Sunday, 7 June 2015

Counter Attack at Holzdorf - A 'Black Powder' SYW Game

Following on from our 'trial' game of Black Powder a few weeks ago, we were ready for the next game in our narrative campaign. Once again Dave provided the figures and scenario and myself the scenery

After the heroic, but ultimately unsuccessful, defence of the Austrian baggage train, the Austrians were in a strong position to immediately launch a counter-attack to try and regain their lost luggage. The Prussians, having gained a somewhat Phyrric victory, were depleted in terms of men and materiel, with their objective being one of a fighting withdrawl, covering the lumbering baggage train. 

The baggage train would automatically move 6cm each turn towards the Prussian base line, unless an Austrian unit moved into contact with. Upon doing so they would be able to take control and try and get it back to their own lines. The side with the most items of luggage in their control at the end of the game would be the winners.

The Austrians had four units of Line infantry, two of Grenadiers, two of croat Grenzers (the heroes of the previous game) and three of Hussars. Their were three HQ units, two with a CV of 8 and one of CV of 7

The Prussians in contrast had five units of Line infantry and one unit of Dragoons. They had three HQ units, two at a CV of 9 and one of 8.

Neither side had any Battalion guns, based upon our previous experience with them acting more like Napoleonic Horse Artillery.

Once again time mitigated against any detailed notes as things went along at a fair old pace, so anotated photos will have to suffice I'm afraid.

The Prussians deployed for battle in and around Holzdorf, with their Dragoons on the crest of the hill, awaiting the arrival of the Austrians, who all started off the table. The Austrians deployed their Grenadiers in the centre, with the poorer CV Hungarians on their right flank and the bulk of their cavalry and German troops on their left flank.
A poor start by the Prussians saw their left flank blunder and move into Holzdorf, somewhat disrupting their plans. The Austrians were only able to bring on their flanks of cavalry and the Hungarian Line.
The Prussians continue to move the baggage train towards their table edge, with their left wing falling back to a good defensive position by the woods. The Dragoons moved down off the hill to threaten any wholesale move by the Austrian Hussars. The Grenadiers and Line infantry all moved forward in a perfect display of parade ground Linear warfare. Combined fire from the Grenadiers and Hungarians saw the demise of the first line of Prussian infantry on the edge of Holzdorf. Already outnumbered, this wasn't exactly the start the Prussians were hoping for.
At this point the Austrians blundered, and decided to perform the 'Hokey Cokey'. "You put your left flank, you take your left flank out, in,out, in,out and you shake it all about..." Having been in a good position to advance en masse, their line looked anything but parade ground perfect now...
With the dancing over, the Austrians decided to pretend to be Zulus and their 'horns' started to move against the Prussians flanks. The Prussians meanwhile just calmly carried on moving back in good order, with the exception of the Dragoons who made an attempted charge against the Hussars in march column, fortunately for the Hussars falling just short. The Hussars then moved into line and after a short fire fight, pushed the Dragoons back.
With their flanks threatend, the Prussians moved back, carefully watching the outcome of the cavalry battle on their right flank.
Oh Dear me! Another Austrian blunder that once again saw an outbreak of the 'Hokey Cokey' this time performed with more panache by the Hungarians on the right flank. It seemed that the Austrians (ie me) were doing there level best to throw the game away. Dave just laughed...
At least the Hussars managed to defeat the Dragoons, opening up the left flank and a route through to the baggage train.
The Austrian line was anything but one, becoming a bit of a mess as all units attempted to move forward as quickly as possible. This was especially true on the left flank as cavalry, Grenzers and Line all got in each others way.
With the Austrian centre slowly sorting itself out, the Hussars on either flank started to surge forward in an attempt to cut off the Prussians and the vital baggage train.
The Prussians decided the best form of defence was attack and promptly moved units back towards the hill, to try and halt the Austrian advance long enough for the baggage train to escape. One unit was detached on the left flank to deal with the immminent threat from the Hussars.
As the Hussars work their way round the flanks, the infantry get into a firefight on the hill.
The Austrians have superiority of numbers but cannot bring them to bear agains the Prussians.
The Hussars as they attempt to move past the woods into the Prussian rear.
The Prussian flanks have been turned but the infantry in the centre continue to trade blows, with neither side giving way.
The baggage train gets ever closer to safety, but the Prussians are taking an awful lot of hits...
'Huzzah!' The Hussars manage to capture one of the wagons of the baggage train. At the same time the Prussian right flank is buckling under the sustained pressure from the Austrian troops. However the Hussars on the right flank are in danger of being caught in march column by the Prussians.
The pressure continues to build across the whole front, with the Austrians losing one unit of brave Hungarians and their Hussars being fired upon in the flank by the Prussians.
Despite superiority of numbers, it looks like the baggage train will make it to safety...
The Prussians finally succumb to the weight of fire, losing one unit of infantry. Somehow the Hussars have managed to hang on!
The baggage train manages to get off the table.

The End
Despite the Prussians managing to get two of the three wagons off the table, they had been broken as a fighting force. As a result we decided that the Austrians were the winners and could be slightly smug with themselves.

Post game Thoughts
Once again another cracking game that flowed nicely and was tight right to the end. As always a few thoughts on the game etc:
  •  What initially looked like a tough ask for the Prussians, in the end turned out to be a very tight and hard fought game. The loss of a Line infantry unit early on certainly didn't help.
  • The Austrians despite their superiority of numbers, couldn't really get going throughout the game. The 'Hokey Cokey' blunders certainly didn't help things.
  • Deploying my Hussars in March Column was a risky choice, one that nearly cost me dear when the Prussian Dragoons charged, fortunately falling just short. If they had made contact if could have been "Goodnight Vienna" for them and to my left flank.
  • I forgot that units in March Column get one free move, even if they fail to receive an order. When Dave asked I really should have checked in the rulebook rather than just using the QRS. Given the above point it might have worked in my favour but lesson learnt.
  • I should have deployed my Grenzers in Line. They spent the whole game doing nothing, but then after the previous games heroics, I could forgive them their reluctance to get to grips with the enemy.
  • I'm finding that the Black Powder rules do produce some cracking and fun games. This is greatly helped by the fact that Dave Fielder is a superb opponent and all round decent chap. At a couple of points in the game we commented that 'rules lawyers' would have been frothing at the mouth on some of the moves, but for us they felt right and added to the game. After all we meet up to have fun and not quibble over things that would spoil the game.
  • I must remember that in the 'Linear Warfare' period, units can only move once and shoot. Too often I kept wanting to move my Grenzers, deploy them and then fire. Poor Dave kept reminding me that I couldn't and I kept forgetting! His patience with me was exemplarary. Hopefully I will remember next game...
So the plan is for a final showdown game, in the form of some sort of pitched battle. This will take place next week and I will await Dave's scenario with interest. After this I think the plan is to move onto the Napoleonic period, given the the anniversary of Waterloo is fast approaching and it also happens to be Dave's birthday. Must remember cake...(and March Column rules. Oh and that thing about only moving once and shooting)

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