TITLE: Die Kriegskunst: Wargaming the Seven Years War
PUBLISHER: Partizan Press
PUBLICATION DATE: 2008
WEB SITE/SUPPORT FORUM:
PRICE (with date): $35.00 (in 2013)
REVIEWED BY: Mark “Extra Crispy” Severin
PERIOD COVERED: The Seven Years War
Die Kriegskunst (DK) is yet another entry in the family of games based on General de Brigade. Coming from Partizan Press, it is a well done perfect-bound paperback. The book runs 104 pages, which includes the rules, OOBs, 4 scenarios, appendices, charts and a page of markers to copy and cut out.
It is printed on a heavy coated paper, and features artwork throughout. The rules themselves run 69 pages.
DK is right on the border between tactical and grand tactical in scope. The authors have deviated form the 1;20 figure ratio of General de Brigade in order to allow entire battles (or at least the main sections of them) to be played using the rules.
The included scenarios range in size from 6 battalions per side up to 25. This is with 16-24 figure infantry battalions and 12-24 figure cavalry regiments. 200 figures would be a good target for having an army suitable for lots of different scenarios.
Units in DK are individual infantry battalions, artillery batteries and cavalry regiments.
- Ground Scale: Roughly 1”=50 yards for 25 mm figures, 1”=30 yards for 15 mm figures
- Time scale 1 turn = Approximately 15-20 minutes per turn.
- Figure Ratio 1:40 though the rules also work perfectly well at 1:20
- Recommended Figure Size: The rules are written for 25 or 15 mm figures.
- Table Size: Not stated, but the included scenarios vary up to 8x6.
- Game Length: Most games should be playable in one evening with experienced players.
Basing is generally flexible - so long as both sides are based relatively the same. Suggested base sizes are:
15 mm Figures:
- Infantry: 8-12 mm of frontage per figure. Based in 2 ranks, stands should be as deep as needed. Figures may be based in 4,6 or 8 man stands to represent units of various strengths.
- Cavalry: 10-15 mm of frontage per figures, based in pairs or threes. Depths as needed.
- Artillery: 30-40 mm per model gun, with 4 crew.
- Skirmishers: 12-15 mm per figure on irregularly shaped bases, based 2-3 per base in a single rank.
- Officers: On round bases: 40 mm for the overall commander, 25 mm for brigadiers.
25 mm Figures:
- Infantry: 15-20 mm of frontage per figure. Based in 2 ranks, stands should be as deep as needed. Figures may be based in 4,6 or 8 man stands to represent units of various strengths.
- Cavalry: 20-25 mm of frontage per figures, based in pairs or threes. Depths as needed.
- Artillery: 50-60 mm per model gun, with 4 crew.
- Skirmishers: 20-30 mm per figure on irregularly shaped bases, based 2-3 per base in a single rank.
- Officers: On round bases: 60 mm for the overall commander, 40 mm for brigadiers.
- Initiative (simultaneous): Each side rolls 2D6 with high roller having the choice to move first or second.
- Command: C-inC’s issue orders to their brigades. One brigadier per side may attempt to change orders through personal initiative.
- Involuntary Moves (simultaneous): Involuntary movement including routs, retreats and pursuit are carried out now. Units moving in this phase may not move again later in the same turn.
- Charges: Charges are declared first by the side with the initiative, then their opponents. The first players’ charges are then carried out, followed by their opponents’.
- Movement: Normal movement is now carried out, first by the side with initiative and then their opponent. Units may move, change formation or both.
- Firing: The side with initiative fires first, then his opponent. Firing is not simultaneous, so any casualties inflicted by the first player do not fire back.
- Melee (simultaneous): All melee is now resolved, including push-back and follow-up movement. Units that retreat or rout wait until the involuntary movement phase of the next turn to do so.
- Morale (simultaneous): Unit morale and brigade morale are now tested.
The Orders System:
One of the defining features of the General de brigade series of games is the order system. In DK each brigade operates under a written order at all times. There are 7 possible orders (from most aggressive to Least):
- Assault: The brigade is attempting to enter into melee with the enemy.
- Engage: The brigade is attempting to move into musket (if infantry) or charge range (if cavalry) of the enemy.
- Support: the Brigade is to support another brigade from a flank or rear.
- Approach: A movement order typically for movement more than 24” from the enemy. Receives a 50% bonus to movement.
- Move: The brigade is simply to march to a new location on the battlefield.
- Hold: The Brigade is ordered to hold a position.
- Retire: The brigade is falling back from the enemy (this is involuntary).
Each order should direct the brigade in some detail. “Engage the enemy to the front” is too vague. You must specify specific terrain features or enemy units. For example: “Order: Assault. Seize and hold the Muhl-Berge earthworks.”
Each order carries certain requirements as to how the brigade may move and deploy. A brigade on assault orders, for example, must have at least half its units move toward the enemy and they must use at least half their full movement in doing so.
Changing orders happens in one of two ways. Either the C-in-C sends a new order to the brigadier, or the brigadier attempts to use his own initiative. In either case, 2D6 are rolled. They are modified for leader quality, distance etc. You must equal or exceed a target number for the order change to go into effect. Otherwise the unit must continue to follow the existing order. The C-in-C may only attempt to change one order per turn. Likewise, only one brigadiers per turn may attempt to change an order on his own initiative.
