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A Battle Report from Swabia

Hussites against Later Imperial

By David Kuijt

This report describes a DBA game between me, playing the Hussites, and a friend of mine, playing the Later Imperials (i.e. Germans).

  • Hussite Order of Battle (south):
  • German Order of Battle (north):
  • Battlefield

    The field was basically clear, with two exceptions. On the Southwest corner there was a big patch of woods, and in the center there was a small patch of woods and a town. The space between the SW woods and the center woods was just wide enough for three stands to pass. The town was fairly small. A road went through the town basically on a N/S axis.

    Setup was blind (both setting up at the same time, with a screen between us).

    Hussite Setup

  • Hussites set up on the South side in in three divisions.
  • Hussite Plan

    Both wings would trundle slowly up to missile range and blow away anything they found there. The key to the plan was the center -- I planned to take the town/centerwood with my 5 blades. His two Psiloi would be dangerous in the bad going, but his cavalry wouldn't venture in, and his pike would be helpless (-2 for Bad Going and No Back Support for stacked pike means my blades would have Pike for dinner). The weakness was that my wings were slow -- he might be able to swamp one before I took the center.

    German Setup

  • The Germans (Imperials) set up on the North side in in three divisions.
  • German Plan

    I don't know. It didn't work, though.

    Start of the Battle

    The Germans started the game with excellent Pips. This allowed them to get both their Psiloi into the town very quickly and form line of pikes on the East side of the town, advancing to the center of the map in a continuous line with the crossbows of the East wing.

    Meanwhile the Warwagons trundled forward, and the column of Hussite peasant blades got into the other end of the town.

    Mid-Battle On the West Wing

    This wing was pip-starved, but gradually the Hussites kept moving forward through the gap. The Germans quickly decided that they were not going to have any use for their Knights on that wing, and sent both of them wheeling around behind their army and over (eventually) to reinforce the East wing. They left the Light Horse to delay the enemy. No engagement here for some time.

    Mid-Battle On the East Wing

    The Warwagons trundled forward. As they came forward the Germans were unsure how to deal with them, stopping their line out of range of artillery, then pulling the crossbows out of line and sending them back in column; gradually pulling the pike back later to prevent the hussite blade from fighting them in the town. The germans hadn't figured out what the hell to do with the warwagons on the East flank. A sortie with two Knights led to one being killed by missile fire and the other retreating back into safety.

    Mid-Battle In the Center

    The Hussite blades came forward, gradually spread out a bit, and gradually and painfully pushed the German psiloi back. Even though the blades couldn't kill the psiloi, they gradually pushed them out of the town at +3 to +2. Finally one of the psiloi had enough and fled (got doubled in combat -- not dead, but run 6" back). The other one pulled out of the town and made line with the pike, north of the town with the line spreading to the east. The hussites held the town. The germans were becoming desperate -- they still hadn't figured out what the hell to do with the warwagons on the East flank. A flanking attempt with two Knights led to one being killed by missile fire and the other retreating back into safety out of range.

    End-Battle on the West Wing

    The germans sent one Psiloi up to join the Light Horse on the west wing, delaying the slowly creeping-up flanking force of 1 WWg, 1 Arty, 1 Lh (one more WWg had been left behind so the LH could come up for flexibility and speed). Although the light troops started engaging, trying to kill the Arty (the main vulnerable troop on the line), they were thrown back several times, and finally the Light Horse was destroyed. The warwagons trundled on, finally getting close enough to set up for firing Arty at the flank of the center german line.

    End-Battle In the Center

    The hussites gradually made line just inside the town, coming forward to keep the germans from maneuvering with too much flexibility. They very gradually formed up, not too worried, sending pips to the two wing commands when necessary. There was no chance that the Germans could take the town back, and no need to fight them in the open where the pikes would rule, so the center waited, shouting insults at each other but no real fighting.

    End-Battle on the East Wing

    The germans couldn't win on the West, and they couldn't win in the center unless the hussites came out (which they weren't inclined to do), and they couldn't win if they waited (they'd get pushed back and disordered by artillery and missile fire from the warwagons). So they only had one option remaining: to attack on the East Wing. But with what? The crossbow would get crushed in a missile exchange or melee; the pike were too far and too slow. So the German Knights (including one that had started on the West Wing, but had now arrived on the far flank) charged forward, including their general, in the hope of destroying the Hussite Artillery and getting some room on the East Wing.

