Monday, 22 June 2015

The Battle of Kirchstadt - A SYW Black Powder game

After our previous two games of Black Powder set in the Seven years War, we decided that the 'narrative' of the story so far naturally pointed towards a decisive battle. Both Armies had gathered their forces for a final showdown, with the baggage train as a sort of objective, certainly from the Austrian point of view.

Due to pressure of work and family commitments, Dave hadn't come up with any specific details for the scenario, so we decided to go with a classic 'Encounter' battle as it seemed quite fitting. 

Both sides were evenly matched in terms of troops and commanders. The exact details escape me as this was played nearlly three weeks ago and this is the first chance I've had to do the write up. From memory both sides had one commander on a CV of 7, with two on an 8. Possibly both main commanders were a 9 but I can't be sure.

Both sides deployed partly on the table with no forces in reserve. Again time has dulled my memory but hopefully the following pics will jog it along enough to provide a coherent AAR.

One thing to note is that the fields on the table counted as rough going. This was the first time we had tried this and as you will see, it had an impact on the game.

Both sides deployed for action in classic SYW style, with cavalry on the wings and two lines of infantry.
The Prussian commander with a CV of 7 got off to a flyer with this command roll. Obviously he was related to Frederick the Great.
The Austrian left wing of Hussars move to cover the flank, whilst the infantry advance towards the town. The centre and right wing fail to keep up or even move in the case of the cavalry. For the Prussians their left wing also moved, but the main infantry force just sat back and watched.
The Austrians move up on the right of the town and their cavalry advance towards the cornfield, but the rest fail to move into Kirchstadt. The Prussians, like the Austrians, had partial movement, but none of it towards the town. Who ever could get there first would be in a strong position.
The Austrians try to move around the woods to push on towards the road. The Prussian heavy cavalry is lagging behind on their left flank, with only a screen of Hussars facing the Austrian heavies.
The Austrians get the first troops into Kirchstadt, but can't push on through to the other side. Both main forces of cavalry struggle through the corn and ploughed field, making it hard to get any charges in. At least the Austrian infantry is forming up a nice line.
Even thought the Austrians have troops in Kirchstadt, the Prussians have a large force approaching.
The cavalry struggle through the terrain but at least the Austrians have strong infantry support.
In a decisive move, the Prussians manage to get a unit of troops into the other part of Kirchstadt.
Both sides shoot at each other with little effect due to being in the town. Both sides have troops in support, but with nowhere to go.
The Austrian havy cavalry charge into the Prussian Hussars, but only manage to push them back towards the orchard. The Austrian Croats push forward whilst both sides infantry stand off as long range artillery fires with little or no effect.
The Prussian Freikorps have advanced through the woods on their right flank, threatening the Hussars. Elsewhere little has changed.
The Austrian heavy cavalry pursue the Hussars, whilst the Prussian heavy cavalry can only look on whislt sniped at by the Croats.
A stalemate appears to be developing...
At least the Austrian cavalry have seen of the Prussian Hussars, but need to reform to take advantage of their position.
A sort of English Civil War action develops, as both sides right wings advance, resulting in the battle pivoting around Kirchstadt.
The Prussian left flank starts to fall back to counter the threat from the Austrian cavalry and infantry.
The Prussian Grenadiers start to move out towards their left flank as the Austrian advance on their right.
The Austrian advance to the right of Kirchstadt.
With dusk falling and little prospect of a result, both sides withdraw to Winter Quarters.

The End
Well time was against us in the end and with both sides still in good shape, we decided to call it a draw, which on reflection seemed a fair result.

Post game Thoughts
Once again a good game but at the same time somewhat frustrating, as outlined below:
  • The layout of the table greatly affected the game, more so than we thought it would when we set things up. Kirchstadt naturally dominated the central area, but this resulted in limited movement in the central area of the table. The large wood on the Prussian right flank combined with Kirchstadt gave them a very secure flank. The corn and ploughed field completely tied up the other flank, really limiting the ability of the cavalry to move. 
  • Poor deployment on my part meant that the Hussars on my left flank had little impact on the game, other than to provide target practise for the Freikorps. I had thought of putting the Croat Grenzers on the elft and in hindsight I should have. The Hussars would have been better off supporting the main cavalry on the right flank.
  • Again poor deployment at the start meant that I found it very hard to move my infantry between Kirchstadt and the small wood on my side of the table. This resulted in some unnescessary toing-and-froing to get them into the right postion, costing me valuable movement opportunities. 
  • My use of the sole artillery unit was less than perfect shall we say. As with the infantry, I didn't deploy it well to start with and it contributed to the road block around Kirchstadt. 
  • After the game I realised that I would have been better off firing into Kirchstadt with my cannon rather duelling with the Prussian one. The morale modifier confered to cannon may have helped to break the deadlock that developed in Kirchstadt itself. 
  • As with the 'Maurice' ruleset, deployment in this period is critical to allow you to get off to a good start. This is true of other periods, but the slow nature of movement and deployment in the SYW really hammers this home. Hopefully I've learnt my lesson on this, but only time will tell.
Next up is a Napoleonic game of Black Powder, in a sort of refight of Quatre Bras 200 years to the day. This is my first Nappies game so am interested to see how it compares to the SYW, the latter of which I have enjoyed immensely these past few weeks.

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