Sunday, March 19, 2017

Vienna 1683, Defending the Hills

Austrian defenders

The Battles for Vienna 1683 - Defending the Hills

By now we are well on our way with our new theatre of war - Vienna 1683.  We have painted up a Turkish and an Imperial German/ Austrian force.

The historcal events these games are basen upon took place in 1683. The Turks Siege Vienna and a relief force was sent from the rest of the German empire(and Poland) to break the Siege. IT all culminated with the battle of Kahlenberg on the 12th of September 1683. The Turks were utterly defeated and the siege was lifted. The battle of Kahlenberg was also one of European history's greatest cavalry battles. Especially the Polish contribution consisted of large contingents of cavalry. The perhaps best known part of this contribution was a force of Winged hussars - the last armoured knights of Europe.



The initial stages of the battle - the Austrians have just deployed on the hills in front of the village



The Austrian Commander Colonel Wolfram von und zu Kessel with his pet pig

After the siege followed a campaign hat would oust the Osman empire from much of present day
Hungary.  It is also in this campaign that the name Eugene of Savoy was first made known.

In our games thus far we have had two very different armies pitted against each other. One highly mobile(the Turks) and one that relies more on cohesion and fire power(the Austrians). If the Austrians stick together and first delivers a coordinated volley the result is often devastating on the other side. If the Austrians fight in piece meal then the execellent close combat fighting abilities of the Turkish side turn the whole Austrian effort into Shish-kebab.




The ambition of the  Miniature Mayhem team is to create a set of rules that would span from the late 1600 century to the mid 1800. The name given to these rules is Musket Mayhem. Unfortunately we have to change the name eventually, since name may already been used for a gaming app on IOS.
 A slight change of the otters and the addition of an extra word might do the trick. Since the project is still in development we will not make any name changes just yet.


When changing theatre we have to consider amendmens to these rules in order to make the rules fit into a new situation. After all the ambition is is to create a set of rules that somehow mirrors the general themes of musket combat prior to the advent of rifle dominance. The Turks are given very
good close combat fighting values and a firing doctrine that allows them to fire at will(but with slightly lower effect). The Austrian army relies on volley fire and fire discipline. There are som really good close camp at unit on the Austrian side, but the painter has not yet made ready for the field. There are for example the Austrian grenadiers as well as the heavy cavalry of the Poles(especially the
 Winged Hussars).



The Scenario "Defend the Hills"




The field of battle. Two hills in front of an Austrian village


The Austrians deploy with the heavy cavalry defending the flank






The Turks are moving in...




Another view of the battle field



The heavy cavalry was the key to defend the flank. They soon got caught up with other tasks....and the Austrian defence fel apart


The Austrians retreat in order to stage working defensive line...



The heavy cavalry tries to plug the holes


The retreat soon turned into a rout...
The attacker took some beatings fromt he Austrian heavy cavalry, but this is the last picture in which the Austrians preformed well...the author stopped taking pictures after this....

This village was about to be sacked...





In our games to this date most battles have been won by the Turk. The Austrians have failed to coordinate their efforts. A good example is the game that took place last week.  The game situation are as follows. The Austrians are to defend a village. In front the village there are tow hills. A third of the Austrian command are supposed to be deployed by the hills, the rest in the village. The Turks arrives on the short side of the table on the opposite side seen from the village. It is essential for the Austrian player to swiftly move up the main force to the two hills in order to form single cohesive force, if they are to stand a chance against the Osmans. Another alternative would be to let the lone third abandon the hills and move to the village. The later alternative is punished by the victory conditions of the game. The initial order for the Austrians is to hold the hills or suffer victory points. However one loses victory points if one looses units. Thus the Austrian player has to make an important decision. In our game the Austrian tried the first alternative. Unfortunately the force in the village got stalled and the defends of the hills deployed a bit too exposed.  It ended in major disaster and the game was clear Turkish victory. The hill defenders got mauled instantly and the slow main force could not turn the tide. Instead they ended up in an other debacle - they got flanked. The high mobility of the the Turks makes this a tough scenario for the Austrians. 


The scenario itself is a good one borrowed from one of the scenario books of CS Grant. However we need to do few adjustments in order to make the scenario work for this particular  theatre of war. The Austrian players( they were two in this game, among them yours truly) also need to rethink their basic tactics until next time. More games are to follow.....









