Sunday, 23 July 2017

Zorndorf 1758 - A Black Powder Game

Whenever I think of Seven Years War battles, the first on my list is Zorndorf. I'm not sure if it is because it involves the Russians (never has the expression "red and green should never be seen" been more wrong); because the terrain lends itself to a wargames table so well; because it was so hard fought and such a close run battle; because it is a wonderful combination of all of the above. Whatever it is that draws me to it, few will be able to argue against the fact that, as battles go, Zorndorf 1758 is a wargaming belter.


A shot of the action in the solo game fought at Christmas 2014.
The last time I fought this battle was in 2014. Looking back at my blog posts, I fought it solo over five sessions using my home amended Piquet rules for big SYW battles. This latest re-fight will be contested by Peter, Graham and myself plus, if I can find someone else who is free for a few Wednesday nights, a fourth player. The game is well suited for two or three players until it really gets going (and I don't mind standing back for those earlier moves) but once it gets going it is better suited to three or, ideally four.

As well as the number of players, this time I plan on changing the rule set. We have been playing a lot of Pike and Shotte recently, so it is probably a good time to play this scenario using Black Powder for the first time. It's a big game, for a first game, but the basic mechanisms for the Warlord rules series don't change much - a new unit characterisation list, a new quick reference sheet and we will be down with the kids (so to speak). At this point I'd like to thank Colin Ashton of Carry On Up The Dale for sending me the Black Powder unit characterisation list he used for his own Zorndorf game. I will be using it as the basis for the unit list for my game. 

The main resources I used to put this game together, were:

Literature:
Duffy C. The Army of Frederick the Great (2nd Ed.)
Duffy C. Russia's Military Way to the West
Millar M. Zorndorf 1758 Frederick faces Holy Mother Russia
Showalter D. E. The Wars of Frederick the Great
Priestly R. & Johnson J. Black Powder

On Line Resources:
Berry J. Obscure Battles
Seven Years War Project Kronoskaf

Historical Background

Even if you don't have access to the books, the two online resources have made such a good job in recounting the campaign and battle that I think it would be pointless for me to rehash it as a complete work of my own here. The work by Jeff Berry is the fullest single account I have found - a truly excellent work.

Suffice to say, in 1758 Prussia faced imminent threats from all directions. Frederick, to relieve the pressure, decided to tackle the Russians under Fermor which were besieging Kustrin on the Oder. In a move of astonishing speed (170 miles in 11 days) he marched 15,000 picked men from southern Silesia to the Oder and crossed to the Russian side of the river, forcing Fermor to abandon his plans. Frederick then joined with the Prussian army set to observe the Russians under Dohna. This brought his force up to c.37,000 men.

Fermor retreated south to a position near the village of Quartschen where he was joined by the 9000 men of the Russian Observation Corps (originally organised, from regiments of unemployed horseless dragoons, hence their riding boots, for the observation of East Prussia earlier in the war). This brought his force up to c.43,000 men. Here he waited, facing north, in a very strong defencive position .

Frederick bypassed the natural defences in front of the Russian position with a bold night march around the eastern flank of the Russians to village of Zorndorf, which lay directly to the rear of the Russian position. The final part of the move was too slow to launch a surprise attack from there; the Russians had time to turn around. The attack from the south would be across much better ground than one from the north, but the attack would be a frontal one. 

The Prussians had been on the go since 3 a.m. and it would be a very long, hot, bloody day. By the end of it, neither side could claim a victory. Of the 80,000 men engaged at the Battle of Zorndorf, 25th August 1758, 31,500 (39%) would be dead, wounded or missing by nightfall. 

Frederick had nothing  but disdain for the Russians prior to Zorndorf, "describing Russian troops as worthless, insisting that a disciplined army would make short work of any number of them [Showalter]". When Frederick asked Seydlitz for his opinion after the battle "the general responded more or less curtly that such an appellation hardly fitted men who had repulsed Prussian troops so decisively [Showalter]". The Russians were now recognised as a great military power in the war.

The Set Up

So, what does my initial set up look like? Well it's impossible to show you in one photograph because to deploy all of the troops I have to raise the drop leaf extension on the table (making the table six feet wide and just under fifteen feet long) and this doesn't give room to position a camera. The best I can do is this.


Looking from the SE corner of the table to the NW corner of the table.
(Note: Zorndorf was fired by rampaging Cossacks just before Frederick's arrival.)
Looking from the SW corner of the table to the NE corner of the table.

