Archive for the ‘Thirty Years War’ Category

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Onward and upward

September 1, 2010

We’ve set up a yahoo group to do some private playtesting of Anubis games, but in the not too distant future a genuine web site will be set up to replace this blog, complete with a public forum for discussion and feedback.

It has been a long time coming, but it looks as though the quiet unseen gardening work over the years is starting to come into fruit.

Most, if not all of the material here will be migrated on to the new site, but this is just the beginning. Anubis Studios is poised to produce a series of professional games and game supplements, harnessing the creative forces of Greg Hallam, Alan Harrison and Andrew Boswell. This will be combined with the goodwill and solid support given by Nic Robson at Eureka Miniatures.

Thanks to everyone who has visited this site over the years. I hope that you will stick around with us as we transition into the new model, and I hope that we can provide you with some innovative and fun games in return.

Andrew

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Short history of the Thirty Years War – Palatinate phase

August 6, 2010

The Palatinate phase. 1621 – 1624.

The story so far…

After the Bohemian Revolt had been crushed, attention shifted away from the (apparently) pacified Eastern states to the Palatinate in the West, a Protestant country that was also a member of the Electoral College. Furthermore it straddled the vital Val Telline. Its ruler, Frederick V, had unwisely accepted the Bohemian crown during the revolt. If the revolt had been successful he would have held two votes to the election of the Emperor, and personally have had a strangle hold on Spanish support.  He may even have been able to make a play for the Emperor’s position himself. Defeated, he was seen by the administration as a dangerous schemer. The Palatinate would need to be subdued.

1622. Spanish capture Jülich, a nation close to the French border along the vital supply line to Flanders. This country had suffered a minor war ten years earlier concerning succession. Both claimants were Protestant.

Attempting to prevent the link up of the coming Spanish Imperial army with the local Catholic League army, Mansfeld and George Friedrich of Baden-Durlach set up a block. They were attacked by Tilly’s Catholic League army in the Battle of Mingolsheim, but held firm. However Tilly then bypassed them and linked up anyway.

The combined Imperial and Catholic League army defeated the Protestant Union army at the Battle of Wimpfen, which was attempting to split the Catholic allies. Instead the Protestants were split.

At Höchst, the Catholics caught George Friedrich as he attempted to move his army over the Nidda river. The battle was a Catholic victory, but failed to prevent the Protestant allies from recombining.

Turning North, Mansfeld and Christian of Brunswick attacked Spanish general Spinola in the disputed Dutch Provinces in the battle of Fleurus, and were soundly defeated.

Tilly and Cordoba turned their attention to the now isolated English Protestant forces (allies of Frederick V – in fact James I was his cousin) strung out along the Rhine in the Palatinate, and defeated Sir Gerard Herbert in the Siege of Heidelburg.

1623Frankenthal, another Protestant city held by the English, surrendered after a short siege.

Using Dutch troops, Christian of Brunswick marched South, but no Protestant forces joined him. Outnumbered and isolated, he was defeated by the Catholic League army of Tilly at the battle of Stadlohn.

[Treaty of Paris signed between France, Savoy and Venice with the agreement to kick Spanish forces out of the Val Telline. 1623 Papal conlave called on the death of Pope Gregory XV. Pope Urban VIII elected.]

1624. Mansfeld disbanded what was left of his shattered army and sailed to England to ask for money to raise new troops. The English were supportive of recovering the Palatinate, but delayed payment.

And so the Palatinate Phase ended with no Protestant army left in the field. The Imperials must have felt as if they had now snuffed out the root cause of the disease, and had secured the Spanish Road along the Val Telline.

It appeared that all internal opposition within the Empire had been stamped out, and that may have been the end of the matter. All that remained, it seemed, was to crush the Dutch. However, those outside the Empire were not comfortable with the idea of Spain’s consolidation and dominance in middle Europe.

[Treaty of Compiègne signed between France and Dutch United Provinces, allowing France to fund the Dutch war of independence from Spain.]

Scoreboard: Catholics and Imperials 7, Protestants 1.

The Palatinate phase. 1621 – 1624.

The story so far…

After the Bohemian Revolt had been crushed, attention shifted away from the (apparently) pacified Eastern states to the Palatinate in the West, a Protestant country that was also a member of the Electoral College. Furthermore it straddled the vital Val Telline. Its ruler, Frederick V, had unwisely accepted the Bohemian crown during the revolt. If the revolt had been successful he would have held two votes to the election of the Emperor, and personally have had a strangle hold on Spanish support.  He may even have been able to make a play for the Emperor’s position himself. Defeated, he was seen by the administration as a dangerous schemer. The Palatinate would need to be subdued.