Sunday, February 19, 2017

Vienna 1683 Playtest: Capturing the Village


Musket Mayhem is our home-grown set of rules that a few of the club members are developing. Several previous posts on this blog have featured these rules already, and they are still far from finished, but we're getting there.
Here's a short AAR from one of our test games in a campaign using our new Austrian and Ottoman Turk armies set during the Great Turkish War, culminating in the siege of Vienna in 1683. This was the last major effort by the Ottoman Empire to conquer Austria. Some more historical background can be found here: The Great Turkish War and here: Vienna 1683.

The armies of the period were very colourful and the campaign of 1683 involved military units from all over Europe and the Middle East.

In this scenario, my Ottomans are attacking Jeppan's Austrian village. The village is protected by a small wall, not proper fortifications in game terms, and defended by a small garrison.
To complicate matters for the Turks, the Austrians have dispatched a relief force to aid their garrison. The Ottomans arrive at the village at the same time as the Austrian relief force. So the scenario is a race. Can the garrison hold off the attackers long enough for the relief force to arrive?

Ottoman Siege Pioneer storming party supported by archers advance on the village
In Musket Mayhem, the forces represent a roughly battalion-sized force with some support. In this scenario both sides had the same amount of army points, but the Austrian force was divided between the garrison and the relief force.

Ottoman Janissaries lead the assault under the watchful eye of the commander
Austrian Garrison
  • 2 Units of Musketeers
  • 1 Unit of Light Musketeers (Skirmishers)

Austrian Relief Force
  • 1 Unit of Cuirassiers
  • 2 Units of Musketeers
  • 1 Unit of Pikemen
The relief force included the Austrian C-in-C, while the 2-in-Command led the garrison.

Ottoman cavalry rush forward to protect the Janissaries' flank and delay the advance of the Austrian relief force.
Ottoman Force
  • 3 Units of Janissaries (primarily musketeers, but also close combat assault troops)
  • 1 Unit of Siege Pioneer storming party (armed with melee weapons, pistols and grenades only)
  • 1 Unit of Azab Light Archers (skirmishers)
  • 1 Artillery Piece
  • 1 Unit of Kapiqulu Spahis (Armoured Elite cavalry)
  • 1 Unit of Tatar Light Cavalry (Skirmishers)
The Austrian relief force on their way to intercept the Ottomans and save their comrades in the village. The Austrian commander is acccompanied by his pet pig. Who knows why? Odd people, the Austrians.......
The Ottomans had to have more units inside the village than the Austrians did before game end to win. The Austrians win by preventing this. Game length was 10 turns.
The village was on the Ottomans' left. The Austrian garrison deployed next to the village, while the relief force entered from the right flank.
My Ottomans could enter all along the long table edge. I chose to enter the infantry and the artillery opposite the village while the cavalry entered on right flank.
Our plan was to delay the advance of the Austrian relief force with the cavalry while the infantry rushed for the village. Not awfully subtle, admittedly. Bur if it works.....

The Janissaries advance as fast as possible towards the village. Will the Austrian relief force arrive in time to stop the Janissary steam-roller?
Opposite the village, the Ottoman advanced as quickly as possible towards the village. The Austrian garrison wasn't terribly lucky with their command rolls and advanced towards the wall at less than full speed.

The local Austrian garrison rushes to man the improvised defences before the Ottoman assault hits.
On the Ottoman right flank the cavalry advanced towards the Austrian relief force, which responded by deploying some of the infantry into firing line. This gives awesome firepower, but slows movement.
Seeing this, the Ottoman cavalry commander wisely turned aside and sought cover behind a hill. The Tatar light horse is very fast and rushed out to skirmish against the Austrian cuirassiers.
The cuirassiers charged the Tatars and actually managed to catch their opponents.

The Austrian cuirassiers valiantly charge into the Ottomans' Tatar allies to clear the way for the Austrian infantry to reach the village. They inflict heavy casualties on the Tatars, but their reckless charge have carried them deep into the Ottoman force.....
The cuirassiers' rode down a large number of Tatars. But their successful charge had a downside in that the cuirassiers were now stuck in melee in the midst of the ottoman main force....
The Austrian cuirassiers are trapped as the Turkish Spahis charge in to relieve their Tatar comrades. The Turkish artillery struggle to keep up with the rapid advance.
At the same time the ottoman infantry had advanced very rapidly towards the village and were threatening to rush over the wall before the Austrians could deploy to defend it properly. My Janissaries were very lucky and got a 'Force March' tactical card that allowed them to advance even quicker than normally possible.

