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.

Monday 5 February 2024

Mollwitz - Polemos Ruse de Guerre

 With a little free time and in a short gap of my Kampfgruppe Heller WW2 campaign, I decided to have a another go at that venerable wargame scenario: Mollwitz, from Charles Grant's The War Game.

In typical style for the time, this was played with 30mm figures and used a 'representative' order of battle, with the Prussian and Austrian armies proxied by the author's 'imagi-nations' forces. For this refight, I used my 6mm WSS-ish armies, with the Franco-Jacobites standing in for the Austrians and the Anglo-Dutch standing in for the Prussians. As chance would have it, three of the regiments in my Franco-Jacobite army were also in the Grant original (Normandie, Dillon, Royal Eccossais)! One of the Grant armies was a very 'French-influenced' force...
The Forces:
C-in-C: Lord Berwick
1 base of Well-Trained Infantry (Gardes Francaises)
6 bases of Trained Infantry (Normandie, Lorraine, Dillon, Berwick, Clare, Royal Eccossais)
4 bases of Trained Cavalry (Royal Allemands, Etranger, FitzJames, Lifeguards)
2 bases of Poor Dragoons (can operate as either Cavalry or Light Infantry)  (du Roi, La Reine)
1 base of Trained Field Artillery - 6pdrs
1 base of Trained Light Artillery - 3 pdrs
C-in-C: Earl of Galway
2 bases of Well-Trained Infantry (Dutch Guards, British Guards)
8 bases of Trained Infantry (Leven, Fergusson, Lord North's, Lord Orkney's, Vicouse, Lislemarais, Albemarle, Murray)
2 bases of Trained Cavalry (Schonberg, Macclesfield's Horse)
1 base of Poor Dragoons (Lord John Hays')
3 bases of Trained Field Artillery - 6pdrs 
Both armies were organized into 4 brigades: the Franco-Jacobites had two infantry brigades, a cavalry brigade and a dragoon brigade; the Anglo-Dutch into three infantry brigades and a cavalry brigade.
I used Polemos: Ruse de Guerre rather than Polemos: WSS for this battle. I will discuss the reasons for this in the Game Notes later. Movement distances were halved, I have found this better for small table games. I didn't halve the firing ranges - some discussion on this later too.


The Set-Up:

The Anglo-Dutch at the bottom, the Franco-Jacobites at the top.

The Anglo-Dutch left: the Dragoons and Cavalry on the left, the Dutch brigade on the right

The Anglo-Dutch right: the combined Guards' brigade on the left, the British brigade on the right (in two groups)

The Franco-Jacobite left: Normandie and Lorraine on the right, Dillon and Berwick on the left

The Franco-Jacobite centre: Royal Eccossais and Clare behind the village, Gardes Francaises to their left.

Then the Franco-Jacobite Horse (Royal Allemands and Etranger at the front, the Life Guards and Fitz James' to the rear) and then the Dragoons on the extreme right (left), du Roi and La Reine.

The Battle:

The Franco-Jacobite Right advances, trying to 'pin' the Anglo-Dutch Left and create a hinge to exploit later - with the option of over-matching the Anglo-Dutch Horse, if an opportunity presents itself.

However, a storm of effective British gunnery destroys Etranger quickly - the French Horse backs off somewhat

The Anglo-Dutch Left arranges itself for an attack, coming under somewaht inaccurate French artillery fire as it does so

With the Franco-Jacobite Horse pulled back a respectful distance, the Royal North British Dragoons dismount and occupy the village to secure the flank (bottom-left); whilst the Dutch (okay Swiss-Scottish-Huguenot) brigade deploys in a little more depth, manhandling its artillery forward

The Anglo-Dutch attack begins on their right flank: Leven and Fergusson's regiments advance through the wood, Lord Orkney's and Lord North's regiments advance to the left of the wood.

North's and Orkney's regiments are driven back by accurate fire, causing serious casualties

Galway orders forward the guards to re-invigorate the faltering attack and give his regiments time to reform

The Anglo-Dutch Left engages in an artillery duel - the firepower superiority of the Anglo-Dutch gives it the advantage here

Meanwhile, Dillon's Regiment is broken by some very accurate British artillery fire across the valley!

Realizing that 'something must be done' i.e. the current course of the action is really going the Anglo-Dutch army's way. Berwick orders his Horse forward again...

The fighting is renewed on the Franco-Jacobite left: Berwick's regiment is driven back, although the artillery is still holding back North's and Orkney's regiments

In the subsequent musketry exchange, the Dutch Guards see off Berwick's regiment opening up a gap in the Franco-Jacobite line.

