots with the Prussians. Attack over.

I did a quick roll call and it showed that the Prussians were in deep trouble. Their hussars and cuirassiers on the left had been destroyed and the infantry attack in the centre had been stopped, due largely to a dogged Austrian defence but also to the presence of enemy cavalry on their flanks and rear! Only on he Prussian right was anything going reasonably well, but it was too late. John H's infantry had driven back Richard's Austrian battalions and his cuirassiers had caught up with Conrad's roaming horsemen in the rear of the army. However, by now over half of the Prussian army brigades were in retreat, off the table or were broken and retiring. Many of the troops in the centre would be unable to retreat due to the Austrian cavalry and would be captured. In fact only John H had troops actually under orders!

All this and it was only 2pm real time, and after no more than six turns the Prussians had been comprehensively defeated. Quite an achievement but there was definitely something awry with the Prussian dice rolling yesterday. Conrad's mad charge around the Prussian army would probably not have happened or been as successful if he hadn't been able to get the three moves needed to cross the battlefield and thus delay the Prussian reinforcements. The Prussians needed these infantry to press home the attack but they had to do without them.

This was a splendid game and despite the early finish was thoroughly enjoyable. It was also a major boost to my gaming mojo after a couple of months of illness, uncertainty over my wife's health and a touch of le cafard. Black Powder worked really well again as usual. While not my favourite ruleset for the SYW they're easier to manage than, for example, Honours of War, where the alternate move and fire system for opposing brigades would have slowed things down significantly, and not everyone is familiar with Paul's Panoply of War set. Everyone is familiar with BP and they work for big games such as this.


  1. Magnificent, and almost theatrical in the ebb and flow of fortunes on the field.

  2. Looks a smashing game, sad to have missed it. Shaun & DJ cursed by bad dice?! I can scarce believe it.;-)

  3. Yes, it was a great game Colin. Really enjoyed it even though my die rolling was its usual abysmal state of affairs. I was joined in that by Dave Jarvis and Paul. Nigel's aggressive tactics were for once supported by his dice rolling and Conrad was, as ever, proving that fortune does favour the brave! The Prussian Centre attack was foiled by a mix of stout defending by Conrad and John the red and by Conrad and Nigel ensuring we could not commit our reserve lines to that push by surrounding us. The cry from the Prussians was "Circle the Wagons" and limbers and caissons and anything else we could get our hands on. Great to see you and Katherine looking better than last time I saw you both and great to see so many old friends all enjoying themselves. Thanks for the invite and I'm looking forward to the next one.

  4. Wonderful looking game Colin as always in your superb Wargames room. Good to see the Austrians on the attack and tolling very well.

  5. Good to read of a dramatic victory rather than a slugfest leading to a draw. May I wish you and Katherine all the best for 2023.

  6. Super looking game there Colin! Sue and I hope both you and Katherine will have a much better year.

  7. Great looking game. Good turn out and inspiring blog ad usual. Now where are my SYW figures?

  8. Evidently the Prussian players were mistakenly using Average Dice rather than D6s.😄

  9. Oh, this table is looking amazing. I like the photo of masses of cavalry.