Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Kolin, June 18, 1757. A case study

The battle of Kolin- Anonymous

Amongst the Frederician battles, Kolin was the one that most intrigued me; the reasons are manifolds: the first battle lost by the Old Fritz, the endless anedottics –“Rouges, do you want to live forever!”- amongst the others, the beautiful Clash of Arms boardgame (Never played once: I am too old to read 50 pages of rules and 12 of tables. Nevertheless a real pleasure for the eyes and the historical commentary by Christopher Duffy alone well deserves the price):

It is a battle which, in my opinion is not to easy to simulate: no sensible player will hammer his army to the pulp in frontal attacks at “cold steel”, given the Prussian performance. However, when one reads Duffy, the feeling is that of a battle more balanced than it can appear at a glance: moreover it allows for the most aggressive hot-headed players of any Wargame Groups to go wild with the real possibility to perform even better then the King of Prussia…

“Her Majesty, do you want to take those guns single-handed?”

To better enjoy the pleasure of playing Kolin, I decided to playtest it with three different rulesets, whose grain is different within the overall operational picture: that is, no tactical battalion commander decision, rather Corps/Division commander choices. Accordingly I choose:

1) DBHx: the Humberside 1500-1900 variant for DBA v2.2. which has a nice scenario for Kolin. Some notes on the terrain scale: the suggested map size for the scenario is 54”x 30”, presumably with 60mm frontages. Since I want to use my regimental bases for V&B full-size with 3” frontage bases, the scaled size of the map is 67”x 37” or 170 cm x 94 cm. 

2) Maurice: Kolin is one of the scenarios provided in the Rulebook. There is a very interesting discussion about the scale and scenario design and the suggested map is 40BW times 30BW. With a base-width of 1.5” (each V&B bases represents indeed two Maurice bases) we have 60”x 45” or roughly 150 cm x 115 cm. By measuring the distance between Blinka and Radowesnitz on the scenario map (27BW) and those given by Duffy e.g. in “Frederick the Great - A Military Life”,  we may arrive at a terrain scale of roughly 1:3520.

3) Volley&Bayonet: a very nice scenario was provided by Christian Rogge on the V&B Yahoo Group. The scale of V&B is 1”=100 yards or 1:3540. The map is 90’’x54’’ or 228 cm x 137 cm, bigger than those of the previous ruleset.

The first thing we notice is that despite the fact that Maurice and V&B have the same terrain scale, the different way they represents the units makes for two differently-sized maps; as far as DBHx is concerned, one can argue that the scale is roughly 1:3500 with a troop scaling similar to that of Maurice.  In this sense V&B has a “finer” grain than both DBHx and Maurice.

The idea which is at the basis of my posts and which I want to explore in the next posts  is to see how the three different sets of rules give the feeling of the same battle for those like me leaves the niceties of formal drill to somebody else….

The Prussian I/15 Regiment at Kolin. The “niceties of formal drill”…..

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Kleiner Krieg outfits and an Orange Tree..

Having completed the Torgau OoB, I am free to paint whatever please me: the recent forays in the battles with the Reichsarmee in Saxony and the willingness to play Kolin prompted me to add more hussars to my Army lists. The first two were the Austrian regiments of Hadik and Szecheny: they were based on an hussar unit bought long time ago; by adding enough officiers, trumpeters and standard bearer and by means of a little additional paintjob I get the two units, which adds to the Kaiser and Esterhazy regiments already painted, for a grand total of 20 squadrons, still few for Kolin. Indeed I need 7 more regiments to arrive at the full OoB, namely HR 11, 17, 34, 35, 36 and the Grenz Husaren (ii) and (iv).

The Prussian Werner hussars have a carachteristic brown uniform which earned them the sobriquet of “Fleischhacker” (butcher), since brown was the colour of the guild of the butchers. To appreciate fully such an uniform one has to look at the splendid 40mm painted by Nigel in his blog.

The HR3, Warnery, is one of the white-coated regiments: here I painted only one battalion, due to shortage of lead: I need to place an order to H&R, the last one was 12 years ago….

This brings the total of my Prussian hussars to 35 squadrons, short of the 50 needed to represent the powerful Ziethen avantgarde at the battle of Kolin. Moreover I need the Prinz Moritz command stand:

Here the former “Enfant Sauvage” is depicted with an Infantry “Fluegel-Adjutant” and a Jager-zu-Pferde orderly, surely with the King order to frontally attack the Austrian position. By the way the church is a Christmas Tree decoration…Here a contemporary print which portraits him: the uniform was that of IR22, with red lapels.

The last painted unit are the Jager-zu-fuss, the unfortunate unit wiped out by the Cossacks at Spandau in 1760. Heroics&Ros correctly portraits them part with the carabines and part with the bayonet-armed musket. By the way I should add a fence in front of the carabine armed ones. The Menzel drawing depicts the hat without lace but other sources give an yellow-laced hat, as I did.

I finish with a little touch of art. The last week-end of March it was the FAI-day in Italy (FAI=Fondo per l’Ambiente Italiano=“Italian Environment Trust”). There were a lot of lesser-know palaces, gardens and museum open for free. Indeed in every place there was a long line of people, both tourists and native, waiting to see these places, which are sometimes little gems. This is a picture of an orange tree (full of oranges, barely distinguible given the poor quality of my mobile phone camera) which is in the Cloister of the Church of San Lorenzo in Florence which was open to the public in this occasion. Maybe an idea for the next town base?