Tuesday, 23 May 2017

The Prussians strike back

'My dearest Wilhelmine,
It seems that old Fritz does indeed value this front. I have received a good deal of reinforcements and have gone over to the attack. The enemy do not know what has hit them as we forced their outposts two days ago...'
The Kleist and Bahr Grenadiers advance towards the enemy.

Flicking back through some old issues of Practical Wargamer magazine I came across a set of rules by Donald Featherstone for the American Revolution (September/October 1995). They were based around percentage dice, and so I had a go at adapting them to the Seven Years War. I added in some command rules and tried to come up with something that would play quickly, and could fit on sheet of A4. I was intrigued by the possibilities that they offered and so gave them a go. This small battle in my ongoing campaign was fought using those rules.

The battlefield. The farm at the creek is the main Austrian outpost, with some grenzers camped on the hill to the right. The Austrians are unaware of any approaching enemy.

The Prussian column arrives on the battlefield. The light brigade of jagers and Hussars moves through the woods to try to take the high ground.

Now alert the Grenzers come out of their tents and open fire.

And the main Austrian body is up and deployed as well. In the distance the Prussians take a bit of time to deploy through what must be uneven ground.

The Prussians contest the summit of the hill, the grenzers barely surviving a flank attack from the Reusch hussars.

Meanwhile the Austrians settle their battlelines.

Face to face the two armies prepare to deliver massed volleys at each other.

The contest is relatively even, the Prussians being forced back on their left, but successfully attacking on the right.

The next Prussian attack pushes the Austrian right back as well, but the Hussars are forced to regroup on the hill.

Austrian musketry keeps the Prussians at bay. The Freikorps and the Peterwardeiner Grenzers were both eliminated in this exchange.

Simultaneously the battle around the farm rages.

The battle ends with the Prussian Hussars smashing through the Austrian right flank and the Starhemberg regiment pushed into the creek behind their camp.
The battle saw the Austrians outnumbered by only one unit, but they had a poorer command rating. I was happy with most aspects of the system, but I felt that I needed to class elite units with different percentages to line units. They already have greater survivability, being able to take more hits than a line unit, but they really needed to be harder to damage as well. The percentage dice also threw some interesting moments into the mix. Such as when the Austrians were being hard-pressed but then miraculously rallied and poured much more effective volleys into the Prussians, despite having been forced back. I guess it's feasible, but I much prefer the way that beaten units underperform in Honours of War or my Horse and Musket rules.
The one big success is the new command system which I've added to my Horse and Musket rules now. It is influenced by the Ganesha games system, and I guess, by Black Powder to a certain degree. Commanders are classified before the game as average, above, or below average. 2d6 are rolled and this determines how many moves each unit in the activating Brigade gets. A move will either be a straightforward move, a change of formation, or you can forgo one move in order to fire in the firing phase. I'm looking forward to trying it with my usual rules, which I will update again today on the Horse and Musket Rules page.

'So we have torn a gap in the Austrian lines and are now moving on their rear with all of our forces. God willing my next letter will bring news of a great victory.


Saturday, 6 May 2017

Crossing the Rotwasser part two

I played this game out over the course of the week, a few turns each day, so there aren't a huge number of photos documenting every move. Hopefully, though, you'll get the gist of things.
The Austrian Hussar brigade try to cross the bridge over the Rotwasser unsupported. This ends the way one would expect.

On the Austrian right flank the Grenzer brigade continues to engage and weaken the Prussian defences so that the Hungarian Brigade can secure the Rotberg.

The Prussian Freikorps move to help the embattled artillery in the redoubt.
Several moves later and the Austrian reinforcement s have arrived. The Grenzer Brigade has taken a beating, but the Hungarians have arrived and taken the artillery redoubt. If the rest of the brigade can secure the Rotberg, then the Prussian position in Rotbrucke will be turned. In the top left, though, can be seen the first unit of the Prussian reserve Brigade. Will it be in time?

The Austrian grenadiers attempt to storm the Rotbrucke, only to be repulsed by the Prinz Heinrich fusiliers. This regiment did a sterling job of holding the bridge for most of the game.
The fusiliers near breaking point as the fourth Austrian unit of the day attempts to storm the bridge.

The Prussian Freikorps and Garrison Regiment and  broken ground slow the Hungarian advance long enough that the Prussian reserve arrives to dispute the Rotberg.

