Thursday, 24 December 2020

OHW Scenario 4: The Battle for the Grunberg

After me last AAR, fellow Blogger Jonathan Freitag put his hand up and said if I wanted more 'volunteers' to take on the part of one of the Generals for my OHW scenario refights, he was happy to take part, poor thing. To give Dave and Keith a break from my efforts at army control, I asked Norm if he fancied a go as well and fortunately he was keen too!
So after a flurry of e-mails, we were ready to go and I managed to sneak the game in before Xmas Eve, which was rather nice. Essentially the game is Scenario 4: Take the High Ground, but tweaked once again with unit strengths from Wargaming 19thC Europe as per the previous games. Both players were given a background brief and their OOB, unknown to the other player of course, and they came back with their orders and maps for guides to deployment, movement etc:
Background (Jonathan)
You are have been tasked with taking an important hill, that is guarded by 3 Red units of unknown composition. You expect there to be more Red units in the vicinity as reinforcements, but you do not know where or in what strength.
5 x Line Infantry
1 x Skirmishers
1 x Cavalry
3 x Artillery
Note you may divide your force into as many Commands as you see fit.
Your units start the game off table and can enter via any point along your table edge, as shown on the map. As the Attacker your Blue force takes the first Turn.
Red Background (Norm)
You are expecting the Blue force to attack you from the South. You have placed a small force guarding an important hill, with the main force encamped off table a short distance away. The small force consists of 3 units of your choosing from your OOB.
6 x Line Infantry
1 x Skirmishers
1 x Cavalry
2 x Artillery
Note you may divide your force into as many Commands as you see fit.
3 Units begin the game deployed on the hill.
7 Units arrive at any point on your table edge (as shown on the map) at the start of your Turn 2, subject to successful command rolls.
The Blue force goes first as they are the Attacker.

To be in control of the hill after 8 Turns.

Maps and Orders
The basic map sent to each player.
Blue Orders
Divide Blue into three commands:
Advance Guard (Lt Col von Starkloff) - 2x INF, 1xCAV, 1xSK
Artillery (Major Krupp) - 3xART
Main Strike force (Lt Col von  Reitzenstein) - 3xINF
  • Advance Guard is to enter the board with CAV and INF pushing down the road.  CAV screens INF advance fire from enemy hill positions.  SK recce woods.  Advance Guard to either interdict enemy reinforcements or support main assault against hill. If hard-pressed Advanced Guard CAV and SK to fall back to behind woods to uncover Blue guns and 2xINF to uncover guns by moving toward the hill in support of main assault.
  • Artillery is to open up against enemy positions on hill on first turn and continue firing.  The main assault will not attack until the enemy hill positions are either suppressed or showing signs of suppression.  Keep bombarding hill until main assault is within assault distance.  Keep bombarding hill targets while attack goes in, if possible.  If hill taken by Blue, move 1xART onto hill while the other two guns fill the gap between the east side of the hill and the woods. 
  • Main assault INF to attack enemy position on hill once enemy suppressed by bombardment but begin advance no later than Turn 3.  If successful in assault, take up defensive positions on hill to secure objective.
The map received from Jonathan.

Red Orders
The army Commander is Lt. General Von Hardenberg.

Brigade A commanded by Major Von Puffendorf
Consists 2 x Line infantry and 1 x artillery.
They will start in position on the hill with artillery to the centre and flanked by the infantry. They will assume a defensive posture and fire at every oppportunity.

Brigade B commanded by Lt. Colonel de la Porte
Consists 1 x line inf, 1 x skirmisher inf, 1 x artillery.
They will arrive on the left via the road area. Their job is to form a line and screen off the woods and to protect my left flank of the hill. The skirmishers will be on the far left and the artillery on the right of this line, so that artillery fire can be used against the wood if necessary, but their main function will be to fire ahead to protect the gap between the woods and the hill. I don’t want the brigade to enter the woods unless it becomes absolutely necessary or advantageous and even then, only the skirmishers should go in.

Brigade C commanded by Major General Ernst Frederick von Reden.
Consists 1 x line infantry and the cavalry
They will arrive on the right (as per the map I am sending you). The infantry will lead in line, followed by the cavalry for support. They will take up position in that form on my right, between the hill and the table edge. The infantry are expected to keep the enemy at bay by constant fire. The cavalry initiative I will leave to you.

