Small Lutzen – A Tilly’s Very Bad Day Scenario

Tilly’s Very Bad Day has two game scales: Small Games and Big Games. I’ve already done the Big Lutzen Scenario and this is the Small Game scenario for the same battle: the Battle of Lutzen (16 November 1632) in the Thirty Years War. That means this scenario is for a small game on a small table with small armies (in numbers of units), and only normal Pike+Shot not Large Pike+Shot.

Historical Situation

Setting: Lutzen, Saxony-Anhalt (halfway between Weissenfels and Leipzig), 16 November 1632 (Gregorian Calendar)

King Gustavus Adolphus, the Lion of the North, with an army comprising a small number of Swedish and a majority of German protestants, has caught the Imperialists retreating towards Leipzig. The protestants outnumber the Imperialists by a fair margin.

However, Wallenstein, the Imperialist commander, has deployed in a strong defensive position north-east of the village of Lutzen. His front is protected by a dirt road with ditches on both sides. The ditches are both an obstacle for the Swedes and limited protection for any shot that man them. Windmill Hill, the only raised ground in the vicinity, is on his centre-right. The village of Lutzen and the marshy ground around the Muhlgraben stream protect Wallenstein’s right. His left is more open with only the fordable Flossgraben to slow the Swedes down.

But “slow” is enough. Wallenstein only has to slow the Swedish King not defeat him. His subordinate Pappenheim, sent on detached duty a couple of days before, is racing to the battlefield with a significant reinforcements. These reinforcements, if they arrive in time, will tip the balance firmly in Wallenstein’s favour.


The map is based on that give by Wilson (2010, p. 509). The square map area is 3.0 km by 3.0 km; this shrinks to 3.0 km by 2.0 km for the shallow option.

Small Table - Lutzen - Tillys Very Bad Day v3
Small Table – Lutzen – Tillys Very Bad Day v3

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 – used for deployment
  • Flossgraben (“Float Dyke”) Stream (Difficult)
  • Windmill Hill (4 TUM x 3 TUM; Gentle Hill)
  • Sunken dirt road with shallow ditches on each side (Difficult); the road is not a field fortification

Unlike with the Big Lutzen Scenario, Lutzen Village and the Muhlgraben Stream are off table.

Pre-game preparation

The Imperialist player can elect to have the two Cannon Units in the Centre or have one each in the Centre and Left Wing.

Normal rules for scouting, deployment and bombardment. (At time of writing both Scouting and Bombardment are draft rules in play test). The Swedish Cannon start limbered so only the Imperialist Cannon can conduct bombardment.

Imperialist Player (Defending)


The Imperialists are attempting to defend the road line until the reinforcements arrive, then defeat the enemy.

Forces Available

According to Wilson (2010) Albrecht Wenzel Eusebius von Wallenstein had 8,550 foot and 3,800 horse, and 20 heavy guns, with a further 500 Croats and Dragoons detached under Collerado harassing the advancing Swedes. Guthrie (2002) gives the more: 9,870 foot, 6,900 horse, and 38 guns (both heavy and light).

I have followed Wilson for the totals and used the proportion of troop types from Guthrie (2002). I have ignored the light regimental guns (for both sides). This equates to 23 units.

Imperial Order of Battle

  • Right Wing (3 Units)
    • 1 x Commander (Wallenstein2)
    • 1 x Horse1
    • 1 x Unlimbered Cannon3
  • Centre (6 Units)
    • 1 x Commander (Colloredo2)
    • 4 x Pike+Shot
    • 1 x Horse1
  • 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: 13 Units; 5 break point
    • With Pappenheim’s Cavalry: 17 Units; 6 break point
    • With Pappenheim’s infantry: 20 Units; 7 break point

(1) By 1632 the Imperialist Cuirassiers had already lightened their armour so were basically identical to the Swedish horsemen (Brzezinski, 2001). Also, by this time, little difference between units officially designated “Cuirassiers” and those called “Arquebusiers”.

(2) Guthrie (2002) has Wallenstein leading the centre and Colloredo on the Right Wing. Wilson (2010) and Brzezinski (2001) have the reverse. Brzezinski explains that Colloredo was the infantry commander and observes that Wallenstein spent most of the battle on the right; the location he thought would be the most critical.

(3) Technically the Windmill Hill battery was in the centre command but given the hill itself in on the right flank I have moved the Cannon to Wallenstein.

Note: I have ignored the shot detached to fight in the ditch at the front of the Centre command and to defend Lutzen village. The numbers were too small to warrant becoming units in this scenario.


All units deploy behind the red dotted line.

Normal deployment rules apply e.g. all Pike+Shot units must deploy in the centre (between the grey dotted flank lines).

Cannon deploy unlimbered.