1622. Spanish capture Jülich, a nation close to the French border along the vital supply line to Flanders. This country had suffered a minor war ten years earlier concerning succession. Both claimants were Protestant.

Attempting to prevent the link up of the coming Spanish Imperial army with the local Catholic League army, Mansfeld and George Friedrich of Baden-Durlach set up a block. They were attacked by Tilly’s Catholic League army in the Battle of Mingolsheim, but held firm. However Tilly then bypassed them and linked up anyway.

The combined Imperial and Catholic League army defeated the Protestant Union army at the Battle of Wimpfen, which was attempting to split the Catholic allies. Instead the Protestants were split.

At Höchst, the Catholics caught George Friedrich as he attempted to move his army over the Nidda river. The battle was a Catholic victory, but failed to prevent the Protestant allies from recombining.

Turning North, Mansfeld and Christian of Brunswick attacked Spanish general Spinola in the disputed Dutch Provinces in the battle of Fleurus, and were soundly defeated.

Tilly and Cordoba turned their attention to the now isolated English Protestant forces (allies of Frederick V – in fact James I was his cousin) strung out along the Rhine in the Palatinate, and defeated Sir Gerard Herbert in the Siege of Heidelburg.

1623Frankenthal, another Protestant city held by the English, surrendered after a short siege.

Using Dutch troops, Christian of Brunswick marched South, but no Protestant forces joined him. Outnumbered and isolated, he was defeated by the Catholic League army of Tilly at the battle of Stadlohn.

[Treaty of Paris signed between France, Savoy and Venice with the agreement to kick Spanish forces out of the Val Telline. 1623 Papal conlave called on the death of Pope Gregory XV. Pope Urban VIII elected.]

1624. Mansfeld disbanded what was left of his shattered army and sailed to England to ask for money to raise new troops. The English were supportive of recovering the Palatinate, but delayed payment.

And so the Palatinate Phase ended with no Protestant army left in the field. The Imperials must have felt as if they had now snuffed out the root cause of the disease, and had secured the Spanish Road along the Val Telline.

It appeared that all internal opposition within the Empire had been stamped out, and that may have been the end of the matter. All that remained, it seemed, was to crush the Dutch. However, those outside the Empire were not comfortable with the idea of Spain’s consolidation and dominance in middle Europe.

[Treaty of Compiègne signed between France and Dutch United Provinces, allowing France to fund the Dutch war of independence from Spain.]

Scoreboard: Catholics and Imperials 7, Protestants 1.

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Short military history of the Thirty Years War – the Bohemian Phase

August 4, 2010

The Bohemian Revolt: 1618 – 1620.
The Palatinate phase. 1621 – 1624.
The Danish intervention. 1625 – 1629.
The Swedish intervention. 1630 – 1635.
The French intervention. 1636 – 1648.

Background. The Roman Catholic Habsburg family had a dual holding: the Spanish and Austrian crowns. The Austrian holding had control of the non-hereditary office of the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, the confederation of hundreds of German states. The rise of the Lutheran heresy, called Protestantism because of the protest against the authority of the Pope, had flared into war all over Europe. The rich, trading, Dutch (in a land previously called Flanders) had gone over to the heretics and are in revolt against Spain.

The straight roads between the two halves of the Habsburg holdings were blocked by France. The seas were controlled by England, and Spain signally failed to subdue that Protestant nation in the abortive Armada. Only one road between Spain and Empire remained, and this was under France and Switzerland, up the Val Telline valley. Should this road fall to the Protestants, the Habsburgs would be crippled, bankrupted, and the isolated holdings destroyed piecemeal.

Successive Emperors had tried to maintain a settled peace with the countries under their charge that had gone Protestant, but the radicals just increased their demands, and the Emperor lacked the force to simply crush them – the rot had spread too far.

1555. Following a long period of religious and political unrest in the Holy Roman Empire, the Peace of Augsburg signed by Emperor Charles V and the Schmalkaldic League granted the ruler of each country the right to decide what faith the country follows (Cuius regio, eius religio). However, only Roman Catholicism and Lutheranism were recognised as valid choices. This left out the growing radical protestant faiths.

During the years up to 1618 there were numerous mass expulsions of populations from their countries following conversations one way or the other. Protestants pushed to extend their political influence. Calvinists agitated because they had been excluded from the treaty.

The radicals formed the (Calvinist dominated) Protestant Union in 1608 as a mutual support organisation, willing to raise an army if any member was attacked. In response, the loyal Roman Catholic German states founded the German Catholic League in 1609 in order to support the Imperial, Spanish backed army if needed.