Brigade D commanded by Prince von Anhalt.
Consists of 2 x line infantry
They will form the reserve. They enter play from point D (per map) directly behind the hill. They will advance to the rear of the hill and hold until their intervention is needed. Their primary concern will be in the direct defence of the hill, but if drawn to deal with a crisis to either flank may do so only if absolutely necessary. They may need to relieve the ‘A’ Brigade on the hill as a fresh unit, if ‘A’ needs to retire to recover strength, at which point ‘A’ Brigade would become the reserve.

Overall intentions - the only thing that matters is holding the hill, so a defensive stance to that end is expected. I doubt that I will need to be rolling for many orders, but if I do, my preference is to roll for individual units rather than giving a brigade order. The commanders will be expected at every opportunity to use the Rally Around Me order once units suffer more than 1 casualty. Keeping units in the field up to strength is a command priority.
The map received from Norm.

With the detailed maps and orders, it was easy to set the troops out in the respective positions, as can be seen below:

An overview of the table, with the Blue force laigned along the Southern edge.

Von Starkloff's advanced guard.

Major Krupp's artillery.

Von Reitzenstein's main strike force.

Major von Puttendorf and his units on the hill awaiting the expected attack.
Turn 1
(Blue) Von Starkloff's advanced guard on the right advanced swiftly as per their orders, with the cavalry screening the infantry flank, as the skirmishers pushed on into the woods and the infantry along the road, reaching parallel to the hill. Major Krupp's artillery arrived and deployed along a stone wall facing the hill, as Von Reitzenberg's infantry moved on to the left, halting outside musket range.

(Red) Major von Puttendorf seeing the threat to his left, tried to order a unit to turn to offer a refused flank, but the order failed to be followed. The artillery opened up on the infantry to the front, but failed to hit, whilst the infantry managed to score a hit on Krupp's artillery.

The end of Turn 1.

Von Starkloff's advanced guard in an excellent position already.

Major Krupp's artillery ready to bombard the hill.
Turn 2
(Blue) Von Starkloff ordered his skirmishers to push forward to the end of the wood to cover any advances down the road, whilst his infantry aligned to enfilade the infantry on the hill. However the shooting was rather poor and any hits caused were saved. As von Reitzenstein's main strike force held position, Major Krupp's artillery opened fire to great effect, causing one of von Puttendorf's infantry to become Shaken & Disordered, but they passed their break test with consummate ease, obviously being made of stern stuff.

(Red) Hearing gun fire in the distance, the reserves began arriving across the board. Lt Col de la Porte moved along the road and deployed into line to face von Starkloff's advanced guard that were threatening the hill. Major von Reden and Prinz von Anhalt, with Lt General von Hardenberg in tow, moved on in column of march to try and reinforce the hill as quickly as possible. Sadly von Puttendorf's infantry and artillery's shooting was ineffective, other than scaring any wildlife in the vicinity of the shooting.

The end of Turn 2.

De la Porte's force (top) arrive and deploy ready to engage von Starkloff's advanced guard.

Von Reden and Prinz von Anhalt march on to the sound of guns to re-inforce the positions on the hill.
Turn 3
(Blue) With the hill still holding out, von Reitzenstein moved his infantry off as per his orders, supported by Major Krupp's guns. Whilst the infantry musketry was rather disappointing, the artillery managed to cause von Puttendorf's already battered infantry unit to break and flee the table. Seeing the enemy appear along the road, von Starkloff moved an infantry unit to meet the threat. Again despite being in a great position to inflict damage upon the enemy, the shooting was rather poor, with only the skirmishers in the woods able to do any hurt and minimal at that.

(Red) von Reden moved his infantry to the fence line, supported by the cavalry, on the right flank to help protect the position on the hill, whilst Prinz von Anhalt arrived at the foot of the hill with his reserves, but was unable to deploy them into line. Lt Col de la Porte on the left flank had a fit of the nerves and failed to send any orders out. Somewhat frustratingly for Lt General von Hardenberg, the shooting from his whole force laft a lot to be desired, with only one hit caused, as the shooting that did hit home was saved.

One of von Puttendorf's infantry breaks after sustained artillery bombardment.

The end of Turn 3.

Von Reitzenstein's infantry move off to assault the hill.

Ineffective shooting from both sides leaves the positions largely unchanged.

Von Reden deploys along the fence (bottom) supported by the cavalry whilst Prinz von Anhalt and his reserves arrive but are still in column.

