Sunday, February 18, 2018

Battle of Mollwitz BatRep - A Near Run Thing

Elements of Romer's Cavalry
Having gamed Mollwitz twice before, the plight of The White Menace appears set firmly in the annals history. Given two Austrian defeats at the hands of Frederick the Great (actually his Lt Gen since the king fled the field in both battles), still interest in a third attempt at the battle remained.  This time, Scott would command the Austrians while Kevin would take the role of young King Frederick.

To refresh memories of the scenario and the prior two battles, follow the links below:

Battle of Mollwitz Scenario
Battle of Mollwitz Game #1
Battle of Mollwitz Game #2

The battle begins as the other two; battle lines drawn up in the snow with the Prussians about a mile from the village of Mollwitz.  Romer's cavalry wing is stacked on the left with the Austrian Right Wing superior to its opponent.  Both cavalry wings move out through the snow after a brief delay.
Initial Deployment
As Romer's cavalry wing advances from the Austrian left, he is surprised to see his Prussian counterpart moving out to engage as well.  At two-to-one against in numbers and with poorer quality troops, Schulenberg is making a brash move. 
Cavalry on Austrian left move to engage
Romer's Cavalry Wing
In the initial crash of man and horse, one unit from each scatters while a second unit from each retreats.  Now with four to one against, what is Schulenberg's next move?
Heavy casualties in initial cavalry clash
As cavalry push each other around on the Austrian left, the infantry lines in the center of the battlefield step off.  Both combatants have intent on closing the range.  In Game #2, the Austrian strategy of advancing on the Prussian center may have slowed the Prussian advance upon Mollwitz but the cost was high.  The entire Austrian first line was made hors de combat.  Will history repeat itself?
Infantry lines begin to close the distance
The infantry lines in the center close to within musketry range as Romer's cavalry begins to turn the Prussian right.  Volleys erupt along the lines.
Center closes to musketry range
Having finished off Schulenberg's cavalry wing on the Prussian right, Romer sets his eye on the now exposed right flank of the Prussian Army.  The race is on for the Prussians to destroy the Austrian center before its own line is compromised by Romer.  The inferior quality of the Austrian musketeers is no match to the superior firepower of the Prussians.  Two Austrian regiments disappear in the smoke of the battlefield. 
Casualties mount on the Austrian First Line
The Prussian right flank having been turned, Romer's cavalry chews up Prussian infantry caught in flank by the slightly more mobile Austrian cavalry.  The heavy snow on the ground prevents Romer from acting more quickly to destroy the Prussian right.  As Romer continues to maneuver into an advantageous position, the Austrian First Line of infantry is destroyed. 
Destruction of the Austrian First Line
While the Prussian line begins to bend as Romer turns the flank, the advance upon Mollwitz continues.  The Prussian objective seems to be the destruction of the Austrian infantry at the expense of its own safety.  The race is on!  Which army will break first?
Prussian right is turned!
Outmaneuvered in the snow, Romer's cavalry continues its trampling of the Prussian right.  Another Prussian musketeer regiment is caught in flank and destroyed.  Oh, the humanity!
Caught in flank and destroyed.
While Romer's cavalry romps through the Prussian right, the Austrian cavalry on the Austrian left finds itself in a standoff.  Having destroyed the Prussian cavalry opposing it early in the battle, Austrian horse now finds itself taking musketry along the banks of the stream.  The Prussian left is a tough nut to crack.
Austrian cavalry in the Prussian backfield
Having stabilized the Prussian left, how to deal with Romer on the right?  Not an easy question to answer.  While three Prussian infantry regiments continue on their approach on Mollwitz, infantry regiments in the second line peel off to face the threat from the flank.  
Prussian center consolidating
With Romer's cavalry in strength on the right flank of the Prussian Army, a mobile square may provide an answer.  It will take time but the Prussians can advance in this formation while protecting its very vulnerable right.  To break the Prussians, the Austrian horse must take some chances or be shot from the saddle.
Prussian center forming square?
"Circle the wagons, boys"
Both armies are on the verge of breaking.  One more loss to either will signal defeat.  Given that situation, Romer makes one last effort to break the Prussians.  Going in, the Austrian horse suffer just enough casualties to tip the balance towards the Prussians in the following melee.  One more Austrian cavalry is destroyed and the Austrian army morale collapses.  The Prussians are victorious, but just!
The last charge of the day
Prussians facing Mollwitz
Inaction on the Prussian left
The End!
Well! That was an exciting encounter!  Each player only needed to eliminate one more enemy unit to claim victory.  In the end, Prussian musketry proved decisive and the Austrian horse was thwarted in its final charge.  

The result of Game #3 demonstrates that the Austrian Army may just have a chance at defeating the Prussians at Mollwitz.  What if the Austrian right could have been more active and applied significant pressure against the Prussian left?  A successful double envelopment may have paid dividends in stopping the Prussian advance.  In the post-game analysis, Scott hinged his defeat upon Romer's early failed activation.  If Romer could have been in position one or two turns earlier, that might have made the difference in the final outcome.