The Jacobite Horse charge the wavering Huguenots - the British Horse (Schonberg's and Macclesfield's Horse) take this moment to charge the French Dragoons in response

The British try to exploit the opening on the Franco-Jacobite Left, but the French infantry and gunners are resisting hard - most of the British infantry are stuck at the foot of the hill

The Huguenot's, despite the disorder, generate such effective fire that they drive off FitzJames's Horse...

But then the threat of the remaining Horse seems to discourage the Huguenot Regiment Lislemarais, and they break!

A wider-shot: the French Dragoons were pushed back but have reformed (left), and although Lislemarais is in flight, the remainder of the line, although shaken is holding...

A closer look: FitzJames' Horse in flight, from the shaken Huguenot Regiment Vicouse

Lorraine and the French artillery continues to defy the odds, as the British take some time to re-organize their attack...note that Normandie is still holding off Leven and Fergusson too

But the gunners cannot stand the British musketry any longer, and break

A wider view

The Huguenot regiment rallies and the line firms up; the French Horse bring up their reserve regiment to reform their line. The British artillery gets hit by some accurate French counter-battery fire

Lorraine and Normandie continue to hold off the British attackers

Royal Eccossais leaves the village, to try and instigate a flank attack on the Dutch Guards and British infantry beyond them

Normandie is taking heavy casualties from the combined musketry of the two Scottish regiments, but is still holding on

Unfortunately for Berwick's attempted counter-attack, Royal Eccossais are broken by accurate flanking fire from the British artillery

Their flight disorders Clare's regiment, holding the village; however, they are still keeping the Dutch Guards at bay, for the present

It had to happen in the end - Lorraine cannot take the pressure any more, and the troops break and run

The British Horse try another charge against the French Horse, supported by the Dragoons

Boldness pays off! Royal Allemands break and disorder the du Roi Dragoons supporting them

With the rest of the brigade dead or in flight, Normandie retreats from the village also

It has been a long struggle, but the British regiments have decisively triumphed on the right flank

With the Franco-Jacobite Horse also defeated, the whole of Berwick's Army retreats in flight

Position at the end of the battle

Game Notes:

It is always nice to break out one of the old classics and it genuinely gives a really good game. The tactical problem for the 'Austrian' side i.e. the Franco-Jacobites is can they create some kind of opportunity that a massed cavalry charge can exploit. Keeping that framing in mind is useful, since the effectiveness of firepower in the rules will essentially determine how likely the 'Prussian' side - i.e. the Anglo-Dutch - is to win. To this extent Polemos Ruse de Guerre gives a bonus to the Anglo-Dutch here, since it is quite a 'firepower'-based set of rules and one can see it in this battle: in my opinion, the key moments were the destruction of the Franco-Jacobite regiments Etranger, then Dillon then Royal Eccossais at critical junctures in the game, with the old gamers standby of 'if in doubt, roll high'. Crucial rolls of '0' really make a difference in this game, because they might (not always, but might) lead to the equivalent of the DBx 'quick kill'. It would be interesting to play Ruse de Guerre using 2d6-2 rather than a D10 for the combat rolls - there would be more shaken results and fewer break results. Similar considerations apply to halving the movement ranges but not the firepower ranges. If maximum range became 4 Base Widths (i.e. 24cm) rather than 8BW, then that really allows a lot of manoeuvre; but if it stays at 8BW, then that really rewards the side with more artillery.
I didn't use Polemos WSS although I was very tempted. The main reason is that Polemos WSS has some good, accurate deployment rules for march columns and how they deployed at the time. But to use them propoerly, you need a good bit of time and space to allow those lines of battle to be deployed. One could do it, but you would have to change the scenario a little to either give more deployment space or allow a freer deployment to have everyone starting in desired line of battle.
Figures by Baccsu 6mm, buildings from Leven & Battlescale.
This isn't the first time I have gamed Mollwitz: see here for an earlier attempt.


  1. A fine game and one that I may have played many years ago and maybe I should see I can give it a run out with my mdf figures at some point.

    1. Yes, you should do, it is a fine scenario

  2. Excellent game, thanks for sharing.


  3. Good stuff! Like Steve, I have fought Mollwitz several times but mine never looked quite like yours. In fact, my scenario is different from Grant's.

    1. thanks Jonathan. I am very much 'refighting the scenario' rather than 'refighting the battle' in this one...