Saturday, July 22, 2017

Kolin-oscopy - A Battle Re-examined

With another refight of the Battle of Kolin in the books on July 15, time for an account of the game.

Rather than allow Frederick to shift his artillery and cavalry before the opening salvos were heard as in Kolin I, deployments stuck to the historical situation.  Any Prussian changes in plan would have to be implemented once the battle commenced. 
Initial Dispositions
As a reminder of the battle and the earlier BatRep, scenario and battle prep can be found at Kolin 260th Anniversary Edition.  The prior Honours of War post-game analysis can be found at Kolin Post Game Analysis.

This battle saw the same participants playing the same commands as in Kolin I.  Kevin, wanting to avenge his earlier loss as Frederick, took command of the Prussians with Scott as his second.  Jake took on the role of Daun.

The battle began similarly to Kolin I with an artillery duel all along the front and a cavalry clash on the Prussian left.  Frederick, not content to mass all of his cavalry on the right in this game, pulls all of Pennavaire's heavy cavalry off the right flank and begins movement towards the center.  Pennavaire's cavalry in the center are ordered to support Zieten on the left flank.  Only one of the Prussian cavalry ordered to support Zieten sets into motion.
Frederick shifts left
Almost immediately, Zieten's light cavalry on the Prussian left attack Nadazdy.  Nadazdy's hussars, although inferior, countercharge.  Both hussar units clash and then break off.  One of Nadazdy's units is destroyed in the retreat.  Despite losing hussars, Daun senses opportunity.  Wanting to catch the Prussian hussars at a disadvantage before they can recover from their recent clash, the Saxon chevauleger, moving up through the Oak Wood, smash into the lead Prussian hussars.
Saxon's charge Zieten's wavering hussars
In the melee, both combatants fight to exhaustion and scatter.  Is that the result for which Daun planned?  Austrian combined grenadiers move up to support Krechor.  Pennavaire continues his redeployment of the heavy cavalry wing.  To where is Pennavaire redeploying?   With one hussar formation destroyed and the second reforming, Zieten awaits support from Pennavaire's detached cavalry.  Still, only one formation makes its way towards Zieten.
Pennavaire moves to the center
 while light cavalry clash in the fore
Artillery counterbattery bombardments are taking their toll on opposing guns.  A number of guns fall silent.  Some are forced to limber and withdraw.  Tresckow's Prussian musketeers move up to challenge and eventually throw out the Croats defending the center village.
Croats dislodged from central village
With the central village abandoned, only a 3-lb battery holds the walls of the outer village.  Becoming the main target of Prussian musketry and artillery, the Grenz 3-lb gun limbers up and moves away before being destroyed where it was emplaced.
Prussian center presses in
Frederick, having committed Pennavaire to a central approach, provides an opportunity to Austrian general Burgholzhausen on the Austrian left.  With support from Graf zu Wied's musketeers, the Austrian left steps off down from the heights.  
Frederick stacking the center
Counterbattery fire continues hotly with a number of guns either silenced or destroyed.  With musketeers leading the way, Frederick plans to break the Austrian center with deep columns of Pennavaire's cavalry.  
Pennavaire forms up in support
With Serbelloni's Austrian heavy horse taking up position on the Austrian right, a breakthrough by Zieten will be a difficult proposition.  While Prussians mass in the center of the battlefield, Austrians begin to turn the Prussian right. 
Austrians come down from the heights
Central village captured!
Prussian center masses for attack
Under increasing pressure on the Prussian right, Frederick orders an all out assault on the central heights.  With musketeers leading the charge on the left and grenadiers on the right, Frederick's masses clamber up the heights. 
Give them cold steel!
In the distance, Austrians advance onto the plain, pressuring the Prussian right.  Musketry is exchanged as the Austrians close in on the Prussian right.  Frederick narrowly escapes injury or capture.  This close call shakes the King's nerve as his line of communications is threatened.
Prussian center attack from afar
Blasted by artillery on the slog up the hill, the musketeers on the left take severe casualties on the approach.  Even before the Prussian musketeers can close with the awaiting enemy, Austrian musketry causes the unit to dissolve.  In the process, several Prussian cavalry units are swept up in the destruction of the musketeers. 
Down to the grenadiers!
Outnumbered and outgunned, the grenadiers fare no better than their compatriots.  Taken with close range musketry, the grenadiers are staggered and forced to retreat back down the hill.

Seeing his best chance of breaching the Austrian position disintegrate as his right collapses, Frederick calls off the attack and prepares to withdraw upon his line of communications.
King of Prussia and Moritz distraught following the battle
The Butcher's Bill
Another challenging but enjoyable game for the Prussians.  Different Prussian tactic than the previous game but the same outcome; reamed.  Again, artillery played a big role in disrupting enemy formations.  Counterbattery fire was particularly effective for both sides.  Few guns remained on the battlefield undamaged.  With the Austrians now 4-0 at Kolin, does Frederick have a chance at a whiff of victory? 

Not deterred, Frederick wants another chance at solving the puzzle that is Kolin.