The climax of the fight. The Janissary assault crashes into the austrian units manning the village perimeter before the defenders have time to form a proper fighting line. Will the Janissaries' ferocity in close combat be enough to overcome the Austrian musketeers protected by the wall? The Janissary commander is 'leading' his troops from a safe position in the rear. The Pascha will have to discuss that with him later.....

The end came very quickly indeed. The Ottoman cavalry charged into the ongoing cavalry melee in support of their Tatar comrades. The Austrian cuirassiers hung on grimly but were suffering heavy casualties, while the rest of the Austrian relief force were still much too far away.

Another view of the decisive attack. The Austrian musketeers are overrun as the Janissaries flood into the village and win the game. The Austrian relief force was too slow, and failed to stop the headlong charge of the Turks.
At the same time the Janissaries charged into contact before the Austrian garrison had organized a proper line to resist them. The Ottoman Pioneer storming party was not able to contact the enemy at the same time, but would have been able to provide a second attack wave.
In the event, the Janissary charge was successful and both of the defending Austrian units were eliminated. They did manage to eliminate one of the three Janissary units, but this was not enough. A lone Austrian musketeer unit was left facing two surviving Janissary units inside the village.
And with that the game was over with an Ottoman win.

The rules worked well, we think. But the scenario needs a little tweaking to give the defender's relief force a better chance of making it to the village in time. In this instance, they really did not have much chance to accomplish much.










Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Cavalry Battle in the East

Last week we got together at the club to play a game celebrating the imminent release of the Pikeman's Lament rules.
If you've read this blog before, it will probably not come as a huge surprise that it was part of our ongoing club campaign set in the Swedish-Polish War in the 1620s.

This time, we were a total of 6 players with 3 on the Swedish side and 3 on the Polish side. This game was intended as a cavalry battle, so only mounted troops and commanded shot units were allowed. Each player could use 12 army points. This meant that each player had 2 or 3 units to run.
The Tatars arrive.
As usual I fielded my Pikeman's Lament officer, Henrik the Hammer. This time he was at the head of a unit of Aggressive Elite Gallopers. I also used a unit of cuirassiers (Trotters in game terms) and a unit of commanded shot.
The other two commands on the Swedish side each consisted of 3 units of Aggressive Gallopers. One of Swedes and one of Scots mercenaries.

The Swedish cavalry and commanded shot advance.
The Polish force consisted of a Flemish mercenary command with two Cuirassiers (Elite Trotters) and two commands of tatars with a mix of Trotters and skirmishing light cavalry (Dragoons in game terms)
In this game the victory conditions involved controlling as many of 3 objectives as possible for as long as possible. On the Swedish right flank, there was an objective in a village, while the centre had an objective on a hill.On the left there was a bridge that was also an objective.

The Scots cavalry rush forward
As the Swedish force consisted almost entirely of Aggressive Gallopers who will automatically attempt to charge the enemy if these are in range, our tactics were simple: Rush the enemy at the first opportunity and hope that superior close combat ability will be enough to win the day.

The Tatars skirmish against charging Swedish cavalry supported by commanded shot
On the Polish side the Tatar light horse skirmished in an attempt to wear down the Swedish cavalry while avoiding close combat, while their Trotters (Flemish Cuirassiers and Tatar heavy horse) relied on pistol fire  to do the same.
In this the Flemish and Tatars were largely successful.
The Swedes quickly won control of the objective in the village, while the Flemish took the bridge. That left the central hill objective, and the fighting was most intense there.

Swedes and Tatars contest the central hill
The Flemish and Tatars managed to use their firepower and skirmishing to weaken the Swedish cavalry before the Swedes could get into close combat.

The notorious Flemish Mercenaries approach the bridge.
Repeated Swedish charges all along the line did weaken the Tatars, but the Swedish cavalry suffered even worse and gradually lost several units.

