Saturday 17 September 2016

Lobositz 1756 - Scenario rules for Derby (edited 25:9:2016)

The Ilkley Lads no longer do hand out leaflets for the shows where we put on games. This is for two reasons. It is impossible to get enough information about a game onto a piece of A4 paper; I've never got the number of copies to take right, either I've taken too few and run out, or I've come back with enough scrap paper to last me for the next six months and cried over ill spent ink cartridges. Consequently, I now do full information packs that can be read at table side. There will be two packs for this game. 

The first pack contains the information here. It is the scenario design notes. Anyone who wants the information to keep can take a web address (to this blog) slip - it's easy enough to cut and paste the scenario information into MS Word for personal use, and I give permission for that.

The second information pack gives the historical background and narrative of the battle as it was fought on 1st October 1756. I'm pleased to say that I've obtained permission to reproduce the best, and fullest, description of the battle that I have found for people to read at table side. It was written by Jeff Berry and can be found at his Obscure Battles web site. Thank you Jeff, you're a gent.

(I have just finished doing the information packs for the demonstration at Derby World Wargames show next Saturday and Sunday. Having amended one or two of the scenario notes I have edited this post and added the order of battle with unit quality notation and terrain and weather notes.)

A 'military possibility' changes the way the battle is fought. Gessler passes his blunder check and does not attack the sunken road. Following an advance by Prince von Preussen, Gessler brings his cavalry over to the right to support the infantry advance.

Terrain and Weather Notes

The battlefield is set up on a 12' x 6' table. The basic layout will be a cloth thrown over hill shapes made from insulation board. All of the other terrain is a mixture of commercial and home made pieces.

The Lobosch Berg is a volcanic mound covered, on its lower slopes with vinyards and woods enclosed by walls of volcanic stone. We will treat the lower slopes (first two contours), on which the fighting takes place, as very rough terrain and heavy cover - in Piquet terms, type III. The upper slopes are so steep that they will be classified as almost impassible - in Piquet terms, type IV. Because this terrain was so ideally suited to operations by light troops, Grenzers will count as shooting from a Superior Position (Up 1).

The Homolka Berg is a big hill and its upper slopes are quite steep. The lower slopes (first contour) have no effect on movement. Movement will count as impeded from the second contour up - in Piquet terms type II. Its forward slopes (the slopes featured on the table) do not provide cover.

The Morellenbach stream and associated marshy surrounds (now drained) was a a serious obstacle, especially to cavalry - in Piquet terms, type III. It does not provide cover except to artillery firing round shot which is penalised (in Piquet terms, Down 1) for firing at targets in it and within 12" beyond it. Note: For reasons of space and aesthetics, only the boggy ground has been featured on the table.

The Graben stream was a serious impediment to movement - in Piquet terms it is type III.

The sunken road is a serious impediment to movement and provides cover vs firepower to troops on the road. It will cause any troops in melee to count a terrain disadvantage - In Piquet terms type III for movement when crossing the road and for cover, Down 1 for ANY troops in melee.

The Elbe, featured on the table as one bank of a meandering elbow bend that runs close to Lobositz, is impassible.

Built up areas are all standard 'village sections'.

A heavy mist shrouded valley of the Elbe. The mist didn’t completely lift until late morning. In Piquet terms, all fire will be modified Down 2 at more than musketry range until the heavy mist begins to clear; then Down 1 until the mist finally lifts. If firing to high ground, the modifier is one grade less severe.

·    At the end of each turn roll D12 Vs D8, if the D12 roll is higher the mist lessens. 
  •      Heavy mist (Down 2) to: Mist (Down 1) to:  Clear (No effect)

Special Scenario Notes & Military Possibilities

Setting the parameters for the historical re-fight of a battle is always tricky. There are several views on how it should be done and none will be absolutely right for everyone. I've been gaming for 40 plus years and I grew up with 'old school' rules by Featherstone, Grant, Quarrie, etc. I've moved on with the times since then but a section of my first wargames book, bought for me as a Christmas present in 1974, has always remained with me whenever I've set up a historical battle on a wargame's table. That book was "Battle Notes for Wargamers" by D. Featherstone.

Mr. Featherstone says, in that book, that a historical re-fight should use the terrain, order of battle, deployments and tactics of the original combatants. Furthermore, he says that, where possible, the actual tactical plan of each side should be used except that there should be a chance of what he calls 'military possibilities'. Military possibilities, he explains, is the chance that certain courses of action, carried out in the historical battle, might be ignored - history can be changed.

Lobositz is strewn with 'military possibilities', especially for the Prussians.

