Saturday, March 22, 2014

Strehla: the solo play test, Turn III and the end.

Third Turn, 6.00-7.00 am:

The Left wing closes to attack the Durrenberg, whereas the Grenzers erupt frome the wood on the back of the Prussian position. In the plain Guasco attacks Prussian infantry and the Imperial cavalry charges in support. On the Strehla sector the Imperials attack the entrenchements and the city. This is the all-out move for the Austrian….

which ends in a total failure: in the Strehla sector the attackers first fail moral test under fire, then routs and despite destroying the lonely grenadiers garrisoning Strehla, the attackers from the Hessen-Darmstadt column rout desordering the other regiments.

The cavalry attacks in the centre and against the Durrenberg are repulsed whereas Guasco and Wurzburg commands lose all the attacks and becomes exhausted, Guasco in turn collapsing despite winning the melee with Hauss (proxied by a garrison regiment).

Kleefeld croats emerging from woods make non impression at all on the stedy Prussian which in turns counter-attacks. Prussian cavalry takes an holding position against Kleefeld whereas Hauss repulse the Croats in disorder behind the woods (in the following picture the real Durrenberg with the wood, taken from the Kleefeld croats line of advance).

Finally, Prussian fusiliers garrison back Strehla and their artillery bring Roth division to the exhaustion; this is the overall picture of the battlefield at the end of Turn III:

With two commands exhausted and one collapsed, the only Austrian force still available for attack is the Kleefeld division: accordingly Stolberg calls of the attack.


In V&B each point lost is equivalent to 50% of effective losses in terms of man/horses/guns. The Austro-Imperial loss are accordingly in the area of 5000, nearly half from the Reichsarmee. In the real battle the losses were nearly 2000. However in the real battle the Reichsarmee put on only a show against Strehla, not a full-scale attacke as in the refight. Prussian losses are 1000 and 5 guns, very close to the real outcome. Moreover, in the real battle the attack was called off at 7.00 am like in the refight. From this point of view the battle is simulated well enough. However there are some point to consider:

- The Austro-Imperials did only a big mistake, allowing Guasco to expose its open flank to the Prussian cavalry: the other mistake was to deploy the Imperial cavalry on the right, whereas on the left it would be more useful from the very start. The Imperials did their best given their low morale, crammed deployment and poor training of the infantry. The Austrian artillery didn’t make any impression on the Prussian. In this sense, without any further “special rule”, their the lack of effectiveness is portrayed well enough.

- The Prussian defended wisely, reinforcing the right wing and using the cavalry to stop Guasco from the beginning. Their task was indeed easy enough.

- The die-rolls were “average”, that is there was no “bad die-roll” for anybody. The only “unlucky” roll was for the Guasco collapse. A roll of 1 was the only possibility, 1 was rolled…however this changed nothing since an exhausted division cannot move in contact with the enemies. The collapse means that the unit are also permanently disordered like after a rout.

- However, the Austro-Imperial task, to exhaust all the Prussian division seems to out of reach unless the Prussian player is drunk. To attack stationary, higher-morale infantry with more guns, entrenched or commanding higher-ground is a daunting task, even with a nearly 2:1 superiority. Accordingly I think that the victory conditions should be changed into:

Victory Conditions, updated

The Austro-Imperials win if they exhaust at least one of the Prussian infantry divisions. The Prussian wins by preventing this maintaing the control of both the Durrenberg and Strehla. Any other risults is a draw.

I think this scenario would be interesting if played twice with reversed role, the Prussian victory being not so granted. An intact Guasco command together with an early attacking Imperial cavalry could have put the final result more in balance, so I think.

Next refight Korbitz, 1759, a similar situation with some different twists.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Strehla, the solo play test, part II

Second turn, 5.00-6.00 am:

The Austrian corps of Kleefeld and Wurzburg close on the Prussian right wing: Kleefeld bypass Laas and send the Croats toward the wood, whereas a brigade from Wurbzurg cavalry charges the Prussian uphill and his infantry attacks prussian guns

Guasco corp, a single point from the exhaustion, reply behind Clanzschwitz waiting for a new prussian cavalry attack:

The sabre gleaming in the sun, the Reich Hoenzollern Cuirassiers and the Austrian Carabiniers and Horse Grenadiers charge prussian infantry on the Durrenberg:

to be repulsed back in disorder as well as Puebla Infantry (proxy for Macquire, Luzan and the grenadier coys):

On the other end of the battle the Reichsarmee slowly climbs the Strehla plateau, its second line division forming a “Blenheim style” column of attack against the town and the cavalry wheeling on the left wing (Reich infantry is "Poorly Trained" which means that each facing change cost 1/2 movement allowance: this makes the approach painful and slow in V&B):

however the weak-morale infantry is disordered as soon as it came under the range of the prussian battalion guns deployed on the city limits (the prussian disorder chit is a consequence of the movement into the city: notice that in this picture I changed the original decorative town base with a more practical base with the space for two linear base. Indeed I made both kind of bases, one nice to see, the other practical to use, and switch between them as needed).

