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The Orkney Wargames Club meets

in Kirkwall on Thursday evenings.


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The Battle of Paltzig, 1758

The Seven Years War, Die Kriegskunst, 28mm

We decided to refight Paltzig (1759), a fair sized engagement between the Prussians and the Russians. We included it as one of the scenarios in Die Kriegskunst. The Russians were on the defensive, and the Prussians attacked the right flank of the Russian line. Actually, the Russian army was much bigger than shown in the scenario, but the rest of it just stood in place to the north. The smaller Prussian army needed to hit them hard, and inflict a crushing defeat, in order to make the rest of the Russian horde retreat back into the depths of Poland. It would be an all-or-nothing assault.syw-aug-09-024Well, the Prussians attacked with considerable fury. The Russian flank was hanging in the air, with nothing to protect it but some off-table cavalry, who (according to the scenario) would only appear on the turn following the Prussian horse launching their first charge. The only other Russian option was to transfer troops from the left flank, which inevitably would take time. To hinder things a bit more, the general in charge of that bit was General Fermor, who was rated as a “Poltroon”. That means he’d take his own sweet time to change orders!syw-aug-09-026The Priussian infantry concentrated on the extreme right-hand brigades of the Russian line, and while the Russian repulsed the first units with heavy casualties, the second line rolled on and over the Russian defences.syw-aug-09-060 I made the mistake of not positioning infantry behind my gun batteries, so once they were stormed, the Prussians were able to breach the Russian line. In uncharacteristic style for the Russians the gun crews simply evaded, and spent the rest of the game milling around in the rear, waiting for someone to recapture their guns for them! What followed was a bitty, scrappy affair, with battalions fighting each other all over the front, and some Russian units fighting with the enemy on three sides. From the Russian standpoint the only bright side was that the reserved had finally moved forward (the local brigadier changed orders on his own initiative), and the army began to form a solid defensive line, albeit with a few units still stranded in the midst of a host of Prussian infantry.syw-aug-09-045Then there was the Prussian cavalry. This swept round the end of the Russian line and launched itself against the big gun battery on the hill which anchored the Russian defences. Another Russian battalion was ridden down by charging Prussian dragoons, while the rest formed square, and defied the enemy horse. Fortunately for them the Russian horse then appeared as reinforcements, arriving on the table edge beyond the Russian right flank, and behind the Prussian horse.syw-aug-09-046That was when tings got a little out of hand. The horse appeared, then stood there for a turn, as – after all – it had just arrived on the table edge. This gave the Prussians time to react, and they turned the bulk of their cavalry round. By winning the initiative next turn they were able to launch the first charge, and caught the Russians at a disadvantage. The Cossack brigade fled the field, but the Russian cuirassiers gave as good as they got, and defeated their veteran Prussian counterparts. Meanwhile two small regiments of Russian horse grenadiers were holding off a larger brigade of Prussian hussars.syw-aug-09-049By that stage it was clear that the Prussians had done very well, but not quite well enough. They managed to break one Russian infantry brigade, and one of Cossacks. They’d also overrun three gun batteries. Another Russian infantry brigade was in danger, but generally the Russians had managed to stabilise the line. The scenario had a 12 turn time limit, and by the time we packed up we’d fought 10 of them. It was clear the Prussians weren’t going to win their tough victory conditions, so the game was declared a draw. However, as the Russian player I felt well and truly battered by the end of it – and I was in no doubt that the Prussians had the best of the evening’s fighting. I also learned a few valuable lessons, the most important being to support your gun batteries with infantry.syw-aug-09-030On the Die Kriegskunst forum has discussed the use of cavalry, and the problems inherent in large blocks of horse on the tabletop. We actually tinkered with a modification, whereby we fight in squadrons or divisions (essentially half regiments), but the rear cavalry unit  – if it isn’t engaged – gives a +2 melee and morale bonus to the division in front of it. In the Grand Manner used a similar system, and we’re planning to introduce that into the rules, as a better way of representing Seven Years War cavalry tactics, and encouraging players to use smaller cavalry units on the tabletop.


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