Piquet is a rule system that is ideally suited to scenario building so the historical 'military possibilities' can be built in without needing too many bolts, indeed this kind of thing is the food and drink of the Piquet system.

To run this scenario I think that the following extra notes and rulings are required.

Starting the battle

To make the battle of Lobositz look and feel like its historical counterpart it is probably best to start it in a historical manner without the military possibility of change. To that end, the battle will start with the two actions ordered by Frederick before he became fully aware of the situation before him. The first is Bevern’s attacks to clear the Lobosch Berg, and the second is the probing attack by Pennavaire against the Austrian cavalry and the sunken road below the Homolka Berg.

After that, the military possibility of history changing will come into play.

To allow for the preliminary bombardments at the start of the battle all artillery, except for the Austrian battery behind the Morellenbach, is activated on turn 1.

Bevern is activated on turn one. His orders are to clear the Lobosch Berg of the enemy as quickly as possible. Until his mission is accomplished Bevern cannot retreat or take troops off of the Lobosch until the hill is completely cleared of the enemy.

When Bevern became aware of the strength of resistance on the Lobosch Berg he called for reinforcements from Prince von Preussen’s command in the valley. To allow this to happen Bevern may attempt to supersede Prince von Preussen's command of units. He need not be within command distance, but must make the appropriate test on Officer Check and suffer the Dress the lines card penalty, to do so. Units activated in this way must make for the Lobosch Berg and operate on it until it is cleared of all enemy units.

From the start of turn 2 the cavalry under Pennavaire's command must move to carry out a probing attack against the cavalry below the Homolka Berg, including any cavalry behind the sunken road. This attack is essential as it largely defined the future course of the battle.

On each appropriate move card, Pennavaire’s cavalry must move at best practical rate towards the Austrian cavalry below the Homolka Berg and attempt to clear it from the field. The command may not withdraw before losing over half of its unit strength, destroyed or routed.

Other command activations by turn

Whilst the battle raged at the sunken road and on the Lobosch much of the armies of both sides stood idle. Activation for the commands of both sides is therefore by turn or due to circumstances.

Draskowitz’s command on the Lobosch Berg is activated on turn 1.

Radicatti’s cavalry is not activated before turn 2 unless it is engaged by Prussian artillery on turn 1, in which case Radicatti may activate his hussars to screen his other units.

Lacy reinforced the Grenzers on the Lobosch Berg and occupied the town with troops stationed in and to the west of Lobostiz. To this end Lacy's infantry may activate from the start of turn 2. Otherwise, Lacy's command can only defend until Prince von Preussen is activated.

Lucchesi's cavalry may activate from the start of turn 3. Before that it is assumed that it is making its way, from the far left of the Austrian position, to the place it occupies at the start of the game.

In the unlikely event that Gessler is not required to take a blunder test (see below), he becomes active on turn 6.

Prince von Preussen:
If Gessler attacks due to a failed check (see Gessler's blunder) Prince von Preussen may not activate until turn 6. If Gessler passes his check Prince von Preussen is activated on turn 4.

Kolowrat's infantry may not activate until Prince von Preussen activates and then only following a successful check (D12 Vs D8) on Brilliant Leader used as a ‘Kolowrat Activation’ card. Kolowrat’s artillery becomes active on turn 2.

Gessler's blunder

After Pennavaire suffered a reverse (in game terms, this would be a unit destroyed, routed or shaken) Gessler made the fateful decision to rashly reinforce him and attack the sunken road. This was a terrible blunder on Gessler's part. 

The blunder is easily explained. It was a standing order, issued by Frederick himself, that cavalry reverses were to be stemmed by reinforcement. Also, prior to the battle, Frederick had criticised Gessler for his timidity in combat. So with Pennavaire struggling, and Frederick looking on, what else could Gessler do? Gessler felt obliged to reinforce Pennavaire. When Frederick exclaimed "My God, what is my cavalry doing?" his audience must have rolled their eyes. 

This is a clear case of 'military possibility' as described by Mr. Featherstone. What if Gessler hadn't attacked? 

In the game, the Prussians have three Cavalry Move cards; two of these cards will be special (green topped scenario) cards. If one of these cards is turned, and Pennavaire's command has suffered a reverse, Gessler rolls D12 Vs D8, if Gessler fails to beat the D8 result he must attack with his whole command, moving at least half rate on each appropriate move card, to clear the sunken road in support of Pennavaire, until 50% of his command is destroyed, routed or shaken when he can withdraw. If Gessler passes the check he is not required to attack and may act as required from turn 4.
Frederick quits the field:

Quite early on in the battle, when things were not going well, Frederick was advised to leave the field; he took the advice and did so. 

