Friday, 4 January 2013

The Combat of Strehla

This post is a tribute to the very wonderful Kronoskaf Seven Years War Project, which should be familiar to all SYW gamers. It is, of course, a magnificent collection of information on all aspects of the war. One of the best bits is the section on the various battles and smaller actions, which usually includes maps as well as force compositions.

It was in this section that I found details of the Combat of Strehla (1760), which looked like it would make an interesting wargames scenario. What resulted was really a wargame 'based on the Combat of Strehla' (as they say in the movies), rather than any kind of historical refight. I worked up the scenario quickly without too much detailed analysis, to create a game that would test out the latest tweaks to my rules. In summary, the Austro-Imperial forces outnumber the Prussians by 2 to 1, and they have resolved to attack, with the intention of destroying or driving off their opponents. Whilst the poor quality Reichsarmee formations demonstrate against the main Prussian position before Strehla, the better Austrian formations will make a flank attack from the west.

Back to a hand drawn map for this game. The small river between the Strehla plateau and the Durreberg
counts as a linear obstacle. The individual buildings outside Strehla suggest the positions of
surrounding villages, but are only for decoration. Table size 6' x 4'.

Note that the various commanders are all real officers who were involved in the battle, but one or two had to be juggled around to create the formation commanders I needed for my game.

Austro-Imperials (C-in-C Prince Zweibrucken)

 Austrian infantry under Prince Stohlberg
2 infantry battalions
2 grenadier battalions
1 artillery battery

Austrian cavalry under FmL Guasco
2 dragoon regiments                         

Austrian light infantry under GFwM von Kreefeld
2 grenz light infantry battalions
1 artillery battery

Reichsarmee infantry under GFwM von Wurzberg (dithering commander)
4 infantry battalions
2 artillery batteries

Reichsarmee cavalry under Colonel Zettwitz (dithering commander)
1 cuirassier regiment
1 dragoon regiment                                     Total 18 units   

 All the Reichsarmee units were rated 'inferior', apart from the cuirassier which were rated 'line'.

Prussians (C-in-C von Hulsen)

Left wing infantry under GM Braun
2 infantry  battalions
1 grenadier battalion
1 artillery battery
1 jager detachment (independent, occupying Strehla)

Right wing infantry under Major Lubath
1 infantry battalion
1 grenadier battalion
1 artillery battery

Cavalry under Colonel Kleist  (dashing commander)
1 dragoon regiment
1 hussar regiment                                        Total 10 units  

Victory Conditions
Turn limit is 8 turns. If the Prussians are not broken by the turn limit (i.e. they have not lost half their units), they have won. 

The Game
I was able to run through the game twice, once solo and once with my stalwart opponent Steve J. The first game ran to the full 8 moves, resulting in the Prussians hemmed in around Strehla but still unbroken and so technically the winners. The second saw the Austro-Imperials declared victorious in just 4 moves - the Prussians had lost 4 units and the only remaining unit of their right wing (the grenadiers) were cut off and bound to be destroyed trying to break through back to Strehla. 

Much depends on how the inevitable cavalry fight between the formations of Kleist and Guasco goes - if the Prussians gain the advantage here, they probably have a chance to win. A rapid sally out by units from behind the Prussian entrenchments in support of their right wing might be another game-winning tactic, but it didn't get tried in my games.

Game 1. The Prussian cavalry have driven back their Austrian counterparts, giving their side a chance of victory.

Game 1. The Reichasarmee infantry demonstrate against the Strehla entrenchments.
Any actual assault would stand little chance

Game 1. Prussian grenadiers suffer the ignominy of being chased through the woods of the Durreberg
by Austrian grenzers.

Game 1, final move. The Prussians have a solid position on the Strehla plateau.

Game 2. Kleist once again leads out his cavalry to support the beleaugured Prussian right wing.
The stream hampers and slows his movements.

Oops! Both Kleist's units are destroyed by the opposing cuirassiers. (I downgraded the latter to dragoons
in the final version of the opposing forces, in the cause of game balance)
The remaining Prussian units on the Durreberg are in a pickle.

Game 2. The red-uniformed Austrian grenzers seen on the Durreberg are about to take the
Prussian gunners there in the rear. I guess that's how they do things in the Balkans.

Game 2, final move. Strehla is still fairly secure, but the Prussians have lost too many units to win.

So there you have it. Historical scenarios often give you a nice alternative to just lining the opposing forces up opposite each other and having at it. Thanks to the boys at the SYW Project for once again providing me with information and inspiration. The internet is a wonderful thing!


Grenzer John said...

Wonderful looking table. I enjoy seeing SYW games; always quite colourful!

Archduke Piccolo said...

Nice scenario about a combat I knew nothing about. I agree with Grenzer John. For mine the period 1705-1789 has a colourful and formal charm that other periods don't quite match. You table and armies are fine examples.

Mind you other periods have other things going for them...

Steve J. said...

Thanks for hosting a very enjoyable game Keith. As always the table and figures looked wonderful. Nice to see the pics of your solo game as well.

I think the downgrading of the Cuirassiers to Dragoons is a good thing as they were a bit too powerful for our game. But then that is what playtesting is all about.

The Kronosaf site is just briliiant and one that I have been looking at quite a bit of late for info for my 2mm forces.

Fabrizio Davi' said...

Very good choice and very nice scenario. I am planning to write a Volley&Bayonet scenario for both Strehla and Korbitz for my 6mm which i'll put on my blog.

All the best


Phil said...

Very nice looking battle, your pictures are impressive...great figures too!

Prufrock said...

Spectacular figure and table. Really nice stuff :)