Monday, 16 November 2020

Soldier King Campaign: Battle is Joined

My attempt at a 7YW-based campaign using the 'Soldier King' boardgame has thrown up its first battle, as the Austrians sieze the intiative to strike with superior force at the town of Rahden, where the Prussians have the advantage of what the game map calls 'fortifications'. I don't have any model fortifications, so I will take the excellent suggestion from Neil Patterson and simply assume the town is in a naturally strong defensive postion - assisted by my new-minted walls ( from my  previous post ).

So here we are: first the Prussian defenders of Rahden,  translated from the  ratings from the board game to the Strength Points (SP)  of 'The Portable Wargame'  - essentially  'Guards' become 'Elite'  and 'Veteran' become 'Average'.  All cavalry conveniently the same, i.e. 'Heavy', and I allocated each army one artillery unit , as artillery pieces  are not included in the board game, presumably just 'factored in' to available forces. 

von Gehirne and his gallant ( and suprised ) defenders

        Generalleutnant  von Gehirne  ( 6 SP )

        Von Kleist Horse Grenadiers, rated Elite    ( 4 SP ) 

        1st Battalion, 44th Fusiliers, rated Elite ( 5 SP ) 

        1st and 2nd Batalions, Von Kleist Frei Korps infantry, rated Average, ( each  4 SP )

        1  gun and  crew, rated Average  ( 2 SP ) 

    A total  of   25 SP, with Exhaustion Point after loss of 9 SP. 


  And the attacking Austrians, led by the experienced General Dachs : 


General Dachs' strike force

         General Dachs ( 6SP ) 

        1st and 2nd 'Grenzer' Cavalry, rated Elite ( each 4 SP ) 

        1st and 2nd Battalions Botta  Infantry, rated Elite ( each 5 SP  )

        1st and 2nd Battalions  'Wildganse' Jaeger,    rated Average ( each 4 SP ) 

        1 gun and crew, rated Average ( 2 SP )

    Totalling 34 SP, with Exhaustion Point after the loss of 12 SP. 


Now to the battlefield, and the battle!  The Southern outskirts of the town of Rahden, with the road from the south passing between hills and woods, and with some convenient walled enclosures making good defensive positions. To reflect the Austrian's grabbing the initiative in the campaign, I decided von Gehirne's troops would start in and around the town rather than fully 'dug in' on those hills, for example, as Dachs' Austrians hurried up the road to attack - entering in march column on Turn 1. The picture below looks South to North, with Austrians arriving in the foreground.

Raus! Raus! Prussian defenders at starting positions, Austrians arriving 

Von Gehirne placed his gun and his elite  Fusiliers behind the walls by the road, with the von Kleist foot divided between the two flanks , and his Horse Grenadiers on his right (West) flank, hoping these three could race up to defensive positions on the hills outside the town.  Precious few units, though, and the cavalry outnumbered two-to-one.   

I gave the Austrians first move in Turn 1, and I used Bob Cordery's card-driven unit activation system,  whereby each side gets to activate a number of units each turn according to card draws.  The Austrians would be able to activate 3, 4 or 5 units each turn  and the Prussians 2, 3 or 4. The Austrians drew a '5' on turn 1, and accordingly 5 units marched onto the table from the south: both their cavalry units, their gun and one battalion each of Jaeger and Botta ( 'Guards' ) infantry. The Prussians drew only a two, still a bit sleepy perhaps? Von Kliest 2nd Foot in march column raced forward to secure the Eastern hill and stone-walled  enclosure,  while the Horse Grenadiers reached the Western hill. 

The fighting started on Turn 2, with the Prussian gun, overseen by Gehirne himself, getting first blood with a hit and 1 SP taken from 1st Austrian Jaegers ( caught in Column ), and the Horse Grenadiers charging downhill in line to catch the Austrian 1st Cavalry in column, hoping to knock them back, though in the event the melee was indecisive.  The Austrian 2nd Cavalry came to the rescue, charging into the Grenaders' flank and pushing them back onto the hill, whereupon something of an epic cavalry fight continued back and forth over the West Hill for  the next several turns. The Horse Grenadiers, supported by the 1st Von Kleist foot,  did a fine job against twice their number, while the dastardly Austrian horse even took to charging from the cover of the woods. By Turn 7, the Prussians were pushed off the hill but still intact, while the Austrian horse had suffered losses of  2 SPs  ( I used pennies as loss markers ). 

