Sunday 4 August 2019

The Bloody Clash At Lutzen - again!

"for had not our foote stoode like a wall, there had not a man of us come off alyve
Letter from George Fleetwood to his father, giving an account of the battle of Lutzen

Warlord Game Open Day - 20th July 2019

In a reprieve of the game at Salute this year, the Friends of General Haig (FOGH) put on the Lutzen 1632 game at this year’s Warlord Games Open Day.  This blog post is a description of the days action. 
The game set up and ready to start.
It was a warm and sunny morning as three intrepid members of the FOGH arrived at Lenton Business Centre in Nottingham, also known as Warlord Games HQ.  We had a couple of hours until the start of the open day at 1000, and so we got on with unloading the figures, terrain and other paraphernalia for the Lutzen game.  The Warlord chaps had set up tables etc. in the Marcus Garvey hall already for all of the games, and so we were soon busy deploying figures for the game of Pike and Shotte.
Game under way - Swedish Green brigade attacking Imperial centre.
With the games set up we had just enough time for breakfast, and a pre game briefing.  We headed for the splendid on site caterers who were starting to turn out all sorts of hearty breakfast fare.  In the bacon butty queue we bumped in to Warlord supremo, John Stallard, and Black Powder author, Rick Priestly, mentally preparing themselves for the day’s first presentation session.

Breakfast consumed we agreed who was doing what for the game.  The plan was to run the game in a participation style, allowing visitors to the open day to investigate the world of Pike and Shotte by playing a turn or two, in between them checking all of the other cool things going on.  So we had one commander for the Imperial forces, one as the Swedish commander, and a third to umpire / generally talk to people.  This allowed us to keep the game going throughout the day, and also to ensure that any participating players had someone on hand to advise them on what was going on, and how the rules worked.  We had also cut down the forces slightly from the game at Salute to try and simplify the game for anybody joining in, and to ensure we got to a conclusion in the day.   We also set definite objectives for the day.  Gustav Adolph and the Swedish led Protestant alliance (hence ‘the Swedes’) needed to take Wallenstein’s two Imperial batteries to win the game.  If the Imperial forces held these at the end of the day then it was a defeat for the Swedes.

I have uploaded the Orders of Battle to Google Drive here.

We had various people join in and roll some dice through the day, and of course lots more who wanted to come and talk about the game, figures and terrain.  Dan from Wargames Illustrated popped by for a quick interview with video shoot.  Also Guy from Wargames Soldiers and Strategy, and Mel the Terrain Tutor, stopped by to take some photos.  It was great to talk to so many people about the battle and wargaming this period, including some people who had seen the game at Salute.

See the Wargames Illustrated coverage of the whole event here on YouTube, we start at 4:57.

See the Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy pictures of the game here on their Facebook page.

How did the game play?  

