Heretical Gaming is my blog about my gaming life, featuring small skirmishes and big battles from many historical periods (and some in the mythic past or the far future too). The focus is on battle reports using a wide variety of rules, with the occasional rules review, book review and odd musing about the gaming and history. Most of the battles use 6mm-sized figures and vehicles, but occasionally 15mm and 28mm figures appear too.

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

The Battle of White Mountain 1620 - A Twilight of Divine Right Refight

The Battle of White Mountain was one of the key battles of beginning of the early Thirty Years War, resulting in the Imperial forces regaining control of Bohemia and Frederick 'The Winter King' going into exile.   There is a scenario for it in the Twilight of Divine Right: Europe's Tragedy Thirty Years' War scenario book.  The Protestant Army is trying to block the road of the Imperialist/Catholic army on its way to Prague.

Rules used were once again Twilight of Divine Right.

The Forces:

C-in-C: Christian of Anhalt
Left Wing: Thurn
4 x Infantry units; 1 x Cuirassier unit; 2 x Cavalry units; 1 x Artillery unit
Centre: Hohenlohe
3 x Infantry units; 1 x Cuirassier unit; 3 x Cavalry units; 1 x Harquebusier unit; 1 x Artillery unit
Right Wing: Schlick
3 x Infantry units; 3 x Cavalry units, 1 x Artillery unit
Reserve: Kornis
10 x Light Horse units

C-in-C: Maximilian of Bavaria
Left Wing: Tilly
5 x Infantry units; 4 x Cuirassier units, 1 x Harquebusier unit, 1 x Light Horse unit, 1 x Artillery unit
Right Wing: Bucquoy
5 x Infantry units; 2 x Cuirassier units, 1 x Cavalry unit, 1 x Harqubusier unit, 2 x Light Horse units, 1 x Artillery unit

The scenario gives a lot more detail than that - some units are larger, some smaller, some better or worse and so on.  It also gives which line each unit was in - if you care, you can work this out from the deployment (or buy the book!).  The only really key things to note are that quite a lot of the Catholic infantry units are very large, the Prtoestant artillery is a little weaker unit for unit and all the Protestant Light Horse and a couple of their infantry units are Raw.

As an aside, the scenarios allow a lot of variety in forces in terms of capability and size of units.  I tend to play about a little with the order of battle to reduce this a little - making a 'large' and 'small' unit into two normal units, for example.  I may start using the more variations when I think of a very quick and intuitive way of displaying the information without distracting from the speed or aesthetics of the game.

The Set-Up:
The Protestant Army defending White Mountain (bottom) faces the advancing Catholic Army (top)

Another view.  The village of Repy is to the top-left, that of Ruzyne is centre-right.  The river is considered impassable for this game (despite the bridges shown).

The Catholic Army formed up.  Maximilian has overloaded his Right Wing with a very deep column of Tercios (left).

The view from the top of White Mountain, looking down on the Catholics through the Protestant Left Wing.  Note the earthworks protecting some of Foot and Guns (centre and centre-left)

And the Protestant Right.  Despite appearances, the Star Palace and its grounds (bottom-right) are not really defensible.
The Battle:

The battle begins with Bucqouy's tercios lumbering forward (top-left); the guns of both sides begin their cannonade

Tilly's infantry advance towards the Protestant centre-right, aiming for a gap between the earthworks

The (raw) Protestant regiment on the extreme-left has been routed by the leading Catholic tercio, so another Regiment steps in to defend the earthworks.

A slightly wider shot of the same.

In the centre, Tilly's right-hand column leads with its cuirassiers rather than its infantry

The Protestant left appears to be stabilized

Tilly's column seems reluctant to push on - no doubt worried about the narrowness of its formation compared to the wide and deep Protestants in this sector

Another shot; note that Catholic infantry has occupied Ruzyne as a bulwark against any Protestant counter-attacks on the right.

The Protestants are tempted by the narrow Catholic attack and move around the flanks!

