The Seven Years War, Die Kriegskunst, 28mm
The premise behind this little game was that a Russian raiding force had crossed the Elbe, and burned down a gun foundry on the outskirts of Berlin. It was now trying to get back to the Elbe and safety. This was loosely based on Totleben’s Berlin Raid of October 1760, which took place almost exactly 250 years ago this week. Well, the Russians were being pursued by a larger Prussian force, and somewhere to the south-east of Berlin they reached a fork in the road. Both roads would lead to a bridge over the River Spree – one at Fürstenwalde, the other at Beeskow.Beyond these bridges lay open country, and a clear route to safety. First though, the Russians had to get over the river. The Prussian player (Dougie Trail) had secretly sketched the environs of both bridges, and deployed a small blocking force at each one. Of course, the Russian had to make the decision on which bridge to cross without knowing what opposition might lie ahead.As the Russian commander I opted for Beeskow. My column was headed by two Sotnias of Cossacks, while the main body consisted of a regiment of grenadiers, and a small secret howitzer detachment. The rearguard was provided by the Kargopolski horse grenadiers. When the Cossacks neared the village in front of the bridge they found it was defended by a small force of Freikorps, and a detachment of hussars and jaegers. After some prevarication (Russians don’t change orders very easily) the decision was made to fight our way into the village, before the pursuers entered the table. Unfortunately, Cossacks can’t launch frontal charges against formed opponents, and the hussars kept their flanks protected. I had no option but to deploy the infantry and the howitzer, and try to blast my way through.It took two turns to drive off the hussars, who failed in their attempt to charge, and consequently were shot out of their saddles until they fled the field. This happened in the nick of time, as the first of the Prussian pursuers – a regiment of hussars – entered the table just as their counterparts at the far end of it were turning tail. My Cossacks simply bypassed the buildings and headed for the bridge, taking a few casualties as they went.Faced with the Russian grenadiers the Prussian Freikorps took refuge in the houses. At this the Russians simply marched past them, taking their guns and baggage with them. The battle degenerated into some desultory musketry, and as the rest of the force crossed the river the horse grenadiers withdrew in good order, keeping the Prussian hussars at bay until they reached safety. Once again the Prussian hussars didn’t manage to charge, and with the rest of the pursuers too far behind there was little they could do to prevent the Russians from escaping.All told it was an enjoyable little game – just the sort of tabletop teaser that makes for a challenge, while being highly entertaining at the same time. It also gave us a chance to re-acquaint ourselves with the rules, just in time for a winter of tabletop campaigning with them!