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Mollwitz and Chotusitz: Battles of the First Silesian War» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Mollwitz solo AAR rss

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Michael McCalpin
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I was thrilled when I saw this one was finally ready for publication: for some reason, Frederick the Great's first battle always caught my imagination, and giving it the BAR treatment is perfect. This is a much smaller battle than most BAR games, and so I expect it will get more play than monsters like Leuthen: Frederick's Greatest Victory or Prague: The Empty Triumph.

Let me start by showing the beautiful units. Here is Frederick amongst his men in the initial setup:

Every bit of that detail actually means something, and once you learn to decode it all, it is a marvel to behold.

Zooming out to show the whole map is more problematic from a photography perspective. Here is a battle is fundamentally between a Prussian army (bottom) with vastly superior infantry and an Austrian army (top) with vastly better cavalry. Who can take advantage of their strength before their weakness does them in?

The Prussian army is somewhat raggedly arranged at start, which adds a bit of additional challenge. The wings are somewhat intermingled and it is not possible to get all units in command right away. Both armies are handicapped by relatively short command ranges and the fact that each army leader is also a wing commander, so many wing commanders will be on their own to show some initiative.

So, it's about time to go. Here's another shot of the initial setup, and in spite of using tungsten light it is looking cold and snowy indeed.

It is now the beginning of the 1600 turn, so 40 minutes have passed. The Prussian artillery caused half the Austrian hussars to scamper off the field, but otherwise, the only action is that both sides are moving their strong suits into position. I expect the engagement will start shortly on the Prussian right flank, and then we will see how the weak Prussian cavalry with some grenadiers mixed in will stand up.

It is now 1640, so the engagement has been on in earnest for 40 minutes. The initial Austrian cavalry charge on the Prussian right flank was devastating. The Austrians all passed their morale checks, while the Prussians appeared a great less less certain: four of the six morale checks failed...including two from the elite grenadiers! Things quickly looked grim, and all the more so when the Field Marshal Romer appeared out of a snow flurry to attack the infantry accompanying King Frederick the Great. The king and the fleeing infantry were only saved by the presence of a second line of infantry that halted the Austrian pursuit. On the matter of one unit's position turned the fate of a kingdom.

The Prussians, having seen the damage done to their weak cavalry, decided to take a chance: splitting the army so that the infantry could shore up the flanks. The Austrians - in spite of their relatively poor quality infantry - decided that they couldn't very well miss a chance like this, so they began to advance.

And perhaps it's just as well that they did, because it quickly became apparent that the Austrian cavalry was in danger from an unexpected source. Both of the major generals on the Austrian left flank were abruptly out of the fighting due to bad luck. General Lentulus was killed when his unit was run down by a rare Prussian cavalry pursuit, and General Brandenburg was desperately trying to rally some other fleeing Austrian Cavalry. This, plus the usual disorganization that follows a cavalry charge, left the Austrian left flank in disarray, and now it was the Prussians' turn to appear from the snow, pinning and routing some of the Austrian cavalry and ratcheting up the pressure on the Austrians to seal the deal.

I should mention how much I am enjoying the myriad little stories that are illustrated by the game. In addition to the story about Frederick the Great above, one Austrian cavalry unit found itself unexpectedly directly in front of a battery of Prussian 12 pounders. Horseburgers, right? The Prussians got an activation and...totally missed. In the next Prussian activation, and before the cavalry can get away, Prussian infantry appear out of the snow due to a special result, and the Austrians - by now totally spooked by the goings on and unable to retreat before combat because of the concealed advance of the Prussians, fail their morale check and are promptly routed by the infantry. You can paint a picture in your mind of the chaos and wild swings of elation and terror as the battle swirls around.

At 1700, the Austrians had conducted a cavalry charge on their right, but through a command misfire (not the last of them), the second wave never got going. If I have learned anything about cavalry charges while playing this game, it is that they are highly decisive and disruptive affairs. If you don't have back-up, you are unlikely to achieve much, and so it was here. The initial charge was fairly successful, but not enough to close the deal, and besides, those Prussian infantry are approaching fast. In the center, not much happens as the Austrians seek to close on the divided Prussian center, and the Prussian right is somewhat quiet as both sides try to repair the confusion from the previous turns' fighting. This was the turn in which the armies each do a morale check, but during the turn a special event came up causing another morale check to happen, so the Austrians are at +14 and the Prussians at 0 by the end of the 1700 turn. In retrospect, it might have been a good time for the Austrians to disengage.

By 1720, the Austrians have doubled-down on the previous command failure, by continuing to advance without due regard for the ongoing Prussian infantry. More about that shortly. In the center, the Prussians cannot ignore the Austrian infantry any longer and the threat on the right seems diminished, so they turn to face forward again. The collision is not far off.