It is the Prussian turn: on the right wing the guns on the Durrenberg hit and disorder the hungarian regiment of Forgach (proxy for N. Esterhàzy), whereas in the plain between Durrenberg and Strehla Kleist cavalry replies behind the timely arrived infantry reinforcements: it gained time to allow for infantry deployement and it becomes available for another attack elsewhere:

notice the right-angled regiment which makes the line "cavalry flank secure".

In the Strehla sector, the already disordered Imperial infantry fails a further morale test and rout (red and white chits), disordering in turn other two regiments, whereas Furstemberg took an hit from the Prussian guns. Roth division is in total disarray, and the first Imperial attack against Strehla falters (to recover from the rout, the corp commander must be attached to the units which become “permanently disordered –red chit- and lose the battalion guns: indeed a recovered routed unit is of limited use for the rest of the battle).

This is the situation at the end of the second turn:

 the Durrenberg...

                                  ...and Strehla:

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Strehla: the solo playtest, part I

To test the scenario I decided to playtest it, unfortunately by myself since there are no V&B players close enough to me. First of all a look at the deployed armies: notice that since I have not all exactly the units required, there is nearly a 30% of “proxies”. For instance the role of Zweibrucken is played by Daun, whereas the former saxon regiment Hauss is played by a Prussian Garrison regiment and so on.

An overview of the deployed armies;

the Reserve corp with the Prince of Stolberg;

Guasco grenadiers on the Ottenberg;

the Prussian right wing on the Durrenberg;

the Prussian Cavalry and the left wing in the Camp;

The Reichsarmee.

The lonely grenadiers in Klein-Rügel waiting for the Imperials.

The First Turn, 4.00-5.00 am:

The burden of the attack is on the Austro-Imperials. They enter the Kleefeld command whose plan is to point on Laas and then contest the wood with the Croats, whereas Blau-Wurzbug and the Hussars shall attack the Durren Berg on the reverse.

The Guasco corps moves downhill from its position on the Ottenberg to attack the Durrenberg, with the two right flank austrian regiments deployed “en potency  (just outside of the picture...), whereas the Reserve corps closes on the Durrenberg from the other direction. The Prussian right wing seems in a hopeless position.

In the mean time the Reichsarmee moves to attack Strehla and the fortified camp, with the cavalry brigades moving left to contest the plain within Strehla and the Durrenberg.

However the lonely Grenadier battalions Lubath and Burgsdorf entrenched in Klein-Rügeln repulse the attackers (in V&B terms Baden-Durlach –proxy for Rot Wurzburg- fails morale test and is disordered – blank chit -, falling back and disordering in turn Baden-Baden), regiment Furstemberg exchanges a fruitless fire with the grenadiers:

It is the Prussian turn: the grenadiers wisely leave Klein-Rügeln and goes back to the city (becoming disordered); three regiments  moves from the entrenchments towards the plain between Strelha and the Durrenberg to help the right wing:

At the same time Kleist cavalry falls on Guasco exposed right wing (the rightmost regiment is “flank unsecure” in V&B terms, with morale penality in the pre-combat morale test) to allow the reinforcing three regiments to deploy in the plain:

The infantry on the Durrenberg becomes stationary (a unit which doesn’t move can become stationary, with additional benefits on combat: it isi indicated by the green counter) and secure the flanks to better receive the inevitable Austrian onslaught.

The Prussian cavalry attack is successful: regiment Sincere (proxy for Pallavicini) fails the morale test, both regiments lose the melee. Sincere routs and is destroyed, Niepperg (proxy for Sachsen-Gotha) is repulsed in disorder with loss. The Prussian retains control of the cavalry which change facings to search for new targets on Guasco completely open flank:

This is the situation at the end of the first move:

To close the post, another near-contemporary print (1790) of the battle:

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The action at Strehla, August 20, 1760

Strehla is one of those lesser-known, middle-sized, uneven and asymmetric actions between the Reichsarmee and the Prussians which makes some delightful war-game scenarios, as that done by Keith in his blog. The action is well described both in the Kronoskaf article and in Duffy’s 2nd volume on the Austrian Army, with the honour of 3 pages and 2 maps nonetheless. Basically it was a multiple-column attack on a Prussian camp on the left bank of the Elbe, upstream of Torgau.
The plan was for the Reichsarmee to “fix” the Prussian left, and for the Austrians to turn the right wing with a long circuitous march (in some sense a Torgau in small scale…), a further feint against the right wing made by the Austrian grenadiers.
However something went wrong: the Imperials made only some feeble demostration against Strehla allowing the Prussian to shift troops between the wings, and the Austrian cavalry action against the Prussian right ended in a fiasco. Stolberg called off the action and the Prussian wisely retired undisturbed overnight.

