Jamie and Chris play tested the pre-publication version my Small Lutzen – A Tilly’s Very Bad Day Scenario. This is a small game on a small table with small armies (in numbers of units), and only normal Pike+Shot not Large Pike+Shot.
Summary: Scenario needed tweaking before publication. Swedes couldn’t win.
The Draft Scenario
The pre-publication (draft) scenario had a square map area is 3.6 km by 3.6 km (based on that give by Wilson, 2010, p. 509). I reproduce it here but the final published scenario will have a different map.
Key features are:
- A small table of 30 TUM x 30 TUM (this is 4′ x 4′ with my 80 wide bases)
- Shallow small table lines for those who want a more smaller battlefield – these are the thin green dotted lines – use as the base edges
- Flank lines – these are the grey dotted lines – use for deployment
- Lutzen, a medium Village (6 TUM x 4 TUM; Difficult; Impassable when on fire)
- Muhlgraben Stream (Impassable)
- Flossgraben (“Float Dyke”) Stream (Difficult)
- Ford across the Flossgraben
- Marshy areas near the Muhlgraben (8 TUM; Difficult)
- Schkolziger Wood near the Flossgraben (6 TUM x 4 TUM; Difficult)
- Windmill Hill (4 TUM x 4 TUM; Gentle Hill)
- Sunken dirt road with shallow ditches on each side (Difficult); the road is not a field fortification
The draft Scenario also had an Imperialist order of battle that didn’t survive play testing, so again I’ve included it here for reference:
Imperial Order of Battle
- Right Wing (3 Units)
- 1 x Commander (Wallenstein2)
- 1 x Horse1
- 1 x Shot4
- Centre (8 Units)
- 1 x Commander (Colloredo2)
- 4 x Pike+Shot
- 1 x Shot3
- 1 x Horse1
- 1 x Unlimbered Cannon
- Left Wing (4 Units)
- 1 x Commander (Holk)
- 2 x Horse1
- 1 x Light Horse (Croats)
- Both Army size and army morale break point increase as the reinforcements arrive:
- Initial force: 15 Units; 5 break point
- With Pappenheim’s Cavalry: 19 Units; 7 break point
- With Pappenheim’s infantry: 22 Units; 8 break point
No game effect from scouting or bombardment.
Both armies deployed kind of in chequerboard.
Jamie deployed his Swedes with the cavalry wings overlapping and slightly in advance of the the infantry centre.
Jamie had a good reason for this, which you’ll see in turn 1, but it meant his infantry was further from the road.
Game Turn 1
The reason Jamie had his infantry held back was to allow him to his left wing horse under Bernhard in the front of the foot and out of the way of the Lutzen village. He could advance using an oblique and avoid the Zone of Control of the Imperialist Shot in Lutzen village.
Gustavus roared ahead.
The Swedish infantry trailed behind.
The Imperialists opened up.
And Gustavus charged.
The Swedes didn’t do well, but Chris (Imperialist) was particularly unimpressed by his dice rolling. So unimpressed he asked me to photograph the dice.
Game Turn 2
On the Imperialist right, Bernhard got to the road.
Wallenstein tried to shoot off the Swedish horse but failed.
Swedish horse then charged and destroyed the Imperialist cannon on the hill.
In the centre, the Swedish foot trudged towards the road.
The Imperialist foot waited for them stoically.
On the left, the Swedes continued to advance.
The supporting Imperialist foot shot but generally the Imperialists favoured cold steel.
The Imperialist horse unit in the bend of the road pulled back.
This allowed them to charge back in, catching their Swedish opponents crossing the road.
Generally a bad moment for the Swedes at the bend of the road.
Game Turn 3
The Swedish foot finally got within musketry range.
The Imperialist fire was modest.
The Swedish fire devastating.
And Gustavus won a melee.
The interesting event of the game was the controversy of the game happened on Windmill Hill. Jamie had previously charged and destroyed the Imperialist cannon on Windmill hill. He now chose to turn to threaten the flank of one of the neighbouring Imperialist horse. This is a game winning DBA tactic.
But Chris calmly pulled his horse back. Both of them. The one on the right was in the Zone of Control of the Swedish unit on the hill but the rules allow a move directly backwards to get out of a ZOC.
To add insult to injury Chris then charged with both those horse units. This trapped the Swedish target and prevented their own charge.
And from off table Pappenheim arrived.
Game Turn 4
I only took a few photos of turn four. The first one was of the charge declarations. Lots of charge declarations.
Wallenstein routed some Swedish horse between Windmill hill and Lutzen.
Bernhard’s escort also routed.
On the far flank Gustavus’s escort routed.
That was enough and the Swedes left the battlefield.
Conclusions and Observations
Until now all our games, including the last game, Big Lutzen – A Tilly’s Very Bad Day Battle Report 2, have been very exciting and it seemed that either side might win. In this game the Swedes were never going to win. Jamie gave it a go, but the odds were against him.