Lt Col de la Porte failure of nerve means he is unable to advance forward to put pressure on von Starkloff's advanced guard.
Turn 4
(Blue) Lt Kuster, a dashing but rather rash cavalry officer, sees an opportunity for glory and charges into the infantry of Prinz von Anhalt that are still in column. Despite causing mayhem and destruction, the infantry somehow manage to survive and are driven back in disorder and are shaken to boot. Lt Kuster, pleased with his work, opts to hold his position. With the cavalry charge and the loss on an infantry unit on the hill, von Starkloff orders an infantry unit onto the hill to reinforce success. The rest of his advance guard cause hits on de la Porte's troops, but not enough to cause discomfort.

Major Krupp's artillery with counter battery fire destroy the artillery supporting von Puttendorf on the hill, as von Reitzenstein's men move slowly towards the hill and manage to make the remaining infantry unit of von Puttendorf's command to become shaken.

(Red) von Puttendorf seeing how serious the situation is, rally's a hit off the infantry to help stabilise the situation. Prinz von Anhalt moves his infantry into line to face Lt Kuster's cavalry and a ripple of musket fire sees the cavalry disordered and shaken. Von Reden sends his cavalry under the command of Lt Brunisch to support the infantry reserves, whilst his infantry manage to hit von Reitzenstein infantry in the cornfield. 

On the left de la Porte once again lacks the nerve to move his troops, but his artillery moves forward on its own intiative to provide fire support to von Puttendorf's troops as well as those of de la Porte. At least his troops do manage to do some damage against von Starkloff's advanced guard infantry on the road.

Lt Kuster and his cavalry charge in, with von Starkloff's infantry arriving on the hill as von Puttendorf's artillery are destroyed.

The end of Turn 4.

The battle for the hill is hotting up with troops and fighting raging on and around it.

De la Porte's artillery in the ploughed field move up to the wall to enfilade von Starkloff's troops, if all goes well that is.
Turn 5
(Blue) With limited targets, one of Major Krupp's guns limber up to support the attack on the hill as per his orders. Unfortunately von Reitzenstein fails to move his troops forward when the hill is ripe for the taking, especially as combined fire sees the demise of the last of von Puttendorf's command, leaving the hill open! Von Starkloff's infantry on the hill move below the crestline to get out of view of de la Porte's artillery, with the musketry failing to cause any damage once again.

(Red) De la Porte's nerve failed yet again and he was unable to command anything, with his troops shooting yet again dismal, with even the artillery completely missing troops in line in the open. With the situation on the hill a tad serious, von Reden and Prinz von Anhalt managed to move troops onto the hill, but below the crest, to avoid Major Krupp's murderous guns.

With Lt Kuster's cavalry in an exposed position, Lt Brunisch ordered the charge to try and stabilise the situation behind the hill. Lt Kuster's cavalry moved to evade the charge but were caught and ridden down, with Lt Brunisch ordering his cavalry back to help protect the positions on the hill.

The failure of von Reitzenstein's infantry to advance allows von Reden and Prinz von Anhalt to move troops onto the hill. An opportunity missed.

Von Starkloff's infantry on the road manage to avoid the effects of de la Porte's troops shooting.

Lt General von Hardenberg's looks on as his force manages to retake part of the hill.

Lt Brunisch's cavalry having retired to help protect the left flank of the hill.
Turn 6
(Blue) Von Reitzenstein finally moves his troops forward and the gain the foot of the hill, with one unit in reserve, as von Starkloff's infantry on the hill move in support. A shocking round of shooting, despite having the numbers and close range, sees only one hit and a disorder caused on the enemy! Once again von Starkloff's advanced gaurd does little damage to de la Porte's troops, but Major Krupps' artillery comes to the rescue and with superb shooting destroys de la Porte's artillery in the ploughed field.

(Red) Finally de la Porte is goaded into action, moving his infantry and skirmshers into the ploughed field to help reinforce the positions on the hill that are under extreme pressure, with some shooting disordering von Starkloff's infantry on the road. As Prinz von Anhalt's infantry that were charged in column have recoved, they are ordered forward towards the hill to provide a mobile reserve. The shooting on the hill was sadly rather ineffective, despite the close range,  only causing a hit and disorder. Lt Brunisch's cavalry moved back towards the right flank with the aim of possibly exploiting an open flank if it presented itself.

The end of Turn 6.

Major Krupp's gun line have moved to gain a better field of fire.

De la Porte's infantry finally move and manage to cause hits and disorder on Von Starkloff's infantry.

The infantry have lined up and blazed away at each other, but to little effect.