Terrain

The Grunds: These are small watercourses in wet depressions of varying depth and difficulty. 
  • Where the Grunds are represented by pools with lichen on the banks they are impassable to any troops. 
  • Where the Grunds are represented by 'solid water' they count as an obstacle and disorder hazard to all troops. Disorder occurs at contact on a die result of 5 or 6; if disorder occurs it takes effect immediately and prevents further movement for the turn. They take one full move to cross.
  • Where the Grunds are represented by 'marsh pieces' they count as an obstacle to all and disorder hazard to cavalry. Disorder occurs at contact on a die result of 5 or 6; if disorder occurs it takes effect immediately and prevents further movement for the turn. They take half a move to cross.
  • Artillery pieces cannot cross Grunds, at any point, in any event.
The Stein-Busch: This is an open wood. 
  • The Stein-Busch is rough terrain and a disorder hazard. All movement through the Stein-Busch is made at half rate. It causes disorder to artillery and cavalry on a die result of 5 or 6 and a 6 for infantry. 
  • It provides soft cover.
Quartschen and Zorndorf: Villages comprising various built-up areas.
  • Zorndorf is in flames and cannot be occupied. It can be passed through.
High Ground: I have added high ground (a 1" contour high) to much of the Prussian side of the table because the Russians are sat at the bottom of a large shallow depression with a large stream (the Hofe-Bruch) and boggy ground immediately behind them. However to troops on the ground the terrain seemed fairly flat.
  • No game effect.

Order of Battle



The Russians

Commander in Chief: Fermor [rating 6]

Army broken on 3 commands broken.


There are three Russian infantry commanders. Saltykov commands the first line; Galytsin the second line; Browne commands the Observation Corps.

Saltykov [rating 8]: 
8 units of Line Infantry.
2 units of Line Grenadiers.
3 units of converged Grenadiers.
1 battery of Field Artillery.
1 batteries of light Howitzers.
1 battery of light Field Artillery.

Broken on 7 destroyed.

Galytsin [rating 7 & hesitant]:
7 units of Line Infantry.
2 units of Line Grenadiers.

Broken on 5 destroyed.


Browne [rating 8]:
3 large units of Observation Corps Line Infantry.
1 large unit of converged Observation Corps Grenadiers.
1 battery of light Field Artillery.
1 battery of light Howitzers.

Broken on 2 destroyed.
Gaugreben [rating 7 & aggressive]:
1 small unit of Cuirassier.
1 small unit of Horse Grenadiers.
1 small unit of Dragoons.
1 unit of Hussars.

Broken on 2 destroyed.

Demiku [rating 7 & hesitant]:
2 units of Cuirassiers.
1 small unit of Cuirassier.
1 small unit of Dragoons.
3 units of Hussars.

Broken on 4 destroyed.

Note at this point that none of the seven units of Cossacks present at Zorndorf , three on the left wing and four on the right, have not been included as being under any commander. See scenario notes.







The Prussians

Commander in chief: Frederick the Great [rating 9 & decisive]

Army broken on 4 commands broken.


Manteuffel [rating 9 & Agressive]:
3 units of converged Grenadiers.
1 unit of Line Infantry.

Broken on 2 destroyed.



Kanitz [rating 8]:
1 unit of converged Grenadiers.
4 units of Line Infantry.
2 units of Fusiliers.

Broken on 4 destroyed.
Dohna [rating 8 & hesitant]:
1 unit of converged Grenadiers.
5 units of Line Infantry.
2 units of Fusiliers.

Broken on 4 destroyed.
Malachowski [rating 8]:
4 units of Hussars.

Broken on 2 destroyed.
Seydlitz [rating 9 & aggressive]:
2 units of  Cuirassier.
1 small unit of Guard Cuirassier.
1 unit of Dragoons.

Broken on 3 destroyed.
Marschall [rating 8]:
4 units of Dragoons.

Broken on 2 destroyed.
Schorlemer [rating 9]:
3 units of  Cuirassier.
1 unit of Dragoons.
2 units of Hussars.

Broken on 3 destroyed.

Note that the Prussian artillery has not been put under the command of any field commander. 

The artillery comprises: 6 batteries of Field Artillery (2 of which are Brummers, one positioned at each end of the artillery line).


