Saturday, May 6, 2017


Later this month, I'll be putting on a game for our club's May game night. This Friday, I was able to test the game and the rules.  These are a variant (big surprise, right?) of the alternate (Battalion) scale of Volley and Bayonet (more on the rules at the end of this post).

This game is set in the 1st Schleswig-Holstein War, 1848-50, which seems to me to be an overlooked conflict, even among the overlooked conflicts of the mid-century. The published game material that there is on the S-H wars all focuses on the 2nd S-H War, 1864, which was a lopsided affair, tactically speaking, that seems to me to a less viable choice for gaming when compared to the 1st S-H war, in which the Danes gave as good as they got, actually won some battles, and where the forces were much more evenly matched in armament, doctrine, and training. There are other opinions, I'm sure, but my main point remains that his particular conflict is overshadowed by the the less balanced 2nd S-H War for gaming purposes. 

On to the game. This game is based on the Battle of Dybbol, 5 June 1848. The background for which is as follows: on 28 May, 1848, the Danes attacked out of their bridgehead across from Sanderborg into the Sundeved Peninsula and drove the Prussians back past the Nybel Mill. On 5 June, the Prussians and their allies (German Confederation forces and the breakaway Schleswig Holsteiners) counterattacked to retake the positions and to try and eliminate the bridgehead. A seasaw battle ensued, in which the Prussians advanced to the Dybbol Hill but the threat of a Danish counterattack drove them back to their start lines. This game is inspired by that battle--I say "inspired" because what I do is take a historical situation and make a game out of it, so you may or may not see, in these things, a direct correspondence in the orders of battle, for instance, to the historical event. Enough qualifiers: on to the game report! As usual, you may clix pix for BIG PIX in the below.
ABOVE: The initial set up and overview of the field of Mars.  The Germans/Prussians don't all start on the table, but are displayed (Above left) in their starting areas for illustration. The Germans in this game consisted of a Prussian division and an Allied division, the latter composed of a brigade of German Federation troops and a brigade of the Schleswig-Holstein army. The Danes start on the main line of defense forward and also in depth, as they did in the actual battle. To win, the Prussians have to take all three towns (Nybol, Stenderup, and Ragebol) or take one town and the Dybbol Hill. The Danes win by avoiding these results. Simple!
TOP LEFT: Playing the part of the Germano-Prussians were Generals Von Bob (left), commander of the Federation/S-H division, and Von Ralph (right), commander of the Prussian division. TOP RIGHT: Taking up the Danish cause were Generals GeØrge (black shirt) and AJØrge (with camera, otherwise known as AJ of AJ's Wargaming Blog fame, where you will be able to see another report from the Danish perspective).  All of these excellent fellows have vast experience with VnB and so were able to provide some good feedback on the first outing of this variant--and of course were excellent company on a Friday evening at the end of the week!
Wacth Am Dybbol: The Danes Deploy.
TOP LEFT: The Prussians arrive, and General AJØrge immediately sends in the Danish Dragoons to challenge the German Federation Dragoons. Aggressive cavalry action would be the order of the day on the Danish left.  TOP RIGHT: Meanwhile, the Danish infantry gets ready to receive the Prussians in the center while, ABOVE BOTTOM: General GeØrge's Danish Jager's take up position in the wood to anchor the Danish right.  In the background, you can see that General Von Bob displays the appropriate amount of Germanic concern. 
TOP LEFT: In short order, the entire Prussian force arrives...TOP RIGHT: ...and General GeØrge starts to look a bit like General Custer coming over the hill and seeing the Indian camp ("Look at all them damn Germans!").
 ABOVE: Von Ralph's Prussian Division takes its lumps from Danish infantry as it moves into position to exchange fire. Meanwhile, the 5th (Blucher) hussars throw themselves on the Danish battery to cover the advance of the Prussian 2nd Brigade, which has taken the brunt of the fire.  This was something of a repeat of "Bredow's Death Ride" where the unsupported charge of a body of Prussian horse was intended to mask enemy guns for larger ends but would come at the expense of the horsemen.