To allow for this military possibility a special green topped Major Morale card has been added to the Prussian sequence deck. When it is turned a normal major morale check is taken. If the test is failed Frederick flees the field. All subsequent major morale checks following this occurrence will be failed and will automatically go down to command group level. 

However, as happened at Mollwitz fourteen years earlier, the day was saved by the steadfastness and ability of the Prussian infantry - to boost their efficiency, if Frederick departs, a Crushing Volley card will be shuffled into the Prussian deck immediately following the failed major morale check.

Army Characterisation Deck cards

Because this is a historical re-fight Army Characterisation Deck (ACD) cards will not be randomly determined. They will be assigned. Both armies have an ACD divisor of 3.

The Prussian unit count is 28 units for 9 cards. The Prussians will be assigned 45 morale chips and an extra Brilliant Leader card.

The Austrian unit count is 37 units for 12 cards. The Austrians will be assigned 50 morale points, a Cavalry and Infantry Move in Difficult Terrain card and an Artillery Reload card.

Unit Quality Ratings

Unit quality has not been randomly determined, it was be predetermined. 

As per usual we will not be using roster sheets at the show. All unit information will be shown on the table. Troop quality will be marked with pony beads: 
  • Yellow: Abysmal leader
  • Red: Poor leader / Battle Weary unit
  • Green: Average leader / Ready unit
  • Blue: Skilled leader / Eager unit
  • Purple: Superior leader / Determined unit
  • White: Unused infantry 'first fire'.
  • Black: Blown cavalry.

Other markers will show casualty status, shaken and disordered.

Order of Battle


Commander in chief: Maximilian von Browne. Skilled

Kolowrat. Average
  • 9 units of German Musketeers (representing 18 battalions). Ready
  • 1 unit of Hungarian Musketeers ((representing 2 battalions). Ready
  • 1 unit of field artillery. Eager
Lucchesi. Average
  • 6 units of Cuirassier (representing 6 regiments, less elites). Ready
  • 1 unit of dragoons (representing 1 regiments, less elites). Ready
Lacy. Average
  • 4 units of German Musketeers (representing 8 battalions). Ready
  • 1 unit of Hungarian Musketeers ((representing 2 battalions). Ready
  • 1 units of combined grenadiers (representing 2 battalions). Ready
  • 2 units of combined grenadiers (representing 2 battalions). Battle Weary
  • 1 unit of Grenzers unit (representing 1 battalion). Eager
  • 1 unit of heavy field artillery. Eager
Radicati. Average
  • 2 units of Cuirassier (representing 2 regiments, less elites). Ready
  • 2 units of elite squadrons (the elite squadrons of the regiments). Ready
  • 1 unit of Dragoons (representing 1 regiments, less elites). Ready
  • 2 units of Hussars (representing 2 regiments). Ready
Draskowitz. Average
  • 2 units of Grenzers (representing 2 battalions). Eager
  • 2 units of Grenzers (representing 2 battalions). Ready

Commander in chief: King Frederick the Great. Skilled

Henry Prince von Preussen. Skilled
  • 5 units of Musketeers (representing 10 battalions). Eager
  • 1 unit of Fusiliers (representing 2 battalions). Ready
  • 1 units of Grenadiers (representing 2 battalions). Eager
  • 1 unit of Grenadiers (representing 1 battalion). Ready
  • 3 units of heavy field artillery. Ready
  • 1 unit of heavy howitzers. Ready

Gessler. Average
  • 5 units of Cuirassier (representing 5 regiments). Eager
  • 2 unit of Dragoons (representing 2 regiments). Eager
  • 1 units of Hussars (representing 1 regiment). Eager
Bevern. Skilled
  • 3 units of Musketeers (representing 6 battalions). Eager
  • 1 unit of Musketeers (representing 1 battalions). Ready
Pennavaire. Average 
  • 2 units of Cuirassier (representing 2 regiments). Ready
  • 1 units of Guard Cuirassier (representing 1 regiments). Eager
  • 2 unit of Dragoons (representing 1 10 squadron regiment). Eager


Steve J. said...

Very interesting to read how you have approached this scenario for the show. Hope you have a good weekends gaming and look forward to hearing how the show went.

Fire at Will said...

Interesting to read your thinking to your modifications, hopefully I'll be at Derby on Saturday to see to game in action.

Gonsalvo said...

Seems very well thought out, James. I await events!

marinergrim said...

I've always followed Featherstone for reenactments with terrain, deployment and orders of battle laid out. But from there on in it is the players who take command except where special circumstances arrive and I really like the way you've approached this with the card system involved in Picquet. Excellent.

Yarkshire Gamer said...

Some nice ideas there James look forward to seeing the game write up.