Thursday, October 18, 2012

October Black Powder Game- The Battle of Mucklerburg

Two weeks ago there was the tumultuous throw of dice and shouting of orders as the Prussians and Austrians clashed in between the fictional towns of Schlopowicz and Mucklerburg.  The Prussians were slightly outnumbered and given orders to basically hold the line between the towns. The Austrians and Saxons were to drive North.

The game I was invited to run locally was a straight up affair of Black Powder using most of the suggested rules changes from the Last Argument of Kings supplement for the SYW. I nominated two army generals from the six players attending, and asked both sides to draw up a plan of battle given the forces at their disposal, a strategic goal, a rough map, and limited knowledge of the enemy. Units had flavor attributes, but we did not play with the commander attributes leaving that up to the personalities of our real players. :)

Here's the briefing as provided to the Austrian side.

And here is the Prussian briefing:
 Note that the Prussians are aware of a swampy area at the southern end of the River Schlop. Also communicated to the Prussians and not in the briefing is a small ford across from Schlopowicz. These details were to provide some fog of war and battlefield friction, but were mostly irrelevant as the Austrians chose to focus much of their effort at Mucklerburg.  This was however a much more difficult task than they thought.

The Austrian Order of Battle 
(mostly deployed from the table edge starting with forces on the Eastern side of the battlefield)
Left Flank -
      Cavalry Brigade (Dragoon x2, Cuirassier x3, Field Gun x2)
      Saxon Brigade (Musketeers/Fusiliers x4, Battalion Gun, Heavy Gun)
      Hungarian Brigade (Hungarians x2, Grenz x2, Battalion Gun)
      Austrian Brigade (Austrians x4, Battalion Gun, small unit Jagers in woods)
Right Flank- (Marching north to Mucklerburg)
      Grenadier Brigade (Grenadiers x3, Heavy Gun, small unit Lacy Frei-Korps, tiny unit of Pioneers)

Prussian Order of Battle 
(deployed on the table, Jagers hidden in woods outside Schlopowicz)
Left Flank (Marching south to Mucklerburg)
      Infantry Brigade (Musketeers/Fusiliers x4, Battalion Gun)
      Infantry Brigade (Musketeers x4, Battalion Gun)
      Cavalry Brigade (Cuirassier x4)
      Cavalry Brigade (Cuirassier x3)
Right Flank (Guarding Schlopowicz on other side of the river)
      Grenadier Brigade (Grenadiers x2, 2 Heavy Guns, 1 Field Gun, Jagers)

The miniatures used were primarily Mindens, with one brigade of Sash&Saber Prussians, one brigade of Eureka Saxons, some RSM gun crews and Austrian light troops, two Old Glory units of Prussian Cuirassiers (the only SYW figures in my collection I did not paint), and some visiting troops lent by one of the players in the form of two of the Austrian gun crews and the two Dragoon units (not sure of maker on those.)

Opening Moves 
(These graphics were created by the Battle Chronicler program after the fact and in my best attempt at recreating actual events as they unfolded that evening)

Here's a picture of the battle in its opening phasing. The table is 6 foot across and about 12 feet or so of width allowing for a nice frontage of 5 brigades per side. Most infantry units were 30 figures, with the cavalry units being 12 figure units.
The Austrian cavalry while on the table haven't actually arrived due to some order issues. For those familiar with Black Powder, one must order the brigade before rolling dice and in the zeal to get into the battle, our Austrian Cavalry Brigade commander must have left his riding boots in his tent!

In the above picture's foreground, one can also see the Prussians invested in 2 of the 3 town blocks and the Austrian Grenadiers on the left having emerged from the forest road in march column deploying to either side in a plan to attack the church. Unfortunately, the Austrian Jagers ended up disordered in front of the attack for the remainder of the battle and in such a position that the Grenadiers could not interpenetrate to attack without overlapping the units...We'll be revisiting that with some house rule that allows disordered skirmish formations to be bounced or withdrawn as an initiative move. The effect in this game of the blocking disordered unit was that the Grenadier's assault never went in at the Austrian planned main point of attack. The entire town would never be captured to allow follow up forces to march on the road north..

While a stalemate was happening on the eastern edge of the battle, the Austrian cavalry was finally making its presence known.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. As this force was positioning to strike the weaker Prussian cavalry brigade the rest of the center was being lost!!!

Here's a few graphics of troop movements.

And here are some pictures of the troops on the table in the unfolding action. A critical decision that was to prove fatal was the Grenz unit going into skirmish formation. With the combined fire of two battalion guns it repulsed one battalion of Prussians...