Unit Characterisation List for Black Powder
Black Powder unit characterisation table for:
The Battle of Zorndorf 1758

RUSSIAN CAVALRY UNITS
Unit
Unit
Move
Melee
Dice #
Shooting
Dice #
Morale
save
Stamina
Special
Cuirassier

18”
8
-

4+
3
Heavy Cavalry Charge: Add D3 melee result bonus.
Cuirass: May re-roll one failed melee morale save.
7
2
Small unit adjustment
Horse Grenadiers
18”
7
-
4+
2
Heavy Cavalry Charge: Add D3 melee result bonus.
[Small unit adjustments included]
Dragoons
18”
5
1
(12”)
4+
2
[Small unit adjustments included]

Hussars

18”
5
-
4+
3
 Marauders: Do not count command distance.
Don Cossacks
18”
4
1
(12”)
5+
2
Marauders: Do not count command distance.
Skirmish: May fight as skirmish cavalry. May evade.
Unreliable: Fail to act on equal command roll.
Other Cossacks
18”
3
1
(12”)
6+
2
Marauders: Do not count command distance.
Wavering: Take a break test on receiving a casualty.
Skirmish: May fight as skirmish cavalry. May evade.
Unreliable: Fail to act on equal command roll.

RUSSIAN INFANTRY UNITS
Unit
Unit
Move
Melee
Dice #
Firing
Dice #
Save
Stamina
Special
Grenadiers

12”
7
3
(18”)
3+
4
Elite: 5+ to rally disorder.
Valiant: May re-roll one failed break test.
1st Fire: Add one die for first shot.
Steel wall: +3 melee bonus when fighting frontally Vs cavalry with friends directly to both flanks within 1”.
Converged Grenadiers
12”
7
3
(18”)
4+
4
Elite: 5+ to rally disorder.
Valiant: May re-roll one failed break test.
1st Fire: Add one die for first shot.
Steel wall: +3 melee bonus when fighting frontally Vs cavalry with friends directly to both flanks within 1”.
Line Infantry

12”
6
3
(18”)
4+
3
Valiant: May re-roll one failed break test.
1st Fire: Add one die for first shot.
Steel wall: +3 melee bonus when fighting frontally Vs cavalry with friends directly to both flanks within 1”.
O.C. Converged Grenadiers
12”
8
3
(18”)
4+
6
Elite: 5+ to rally disorder.
1st Fire: Add one die for first shot.
Stubborn: May re-roll one failed morale save.
Steel wall: +3 melee bonus when fighting frontally Vs cavalry with friends directly to both flanks within 1”.
O.C.
Line Infantry
12”
7
3
(18”)
4+
5
1st Fire: Add one die for first shot.
Stubborn: May re-roll one failed morale save.
Steel wall: +3 melee bonus when fighting frontally Vs cavalry with friends directly to both flanks within 1”.

RUSSIAN ARTILLERY UNITS
Unit
Unit
Move
Melee
Dice #
Shooting
Dice #
Morale
save
Stamina
Special
Field Artillery
Prolong 1 x 6”
Limbered 12”
1
1 - 2 - 3
[48” - 24” - 12”]
4+
2
Valiant: May re-roll one failed break test.
Light Field Artillery
Prolong 1 x 6”
Limbered 12”
1
1 - 2 - 3
[36” - 18” - 9”]
4+
2
Valiant: May re-roll one failed break test.
Light Howitzers
Prolong 1 x 6”
Limbered 12”
1
2 - 2 - 3
[36” - 18” - 6”]
4+
2
Valiant: May re-roll one failed break test.
High Trajectory: Do not count linear cover when firing shell.


Black Powder unit characterisation table for:
The Battle of Zorndorf 1758

PRUSSIAN CAVALRY UNITS
Unit
Unit
Move
Melee
Dice #
Shooting
Dice #
Morale
save
Stamina
Special
Guard Cuirassier

18”
9
-
3+
3
Elite: 4+ to rally disorder.
Heavy Cavalry Charge: Add D3 melee result bonus.
Cuirass: May re-roll one failed melee morale save.
Steady: Automatic roll of 12 on first break test.
[Includes small unit adjustment].
Cuirassier

18”
9
-
4+
3
Elite: 4+ to rally disorder.
Heavy Cavalry Charge: Add D3 melee result bonus.
Cuirass: May re-roll one failed melee morale save.
Dragoons

18”
7
-
4+
3
Elite: 5+ to rally disorder.
Heavy Cavalry Charge: Add D3 melee result bonus.
Hussars

18”
6
-
4+
3
Elite: 5+ to rally disorder.
Ferocious Charge: Re-roll misses when charging.
Marauders: Do not count command distance.

