Sunday, 2 January 2022

Battle Planning: thinking allowed

A Happy New Year to one and all!  Last time in the 'Soldier King' campaign, we set up the general situation for something of a climactic battle, as the Prussians launched their army into the attack on the Austrian forces at the city of Zouache. Having decided on a battle, I now have to work out how to turn it into a game, using the (somewhat  limited)  resources I have available.  It's quite a challenge, and I am not certain how I am going to make it work, but hope that with a little thought,  I will be able to  see a way forward. And it might be interesting to post my thoughts as I go - 'show your working', as the dreaded exam papers used to say.   

Despite my earlier concerns, one thing I do have is sufficient troops. Here is the defending Austrian force: 

General Dachs steps up

I am going to start by assuming they will be organised with troop designations and Strength Point (SP)  values from 'The Portable Wargame' , as follows:  

Commander - General Dachs :       6 SP       

Three battalions Botta d'Adorno  Line Infantry,   rated Average,   each  4 SP

Two  battalions  'Grenzer' foot , rated  Inferior , each 3SP 

One squadron  Erzherhog Ferdinand Cuirassiers.  rated Inferior,   2SP 

Two  squadrons  Grenzer Hussars,  rated Average,  each 3 SP

One squadron  'Schwarzen' Hussars.  rated Inferior,  2 SP

One gun and crew,  rated Average,  2 SP.

 Giving a total of  36 SP , and Exhaustion Point reached at a loss of 12 SP.

And the attacking Prussian array: 

Von Gehirne's powerful force

Commander - Generalleutnant  von Gehirne :  6 SP 

One battalion,   44th Fusilier Regiment,  rated Elite,  5 SP

Three battalions Jaegers ( fighting as Line infantry ) , rated Average, each 4 SP 

Two battalions  von Kleist Frei Korps,  rated Average, each 4 SP    

Three Squadrons  Cuirrassiers, rated Elite,  each 4 SP

Two Guns  and crews, rated Average, each 2 SP

 Making  a total of  47 SP , and Exhaustion Point reached at a loss of 16 SP.

To arrive at these SP values, I translated  the Soldier King troop quality 'Guards' to be Portable Wargame 'Elite',   while 'Veterans' in Soldier King became 'Average' , and 'Levy' became 'Inferior'. There is no separate representation of artillery in 'Soldier King' forces, so I have fairly arbitrarily allocated one gun to the defending Austrians, and two guns to the attacking Prussians ( this keeps the Strength Point 'ratio'  a bit more in line with the board game army strengths ). Bear in mind that although my first thought is to continue with 'Portable Wargame' rules, ( specifically the Napoleonic Brigade-level version,  with my own tweaks for the Seven Years War ), this is not set in stone, hence organisations/unit configurations  may change.  One concern is , with only a 3 foot square ( or 9 by 9 hexes )  battlefield, are these forces too large? 

I had worried that I would struggle to field all the required units in my customary formats - especially Prussian infantry, but the numerous Jaegers I acquired from the Eric Knowles collection were a big help, making up three battalions. They will fight as' Line' infantry, but I won't worry too much about that - after all in several  of the my earlier games they have served as Line, and sometimes even fought for the other side! I do have a couple of units of Prussian line infantry in the early stages of painting, but realistically they won't be ready in time for this game. So,  Jaegers it is, and the fiercesome Prussian drill masters will enjoy instilling/beating some discipline and order into them..  

The one area I almost did struggle with was light cavalry, given the Austrians needed three squadrons - Eric Knowles' trusty Grenze Hussars only provided two. But then I lighted on some of the plastic  Spencer-Smiths most generously gifted to me by Neil Patterson of the Aufklarungsabteilung blog,  and resplendent in a rather cool, if  basic, all-black uniform.  A quick basing job, and the 'Schwarzen Hussars' were recruited!  I assume these may have been inspired  by the  Prussian Ruesch Hussars or 'Deaths Heads'.  So again, we have some possibly Prussian troops lured to the other side, presumably by large bribes and the attractions of Viennese cafe society - so much more fun than Berlin! Here they are - 'button counters' may wish to look away now:

