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.


  1. A lovely looking game and I thought the Protestants might just pull if off, but in the end the Catholics forces were just too strong. I agree that a bit more space on the Catholic right wing would allow for some manouevre and possibly a better game.

    1. Thanks very much Steve. I thought for a moment the Protestants might do it too, but not to be...
      The game was quite exciting (lots of things hanging on a small number of rolls) but not that tactically interesting (after the initial deployment, there were only a few turns in which the best moves were debatable for either side). That seems to be a fair enough representation of the history mind - generals in the period, except by their direct tactical & leadership skills - only get a few moments in a battle to pull something really good off.

    2. I think, to put it more accurately, "I didn't play it in a very tactically interesting way".

  2. Thanks for another great AAR.

    I am afraid this battle is doomed to be congested. We did think about re-orienting the map but I am not sure that would help. To the left from the protestant side is a stream along the table edge and a village. The Catholics are kind of advancing out of a 'funnel' created by the river and stream. So if the map was rotated to have the 'funnel' in the middle of the table the Catholics would still be in it. But now the Protestants would be diagonally across their side.

    Take a look at this picture -

    It doesn't show the stream but you can see the course of it by the way the Catholics moved - it is to the right of their march.

    1. Thanks very much for the kind words and the explanation. I should point out too that my troops are proportionally in more depth than the rules suggest (a 60mm unit frontage should typically have a 15mm depth I guess) which doesn't normally matter, but did make the attacking columns look very deep in this affair.

    2. I guess if you do the game again give yourself more depth for the Catholics or maybe just leave the rear ranks off table at the beginning & move them on as you have space.

    3. I don't think it is that much of an issue for gameplay, I think it is just a slight visual thing. No worse than Napoleonic battalion columns being longer than they are wide, just one of those game-isms.

  3. That looks great. I'm also not a fan of the big/small unit thing in later versions of TSK, too much info to keep track of.

    I am impressed with your cavalry collection, that is one of the things which put me off doing this particular battle.

    1. Many thanks Martin, I appreciate it. All that cavalry is the Polemos' rules fault: since it reckons you should do Marston Moor and Newbury at an effective figure:man ratio of 1:14 or something, I have ended up collecting masses of C17 Horse. I should do Marston Moor, just so I can get them all out in a single game.

  4. "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."

    If you have a roster with the units stats on, you can factor just about all of the small/large/raw/veteran etc factors into the number of hits a unit takes and its morale modifiers from the start. In other words you don't have to remember any of the traits; you just note the effect before the game starts.

    1. Thanks Kaptain, that is an interesting idea - I will have a look at it.

    2. You can kind of see it if you look closely at the pictures in this post. I used labels, but every unit simply has their adjusted morale modifier and the number of hits they can take, plus their type (GH, 'p' infantry and so on).

    3. I use a similar idea and I have created some for the SYW rules, but they should be easy to use/convert to the sets. I have done some for the scenarios in the SYW set in Word and as PDF's. These each has a 'Labels Guide' which you can use to make you own - copy and paste. I have done them in 'national' colours but there is no reason why you couldn't do them in green/brown/'natural' colours.

      See here -

      This is the labels for one of the battles -

    4. Great, many thanks, I will take a look.

  5. Replies
    1. Ha! Thanks. Maybe things will turn out better when it comes to the campaign...

  6. A great looking game. I thought the Protestants might do it at one point but those Tercios just kept grinding forward. An entertaining battle report - thanks!

    1. Many thanks FoGH, very much appreciated.

  7. hello, just a question : OOB refers to generic "cavalry units''....what's kind of cavalry ? Reiter/Trotter ?
    Thanks.....anyway nice scenario !

    1. Many thanks. Cavalry = Horse trained and equipped on the Dutch model.