ABOVE LEFT: The Danish 4th Brigade moving up to reinforce the line. ABOVE RIGHT: As the crisis of the battle approaches, General Von Ralph receives a telegram from Berlin.  
ABOVE LEFT: Danish Hussars face down Federation Dragoons on the end of the line. As was the case in this period, the cavalry mainly fought the other cavalry.  ABOVE RIGHT: The view from behind the Danish Jagers on the extreme right of the Danish line--these would be trouble for the Prussians all game.

ABOVE: The crisis of the battle. At the top of the picture, Von Bob's German Federation troops have secured Nybol and Von Ralph's Prussian 2nd Brigade has achieved a breakthrough at Stenderup (although it would soon waver due to casualties). The Prussian 4th Brigade is standing by to follow up. The Danish 2nd Brigade has been all but wiped out, and the Danish Reserve is still too far off to influence the action. The Schleswig Holstein Brigade has taken a beating but has done its job and held its place in front of the Danish center. The Danish 4th Brigade has been committed to fill gaps. The Danish 3rd Brigade, on the Danish right, still holds its own, the Jagers in particular causing the Prussians to back off.
ABOVE LEFT: The view from behind the Danish Dragoons as the Prussian 2nd Brigade breaks through. ABOVE RIGHT: The Danish Dragoons and Hussars of the 2nd and 3rd Brigades cover the withdrawal of the Danish right in the face of he Prussian breakthrough.
ABOVE: On the Danish left, General AJØrge launches an all out counterattack against the German Federation Brigade at Nybol in a bid to reverse the tide of battle. It was a gamble that could have produced tangible results, but, General Dice was not with the Danes here, and 2 out of 4 units failed their pre-melee morale, which put an end to this gambit.

At this point, it was getting late and it was agreed that the Prussians had the day. Thanks go out to the players for their input and good cheer. There will be a few tweaks to the system before I roll it out on game day. I'm also very pumped that I was able to debut my 19th Century collection on the table for the first time and validate that the Chocolate Box Wars configuration could be repurposed for other rules sets.

As far as the rules, this was a variant of VnB that I have put together for the 1st Schleswig-Holstein War, 1848-50.  It features a stripped-down version of the reference sheet that excludes material from other eras. For those familiar with Volley and Bayonet, you can download the QRS here (this is a first pass--it will be adjusted with more use). For those familiar with Volley and Bayonet,  consider yourself warned: you will notice many departures upon closer reading of the QRS as well (at some point, I'll add a content page to this blog with a more full explanation). 



  1. A nice period to play and a nice looking game!

  2. Great looking game. And a illustrated exams of how to do a after action report. First rate!

  3. Thanks, gents,

    If all goes well, there will be a follow up post on the game-night version of this game in about a week or so.

  4. This is a smart looking game, Ed!

    As Mark mentioned above, your troop dispositions overlays help to bring the text and photos together nicely. Makes the BatRep that much easier to follow.

    Very well done!

    1. Thanks, Jonathan. The playtest table was a bit more utilitarian (although I generally think that playing areas should be pretty clean). I hope to have a bit more effect for the game night version.

      Let's see if I can keep up the energy for another batrep!

  5. Do like your style of reports. Now Ed, I'm only starting to see a whole new period of colour madness to do with 1848. This is another period I could get interested in. I've heard of the rules, but never owned or read them. Your hard work in shaping the rules for this period do you intend to share them with the audience in the future?

    Trying to order Ralph Weaver's book last night from Caliver only for their system to fall down. They are working on fixing their system in short order.

    Questions: What figures are available for the belligerents?

    All the best,


    1. Hi, GH,

      Big questions. Yes, I do intend to share both the Chocolate Box Wars system and the Volley and Bayonet modification (the latter will be available much sooner).