    The hussites had by now made line -- unbroken blades all the way to the WWg and Arty on the East flank. One WWg had become separated and was acting as a flank guard to prevent any flanking attempt.

    In a heroic effort the Germans came forward, though thrown back several times by artillery and missile fire. The last WWg on the flank tried to make line to support the artillery, but too late -- the Knight assault broke through, and the Arty died. Things looked up for the Germans, but only briefly.

    Climax in the Center

    On the West Wing the Arty was now bearing on the poor Psiloi holding the West end of the German line, but his fate was even quicker to be determined. The Hussite Light Horse was released to hit the flank of the poor Psiloi, even as a Hussite Blade came out of the town to fix his front. At +4 to +1 with no retreat possible, the Psiloi died. The next two lines were pike, and they were in the face of hussite blades -- in an instant they would be flanked, the special horror of Pike.

    Climax in the East Wing

    The heroic effort of killing the Hussite East-wing Arty had resulted in the German Knight-General in direct combat with a Warwagon. A hussite blade collided with the General's flank and it was all over.

    Butcher's Bill

    The Hussites lost one Arty.

    The Germans lost a LH, a Psiloi, and two Knights (one the General). If the battle had gone on they would have had single pikes taken in flank against blades -- bad stuff.

    Lessons Learned for the Germans

    1) Have a plan. Retreating and reorganizing is not usually a plan. Pulling your whole line back twice, running a column of troops all the way behind your lines from one edge to the other, and dancing is not a plan, it is desperation.

    2) The best German infantry available was the Pike. They took no part in any combat (except being an overlap in the death of their last Psiloi on their flank). As I saw in the battle with Sean, it is possible for massed pike to push forward against WarWagon and Arty and eventually get into contact and kill the Arty. Also, the Pike didn't need to be doubled-up unless they were going to fight the Blades in the open. Single-ranked Pike would have done fine against the Arty, and against the Warwagons you could throw a second rank on later to get the +6 to +4.

    3) Rough-terrain troops are great. The German Psiloi did very well -- 2/3 of the total combat rolls were probably involving German Psiloi. But they didn't have any support in the town, so 2 units weren't going to hold 5 forever. Oh, for another Psiloi or Auxilia!

    4) The German Crossbow never fired, and were never fired on. They didn't want to face the Blades in the center, didn't want to face the Arty and WWg on each flank. There had to be something they could have done. Perhaps splitting them up, using one on each flank in the back to eliminate the threat of the Hussite Light Horse, or even use their mobility for a quick run-out-and-flank, perhaps in the town? Something, anyway.

    5) The Germans probably would have been best off totally abandoning the West Wing rather than leaving the Light Horse there. A Light Horse might have been very useful on the East Flank after the Arty got toasted. By attacking 2 units on 3 trying to kill the Arty on both flanks, the Germans only ensured that more of their units died.

    Lessons Learned for the Hussites

    1) Having a plan is great, especially if it is a great plan :^)

    2) The East Wing was weaker than the West Wing, and it should have been the other way around. The Light Horse should have been attached to the East Wing troops rather than to the West Wing troops. There was more room on the East Wing for a fancy maneuver by the LH.

    3) Keep Line. The arty died because the WWg on the far side wasn't up with it, providing an overlap.

    4) Warwagons are tough, and they really scare the enemy. But the blades won this battle by driving the Psiloi out of the town. Only one kill was actually made by Warwagons. Looks like Warwagons can dominate the field, but not necessarily kill much unless the enemy attacks them directly. Against most cavalry, though, Warwagons rule.

    5) Arty are fragile. Keeping units in line on both sides of them is a good idea, as it makes for good overlaps which keep them alive longer. It seems that the weakness in this army is in the Arty -- they are powerful, but once the enemy gets to grips with them, they're gonna fall pretty fast.

    6) God, this is a slow army! Took bloody forever to move forward. It seems to be important not to go gallivanting around with the Light Horse -- better to use it to fill the gap of whichever Arty gets destroyed first. It would have been really cool to have the LH behind the Arty when the Knights hit it: if the Knight won it would advance impetuously, to be facing the LH with a double overlap! Dead Knight, most likely.

    7) Strangely enough, this is an army of maneuver. Slow, careful maneuver, but maneuver nonetheless. The Hussites have to be systematic -- crushing the enemy between slowly-closing pincers.

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