Sunday, October 9, 2011

Musket & Pike: Fehrbellin 1675

A dose of Musket & Pike today and my second game with the series. The battle of Fehrbellin was fought between the Swedes and Brandenburg. The Swedish have mostly heavy infantry and cavalry, but the Brandenburgians field an all cavalry force.  The Swedes must hold off the attackers until the bridge to their rear is repaired.

The game started with Sweden trying to take the Brandenburg artillery position on some low hills behind thickets. They managed to capture one battery easy enough, but were then driven back by the Swedish dragoons. In the center, the Brandenburg cavalry force launched an all out charge on both the right and left flank of the Swedes, estimating the pikemen in the center to be too much to chew.

The Brandenburg cavalry force prepares to charge the Swedish line.
The assault proved a partial success, with the Swedish cavalry on the flanks out of the way, but the Brandenburg cuirassiers couldn't quite manage to swing past the flanks to surround the heavy infantry. They were left scattered on the field with their formation broken instead.

At this point it looked like the cavalry attack had done a lot of damage, but if the heavy Swedish infantry would counterattack, the disorganized cavalry would be as good as dead. At this point, the lines of communication apparently broke down on both sides. The Swedes couldn't change their orders from "receive charge" to "charge" and the Brandenburgians couldn't stop their own charge orders. This meant that the heavy infantry units could not touch the formation broken cavalry in front of their noses and the Brandenburgians couldn't retreat them as the orders were to charge. Instead. they were forced to charge the few organized forces they had left against the Swedish line of pikemen - a suicide.

Towards the end of the game, Brandenburg managed to get their act together and pull back, while the Swedes could not catch the cavalry even after finally getting their orders changed. The game ended with 31 VP in favor of Brandenburg, a draw. Neither army was routed, but casualties were high. It was a better than historical result for Sweden.

I'm still having difficulties getting to grips with cavalry tactics. They seem like such an one shot weapon. They charge in, and both the attacker and the defender melt away. The remaining units are scattered and in a very bad threat of being overrun by a counterattack. I suppose it's realistic, but I still have a lot to learn in how to use them.

The orders system is quite interesting. It reflects the difficulty and uncertainty of making a change in plans after the battle starts quite well, and rewards players who change the order level gradually instead of trying to turn a rally into a charge in one instant. If anything, my hunger for the series has only grown.

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