I discuss a few reasons for why the Imperialists won and suggest some tweaks to the scenario to solve it. We also had a big rules rules conversation around the events on Windmill hill.
Problem 1: Imperialist defenders always win Lutzen Scenarios
Historically Wallenstein chose this position because it was strong with the road as an obstacle and Lutzen to protect his right flank. He also predicted the direction from where Gustavus would appear, and deployed accordingly. And the Swedish army was mauled. King Gustavus died and his right flank cavalry crumbled. In the centre the two elite Swedish Brigades (Yellow, Blue) was destroyed and the other infantry savaged. Bernhard on the left is who won he battle for the Swedes. He was thrown back from Windmill Hill, and even after hearing of the King’s death, decided to have another go. He charged, got across the road again, and took the battery on Windmill Hill. Then dark fell and the two sides took stock. The battle was a bloody draw turned into a Swedish victory by Wallenstein losing heart, over ruling his subordinates, and pulling out.
So any recreation of the battle itself should be brutal. For both sides.
Road is too tough to cross
Jamie and Chris asked if the road is too tough to cross. It counts as Difficult Terrain and both the Swedish Horse and Pike+Shot have a bad time in difficult.
Historically Wallenstein deployed behind the road to provide some cover for his detached shot and to obstruct the Swedish advance. Gustavus’s horse failed in their first attempt to cross the road. This wasn’t in the face of enemy, just because they couldn’t get their horses across the ditches. So Gustavus led them further east to find a more accessible route. My point, the road was a serious obstacle.
So yes, the road makes the game tough for the Swedes, but that was Wallenstein’s aim. And the Swedes have managed to cross the road in the face of opposition in every game, even this one. Personally I don’t think the road is the problem. Well I think it emphasises the problem but is not the cause.
Personally I think the table was too crowded. Too many units crammed and/or two narrow a frontage. Chris could line units along the entire road and so every possible Swedish advance was going to be difficult.
I’ve got a few ideas for how to address this for the Small Lutzen scenario.
In hindsight I was overly generous to the Imperialist’s for this Small Lutzen scenario. Everything in both orders of battle was based on historical troop numbers … except the Imperialist Shot. I gave the Imperialists two full strength shot units, just like in the Big Scenario. But at the nominal unit scale, these units were negligible. So in the update to the scenario I’d remove both shot units. So the Swedes would have the same number of units but would be facing an Imperialist army with two less.
Lutzen off table
In the comments to Big Lutzen – A Tilly’s Very Bad Day Battle Report 2, Roger Calderbank expressed interest in a Small Lutzen scenario and suggested “maybe the town and the marshes on either side of it could be mostly off-table.” In hindsight I think Roger was onto something. By leaving Lutzen off table would mean the road is stretched out across the 30 TUM of the table width, making it harder for the Imperialists to cover the entire length, particularly if they have less units.
Pappenheim arrives on Game Turn 4
After every game we talk about Pappenheim’s arrival. Currently he arrives on Game Turn 3 and this is not quite long enough for the initial Imperialist attack to have made progress. The Swedes open a gap somewhere and Pappenheim immediately plugs it. That might be historical but it makes the game easier for the Imperialists.
I’m still not convinced about this, but I’m wavering. If I made that change in the small version I’d also do it in the big version.
Problem 2: Rules Controversy
I’ll end with the rules controversy.
The charges on Windmill hill
In Game Turn 2 a Swedish horse unit pushed through a gap in the Imperialist line, charged windmill hill, and eliminated the Imperialist cannon on the hill.
In Game Turn 3 Jamie did what any DBA player would do, and turned 90 degrees to threaten the flank of a neighbouring Imperialist unit.
The current Zone of Control rules allow units to do a backward move to get out of the ZOC and this is what Chris did to rescue his horse. In fact he did it on both sides of the impetuous Swedes.
But then these same Imperialist horse declared charges back the way they’d withdrawn, in the same game turn. The Swedes, being charged from both flanks, could not counter charge and took it at the halt.
And then routed.
But wait, didn’t that happen just a moment before on Game Turn 2
We found this situation unusual but didn’t comment when something similar happened in turn 2. A recap …
The Imperialist horse unit in the bend of the road pulled back.
This allowed them to charge back in, in the same game turn, catching their Swedish opponents crossing the road.
The Swedes rallied back having lost the melee. (These are the units on the right of the following photo.)
Because all of this was front to front we didn’t see it as odd. What made the situation on Windmill hill different was the turn to flank and then being charged in rear.
What do you think?
We discussed several aspects of the Windmill hill situation. But I do wonder how much our thinking is influenced by DBA. What happened was impossible in DBA and if this were DBA game Jamie did exactly the right thing by turning to flank. But that does expose his own flank and rear.
So I have three questions for you:
- Was this reasonable?
- If not, where did it go wrong?
- And, what to do about it?
What does military history/theory tell us about this?