Battle of Koniggratz, 3 July 1866, Blood & Iron Triumphant (No Magazine)

Number: 275

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Battle of Koniggratz. On 3 July 1866 the armies of Austria-Hungary and Prussia met west of the Bohemian fortress of Königgrätz (now Hradec Králové). The battle was the culmination of a quarter-century of political and military maneuvering by Otto von Bismarck, aimed at enabling Prussia to supplant Austria-Hungary as the dominant state of the coalescing German nation. The battle is presented using the folio line’s Musket & Saber system: brigade-sized units, one-fifth-mile hexes, 90-minute turns, 280 counters. The Austro-Hungarian army, chastened by a week of minor defeats, was entrenched a long line covering the fortress of Königgrätz. It occupied a central position facing three converging Prussian armies. To win, the Prussians must sweep the Austrians off the field (as they did historically), while the Austrians must maintain a presence on the field to justify their continued claim to political primacy. The game emphasizes the differences between the armies in doctrine, weapons and morale. The Prussian triumph was born of more than just the famous needle-gun: their infantry used flexible organization and tactics to mass men quickly at the decisive point, while the Austrians used a throwback to Napoleonic column formations due to a misreading of the lesson from an earlier engagement. The Prussian artillery is outclassed by the superb Austrian guns, but can be dangerous if used properly. The Austrian cavalry is superior as well, but horsed charges were already an anachronism. In the end the battle came down to crucial command decisions, giving both players an opportunity to win.

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