A view along the line.
Turn 7
(Blue) With little movement, other than von Reitzenberg moving his reserve to the left at the foot of the hill to try and cover his flank, it was a case of simply shooting at the enemy. The enemy in the form of von Reden and Prinz von Anhalt, took an awful lot of hits, but saved them all, with only one unit being disordered. Obviously these troops are rather stubborn and made of stern stuff!

(Red) De la Porte managed to rally a hit of his infantry in the ploughed field, but again his troops couldn't hit the proverbial barn door in the form of von Starkloff's infantry in the open!. At least on the hill von Reden and Prinz von Anhalt troops did cause hits and disorder, but it could have been better. Lt Brunisch carried on moving his cavalry round to the right flank to keep open the option of attack any open flank that presented itself.

The end of Turn 7

Von Starkloff's troops once again dodge the bullets of de la Porte's infantry.

Both sides once again fail to cause any significant damage on the enemy.
Turn 8
(Blue) Von Starkloff's advanced guard finally managed to get a good round of shooting in, with combined fire from the infantry, skirmishers and Majr Krupp's gun seeing de la Porte's infantry and skirmishers in the ploughed field become shaken and disordered. Fortunatly for de la Porte, his troops didn't need to make a break test, as the fire wasn't quite enough to force one.

Von Reitzenstein failed to get an order through to his reserve at the foot of the hill to move to cover his left flank, but his infantry on the hill managed to cause one of Prinz von Anhalts infantry to become shaken and disordered.

(Red) Risking losing the hill in the dying moments of the game, Prinz von Anhalts battered troops made a disorderly retreat and were replaced by a fresh unit, thereby stabilising the situation. The shooting across the hill was poor and so von Reitzenstein's troops remained on the hill. With de la Porte's troops disordered and shaken, they were unable to move and their shooting was predictably ineffective.

With von Reitzenstein unable to cover his flank due to the failed order, Lt Brunisch and his cavalry saw an opportunity and, spurring their horses on, charged forward towards Major Krupp's gun line, catching them in the flank and destroying two guns in the final action of the game!

The end of Turn 8.

Lt Brunisch's cavalry catch Major Krupp's gun in the open, leading to them being overrun and destroyed.

Von Starkloff's advanced guard manage to gain the upper hand against de la Porte's troops, but too late to affect the outcome of the game.

The battle for the hill rages, with neither side able to gain the upper hand.

Lt General von Hardenberg's troops have amaged to defend the hill, but have no real reserves left, except a shaken and disordered unit.

De la Porte's command at the end, that had been poorly led and largely ineffective throughout the game.

End of the Game
So with the hill still being contested at the end, neither side could claim a clear victory. The Blue force had finally gained a strong position, but a Turn or two too late to affect the outcome. In the end the Blue force lost its cavalry and two guns, with Red having lost two infantry and tow artillery.

Post Game Thoughts
Wow, what a game that was! I really enjoyed it and both Norm and Jonathan's orders were easy to follow and both sides had chances throughout the game, but neither side could quite capitalise on their opportunities. So as aways some post game thought in no particualr order:
  • The scenario provided a much more challenging game than I thought it would, as on paper it looks deceptively simple. I think this was down to the orders from Norm and Jonathan that gave the game that extra edge. 
  • Major Krupp's guns gave the Blue force an excellent start and early on I thought it would be a walk over for them, but it shows you how wrong you can be and how games can ebb and flow over relatively few Turns.
  • The Red troops stubborn resistance on the hill throughout certainly kept them in the game, as they did manage to save an awful lot of hits when it really mattered. A die roll differently here and there and they would have been blown away.
  • I don't know what it is with me and skirmishers as, during most of my recent game, they have been largely ineffective on the shooting front, but in fairness have managed to secure flanks and tie down troops.
  • Normally I don't expect much from the cavalry in this period (mid 19thC Europe) but in this game they certainly had their moments, with Lt Kuster's charge into the infantry column that could have changed the game, tthrough to Lt Brunisch's destruction of Lt Kuster's command and the final 'von Bredow's' type death ride at the end. Certainly cinematic and very memorable.
  • Both sides shooting was ineffective for much of the game, leading to the lines of troops shooting it out for possession of the hill towards the end. There were opportunities throughout the game for one volley here or there to make a real difference. When it did happen, it seemed that the enemy was always able to make thos all important saves.
  • At times both side suffered from poor command rolls, most notably Lt Col de la Porte, whose inactivity early on really hampered the Red forces ability to defend the hill. Also von Reitzenstein's failure to get an order through to his reserves in the last turn to protect his flank, allowed Lt Brunishc's charge to take place.
  • I thought that BPII with the GH! supplement rules worked really well once again and i'm now very comfortable with these. Admittedly they are not everyones cup of tea, but I like them and their inherent command and control and the nuances they bring to the game.
  • I'm really enjoying playing orders from other players as it brings another dimension to the game. At various points I might have done some things differently, but with orders to follow I stuck with them, which I found very enjoyable. I hope to carry on with this in 2021 and given our current lcokdown situation, I think this will carry on for quite sometime, subject to willing participants of course!
Once again a big 'Thankyou!' to Norm and Jonathan for taking the time to create their orders and allowing me to carry them out on the table. With Dave and Keith as well I'm lucky in having fellow gamers who are willing to do this for me. Let's hope this carries on into the New Year as already mentioned.
So all that remains is to wish you all a very 'Merry Xmas!' and I hope that you are able to celebrate in some shape or form with your nearest and dearest. Stay safe and keep healthy!