1618. Defenestration of Prague. When the Bohemian crown became available (it was an elective post, not hereditary), Protestant agitators saw it as an ideal opportunity to extend their power. A Protestant on the throne of Bohemia would alter the power balance in the Empire as Bohemia was one of the Electoral powers, significant in choosing the Future Emperor (itself an elective rather than hereditary role). In an action designed to inflame passions, the Roman Catholic government representatives were hurled out of the government house windows. They miraculously survived, but this almost farcical event was the trigger for the Thirty Years War.

The Protestant nobles raised an army and put Count Ernst von Mansfeld, a mercenary (and, oddly enough, a Roman Catholic who supported the Protestant cause, though probably because of personal vendetta) in charge. Mansfeld successfully besieged the city of Pilsen, where many Catholics had taken refuge.

An Imperial army under Bucquoy approached Prague but was held up, and then pursued and destroyed by a Protestant force under Heinrich Matthias at Lomnice.

[In other news, a Spanish fleet defeated a Dutch fleet flying Venetian colours trying to run the Gibralter blockade.  The Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth signed a truce with the Tsardom of Russia.]

1619. Bucquoy intercepted and defeated Mansfeld on the way to assist Hohenloe who was besieging Budějovice, at Sablat.

Frederick V (Calvinist ruler of the Palatinate and leader of the radical Protestant Union) was invited to be king of Bohemia by the extremist Protestant rebels now controlling government.

Ferdinand II was elected Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire by the still majority Roman Catholic Electoral College. It was traditional that the Emperor also be crowned king of Bohemia, so Frederick’s installation made him in direct violation of the Imperial prerogatives. Protestant moderates were dismayed, but it was too late to stop the coming catastrophe.

Imperial army under Dampierre was sent to neighbouring Moravia which was supporting the rebels. It was defeated by a Moravian army under von Tiefenbach and ze Zerotina at Wisternitz. It was here that an officer of the Imperial army called Wallenstein with active service experience against the Turks came to the attention of history. He seized the Moravian treasury, carried it to Vienna and presented it to the Emperor. Later he raised a regiment using his own money to serve with the Imperial forces.

Meanwhile, Hungary (and specifically Transylvania) under Bethlen Gabor decided that this was a good time to try a breakaway from Habsburg control, and allied itself with the Protestant rebels in Bohemia. Bratislava fell to the Transylvanians and a siege of Vienna was attempted. Though nominally neutral, the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth was supportive of the Roman Catholic Austrians and sent a force which defeated the Transylvanians at Humenné.

[At the Treaty of Munich, Maximillian of Bavaria (leader of the Catholic League) agreed to supply the Emperor with an army in exchange for ‘any part of the Palatinate he could occupy’, together with  Frederick’s title as Elector. This made available the forces to crush the rebellion, but the change in the electoral balance to stack it in Ferdinand’s favour was illegal.]

1620. Bohemia was invaded under combined Imperial army under Bucquoy and Catholic League army under Tilly.

At the battle of White Mountain, Christian of Anhalt (Protestant) was comprehensively defeated by the allied Imperial and Catholic League army. Lower Palatinate (Protestant) invaded by Spanish forces. Upper Austria (Protestant) invaded by Bavaria (Catholic).

[The Treaty of Ulm was signed between the Catholic League and the Protestant Union with the latter agreeing to quit their support for Frederick V as king of Bohemia. They also agreed to disband, which they did the following year.]

1621. Johann Georg Jägerndorf from nearby Silesia decided to have a go at restoring Protestant power in Bohemia. His first stop was mutually neighbouring Moravia, where he was met by what sounds like a scratch Catholic force under Jean de Gauchier at the town of Neutitschein. Despite getting the best of the Catholics, Jägerndorf made no further progress in Moravia and instead turned east to join the Transylvanians.

End of the Twelve Year’s Truce between Spain and the United Dutch Provinces/Dutch Republic. In the north, The United Dutch Provinces (Flanders) were in rebellion against their Spanish masters. The south (modern Belgium) remained Roman Catholic and loyal. This conflict, known as the Eighty Years War, was an enormous drain on Spanish resources, and was characterised by what would now be labelled war crimes. The Alatriste series of books is set against this backdrop. Spanish forces now converged to renew the conflict.

And with the crushing of the rebellion at its source, it was thought that the matter was finished. However, this was just the end of the Bohemian Phase, as the Protestants renewed the conflict elsewhere, inflamed by the Spanish Catholic forces increasing pressure on the Dutch and the Imperial forces stepwise reduction of now isolated Protestant holdings.

