Thursday, April 21, 2016

Great Northern War. Danish army

My interests in the Great Northern War were recently revamped. I took from my library the boardgames “Peter the Great” (3W) on the battle of Poltava (with the additional Lesnaja scenario) and “On to Moscow” (SPI) on the whole russian campaign of Charles XII. 


As you can see from the older posts, I have a Swedish and a Russian armies in 1/72 plastic, mostly Strelets, Zvedza and some Mars.

I decided to add a Danish army to the lot. The Danish army is an interesting one, since from the peace of Travendal (1700) to the aftermath of Poltava it was absent from this war: however whole regiments were lent as mercenary units to Austria and the Maritime Powers in their war against Louis XIV and so Danish units can be used in a Blenheim refight. Moreover the infantry with their grey-white coats with multicolored cuffs, collars, trousers, gaiters and waistcoat they are a nice contrast with the swedish and the russian (and to add variety there are some regiments in red, blue and pale yellow). The cavalry used buff coats (it seems that Denmark was one of the last country to use this garment) with cuirass (one regiment also with helmet in a true Baroque fashion). So it is a very nice addition to any collection.

The informations on the uniforms can be found on the sites Tacitus and Northern Wars, as well as on the second volume of the Lars Hoglund book on the Great Norther Wars uniform which I used to obtain informations on the Russian uniforms.

As in the case of the other two armies, rather than to paint units at random I select a battle, in this case the Battle of Helsinborg (1710), a nice V&B scenario for which is given here by the Wyre Forest Wargame. Once again every regiment is depicted in two 40mmx20mm bases in such a way that 2 bases can represent a V&B linear base regiment (full scale) or each base can represent a battalion (battalion scale) at half-scale. The nicety of such a choice is that both in the regimental full scale and in the battalion half-scale, the terrain scale is the same. In the battalion scale the time scale is 1/2 hour instead of 1 hour and of course there is more detail. By the way the scenario provided by the WFG admits both the options (regimental and battalion scale).

Going to the miniatures, I have a box of the Mars Saxon Army which I used for the Russian commanders. I like these miniatures because they have a lot of details and a strong “personality” so I decided to use them for the bulk of grey-with clad Danish regiments, using some Strelets somewhere. For the red and pale-yellow clad regiments I instead plan to use the Zvedza Russian Infantry (really I have not yet decided..). The cuirassiers regiments will be done by using the Strelets Swedish & Drabant cavalry (which have some models with cuirass and helmet nonetheless) whereas for the dragoon regiments the Zvedza Swedish dragoon box seems to be appropriate.

By using three miniatures for each base with the contents of the box I can model three regiments (6 bases) plus the grenadier regiment (2 bases).

So, I am going to clean and prime them, it will be a long and interesting project….

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Korbitz, Part V. Hadik vs. Finck

After many months I finally get the time to finish the Korbitz refight. My camera still jammed I decided to took pictures with PhotoBoot: of course they aren’t the best possible but still help to understand the course of the action. 

I decided to represent all the battlefield north of the Triebitsch so both Lamberg and Brentano are deployed from the start.

The initial situation is the following:

seen here from the Prussian

and the Austrian perspective:

The whole affair is different from that between Wunsch and Zweibrucken: here the Austrian have a clear-cut superiority but they have only three turns to obtain a result.

The Austrian plan is to fix the enemy infantry with the, and the cavalry with Schallemberg command whereas Brentano shall turn the Prussian right with his Croats opening the road for Lamberg: since it is impossible to exhaust all the Prussian division because Zweibrucken failed to do it, to prevent a Prussian victory the battle Hadik must inflict more losses to the Prussian. The “butcher bill” of the action between Wunsch and Zweibrucken was 16-5 for the Prussian.

This is the situation after the first turn:

the cavalry battle is still undecided whereas the Austrian center has disarrayed the Prussian infantry: the two Prussian grenadier units of the second line move towards the Croats.

After the second turn the battlefield looks like:

the Prussian cavalry is exhausted and Hadik decided to send Lamberg to the right to exploit the success, since Schallemberg is one SP close to exhaustion. In the center the Prussian lose a Grenadier unit and retreats.

In the final third turn the Austrian pushes the attack but the Prussian cavalry resists to the attack of both Schallemberg and Lamberg cavalry: in the center Hadik exhausts the Prussian infantry. The last Prussian move is a retreat toward Meissen. 

