Monday, 12 January 2015

The Old Match-up --- Prussian vs. Austria+ (mit Bierstube!)

Last Saturday, the Hamilton Road Games Group saw a replay of a Seven Years War battle between the Prussians (brought by Andy with my Prussian cavalry) and a mixed force of Austrians and Reicharmee (all my troops as well as my wife's Bavarians.) 15mm figures were deployed. Warlord Games' Black Powder rules were used and the game mechanics turned out well. The game's results were less inspiring for me, but it was fun without a doubt.

Kevin and Andy ran the forces of Frederick the Great while Martin, Bear (as "General von Bear") and myself fielded the Austrians, Bavarians, Saxons, and Reicharmee contingents. (Photos were taken by Martin, Andy, and myself.)

Martin's photo of the battlefield with Kevin, Andy, your humble blogger, and von Bear around the table.

Andy and I concentrate on the game about half-way through. My dragoon brigade has already blundered.
Each side had two cavalry brigades and about five infantry brigades. Our side had a light cavalry brigade under Martin's control with two superb Hungarian hussar regiments and a force of less-impressive mounted pandours. He also had a mixed contingent brigade of Bavarians and Hungarians with a batch of freikorps light infantry. Bear had two infantry brigades, one Reichsarmee "Bierstube Battalions, the other the grenadier reserve of two Austrian battalions, one Hungarian battalion, and one Reichsarmee unit, the last one being troops who could walk and carry sausage at the same time. I had a brigade of dragoons (Austrian, Bavarian, and Reichsarmee), a brigade of Austrians on their first time out, and a brigade of Bavarians and Saxons. A battalion of grenzers rounded out my force. Andy faced me with dragoons, the "Death's Head" hussars, and infantry. Kevin had dragoons and kuirrasiers and infantry. The Prussians decided to break up their grenadier reserve and attach one battalion of grenadiers to each of four brigades.

In Black Powder, command-and-control is king. The Prussians won the toss and advanced first. It took a while to get into contact since both sides attempted to keep a solid front to the enemy and not let anyone go hareing off on some crazy, imagined errand. Orders are required to be specific and sometimes they are delivered in corny "general-ese." (Like "The First Bierstube Fusiliers will advance to the edge of the hill side and make ready to defend!" delivered in a thick, liverwurst-y German accent.) Bear held the hill in the centre of our line and ended up with three artillery pieces from his two brigades and one from my Saxon-Bavarian outfit. Actually he had the most success on the allied side.

Martin's contingent facing Kevin's Prussians (including a Russian dragoon regiment pretending to be Prussians.)
The hussars charging the gun on the far left had to fall back in the face of canister or as the rules call it, "closing fire."

My Austrians led by my favourite regiment, Hoch und Deutschmeister...
who failed morale and vaporised when hit on the flank by Prussian dragoons.

The Austrian commanding general. Not his best day ever.

Bavarian infantry borrowed from my wife.
Freikorps 15's figures with hand-painted flags.
Yes, I am insane.

Frederick the Great encouraging his men forward.
"March! March! No thinking! March!"
My dragoon brigade - Austrians in green, Bavarians in red, and Reichsarmee in blue and white - from the Swabian Kreis.

Kevin's troops facing Martin. From the looks of things, Kevin's one Kuirassier regiment - the Garde du Corps - has run away already. Some Austrian foot pandours - von Tenck's - are frolicking in the woods.
The view down the line from Andy's left flank.
Just before Andy and I were to do toe-to-toe in the field, my dragoon brigade rolled a "blunder" in it's command roll. (a twelve on 2d6 means a blunder. Some "boxcars.") They were required to make one move to their right, which placed them behind a forest and opened a BIG gap in my line, allowing Andy's dragoons to attack my infantry. The first unit hit fell back disordered. The second unit vaporised. Then the dragoons wheeled right and charged an artillery battery from the side, which disappeared. The cavalry regiment made a break-through and hit another infantry regiment from the side. Sad to say, I.R. Hoch und Deutschmeister couldn't take the strain and vanished. 

Bear was holding strong on the hill in the centre of the line. Martin and Kevin were doing a lot of give and take with their cavalry on the far right of our line. However, some of his cavalry began to give way and that made for the time to end. I had my Austrian brigade broken and my Bavarian/Saxon brigade almost untouched. My cavalry had put itself in a bad place and although they changed formation and could enter the fray again, they'd be facing an untouched Prussian infantry brigade with artillery attached. As well as cavalry that had rallied back. It was time to throw in the towel.

An impressive Prussian array.

The grenadier brigade of von Bear's command.

My mixed Bavarian-Saxon brigade (Freikorp 15's and Old Glory figures)
Those are Saxon gunners in green on the far side of the column.

There always seemed to be more Prussians!

Bear bring more cannon up. The Saxons soon joined his Austrian and Reichsarmee batteries.
(Minifigs, Freikorps 15's, and Essex miniatures plus some unknown maker's grenadiers)

Plenty of flags in evidence. Since Essex miniatures have the flags molded to the figures, I have the joy of painting them.
Of course, I chose to field Austrians and I'm painted so many Doppelalder, it isn't funny!

As my flank began to collapse, the Saxon contingent attempted to change their front to offer some protection to what was to be a heavily damaged flank.
My figures were originally based for Koenig Krieg and Andy's were based for Age of Reason. His battalions were larger at 30 figures. I strapped two KK battalions together to make one battalion for Black Powder. Since both 24 and 30 are considered "average", this works well, although Andy's 30 man units on six-man bases are more impressive. Still my Austrian units, both "German" and "Hungarian" are fielded at 36 per unit, which makes them "Large." This allows more stamina and a larger "punch" in firing and hand-to-hand. They just aren't as easy to manoeuvre on the table.

Prussian grenadiers break into skirmish order to enter the woods. I don't think the pandours would have held them long. The pandours were pretty fragile in morale and stamina.

The Prussian battle line - Musketeers and Fusiliers.

Martin's flank with the mounted pandours on the far end, hussars next, and then the Bavarian and Hungarian infantry.
Some of Bear's Reichsarmee infantry are to be seen just before advancing out of frame on the right.

Andy's horse brigade - dragoons and the Death's Head hussars with a cannon.

After two of my regiments and both of the brigade's guns were destroyed, this is what I faced at the end of the game.
A few lucky/unlucky breaks are all it takes to make the game. Yet, there is skill involved - choosing the ground, placing the troops, manoeuvring properly, all take thought and skill.
I really do enjoy playing the Black Powder rules. There is an element of chance to them which bothers some people, but I for one don't find that bad. Random things can still happen even without the card-driven events of some rules. As of now, these would be my rules of choice for this period at least.

Andy's Prussians prepare to face the Whitecoats.

Oh, the shame! My Austrian I.R. Wied had to fall back in the face of the Prussian dragoons... from my collection!
I hope you enjoyed this little report. I sure enjoy reading your's! More soon... Tiger Hunt next week!

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