      As far as the figures, Northstar 1866 Prussians are what I used for the Prussians.

      For my Danes, the only figures that are actually "Danes" are the artillery (from the Northstar 1864 line). The rest are mainly from among various Perry lines (with a smattering of other Northstar, like Austrian 1866 Dragoons). I didn't go with the Northstar Danish infantry because they are all for the 2nd Schleswig Holstein War and are covered up wearing greatcoats (with the dark hat). I wanted more color than that.

      This was pre-blog, but I recorded the project along with rationale for decisions in a series of posts on TMP (and you can also find a "pass in review" post on this blog for each of the armies, as well as a post on the conversions I did for the command figures for both sides).

      Here are the links to all the TMP posts if you have the energy:

      Danish Horse Guards

      Danish Dragoons

      Danish Hussars

      Schleswig Holstein Volunteers

      1849 Danish Infantry

      Danish Jagers

      Bracklow’s Volunteers

      Other German Volunteers

      Danish Foot Guard

    2. Thanks Ed, very impressive and much appreciated. Have ordered two books. Will you need Volley & Bayonet with your adaption of the rule set to game with?

      All the best,


    3. Hello, GH,

      Yes, the system I'm using in this particular game report is a version of Volley and Bayonet (twice removed--it's a battalion scale game, so you have to be familiar with the alternate scales, and I've departed in some other ways of my own). So a copy of that rule set would probably be helpful in order to make sense of the reference sheet (although you could probably muddle through just using the reference sheet). You could get either the original or the latest version (Volley and Bayonet Road to Glory).

      Over the summer some time, I'll put up a page on this blog (like my Nine Year's War page, only not as extensive) with more complete information on this variant.

    4. Thanks Ed, that's very helpful and much appreciated.

      All the best,


  6. Top notch AAR, Ed, makes me think you should go into publishing/editing for a new career. :)

    1. Deja vu. Maybe I'll just quit and stick to blogging!

  7. Hi Ed, I picked-up a copy of Volley and Bayonet: The Road to Glory from your country. I expect it will take sometime to arrive in the mean time can i please ask you to explain the counters on the back of the base and where do I get such counters from if needed?

    Thank you.


    1. Hi GH,

      The counters...I make those.

      On the back of each stand I put a metal strip (I simply order smaller metal wargame stands for these) so that I can put moagnetized markers with unit information. I make the markers ot of peel and stick magnet (cut to 1/4" square). I have these strips on the back so that I can put unit information on stands for any game system. This one happens to be Volley and Bayoent.

      In the case of Volley and Bayonet, it is a "roster" system. Units have strength points and you have to keep track of the larger organization (division, brigade, depending on the level) and also the larger organization's exhaustion level.

      In this case, the color-coded markers indicate unit strength points. If you look at the setup pictures, you'll see them color-coded by brigade (in standard VnB, it would be by division). You'll notice that in the setup pictures that behind each brigade there is has a larger blank stand with a color coded marker indicating the brigade and a (magnetized) number on it. This is an administrative piece used for tracking exhaustion levels (in my Nine Year's war system, I've created little camp scenes on these stands).

      When a unit loses a strength point, the marker goes from the unit stand to the brigade's tracking stand. When the number of markers matches the exhaustion number on the stand, then the brigade (or division) has reached its exhaustion level.

      This can all be done with rosters without the markers (others play VnB that way. If you go to the Volley and Bayonet Yahoo Group, I've got some stuff in the files section there on this system (I dumped yahoo awhile ago and don't check there any more).

      The black markers on the back of the stands indicate the unit morale grade and other information, as needed (like weight of cavalry and artillery, and any other specials).

      Eventually, I'll migrate this sort of information to a content page on this blog, too (I used to have several yahoo groups where I had lots of stuff posted--lots still to come to migrate to this blog!).

  8. Hi Ed, Thank you for the run down on counters used during the game. I'll study the information at hand.

    Many thanks again for your time.

    Best regards,



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...