 But then the might of the Prussian cavalry came thundering in. No closing fire for skirmishers and they are unsupported on their flanks. They were ridden down. Curiously the two battalion guns won a draw against the Prussian infantry battalion which ended up being forced back soon after.
 As events were starting to transpire, a unit of Austrian Dragoons threatens the smaller Prussian Cuirassier brigade as the Saxons move up in perfect formation.
 However to the right of the Saxon brigade things are rapidly becoming undone. The break through move of the Prussian Cuirassier unit after destroying the skirmishing Grenz brings them right into the second line unit of Hungarians who also do not get closing fire due to the cavalry contacting them in the breakthrough. They soon follow the Croat skirmishers off the table and the cuirassiers turn to face the remainder of the Hungarian/Croat brigade.
 And then it gets the rest of the cavalry brigade begins to exploit the gaping hole to run down the battalion guns on one side on the way to the Austrian brigade and threaten the Saxon brigade's interior flank on the other side.

With the rest of the Hungarians gone, and facing the rear of the Saxon Brigade, the Curiassier unit on the left of the picture (the first one into combat) is well on its way to being praised by Frederick himself. The field is most certainly held by the Prussians at this point, or at the very least the Austrian attack is so blunted that they would not be able to continue their march north.


The group playing is a well established experienced group of wargamers, but who were new to Black Powder.  Tough lessons learned by the Austrians were the consequences of going into skirmish order opposing cavalry, and not getting the Austrian cavalry on the table due to rolling command initiative prior to stating orders. But the die rolling was hot on the Prussian side of Mucklerburg anyway. The Prussians tied up their best foot and guns on the far side of the river not knowing where the Austrians would focus, but in the end they wouldn't be needed to hold onto the battlefield and prevent the Austrian advance.

In terms of general game play, conforming the long linear units seemed to have some plausibility sacrificed in terms of playability and one rule, like the case of the disordered jagers being unable to extricate themselves, affected the outcome directly. As the GM, I made a mistake in allowing an extra Prussian unit to fire down the road in between townblocks, which in hindsight is something I would not do in future games.

Hope you've enjoyed this battle report. I turn my sights now to painting up more Austrian and Prussian Cavalry. I also plan to run this game again before the end of the year at one of the local hobby shops. 


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Clash at Llamastadt and Hobau

On a warm day in 1755, the Prussians (instigated through their alliance with Fleisch-Späzlestadt) invaded the gentle lands of Llamastadt once again. This time their attack would be directed at both Llamastadt and neighboring Hobau, along with a third objective the corral full of Llamastadt's fabled but mysterious black llamas.

Llamas? Yes, indeed. This particular breed of llama, prized for its thick dark wool, was originally smuggled into continental Europe and auctioned off by Spaniard explorers to the New World and bred by clergy outside of what would later become Llamastadt.  The Swede, Carl Linnaeus, first attempted to document these magnificent beasts in his Systema Naturae . It was whispered in the streets (amongst various agitators against authority,) that Carl had received a visit from local constables who seized his original research. Perhaps he will be able to revisit his work on these animals to be published in a subsequent edition.

What follows is a battle report of a Black Powder game played on Saturday at the Cold Wars convention in Lancaster, PA this past weekend. Most of the rules suggestions from The Last Argument of Kings were  in use.

Scheduled initially as a "bring a brigade" battle amongst WD3 forum participants, an alignment of real life conflicts conspired to prevent several from making it to the convention. Two gentleman from WD3 were able to attend, and it was great meeting both Patrick, Peter, and Peter's wife as well as a pleasure to have them in the game.  Eight players participated in all, including two folks from my local gaming group. I provided the majority of the figures and terrain, an exception being made with a large unit of Austrian infantry taking the field painted and played by one of my local gaming buddies.

The tabletop battlefield was 6x22 allowing quite a bit of room. Along the central axis of the long table, I had the two towns of Llamastadt and Hobau, along with the llama corral. With the exception of their advance force of Jägers, the Prussians entered on turn 1.

