Friday, October 25, 2013

DERBY DEBRIEF: Klissow, July 8, 1702

Klissow: Swedes on the left and Saxons on the right

Barry Hilton - This game was a scaled down version of the battle of Klissow, July 8, 1702. I dug my Swedes out of retirement for this one and literally has to give them a clean with a very fine sable brush to remove a layer of dust accumulated over years in box files and lying around my garage.

I misplaced three regiments (misplaced is an inaccuracy, I actually sold them to Günter and forgot that I did so!). Having spent a fruitless 2 hours looking for them before I remembered  I no longer owned them. This gap meant I needed to do a bit of quick painting to get the Swedes back to some kind of strength. Regiments Halsinge and Uppland were the output of a week's painting pre-Derby.

The Klissow table was 10 x 6 and fairly plain and dominated by a marshy area running across 8 feet of frontage between the two armies. We used a neat rule to create unpredictable movement for anyone moving into this area; Each unit threw a D6 every turn  they were in the  terrain. On an even number score they were unaffected by the ground. On an odd number score they then threw a DAv. The resultant number of inches was subtracted from their movement in that turn. That made the Swedish advance very difficult to coordinate and unpredictable. Another variable was the effect of Günter's massive quantities of chevaux de frise.

Günter jokingly (I think) brought out about 10 miles of the stuff and insisted that no Saxon infantry unit would deploy without it. He then 'encouraged' me to create a rule to accommodate the work of his sculptor! Liking a challenge, I did just that on Friday night as I counted sheep.

Here is the rule: When a Swedish unit charged a Saxon unit the defender throws a D6. On an odd number score the chevaux were ineffectually placed and provided no significant impediment to the Swedes. On an even score the Saxons then threw a further D3. The resultant score was the number of additional combat dice they were allowed EACH turn of close combat. This worked very well being uncertain and variable if the defences were good.

The Saxon Army was composed of 16 infantry battalions, 25 squadrons of cuirassiers and 3 field guns. The Saxon infantry were in 4 brigades each of 2 regiments of 2 battalions. The first battalions were all classed as Drilled and the second all Raw. The Cuirassiers were half Drilled, half Raw with the exception of the 4 squadron Gardes du Corps graded as Elite. In the last run of the game we upgraded all of the remaining Saxon cuirassiers to Drilled with the exception of one regiment (Again after some lobbying by Günter!). All of the front line Saxon battalions were covered by chevaux and were allowed to adopt DEFEND orders. King August the Strong was randomly either a Plodder or Competent.

The Swedes had 6 battalions. 3 were Guard and the remainder Elite. They had 12squadrons, all Elite with the exception of the Drabants who were Guard. Three light guns completed the orbat. King Karl XII was either Skilful or Gifted on a random die throw in each run of the scenario.

We played the game four times. The Swedes were dubbed machines, cyborgs (not bjornborgs!), zombies and other descriptive terms indicating their almost unstoppable nature. Despite horrendous losses they made it to the Saxon line in every game and broke into the line three times from four.

Their best performance came in game 2 under Bill Robertson. Bill broke the front line in two places and caused the partial collapse of the second line. Despite this, Gerry and Les ultimately achieved an impressive Saxon victory. Don't feel sorry for Bill! He attacked and attacked and then, attacked again. By the end of the game he was commanding one solitary squadron of Ducker's Regiment and two infantry battalions with over 60% casualties apiece, oh... and Karl was still in there but that was it!

He simply ran out of steam as there were no Swedes left to fight. Bill looked well satisfied as he had shattered several regiments of Saxon cuirassiers and worn the enormous GDC down to two rump squadrons.

Alan made some heavy weather of the Swedish attack in game 3 and the result was judged a losing draw. He got bogged down in the centre and his Horse were checked by wave after wave of Saxon Horse which had moved well out into the flanks. Games 1 and 4 saw Günter in charge of his beloved Saxons. Game one was judged a winning draw as was game 4.

