Sunday 23 July 2023

Battle of Kolin - Commands and Colors

Last month I attended the annual Wild Geese War Games meeting, and put on a participation game using my 40mm semi-flats.

Austrian centre deployed on the ridge - Photo by Robbie Roddis

As often happens, when I am running games I got engrossed in the game, and forgot to take many photos; fortunately some of the other players took some, and also posted them on their own blogs, below are links where you will see more pictures:

In addition to my own photos I have pinched some from those blogs.

The Wild Geese weekend is generally 18th century based, and was held on the weekend of 17th & 18th June, 18th June was the date of one of the great battles in history, the Battle of Kolin in 1757 (there might have been another less interesting clash on that date some years later), so nice to play it on the anniversary. For the game I decided to use the Commands and Colors (it's American) board game system, something I often do for my 15mm Napoleonic games. Although the American War of Independence variant 'Tricorne' is available, and would be expected to be suitable for the SYW battles, I find those rules have the feel of large skirmishes rather than major confrontations; so I decided to use the Napoleonic set, with a few amendments I will discuss later. 

The Table

First of all I need to make both a thank you and apology to Martyn Cartledge who kindly let me use his terrain for the weekend, even though not attending himself:

  • A big thank you for letting me use his 12' x 6' hand made cloth marked out in 180mm (across flats) hexes, and matching MDF hills & woods. Clearly I could not have staged the game without the hex terrain to play on.
  • An apology for using the cloth the wrong way up, both sides are green and marked in hexes, however not realising that at the time I opened the cloth, I saw the hexes on green and laid it out. Only on packing away did I realise that the other side was a much better colour match for the hills - and the hexes were more neatly drawn, so the lack of fit visible on the photos would not have occurred. I later discovered I was playing on an early test run! 
One of the 40mm test games with the cloth the right way up -  a much nicer green!

The available playing area was 19 hexes wide and 11 deep, and the the terrain was stylised as the sketch below (sorry, no fancy graphics from me). At the top (2nd row down), across the width of the board is the Kaiserstrasse, along which the Prussians were marching, and towards the bottom (3rd to 6th rows up) the line of hills and woods over which the Austrians were deployed.

The Armies

With the board sketched out (it took a few test games using my 15mm armies to arrive at the one shown) it came to deciding on the armies - when playing C&C only one unit can occupy a hex, so this set the scale of the game.

The majority of the Prussian infantry was strung out in column of march along the Kaiserstrasse, with a few battalions of grenadiers (3?) marching in parallel, and cavalry in advance and behind; the game scale was therefore determined by the 18 hex length of the Kaiserstrasse. For playability I decided to allocate 4 hexes at the front to give Zieten's hussars space to manoeuvre, and two hexes at the rear for Penavaire's cuirassiers, leaving 12 hexes for the infantry.

According to Kronoskaff there were 33 Prussian battalions present, and after allowing for say 3 battalions off road that left 30 on the road, so each game 'regiment' would represent about 2.5 battalions, so in the game there were 13 infantry 'regiments'; 12 on the road and one off. According to Duffy there were 19,500 Prussian infantry present, so each regiment on the table represented about 1500 men. Based on the order of battle, the Prussian infantry was represented as follows:

  • 1 Regiment of Guards (Gd)
  • 6 Regiments of Musketeers (M)
  • 3 Regiments of Fusiliers (F)
  • 3 'Regiments' of Grenadiers (G) - I know they did not have regiments!

Using the same process for the information I had available I came up with opposing armies as follows:


  • 1 Regiment of Guards (Gd)
  • 3 'Regiments' of Grenadiers (G)
  • 6 Regiments of Musketeers (M)
  • 3 Regiments of Fusiliers (F)
  • 5 Regiments of Cuirassiers (C)
  • 3 Regiments of Dragoons (D)
  • 4 Regiments of Hussars (H)
  • 2 Batteries of Artillery (I ignored the masses of battalion guns)

Prussians marching along the Kaiserstrasse, they would have looked better in column of march but it takes time to deploy them  - photo by Aly Morrison


  • 1 'Regiment' of Grenadiers (G)
  • 18 Regiments of Fusiliers (-)
  • 2 Regiments of Grenz (Gz)
  • 4 Regiments of Cuirassiers (C)
  • 1 Regiment of Horse Grenadiers (HG)
  • 4 Regiments of Dragoons (D)
  • 5 Regiments of Hussars (H)
  • 4 Batteries of Artillery

Austrians lining the ridge, with reserves marching to meet the Prussian outflanking move - photo by Aly Morrison

The Rules

For the game we used Commands and Colors Napoleonics, including the 'Generals Marshals and Tacticians', and 'Epic' expansions; with a few changes to cover the SYW:
  • Infantry facing matters - at the end of movement the infantry unit must face one of the sides or points of the hex.
  • Infantry attacked frontally (not rear 2/3 hexes) by cavalry always melee first (including cavalry  breakthrough moves), and the cavalry can NEVER ignore flags.
  • Cuirassiers do not get additional resistance against musketry.
  • Artillery - no firing overhead or combined arms unless gun is supporting an adjacent infantry unit.

And specifically for this battle to represent the Prussian attempt to move around the Austrian right flank, and the Austrian response:
  • Epic March Move (3 stars on card), can be used in any sector to move troops which spend their entire move in the back two rows of the table - to allow lateral movement. 
  • Troops which spend their entire move on the road may increase their normal move an additional hex.
I also messed around with the stats on the units, essentially making the Prussian infantry and Cavalry much more effective when attacking - I have included the sheets below:

How did it Play?

I would suggest looking at the blogs I have listed to see how the game was received. We played the game 3 times, and set a target of 15 Victory Points (VPs). We finished all 3 games in about 3 hours, and the final tally was 2 wins to the Austrians, and one to the Prussians, all ending within a couple of VPs - the final game ended with Frederick being killed by a musket ball!

Cavalry engaged on Austrian right - photo by Aly Morrison

Monday 17 July 2023

British Highlanders - Update

Just to show I am still here - a quick update on the release of the Highlanders; according to Prince August these moulds will be released late-July/early-August.

There will be 3 moulds containing what has now become the 'standard' mix of 6 figures, that is:
  • Officer
  • Standard Bearer
  • NCO
  • Musician (bagpipes)
  • Rank and file at march attack and advancing.
Heads will be provided to make figures with either bonnet or bearskin, and the officer and NCO with the option to change weapons.

The illustrations below are not the latest designs, but give a good idea of what is on the way, there have been couple of changes since these were taken:
  • The officers now have a sash over the shoulder
  • The march attack figures left arm has been revised to reposition the hand to hold the musket at the base of the butt.

In view of comments about the kilt; I have added a couple more views showing the belted plaid - it is just not very visible on the images above.