Gottfried Heinrich Graf zu Pappenheim had left Wallenstein’s army, on detached duty, only a few days before. Wilson (2010) gives him 5,800 men but Guthrie says 10,000. I went with Wilson’s numbers. Brzezinski (2001) agrees with Wilson’s total numbers and gives the breakdown I used.

When recalled by Wallenstein he marched overnight to reach the battlefield. This cavalry left earlier, and travelled faster, so arrived a long time before the infantry.

Pappenheim’s force arrives on the Imperialist base edge in two sections: cavalry and infantry. The cavalry arrive in Turn 3. The infantry arrive in Turn 8.

Historically Pappenheim arrived behind Holk’s Left Wing. I give the option to arrive anywhere on the base edge.

Imperial Reinforcements

  • Pappenheim’s Cavalry (4 Units; arrive Game Turn 3)
    • 1 x Commander (Pappenheim)
    • 2 x Horse
    • 1 x Light Horse (Croats)
  • Pappenheim’s Infantry (3 Units; arrive Game Turn 8)
    • 1 x Commander (Reinach)
    • 2 x Pike+Shot

Swedish-German Protestant Player (Attacking)

Begins scenario with initiative.


The Swedish-German Protestant force is attacking. If there is no result within 10 Turns, they lose the battle.

Forces Available

Wilson (2010) and Guthrie (2002) basically agree on the total in the Protestant army: Wilson says 13,000 infantry, 6,200 cavalry and 20 heavy guns. I used Guthrie (2002) for the proportion of troop types. The vast majority of the men were German, with Swedes providing only one quarter of the cavalry and one tenth of the infantry (Brzezinski, 2001).

This gives King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden 17 Units.

Swedish-German Protestant Order of Battle

  • Right Wing (5 Units)
    • 1 x Commander (Gustavus)
    • 3 x Horse (1 x Swede; 1 x Finn; 1 x German)1
    • 1 x Shot
  • Centre (8 Units)
    • 1 x Commander (Knyphausen)
    • 6 x Pike+Shot2 (4 x German; 1 x Scot; 1 x Swede)
    • 1 x Limbered Cannon
  • Left Wing (5 Units)
    • 1 x Commander (Bernhard)
    • 3 x Horse (German)1
  • 17 Units
  • Army Morale break point: 6 Units

(1) Brzezinski (2001) says the native Swedish horse were the best in Gustavus’s army (I assume the Finns are included in that). The German horse was in poor condition because the Swedes had had preferential foddering in the lead up the Lutzen (I assume the Livonians and Kurlanders also suffered). Apparently this is the reason Gustavus bolstered his wings with shot. I have chosen to ignore the campaign conditions and treat all Horse Units the same, i.e. Ordinary. But you have the option to downgrade all German and Livonian Horse Units to Inferior.

(2) Historically the Swedish infantry formed into large brigades (“Swedish Brigades”). In the Big Lutzen Scenario these are Large Pike+Shot units to make them bigger units than their Imperialist opponents, who are just Pike+Shot. For the Small Game, with a nominal unit scale of 2000 men per unit, all Pike+Shot are the same. 2000 men is 1.5 Swedish Brigades and about 2.5 Imperialist Brigades, but both are simulated by a single Pike+Shot unit at this game scale.

Note: At the unit scale Bernhard should have a unit of shot, however, I have ignored these on the assumption they are busy dealing with the Imperialists in Lutzen village.


Deploys behind the blue dotted line.

Normal deployment rules apply e.g. all Pike+Shot units must deploy in the centre (between the grey dotted flank lines).

Cannon deploy limbered.



Victory Conditions

Normal victory conditions apply. A side loses when, in the Army Morale step, they have reached their army break point (lost at least ⅓ of the original Units). If there is not a result within 10 Game Turns then Gustavus loses.

Scenario Special Rules

The road and its ditches

Historically the Imperialists used the ditches next to the road as both:

  • an obstacle for both Protestant horse and foot
  • an entrenchment (west) for Shot

The simplest way to simulate this is to have the road and ditches count as Difficult terrain. This will slow and disadvantage both horse and pike+shot. On the other hand, Shot on the road will benefit from cover.

Imperialist Army Break Point

Both the Imperialist Army size and army morale break point increase as the reinforcements arrive. See the Imperialist Order of Battle.


Thanks to Richard (doctorphalanx) for advising on the orders of battle. Thanks to Jamie and Chris for play testing. And thanks to Roger Calderbank for suggesting I leave Lutzen village out of the small game.

The nominal unit scale is: 2000 men for Pike+Shot and Shot; 1000 mounted men for Horse, Light Horse and Dragoons.