The initial Swedish charge inflicts some losses on the Tatars, but is eventually repulsed with even greater losses to the Swedes. Darn....
The Swedish cavalry then made a concerted charge at the centre hill, but was eventually forced off it with heavy losses.
Swedish Cuirassiers face their Flemish counterparts across the river.
Eventually, the Swedish cavalry only had a couple of units still at reasonable strength. In a desperate final attempt to retrieve the situation Henrik charged the hill at the head of his personal unit of elite cavalry.
The climax of the battle. The Tatars have secured the hill, but the Swedish cavalry prepares a final charge
In a fine display of great bravery (if not terribly good thinking) Henrik's wild charge managed to wipe out one of the Tatar units on the hill, and then continued straight into another Tatar foe. Taking him ever deeper into the enemy ranks....
Henrik the Hammer charges the Tatars. it is the last attempt to turn the tide...
Courageously, Henrik's Västgöta cavalry smashed this second Tatar unit as well. Unfortunately this had depleted this last combat-worthy Swedish unit severely and left it stranded among a great number of enemy.
Amazingly, it managed to survive some Tatar shooting, but the last survivors fell when the wily Tatars lured them into some bad going.
So this was indeed a Swedish defeat, although Henrik claims that it was a moral victory for him personally....
And yes, Henrik did survive, although he was wounded. He will recover in time for the next battle, though......

As ever, this was another fun game of Pikeman's Lament.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Siege of Vienna 1683: The Forces of the Sultan



I now have enough Ottoman Turkish figures to actually play some games of our home grown Musket Mayhem rules as well as for the upcoming Pikeman's Lament rules from Osprey.
There are now 3 units of Janissaries, 2 units of provincial cavalry and an artillery piece. There are also a few commanders.

A unit of Janissaries with cavalry in reserve.
Most of the figures I've chosen would work for just about any Turkish campaign from mid-late 1500s and well into the 1700s.
But to begin with, we are aiming at the campaigns culminating in the siege of Vienna in 1683. We chose this particular campaign as it is well documented, very dramatic and involved lots of different nationalities.

The Janissary commander in front of his men.
During this campaign there was not just the siege of Vienna itself, but also a lot of raids and maneuvers by both sides with many smaller sized actions over a wide area as the Turks advanced to start the siege operation. Then there was more raids and skirishes as the Allied armies marched to relieve the siege.

Another view of the Janiisaries
This period lends itself to lots of painting and modelling. In this campaign alone there were not just Turks and Austrians taking part. There were also various German states (Würtenberg and Bavaria, etc), Poles, Hungarians and Tatars.
The entire Turk force. But some reinforcements have yet to come....

There are still a few units to add. I will add a unit of Kapiqulu Spahis and a couple of irregular infantry units, for example.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Siege of Vienna 1683, The Forces of the Empire

An Imperial/Austrian Officer

Time to show some more units for the upcoming Siege of Vienna project. The major battle of this campaign was the battle of Kaltenberg, a smashing victory for the Imperial forces. The German Emperor for once managed to call on his vasalls and they did what the Emperor asked them to do - defend the Empire. The bulk of this force comprised of German units or the different principalities of the empire. The largest contingents came from Austria, Bavaria and Saxony.  An allied Polish force was also present. So whenbuilding an Anti-Turkish force one have to consider which units to build first. I have started with Austrians. I do wish to utterly defeat my adversary(you can see his evil minions in the last posting on this blog). Thus I do need some pikes and heavy cavalry. I might need some lighter cavalry units, but I have bought any suitable minis for that......a few decisions  has to be made in a near future.


Imperial Austrian Curassiers, a unit know as "Graf Palfly-Erdöly"

Pikes, possibly a unit known as "Graf Mansfeld"




Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Shape of Things to Come: The Turks Are Coming!


As Jeppan posted a little while ago, we are working on a project covering the campaigns culminating with the Siege of Vienna in 1683 for our home-grown Musket Mayhem rules.
I will be doing the Turks, with Jeppan covering the Austrians, Germans and probably some Poles as well.
This is still very much work in progress, and I have quite a few figs still to paint, but here are a few pics of the first batch of completed units.

