Sunday, July 31, 2016

Battle of Kolin: Prussia's Glory - Croat Sniping

63 Croats snipe Prussian column causing disorder
The optional rules really make this game system shine.

One of the major differences between the Prussian army and the Austrian army during the Seven Year's War was the Austrian use of light troops. Frederick though that using irregular infantry was dishonorable and cowardly, and refused to employ them. This led to situations during campaigns and battles where his troops were at a disadvantage in terms of reconnaissance and in fighting in constricted terrain.

This is nicely modeled in the PG series by the optional Croat sniping rule combined with the ability for "fast" units to withdraw before combat during the Close Combat phase. The way this works is that Croat units, rather than engaging in regular Close Combat during the Coalition Close Combat phase, can instead elect to "snipe." The Coalition player selects an adjacent hex containing only infantry to target, totals the number of Croat unit Strength Points (SP) - in the case above 3 - and rolls one die. If the total of the SP and die roll exceeds the morale of the target (smaller of the two numbers above the black boxed MA rating on each counter) then the target is Disordered. This satisfies the requirement that Croat units that are adjacent to enemy units and engaged must perform and attack.

Now, in the following Prussian Close Combat phase, the Croat unit would normally be locked into the combat and unable to move away. However, because it is a "fast" unit, have a Movement Allowance (MA) of four rather than the usual infantry MA of three, the Croat unit can voluntarily withdraw a hex and avoid the combat, provided none of the opposing Prussian units are formed cavalry. This combination of rules neatly allows Austrian light infantry tactics that can be a major impediment to the Prussians.

In the situation above, the Prussians now have to either deploy that entire wing from column into line so that they can perform Close Combat versus the Croat unit without serious disadvantages (negative Die Roll Modifiers), or attempt to dislodge the Croats while in column, probably taking nasty casualties. While the Prussian player might think it's likely that the Austrians will pull back the Croats he can't count on it. Therefore the only logical thing to do is to deploy from column into line, something that happens right at the beginning of the Sequence of Play, well before the movement phase.

The other stack that is adjacent to the Croat unit contains artillery as well as infantry. If the Prussians deploy, they will be able to fire on the Croats during their Offensive Bombardment phase. At that close range, that fire is likely to be effective and cause some losses to the Croat unit. Still, it requires the Prussians to deploy, creating havoc in the entire Prussian movement scheme.

Finally, another Advanced/Optional rule allows for Advanced Command Determination results. One of these can result in an entire wing launching a "Rash Attack," where that wing must move to the full extent of their MA toward the nearest enemy and attack. With the Croat Sniping, Withdrawal Before Combat, and the Advanced Command Determination rules the game can very much simulate the kinds of events that happened in the battles of this period, in a single map game that can be played in a single afternoon.