At 1740, the Austrian cavalry on their right realized that they were pinned between the quagmire of the creek to their west and the Prussian infantry coming from the east. Even though it seemed a pretty poor idea, they thought they would charge their way out of the problem. Charging unruffled infantry isn't usually a good idea, and so it was here. Most of the Austrians got away by routing...well those who didn't catch a musket ball first. In the center, we had two of the special events that make this game system so amusing. One Prussian and one Austrian leader decided to "do something" just prior to the collision of the two masses of infantry. From a game perspective, the player has to advance the units under that commander directly toward the enemy, flank support be damned. This is where I realized just how shoddy the Austrian infantry are: the Prussians have twice the firepower per man and better morale. Only the highly partisan dice kept the Austrians in it.

By 1800, there wasn't much doubt that no miracle was in store to rescue the Austrians. Both cavalry flanks were blown, and the battle in the middle - while not yet decided - pitted only a fraction of the Prussian infantry against all the Austrian infantry, and there was no sign that the Prussians were going to give way. The army morale check at 1800 proved the point further with the Austrians at 142 loss points racking up another +7 DRM for a total of +21, and the Prussians at 75 loss points rolling yet another +0 DRM for a total of 0. This one is done with a decisive Prussian victory, and King Frederick will be even more insufferable in this universe than he was in the real one.
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Absolutely superb session report. My copy arrived yesterday, and I can't wait to get it on the table.
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Paul Borchers
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Great stuff, Michael!

Quote:
I should mention how much I am enjoying the myriad little stories that are illustrated by the game. In addition to the story about Frederick the Great above, one Austrian cavalry unit found itself unexpectedly directly in front of a battery of Prussian 12 pounders. Horseburgers, right? The Prussians got an activation and...totally missed. In the next Prussian activation, and before the cavalry can get away, Prussian infantry appear out of the snow due to a special result, and the Austrians - by now totally spooked by the goings on and unable to retreat before combat because of the concealed advance of the Prussians, fail their morale check and are promptly routed by the infantry. You can paint a picture in your mind of the chaos and wild swings of elation and terror as the battle swirls around.


People sometimes complain about the detail in BAR, but to me it's the little struggles that come out of the overall battle narrative that make it worthwhile.
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Michael McCalpin
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Thanks, Shauneroo! Make the time and get it on the table. I'm clipping Chotusitz now.
mr_peabody wrote:
People sometimes complain about the detail in BAR, but to me it's the little struggles that come out of the overall battle narrative that make it worthwhile.

It is a lot to remember, and I suspect that while playing solo I might miss a bit here or there, but what one might call "detail" or "complexity", another might call "granularity". The granularity lets the players get down to the level of the stories that bring the events to life.
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Mitchell Land
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mmccalpin wrote:
Thanks, Shauneroo! Make the time and get it on the table. I'm clipping Chotusitz now.
mr_peabody wrote:
People sometimes complain about the detail in BAR, but to me it's the little struggles that come out of the overall battle narrative that make it worthwhile.

It is a lot to remember, and I suspect that while playing solo I might be a bit here or there, but what one might call "detail" or "complexity", another might call "granularity". The granularity lets the players get down to the level of the stories that bring the events to life.


The granularity is what attracts me to the system.

I always tell people, when they ask if they should try the system, that they have to love trying to figure out whether or not it's better to form line to the left or to the right, and, either way, know the best way to march into a position so that it's effective. Otherwise, this isn't the system for you.

Additionally, you have to have patience. In many of the games, the approach march can take quite a while. On the other hand, you can see the attack coming. The fun comes in tryign to maneuver your forces into the best position to receive an attack, or from the other side, can you maneuver your troops into position for the attack before the defender can respond.
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Paul Brown
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Yes excellent AAR and a great advert for both the game and the system.
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Jeffrey Lower
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I love a game of Up Front. Thanks WV!
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Your battle report was amazing and illustrates why taking the time to learn the BAR system is worth every minute.



Thank you for taking the time and effort to write it up.

I'm looking forward to your next efforts!
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Paul Borchers
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Jeffrey, maybe you'll be able to contribute an AAR of your own soon. I look forward to new players adding their write-ups on sessions with this game, or any of the others in the BAR series.
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Michael McCalpin
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SquadPainter wrote:

Your battle report was amazing and illustrates why taking the time to learn the BAR system is worth every minute.



Thank you for taking the time and effort to write it up.

I'm looking forward to your next efforts!

Thank you, Jeffrey: I'm glad you liked it, and I completely agree that the effort is certainly worthwhile. I have Chotusitz on the table now and we've already had some wild cavalry action on the Austrian left as Batthyányi's independent command was forced by a special event to "do something" and advance on the Prussian right flank cavalry. It's a lot harder to retreat safely than to advance, so before long it was a full-on cavalry scrum. Stand by for more...
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