Thursday, 28 October 2021

Kesselsdorf Refought Solo

It's difficult to know how to start this so I'm just going to jump straight in.

Having laid up the table nearly three weeks ago, I got down to playing the game a week ago. I don't know what was stopping me before. The game only took a couple of hours to play to conclusion. For the set-up, please see the post here: https://horseandmusketgaming.blogspot.com/2021/10/in-jesu-nahmen-marsch.html

One major difference between the table set-up and the map I gave is that, due to the table being too short I could only go as far as Zollmen on the Saxon right. This meant that all of the Austrians were off table. As in the accounts that I've seen (admittedly very brief ones) the Austrians do not seem to take part in any of the key action, I decided that they would only appear on the table on a dice roll after 6 turns. This sounds like a long time, but the turns are completed quickly in the Twilight of the Soldier Kings. Also there appears to be a big gap between the Austrian and Saxon positions and it would probably be a long time before the Austrian commander decided that any sound of battle off to his left was the real deal, and that there was no threat to his front, or that he took the entreaties of his Saxon ally seriously enough to move. The 7,000 strong force of Austrians would also take some time to re-deploy into column and march the three miles to the heart of the action. The dice roll method for the Austrians to appear as fully formed columns on the table would be the traditional 6 on a D6, and decreasing by 1 every successive turn.

One final comment. All the 'Saxons' here are played by Austrians, as the sharp-eyed will note from the flags.

View from above the Prussians' position. Kesselsdorf is the town on the right, Zollmen on the centre-left. Prussian flanking cavalry and grenadiers above the stream to the right.

Normally under TOSK rules, players dice for initiative but I decided that logically it would be fitting that the Saxons got the opportunity to react first with the Prussians having gotten so close. The Saxon batteries in defences of Kesselsdorf immediately poured shot into the blue-coated grenadiers inflicting heavy losses on them. Elsewhere one Saxon infantry brigade advanced into the village of Zollmen, with no real thought other than that it appeared to be a good idea.

Whilst the Prussian grenadiers steeled themselves to assault Kesselsdorf, their brethren in the heavy cavalry orbited the town and attacked the Saxon horse. Despite the advantage of numbers, they were forced to face the Saxons on an equal frontage, squeezed between Kesselsdorf and the marshes and the large village of Nieder Hermsdorf to the south. In other words, they were stopped by the table edge. The action here was to be long and drawn out. Unable to bring numbers to bear, the Prussians were fighting their neighbours on near equal terms.

Slowly the Prussian cuirassiers pushed the Saxon dragoons back.  The three support lines, plus the weight advantage gave the Prussians the edge but the Saxons were doughty opponents. In the background to the right, the Prussian centre has crossed the stream and engaged the Saxons in a prolonged firefight after their initial bayonet 'charge' proved ineffective*.

* In TOSK Prussian infantry in 1745 and the early SYW use 'bayonet tactics'. I.E. they are forced to close without stopping to fire. Only once they are repulsed will they stop to slug it out with black powder. After attempting to close with the Saxon grenadiers defending Kesselsdorf, the Prussian elites staggered back. The task was too demanding. Soon they were swept away by canister and they fled (They had reached 3 losses). The Prussian second line on the right were kept at bay by the Saxon guns.  The Dessauer's men were not having much joy.

In the centre the Saxons also took first blood, driving off one Prussian brigade in rout. Leopold's day had not got off to a good start. But whilst the Austrians were far off by the Elbe, he had the advantage of numbers, and could replace the destroyed brigades. The sixth turn and then the seventh came and went with no sign of the Austrians.

The infantry battle in the centre. The Prussians are gaining the upper hand.


Across on the Saxon right, the cavalry and infantry advanced close to the stream, but stayed back just far enough to tempt the Prussians. The Prussians advanced to the stream. And waited. They were not going to take the bait. It was almost as if their commander could read his opponent's thoughts. He moved a battery up into range of the Saxon foot who had strayed too close to the stream.

Whilst this played out, relief began to arrive on the Saxon right rear.

Les Autrichiens arrivent! It would be a race against time. Could they get to the Saxon centre before the Prussians break through?


Meanwhile back at Kesselsdorf, the Prussian second line made up of Musketeer regiments assault the Saxon lines. In the course of the action they suffer two losses but manage to inflict one on the Saxon grenadiers. On the far side of the town, the Saxon infantry tries to influence the cavalry action by firing into the flank of the Prussian cavalry, but with limited effect.

