Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Crossroads at Liethen

Played a very small, fictitious Black Powder battle with all (yes, ALL) of my Seven Years War troops over the course of the last few days and I thought I would post a small battle report.

Some very interesting turns of events here and I'm still somewhat flabbergasted by the outcome.

Black Powder does a decent job of conferring period-specific advantages to troops, but if the dice gods don't roll in your favor, there's almost nothing the aspiring Field Marshall can do but watch failure unfold in front of him....

The fictitious town of Liethen sat astride an important route which Frederick must control during his conquest of Silesia.  Near Liethen, an important crossroads which....well you get the idea.  A small force commanded by the famous Prussian Major-General Hulsen is sent to secure this precious piece of real estate "to allow the Army to pass through at leisure."

The Austrians, knowing full well the Prussian invasion is imminent, have sent Austrian Major General Wied with a brigade to deny the Prussians the crossroads and if possible lure the whole of their Army into battle.

The Prussian force consists of the "crack" Anhalt and Braunschweig infantry regiments, who would later form one of the more substantial infantry brigades at Lobositz.  They have a light field battery in support.  The Black Powder staff rating for the Prussian force is a very generous "8."  With the notorious Prussian drill, I also allowed them a +1 to their shooting rolls since they are both outnumbered and their artillery is significantly out-gunned.

The Austrian force has 3 units of their main infantry force, Infantry Regiments Kaiser, Harsch, and the Hungarian Regiment Nikolaus Esterhazy.  The Austrians have a heavy field battery in support. The Black Powder staff rating for the Austrian force is a modest "7."
The proud Anhalt Infantry advance to the crossroads under the watchful and capable eyes of Major General Hulsen.
 Due to some unforseen circumstance, the opening moves of Frederick's advance into Silesia starts off badly as the Prussian Brigade twice fails to carry out their orders and remain in place, even as the Austrians advance to their front!  The shame!

The Austro-Hungarian forces reaches the crossroads, spoiling for a fight!
 Meanwhile the Austrians perform magnificently and roll "snake eyes" as their huge infantry battalions advance.

Meanwhile this small, 2 Regiment unit of crack Prussian infantry have a rough time getting to the road.

IR 3 Anhalt finally moves forward.
 The Prussians finally hit a low score and carry out 3 separate moves and reach the crossroads along with their artillery.  The Austrians are waiting for them and welcome them with a solid volley.

 Flush with success and frankly shocked that their move was so easily carried out, Major General Wied gets carried away and orders, of all troops, the Hungarians on the right forward.  They advance the left and deliver a volley on the Prussian left.

Both sides begin trading volleys.  While the Prussians again fail to unlimer as the result of an order, they are still allowed to carry out their unlimbering.  The world has indeed turned upside down!

Along the battle lines.

Prussians disordered!  The fire from the Hungarian muskets is intense!  3 sixes rolled!

Even the Anhalt become disordered by the fire.  To echo the words of Frederick "These are not the same Austrians we fought last time..."

Meanwhile the Prussians organize themselves and pour

Red dice tracking casualties.

General Hulsen stares at the huge blue dice which have not yet fallen in his favor as he fails yet another order test to attempt to reduce some of the casualties in the infantry.  "Mein Gott, warum hast du mich verlassen?!?!"
 Finally the Austrians get their superior Field Artillery into the mix and really start bringing the hurt down on the hapless Prussians, who can seem to do nothing right during this engagement.

The Prussian artillery, though small, answers in kind.  Forcing a disorder on the Kaiser infantry regiment!

The Austrians, feeling confident, advance their own left against the Anhalt troopers, whose own closing fire is not enough to beat them back! 

 The 2 Regiments would remain locked in combat for 2 turns until the issue was finally decided.  Thankfully the Prussians have a secured flank and win a draw.  The Austrian Regiment backs off to regroup, of course under accurate and bloody Prussian volleys.  How can they keep passing their break test?!?!?

Major General Wied, pleased with the day's proceedings.

THe Austrians beat a hasty retreat from the combat, but still are able to rally off the disorder and continue to pass morale saves!

MG Hulsen finally rallies off some of the effects of the casualties on the tired Anhalt troopers.  But the Austrians are still in front of them!  Why haven't they gone home yet?!?!
 The Austrians, still feeling confident from their hot dice rolling, continue to advance slowly, instead of charging they will use their numbers and wear down the Prussians by fire.

Excellent shooting from the Braunschweig Infantry forces the Austrian Field Artillery from the field!!
 Both sides attempt to stave off disaster as their respective forces are close to the breaking point from trading volleys across the Liethen road.  The Prussians have an excellent go of it, forcing off both the Austrian artillery and the Hungarian musketeers, who retreat disordered.

Then the unthinkable - the Austrians roll straight 6's for their volley on the Prussian right.  The break test goes horribly wrong and the Prussians roll a "3" modified to "2" for their disorder and shaken status.  The Prussians have finally had enough and quit with the Austrian units in charge of the field!  Frederick left in disgust.

Not really many lessons learned here.  Both sides marched up and shot the hell out of each other until 1 side broke.  Some interesting surprises as the "quality" troops performed much worse than their weaker quality counter-parts.  This was due completely to "friction" and bad luck than anything else but in the end, their +1 To Hit and "8" staff rating didn't save the Prussian war machine this time!

I continue to enjoy Black Powder and I honestly believe it's best played with larger formations that "look" the part.  Playing with small, 3 stand units that look like a squad or "corporal's guard" to quote Sparker, just don't feel right when playing.


  1. Very nice report with splendid units Steven!

    1. Thank you Phil! I fear my Seven Years War units have been neglected these past 6 or 7 months! It's definitely time to start painting more of them!

  2. I agree, blocked troops look best in some periods and this is one of them in my opinion.

    Don't worry, Bismarck and von Molke will get their vengeance on the Austrians in due course...

    1. Paul,
      I tried playing Shako with 3 stand units and they're too skimpy. Almost like you're better off playing with either HUGE amounts of 15s, or going down to 10s or 6s. There is something satisfying about playing with large formations IMHO. That said, I probably don't even have enough SYW or Naps painted to even call myself a SYW or Nap gamer!!!

      Yes will be good to see the Austrians get their just desserts - especially after this battle. Mein Gott!