Hadik was able indeed to exhaust both the Prussian commands, the battle being better managed that the Zweibrucken one: however Brentano, Schallamberg and the Infantry center are 1SP close to the exhaustion. the total losses are 22-14 for the Prussian which wins the battle. Again a superior Austrian-Imperial force fails to annihilate a Prussian force. The failure however was more from the strategic point of view: indeed Zweibrucken arrived piecemeal on the battlefield and Hadik was able to engage battle too late. In this sense I feel that the scenario was a good simulation of the frustrating situation the Austrian have to deal with in Saxony in 1759.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Korbitz, Part IV. Wunsch vs. Zweibrucken (updated)

The camera resurrected for a while and so I was able to continue the scenario. At move 6 the battle was joined between Wunsch and the corps of Maquire and Stolberg under the overall command of Zweibrucken. Only the cavalry under Kleefeld is still absent. The initial deployment is the following:

the Austro-Imperial plan is simple: a push by the Macquire corp against Wunsch, whereas the Imperials covers the right flank against the Prussian cavalry, waiting for Kleefeld three cavalry brigades.

This is the Prussian point of view; its task was easier: resist as soon as possible.

The two freibattalions were deployed in the wood, whereas the cavalry was deployed "en potence" on the left flank, against the Imperials.

A close-up of the Prussian cavalry with the fresh-painted 4th Hussars on the left and the mixed brigade 11th Dragoons and 7th Cuirassiers on the right:

The Austrian attack went horribly wrong: after the first turn Macquire division collapsed, two regiments being lost, the other routed. The Imperials did their best to protect Kleefeld approach, losing half of the guns to Prussian fire in the proceedings. The situation to the end of the 7th move was the following:

Wunsch has two options: remains on the defensive, waiting the Imperials attack or close on the hapless Imperial infantry before Kleefeld arrives. Of course I know that Kleefeld shall arrive on the 9th move. But in a "real" play neither Wunsch nor Zweibrucken should have any clues "when" Kleefeld arrives. Accordingly Wunsch moves his cavalry on his right flank to get rid out of the debris of Macquire and to wait for Kleefeld. Zweibrucken, on the other hand prepares a defensive line "open" on his left flank, which will be completed by Kleefeld cavalry.

At this point the camera jammed again. So I must tell what happened.

Still waiting for Kleefeld, in the 8th move Zweibrucken opted to advance his first line to engage the Prussians at firefight, preferring not to risk a melee. However such a move requested a morale test on the Imperials regiments, all at morale 4: half of them failed the test and become disordered. In the ensuing firefight no losses were inflicted from either side. At this point the Prussian counterattacked, collapsing Stolberg which run for safety to the est.

At this point Kleefeeld arrived and charged with the Austrian cavalry, leaving the Imperials to cover the flank against the Prussian cavalry. The Prussian lost a regiment in the process but were able to repulse the cavalry which was attacked on the flank by the 7th Cuirassiers and the 11th Dragoons: a divisional collapse overthrow Kleefeld. At the end of the 10th move Zweibrucken remained with no units capable to attack: Wunsch was at only 1 SP from the exhaustion but the match was a clear Prussian victory.

Lesson: never, never, never allow the Imperials to come to the grips with a superior morale Prussian force. The mistake was to engage a firefight on the 8th move which provoked a devastating Prussian counterattack.

So the Austro-Imperial player failed to collapse Wunsch: the only possibility to achieve a draw is an energetic action by Hadik which should redress the losses. This will be the next step in the refight.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Korbitz, Part III. The operational battle.

So it is the time to test the scenario. I made a little change: the mud doesn't block the road. Instead, when the mud is rolled, the unit remains stopped into the new destination for one turn. In the test I dispensed from the decoys, of course (I am not bipolar enough...).

The Austro-Imperial approach is indeed slow and painful and one is nearly forced to bring the armies piecemeal into the battle. At the 6th move the situation was:

The corp of Maguire with Zweibrucken in command in D6 and the corp of Stolberg in D7 made contact with Wunsch in C6 and accordingly battle is joined in the area (5-7)(B-D). Kleefeld is still out of the tactical map and shall enter as a reinforcement in D7 as soon as he will be able to move.

