John put on a PW game covering Nachod (also in 1866) a couple of months ago, and I was keen to give it another go as the original rules were aimed specifically at the nineteenth century. John had used a pre-publication version and I wanted to try it with the rules from the original book which had some importance differences.
The other thing I wanted to try was a different set up. The Skype+Camera thing is fine as far as it goes, but there are often comms issues through the sessions and the biggest problem is player orientation. My APW stuff is all in 6mm and making any sense of what was going on at all would have been quite hard remotely without doing big bases, labels etc. I was interested in trying something a bit different.
Early in lockdown, Simon helpfully pointed out a site with some game assist software specifically aimed at the Portable Wargame : https://www.cottonreeltank.org/cafelunar/gamecabinet/gridgame/
There are a series of packages covering various iterations and periods of PW, and very kindly, the source code is also available for download. The main thing it offers is the ability to manouvre graphical objects across a background in a rather easier manner than e.g. using my mapping software or Powerpoint Slides or whatever. My programming skills are rather antedelivian, ending somewhere around C and SQL with a smattering of Java, although I did spend a moderate amount of time doing HTML database applications.
Anyway, fast forward to August, and I thought I may as well try and run a PW game on it, what it was originally designed for. I did do some customisation, I modified the unit database to remove all the tricornes from the figures an instead have Prussians in picklehaubes, Austrians and Saxons in shakos with re right uniform colours and facings etc. I also replaced the terrain tiles with my own map, scaled to fit the virtual figure bases and added some extra markers (explosions, activation markers etc).
I picked Gitschin as a scenario, as it is an interesting battle and made a change from Prussians trying to cross mountain passes into Bohemia. The scenario was based on the Wyre Forest Gamers one for Fire & Fury Francesa, plus some mods from Wavros account of the battle.
Here is the basic setup. The Austrians have to hang on to Gitschin until the end of the game while also linkng up with the Saxons (en route from the south) and then withdrawing the Austrian army intact! The whole position is one of those surveyed by the Austrians in the eighteenth century. The big hill in the middle has cliffs on its north and west edge, which makes this an outstanding defensive position.
Meanwhile two entire Prussian armies are en route via the north and west roads, each with a division as a vanguard.
A Prussian division. Four infantry regiments, artillery battalion and HQ. I was pleased with how the Prussian flag came out, and if you look very carefully they have all got the right cuff and shoulder colours etc. The gun carriage is also Prussian Blue.
The hardest thing was modelling the infantry as the standard PW doesn't really model the tactical gulf between the Austrians and the Prussians. Regiment for Regiment the Prussians were at least twice as combat effective as the Austrians, if not four times as effective based on the relative loss ratios as the Prussians had breechloading rifles and were dispersed, whereas the Austrians had muzzle loaders they hadn't been trained to fire and also deployed in dense assault columns which made them into dense targets.
In the end I just went with combat equivalence, so one Prussian regiment was the equivalent of an Austrian brigade. As Prussians were spread out in skirmish columns, and the Austrians jammed together into storm columns that explained the difference in real estate occupied.
That worked quite well as the detached Austrian Corps holding Gitschin was a big one, with five brigades (aka 'Divisions') plus an attached cavalry division, so it kept the unit count down. The Saxons I gave the same ratio as the Prussian, one unit per regiment, as they knew how to fight in supported skirmish lines and could both actually fire their rifles and all speak the same language.
The Austrian Corps, five 'divisions' (representing a brigade of two regiments), a full artillery regiment with three battalions and its attached cavalry division, which should have three brigades but I modelled it as two because cavalry were hideously vulnerable to rifles in 1866.
As the Prussians have two divisions with five units apiece, and the Austrians also have ten, that doesn't seem unreasonable. Due to the notorious command problems facing the ployglot Austrian army, I also reduced their activation level by one, so their median activation is five units to the Prussians eight, lets see if that is enough for the Prussians to overcome that nasty defensive position!
Numbers were low for this one and Simon and Tim C drew the Prussians, John and Jerry the Austrians and Saxons.