Sunday, 11 April 2021

Schlacht bei Chotusitz - Twilight of the Soldier Kings

Before Easter I spoke too soon about the return of face-to-face wargaming to Schloß Nundanket. His Nibs did turn up but for reasons too complicated to go into, we didn't get a game in. I had this scenario lined-up so I gave it a run through yesterday.

Sources
The usual sources were used for this. I.E. mainly Duffy, The Army of Frederick the Great and Frederick the Great, A Military Life.  Wikipedia and Obscure Battles. There's a certain amount of circularity between these though - Obscure Battles references Duffy and Wikipedia and Wikipedia references the other two.

There is an interesting contour map on Wiki, dating from 1835. 

Orders of Battle

Estimates of numbers on each side vary, but generally each army had 24-28,000 men. This makes it a nice size for getting used to new sets of rules. As the rules use bases rather than traditional troop scales, the exact numbers do not matter so much. This is the breakdown taken from Duffy's map:

Prussians


Austrians

Bns/sqs


Regts

5

Grenadiers

0

3

Garde (1, 2&3)

0

25

Musketeers

13

0

Fusileers


35

Cuirassiers

6

25

Dragoons

5

10

Hussars

2

0

Croats

4 bns

Duffy says the Prussians had 82 guns to the Austrians 40. I assumed half of the guns were battery pieces and half battalion pieces which are assumed to be included in the fighting strength of infantry bases.

I then translated this to TOTSK units (brigades) with each unit being two bases, as follows:

Prussians:
Grenadiers and Garde: 2
Musketeers: 6
Cuirassiers: 3.5
Dragoons: 2.5
Hussars: 2
Guns: 2

Austrians:
Musketeers: 7
Cuirassiers: 3
Dragoons: 2.5
Hussars: 1
Croats: 2
Guns: 1

I allocated each side a commander-in-chief (Fred and Charles of Lorraine) and 2 wing commanders. The C-in-Cs led the centres and naturally the Wing Commanders the wings. All were given an arbitrary rating of '1' (i.e. average).

The two half units of cavalry for the Prussians were brigaded. When this came up against dragoons it was classed as heavier, but against cuirassiers it was classed as lighter. The odd half unit of Austrian dragoons was used to make the dragoon unit on the left extra strong (i.e. it could take an extra hit before being removed).

I took the unit ratings from the TOTSK Mollwitz scenario but upgraded the Prussian heavy cavalry to 'Average Charge', equal to the Austrians, following the improvements Frederick made to his cavalry after the first battle.

The Game

The game is told through the following pictures. Prussians at the top of each picture.

Under starters orders. Cirkwitz Pond to top left. Chotusitz village top centre.



A few turns in. Action is joined across the field. The only significant loss so far are the Austrian hussars who were used as bait to tempt the Prussian heavies, hoping that the Austrian heavies would catch the Prussians pursuing. It didn't work out.

Close-up of the action in front of Chotusitz. The Prussian hussars were diverted to the centre via the bridge in the distance.

Rival cuirassiers go head-to-head on the Austrian left. A second Prussian  cuirassier unit has manoeuvred to take the Austrians in the flank. This was successful in the end but it takes an unpredictable amount of time (you have to test to change direction) and in the meantime you lose the benefit of rear support. So it's highly risky!

The Prussian cuirassiers have overcome their opposite numbers (top left). The  Gard and grenadiers have moved out to their right

Having lost (over) half of their units the Austrian left wing must test for Wing Morale.....and fails, so the remaining dragoons and their commander leave the field.

The infantry battle hard in the centre whilst the Prussian right wing cavalry turn in to  threaten the Austrian left.

The Austrian are having 'lumpy' luck. On their right, the cavalry keep passing their Wing Morale test, but they keep failing Unit Morale tests in the centre. Their infantry is whittled down by the Bluecoats whilst the cavalry assault goes in.

The Austrian Centre fails their Wing Morale test. Only a single cavalry unit remains on the right. They have seen off their opponents as the Prussian left wing failed its test - I forgot to remove the Black Hussars (centre) who were part of this wing, but it was academic. I know this was the Black hussars were not the right regiment for Chotusitz, but they are such fearsome looking fellows on the table I couldn't resist.


I was surprised how things collapsed so quickly in the end for the Austrians. Terrible luck passing successive Wing Morale tests on the right when there was only one unit left. They could have done with winning the Centre Wing test where at least there were more units.

The Prussians had two key advantages here. One, their infantry have improved mobility so changing formation etc is easier. And the infantry have the Rapid Fire characteristic, which means that they can make the opponent re-roll one of the two D6s in the Austrians' Morale Tests. To pass the test the player has to roll an 8 or higher with 2 D6. If say they roll a 2 and a 6 the Prussians can make them re-roll the 6. This had an effect on at least a couple of occasions turning a pass into a fail (take one hit) and once it turned a fail into a catastrophe (i.e. unit routs on 3 or less). They were lucky not to get punished when they tried the flanking move on their right. If the Austrians could have got their right wing forward faster to block of the Prussian cavalry crossing the bridge, that could have paid dividends. Easier said than done as adjustments in facing are not that simple. The Prussians got lucky with their manoeuvres whilst the Austrians didn't.

Lessons? Make sure units have rear support. It really pays off with these rules! I need to re-read sections again to make sure I got things right. I'm not 100% confident I have the pursuit rules correct.

As I said before, these are a really simple set of rules to pick up. But that apparent simplicity doesn't come at the cost of 'realism' in my opinion. This game lasted a couple of hours plus set-up time. A great set for 'pick-up and play' games on club nights, for at least battles involving c 30,000 a side. I will try a bigger battle soon to see how they handle a larger number of units.



12 comments:

  1. Good looking action. Chotusitz is on my list of battles to refight but has not made it to my table yet. The key for the Prussians may have been turning the Austrian left. Did the Prussian superiority in artillery affect the outcome in your battle?

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    1. No. It slowed the Austrian infantry down a bit but at long range it can’t inflict damage. The Prussians need to get their main body up fairly quickly and can easily block their fire zones when they do.

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  2. Looking good, sir. Depending on how well our upcoming Volley and Bayonet Mollwitz game goes, I may be purchasing TWOTSK :) or maybe I'll buy it regardless!

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    1. If you find hwicce’s YouTube channel you can follow his SYW demo game . That gave me enough information to have a trial game without the rules. As that worked so well I then made the investment.

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    2. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=GKL0f6EVP_g&list=PLyeJr0AbkfGWGpPJBBLWRdO3E1MEOHs6_

      Here you go Steve. Demo game explaining the rules step by step. Well worth spending an hour and a half on (if that).

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  3. A great looking game ...shame you ended up having t do it solo in the end.

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  4. Good looking game and sounds fun, if solo,Fred and Charles sounds like a posh slightly down at heel 1930s double act to me for some reason!
    Best Iain

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    1. Fred and Charles are walking Flannagan and Allen style. Charles’ right hand on Fred’s shoulder. They sing, “Unter-den-Linden we dream our dreams away...” đŸŽ”

      Fred: I say I say I say. I took more territory in Central Europe.
      Charles: Moravia? [Mor-av-ya]
      Fred: I should say so!

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  5. That's looking very interesting. Chotusitz always was one of my favourite battles of the Silesian wars. Thank you for sharing.

    André

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    Replies
    1. Glad to share it AndrĂ©. Even better when someone has a particular interest in the battle. It’s a challenging battle.

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