Prussian Order of Battle

Prussian Right Flank Cavalry Brigade
  • 4 Cuirassier Units
  • 2 small Jäger Units (started advanced into woods)
  •  1 Field Gun
Infantry Brigade
  • 5 Musketeer Units
  • 2 Battalion Guns
  • 1 Field Gun
Infantry Brigade
  • 1 Musketeer Unit
  • 2 Fusilier Units
  • 2 Grenadier Units
  • 1 Battalion Gun
  • 1 Field Gun
Prussian Left Flank Cavalry Brigade
  • 3 Cuirassier Units
Austrian Order of Battle

Cavalry Brigade (Austrian Left Flank)
  • 3 Austrian Cuirassier Units
  • Saxon Grenadier Unit
Saxon Brigade (South of the Llama pens)
  • 2 Musketeer Units
  • 2 Fusilier Units
  • 1 Field Gun (in a redoubt)
  • 1 Battalion Gun
Austrian Infantry Brigade (South, between Llamastadt and Hobau)
  • 4 Musketeer Units
  • 1 Large Musketeer Unit (in a redoubt)
  • 2 Battalion Guns
  • 1 Field Gun (in a redoubt)
Anglo Infantry Brigade (Austrian Right Flank - deployed South of Hobau)
  • 1 Musketeer Unit
  • 1 Light  Infantry Unit
  • 1 Small Light Infantry Unit
  • 1 Battalion Gun
Initial Turns.

The Austrians had set up with their infantry anchored on the rivers on the far side of the towns from the Prussian attack and with the Austrian cavalry in reserve. The Prussians came on slowly due to some unfortunate command rolls. The smaller of the cavalry wings however quickly engaged the small Anglo force guarding a ford South of Hobau. The Anglo Light troops rushed into the town and as the Prussian Cuirassier units crashed into the line and gun defending the ford, these light troops poured a murderous enfilade fire into the Prussian ranks.

On the Prussian right, the larger cavalry formation initially floundered with two blunder rolls in the early turns. The infantry East of Llamastadt was broken up in its advance by disordering effects of the Austrian field batteries. The Prussians own guns advanced limbered ahead of some of the infantry battalions due to this disorder. One unit occupied Llamastadt unopposed.


The Prussian infantry brigade with the grenadiers advanced cautiously, but in good order on the other side of Llamastadt, with the river on their  left flank. On the other side, the Prussian Cuirassiers had almost won the ford, but the Austrians brought up a fresh unit to reinforce their Anglo allies. Inevitably the volume of fire and shaken status of the cuirassiers led to the small brigade being broken by the 4th or 5th turn.

In the center, the  Jägers and half of the infantry brigade advanced to exchange volleys with the firm Austrian and Saxon line.


The Prussian left had advanced in good order and this had caused the Allies the most concern.

However the left flank cavalry brigade had been broken by this time, allowing the Allies the option to reinforce or even flank the Prussian advance with the Anglo light troops. On the other side, the larger Prussian Cuirassier brigade had charged into a narrow frontage and been repulsed by a volley from the Saxon grenadiers. The neighboring Prussian infantry lost a few units in the center to the massed fire of the Austrians and Saxons. Having played 8 turns, it was clear that the Prussians would have to retire from the field having lost a brigade and 5 units, especially with the Austrian line still intact in a strong position. Llamastadt would be liberated, and the llama grounds would be safe.

"Until next time!", the Prussians yelled, twirling their mustaches as they headed home.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Assault on Llamastadt

"We will advance with all haste and have llama by nightfall."

Encouraged by various intrigues, the mighty Prussia was convinced to ally itself with the Principality of Fleisch-Späzlestadt and launched an attack on the town of Llamastadt. Austrians and Saxons position themselves to defend against the aggressor. What follows is our first foray into playing a 28mm SYW themed imagi-nation game with the Black Powder rules.

This was a half size play test of a larger game planned for Cold Wars this coming March. That's a bring a brigade affair, but there will be additional forces available for those pre-registered. If you're reading this and interested, navigate over to the Cold Wars PEL and you'll see the event listed as S-103 "The Clash at Llamastadt and Hobau 1755". There is more in depth discussion on the planning of the game on the WD3 Wargames Forum where the idea was first germinated, and indeed the final product will be the work of several of the WD3 forum members.

The Rules
One of the local groups I have the pleasure of gaming with has greatly enjoyed Hail Caesar and was very interested in trying Black Powder. In writing up the scenario or them, I also wanted to incorporate much of the rules suggestions in the Black Powder supplement, Last Argument of Kings. In this battle the following was added: artillery move restrictions, single move limit when shooting, Prussian forming on line on head of column vs. others, infantry vs. cavalry rules, no assault columns, and capture the colours. For army stats, the national charts in LAoK was used. What I did for optional unit abilities was allow the brigade commanders to select a unit and roll for them 3+, 4+, 5+ and 6+ for successive unit attributes. Any failure and that brigade was done rolling. I allowed platoon fire as an option and as it was being rolled for, only a few battalions had this upgrade.