Latest recruits - the men in black

Yes, pretty basic, and maybe not too accurate, but needs must - perhaps fittingly, they are going to be rated 'Inferior'  quality in the rules. So they may just run away at the first  cannonade, anyway! Or they may perform wonders - we shall see. They'll do fine on the table, for now, and I will take a cue from Brigadier Peter Young, quoted in a fascinating blog post from Tragardmastare recently : 'with apologies to perfectionists in the sphere of military millinery'.   I'm also reminded of one of Conrad Kinch's 'Send Three and Fourpence' articles in Miniature Wargames magazine,  entitled something like 'The Art of Coarse Painting' - in which he adopts Management Consultant lingo re: 'Minimum Viable Product' (MVP). So, Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the MVP (or as Google translator has it, Minimal Lebensf√§higes Produkt )  Hussars..

So, we have our forces. Now for possibly the most difficult part - the table.  With nine hexes by nine, or 3 feet square available - bluntly, will the armies ( 21 units in all ) fit in?  This is where it may get interesting. But that will have to wait for the next post, as the hour is late, the candles almost burnt down, plenty more thought is  required, and I don't wish to overstay my welcome.

It remains to once again wish you all a very Happy New Year, let's hope 2022 is an improvement - though perhaps that won't be until our unwanted guest Mr. Omicron has done his worst. I predict a quiet January at home, which may at least allow some more  hobby time. Keep well, and safe (and 'boostered', if possible), everyone. 


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you very much, and a Happy New Year to you too.
      Thanks very much for all your supportive comments in the past year, much appreciated!

  2. Hi David -
    Ten or eleven units are by no means too large for a 9x9 grid. In fact I believe you would have room for at least couple more units should you have so chosen. I think a good rule of thumb is to maximise at the number of base-line grid cells plus 50%.

    As for the Liebenfahiges Hussars, was not Graf Ludwig von Liebenfahiges a scion of an up and coming Austrian military family, who recruited his own freikorps band of Husaren? No...?

    Cheers, and best wishes for the new year,

    1. Thanks Ion. I've noted that Bob Cordery suggests in 'Developing The Portable Wargame' a maximum of 1 or 1.5 units per baseline grid area. I am using a 9X9 grid, so should be just about OK. The challenging part, though, may be creating a suitable terrain layout, as will be discussed in the next post.
      I'm sure the Austrian military archives will one day confirm your sugggestion regarding the glorious exploits of Graf von Leibenfahiges!
      Happy New Year to you, too.

  3. David,
    I think the forces will fit without problem. Remember, in most C18th battles it was the norm to have 2 lines of troops. If space is tight, deploy with some units as a 2nd line.
    I'm glad to see the plastic Spencer Smith hussars are seeing use / action - far better than sitting in a box.
    Basing is essential; no less an authority than Charles Grant senior remarked on their propensity to topple over at the least hint of a touch.....
    Looking forward to your battle report.

    1. Thanks Neil, you make a good point about multiple lines - I think such concepts ( and even the idea of keeping a reserve !) can be often overlooked.
      I'm sure the Spencer Smiths will do us proud in battle, but I do agree about the need for basing them. Imagine a whole Grant regiment going down like dominos!

  4. All the best for the coming year , Tony

    1. thank you, Tony, and a Happy New Year to you too!
      Good luck with your annual walking challenge, too..

  5. I think the concept of making up uniforms or painting a unit in a real uniform of a different country or slightly different time, is well established going back well over 100 years.

    In support of 2nd lines and reserves, you could even "deploy" them off table until called up, possibly dicing for delay.

    Here's to booster shots! Got mine today.

    1. Thanks Ross, indeed I think I am in a tradition here, for example I think Charles Grant used 'real' French and Germanic units in his 'Lorraine' and 'VFS' armies. He could always claim they had been hired out!
      I suspect the scenario will demand some sort of staggering of entry to the table, simply to fit everyone in. To be discussed soon..
      Hope the booster had no side effects!