PRUSSIAN INFANTRY UNITS
Unit
Unit
Move
Melee
Dice #
Firing
Dice #
Morale
Save
Stamina
Special
Grenadiers

12”
7
3
(18”)
3+
4
Elite: 4+ to rally disorder.
Stubborn: May re-roll one failed morale save.
Steady: Automatic roll of 12 on first break test.
1st Fire: Add 1 die for first shot.
Crushing Volleys: Re-roll one shooting miss
Superbly Drilled: Free move if command failed.
Steel wall: +3 melee bonus when fighting frontally Vs cavalry with friends directly to both flanks within 1”.
Reversed rear rank: May reverse rear rank in response to cavalry charge from rear.
Line Infantry

12”
6
3
(18”)
4+
3
1st Fire: Add 1 die for first shot.
Crushing Volleys: Re-roll one shooting miss.
Superbly Drilled: Free move if command failed.
Steel wall: +3 melee bonus when fighting frontally Vs cavalry with friends directly to both flanks within 1”.
Reversed rear rank: May reverse rear rank in response to cavalry charge from rear.
Fusiliers
12”
6
3
(18”)
4+
3
1st Fire: Add 1 die for first shot.
Crushing Volleys: Re-roll one shooting miss.
Steel wall: +3 melee bonus when fighting frontally Vs cavalry with friends directly to both flanks within 1”.
Reversed rear rank: May reverse rear rank in response to cavalry charge from rear.

PRUSSIAN ARTILLERY UNITS
Unit
Unit
Move
Melee
Dice #
Shooting
Dice #
Morale
save
Stamina
Special
Field Artillery
Prolong 1 x 6”
Limbered 12”
1
1 - 2 - 3
[48” - 24” - 12”]
4+
2

Field Artillery
(Brummers)
Limbered 12”
1
1 - 2 - 3
[60” - 30” - 15”]
4+
2


Note that there are one or two special rules in the above tables that do not correspond to the rules in Black Powder. 

  • Crushing Volleys has been added to give the Prussians the edge in fire discipline and is just a better way to phrase 'sharpshooters' for this sub-period. 
  • Steel Wall has been added because SYW infantry didn't adopt battalion squares in response to cavalry charges because their long lines of battalions / regiments, with only very small intervals between them, largely rendered the formation pointless. Square is a legitimate formation but it not available as a charge response.Infantry with the ‘steel wall’ special rule are automatically counted as being in steel wall if they have a supporting infantry unit within 1” of each flank. The rules:
  • Troops in steel wall gain bonuses for it when charged by cavalry to their front or, if using reversed rear rank formation to charges from front and / or rear.
  • Troops in steel wall can deliver closing fire.
  • Troops in steel wall always add 3 to their melee result, plus any normal support bonuses (note that the infantry units within 1” of the flank can also provide flank support if they qualify under the standard rules when the melee is fought).
  • Charging cavalry count no bonuses when charging 'steel wall' (normal to hit bonus, or by special rule) unless the target unit is already engaged, shaken or disordered.  
  • Rear rank reversed was the response to cavalry getting behind, or between, lines of infantry. It is allowed as a charge response to better trained infantry and is a permitted formation for all infantry. The formation is static. The formation is treated as a steel wall with two faces (front and rear) for fire and melee. The formation is represented by reversing alternate stands.
  • Cuirass is simply the stubborn rule applying only to melee.
  • Artillery ranges have been altered to account for Brummers (fortress guns) and a belief that canister should be more effective over greater distances. Short range to hit bonuses still start at 6". Note: I count 12 pounders as field pieces and 6 pounders as light field pieces. I don't field battalion guns, counting them as included in the infantry shooting factor.

Scenario Rules

Russian Command Blunders: Because the ground behind the Russian position is very difficult going any blunder roll that would take the unit off the Russian table edge will be ignored. Instead the unit raids the stores of brandy and vodka in the regimental baggage and must re-roll for the result:
  • Result 1 - 2: If the unit is shaken it breaks, otherwise the unit becomes shaken, is disordered, and becomes 'unreliable' and will fail to act on equal command rolls.
  • Result 3 - 4: The unit is disordered and becomes 'unreliable' and will fail to act on equal command rolls.
  • Result 5 - 6: The unit becomes 'unreliable' and will fail to act on equal command rolls.
Note: Deal with disordered and shaken troops as per the normal rules. Unreliable pertains to effected units for the remainder of the game and they should be marked as such. If non-Don Cossacks blunder in this way they should be removed from play.

Note: Several references to Russian troops raiding their own baggage for alcohol and becoming unruly, especially by the Observation Corps, are recorded.

"General St. Andre, I will try to get through to Schwedt!": At 2 p.m., with the battle at crisis point, Fermor departed the field with those words. To represent this man's craven disregard for the men he left behind, every time a Russian unit breaks two d6 must be rolled. On a result of 2 - 3 Fermor is removed from the field and Saltykov will assume overall command of the army. Fermor counts as a lost unit to each Russian command.