The Turkish Pascha issuing orders in front of the provincial cavalry and some Janissaries
The figures are a mix of Warlord Games and The Assault Group.
The Turkish cavalry in these pictures are intended to depict the provincial turkish cavalry (Delis, Timariot Spahis, or similar). The figures are actually slightly converted 'Arab Light Cavalry' from Warlord Games.

A closer look at the turkish provincial cavalry and Janissaries
The Janissaries are a mix. Some are from The Assault Group, with most from of Warlord Games' box of 'Janissary Infantry'.

The turk host from a different angle

I will add a couple more units of Janissaries and some Guard cavalry (Kapuqulu Spahis), some irregular infantry (Sekban, Basi-Bazouk, Sappers or similar low-grade). There will also be an artillery piece.



Friday, December 23, 2016

Playtest - the Battle of Plataea with l'Art de la Guerre

Earlier this week a few members of the club got together to continue playtesting the l'Art de la Guerre rules. Myself and Gunnar have tried it a couple of times using my 15mm Byzantines and Arabs. Both times we've been quite pleased with the rules and had very enjoyable games.
So this time we decided to try the rules with Gunnar's 6mm Greeks & Persians. These armies are very different from the Arabs and Byzantines. Not to mention that I've been looking forward to seeing Gunnar's tiny guys on the table....
For this game we were joined by Mark who has a 6mm collection for other historical periods.
To make it a little more interesting than just lining up 'equal points' armies and slugging it out, we decided to try for a more historical battle.
I chose the battle of Plataea, very much a classic encounter (more info on the battle can be found here: Battle of Plataea).
The Greek army was a rather loose alliance of city states. We only used the parts that saw extensive fighting, The Spartans (under the nominal C-in-C Pausanias), the Tegeans and the Athenians.
The Persians had a more coherent command structure and included a contingent of 'medizing' Greeks fighting on the Persian side against their fellow Greeks.
The Athenian contingent deploy on the Greek right wing facing....

.....the Persian left wing with the medizing Greek hoplites along with some Persian cavalry and foot archers.
I tried to use a variety of troop types in this scenario. partly to test the rules and partly to differentiate between the various contingents. For exampe, I graded the Spartans as the best spearmen possible in the rules (Heavy Spearmen, Armoured, Elite), while the Athenians were Armoured but not graded Elite. The Tegeans were graded as Heavy Spearmen but neither Armoured, nor Elite. In the game, this really did make a difference, as the Spartans shrugged of clouds of missiles. The Tegeans, on the other hand, did take quite a few casualties as they advanced on the massed Persian archers.
Apart from Hoplites and a few undistinguished cavalry, the Greeks also fielded a few Peltasts and psiloi with javelins and a few archers. So the Greek army was very strong in close combat Heavy infantry, but weak in cavalry and with very limited missile capability. Mobility isn't that great either.
The Persian force was more varied with numerous foot archers. Then there were medium spearmen and foot skirmishers.
The Persians also had good quality Persian Noble cavalry (heavy cavalry, Elite archers) as well as light horse archers. The only really good Persian infantry was the Immortals (mixed medium swordsmen and bowmen, Elite) and 'medizing' Greek Hoplites from city states siding with the Persian empire.
With the exception of the 'medizing' Hoplites almost the entire Persian army was armed with bows and javelins and could launch massive volleys of missiles. But close combat was a different story. As the Persians had more and better cavalry and skirmishers, they were also more mobile than the Greeks.
The Greek centre and left wing. The Spartan contingent led by Pausanias in the centre, with the Tegeans in a column on the Greek left wing.
In our refight, I was playing the Greeks, while Gunnar and Mark ran the Persians.

Deployment
The Athenians faced the 'medizing' Greek Hoplites on the Greek right wing, while the Spartans met the Persian elite Immortals in the centre. On the Greek left wing the Tegeans faced a Persian command of massed foot archers supported by a lot of skirmishers and cavalry.
This broadly corresponded to the historical deployment, although a lot of the Persian deployment is uncertain.
In our game (as in the real battle) the Greek Hoplites were not numerous enough to cover the entire battlefield and had to rely on skirmishers to cover gaps in the line and secure the flanks.

The Game
As in the historical battle, the Greeks immediately started advancing to close with the enemy as soon as possible. I was fully aware of the awesome Persian firepower and the need to get into close combat as quickly as possible.