Although the Catholic infantry attacks have pretty much stalled, there have been some losses in the cavalry clash between the emplacements

With slightly larger reserves here, the Catholic cuirassiers push forwards

and gain the advantage, the Protestant Cuirassiers having to rally behind their supporting infantry (bottom); the Catholic Cuirassiers follow up (centre) and the first hole in the Protestant line is beginning to form

In a very neat bit of manouvring, the Catholic column on Tilly's left flank pulls off a withdrawal in good order whilst still facing the enemy - Tilly is directing this in person (centre)

The Protestants are not about to let up though, advancing to keep up the pressure on the Catholics.  Their right-flanking infantry unit starts to take fire from the outskirts of the village (right)

The central column has still made little headway, the Protestant Foot and Guns keeping such a hail of fire going that the Catholic infantry and cuirassiers just cannot get forward

The commander of the Protestant centre Hohenlohe is removed from the battlefield, heavily wounded (he is the second Protestant general to be taken from the field, Thurn was also wounded early on over on the left).

The Catholic infantry on the left have retreated into a position where they have two secure-ish flanks, and both sides are heavily engaged with musketry.

The Protestant attack on the centre has miscarried, with the Cuirassiers having to reform in the rear, and the infantry suffering heavy casualties (note the wounded soldiers at the foot of the hill)

A wider shot of the same

The confused fighting on the Protestant Right remains...confused!  But theleading Protestant regiments is about to break in the close-quarter fighting (centre)

But the Protestant Cavalry fill the breach and resume the fighting, as casualties continue to mount.

The relentless march of the Catholic tercios continues on their right however, as the remaining Protestant infantry go down

Transylvanian Light Horse move up, but they aren't really that good at holding ground in the face of massed blocks of pike and shot...

A wider shot, showing the increased pressure all along the Protestant Left. The Protestants are simply running out of solid reserves to stem the tide.

Another Protestant infantry regiment goes down and the gap widens

The Protestant right and centre still remain strong, however

The Catholic Foot are suffering heavily; incidentally in the fighting here, the Protestant Horse (left) got into a great position then failed to do anything useful*

However, the Catholic Foot has reached the summit and the Protestant Left is in tatters

The Catholic Horsemen have managed to get round into the rear of the Protestant Centre

The Protestants attack with renewed ferocity on the Right!  But they make little progress, except in inflicting and receiving more casualties...

The Catholic Right victorious

The Protestant Centre has inevitably started to cave in too due to combined pressure from Catholic Foot and Horse on their left

Another, slightly wider view; the game is up for Christian and his men
Game Notes:
No real problems with the rules in this one, it all seemed to go reasonably well.  I am probably still making a few mistakes but hopefully they will reduce over time.   If I am being picky, I had more of a problem with the scenario map than anything else - there was quite a lot of dead space because of where the river is, whereas the attacking Catholic tercios were right up against the edge of the board.  I think a slight re-orientation of the map might have worked a little better and given more room.  I was quite surprised by how relatively efficient the Protestant Army was; listening to the The Thirty Years' War audiobook I had been given the impression that the Protestant Army was distinctly less well-trained than the Catholic Army.  Victory went to the Catholics in this game partly because of their slightly greater resilience in their Infantry, partly from luck: their guns seemed to cause a bit more damage, including most of the Protestant wing commanders: Thurn, Hohenlohe, Schlick were all casualties.  *This has quite an effect on the Protestant army's ability to carry out tactical manouvres more complicated than forward movements.

Figures by Baccus 6mm, buildings by Leven and Timecast.

Coup d'Oeil 2 - A Napoleonic Scenario

The most recent issue of Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy (108) contains, as is typical, several very useful scenarios. 

However, as I was looking for a second game to play on "Partizan in the Cloud" day and Henry Hyde was doing his talk on staging Sittangbad and Mollwitz, my eye fell on his three scenarios, particularly the one set as a Napoleonic game.  This scenario is a very stylized representation of situations in the centre of the Allied line at Waterloo, with British infantry defending a farmhouse and a ridge against French infantry and cavalry.