The Prinz Heinrich fusiliers finally break - losing their colours in the process. A sad end to game for a gallant regiment. In reserve, the Rohr Fusiliers stand ready, although they have taken a pounding from the Austrian artillery across the river - and now face being flanked by a Hungarian battalion. Just behind the town, however, a fresh Prussian battery is arriving.

This is a bit blurry, but I've included it anyway, because it capture the last moment that the Austrians looked like they might take the game. Three turns later the Hungarians were broken. Prussian regiment 18 charged the Austrian artillery - twice, and the second time destroyed it. The Prussian Grenadiers then took their place in the front line and saw off the last of the Hungarian infantry.

The Rohr regiment broke, and the Austrians tried to pour across the bridge, only to be met by a hail of canister from the Prussian battery and the freshly victorious Prussians marching down the hill towards the town.

The Austrian grenadiers are destroyed and the Prussians pour steady volleys into the remaining battalion on their side of the Rotwasser. At this General von Schilcher calls it a day and the Austrians retreat, The battered Prussians have no energy to mount any sort of pursuit. 
The rules continue to evolve, and the good thing about playing solo is that when I decide to change something, I can do it mid-game and it doesn't disadvantage an opponent. A few rules clarifications have been written in to do with columns in melee and bonus dice for hand to hand combat.

Had the Hungarian brigade arrived just a couple of turns earlier, I think that the game would have gone the other way. They would have made sure that the Grenzers weren't annihilated and been able to take up excellent defensive positions on the Rotberg which the Prussians would have struggled to recapture. I don't think that Baron Nokedli will be on von Schilcher's Christmas card list, somehow.

'It was a hard fought battle, and I cannot speak highly enough of my men. Even the Freikorps put in a valiant and vital effort! I'm sure Old Fritz will be as ungrateful as ever though. The army will take some time to recover, and the loss of the colours by the Prinz Heinrich regiment will be a black mark against me. However, I am sure the Austrians are in just as bad a way, for we cut them up as they deserved, and if I should get some reinforcements I would look to advance and force their retreat. Well, I live in hope.

Yours Balthasar'


Sunday, 30 April 2017

Crossing the Rotwasser

'My dearest Wilhelmine
The Austrians moved in force to cross the Rotwasser today. They moved at dawn, and were aided by a fine mist that reduced our visibility. The Malachowski Hussars were on patrol south of the river and were the first to encounter the enemy movement, being pursued by a superior force of Austrian Hussars...'

Yes, the Austrians are about to commit large forces to forcing the Rotwasser. Has von Pritzwalk laid out his defences to maximum effect? Can his small force repulse the much larger forces of Generalfeldmarshal von Schilcher?

Early morning Robrucke, the small farming community next to the eponymous red bridge crossing the Rotwasser.

The von Trumbach regiment are on Picquet duty.

And the Prussian artillery is solidly ensconced in a redoubt to cover the bridge crossing, and the ford further downstream.

The Austrian grenzer brigade begin crossing at the ford, their movements hidden by the early morning mist.

The Malachowski Hussars appear - in a hurry! A message is sent over the bridge to Rotbrucke - wake up General von Kasenstein!

The grenzers continue to cross the ford, the artillery oblivious to their movement

This is why the Prussian Hussars were in a hurry! They turn to face the pursuing Austrian Hadik and Esterhazy Hussars.

The Hadik regiment charges and gets the best of the opening exchange by some way. The Malachowski Hussars have obviously still not recovered from the casualties they received in the raid.

Back they go, and the way to the bridge lies open.

But the Austrian Hussar General Gugelhupf is intent on destroying his enemy and pressing his advantage.

Kasenstein is awake now! He rouses the two fusilier regiments camped at Rotbrucke

And hearing gunfire the Prussians in the camp on the Rotberg, under General Zwiebelkuchen also deploy.

The Peterwardeiner Grenz are the first to engage the Prussian artillery.

The Prussians, under fire, pivot their gun

Gugelhupf has scattered the Prussian Hussars.
Unable to charge (because they are light infantry) the grenz swarm around the redoubt, but the combination of the redoubt and the natural save artillery get  mean they achieve nothing.

Canister does its job though! The Carlstadt grenz are caught in a shower of grapeshot!

Guglehupf isn't the most impressive Austrian commander. He takes a whole turn to readjust his frontage.

In the meantime von Kasenstein has arrived with the fusiliers, and taking the bridge frontally is going to prove costly!

The Prussians under Zwiebelkuchen open up on the grenzers, and the Peterwardeinwer grenz, being caught in enfilade, suffer particularly badly.
 For the past two turns the Austrians have been rolling for reserves, but so far none have shown. Does this mean that von Schilcher is letting his best opportunity to win slip through his fingers? Stay tuned...