King August managed to fight many rounds of close combat during the four battles surviving them all. He led his GDC is a five round melee which saw him flit from one shattered squadron to the next as Ducker's regiment scythed through each fresh wave of red coated Horse on the Saxon right.

An interesting syndrome developed throughout the weekend which saw each successive commander of the Saxons find Günter (wherever he was in the room or at lunch) and report to him on the performance of his army. He told me he 'felt like the King!' by the end of the two days!

Overall the Saxons performed extremely well albeit fighting from a strong defensive position. The Swedes were admired as unstoppable, awesome, frightening, quick, flexible, hard hitting and devastating (with most combats starting with them on +10 or +12 combat dice versus the +3 to +8 of the Saxons) but.. they did not win once and were shattered in every game.

We found the most effective way of dealing with the Swedes was not the All or Nothing charge but rather; sending the Saxon Horse in squadron by squadron. This slowed and disordered the Swedes  in addition to wearing them down by attrition.

Toggy thought BLB balanced it just right. I was happy too!


  1. This was a very unpredictable scenario. Certainly, the boggy ground rule slowed/disorganised the Swedish attack. Without it the Swedes would have been a "knife through butter" on the Saxon lines. However, the Saxon hordes ground the Swedes down through attrition. Great game.

  2. Sounds excellent!! I really need to try and make one of the game days!!

  3. Great looking game and Gunter must be happy having seen his army's performance on the battlefield.

  4. Looking so nice! I love the flags floating above the troops, some beautiful pictures!

  5. "Broke the line in two places" Really?????
    And I thought history was written by the victors??? ;-)

    Ahem......"They staggered up to the front line, breaking through in one place, admittedly, whilst in the the other they got as far as the defences, thoughtfully handed over their colours to the 1stBattalion Of the Pistoris regiment( if I remember correctly) (I'm sure the king can correct me if I'm Gunter?? ;-) ), and then they died to a man!!!
    Whilst the king, as a king should, led the Gardes du Corps personally and fought through many phases of combat, coming through completely unscathed, and ultimately vanquished the Swedish left flank!"

    Now that sounds a bit better Les, doesn't it??? :-))))))))

    P.s.....AND we took a beating in the bar afterwards for winning too!!!!!

    1. Now that sounds a bit better Les, doesn't it??? :-))))))))

      P.s.....AND we took a beating in the bar afterwards for winning too!!!!!

      Yes and YES !!!!!!!!!!!

      Only just read this hence the delay. It was my favourite game of the weekend as well and it was probably me with the high morale dice mentioned by Barry (But I'm not complaining ;-) ). Damn good weekend.

  6. Oh, and it was the most enjoyable game I had of the weekend as it could have gone either way right up till the end....Well played Bill and Les!!! :-)

    1. A most enjoyable battle...Being in command of the mighty Swedes,pity about the muddy fields..They bravely fought to the last man..

  7. Excellent AAR and absolutely beautiful Pictures. I assume the rules were BtLB?
    Scary to think that in the real battle the 12000 machines, cyborgs, zombies eh Swedes won the battle against not just 16500 Saxons, but also casually roued 6000 Polish cavalry, all the while just losing 300 dead. Would love to hear why you think here they were beaten with heavy casualties 4 times. What do you feel made the difference? The chevaux de frise? The (no offense) the generals or is it impossible to grasp and model in rules what killing machines these swedes were??

  8. Rittmeister, great questions and something that has puzzled me too. very common comment from each player was that the rules seemed to get the Swedes just right in terms of balance. They shot almost never and charged almost always. I think the things that worked against them were the unpredictable marshy terrain which disrupted their line meaning the attack went in piecemeal and in at least one case some extraordinarily consistent high morale rolls by the Saxons.. well against probability. One Saxon commander played a very forward game with his Horse and wore the Swedes down way back in their own deployment zone. So, no one thing but a combination.

