Friday, 20 January 2017

Atack on a prepared position - an Honours of War game

'My dearest Wilhelmine
As you are aware His Majesty has granted me the honour of an independent command, covering the border area while the main armies operate elsewhere. But Old Fritz has given me an infamous army to do it with. We are seriously undermanned and strung out. The units I have are the dregs of the army - garrison regiments and freikorps. Apparently there are reinforcements coming, but when they will arrive, who knows? The locals are Catholics and do not give us their best beer. I fear that this command may be my last unless I can perform a miracle.
Love
Balthasar, Graf von Pritzwalk

Such is the set-up for my Seven Years War mini-campaign, an inferior Prussian force trying to defend the Bohemian border, with hope of reinforcements that might bring equality to the table - or not.
The battles are all chosen from the book Scenarios For All Ages by Charles Grant and Stuart Asquith.

The first scenario is Attack on a prepared position and sees a heavily outnumbered force defending a ridge line against a timed attack. The scenario suggests that the number of turns should be the number of game turns it would take an army to cross the table plus half as many again. This gave me 12 turns to play out. By the end of the game the Austrians must have broken the Prussians, moved two units off the northern edge of the table, or they have lost. The Prussians may deploy anywhere up the line A-A.
Because I play in 15mm and the distances are halved for Honours of War, I set up the table where each of the squares in the above diagram was 15cm x 15cm. This made the playing area 75cm (28") x 105cm (40").

The Prussians were defending with a hotch-potch force - 1 unit of freikorps (inferior light infantry), a garrison regiment (inferior infantry), a standard artillery battery and 2 fusilier regiments (standard infantry).
The Austrians had 2 Grenzer regiments (superior light infantry), 6 infantry battalions (standard infantry), a standard artillery battery and a regiment of Hussars (inferior cavalry).

This was my first game using the Honours of War rules. I rolled up two dithering brigade commanders for the Austrians which would make the game very interesting. The Hussars and artillery battery were independent units. As suggested in the scenario book, I put the Prussians on remote control and played the Austrians.

Deployment, looking north from the Austrian base line
The Du Verger Freikorps are advanced and hiding in the woods.
Fusilier Regiment 35 Prinz Heinrich guards the eastern ridge for the Prussians.  
The first turn sees the dithering first brigade commander stay still in the face of very effective long range Prussian artillery fire.
The Austrian artillery replies with a hit on Fusilier Regiment 47 Rohr, holding the hill in the centre.
Rallying in the rules is automatic based on distance from the enemy. Both Austrian formations are reduced to one hit automatically at the end of turn one.
The Banalister Grenzers move up to attack the Freikorps in the woods.
The Austrian Brigade in the centre finally gets into gear and begins moving forward.
Asserting their superiority the Grenzer force the outclassed Freikorps back.
On the Austrian right the Hungarian Brigade struggles to form up with a steep hill in the way limiting movement.
Now the Austrian Brigade is making some headway - the Prussian artillery has a turn of ineffective fire.
The Hungarian Brigade begins attacking the Rohr regiment in the centre while the Peterwardeiner Grenzers engage the Prinz Heinrich regiment in a long range musketry exchange. 
The fight for the centre. The 37 Esterhazy Regiment in a determined firefight.
The Du Verger Freikorps take position on the lower slopes of the western ridge.
The first Kaiser Regiment that had been leading the Austrian brigade and taking the brunt of the Prussian artillery fire is raked by canister and forced to fall back and reform.
The Rohr regiment renders the Esterhazy regiment hors de combat, but as a result of its casualties has to fall back off the hill and reform. The Austrian general suspects that the Prussian centre is giving way!
The 24 Starhemberg Regiment charge the Prussian guns, which fire an ineffective volley and are destroyed in the resultant combat.
The 34 Batthanyanyi Regiment move to attack the Prinz Heinrich fusiliers. The Peterwardeiner Grenzers have been forced to retreat and reform.
The 31 Haller Regiment now takes up the attack on the Rohr fusiliers who are trying to reoccupy the central hill. Incidentally, the Austrian artillery battery on the left of this picture rolled a 1 for its command three turns in a row, and pretty much just sat there.
The Peterwardeiner Grenzers and the Batthanyanyi Regiment combine to drive the Prinz Heinrich fusiliers from the Eastern ridge.
The Hungarians consolidate their hold on the ridge while the 24 Esterhazy Hussars exploit the gap created and move towards the rear of the Prussian lines.
The 31 Haller Regiment is broken by the brave Rohr fusiliers, who in turn are forced to retreat, almost done for.
The Prinz Heinrich fusiliers' attempt to retake the eastern ridge are thwarted, and the regiment is broken.
The II Alt-Sydow Garrison Regiment sitting on the Western ridge force the Starhemberg regiment to fall back. As turn 12 arrives, is it possible that the Prussians might just hold on?
In the last turn a last ditch attempt is made by the Esterhazy hussars to charge the Rohr regiment and break it, which will win the game for the Austrians. But the dice gods are against the Austrians, who are pummeled by a volley and then outclassed in hand to hand. The Hussars break, but the Rohr regiment is forced to retreat!
The Rohr regiment marches from the field in reasonable order. Because they cross the playing edge (an invisible line denoting 75cm from the Austrian base-line), they are lost. The sacrifice of the hussars was worth it - the Prussian army is broken in the last turn and the Austrians can claim a victory.

And so my first game with the Honours of War rules. By mid-way through the game I had pretty much come to grips with the basic mechanics, and knew the firing modifiers off by heart. The fact that the rules allowed the scenario to play out in the set 12 turns and come right down to the wire in a nail-biting finale means that they have to be called a success. The dithering Austrian commanders were held up a few times with poor command rolls, and this added to the tension of the race against time in this scenario. Once in close range both firefights and combat are quick and bloody - no dilly-dallying with these rules. Areas that I need to commit to memory more are the movement rules for wheeling and moving to the left or right, and the different types of charge reaction. 
So... did I enjoy them? Resoundingly, yes I did. As a I play more games and pick up a few of the nuances of the rules, I expect that they will become a game that is second nature to play with little reference to the rulebook at all. The key is to play another game soon, so that the rules remain fixed in my tiny little mind.

As for the campaign,

'Your Majesty
I must report that the Austrians have forced my right flank, and as such my current advanced positions are now untenable. I have given orders to retreat to the Rotwasser river and establish a new line there. I have reconnoitered it and believe it to be eminently suitable for defence. The troops are in motion as I write this.

Your humble servant
Balthasar, Graf von Pritzwalk

Leading us onto the next scenario, which is a fighting rearguard.

Nate

8 comments:

  1. Nate,
    Great report as always. I bought HoW awhile back, but haven't had a game yet. Of course, the fact that my 6mm SYW armies haven't been painted or even based yet might be a factor...

    I kinda wish we didn't live about 5000 miles apart--you'd be great to game with. And no, it's not because you have more painted figures than I do!

    Best regards,

    Chris

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    1. Thanks Chris. There's always the possibility of an e-mail campaign?

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  2. Good looking game! Austrian artillery rated as superior seemed too strong in the two games I have played. Did you find the same? You tempt me to pull my SYW troops from their box s and give HoW another try.

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    1. Because the Austrian artillery was out of action for most of the game I never got to test how powerful it was. The Prussians seemed about right. I'll have to see what happens in the next game to give you a verdict.

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  3. Enjoyed your write up of what looked to be a good game. Thank you.

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  4. Great report Nate! Looks awesome.

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