Prussian Order of Battle

Cavalry Brigade (Orders to enter from Northeast Llamastadt road turn 1)
  • 5 Cuirassier Units
Infantry Brigade (Orders to enter from North center turn 1)
  • 2 Grenadier Units
  • 2 small Jäger Units
  • Battalion Gun
  • 2 Field Guns
Infantry Brigade (Orders to enter from North center left turn 2)
  • 4 Musketeer Units
  • 1 Battalion Gun
  • 1 Field Gun
Infantry Brigade (Orders to enter from North far left opposite Llamastadt turn 2)
  • 2 Musketeer Units
  • 2 Fusilier Units
  • Battalion Gun
Austrian Order of Battle

Cavalry Brigade (Orders to enter from Southwest turn 3)
  • 3 Cuirassier Units
  • 1 Dragoon Unit
Infantry Brigade (deployed center left)
  • 3 Musketeer Units
  • 1 Grenadier Unit
  • 1 Battalion Gun
  • 1 Field Gun
Infantry Brigade (deployed within and west of Llamastadt)
  • 4 Musketeer Units
  • 1 Battalion Gun
  • 2 Field Guns
Saxon Brigade (Orders to enter from South Llamastadt road turn 2)
  • 2 Musketeer Units
  • 2 Fusilier Units
  • 1 Grenadier Unit
  • 1 Battalion Gun

Click on the map here to see the table layout and dispositions of deployed troops and entry points fro the various brigades from turns 1-3.  This map and subsequent maps in this battle report were put together with a neat program called Battle Chronicler. Do check it out.

Turn 1 

The Prussian Cuirassiers thundered down the road toward Llamastadt. From the North an advance of the main army was led by Jägers and Grenadiers along with 2 batteries of artillery.

The defending Austrians suffered some confusion. One unit came up the road in column but was unable to finish deployment into line. Then the brigade commander's order to defend Llamastadt was misinterpreted by the local battalion commander as an order to retire from the town!! In the center things went smoother and the Austrian brigade shifted lines to the left.

Here's some early pictures from the Prussian side.

The Austrian defended town of Llamastadt is on the left in this picture, which is the extreme right of the Austrian deployment. The llama corral is shown on the graphical maps a bit further away than it was in the actual game.
The initial entry of Prussians with cavalry on the right. The grenadiers with Jägers and 2 field guns enter in the center, which will become the right of the main Prussian force.

Turn 2

Prussians press forward slowly and are joined by the rest of their army. That's a field battery in the front. Another brigade was also entering on the left.

The Austrians are supported by the Saxon brigade marching up the road to protect the vital livestock of Llamastadt. And with another blunder,  the Austrian battalion that retired from Llamastadt continued to move out of the town, while on the other side of the brigade another battalion that had been unable to form line took some encouragement from the cannonballs of the Prussian field gun batteries on the heights to the North.

Turn 3

The Prussians spent this turn rushing to the town which was now totally undefended. The entire Prussian line crept forward and the cavalry on the right flank moved to cover any possible advance by the opposing Austrian infantry.

The Austrians now unleashed their cavalry which had been slowly working its way around the river off table and entered per previous pre-battle orders on turn 3. The Prussian cavalry was caught unaware and two units were ridden down before the battle stabilized into a back and forth.

Tough break for the Prussians here! Luckily for them the next two turns resulted in the total loss of only 2 units and the brigade was not broken. The Austrians lost one unit themselves in the later melee.

Turns 4 and 5

The Prussians took the town in turn 4. Another blunder for the Austrian Brigade on this flank. The commander was rated highly aggressive, highly decisive, and low independence which collectively resulted in some interesting command results when opting to reroll failed command checks. Another blundering battalion went into an assault, and unsupported broke itself against the well defending building blocks.

The turn map on the right shows final positions. We played 5 full turns and the result with all in agreement was a minor Prussian victory given the taking of the town. One of the Prussian cavalry colours was captured on the west side of the battle, however the Prussian cavalry had bounced back to prevent the flanking of the army. Both sides were slow to engage in the center,  with the battle being decided solely on what happened on the flanks.


We were all collectively novice to Black Powder, and had to unlearn some nuances of Hail Caesar a few times. Luckily the mistakes did not favor any one side too heavily... We'll  be playing again in the near future, and with one game under our belts, I'm sure the next will be even more fun. 

Thanks for reading!