On the Austrian side, after a very muddled approach Hadik with Lamberg and the Right Wing Infantry is still at Mauma. Brentano is in Krogis and the tardy Serbelloni is at Mitlitz with Schallenberg.

After two more moves Kleefeld enters in D7 at the 9th move, and the Austrian finally arrive on the tactical map: Serbelloni and Lamberg are in C1 (Serbelloni shall stop in C1 for the remainder of the game). Schallemberg and the Right Wing Infantry are in B2 with Hadik, Brentano is entered from Krogis in C2. At this point Finck moves the cavalry in A3 and battle is joined. 

As stated in the rules the battle is joined into the (2-4)(A-C) area and Lamberg can enter as a reinforcement. However one can deploy all the units in the tactical map in the appropriate square and add the battle against the Austrian to that with the Imperials. This is of course a matter of taste.

There remain still four moves to finish the scenario: my feeling is that 12 moves are too few, maybe 15 moves would be fair. (Indeed in the test the Austro-Imperial where lucky enough and still they needed 9 moves on 12 to start the battle on both wings...).

In the next post the tactical battle (if the camera agrees..).

Friday, April 17, 2015

Korbitz, Part II. Tactical map and rosters

First of all I fixed some errors in the Campaign map, say the misplacement of some location and the name of the river bisecting the area: it is the Triebitsch, the Muglitz was somewhere else.
An important thing to add to the relation between the Campaign and the Tactical V&B map is that counters of both Armies can be in column 1 or row D: in this case the Prussian Army deploy on the right-side of column 1 or on the upper-side of row D to allow space for the Austro-Imperial deployment.
This is the Volley and Bayonet tactical map which I draw with the GGSTB map behind:

As usual the square are 1 foot. The Triebitsch and all the streams are marshy-banked. Meissen is a double based town whereas all the other locations are villages. There are no hills: the west side of the area was a plateau and the terrain was a rolling terrain. There were ravines on the westmost side of the area which I decided to represente with some woods and marshy banked streams which disrupts movement. South of Meissen the situation is the same: the ravine on the back of Prussian position is rapresented by a marshy banked stream. The Prussian fortications are Hasty Works: they cause no movement penalty and in combat, in addition to the +1 morale bonus for being behind works, infantry and artillery receive a saving throw against small arms fire (but not artillery fire or melee attack).

As I did for Strehla, I realized these compact roster: I find them useful when printed on cardboard to take account of losses and track command. 

All what I have to do now is to playtest the scenario and the mini-campaign. Here the campaign map at start. Finck and Rebentisch are in B4, the cavalry in B5 ready to go east or west the Triebitsch, Wunsch and the +4 decoy in C6, the +3 decoy in C7. The whole Austro-Imperial host is at the start point dot.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Korbitz 1759, Part I

First post of the year…I am desperately short of time and to add insult to unjury, my camera broke. So I was unable to post my progress in completing the Hannoverian Army or the Husar complement which necessary to refight Kolin. The Kolin “case study” still idle, I was toying myself with a Scenario for Korbitz, 1759.
At a glance Korbitz seems a carbon copy of Strehla: the Reichsarmee attacking the main Prussian position, the Austrians enduring a flank march, a prompt Prussian reaction disrupting the whole plan. A complete description is on Kronoskaf and Duffy dedicated some wonderful pages of his book “Instrument of War” to the action.

Hovewer there are some differences, of course. The director of the whole plan was nonetheless than Giovan Battista Serbelloni, he the “Stonewall of Kolin”. A very quirck character from the Milanese aristocracy, detested by all his colleagues.

His subordinates were Zweibrucken and Hadik: the last was one of the best Austrians generals but no wonders that he and Serbelloni were at loggerheads.

He was entrusted with the flank attack but the muddy roads delayed his march. Twice he asked Serbelloni to recall the attack but the permission was twice refused. When the whole plan was upset by the Prussian reaction, Serbelloni charged Hadik of misconduct. The whole affair strained further the relations between Austrian generals and only after a couple of months the honour of Hadik and the Empress confidence were restored. From a tactical point of view moreover it seems that the Reichsarmee did a best job than at Strehla the following year.

On the other side of the barricade we have three characters of future Maxen fame: Finck, Wunsch and Rebentisch. I was able to find only a portrait of Wunsch:

Indeed they were at this stage three of the best Prussian subordinates and the campaign of Finck in Saxony allowed him to recover most of the territories lost after the summer disaster apart from Dresden. Further the Prussian position was lesser exposed than that of Strehla. However all these interesting facts are below the grain of the game and was not satisfied by the Scenario I obtained: what i didn’t like was the special rules needed to recreate Hadik’s ordeal.