Cossacks: The Russian Cossacks do not have a commander of their own and will not accept orders from field commanders. Instead, the Russian player will need issue orders to Cossacks directly from the C-in-C. If the C-in-C is used in this fashion he cannot issue orders to other troops subsequently in the same turn. Up to four units of Cossacks can be nominated as Don Cossacks - most of the bad ones had been sent home as worthless to the war effort by 1758.

Moller: Historically the Prussian 2nd Field Artillery Regiment (at Zorndorf) fell under the direction of Moller but, as far as I can ascertain, his was only an administrative command. Consequently I have put him with the 'General Staff' as part of Frederick's command stand.

This post may be subject to future editing.

Edit: Since taking the photos I have reduced the Russian artillery and redistributed the remainder equally along the line. The Russians have one less battery of howitzers and I have replaced the O.C. field battery with a light field battery. This is probably still being quite kind to the Russians - they had 136 pieces compared to the 193 belonging to the Prussians and numerically they should have a scaled eight guns (four batteries) to the Prussian twelve guns (six batteries) - but, four batteries does not allow for a good spread along the line and the weight of the Prussian guns (all heavy Vs one heavy) should help balance the fire-power of the opposing artillery well enough.

Edit: I have made Gaugreben aggressive. His cavalry, especially the St. Petersburg horse grenadiers, were very feisty on the day.

Edit: I have made all Prussian grenadiers 'steady' to allow Manteuffel to attack with more confidence. The 'steady' rule also applies to IR 2 of Manteuffel's command (it was a very good regiment).

Edit: Up to four units of Cossacks can be nominated as Don Cossacks.

Edit: I have shortened the Galgen-Grund beyond the Russian front line by about 10". It now only extends to a point level with the front of the Stein-Busch.

Edit: 'Steel wall' and 'Rear rank reversed' have been better defined and ruled upon.

17 comments:

Colin Ashton said...

I like what you're doing :-) especially the steel wall rule and the change to the cuirassiers' saving roll.

Jason said...

My group had played games twice the size in an afternoon. As long as you know the rules and done have any pedantic millimetre rules lawyers around this is not a big game for the rules.

Purp S said...

Very impressive! Should be a good brawl!

Christopher(aka Axebreaker) said...

Impressive! I quite enjoy Black Powder so I'm looking forward to watching the battle unfold.

Christopher

Der Alte Fritz said...

Wow!

One word says it all.


Have you considered fighting Zorndorf as two different scenarios: the morning attack on the Prussian left and the afternoon action on the Prussian right. It would give you a lot more table space for such a big battle.

Fritz

PayliTuzu said...

The blog was absolutely fantastic! Lot of information is helpful in some or the other way. Keep updating the blog, looking forward for more content...Great job, keep it up.
goldenslot

David Cooke said...

This should be a cracking game. Looking forward to the report.

Anthony Miles said...

A great and useful post James. Hope the game plays well.
Our club are doing SYW this coming weekend, the Battle of Minden, but using Osprey's Honours of War rules.

phann son said...

This should be a cracking game. Looking forward to the report.


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phann son said...


My group had played games twice the size in an afternoon. As long as you know the rules and done have any pedantic millimetre rules lawyers around this is not a big game for the rules.



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Keith Flint said...

Frankly James, I'm disapointed. You really must raise your standard...

Yeah, just joking. As usual, inspiring stuff.

Rob Oldenburg said...

I like the way you're managing the concept of broken brigades. 1/2 destroyed makes sense. Ignore the shaken part of the rule as written.

If you haven't used it before, I think you'll be surprised what a big deal the "Ferocious Charge" rule is.

I applied it to some of my prussian cav in the past and they just swept away the opposition.

I've been more circumspect in using that on since.

Jay White said...

Impressive!!!! I beautifully done game ... excellent research and scenario ... tons of awesome miniatures ... can't ask for anything more than that!!

Ken Reilly said...

Great write up and stunning looking game.

Regards Ken
The Yarkshire Gamer

Jeff Berry said...

Mouth watering pictures. I agree that Zorndorf lends itself to miniatures wargaming in particular. And your figures are gorgeous, James.

Warren said...

I like the changes and additions to the rules, sorry if I missed it but Steel Wall only count if the infantry are steady

Keep up the inspirational work please

Keith Massey said...

A fantastic looking game and the information you have provided is very helpful indeed.

Thanks for sharing.

I am looking forward to seeing more.

Cheers