I have ignored the fog or mist mentioned at Lutzen. There was an early morning mist and once the battle started gun powder smoke (the “fog of war”) reduce visibility in the same way. The Fog only seemed to have two effects on the day:

  • The battle started late, once the armies were in sight of each other. However, this is the normal deployment distance for historical armies and in the game. So nothing to simulate.
  • Gustavus was killed in the fog. He was wounded leading the cavalry on the Swedish right. Knowing he was badly wounded he, with a small escort, left he cavalry and tried to make his way to the Swedish baggage. But more Imperialists found him in the fog and dispatched him. The only bit of this we need to simulate in the game is the initial wounding while leading the cavalry, and this is covered by the normal Commander Casualty rules.

Historically Pappenheim, once he arrived, took over command of the left wing from Holk. So Pappenheim had both the troops of the original left wing and his own cavalry. However, he detached Isolano, the Croat Commander, with all the Croats (original and reinforcements) to attack the Swedish rear. Holk rode over to the right wing to join Wallenstein. I have ignored these command rearrangements. But you could introduce it as a Special Scenario Rule: Pappenheim takes over command of both left wing Units and Reinforcement Cavalry. He can immediate allocate some Units, historically the Croats but could be any, to the other left wing commander (called Holk or Isolano).

Historically the Imperialists deployed the majority of their heavy Cannon on Windmill Hill. Presumably this was to provide better line of sight towards the advancing Swedes. In the Big Scenario Cannon on Windmill Hill can shoot over Shot units in the road. But in the Small scenario there are no Imperialist shot so no advantage to the cannon for being on the hill, aside from aesthetics.


Brzezinski, R. (2001). Lützen 1632: Climax of the Thirty Years War [Campaign 68]. Osprey.

Guthrie, W. P. (2002). Battles of the Thirty Years War: From White Mountain to Nordlingen, 1618-1635. Greenwood Press.

Wilson, P. H. (2010). Europe’s Tragedy: A New History of the Thirty Years War. Penguin.

6 thoughts on “Small Lutzen – A Tilly’s Very Bad Day Scenario”

  1. My friend Mark and I played this scenario twice today. Both were very interesting and enjoyable games.

    We were playing with 120mm bases on a 6’ x 4’ table so used the ‘shallow table’ option. As a consequence, we said Pappenheim’s cavalry only arrives in turn 4, and his infantry only in turn 9. We played the shot, etc. modifications, and some of the ‘experimental’ rules, insofar as we understand them. The other variation we played was to dice at the start of each turn for ‘initiative’, to vary the order of moving/shooting in the turns.

    In the first game, the Swedes deployed some of their infantry East of the centre-line, with one of Gustavus’ cavalry unit as support. In the first move they moved up to the road, and there was then an exchange of fire. The Imperialists came off worse from this and decided to pull back. That was a mistake, as it allowed the Swedes to cross the road without a fight (except for a melee to destroy the cannon on Windmill hill). The Swedes then made their numbers advantage count all along the line, and by the end of turn 3 both of the Imperialist flanks were giving way. Pappenheim’s arrival could save one flank but not the other and the Imperialists were rapidly defeated.

    In the second game we dropped the requirement for support (I’ll discuss that later), and the Imperialists spread themselves along the front line. Again, there was an exchange of fire, but this time the Imperialists stayed put, to hold the line of the road. The shooting from both sides wasn’t particularly effective. By the end of turn 3, Holk’s cavalry was beginning to suffer, but Pappenheim arrived to reinforce that flank and defeat Gustavus’ cavalry. Wallenstein was still holding out on the Imperialist right, with Bernhardt reluctant to fight with his cavalry on the road. A major firefight in the centre eventually saw the Swedes making a breakthrough but Knyphausen was killed and that slowed the breakthrough enough to allow Pappenheim’s infantry to arrive, consolidate the centre, and bring the Swedes to their break point. An Imperialist victory, but the Imperialists were a bit lucky that the early firefights were mostly inconclusive.

    I will do a separate post with our rules questions. We didn’t use the experimental rule ‘morale erosion’, as we’re playing the smaller game because of base/table sizes, rather than to make the game shorter, so didn’t want units vanishing even quicker than they already do with the rules as published.


  2. OK, here are rule thoughts. But please understand that both Mark and I really like TVBD, so feel free to tell us we’ve not understood.

    As far as we can see, a unit not in melee can shoot an enemy unit in a melee, assuming it has a clear line of fire. If that is right, it gives a reason for a ‘chequerboard’ deployment, as ‘second line’ units can choose whether to join the melee as supports, or wait till the next turn and shoot.

    We questioned the ‘-1 D6 in melee if unsupported’. In the large Lutzen game, a (large) unit representing 2000 Swedes is self-supporting’. In the small Lutzen game a (standard) unit representing 2000 Swedes isn’t. So if you require supports, you are making the battle line of the small game contract to a greater extent than in the large game. This works against the Imperialists, who are outnumbered at the start. Neither of us are particularly keen on rules which try to force particular formations; if the formation was used historically, there should be a tactical advantage in using it. We also noted that in the historic Lutzen, neither side adopted a chequerboard deployment.