  1. Pics and narrative all excellent, as always - brightened a wet Saturday for me!

  2. Lovely account - I love that big hill terrain feature. I do have the rules, but am not familiar with the period, do you think the power of the artillery is reflective of the period?

    1. Thanks, Norm! HoW is a solid set of rules and includes the factors/processes I enjoy in a game.

      As for artillery, it does seem powerful especially when the Austrian guns are rated as superior. What I have come to understand after a handful of games is that artillery may be powerful but receiving a volley from a unit of muskets is down right bloody. This is a bloody set of rules that rewards the player who can pull units out of the front line to recover before being destroyed. I like the game more with each playing.

  3. Nice post, interesting to read and ponder the armies setup and view the strategic manoeuvring.

  4. Wonderfully reported game, Jonathan! Love the look of the sway of battle lines.

    1. Dean, thank you for the kind comments. It was a fun game to watch. I think I might like a boost in movement rates.

  5. At least Frederick gave it a good go! It's got to be difficult for Frederick to win but it shouldn't be impossible! Great looking report too!
    Best Iain

    1. Frederick DID give it a good go! In fact, Frederick is itching to give the battle a THIRD try. He is a glutton for punishment! Is a victory for Frederick impossible? I don't know about impossible but it appears improbable. My hunch is that Frederick would need a good dose of luck besides skill.

  6. Another great report.
    I wonder if the Prussians tried an all out attack on the right with the cavalry early on if it would be a good plan? The belated attack I made certainly started to turn the flank, but then the Austrian reserves arrived and the centre had stalled. There isn't enough time to suppress the artillery and the infantry in the centre, so forcing them to redeploy by threatening their flank might give a whiff of a chance, maybe? Get Moritz to start moving the infantry right to take advantage of any cavalry success, perhaps?
    I don't know, any way you look at it, it is a tall order for the Prussians.

    1. Thanks, Nathan!

      I like your ideas for cracking this nut! I am leaning towards a quick attack by Frederick may offer the only chance to snag a victory at Kolin. The longer the Prussian attack delays, the more casualties from artillery the Prussians will likely suffer and the Austrians only get stronger as the battle progresses.

      Perhaps half of Pennavaire's cavalry could be used to pin while the remainder supports infantry in an attack on the heights? Getting Serbelloni to commit to the Austrian right sets up an assault against a weakened center.

      That might be how I would play it.

  7. I love a good pun, but you title is almost as painful as its homophone. Excellent AAR and great looking game.
    Cheers, Peter

    1. Sorry for the pain, Peter...I thought it too good to pass by. Too clever by half, I suppose.

      Glad to see you enjoyed the BatRep!

  8. Great report Jonathan. Looks like you had a lot of fun...although the Prussians may have had a different view on that...

  9. Excellent looking game and report Jonathan. Lots of action everywhere. I may have to pick up these rules.

    1. Thank you, Rod! The rules are enjoyable, well written, and dirt cheap.

  10. The title of this post caused me to do a double take--thanks for the chuckle. I really like the look of your table. And the system seems to render a very "stately" set piece sort of game: both work very well for the period (I think).

    1. Glad you enjoyed my attempt at bit of humor!

      For the table, I overlaid a flocked game mat over my usual tiles. Something different this time.

      Although less than a half dozen games under my belt, I quite like the HoW system.

  11. Thanks for hosting another great game, Jon. I would be up to another attempt to take those heights.

    1. Glad you enjoyed the game! It is put away for now can be brought out again for another try.

  12. A fine looking game once again, Jon. One suspects that a Prussian win would require substantial help from Lady Luck... not to mention a rather less competent Daun!

    1. Thanks, Peter!

      As for your "less competent Daun" statement, Kevin said exactly the same thing with regards to Jake as Daun!

      Kevin and Scott both want to try taking the heights in another refight of Kolin. For now, I have cleared the deck for another game but Kolin will likely be back out on the table at a later date.

    2. Perhaps that can be my new tagline "A marginally less competent Daun"

    3. Another great game, I am really taken with the HOW ruleset. It plays simply and give fairly realistic results. I think the scenario is working well, as the real Prussians dealt with significant fog of war issues. In this outing, I decided to focus on counter-battery fire, but I think ignoring the Prussian guns and pounding the infantry can cause most attempts on the heights to founder. There is an illusion of safety of trying to work through the villages to retain some strength to assault the hills, but time always works against the Prussians. Having played this scenario from both sides, I think the Prussians need to strike fast and hope for some lucky breaks.

    4. "A marginally less competent Daun"...that is a good one!

    5. Thanks again, for attending the game, Jake, and for giving the Prussians another bloody nose. Despite bloody noses in both games, Kevin and Scott BOTH want to try Kolin again.

      I think HoW is working well too. Are play will get even better as we gain experience and begin to develop some sort of a tactical doctrine that only repeated playings can produce.

      Prussian needs to strike fast in Kolin can catch a break or two just as you state. Still, a very fun little game!


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