As far as the terrain is concerned, we have many contemporary prints like this one:

and both Kronoskaf and Duffy have detailed maps of the action. By using the modern satellite pictures, we may have an idea of the main course of the action:

Accordingly, I arrived at the following Volley & Bayonet map, where I departed from the custom in V&B whose lattices are 1 foot squares: I followed continental Europe system of measure here….(click on the map to enlarge):

here each square is 25 centimeters, so the whole map is 100x200 cm and the scale is 1 Km=36 cm, that is 1:3600; Strehla is a double sized town, Laas is a town and all the others are villages. The river Elbe is unfordable and there is a wood near Laas. The Durren Berg is a two-level hill, the others are one-level. The Village of Klein-Grossen can be occupied by a full regimental base insted of a a skirmishers base.

The order of battle is from Kronoskaf. Since V&B requires rosters, I prepared the following rosters in PowerPoint, the “boxes” representing the various “columns” for the Austrian and the “wings” for the Prussian.

Prussian Initial deployment:
Hulsen, the Left wing and the Field Artillery are deployed behind the entrenchments, the FB Wunsch inside Strehla and a Grenadier unit in Klein-Grossen.
The Right wing with the Heavy Artillery is deployed on the topmost part of the Durrenberg;
The cavalry is deployed midway between the entrenchments and the Durrenberg.

Austro-Imperial Initial deployement:
Guasco command is deployed on the Ottenberg;
Stolberg with the Wurzburg command are deployed behind the line B-B;
Zweibrucken with the Hauptarmee are deployed behind the line A-A;
Kleefeld command enters the first turn from the point C.

Terrain features
Klein Grossen is treated as a village but can be occupied by a regimental base.
The entrenchments are Field Works
Laas is a Wood building town
Strehla is a Stone building town

Scenario notes
All formed infantry have battalion guns. All formed units are treated as NE (no elites), apart the Grenadiers of both armies which are treated as Shock Troops (*) and the Luzan/Macquire regiment which is portrayed with Grenadier present (g) to represent the converged Luzan/Macquire/Esterhazy 4 grenadier coys that are fudged in the unit for game purpose.

To reflect the Imperial lack of confidence and consequent inactivity I choose not introduce a Special Rule to artificially “balance” the battle. Instead I followed the proposed Army Lists which gives Morale 4 to all Imperial regiments which are Poorly Trained (PT). This doesn’t apply to the Roth, Blau Wurzburg and Mainz-Lambert Regiments and to the Austrian/Imperial Cavalry Brigades.

Victory conditions
In the real battle the Prussian survived the action against the odds inflicting more loss to the enemy. Accordingly it seems reasonable to ask the Austro-Imperials to exhaust all the Prussian division within a given number of turns, for instance 4 or 5 (the real battle started at 5.00 am and ended at 7.00 am which are 3 one-hour turns in V&B) to win the battle. The Prussian wins simply by avoiding this.

With all this in mind I'll try to playtest the scenario. This is my “rendering” of the map on a 100x200 table:

In the foreground the Durrenberg with Laas and the wood on the left side and the Ottenberg on the right side of the valley. Far away the Prussian entrenchments, Strehla and the Elbe river. A close-up of Laas and the Durrenberg:

and of the Town of Strehla and the Elbe with the Prussian entrenched position:

By the way this is the actual Strehla, probably not so different from the one looted by the Prussian Freikorps:

Next time the playtest.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Russian generals

As I said in the previous post, I didn’t remained totally idle in the past year. For instance, last summer I painted some more Russian generals for the Holowczyn scenario:

General Feldmarschall Count Boris Scheremetiev (1652-1719), the overall commander of the Russian Army. According to Konstam “his generalship was solid rather than inspired”. At Holowczyn he arrived late on the scene of the swedish breaktrougth. At Poltava was in command of the foot. He is the tallest guy in the picture, from Mars Saxon Infantry. The other figures are Strelets.

Here he is in full studio armour: 

and in a couple of contemporary prints:


Brigadier General Willim von Schweden (or Schweiden, in green coat) appointed in 1704 and Ivan Chamber (in red coat) appointed in 1703, Repnin’s subordinates, both from Mars Saxon Infantry:

they were in charge of the Russian foot behind the entrenchments. Schweden was killed leading a counterattack of his brigade against Sparre 6 battalions.

Major General von der Goltz (one of the many Saxon officers named Goltz in Peter's Army), commanding the Cavalry, committed piecemeal in the battle:

I represented him dismounted with an Horse Grenadier orderly, the General from the Mars Saxon Infantry whereas the Horse Grenadier is from Mars Swedish Infantry.

Two of his subordinates are the Brigadier Von Hessen-Darmstadt (heavily converted from Strelets, the torso from a foot officer):

and Ifland (a Zvedza Russian Dragoon officier in origin with an added sash), whose dragoons were dismounted (and probably asleep) when the Swedish crossed the Vabijti: