Wednesday, 2 December 2015

The Suprise at Spittelwitz - An Honours of War AAR

After a brief foray into 'Ancients' gaming last week, we returned to the Seven Years War this week and the 'Honours of War' ruleset. We decided to try one of the scenarios out of the rulebook, with Lobositz too big for an evenings game in our humble estimation, we settled upon Spittelwitz.

Now there was a bit of confusion as to the day we were playing, with Dave (the Prussians) turning up a day early, truly catching me (the Austrians) unprepared. This caused immense amusement to my wife and the Prussians had certainly managed an oblique attack, catching the Austrians well and truly with their trousers down, metaphorically speaking. 

So after a bit of good natured banter, we managed to get the table set up in double quick time. The layout and forces were as per the scenario in the rulebook, so I will not bother repeating them here. Due to the rushed circumstances, I failed to make any notes, but with the game still fresh in my mind, a few annotated notes will hopefully give an idea of how the game played out. So without further ado...

Having set the forces up, we rolled to see how our commanders were rated, with the Prussians getting a 'Dashing' General and sadly the Austrians a 'Dithering' one. Both sides had a 'Dashing' commander each, with the Austrian cavalry commander being somewhat 'Dithering'. So not an auspicious start for my troops...
With the Austrians unable to move for the first 2 Turns, the Prussians advanced as quickly as they could towards the entrenched Austrian Light Infantry and the town of Spittelwitz. The Prussian mixed Legion (commanded by a Minion!) moved over the river to threaten the Austrian rear.
The Prussians struggled to advance in the face of the well entrenched Light Infantry, ably supported by the Austrian guns on the Spittelberg.
The Austrian Independent Battalion in Spittelwitz plays a waiting game for as long as possible, to try and hold up the advance of the Prussian left flank.
The Prussians finally cross the river, forcing the Austrian Light Infantry from their entrenchments, but they managed to retreat to the safety of the main Austrian line on the Spittelberg. A rash attack by the Austrians in Spittelwitz seems them come off worse, being forced back from the town. More Prussian cavalry arrive to the rear of the Spittelberg, but the Austrian cavalry form a strong defensive line, supported by infantry, knowing that a Prussian charge could be a costly mistake.
Despite losing the frontline positions, the Austrians are still in a strong position, entrenched on the heights of the Spittelberg.
The Prussian cavalry, whilst threatening the Austrian rear, know that a frontal attack could be suicidal.

Post Game Thoughts
In the end we played around 9 Turns, with the Prussians in a position to start mounting attacks, but 2-3 Turns away from being able to press them home. After one frontal assault, which was bloodily repulsed, we knew that they would have to manouevre into a position on the flanks to have a chance of taking the Spittelberg. So we agreed that the Austrians won the engagement, but with their lines-of-communication threatend by the Prussian cavalry, would withdraw in good order during the night.

So once again another great game of HoW and one that was quite different from previous ones we had played, due to the historical nature of the engagement. The scenario was certainly interesting and one that would be worth playing again, with different forces or for a '45 Rebellion game. As always a few post game thoughts:

  • The entrenched Austrian Light Infantry were damned tough nuts to crack. For most of the opening Turns, they could only be hit on a natural 5, due to a raft of negative modifiers to the Prussian die roll. Both of us had expected them to be rolled up in short order. It goes to show that Light Infantry in the right cover etc are extremely useful troops to have.
  • The Austrians in Spittelwitz were in a great blocking position, as the Prussians could not see them unless they advanced to the edge of the BUA. I made the mistake on moving them so to try and get some shots off to degrade the Prussians before the expected assault. Predictably I lost the Fire Initiative roll and took hits that forced me back. I should have held my position and waited for the Prussians to come to me.
  • The Austrian Superior artillery was able to keep whittling down the Prussians, who could do little in return to the dug in troops on the Spittelberg.
  • With Entrenched units so hard to hit, it would be worth giving the attacking force either a Heavy gun or Howitzer, to allow them a better chance of inflicting hits upon the dug-in troops. Maybe if we replay this scenario we will give this a go.
  • Even with the Prussians at the peak of their powers, this was a hard scenario for them to win. Despite having a 'Dashing' general, they struggled to get over the river and past the entrenched Light Infantry. Then they had to face the entrenched units on the Spittelberg. I would suggest that you only use the Prussians pre-1760 as the attackers for this scenario.
  • For an evenings gaming, we have found that a 4'x4' table, with units on a frontage of 8cm, provides a good game and certainly gives the feeling of large numbers of troops being involved. As a result I will be basing my AWI/Imagi-Nations forces in this way. 
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but given the above, I will go away and read how the historical battle played out to compare it to our game. As always it proved to be a fun evenings gaming with 'Honours of War'.

Next week we plan to play 'Langesalza' using Bloody Big Battles by Chris Pringle. Dave has played them at Warfare and I've read plenty of good reviews. I look forward to seeing how they play. So until next time...


  1. Great to see the scenario being played out. I'm sure you'll enjoy playing BBB - I have had the pleasure of playing these under the direction of the author and they give a fast and interesting game with plenty of tactics.

    1. We both enjoyed the scenario as it gave different challenges to the usual sort of games, namely dug-in troops and a suprise flank attack.

      Dave has played a game at Warfare with Chris Pringle and certainly enjoyed himself. With both of you enjoying the rules I'm sure we will have a great game.

  2. Maybe getting rid of entrenchments will result in a better game scenario.