[In other news, the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth defeated the Ottoman Empire at the battle of Khotyn. A Dutch East India Company naval convoy was attacked and defeated by Spain while crossing the Strait of Gibralter. Pope Gregory XV elected at the 1621 Papal conclave. In France, Louis XIII failed to capture the Huguenot (Calvinist inspired French Protestants) after a two month siege.]

 Scoreboard: Catholics and Imperials 4, Protestants 2.

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Combined arms in White Mountain

October 18, 2009

lg_wingedhussarsThe last few play tests seem to have confirmed that the basic direction for White Mountain hex and block 30YW wargame are sound. The general behviour of the units in movement and combat broadly confrom to our expectations (let’s be honest: our far-removed from experience fantasy of what the results may have been).

Now it is time to think about how to represent the combined arms formations that were far more common than one might think.  These formations had one or more companies of infantry interspersed between one or more squadrons of cavalry. The intention was to produce a system which could inflict disruption on an enemy force, and then have sufficient speed and weight on hand to exploit immediately. Caracoling cavalry did not have the firepower of infantry, and infantry alone were not fast and heavy enough – did not have the shock effect – of cavalry.

At its simplest we want to see mixed blocks within the one hex – say two cavalry blocks and one infantry. But what does this mean for the stats? There has to be benefits and there have to be risks. Infantry mixed with cavalry will not have the firepower of solid infantry, nor will they have the protective strength of the pike. Cavalry in mixed units will not have the cohesion of very large formations.

These are questions to be answered, and playtests to be conducted.

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Kurassiers, Arkebusiers, Trotters, and Gallopers

May 19, 2009

ImperialMountedArquebussier1640Line cavalry at the start of the Thirty Years War could be divided simply into the kurassiers – clothed in three quarter armour and armed with long wheel lock pistols, and arkebusiers – clothed in lighter armour and armed with a shortened matchlock, effectively a carbine. Both of these types used the caracole as their main tactical doctrine. The kurassiers were the heavies, and the arkebusiers were medium cavalry.

Depending on the views of the organising commander, kurassiers and arkebusiers  could be mixed together in the same regiment, or could be separated into distinct regiments. In mixed regiments the arkebusiers would have been brought to the fore because of their longer range, but would have migrated to the back of the formation when it came to contact, leaving this role to the heavy kurassiers.

In White Mountain, a mixed kurassier and arkebusier regiment uses stats as if it were a pure kurassier regiment. Pure arkebusier regiments have slightly different stats.

Mixed cavalry regiment 4 /1

Kurassier 4 /1

Arkebusier 3 /2

By the middle of the war, Gustavus Adolphus and others were experimenting with the direct cavalry charge, discarding the caracole. Gradually the caracole was phased out in favour of the shock tactics. Opinions differed as to whether the trot (either slow or fast) up to the target and then discharging pistols before contact, or a charge at the gallop and neglecting the pistol until contact was made was better.

The Imperials preferred the trot, the Swedes the gallop.

Both had advantages and disadvantages. The trot arguably compressed the caracole and the exploitation charge into one continuous committed movement. But the shock effect was lessened because of the controlled pace. The gallop had great morale shock effect and over time became the default tactic for cavalry in Europe for a good 200 years. However it also tended to shatter the attacking unit. Considerable time and effort was required to pull them back into any order for them to take any further part in the battle. But the aim was for the charge to be decisive.

Ironically this was rediscovering old tactics, not inventing new ones. The mounted charge was the main tactic of the medieval knights. The pike armed infantryman evolved to keep the long lance armed horsemen away. As firepower improved, increased emphasis was put into this arm and the number of pikemen in a regiment gradually decreased. The average length of the pike itself reduced as well. In this climate the cavalry began to reclaim the opportunity to charge home.

To represent trotters and gallopers in White Mountain use the following rules:

Trotters 5/0 (the 5 melee dice are for the first round of melee only. This represents the discharge of pistols at point blank range before contact).

Gallopers 4/0 (gallopers automatically inflict 1 disruption token on their target when they make contact, in addition to anything they inflict through roll for attack. However, gallopers automatically receive an additional disruption token when they attack due to the disorganising effects of their charge. Therefore gallopers receive 2 disruptions whenever they are the attacker).

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White Mountain – Battle report – Beernsdorft 1622

May 4, 2009

This is a record of the play test of the current version of the White Mountain rules for block, hex and card games modeling the Thirty Years War. Simon played the Catholics and Imperials, and I played the Protestants.

