16 August 2015

By Fire & Sword: Sobieski vs the Turks AAR

This weekend Robin and I played a division game, his first ever and my first against the Ottoman army. Having only a small division we agreed on a 4 regiment limit. I found among the PDF armies for the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth an interesting force led by Hetman Jan Sobieski, later king of the commonwealth.This historical force was in real life fighting against cossacks and was made up of a lot of infantry and peasant support troops. It looked like a fun change of pace for the usually cavalry heavy Polish armies so I picked it.

Jan Sobieski's Division at Podhajce 1667

Hetman Jan Sobieski: 5 command points +1 additional that could only be used for cavalry and dragoons.

Sobieski's regiment: 10FSP
6 Winged hussars
4 elite cossack style cavalry

2 elite pancerni
Colonel: 3 Command points

New Type infantry regiment: 
Colonel: 2 command points
8 Musketeers

3 Pikemen
1 Regimental gun

(Elite) Dragoon regiment:
Colonel: 2 command points
8 Dragoons

Peasant rabble regiment:
Warlord with 3 command points (lucky roll when determining his command)
4 hordes = 28 bases of peasant rabble)

Divisional artillery support:
2x light 3pdr guns

Total force value 30 FSP

Ottoman Army of European provinces 1648-76

Beylerbey with 4 command points

Sipahi Sanjak I: 5FSP
Bey with 3 Command points
3 Sipahi w lances & Shields
6 Sipahi

Sipahi Sanjak II: 5FSP
Bey with 3 Command points
3 Sipahi w lances & Shields
6 Sipahi

Provincial Force regiment: 6FSP
Aga with 3 command points
9 Besli

6 Segban
2 Deli

Janissary regiment: 7FSP
Foot Aga 3 command points
6 Elite Janissary
10 Janissary
Drabzen light gun
Divisional artillery support
1x Drabzen light gun

Total force value 28 FSP

Hasty attack was chosen by the Ottoman force as a tactic to level out the points value of both forces.

The mission was to control the village on the table, in particular two points - the tavern which started in Polish hands and the farm occupied by Ottoman forces. Each location was worth 2 Victory points at the end of the game.

The Poles started by setting up a guarded right flank and sending the Dragoon regiment on reconnaissance. The Ottoman force sent their Provincial Force on reconnaissance, their numbers and skill won the Ottoman side a forced march and a flanking maneuver.  One Sipahi Sanjak was sent on a flanking maneuver. The Polish dragoons lost 3 bases during their little expedition which was a huge blow as this nearly put them at their breaking point before the game even began...

Both forces deployed in a mirroring fashion, Polish infantry and dragoons faced off against the Janissary squadrons which the Ottoman cavalry faced the outnumbered but highly elite Polish cavalry force (supporting the Peasant hordes).

The battle began with the Ottoman artillery shooting and killing the Polish regimental gun and killing some dragoons as the Poles were withdrawing towards cover from their failed reconnaissance expedition. On the left flank Polish cavalry began forming up a battle line as the Ottoman cavalry closed in all around them.

With the right flank being a low intensity pitched battle between artillery and infantry units firing at long range the left flank soon exploded into a huge and swirling melee as units charged and countercharged each other. Vastly outnumbered the Pancerni were used to stem the flanking charge while the winged hussars attacked nearby Ottoman light cavalry and lancer formations. The Cossack style squadron which was supposed to help out was frightened and panicked away from the battleline  which made things look quite grim as fighting began.

As predicted the Pancerni were annihilated, but the Winged Hussars banners held their ground and managed to push back the Ottoman troops causing panic and disorder taking almost no casualties themselves. The left flank was, for the moment, saved. The Ottoman cavalry units were in disarray but there was still danger - and the following turn Ottoman reinforcements arrived in the shape of a flanking Sipahi regiment. Their appearance however did not make any morale impact on the battle crazed Winged Hussars, who instead charged again and cut their way into still confused Ottoman light cavalry as well as new arrivals.

