Sunday, March 30, 2014

Battle of Lobositz at the SYW Association Convention




Battle of Lobositz at the SYW Association Convention
This year's Seven Years War Association ("SYWA") Convention was held in South Bend, Indiana on March 28th and 29th and if I recall correctly, we have been holding this convention for well over 25 years in a row.

This was my first opportunity to field my Minden Miniatures SYW Austrian and Prussian armies at a convention, and what better place to stage a refight of the Battle of Lobositz in 1756 than at the SYWA convention? Drawing inspiration from Charles S. Grant's scenario from his recent book: "Wargaming In History - Volume 9 - Lobositz, Reichenberg, Prague and Kolin", I found that Grant's Lobositz and the size of my painted armies were a perfect match.

I boiled the orders of battle down to the following forces:

Prussian Army

6 btns of musketeers
2 btns of fusiliers
1 btn of grenadiers

3 x 12-pound cannon
2 x 3-pound cannon

4 regiments of heavy cavalry


Austrian Army

6 btns of musketeers
2 btns of converged grenadiers
2 btns of Croats (light infantry)

2 x 6-pounders
1 x 12-pounder
1 x 3-pounder

3 regiments of heavy cavalry

The Rules
I used my own Fife & Drum rules for this game, using a 1:20 figure to man ratio. Thus infantry battalions were 30 figures, cavalry regiments were two squadrons of 12 figures, and artillery , well, I'm not sure what it is, I just try not to put too many guns on the table top.

The rules are printed on one side of a regular 8.5" by 11" sheet of paper. The mechanics of firing, melee and morale are the same, so the players tend to pick up on how the rules work within a turn or two during the game. I don't want a player to perform poorly for the reason that he didn't understand the nuances of the rules. I want my players to concentrate on their tactics with the assurance that the rules are not going to cause them to lose the game.


The Potted Historical Background  Paragraph :)
The background to the battle is well known to many of my readers, but a brief overview follows:

It is 1756 and Frederick II of Prussian has invaded Saxony in a pre-emptive strike to knock the Saxons out of the war before the Austrians can mobilize their forces. Frederick had the Saxons bottled up in their encampment at Pirna, and he chose to utilize starvation as a means of forcing their capitulation. In the meanwhile, the Austrians commanded by Marshal von Browne, have advanced up the Elbe River in Bohemia and await the arrival of the Prussians . Von Browne has a very strong defensive position with his right flank anchored on the Lobosch Berg, a dormant volcano covered in terraces and thorns - suitable places for the Croat light infantry. The Austrian left flank is safely deposited behind the marshy Morellenbach stream while the center is occuppied by most of von Browne's cavalry. It is an unusual deployment, by 18th Century standards, but the ground suits Browne's deployment perfectly.

As the Prussians emerged from the valley, they see a portion of the Austrian army deployed on the field to their front. However, a thick fog shrouds the Austrian left behind the Morellanbach. Frederick sends some of his cavalry to probe the center and find out what is out their. This gradually grows into an ever larger cavalry battle until nearly all of Frederick's cavalry is engulfed in the meleel.

Meanwhile, on the Austrian right, the Croats fight a deadly duel with Bevern's battalions of musketeers. It is hard fighting, but eventually the Croats are forced to flee the Lobosch Berg and hightail it back to Lobositz. With the Loboshberg lost, von Browne orders his right and center to retire behind the Morellanbach and that is essentially the end of the battle. The Prussians were rather surprised at how steady the Austrian infantry had become, compared to its performance in the two Silesian Wars in the 1740s.

The Story in Pictures (click all pix to enlarge the view)


Opening view of the Prussian center and right flank (cavalry), anchored by an artillery battery atop the Homolka Berg.

Prussian left flank with Croats ocuppying the Lobosch Hill.

Danger lurks where Croats appear.

Austrian left flank deploys behind the marshy Morellanbach stream.

Frederick supervises the siting of the Prussian 12-pounders on the Homolka Berg.

A closer view of Frederick: vignette painted by Leuthen Studios.

The game begins!

Grand cavalry melee breaks out in the center of the field.

The Prussian cavalry numbers begin to tell as the Austrian cuirassiers are pushed back. The Prussian center - infantry- now begin their advance on the town of Lobositz, hoping to cut off the Austrian right from the rest of the army.
An overview of the action late in the contest. Austrians begin to retire through the town of Lobositz, while the Prussian attack in the center tries to reach the road ahead of the Austrians. At the top of the table we see the Austrian left retire back across the Morellanbach.
As the Austrian cede the Lobosch Hill, the Prussian right presses the attack, but they are too late to catch the Austrians.
The Post Mortem

I have run the Lobositz scenario about 4 or 5 times now, and I have to say that this was one of the best game scenarios that I have ever had on my watch. There was considerable "back and forth" in the cavalry melee that seemed to capture the historical action to a "T". Using Charles S. Grant's advice, I divided my cavalry regiments down from one 24-figure regiment to two 12-figure "squadrons". This created a lot more units buzzing to and fro during the cavalry battle and I really liked the way that this played out. A squadron would pitch into an enemy squadron and fight its melee, then either retire or advance depending on its losing or winning the battle. Another change that I made to my rules was to allow cavalry to reinforce an on-going melee. Previously I did not allow this in my games. I liked the way that this worked out too.

All of the players seemed to enjoy themselves and have a good time playing the game. Every figure on the table was a Minden Miniature, save for a couple of RSM limber riders that I used on my own limber teams. This type of game takes a lot of effort to put on, but when you have a great group of players and the game turns out better than expected, then you have a winning combination that makes it all worth while.

6 comments:

  1. It's always generates a nice feeling when the hard work and effort produces a first class game.
    Glad everything went so well

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  2. It looks and sounds like a fantastic game in every sense. Great looking figures too.

    Best Regards,

    Stokes

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  3. Looks like a great game. I'll have to make an effort to get to a SYWA convention - seems to be a great time. Well done, Tom

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  4. It was an absolute blast to play.

    The grenadier battalion weren't grenadiers - they were j├Ągers in disguise! Every volley from their muskets mowed down stands of Croats. It was less of a slugfest for the Lobosch Hill and a question of how the Croats could hide from the grenadiers and go play with the much less menacing fusiliers.

    I absolutely concur with your division of cavalry into squadrons. Having watched both the Friday and Saturday cavalry melees, I think you've got the feel for how a cavalry on cavalry engagement works.

    Thanks for a great game.

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  5. Your Minden armies look wonderful. I particularly like the landscape basing effects you have achieved. Glad it turned out so successfully for your efforts.

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  6. My favourite SYW battle.

    I was recently given some Minden cavalry to paint for a client. Very nice figures.

    I've been to the battlefield twice, and I'll go again. I think standing on the Homolka Mound gives the best view of a battlefield that there is.

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