These sticks are made for measuring.
This is the first battle where I am trying the new morale system, and also the first where I have moved to measuring sticks. I used them in the Song of Broken Legions game the other day, and I preferred them to using a tape measure. I'm currently rewriting the rules so that they talk about movement as red, blue etc., and it is working really well. The top stick is the artillery stick, and had thoughts of putting a bounce sleeve on it a la Charles Grant, but we'll see how the rules I've got for it go in the meantime.


Saturday, 29 April 2017

A quick fix up

It seems that what coast were introduced to the Spanish army from 1703 on - for the cavalry! But it has become clear that the infantry didn't start to change until late 1706/1707. Which is great news for those that want to paint a very pretty multi-coloured Spanish army, but bad news for the figures I've already painted white. I'm not an absolute stickler for historical accuracy, after all, my Spanish don't have belly pouches for their ammunition, but where possible I at least like them to be dressed in the correct colours. What to do?

It turns out that the allies had the Dutch St Amant Regiment on the boat with Peterborough, that had exactly the same colour scheme as the Spanish. So my white clad chaps went over to the other side without a whimper and now I have to paint Spanish troops in the dark blue with red of the Toledo regiment. Such a simple solution could not be found for my Spanish grenadiers with their lovingly sculpted sheepskin hats, so a repaint was in order.
Check out the new threads...
And here they are. This is the colour scheme that the rest of the Spanish infantry will have as well, and in fact I passed over the miquelets and began painting them last night.


Friday, 28 April 2017

Song of Broken Legions?

Following my first playtest of the Broken Legions rules I decided that they really weren't for me. They didn't fit my solo gaming criteria of quick, fun games with bugger-all maths. Which isn't to say they aren't solid rules, just that they aren't for me. So I decided to recreate the Soldiers of the Eagle and the Argonauts using the Song of Blades and Heroes system. Very few special rules to worry about. The Romans got shieldwall to represent their discipline. The leaders got,, errr, Leader and free disengage. The Praetorian got steadfast, the Oracle was a magic user with a ranged attack that I dubbed 'the arrows of Apollo'. The Heraclean Champion was combat 4 and savage. Finally the Frumentarius was given stealth .
How did the game go?

The two sides lined up at the beginning of the scenario - capture the sacred tree!
The Argonauts on the far side of the ruined temple complex. Both sides are 400 points.
First moves bring the Heraclean Champion and Praetorian into contact. First round goes to the Praetorian, but the Champion gets back up! Sacred Tree just behind the Argonaut Captain.
Now it's the Heraclean's turn to knock his opponent over! More Romans arrive to contest the tree.
Both sides now plough into the central killing ground. The Romans do what they do best and form a shieldwall.
But it isn't all about defence for the Sons of the Eagle! Note a fallen Argonaut in the background, felled by an arrow from a Cretan Archer.
In this turn there are a few less Argonauts. The fallen figures in front of the shieldwall never got the chance to stand up, and the Frumentarius sneakily makes his way beside the shot Argonaut and dispatched him.
The Argonauts are thinning out. The Oracle attempts to cast her magic and fails - twice in a row. But third time Apollo listens and she takes out the Centurion.
The Heraclean Champion and the Argonaut Captain both go down, and the Oracle hightails it out of there!
All that is left of the Argonauts is a Mercenary Hoplite, and he isn't planning to stick around...
The body count compared - a little uneven...
And so the Romans were clearly left in possession of the sacred tree.

Despite the lop-sided body count, the sides weren't that uneven. I played the shield wall wrong for a good part of the game so that figures wouldn't recoil or get knocked down if they were beaten at all, instead of by just one point. I didn't use the leader activation rules properly either, so this is all good learning. The scenario design was also pretty simple, being a basic head to head, and next time I'll look at including a bit more subtlety. Also, the Argonauts rolled some terrible activation dice at times!
However, this was a great solo game. My brain wasn't hurting at any stage as I tried to keep track of both sides, it played to a conclusion within an hour, and there were some fun moments. That is what I ask for in a game, and I'll look at creating a narrative for the battles I fight. This is good, because having painted both sides up, I want to be able to use them in this fantasy setting, and I'm keen to expand with a Cult of Set and some pretty cool looking Celtic Barbarians as well.
So for my Six x Six challenge I'll now be playing 'Songs of Broken Legions' rather than the original Osprey game.