Battle of Mollwitz AAR

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    Mark Stanoch

    The Battle of Mollwitz: a Classic Wargame played by Wargamers with Class


    In the grand tradition of Rick Priestley repairing to Bugman’s after a rousing game, Tarl, Jerry and myself lingered at one of the gaming tables long after all of the figures and terrain were safely packed away in my BMW X3. It was just two and half hours earlier that the hundreds of figures in serried ranks were left glaring at each other across two 8×4 tables laid in tandem waiting for the first command roll. It is not surprising then that the conversation quickly turned to past glories. The three of us were all veterans of many Historicon’s, Fall-In’s and Cold Wars’s so stirring memories of past battles flowed easily.

    I recounted how I had been a dedicated Warhammer Ancients Battle gamer, having played in virtually every WAB tournament at every HMGS-East con for nearly a decade. I sadly recalled for most of these years, I tabled a 2nd Punic Wars Carthaginian army with a win record you can count a one hand less a thumb and a few fingers. It was only after changing my army to the “Duchy of Normandy” from the “Shieldwall” supplement that I started to experience a meager measure of success. I recalled how the Norman Knights had a special ability called “Ferocious Charge” that allowed them to gloriously carry all units arrayed against. These noble knights had transformed me from an itinerant loser to a near WAB champion!

    Now hold that thought….

    The Set-Up

    This game was intended to be a replay of the Battle of Mollwitz scenario in Charles Grant’s classic “The War Game”. We used the terrain layout he described but had organized the troops Grant included in his game into brigades using 28mm figures suitable for Black Powder second edition. We used the unit stats provided for both armies published in The Last Argument of Kings supplement. So the opposing forces were an Austrian forces of 2 infantry brigades and 3 cavalry brigades, and the Prussian forces mustering 3 infantry brigades and a single cavalry brigade. The engagement therefore pitted superior quality Austrian horse against Superbly Drilled Prussian infantry.
    I was joined by a cadre of grizzled wargaming veterans. Rich and I (yes, I finally got to play!) wore t-shirts with the Eagle of the House of Hohenzollern emblazoned on them while the clever Jerry, Ed and Leon (replaced by Tarl after about 2 hours…life does inconveniently intervene at the most inopportune times!) wore the Austrian Double Eagle.

    Turn One

    Nothing really out the ordinary here. All Prussian units entered the board in march column as instructed by the scenario. Rich failed his command roll which allowed his infantry to get out in front. My two Prussian infantry brigades rolled low allowing them to move and deploy into line. The special scenario rule of “Snow” cut all artillery range in half except for Close range. So weren’t able to set up even a desultory fire on the first turn.

    The Austrians fared no better as one the cavalry brigades missed a command roll but at least one of the heavy cavalry brigades made a threatening move forward. As expected, the bulk of the Austrian Infantry moved forward and deployed into line.

    A Blur of Turns

    Over the next three turns, the action ran rather hot. The Prussians saw the large infantry brigade, half of which were grenadiers, roll a blunder and forced back to the edge of the board. Rich was luckier was able to move his cavalry up to his infantry line.

    Now comes the intervention. Remember, I was posing as both a player and umpire. So when it was the Austrian turn, I made the friendly suggestion that the Austrians could move or “declare a charge”. Jerry as the Austrian cavalry commander, needed 3 moves in order to make contact. At first he was reluctant to do so. But I when I offered the friendly advice (I was the umpire, and these were all MY figures after all) that “The player who charges first usually wins” he decided to go in!
    Regular readers will recall that one of the take-aways from my last “Storm on the Danube” game was that the Austrians ignored their battalion guns. But this game had all infantry battalions (with the exception of grenadier battalions) with an attached battalion gun. So while I may have had vision of Austrian Kuirassiers bowling over the lowly Prussian infantry like Knights of The Duchy of Normandy, Jerry’s horsemen were instead faced with 9(!) dice of closing fire (6 for the Prussian infantry 3 for the brave battalion gun). The results were devastating. The Austrian horse were broken and never charged home. So much inspiration from that “Shieldwall” supplement!
    Not to be outdone, Rich charged with his horse next turn and stopped the Austrian advance in its tracks. But Leon and Ed were quick to move up reserves while Jerry next time a successful but cost charge with his remaining heavy cavalry brigade. The game quickly turned into a slugfest with each side landing telling blows.

    Out of the chaos, a single eagle rises.

    At the end of turn 4, 2 Austrian brigades had been broken and were forced to retire. So with an inevitable Prussian victory in the offing, the game was called as a Prussian victory.

    Mollwitz or Marengo?

    The game turned out very different than what I had imagined. It was supposed to be a cavalry battle followed up by an infantry firefight. But the game developed into multiple cavalry charges into firm infantry backed by battalion guns. In fact, feel that the game assumed a decidedly Napoleonic flavor. This is not a necessarily bad thing; just unexpected. But then again, this in my view is the result of a well-played game!

    Prior to the game, I was engaged in a lively discussion on the Warlord Games Black Powder forum discussing how best to model the effect of grenadiers. But as luck would have it, due to their blunder, these near seven foot giants in 28mm scales never fired a shot! So we will have to wait for another day to test out the grenadier special rules in The Last Argument of Kings.

    I wish to extend my gratitude to the players. Jerry, Rich, Ed, Tarl and Leon were consummate gentlemen despite the constant “smack talk” happily bantered back and forth. We all agreed that the scenario is indeed “convention ready” so stay tuned for an AAR from Hurricon 2019.

    Black Powder II constantly amazes me at how well it plays.
    I have provided the following link to a series of photos which capture the timeline of the game. Enjoy!

    Battle of Mollwitz photos

    • This topic was modified 5 years, 1 month ago by Mark Stanoch.
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