Well, it started in a similar way to the previous run out.  Gustav Adolph set off with the right wing cavalry to try and overwhelm the opposing Imperial left wing.  Before the arrival of the Imperial reinforcements, under Pappenheim, the Swedes have an advantage in numbers here.   Unfortunately, also as usual, the Swedish commanded shot were left behind as their mounted brethren hurried to chase off the Croat light horse.  Chasing the fleet of foot Croats led the Swedish cavalry to crash in to   the supporting Imperial Cuirassiers and Arquebusiers.
Gustav Adolph encouraging forward his horse and commanded shot.
On the Swedish left wing it was a slower start and the Commanded shot here were sensibly detailed off to neutralise the Imperial commanded shot hiding in the gardens outside burning Lutzen.  This inactivity tempted forward the Imperial right wing Croats who started sniping at the Swedish horse, supported by long range fire from the Imperial ‘windmill’ artillery battery.
Lutzen on fire in the foreground, with the two armies stretched out in the background.  Imperial on the left, Swedish on the right.
Imperial Commanded shot in the gardens outside Lutzen under attack by Swedish commanded shot with a light gun.
In the centre the Swedish shifted two brigades, Old Blue and Duke Wilhelm’s, across to the right to support the right wing cavalry, and also to lead an assault on the smaller Imperial battery which sat at the junction of the Imperial left wing and centre.  Progress in the centre was general slow for the Swedes throughout the day.
Imperial 'small' battery on the left of the Imperial Centre.  Preparing for the Swedish onslaught.
The Imperial forces hunkered down to weather the initial storm of the Swedish attack, and waited for Pappenheim.
Imperial foot in the centre.
Despite having the advantage of numbers, command, and initiative, the Swedish right wing horse couldn’t break through the Imperial left wing opposite them, and started losing units to the ‘men in black’, the Imperial cuirassiers.   Knyphausen, who was the overall commander for the Swedish centre and reserve, brought across the single regiment of reserve horse to try and force a decision on the Swedish right.  It was nail biting stuff.  Wallenstein, Imperial Generalissimo, was anxiously looking behind for any sign of Pappenheim’s reinforcements.  Where had they got to?!
Imperial left wing under attack
Holk, commanding the Imperial left, was starting to withdraw his forces under the constant pressure from the Swedes when Pappenheim finally arrived.  Pappenheim, true to form, rode straight at the Swedish right flank, supported by the reinvigorated Holk.  A desperate see-saw clash of cavalry ensued between Gustav and Knyphausen, against Pappenheim and Holk.  The Swedish commanded shot were thrown in to the swirling melee to try and bring down the Imperial Cuirassiers with their musket and light gun fire.
Swedish right wing and Imperial left wing, reinforced by Pappenheim, heavily engaged.
At the same time Wilhelm’s and the Old Blue foot brigades were attacking the small Imperial battery and the supporting Imperial Infantry.  The Swedish attacks were somewhat uncoordinated but bravely undertaken.  Wilhelm’s foot stormed the smaller battery but just couldn’t dislodge the gunners.  The Old Blue brigade charged the Imperial foot but couldn’t make any impression.
Add Imperial 'small' battery under assault.
The Swedish left wing and centre were encouraged in to action seeing this bloody combat to their right.  The Swedish left wing cavalry threw themselves at the Imperial cavalry in the restricted area between Lutzen and the Windmill battery, while the Green brigade foot traded shots with the Imperial troops in the Miller’s house and the Windmill battery itself.  In the restricted space the Swedish cavalry couldn’t make the most of their numbers and casualties mounted as they hurled themselves at the Imperial defenders.
Swedish left wing pressing home their attack.
Swedish Green Brigade, supported by Thurn's brigade, assault the 'windmill' battery.
It was the Swedish right wing that broke first.  Pappenheim’s Cuirassiers had proved decisive routing two squadrons of Swedish horse before also riding down the now isolated Swedish commanded shot.  At the same time Wilhelm’s foot were finally repulsed from the small battery, and the Old Blue brigade had to also fall back.  The final straw was the Swedish left wing also breaking.  The Swedish centre accepted defeat and started to pull back.  The Imperial batteries were safe in Imperial hands, and so the game was declared an Imperial victory.  Students of history will be interested to know that Gustav and Pappenheim both survived the day (unlike the real battle in which they were killed)!
Imperial left wing victorious.
Imperial 'small' redoubt and left-centre victorious as Swedish Infantry are thrown back.
This turn of events was well timed as it was now the end of the Open Day and time to pack up, retire to one of Nottingham’s fine hostelries, and discuss the battle.  Although the Swedes had some unlucky melee dice, and also struggled with their command dice on occasions, the major problem had been trying to defeat the Imperial Cavalry without using their commanded shot to soften up the enemy first.  Similarly their infantry attacks had not been able to take advantage of their superior firepower and salvo firing.  The experience from the two big run throughs we have had of Lutzen (see here for Salute battle report) has shown us that Gustav’s war machine is powerful, but takes some expertise to use to full advantage.  Most importantly the game felt right for us, taking in to account the troops used, and how they were handled.  We had played through to a conclusion in a day, introduced some new people to big battles with Pike and Shotte, and had a great day.  Who could ask for more? :-)

We did manage to work in a few breaks to take a look at the other things going on at the Open Day.  There was an awesome Black Powder Crimea game next to us, with the Russians taking a battering form a combined British and French force.  There was an interesting French Indian War game, led by another of the FOGH, Pete Brown, who was demoing his new Black Powder supplement, Dark and Bloody Ground.  The British forces had lost the wagon train to the French and their Indian allies in each run through - what a disaster, but lots of fun!  I was very interested to see Black Seas in action with some lovely new Napoleonic ships.  The SPQR demo tables seemed busy all day with people trying out the new Ancient skirmish rules.    There was a lot to look at.  In the glass cabinets of forthcoming figures I loved the MASH unit available for the new Korean Bolt Action supplement.  They looked very familiar for some reason!

Warlord have produced a video reviewing the open day here (you can see us just behind John Stallard's left shoulder!).

To finish, many thanks to everyone at Warlord Games for looking after us on the day.  We had fun, and everyone we spoke to seemed to be really in to the games and wargaming in general.  There was a very positive ‘vibe’ about the whole event.  If you like Warlord Games’ products, or are interested in any of their games, then this event should definitely be in your plans for next year.  I wonder what will be on the table in 2020?

Until next time!

Andy from FOGH.