Nothing reminds me of "stylized Napoleonics" quite as much as Neil Thomas' Napoleonic Wargaming set, so I used that for this battle.

The Forces:

The British:
5 units of Trained Infantry (if desired
1 unit of Elite Infantry
1 unit of Elite Light Infantry with Rifles
2 units of Elite Heavy Cavalry
2 units of Foot Artillery

The French:
7 units of Trained Infantry (if desired, upto four of these units may be deployed as light infantry - optionally, each of these units may be replaced by two units of light infantry).
3 units of Trained Light Cavalry
3 units of Elite Heavy Cavalry
2 units of Horse Artillery

Rules modifications were fairly minor for this game:
Infantry in square can move at the same rate as troops in line
Each side has a general that can re-roll a failed morale check if present with the unit.  If he rolls a '1' he becomes a casualty; if he is present when a unit routs in close combat, he is taken prisoner.
The nationality rules for artillery are ignored, since they are designed for an Army-level game, which abstracts total numbers and doctrine and so on.  Since artillery units here are all just individual batteries, then they all hit on 4-6.
I use the roll for losses method from Simplicity in Practice (roll to lose a base: 1 hit = 5+, 2 hits = 4+, 3 hits = 3+, 4 hits = 2+).  This reduces the book-keeping somewhat - and adds to the tension!

The Set-Up:
The French are approaching from the South (bottom), with the British defending the farmhouse and the ridge, with an Elite battalion and two regiments of heavy cavalry in reserve.

The French Left Wing

And the French Right Wing

The British centre
The Battle:
Let battle commence!

French light cavalry starts taking casualties from artillery fire

A battery of French Horse Artillery moves into position

The main French attack in the centre (left); the right-hand battalion is taking very heavy casualties from the British artillery

It takes further casualties, but the French push forward to the base of the hill

On the left, the French artillery has deployed, but the Hussar regiment has suffered severely

One of the second line battalions makes for the farmhouse, whilst the main attack bypasses it to the right

The middle French column in the main attack deploys into line (centre-left) to cover the weakened battalion and engage in a firefight; another French Horse Artillery battery (centre-right) moves into position supported by Heavy Cavalry; note that their British counterparts have started to move up...

The British squares start to take casualties from the French guns (right)

French infantry try to break into the farmhouse, but have taken some casualties on the way in...

And recoil after taking more casualties in the close-quarter fighting!  The British Light battalion has suffered too.

I didn't get an action shot, but the leading French battalion (Centre) has seen off the British Heavy Cavalry regiment's charge in fine style!  The regiment can be seen regrouping in the reat (top)

Meanwhile, the French Cuirassiers have charged the British Dragoons (centre-left), whilst the left-hand British battalion has now suffered appalling casualties at the hands of the French artillery (centre)

The Cuirassiers were routed (numbers told, they had been weakened by British musketry previously), and now the British Heavy Cavalry has moved forward to cover the British right which was wilting under the French cannonade

The French attack on the left of the farmhouse is petering out with heavy casualties...

And the attack on the French right has stalled too

French Carabiniers force back the British Horse (centre) in a last bit of glory for the French

But with the rout of the remaining French infantry, it is all for naught

The position at the end of the battle
Game Notes: Great fun this, as is typical for a Neil Thomas' ruleset and a Henry Hyde scenario.  The Thomas' rules are just so intuitive and easy to play.  The scenario worked fine, although I managed to show no coup d'oeil at all, as all my intended decisive moves for each side pretty much failed!   As ever, there are some very interesting subtleties in the Neil Thomas rules: no interpenetration at all means you have to organize your attacks properly; the effectiveness of infantry at full-strength tries to encourage weakening by artillery before launching attacks (whether by infantry or cavalry) and so on, musketry is not typically greatly effective, but it can be effective enough.  And so on. 

For those familiar with the rules, I use two bases per unit instead of the four recommended, with single figures representing losses.  It works absolutely fine.

Figures by Baccus 6mm, the farm is the Commission Figurines La Haye Sainte model.