Either way, it was a fun contest to watch and well-fought by both sides.  Congratulations to Kevin for the win and to Scott for a valiant effort.

Well done, Gentlemen!

35 comments:

  1. Fantastic looking battle. I do enjoy a game that runs close like this one. Just always seems more enjoyable to me when it comes down to the wire like that.

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    1. I enjoy a game coming down to "the last die roll" too! Even in the role of umpire, it was a fun day of battle.

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  2. A very close game. Are you tempted to play just one more to see if the Austrians can sneak a victory?

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    1. Very close, indeed!

      I can see an unlikely path to victory for the Austrians now. I am satisfied imagining that The White Menace "could" win at Mollwitz given the proper circumstances.

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  3. An impressive looking game. Always good when the result could go either way right up to the end.

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    1. A nail-biter is a good position for which to place both players. The Austrian player managed to punch above his weight class in this one. Still lost the decision but it was a good contest.

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  4. Nice armies, running the game width-ways this time around rather than long ways does bring the luxury of open flanks

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    1. Hi Norm. The game table maintained the same orientation as the other games. This time, the photos were all taken from the side rather than behind one of the players since I was merely observing and adjudicating. The other games had flanks and flanks got turned in all three. For the photos, the white, snowy background really played havoc with the game photography. The figures were much too dark against the white background. Much better to have a green background for game photos than white. Something to keep in mind when the battle takes me into the winter months.

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  5. Marshall MacPhee is a very dangerous opponent in any game. He always tends to punch weight above weight class and has the unpleasant ability to confound forces much superior to his own. Beware!

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    1. Hi Kevin! Yes, Scott is a dangerous foe no matter the setting. It was closely contested but you persevered and came away with victory. Well done!

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    2. You two are very kind. This scenario is definitely a tough one for the Austrians. Jon, I am interested to see your solution!

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    3. Scott, my solution would be to follow YOUR strategy! I can IMAGINE how an Austrian victory is possible but not that I could pull it off!

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    4. I think the Austrian cavalry needs to push as far into the Prussian flanks/rear before engaging as possible. The deeper they can get requires more Prussian resources to contain the double envelope and would draw troops away from any effort to blast the weak Austrian infantry to the front. I think Scott started along the right track on this perplexing problem.

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    5. In all three of the games, the Austrian player pursued the double envelopement strategy. What was discovered in Game 1 was that a deep penetration still allowed the Prussian First Line infantry to march on Mollwitz. Once in the Prussian rear, the heavy snow prevented the Austrian cavalry from overtaking the Prussian First Line while the Prussian Second Line fought a successful rear guard action.

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    6. I guess the Austrians have to get lucky on activating their cavalry and crush both Prussians wings at the same time. This would probably halt the advance as we have seen how infantry fold up when hit in the flank by heavy cavalry. Scott would have probably beaten me if his dice were better.

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  6. Thanks for hosting another great game, Jon! Your table always looks first rate.

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    1. Always fun to have the guys over for a game. Glad you enjoyed it!

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  7. Fabulous report Jonathan and such a close result always makes the game worthwhile.

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    1. Thanks, Mark! A game that comes down to the wire provides a lot of drama. That is how this one ended. Great fun!

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  8. A great looking game with beautiful armies, Prussian musketry is always a rock in the storm!

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    1. Thank you, Phil! The Prussian infantry tore out huge swaths of Austrians with every volley. In HoW, Inferior infantry cannot Stan toe-to-toe with the Prussians.

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  9. Good work Jonathan. Interesting 'minimalist' terrain and the 18mm figures work beautifully.

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    1. Thank you! The table had the minimalist look since the Mollwitz battlefield was covered in snow. I figured most terrain elements would be hidden under the blanket of snow.

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  10. It’s kinda cool to see the same battle over and over as the understanding of the event increases. Though as everyone figures out that the Austrians have a hard time only the truly brave will volunteer to play that side. 😀

    I’d do it, but I would demand free drinks.

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    1. Gaining a bit of insight into the historical situation is fun too. That is where repeated playings prove their worth.

      No need to demand free drinks. Free food and drinks are always provided by the host!

      Stew, your comments are much appreciated!

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  11. And we're back for another round! Nice to see the Austrians making a decent go of it , tough for them to get a win but good that it was so close and of course all the figures look great!
    Best Iain

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    1. Yes, indeed! The final round of Mollwitz, for now anyway.

      Austrians very nearly pulled out a victory in Game 3. Had the Austrians gained the initiative on that turn, the outcome may have been reversed.

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  12. Interesting how each game played out slightly differently (while all looking superb). Scott came within a die roll of winning, whichj is better than anyone else has done with the wjite Menace. SDpeaking of white, i have similar problems with the photography of snow covered tables. They look great first hand, but the camera gets tricked by all the white making the troops overly dark.

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    1. Scott came so very close to pulling out a victory. It really came down to the last die roll. I think both players returned home feeling satisfied with the outcome.

      As for photography, I better stick to non-snowy games!

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