This was scenario set in the Palatinate or German war phase. The Imperials and Catholics are still using the traditional Spanish tercio, and the German Protestants are using shallow battalions based on the Dutch model. Historically the Protestants got the worst of it in these encounters. This has raised questions in my mind as to why alternatives were sought to the tercio, but this is a digression.

p10205561We used the Bohemian Revolt army generator to get the starting forces and terrain layout (battle-of-beerndorft) to get the forces. Simon was superior in cavalry, but I had a distinct advantage in artillery – much good as it did me in the end. This gave the following terrain layout on a standard 13×10 hex board (this one from the Epic set of BattleLore).And here is a representation of the forces overlaid.

We tried to use all the rules available to us so far, and I think we only missed one late in the game when a regiment failed to retreat after losing combat. But I believe this is all that was missed. Virtually all of the tactics that were available to the unit types were used, including caracole, and so I think this was a fair test of the system.

beernsdorft0011The battle opened with Simon pushing his right wing straight up the Beernsdorft stream. Despite harassment from my artillery both the Martinez and Salazar kurassiers closed on the hill held by a detached shot regiment and ejected them. A strong counter attack regained the hill, supported by the Schmid kurassiers, but it was not enough. The arrival of the Imperial Schmitt tercio and the Hahn regiment of kurassiers sealed the fate of the protestant left. Battered and forced back the shot regiment collapsed and fled the field, closely followed by the Weber infantry regiment. Schmid’s kurassiers put up a stout defense, but even with the exhaustion and collapse of the imperial Salazar kurassiers Simon’s troops looked ready to roll up the protestant flank.

p1020559This action was a brutal seesaw affair with commanders lost on both sides and the gradual build up of disruption on the participating regiments. At times Simon was weighing the risks of continuing the assault and continuing to build up disruption or retreat to reform and lose this initiative. This was exactly the decision we were trying to model. In the end several (protestant – grinding teeth) regiments collapsed because they had too many disruption tokens (that is: they routed).

After realigning what was left on my protestant left flank I decided to shift the focus to the centre where I had artillery superiority. This caused some discomfort to the Imperial Soto and Mendez tercios, but only seemed to spur Simon into action. The Imperial army launched a general advance in the centre and covered the 700 metres in an alarmingly short period of time. My 24 great guns belched at the advancing papists but did little to deter them.

Conceiving a master stroke, I swept my Protestant right wing forward to envelop the exposed advancing tercios. Kaiser, Hoffman and Schwarz kurassiers caracoled against Mendez tercio, achieved the hoped for disruption and closed for the slaughter – only to be bounced at great cost. The tercios continued their inexorable march while the badly cut up Protestant horse retired.

p1020562

Guns face up have been abandoned by their crews and are now silent and ready for capture.

And at that moment as I saw that virtually all my horse had gone and almost every cannon had been silenced. I conceded victory even though I still had several fresh infantry regiments. In real life I would be detailing a couple of regiments to stall the advancing Imperials and Catholics while I tried to save the rest of the Protestant army for another day.

Key test findings:

Accumulating Disruption modeling morale and cohesion. The goal was to simulate that armies of this time disintegrated from the back – that is: a regiment was more likely to be destroyed through the men fleeing rather than being slaughtered. A further goal was to simulate this without complex ‘morale’ rules requiring extra calculations and dice rolls. Finally, this mechanism was designed to allow you to manage the problem, effectively giving you choices. This seems to have been fulfilled. In attack, Simon had a choice whether to risk continuing in the push and possibly fall apart, or halt and reform and lose initiative.

Total game time was somewhere around an hour and a half. Simulated time was in the vicinity of 3 hours, allowing for a move representing roughly 20 minutes.

Overall, the basic rules capture the appropriate flavour. Another test with this base set of rules is needed, then I want to add in the extra unique flavour events such as exploding powder, misunderstood retreats, secret movement and so on.

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White Mountain army generator

May 3, 2009

I have created an excel spreadsheet that randomly generates armies for the Bohemian phase of the Thirty Years war consistent with the forces described in the White Mountain rules.

Unfortunately, WordPress does not allow me to publish .xls files here. If you want a copy, drop me an email at Bozzie99@gmail.com and I’ll send it to you.

The spreadsheet allows you to set the proportion of each type of regiment that could be present in a typical Catholic/Imperial or Protestant army. It then generates a 20 regiments a side, divided into left, centre and right zones plus a reserve. This is about the right number of units to populate a typical 13 x 10 hex board.  It also tells you how many blocks are each regiment and, using the underlying calculations, then tells you the real manpower so you can get a feel for the actual battle scale. The spreadsheet gives force sizes typically between 10,000 and 20,000 men.

Simon and I recently tested this and other parts of the game. This write up will follow, along with cut images of the army generator output.