  9. Thanks for the great AAR Barry!
    Yes Dave, my Saxon Troops made me proud at their first blooding.
    The Swedes ARE the killing machine as they have been and the Saxon Infantry had 50% Raw Battalions in their Army as well as at the first two battles the Cuirassiers were 50% Raw too.
    IMHO it would be unfair to heap all the reasons why Saxony lost every battle on their Polish Allies. But it is certain that the routing Polish Cavalry opened a gap in the flank of the Saxon Army through witch the Swedes ploughed deep in the Saxon Flank and swept the Army away.
    On behalf of the Gentlemen who commanded my Army I think all of them enjoyed it. Gerry is right that the 1st Battalion, Regiment Pistoris captured the Colours of the 2nd Battalion Lifeguards. As did the Garde du Corps in the Cavalry Battle by capturing the Flag of the Ducker's Dragoons.
    BlB2 is a great Rulebook and I know that the most difficult thing in rules is to cover historical Battle outcomes by a Rule system. I was puzzled myself by the outcome of the four Battles and wondered what was the reason that we keept the Army fighting against such a formidable foe as Swedes are. Was it inhistory real Leadership errors or was it in the game the, sometimes, high morale dice throughs? I cant say!
    I remember that in my first battle with Adam commanding the left wing, we managed a winning draw, with the Saxon Center breached by one Battalion of Swedes that routed one Saxon Battalion that swept 5 others with them from the table!
    All because of bad Moral test Dicing!
    To answer the question of the Rittmeister: It seems that the Saxons may have a even larger part of Raw troops in their ranks then we thought OR it was only bad luck!

  10. Great looking game, table, terrain and painted figures. Simply amazing.

  11. Loved the report, the pics, the discussion.

    If it's not too bold of me, may I play devil's advocate as to why the real Swedes beat the Saxons but in 4 tries the game Swedes could not?

    I looked up some sites which gave numbers of infantry for the actual battle and while of course they don't always agree, the general numbers are in the 6-8 thousand range for Swedes and 7-9 thousand range for Saxons with very few Pole infantry. Your game was 6 battalions against 16, quite a difference even given the qualitative edge for the Swedes.
    I would say, based on my games played of BLB, if the Swedes were at parity or even a bit more numbers than Saxons, those games would have all been decisive Swede wins.

    On the other hand, Barry did state up front it was not an exact simulation of the actual battle.
    Regardless, I would have enjoyed playing or watching those.

  12. Joseph, no probs with those observations but you hit the nail on the head with your own rationale. It wasn't an exact refight. I wanted to offer Gunter a chance to get as many of his wonderful Saxons on the table as it could realistically take. We used all the Swedes I had (even painted some extra for it!). The Swine feathers were a surprise when Gunter brought out enough to form a bridge across the Atlantic! Made for an interesting game because I put the pressure on both sides beforehand by winding them up about the real result! If the Swedes had just cut through there would have been cries of 'fix'. No point in fighting the Swedes, they always win etc. Now that people have had a chance to watch them in action, play with them and against them I think subsequent GNW games will not have the fatalism attached to most GNW gaming AND it gives another important army(The Saxons) a chance to share some of the limelight so long hogged by the Swedes.

  13. You will also find that the better command ability of the Swedes will allow them to move their units more effectively and often end up outnumbering their opponent just as they did in real life. I have been on the receiving end of Barry's Swedes where the Russians didn't have marshes or swine feathers to defend themselves and the Swedes got to choose where to attack and my Russians struggled to get troops into position to support the ones in combat. I did manage to kill king Karl XII so in my book that's a Russian victory. 8-)

  14. Some accounts of the Boyne have the Danish deploying chevaux after crossing... Might be a useful rule there as well?

  15. Interesting coincidence or is it a direct influence... the best selling Warfare Miniatures siege equipment code IS..... Chevaux de frise! Gunter has started a trend.


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