As the Greeks trundled forward, and into range of the Persian archers the difference that armour an Elite rating makes quickly became apparent. The Spartans and Athenians were hardly affected, but the Tegeans started to take a beating from Mark's massed Persian archers. The Persian dice were not kind as the Greeks rolled just well enough to escape being hit again and again.
I suppose the Greek pre-battle religious ceremonies and sacrifices went down well with Zeus, Ares and the rest of the gang up on Mount Olympos.......
The climax of the battle is near as the Spartan Hoplites charge the Persian Immortals and Guard cavalry. Persian archery proved ineffective against the armoured Spartans. This is going to hurt.......

Further along the line, the Athenians are closing in on the medizing Greek hoplites on the Perisan side as Geeek psiloi skirmishers harrass the Persian line to stop them from exploiting the gap in the Greek line.
So both the Spartans and Athenians made it into charge distance of the Persian line in good shape. On the way forward the Athenians had even chased some light Persian cavalry off the table.
But the Persian Immortals facing the Spartans were also Elite troops, while the Athenians were facing the 'medizing' Hoplites who were just as disciplined and armoured as they were themselves.
The only urgent problem from a Greek point-of-view now was the Tegeans who were also advancing but were taking a beating from the Persian archers.
Still, things were looking quite good.
The Persians were a bit worried though, as the Greek Hoplites got closer and closer despite all those arrows shot at them.
Meanwhile on the Greek left wing, the Tegean Greeks are approaching the Persian right wing. This Persian force consisted almost exclusively of archers. The archers managed to cause quite a lot of damage to the Tegean Hoplites as these were not as heavily armoured as their Spartans and Athenian partners.

The Tegeans press forward, but continue to take casualties....
The Greeks braved yet another missile volley (escaping damage again with some very lucky die rolls). And then the Spartans and Athenians finally charged into the Persian line...

The decisive clash! Pausanias' Spartans crash into Mardonius' line of Immortals and Guard cavalry.
Both commanders personally lead their men into battle, fighting in the front rank. No less can be expected of a Spartiate and a Persian Noble, of course ...
At the same time, the Athenians charge the 'medizing' Hoplites and cavalry on the Persian left wing.
The decisive fight as viewed from the Persian lines
The heroic leaders Pausanias and Mardonius cross swords as the Spartan steam-roller hits the Persian Immortals and Guard cavalrymen.
At close quarters, the elite Spartans have an advantage over the Persian elite soldiers due to the Spartan armour. Will it be enough?

Spartan Victory! The Persian Guard cavalry are routed by the ferocious Spartan charge and Mardonius is killed. The Immortals also take heavy casualties. The Spartans did have an advantage, but also had a lot of luck.
The Spartans start by rolling extremely well in the fight against Mardonius' Guard cavalry. The Elite Persian Nobles are crushed in the very first clash, killing Mardonius. This is devastating as it saps Persian morale and also hampers their command-and-control. This trend continues with the Spartans making short work of the Immortals as well with some more good die rolls on top of their superior armour.
The Persian front line collapses.
On the Athenian wing the results are less dramatic, but the 'medizing' Greek renegades on the Persian side are ground down in a couple of rounds of intense fighting.
The same is true in the centre, where the Spartans continue to wipe out the Persian Immortals.
At this point the Tegeans still have not managed to advance into the Persians facing them. But it does not matter, as the overall Persian losses, and the loss of Mardonius in the first clash, is enough to cause the entire Persian army tocollapse and run.

Conclusions
This was a very enjoyable battle that we were able to play in about 2.5 hours even though we are all new to these rules. We used the 'normal' 200pts game scale in the rule book.
I am sure we missed some rule somewhere, but that's our own fault... The l'Art de la Guerre rules are well written and come complete with a huge variety of army lists in a large book.
Overall the games we've had so far have all had a good feel to them. Among other things, they do not focus too much on the exact hardware the soldiers are using, but more on what their tactical role is and how good they are at it. Also command and control is very important and you do get major advantages from keeping the units together in coordinated lines. They also are forgiving when it comes to basing the troops, so we can easily use our existing DBA/DBM and FOG armies.
And playing this battle in 6mm really did give a sense of a major battle between massive armies.
We will certainly play some more games with these rules.
Some more pics from the game can be found on Mark's blog (Wargaming in Sverige!).