Finally, a brigadier may panic or lose his nerve is changing orders on his own. On an unmodified 2 or 3, his order changes in the opposite direction from his intent. If he wanted to change to a more aggressive order, he will instead change to a less aggressive one!
In order to charge the enemy, a unit must qualify for a Charge order. The unit must be in range of a visible enemy; it may only charge in a straight line (so you have to get in position the turn before); it must be formed and within the command radius of their brigadier or the C-in-C. Note that charge distance is much shorter than in general de brigade: 12” for cavalry and 6” for infantry.
Once the charge is declared the unit is moved half way toward the enemy who now declare their reaction. They may stand, move, counter-charge or evade (if skirmishers). Eligible units now fire at charging units. Charging units check morale to see if they close. If successful the target of the charge checks morale to stand. Finally eligible chargers charge home. The units are now locked in place until the melee phase.
Failing a morale check during charging results in chargers halting, possibly retreating or even routing. Defenders likewise will falter, retreat or rout if they fail their check.
Friendly cavalry units may also intercept enemy cavalry charges with opportunity charges of their own. A player may only order one opportunity charge per turn. As such the cavalry unit must be within command distance of their brigadier or the C-In-C.
Movement in DK is much simpler than in General de Brigade, and more constrained. There are fewer formations and generally once you deploy into line you stay in line. Formation changes take along time, so getting troops in the right place in the right formation at the right time takes advance planning. Units may about face or step back but become unformed to do so. Units may attempt passage of lines - the maneuver always succeeds but there is a risk of becoming unformed in doing so. Better troops can perform the maneuver more easily.
Terrain is broken into Good, Difficult and Severe. Units move slower in Difficult or Severe terrain. There is no road bonus (would not apply tactically) and there are detailed rules on buildings and towns.
Firing is very much the same as in General de Brigade. You count up the number of figures firing, roll 2D6 and consult the Musketry Casualty Table. The dice are modified for a number of factors such as moving fire, troop quality, dense targets and range. Check the table and the target takes the indicated casualties.
If the firer rolls a natural double six, there is a special table that is consulted. The result may be the target Falters (a morale loss), suffers extra casualties, falls back, etc. This is in addition to the results of the casualty table.
Artillery fires in much the same way as troops. Count the number of guns, roll 2D6, add or subtract modifiers and consult the table. If you roll box cars, consult the “Double Six” table as well. Modifiers for artillery include shot vs. canister, target formation, moving fire, etc.
There is a strict limit on how many guns may fire together - there were no “grand batteries” during this time so you have to fire piecemeal (you are even encouraged not to group the guns on the table - this wasn’t done by the actual commanders).
A chapter covers the use of skirmishers. They do not fire as regular infantry. Instead you roll 1D6 for every 4 figures and cause one casualty on a 6. There are no modifiers other than for cover. Skirmishers may screen units and may reform to fight in line of necessary.
Melee is resolved by opposed die roll. Each side rolls 2D6, high roll wins. The difference between the rolls determines the degree of victory. If you lose by 1 you are pushed back 6”. If you lose by 8+ you are routed and bad things are going to happen.
The die roll is modified by each side for troop type and quality, formation, morale, terrain etc. If you roll a double six you consult the “Double Six Table” just as for firing.
Casualties are calculated by a straight ratio depending on troop type and opponent. For example, cavalry defeats cavalry, then the winner inflicts one casualty for every 4 figures, the loser one for every 8. Cavalry against routing foot inflicts one casualty per cavalry figure (ouch!).
Post-melee victorious units may follow up. They may either wheel 45o or advance into the position. Cavalry may pursue, depending on a die roll. They may go out of control or remain in perfect order. The die roll is modified by troop quality, and leadership.
As with the rest of the rules, morale is based on a 2D6 roll. In general, you roll the dice add/subtract modifiers for losses, leadership, troop quality etc. and consult the Unit Morale Results chart. Generally on a 6+ you are fine. If you roll 0 or less, the results will be bad. The chart has separate columns for different situations: To Charge, Being Charged, Rallying and Other. the unit may carry on or it may retreat or even rout entirely.
Morale applies both to individual battalions and to entire brigades. One first test all battalions, batteries and regiments. Afterward any necessary brigade tests are carried out. Again, roll 2D6, modify and consult the chart. On a 6+ the brigade stands, otherwise it either retreats or there is mass panic and the entire brigade is removed from play.
The rule book includes four scenarios: Emsdorf, Moys, Paltzig and Hochkirch. It also includes a very detailed sample turn, historical OOBs and a simple points system. There are also Quick Reference Sheets for both 25mm and 15mm to be copied.
Die Kriegskunst is another quality product from the General de Brigade family. The rules are clean, very easy to understand, and there are plenty of examples to help you really know the rules. After reading them through closely once I really felt I could play immediately with just the quick reference sheets. Often times after reading a rule book i feel i have no clue how to play, but DK is concise, and laid out in a helpful manner, following the turn sequence.