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The Battle of Steinseltz, 1870


Bismarck’s Wars, 1870, 10mm

franco-prussian-02This was rather unusual – a game in a scale I’d never contemplated before (10mm), run as a rules-learning exercise by the incredibly patient Gerry Henry (he of the grey cable-knit cardigan). In this game a French Corps-sized forces defended a line of hills, while a slightly larger Prussian force attacked them. The figures were surprisingly detailed, given their ludicrously small size, and the general look of the game was a good one – you got the impression that it was quite a big battle. It was certainly an educational experience, particularly for us Prussians, who learned the hard way.franco-prussian-09My South German division attacked the hill on the left flank, while the other two Divisions attacked the right-flank hill, supported by massed Prussian batteries. Actually, it soon turned out that artillery was the key – I sent mine too far forward and they were mauled by the French, but the rest pounded the French line from a thousand yards away, and whittled down the defenders, ready for a massed assault.franco-prussian-05Actually, we attacked too soon against both hills, and on mine the Baden and Wurttemberg troops were roughly handled by the defending Frenchmen and their Zouave reserves. The rules make the French Chassepot rifle far more effective than the German Dreyse needle gun, so we would have been better off hanging back and pounding away with our guns for several turns. Unfortunately we were all too impatient, and paid the price.featureThe rules themselves were fairly simple, with combat factors for firing and casualties, a very straightforward morale system, and a simple but somewhat confusing method of working out charges and hand-to-hand combat. The only melee occurred on the far left flank, where my Wurtemburgers were driven off by the Zouaves.franco-prussian-10Another novel feature was that Gerry banned tape measures to protect the figures, and we used dividers instead, which was a little different, and looked rather slick. For the sake of lessening the learning curve we dispensed with the Orders system, and the game flowed fairly quickly, although poor Gerry the umpire was always being called on to deal with queries and clarify the rules.franco-prussian-01All told it was a fairly enjoyable game, and will serve as a warm-up for a full-sized fight planned by Gerry in early November. At least by having a few practice games first, there’s a faint chance we won’t make so many basic errors when it comes to the big several Corps a side mega-battle.

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