Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Battle of the Stippgrütze Hills (Fictional), 1805

A fictional battle, to test Neil Thomas' One-Hour Wargame Rules (Chapter 11 "Horse and Musket Wargames Rules," Chapter 22 "Solo Wargaming," and Scenario 1 "Pitched Battle [1]"). 


As the French army crossed the Rhine, General Maille was dispatched with a detachment to advance into the hills of Stippgrütze, where they encountered an Austrian force under the command of General Inglehoffer. The two generals gathered their forces on and around the hills on opposite sides of a valley, and then pressed forward to battle.

Order of Battle

The French (General Maille)
     One Artillery Unit
     Three Infantry Units
     Two Skirmisher Units

The Austrians (General Inglehoffer)
     One Artillery Unit
     Four Infantry Units
     One Skirmisher Unit


Maille perceived that he was at a disadvantage. The battlefield consisted of a flat, empty valley between two large hills. However, a full third of his force was made up of skirmishers, who needed the cover of woods to be fully effective. Without any woods to speak of [the trees in this scenario are just for decoration], Maille's skirmishers would be very exposed.

With no cavalry on the field for either army, Maille decided to use the skirmishers' one remaining strength – their speed – as the basis for his plan. He would position both units of skirmishers on the right flank, with a unit of infantry just to their left. Under covering fire from the artillery, the infantry unit would ideally advance to pin the facing enemy wing in place, while the skirmishers attempted to run around the flank of the pinned enemy wing.

Unfortunately, as the armies prepared for battle [using the solo set-up rules] Maille's force was outdeployed from the start, augmenting his difficulties. Inglehoffer too decided to launch an assault on the French right, which meant the bulk of the Austrians' mostly-infantry force would be facing off against Maille's skirmishers. In a shooting match between the two, the French skirmishers would be unlikely to prevail.

Positions at the start of the game, from the French side of the board.

Game Turns 1-3

The French shift their weight from the right to the center, and the Austrians focus on the flanks [this was determined by weighted random die rolls for the Austrians]

Both sides begin to exchange fire, with the Austrians initially getting the better of the exchange. But the French quickly catch up. Both sides manage to rally somewhat [solo random event rolls – Chapter 22] and the Austrians experience some confusion on turn 3 [solo random event roll – Chapter 22] and are unable to move and shift to reinforce the center. The French are doing well in the center, if only their flanks can hold out. 

End of Game Turn 3. 
Numbers next to units indicate how many hits they've taken.
Units are eliminated at -15.

Game Turns 4-6

The French flanks crumble as does the Austrian center. For a moment, it appears that the French are holding their own in the firefight, but the Austrians begin to inflict more casualties than the French. The Maille's light infantry push forward toward Inglehoffer's artillery, but the Austrians turn in from the flanks toward the center.

End of Game Turn 5.
Turn 6 would see the Austrian flanks swing in toward the center.

Game Turns 7-9

The French experience a momentary confusion, stopping their advance up toward the Austrian-held hill. Meanwhile, Inglehoffer's troops press inward from the flanks. Their withering fire inflict more casualties on the French. The French return fire, causing one more Austrian unit to melt away, but it is not enough. The Austrians gain the initiative [solo random event roll – Chapter 22] which allows them to bring the fire of all their remaining troops against Maille's last skirmisher unit, destroying it. 

End of Game Turn 9

With only his artillery remaining, and outnumbered three to one, Maille decides to save his ordnance and withdraw, leaving the field to his Austrian nemesis.


In the evening, out of harm's way, Maille critiqued his own performance. Though he started at a disadvantage with fewer line infantry and no good terrain suitable for his skirmishers, he believed he could have better acquitted himself by making a more judicious advance toward the enemy, and by keeping troops in reserve to counter-punch once the enemy was drawn in on his terms.


A short, thoroughly enjoyable game. Just the ticket for a quick session of piece-pushing and dice-slinging. The mechanics seemed to work well for the period. I'm not an expert on musket-era warfare by any means, but my understanding is that infantry fights tended to grind down into musketry duels from which it was hard for either unit to extricate itself. While the rules don't have any specific stipulation that an infantry unit cannot pull out of a firefight, they work in such a way that there really seems to be no benefit to doing so, and that your best bet is to stick it out until you or the other guy withers away. One other thing I would do very differently is to hold back a unit in reserve and wait to see how things were unfolding before committing it as a sort of hammer blow against a weakened enemy unit. I didn't think to much about that since I was mostly just trying out the rules for the first time, but as the game moved along, it seemed to me that these rules would really reward that use of a reserve. 


  1. Someday, the Austrian general's ancestors founded a California wine company, I think.
    Great batrep! I forgot about the solo play advice, haven't had a chance to use them much as I'm always working on the rules themselves while posting my narrative batreps. I have a couple more posts up if you want to check them out. Looking forward to seeing more batreps and bigger armies!

    1. Lol. You caught me taking names from food products. :)