Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Battle of Mollwitz, 1741 - For King or Empress

The Battle of Mollwitz, 1741, with Steve's 10mm Austrian infantry
 Steve V decided to use his Seven Years War big-battle, fast-play rules set, For King or Empress, to refight the opening engagement of the War of Austrian Succession. Although a Prussian victory, the Battle of Mollwitz, 1741, is infamous for Frederick the (not yet) Great fleeing the field when he thought the battle was lost. His mentor, Von Schwerin, urged him to do so, and then went on to win the battle, much to his king's chagrin. In our refight, there was one brief, shining moment when we thought our left wing Austrian cavalry would sweep the day, but otherwise, it was a historical reenactment all the way (and a Prussian victory).
The setup of Steve's refight of the Battle of Mollwitz, with teh Prussians at top and Austrians at bottom
 Steve wanted to playtest this scenario for the conventions he will be running it at this coming year. He set out the troops for us, cautioning us that the Prussian left wing cavalry across the river may not ever get into the battle. That proved to be true, as their commander, Mike S, wisely decided not to advance one unit wide across the bridge to face Joel's deployed battle line of Austrian cavalry. I was in the middle, matched up against the feared Prussian musketeers. According to the rules, they would have an average 2/3's chance of causing a hit in musketry fire against my lines, while I had only half the chance against him. The drum beats sounded our advance, "Doom! Doom! Doom!"
The flank battle that never was, as the Prussian cavalry wisely did not cross the bridge to fight the deployed Austrians
The numbers and statistics represent this being an engagement between Frederick's well-drilled troops against a newly-raised Austrian force countering his advance to snatch Silesia from Empress Maria-Theresa. In hindsight, Steve said we should not have advance our infantry to meet the Prussians, and instead made them come across to meet us. That may have given us more time to press through on our surprise flank attack on our left.
My brave Austrian fusiliers advance to their doom against the Prussian musketeers
The back half of Allen's cavalry force had the option of suddenly appearing on the right flank of the Prussian battleline. Allen -- true to his Hungarian roots -- seized on the chance and slammed into the side of Keith's mixed cavalry and infantry brigade. His troops were driven backwards, but Mike W quickly came to his rescue. Allen's sudden attack saw success, but he was essentially matched up against two commands. He fought the good fight, garnering what little success the Austrians had that day. However, he soon began to have troops fall back, as well.
Our one hope -- Allen's left wing could bring troops on board onto the right flank of the Prussian army
Meanwhile, Joel and my decision to march to engage the Prussians proved to be a disaster. We stood firm on the first round of engagement, giving as good as we received. However, after that, it went downhill quickly. Battalion after battalion suffered hits and began to flee towards the rear. My troops were the first to go, followed soon after by Joel's. It wasn't long before our center had more holes than line.
Meanwhile, the Austrian and Prussian lines advance to close with one another
Late in the battle, Joel finally brought in his massive cavalry command onto the left of the Prussian line. However, the impassable river guarded their flank, and we were hitting them frontally. Here and there Joel scored some successes, but the historical handwriting was on the wall, and we saw Mollwitz would once again end in Austrian defeat.
The Prussian commanders, from left, Keith, Mike W, and Brett, ponder what to do about Allen's flank attack
The game played quickly, and Steve took notes and made plans to change what he saw as tweaks to make it a more smooth flowing game. Of course, I argued for beefing up the Austrian's chances, but we shall see what the tweaked version of the battle looks like. As always, For King or Empress provides a fast-playing, easy-to-figure-out game. In many horse and musket rules sets, new players are reliant on the GM or more experienced players to help with fire and melee. With his rules, our newbies were able to roll and adjudicate their own engagements without his help after the first couple turns. Steve's 10mm troops are gorgeous, and always look good on the tabletop. I had forgotten that Mollwitz was a "snow" battle, so it was good to learn a bit more about this engagement.
Here comes the cavalry...or not! Joel's Austrian cavalry wing never really got into the battle until it was basically lost

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