Sunday 10 December 2023

Leuthen Anniversary Game , well sort of………

I have often run a Leuthen game each year on or near to the anniversary of the battle (5 December 1757). This year I shifted 49 years forward and set the game in 1806, without snow. The Prussians were replaced by French and the Austrians and Reichsarmee by Prussians  and Saxons. It was easy enough adapting the orders of battle but I ended up with a fairly high proportion of cavalry. This was fine by me as this meant I could field all my lovely 1806 Prussian and Saxon cavalry. I decided to use Valour and Fortitude rather than Black Powder, General D’Armee or similar. Only John and I have played V&F and was unsure how they would be received by the others, so that might have been a risky decision. Anyway, house rule number 1 is play the period not the rules, and busk it if necessary with regard to the latter.

Also, it amused me to deliberately not tell anyone that they were refighting the Leuthen game. I replaced the iconic church with the Schrauben Metalwork and Gun Foundry. This and the fact that there was no blanket of snow covering all the roads, streams, fields and so forth helped with the disguise. I don’t know if anyone guessed.

John the Red, Conrad and Shaun were the French, and Paul, Jim and Neil the Prussian-Saxon forces. The defenders would be steadily reinforced to the point where they would potentially outnumber the French, while the French would have the immediate tactical advantage of the Saxon brigade being caught in the middle of the battlefield on the French right. The French would also be reinforced, but much more quickly, and hopefully win a swift victory. Mmmmmm?

The Prussian and Saxon miniatures are one of my favourite collections. Most of the Prussian infantry are by the now sadly defunct FG Miniz of Paris. The rest, and the Saxons, are Elite or Foundry. The French, with exception of the cuirassiers, were just my Revolutionary Wars collection (my 1805-1807 French are still to be stuck together). No apologies to the button counters; indeed I plan to do some replacement flags to swap as required with the less revolutionary-looking battalions, not as much as a matter of keeping costs down but due to space, or the increasing lack of it, in the Burrow.

The French (on the right) begin their attack. North is the long side of the board on the left.

The Prussian defenders cluster around the Schrauben Gun Foundry, garrisoned by two fusilier battalions.

The Prussians to the north west of the factory.
Conrad had command of the French cavalry on their right. The Saxons were quickly forced into squares.

Two Saxon battalions, their artillery and hussars retire, covered by their comrades in square.
The French advance guard, tasked with leading the assault on the factory.
Conrad put four regiments of cuirassiers and two of chasseurs in column and proceeded to gallop down the right edge of the table, but were held by several Saxon and Prussian cuirassier units that has just made a timely appearance.
The Prussian garrison of the town and factory area was hindered by the impossibility of their brigade commander being in two places at once. They were covering an area of about four feet end to end, so some hard riding was called for.
The French attack develops.
The Saxon commander overseeing the withdrawal of his men.

The French advance guard are now trying to drive off the Prussian grenadiers defending this end of the town. 
The French main body is quickly moved up in support of the embattled and struggling advance guard.

The Saxon hussars charge a regiment of French hussars while a second French regiment has attacked and overrun a Saxon battery lurking behind the tree line (deemed not to be an obstacle to the cavalry).

The view from the French reserve artillery position as large numbers of Prussians and Saxons arrive across the table.

Two regiments each of Prussian and Saxon cuirassier.

The Saxon square took a considerable hammering from the French artillery, and even flukily beat off a French cavalry attack on the central square when it became shaken. Sadly, Conrad threw a '1' so he bounced, even with the +2 modifier for charging a shaken square.

Four regiments of Saxon cheveau-leger advancing on the French left.
The French dragoons made another attempt at the squares, breaking one this time.

The attack on the town continued throughout almost the entire game. The French took heavy losses.
The final French reinforcements arrived to face a mass of enemy cavalry.

On the allied right Neil finally got to throw some dice, and in the penultimate turn made up for his late entry into the game by completely destroying John’s cavalry brigade of carabiniers and dragoons with his Saxon cheveau-leger. 
This rather busy photo shows the bitter fighting in the town as it reaches its height, the French failing to evict the Prussians.

In a final act, the Prussian cuirassiers hit a battalion of French before they could form square, destroying them.

So, in this version of Leuthen the French took a drubbing and were beaten, taking heavy losses.  This is always a difficult scenario for the attackers but I did think the Prussian and Saxon defenders would have struggled to hold. How wrong I was. The French cavalry on their right was unable to make any progress against the Saxons, and in the centre their attacking force was repeatedly hit in the flank by aggressive Prussian and Saxon moves. The collapse of the French left was the icing on the cake and it was all over.

I had thought the French could have bypassed the Saxon squares or not get drawn into fighting with them, and just pulverised them with artillery. Conrad's cavalry had too little space to manoeuvre once the squares were formed although I'm not sure where they could have gone, except maybe a wild dash to overwhelm the Prussians to the west of the town and factory. We will never know the outcome of that rather rash idea.

I ended the game with a bit of a downer as I wasn't convinced that the rules worked or that everyone had enjoyed the experience. As with all games these days for us aging gamers, we all kept on misremembering rules and even getting rule sets mixed up. There are some issues I have with both the rules and the army lists that the Perrys provide, but these can be easily rectified. For a simple set of rules they gave me an inversely massive headache by the end of the afternoon but everyone said they enjoyed the game. Another attempt is called for before judgement is finally passed. 

Might have a game next Saturday, as it'll be the last chance before the commercialised hyped up nonsense that is Christmas. Bah, Humbug and all that! 


  1. Hi Colin.

    Game seemed to go ok, a little slower than a fast set of rules might, but with five new to the rules, going to be a little longer. Are couple of areas where it could do with clarification eg post melee.

    Dont recall the French suffering heavy losses other than our less than glorious Cavalry. Plenty of dead Prussian Grenadiers and Saxons though. Although the French broke into the town, could nt see us holding on, as the Prussian reserves were in place. The Saxon squares essentially blocked that flank, where we had no infantry to help crush them. Well played the Prussians!

    Good disguised scenario, best way to handle historic battles IMHO

  2. A super offering from the Burrowers! Running out of space? Now there's a thing...