Monday, 24 August 2015

The attempted relief of Marienberg 15th January 1702 - a One Hour Wargame

After the battle on the Ludzha river the Swedes withdrew to Dorpat to winter while the Russians withdrew to Pskov. At the end of December came the Russians under Kantstanski used the frozen conditions to make a strike for Marienberg, to try to capture it. Their coup de main failed and the army dug in to conduct a siege on the tiny garrison, figuring that they were in supply and that the winter was not too deep. In early January the Swedes under General Gyllentrad moved out to relieve the endangered town.

This game was a chance to try out a birthday present - a new folding card table that is 86 x 86cm - an inch short on each side of a 3' x 3' table. I went down to the shops today and bought a green polar fleece which I then spray painted and voila, I can play games in the house without having to sit on the floor!

I rolled up scenario 15 from the book, which was just perfect for the campaign scenario I had in mind. Based on Fontenoy it features an army in two defensive strongpoints holding out against an attack. Neil Thomas makes the strongpoints towns, but I substituted these for redoubts, because I'd already specifically made the terrain for them. I ignored the two special rules, the first that the redoubts had additional firepower, the second that the attacking army could replenish itself and bring on a whole new army. This didn't fit within the limited scheme of the campaign.

So the Swedes had 15 turns to occupy both redoubts and this would relieve Marienberg. If they failed they would retire to Valk and await reinforcement.

Turn One. The Swedes advance onto the table

First firefight between the Dragoons
The initial assault against the first redoubt manned by the Rostovski regiment.
A wider view of the Swedish advance
The Tverski Dragoons decide to hold up the Uppland regiment.
The Vasterbotten regiment decides it will deal with the Moscowski Dragoons directly
The Uppland regiment continue their stand-off with the Tverski Dragoons.
The assault on the redoubt falls to the Jonskoping regiment.
Slowly the Tverski Dragoons begin to gain the upper hand.
The Rostovski regiment is on its last legs.
The Vasterbotten regiment assault the Moscowski Dragoons, inflict some damage and then recoil. This incident has led me to make some amendments to the hand to hand combat rules in my Great Northern War variant.
Uppland take revenge on the Tverski Dragoons.
In a last desperate act of defiance the Rostovski regiment just about destroys the Ostgota regiment.
In the upper left corner you can see that the Semenovski regiment has been called out of reserve to support the redoubt.
Too late - Jonskoping capture the first redoubt!
The Vladimirski Dragoons are brought out of reserve to aid the failing Moscowski dragoons.
Jonskoping leave the redoubt to advance on the Semenovski Guards.
Vasterbotten turns and gives a solid volley to the Vladimirski Dragoons.
Semenovski unleash an unsteady salvo against the Jonskoping regiment.
The conflict in the centre is about to end in defeat for the Uppland regiment.
The battle of the minnows continues on the right flank.
The Vasterbotten begins to advance in the face of the Vladimirski charges.
Jonskoping go through the Semenovski guards like a hot knife through butter.
The Smaland cavalry comes forward to finish off the Vladimirski regiment.
The Swedes begin to close in o the final redoubt.
General Kantstanski is knocked out in the fighting trying to rally the Vladimirski regiment.
It is turn 15 and a furious Swedish assault is launched..
A view through the woods of the final moments of the battle
Bird's eye view of the end of the battle.
So at the end of Turn 15 the Swedes had not secured both redoubts. This meant a tactical draw, in which the Swedes would need to withdraw. February will see the Russians attempt to take Marienberg.
The game did throw up a few interesting moments, and I have amended the rules again for the next play through.



  1. That was a close contest. Will you be providing details on the amendments you are considering for the rules?

    As for OHW, itself, did you make a review of the rules? Perhaps I missed it if you did. The rules recently landed on my doorstep and having read through them, the periods all seem to have a "sameness" and a few other oddities. I have yet to try them on the tabletop but hope too soon.

    1. That was my initial impression as well, Jonathan. But now that I've played them and gone back in to look at how different periods have been treated, and how easy they are to adapt, I'm a fan. They aren't as "samey" as they first seem.

  2. I think it's a tall order for a six unit force to take both redoubts in one go, even with their extra firepower removed. The Swedes did well, all things considered.

    One question about your rules. You only allow Swedish infantry to charge. But all infantry can run out of ammo. So what do the Russian infantry do for the rest of the game when this happens?

    1. Hi Kaptain Kobold. I have to admit that I've been forgetting to roll for running out of ammo, which has been handy for the Russians obviously. In my latest amendments to the rules I've given the Russians a hand to hand value with no automatic recoil by charging troops. They still can't charge, but they can park themselves in the way and hopefully hold their ground now. I'll start remembering the ammo rolls now too.
      I might post up my latest variant.

    2. I've uploaded them as a separate page. I'll update them as they change.

    3. The rules do seem to favour the Swedes a fair bit, although I see that you effectively allow the Russians a seventh unit to offset this.

    4. The idea is to encourage the Swedes to close to hand to hand while braving the Russian fire without sitting back and returning it. I haven't playtested this version yet - the extra Russian unit might overbalance things in favour of the Russians. I also need to paint up the cossacks!

    5. Yes, encouraging the Swedes to close is the key. I allow moving and firing, but with a penalty. The Swedes can avoid this penalty at close range and if all they are doing is a move straight ahead. However to offset this their firing is less effective at longer range (the rules use two range-bands for infantry fire as well). I'm still tweaking the mechanism, but it gives the Swedes an incentive to press forward an attack at close range without having to create special close-combat rules for them.

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  4. A tough ask for the Swedes. War,like life is not always fair. Looks cool Nate.

    1. But they're tough those Swedes. Nearly made it too, if wasn't for those rotten Russkies!

  5. I forgot to ask - how do the dice behind the units record hits? I assume you're still using the 15 hits per unit of the original rules.

    1. I use 16 hits per unit and remove a base after every four hits. It just doesn't work with single base artillery so I use multiple dice for that.