This is where TOSK gets interesting. It models deployment into line really well. Troops without Improved Movement (which is everyone but the Prussians) have to march into line by first wheeling at a right angle to the line of march, then turning to the front. This takes more than one move. Troops with Improved Movement can deploy off the line of march, and this is quicker. In the end this is what slowed the Austrians down. The Prussian infantry in the centre finally break the Saxon foot. On the Prussian right, their cavalry, despite losing one brigade, force their opponents into the centre of the position.

Breakthrough! Prussian infantry left in command of the centre. Saxon infantry  is left isolated in Kesselsdorf. The Saxon cavalry brigades in the centre of the picture each have two losses; one more each and they 'rout'.

The Saxon right at the end. The Austrian foot is seen in their slow deployment into line. The Austrian cavalry had already been removed at this point.


So a decisive victory in the end for the Prussians. But for a long time the game hung in the balance. I say a long time. It was several turns, but the whole game of about 13 moves only took 2-3 hours. I'm still rusty on the rules, and I'd like to try them out some more. But I'd say they probably fit the bill for what I'm looking for better than anything else. At some point I'd like to try an encounter game with both sides deploying from march columns. That will take a much bigger table than I have got currently.

18 comments:

  1. Great game and exciting plans too with regard to deploying from columns.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks TGM. These rules really do trip along nicely, allowing you too reach a conclusion fairly quickly. They have a simple mechanism to stop you doing exactly what you want all the time and makes manoeuvres risky enough to prevent ‘nippy column syndrome’. Friction and Fog for minimum investment in rule mechanics.

      I’m looking forward to trying out approach marches and deployment. Maybe a floor game?

      Delete
  2. I agree - it looked like the Saxons might pull off a plucky defence, but they were overwhelmed in the end - looks like a great set of rules. If the Austrians had arrived earlier, it might have been a completely different result...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. On reflection I should have been a bit more active with the Saxon brigade that went into Zollmen and kept the infantry on the right back. It might have delayed things in the centre.

      If you want large scale horse and musket battles, I would recommend them. That’s try without buying, have a look at the videos on YouTube posted by Hwicce.

      Delete
  3. Finally - the man cave is in use…huzzah! Didn’t know about the bayonet tactics thingy (not my period) I presume it’s to intimidate an opponent. Did they go in with loaded guns but were not allowed to fire them? Enquiring minds want to know.

    Top stuff - as usual.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah the steady march with muskets shouldered was supposed to intimidate the opposition. I think it happened by accident once and Old Fritz, who was still in his 30s, decided to make it part of the doctrine. I can’t remember if the muskets were loaded. I suppose they were, but with them shouldered it was easier to control the men and discourage premature firing. It soon became obvious in the SYW that the improved Austrians were not intimidated, and the Prussian doctrine was changed back.

      Delete
  4. Great report, and a 'proper' big battle in 2-3 hours can't be bad! Those rules are on my shopping list..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cheers David. I would recommend watching Hwicce’s videos on YouTube to get a good idea of the rules. He gives a very clear explanation and I was able to give them a go without even having read them.

      Delete
  5. Nicely run and writing up battle. I am only slowly improving my knowledge of 18th Century European warfare. There is a lot to learning and I spread myself far too thin covering too many periods. We are currently exploring the SYW abut might well expand as time goes by, thanks for the inspiration 👍

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Matt. Hope you get the enjoyment I have out of the period.

      Delete
  6. It's always interesting to read about somebody's thoughts about the WAS. I will have to check your blog! Very nice posting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. I did a couple of other solo games earlier this year. Chotusitz and Mollwitz. And a couple of years ago I did Soor. I really need to find a good way to do Hohenfriedburg, then I’ll have completed the big Frederician battles of the WAS.

      Delete
    2. Did you noticed my scenario for Hohenfriedeberg on the HoW-forum? I don't have Prussians (or infantry only) and therefor will not play the scenario myself but I would be very thankfull if somebody would use my scenario and talk about his impressions.

      Delete
    3. I haven’t seen your scenario for Hohenfriedberg before. I’ve just signed up to the forum and found it. I’ll study the scenario and think about how I’m going to translate it to fit with my resources. Vielen dank!

      Delete
    4. Thank you for your nice answer.

      Delete
  7. Good looking game. I have Twilight of the Sun King well and truly in the repertoire for Great Northern War, particularly large-scale games and for the ability to play solo. It sounds like it differs little from soldier king. I completed my second outing with them (a game of Klissow) the other day. Highly abstracted, but it is a really clever system and produces a good game doesn't it?
    Regards, James

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. TOTSK is a clever system. I’m sold on it.

      Delete