Thursday, 11 March 2021

Soldier King Campaign : Round One at Rahden

Opening shots: battered Uhlans (left)  seek shelter

Back at my campaign driven by the  'Soldier King' boardgame, we have the first engagement in front of Rahden, as the Austrians main army tries to knock out a slightly weaker Prussian force,  before  the Prussian main force can reach the scene.  See my earlier post for details of the combatants - now down to the action.  

The forces approached each other along the western road, with equal numbers of units,  but the Austrians having the advantage of Elite quality troops and Heavy Cavalry, while the Prussians were Average and had only Light Cavalry. With the advantage of initiative in Turn 1, those Prussian Uhlans kicked everything off - perhaps they should have used superior speed to find a flank, but their  first squadron  simply charged the Austrian Cuirassiers. Rather a rash move, as they lost the modified dice roll in the resultant close combat , and with it their first Strengtht Point (SP) , only for the Cuirassiers to folow up in their turn and take another SP, crippling the hasty Uhlans. First blood to Austria!  Meanwhile , at least the Prussian foot were coming forward, and a Fusilier unit were able to gain the central hill, a good position to hold.  


Prussian Fusiliers' precarious perch

Those Cuirassiers having won their first combat, got rather 'carried away' and charged the Fusiliers (uphill) on Turn 2,  only to be bounced back, with casualties, by the stout-hearted Prussian foot.  Next turn  the Austrian infantry coming up,  let fly volleys at the Fusiliers which took 2 SPs from them, and the Cuirassiers charged again - but lost again! At which the weakened Uhlans saw their chance, and hit the Cuirassiers in the flank, only for the tables to turn once more - Austrian dice rolled higher, and the Uhlans lost their last SP  and were destroyed.  Fast and Furious indeed - by end of Turn 3 , losses were Austrians 3, Prussians 5.  The Prussian position on the hill looked beleagured, they were half-way to Exhaustion Point, and their cavalry already half gone, not that good a start. 

But Von Stocke's men weren't giving up, bringing a second Fusilier battalion onto the hill, and their second Uhlan squadron saw its chance, charging the flank of the battered Austrian Cuirassiers - and breaking them!  Possibly the most important event so far, as I had decided that destroyed units cannot be re-grouped for subsequent battles - a cruel blow for The Austrians. 

Uhlans' revenge: the charge that broke the Cuirassiers

The Austrian response was instantaneous, their second cavalry squadron  in turn hitting the Uhlans in flank and taking  2 or their 3 SPs, the tattered remnant retreating from combat, but having done a vital job. 

Fight for the hill: note Austrian oblique order

Meanwhile Prussian Fusiliers fought hard to stay on the hill, charging the Austrian infantry and pushing them back with heavy  casualties.  The Prussian position was now a line East-West anchored on the hill, with their gun hurriedly deployed on the left flank, covering the road.  The Austrians hit back with musketry and cannon, and their remaining Cavalry  caught up with the depleted Uhlans and finished them off. By the end of Turn 6,  losses were Prussians 9 SP, Austrians 6 SP - crucially the  Prussians reached their  Exhaustion Point, and became unable to make attacking moves. They thought it was all over.. 

Prussians Exhausted: Austrian cavalry 'charge for the guns'

Now perhaps  Von Baren should have reckoned his job was done, pulled his force back to re-group and face the Prussian main force; but the blood was up...  Their remaining Cavalry unit having ended up on the Austrian left flank, with their Gun and crew within easy reach - Charge!!  Meanwhile their infantry and gun kept up fire on the Prussian infantry position on the hill. It all seemed to go well, the Horse easily taking 1SP from the gunners - but then the dice gods  intervened. On the next round of melee , the cavalrymen rolled a '1' to the gunners '6' -  losing 1 SP and being forced to retreat, only for the gunners to give them a 'Canister chaser' - another SP lost!   The Prussian foot couldn't advance but they could keep firing,  and did so with effect.   After Turn 8,  losses had reached Prussians 11 SP, Austrians 9 SP  - very bad news for the Austrians.  Half their cavalry destroyed, the remainder shredded by canister,  and a fresh ( and larger ) Prussian army in the offing - things look bad for von Baren.  Von Stocke, the Prussian commander, could reckon on a job well done, despite his heavy losses.  

I rather enjoyed that game, it had a back-and-forth, tit-for-tat quality as the cavalry units knocked each other out and the Prussians held on grimly, with a sting in the tail for the Austrians.  I was interested to try Mike Lewis'  close combat system for the Portable Watgame ( from his amendments to Bob's rules). I had thought the original rules made melee a bit indecisive - Mike's rule gives a 'winner' in most rounds, and the loser takes a 1 SP loss,  AND rolls for 'stand or retreat'.  So, certainly more decisive, but  it also meant the SP losses piled  up quite fast - those poor cavalry!  I am wondering if I might add my own tinkering to the Mike's tinkering - for instance, the loser of the opposed die roll  might take a hit, but then use Bob's system for the effect of the hit.. So then they might lose 1SP,  OR they might retreat - and Elite troops would be more likely to be able to avoid  SP  losses, and be able to prudently withdraw.  I might give that a try next time. 

So, now the Austrian victors retire, knowing that they face a greater challenge, and very soon! We'll see how that plays out in a future post. 

 Finally some real-life  good news : I received this souvenir ( and accompanying substances ) last week at Lavenham. Let's hope we all get the benefit of something like it before too long.  

Thank you, NHS

"Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning".  

We can only hope. Keep well, and safe, everyone!


  1. I enjoyed the battle report, David. Good to see you kick off both the campaign and your immunization treatment.

    1. Thanks Jon, glad you enjoyed it! I am pleased to get my first jab, by having it we not only protect ourselves, but protect others too.

  2. Excellent battle report. Great to see you having got the jab.

  3. Enjoyed that mate, great battle report. Glad you’ve got your jab sorted.

  4. Those cuirassiers always need watching. Great battle report Dave, and congrats on the jab. I have been able to book mine for next Monday morning which I reckon is pretty good given that I'm still just 56. I hope there are no ill effects - my brother apparently felt like crap for an evening and a night afterwards.

    1. Thanks Dave, and good for you. Depending which 'flavour' you get, you might fell a bit washed-out for a day, but that's a small price given the likely benefits, I hope :)
      hmm.. somehow ,my cavalry always seem to get a bit carried away!

  5. That is the trouble with Elite troops isn't it? Esp cavalry, they just don't know when to quit!

    Still, might have worked!

    1. I think it may be the commander that's the problem - i.e. me ! But at least with solo games my mistakes apply to both sides..