  1. Another great looking game Steve and I think Jonathan in particular has definitely benefited from the interest in virtual gaming inspired by the Covid crises - he seems to be involved in another game every few days at the moment! I hope you have a great Christmas too.

    1. On the gaming front, I have been benefitted from the crisis, no doubt, and have yet to be stricken!

    2. Thanks Keith and Jonathan is certainly prolific on the virtual gaming front at present. Given the current variant of the virus in the UK, I fear this may become the norm for quite sometime, as the vaccine will take a long time to roll until enough people have had it for us to possibly feel safe. Have a great Xmas too!

  2. Steve, hugely enjoyable. Firstly, thanks for doing all of the work of recording a game and then doing a write-up. I know how much effort has to go in to something like that, being Christmas Eve just adds to your time pressure and your willingness to sign up to this is stellar!

    Great game with a ton of action in a smallish space - once again showing the virtue of such games. It would be interesting to see how another system would deal with this because I am convinced that the variables and chaos that falls out of Black Powder gave this game much of its oomph and narrative.

    A classic Black Powder moment was when the hill was open and ready for the taking and von Reitzenstein failed to move his troops forward and seize the moment.

    Also having studied the maps before play, to suddenly see that landscape come to life with the walls and fields added was an excellent touch. It leaves the army commander to make choices about the big sweeping stuff and then local commanders on the ground suddenly have to deal with local terrain and the opportunities / frustrations that that can cause.

    Thanks again, very much enjoyed. I am going to read it again later with coffee in hand :-)

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it Norm, both from coming up with your plan and then seeing how it unfolded during the game. I enjoyed doing a more detailed write up of this game as I think with yours and Jonathans orders and the action during the game, it warranted this approach.

      I love the friction of BPII, but it is not for everyone, but as most of my games are solo and will be for the foreseeable future, this friction adds a nice level of uncertainty to the game.

  3. Steve, to echo Norm's comments, this was great fun for me as well. Seeing your map and having only a very limited intel on my opposition provided a tense guessing game beforehand to formulate a battle plan for Blue. I knew I would be challenged by Norm's cunning.

    Your table looks superb and your retelling of the action equally pleasing. Having a vested interest in the battle and its outcome provided even more interest in usual in carefully reading your fine reports.

    Major Krupp, if he survived the last minute cavalry charge, will be sacked for first deploying his guns within musketry range of the hill and for allowing enemy cavalry to attack his guns.

    This was very enjoyable and thank you for allowing Norm and I the chance to participate in your great solo adventure.

    We should do this again! Where do I sign up?

    Merry Christmas!

    1. Really glad you enjoyed it Jonathan and we will certainly do this again in the New Year.

      In BPII, having the guns by the stone wall doubled their effectiveness due to the closer range, with the stone will giving them a good morale save, so a risk worth taking. Poor old Major Krupp thought he was safe and was let down by von Reitzenstein faiing to secure the flank, at least that's what he will tell the court martial;)

      Have a great Xmas and keep safe!

  4. Replies
    1. Thanks Will and it is certainly one of those games I will remember for a long time:)

  5. Good looking game and an excellent use of technology to create a good battle. Who said we need face to face gaming ? This idea is so simple and effective why are we all playing these kind of virtual games. I’m just not going to let the virus stuff get me down roll on 2021 😀

    1. Thanks Matt and for such a simple idea, it has worked really well, largely down to my fellow players giving such excellent orders for me to follow:). Fortunately our wonderful hobby means we can carry on largely as normal during these difficult times, which helps us to remain positive I think.