    ‘Behind flank means BEHIND-FLANK’. Whilst we understood the basic aim of this, we didn’t know the implementation. How is the charge conflict of example D in the published rules resolved if the Imperialist pike+shot aren’t making a flank charge. We decided not to have ‘grazing’ flank charges, and fortunately didn’t have any difficult situations to resolve.

    ‘Morale erosion when a friendly unit routs’. We didn’t know if this was by command or by proximity. In any case, as I said, we didn’t want units vanishing even faster.

    ‘Pre-game bombardment’. We weren’t sure what to do, or what to do about the limbered Swedish artillery since there aren’t any rules for unlimbering or moving while limbered.

    ‘Infantry rally-back’. We didn’t use this; having foot units locked in melee seems fine. Could foot fall back (without panicking) as horse can?

    Finally, we’d suggest moving the ‘shallow table’ lines upward in the diagram. In both our games, the battle was fought along the road line, and on the Imperialist side of the road. It is the Imperialists who will have a problem with ‘table edge is the edge of the world’ so giving them a bit more room would be useful.

    Hope all this is of some help.


    • Roger, thanks for the feedback.

      You are right that a unit not in melee can shoot an enemy unit in a melee, assuming it has a clear line of fire. So the choice is being a secondary melee unit with 1d6 hitting on a 5-6, right now, or 4d6 hitting on a 6, next game turn.

      I’ve gone the other way regarding support. I like it. I’ve also had second thoughts about large units being self supporting. Removing that anomaly would give the consistency you were looking for between small and large games.

      Like you I’m not particularly keen on rules which try to force particular formations. I am looking for the historical rationale and as I understand it mutual support was one of them. So I’ve chosen the simulate part of that as moral support.

      My take on the historic Lutzen:
      – The Swedish brigades were in two lines to provide support to each other. According to the map in Wilson (2010) the brigades were one behind another. My support rule allows any units to rear to provide support, not just chequerboard, so this works.
      – The Imperialist formed a complicated formation with a lot of lines, with rear units cover the gaps of the front units. It wasn’t a pure chequerboard but it was similar in intent. Again my support rule, I believe, encourages this.

      The current draft of the Morale erosion rule says … “For every friendly Routed Unit, one friendly Combat Unit has its Resolve weakened by one. The unit must be in the same command. Choose either the Unit nearest to the Routed Unit or nearest to enemy, owners choice. Only Routs lead to morale erosion. Commander casualties do not, nor do Cannon being eliminated in Melee.”

      Sorry about the mention of pre-game bombardment and limbered artillery – both come with version 2. You can ignore them for this scenario.

      I didn’t have Lutzen in mind when I introduced infantry rally back. I actually had the Swedish assaults on the Spanish fortifications at Nordlingen. But it works for Lutzen too. We quite liked the Swedish infantry being thrown back from the defended road (via a rally back). They then either charged again, shot, or tried to rally (recover resolve via a commander). Seems to fit the period.

      So far I’m drawing my maps with the neutral (8 TUM), central (16 or 24 TUM) and flank zones. This is partly to test these dimensions out. Partly for consistency. And partly to demonstrate what a standard table looks like. Moving the ‘shallow table’ lines upward in the diagram would break these objectives but would also give Pappenheim further to travel and compress the Swedish deployment. Why don’t you give it a go and see how it plays.

  3. Thank you for answering my questions, Steven. A couple more questions, if I may.

    You said that commander casualties don’t cause ‘morale erosion’. In the published rules, loss of a commander causes -1 to the resolve of all units in his command. So isn’t rout of a unit and loss of an attached commander -2 to one unit in the command and – 1 to all the others?

    I can see why you like the idea of the Swedish foot being thrown back across the road, with foot rally back. But there is also a reasonable chance that it will be the Imperialists who lose the melee and have to fall back away from the road. Our (admittedly limited) experience is that the Imperialists are likely to lose the battle if they are driven back from the road too quickly. Similarly, while assaulters may be thrown back from field fortifications, a defender who just loses a melee by 1 would have to retreat out of the fortifications, which seems a bit unlikely. Is it worth limiting ‘foot rally back’ to a unit which charged, and lost the melee, and not a foot unit who received a charge at the halt? What about foot charged by horse when the foot loses the melee, but isn’t routed?

    Best wishes


    • Correct. Commander Casualty causes -1 resolve to all units in the command. That rule continues from version 1.

      But the proposed Morale Erosion rule is more localised (for v2). It affects only one Unit in the command, either close the routing unit or close to the enemy.

      The road puts the advantage clearly with the Imperialists so although they can and do rally back, the Swedes do this more.


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