Then, one day, I had in my hands an old copy of the now defunct “Wargames Journal” and I looked at a very nice mini-campaign scenario for Brandywine and so I decided to borrow the mini-campaign rules and translate the whole situation from the North-America to Saxony.

This is the map of the area: the square are 1 foot width and are the classical V&B squares. In a next post I’ll give the detailed V&B map of the area within the squares. The idea is that since the actual battlefield was divided in two separate zones by the marshy-banked Triebitsch, the two separate “battles” can be refought on a 3x3 square area. 

The following rules are copied straightforward from the Brandiwine mini-campaign: I only added the “mud effect” to represent the difficult roads Hadik had to follow; I think this rule should make any flank attack as time-consuming and not completely predictable as possible.

Korbitz 1759 Mini-Campaign Rules (from Brandywine 1777 by Bruce McFarlane and Bob Barnelson, Wargames Journal. Issue 8).

There are three types of counters: commanders, units and decoys.
• Commanders represent senior commanders and their staffs.
• Units represent the troops set out in the V&B roster.
• Decoys are simply to confuse and upset your opponent.
Counters are double-sided. On the front is the name of the subordinate or commander and their command number. On the back is the command number of the counter. The exception is commander counters that have the same information on both sides.

All counters start the game face down. All Austro-Imperial counters start at “Austrian Start”. All Prussian counters start within the grey squares.The only stacking limitation is that inside the battlefield, a player may only have two counters (excluding commanders) per square. There must be at least 2 Prussian counters, one of which can be a Decoy, in grid squares C6 or C7 or both.

Play begins with the Austro-Imperial  player attempting to move some, none or all of his counters. To move a counter, the player nominates a counter and rolls 1D6. If the roll is greater than or equal to the counter’s command number, the counter may move from one dot to another along a road or from one map grid square to an adjoining grid square, either contiguously or diagonally. If the die roll is less than the counter’s command number, the counter is not activated.
Austrian counters attempting to move along a major road (yellow) add one (+1) to their dice roll; when trying to move on the “muddy” roads (those with the brown clouds) the Austro-Imperial players rolls 1d6: on the results in the cloud the road is blocked and no units can’t move on that road that turn.
Commanders move in the same way as decoys and units but may move two dots or grid squares. Furthermore, they may activate one other counter at their start location, even if this additional unit failed its own command roll in that turn. The commander and the unit/decoy do not have to move to the same location on a successful commander’s roll. It is, therefore, advantageous to roll commanders last so that the commander can activate a brigade/decoy that has otherwise failed to activate.
Notice that Hadik can give command only to “pink” units, Zweibrucken only to “gray” whereas Serbelloni to both.
Once the Austro-Imperial player has attempted to activate all of the counters desired, play passes to the Prussian player. Prussian counters may never leave the battlefield portion of the map.

When Austro-Imperial and Prussian counters are adjacent, the moving player must flip over his counter(s), revealing if it is a unit or a decoy. If it is a decoy, it is removed and play continues. If it is a unit, the non-moving player reveals his adjacent counters. Again, any decoys are removed. If both sides still have units face-up, a battle is in the offing. The battle is played on a 3x3 area: players should decide on which 9 grid squares of the battlefield map will offer the best focus for the miniatures battle. A regular Volley and Bayonet game is then set up and the troops deployed. At the end of each game turn (ie. every hour), the players returns to the map game and play an additional turn of the map game. As counters arrive at the grid squares represented by the miniatures table, the appropriate miniatures troops are added to the battle. 

The map game lasts 12 turns.

The Austro-Imperials, with a 2-1 numerical superiority were in the conditions to destroy the Prussian corps. Accordingly the Austro-Imperials victory condition is to exhaust all the Prussian Division.
The Prussian win by simply avoiding this, losing less troops than the Austro-Imperials. Any other result is a draw.