Never before had the Winged Hussars singlehandedly managed to save an entire flank, but in this battle they were on fire. Slamming into Ottoman units, shrugging of hits and sending their enemies running and causing chain reactions of panic and disorder. The number of kills inflicted by the Poles were not that high, but the spreading panic and Ottoman units leaving the table wore down the regimental morale of the units fighting on the left flank quickly.

After a couple of turns all 3 Ottoman cavalry regiments had routed and the remaining mop up action shifted towards the right flank
where the Polish infantry had a hard time against the Ottoman Janissary units and their artillery support. The Dragoons had been reduced to their breaking point and were rolling for regimental morale every turn now and the New Type Infantry regiment was hit hard by case shot and began fleeing through a flanking fire from Ottoman infantry.

Only the arrival of the Polish cavalry put a stop to the last Ottoman opposition with the rallied Cossack style cavalry joining the Winged Hussars in a combined charge against the Ottoman gunline.
A couple of close combat rounds later the Janissary regiment was finally reduced enough to rout from the battlefield leaving the Poles in control of the battlefield and one of the victory locations.


Post game thoughts. 
I would have loved for the Peasant regiment to do more in this battle, they were barely involved with just a couple of shots exchanged with Ottoman cavalry and infantry units. The huge footprint combined with low skill and poor quality weapons really makes the Peasant regiment a defensive blob but I would like to see how they would have fared if charged by Ottoman cavalry.

The heroes of the game were the Winged Hussars. I usually played them in a squadron of 6 but in this game played them as single banners to maximize their combat output. However, at this writing moment I realize that I may have played them slightly wrong as they were grouped in two units of 3 bases each - but should have been grouped 2 and 4 since they are bought in companies of 2 bases....
Still I rolled really good during the battle, and Robin rolled less than average in every deciding combat situation involving the
Winged Hussars. You can tell how fortunate I was based upon the fact that I lost only a single base of Winged Hussars despite them being in combat from turn 2!

We didn't really count victory points by the end of the battle, since it was clear that the Poles won a smashing victory with no Ottoman troops left on the table by the end of turn 8.
It was fun to meet the Ottoman army at the division level. It was a very different type of challange compared to meeting Ottomans at skirmish level. Robin also seemed to enjoy fielding the Ottoman division and talked about how to expand it for future games. I myself found the Sobieski division fun to play, but it's hard to judge its quality based on a single game where a lot of units on my side were doing little else than watching the Winged Hussars kick ass.

Sobieski himself is really good, though quite expensive at 8FSP. He gives you +1 initiative and comes with a lot of command points. But his other special rule that limits his movement (
All the illnesses known to man) can be frustrating when he can't move from flank to flank fast enough to provide valuable support.

Overall, the Sobieski division feels like a fun historical force on par with the Prince Radziwill Division I played a couple of months ago against Johan and his Muscovites.


  1. Well... yeah...
    Despite the fact that I got tabled, I had a lot of fun. It was a fun and interesting to play on the Division level, for example I was finally being able to field decent infantry for once.
    Since I'm a lazy painter I didn't get the rest of my Sipahi Lancers or my Silahadirs ready for the battle, which proved quite fatal when the Polish Hussars of Doom came upon me.
    All in all, playing on the Division level is very different then playing on the Skirmish level since your regiments play quite different from your normal skirmish list and that takes some time getting used to.
    When I get the rest of my units ready for battle I'm confident that Ukraine will fall to the Prophets forces. Insh'allah.

    1. Robin - what are you using as a painting guide for your forces. Right now I'm at a stand still due to not being sure how to paint my Ottomans.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. That was an intense fight, it shows how dangerous the winged hussars were^^.....*cough Kircholm!
    To be fair the ottoman comander did some fine maneuvers to try and save the day but all of that is in vain when you have to fight both your terrible dice and the enemy!^^

  3. The effect of spreading panic sometimes seems even more lethal than actual casualties... Nice report. *cough Wallhof :-)


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