Prussian Horse Grenadiers dispute West Hill, heavily outnumbered


Meanwhile the Austrian foot and gun concentrated on the East Hill, bravely defended by the 2nd Von Kleist infantry, with the Prussian gun firing in support from the town. The Austrian gunners were not shooting very straight, making only one hit from five turns of shooting!  Their Jaegers were more determined, charging straight up the hill repeatedly, being repulsed no less than three times by musketry and close combat, and suffering 3 SP losses by turn 6, but crucially taking  2 SP from von Kleist, with the gunners' sole hit taking another SP. The defending Prussians could not afford to take 'retreat' results when hit, for fear of abandoning the walled enclosure, so were forced to take SP losses. 

Austrian Jaegers bravely - and repeatedly - assaulted  East Hill

I found the card-driven activations added a level of uncertainty and challenge to the commanders' task.   They could not assume they would be able to do everything they might like  to each turn, with limits on the numbers of units that could be activated. One result was that for a while the Austrians were too busy fighting with the units on the table to be able to spare activations to bring on their last couple of battalions!  The need to  keep attacking East Hill with infantry and bring up guns, meant that Dachs had to resist using too many activations on the possibly less decisive cavalry fight on the other flank, however demanding of attention  the swirling mass of horsemen might be! 

On Turn 7, something of a turning point, as the Austrian 1st Jaegers stood off and gave the Prussians a musket volley, scored a hit and took the last SP from 2nd von Kleist foot, breaking them and leaving East Hill there for the taking - only for the Prussian Fusiliers to let fly with their first volley, at long range from the town, and inflict the same punishment on the Jaegers, who were destroyed at the moment of triumph! 

End of Turn Seven - all to play for?

Which leaves us, at the end of Turn 7, with an 'interesting' situation - the Austrians have cleared the East Hill and pushed the Prussians back from West Hill, but the fight for the latter is by no means over, and the  main town is still defended by a gun and two foot units, one elite and manning the walls. The losses so far : Austrians  6 SP ( Exhaustion Point 12 SP ) ,  Prussians 4 SP ( Exhaustion Point 9 SP).  General Dachs has made progress, but the town looks a tough nut to crack.

Time ran out and the troops have been packed away, but the battle will resume another day. I hope this has been interesting to read, as it was indeed to play. Until the next time, keep well, everyone. 




  1. An interesting opening battle to your Soldier King campaign.

    1. Thank you very much! Not as well thought-out as your own campaigns, I fear - I am very much making it up as I go along!

  2. Great looking forces and an exciting battle so far. The card driven activation certainly adds to a solo PW game, though I don't always use it.

    1. thanks, MJT ! I think the cards may have helped the defence a bit, by preventing the superior numbers of attacking units from just 'rolling them over'. They force both sides to think about which are the most important tasks each turn. Also with these rules, the results of one unit activation can have a big impact on what you decide to do with the next activation(s).

  3. Lovely looking game old chap! I don’t know why but it almost looked like a mini version of the famous Battle of Sittangbad from Charge! I really like those buildings and it is always good to see Eric’s old warriors in action!

    Well done that man!


    1. Thank you David, that is a very flattering comparison! I will admit that when painting those buildings, I was looking at the pictures from Charles Grant 'The War Game', and thinking I wanted something along those lines. Eric's figures are great, a pleasure to use them, and I am (very slowly) painting more of them.

  4. I like your buildings. Are those from that 'Paperboys on Campaign' magazine ? They look a lot more expertly done than the ones I have put together from that magazine although given my general level of maladroitness that is not saying an awful lot.

    1. Thanks Dave! No, they are not the Paperboys buildings, I think I would struggle to do a good job with them too! These started off as Xmas table decorations, available from 'The Works' shops for about £2 to £3 each, I think. They look just right for a vaguely Germanic setup, I just applied a bit of paint - not too much! I think a future blog post may feature them..

  5. Nice, sharp action. Is the battle over or are you just putting it away for a while?

    1. Thank you! I ran out of time and had to pack away, as the table doubles as my 'home office' desk! I do intend to set up again and finish the game sometime soon. Watch this space..

  6. Your campaign is off to a fine start.

    Pity about having to pick up but shows the advantage of a modular hex battlefield. Easy to put things back in exactly the right spots.

  7. Thank you, Ross. Yes. easy to pack up when required and take note of positions - I even have some hexed paper for that!
    I am thinking of adding some 'scenic scatter' here and there to make it look a little less bare, again easy to pack away and not significant to the game, just cosmetic. And some hedges along the roads might tbe good too..