The Volley and Bayonet Order of Battle is:

Austro-Imperial Order of Battle (28.500 men in 38 battalions, 27 grenadier coys and 60 squadrons)
Field Marshal Conte Giovan Battista Serbelloni AC
Austrian Corps: Hadik CC
Field Artillery #1                  [_][_] 5 fld
Right Wing: unknown DC [_][_][_][_][_] ex=5
IR57 Andlau/IR49 Angern   [_][_][_] 5
IR12 Botta                            [_][_][_] 5
IR40 Jung Colloredo             [_][_] 4
IR Kurmainz (Reich)             [_][_] 4 PT
IR15 Pallavicini                     [_][_] 4
Cvg. Grenadiers                     [_][_] 6*
Centre Division: Lamberg DC [_][_][_] ex=3
IR51 Gyulay                           [_][_][_] 5
IR18 Marschall                       [_][_][_] 5
CR(iii) Alt Modena/DR39 Zweibrucken[_][_] 5 mixed
CR Hoenzollern (Reich)                          [_][_] 5 hvy
Left Wing: Brentano DC [_] [_] ex=2
Gz 1st Banal                    [_] 4 sk
Gz Karlstader-Oguliner   [_] 4 sk
Gz Warasdiner-Kreutzer  [_] 4 sk
Gz Karlstader-Szluiner    [_] 4 sk
Left Wing cavalry: Schallemberg DC [_][_] ex=2
CR27 Daun /CR20 Schmerzing [_][_] 5 hvy
CR12 Serbelloni/Cvg Elites       [_][_] 6 hvy

Imperial Corps: Field Marshal Count Zweibrücken-Birkenfeld
Field Artillery     [_][_] 4 fld PT
Heavy Artillery   [_][_] 4 hvy PT
Austrian Division: Macquire's DC [_][_][_] ex=3
IR47 Harrach            [_][_][_] 5
IR8 Hildburghausen [_][_] 5
IR25 Thurheim         [_][_] 5
Infantry Division: Stolberg DC [_][_][_][_][_] ex=5
IR Effern/Wildenstein [_][_] 4 PT
IR Furstenberg             [_][_] 4 PT
IR Pfalz-Zweibrucken [_][_] 4 PT
IR Varell/I.Hohenlohe [_][_] 4 PT
IR Kurbayern               [_][_] 4 PT
IR Baden-Durlach/Mengersen [_][_] 4 PT
Cavalry Division: Kleefeld DC [_][_][_] ex=3
CR21 Trautm./ CR29 Bretlach (KK)      [_][_] 5 hvy
CR Bayreuth/CR Kurpfalz                      [_][_] 4 hvy PT
DR9 Savoyen(KK)/DR Ansbach             [_][_] 4 med

Prussian Order of Battle (extimated 11.000 men in 16 battalions and 36 squadrons)
Lt. Gen Finck CC
Left wing: Maj. Gen. Rebentisch DC [_][_][_][_][_][_] ex=6
IR19 Mkgf Karl/IR14 Lehwaldt  [_][_] 5
IR20 Zastrow/IR47 Grabow        [_][_] 5
Cvg. GB Burgsdorff/Ripp            [_][_] 6 *
Cvg. GB Kreckwitz/Swolinsky    [_][_] 6 *
GB 11/14 Beyer                            [_][_] 6 *
Finck Heavy Artillery                   [_][_] 5 hvy
Left wing, Cavalry: unknown DC [_][_][_] ex=3
DR4 Krockow/DR7 Plettenberg    [_][_] 6 Med
CR5 Markgraf Friederich              [_][_] 6 Hvy
Hundt cvg. Husaren                       [s] 5 Lt
Right wing: Maj. Gen. Wunsch DC [_][_][_][_][_][_] ex=6
GB 4/16 Willemy/2-GII Nesse  [_][_] 6 *
IR45 Hessen-Kassel                  [_][_] 5
IR44 Hoffmann                         [_][_] 5
FR Wunsch                                [s][s] 4
DR11 Jung Platen/CR7 Horn    [_][_] 5 Mixed
HR4 Dingelsted                         [_][_] 5 Lt
Wunsch Artillery                       [_][_] 5 hvy

Terrain features The Triebitsch is marshy-banked. The Elbe is unfordable. The Prussian redoubts are “Hasty works” as in VBG.
Notes All units have battalion guns. No unit has grenadier, except grenadier battalion. The role of Serbelloni in the battle was an undistinguished one. Accordingly he can’t move from its initial placement on the battle map.

In the next post I’ll give the rosters for the two Armies and the Volley and Bayonet map.