|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
"Now this is not the end. It is
not even the beginning of the end. but it is, perhaps, the end of the
We can only hope. Keep well, and safe, everyone!