Greetings, we're releasing all this a day early, since the sale happens tomorrow...
Today we bring you all sorts of goodness... not only do we have a new Demo for this series, covering a new topic not seen in any of our other games - but we also bump the entire Musket & Pike series up to the level that Thirty Years War released at - and a little beyond that actually.
Before we get to details on the Demo I will cover just a bit on the 4.03.1 release. We've covered much of what the jump to 4.03 entails in the Pre-view and Release blog posts for Thirty Years War - as well as the updates that have been released for the Napoleonic Battles Series of games in recent months. These two series of games are "close cousins" so the majority of the coding happening for one applies to the other as well. The list to "bump" to 4.03.1 is pretty short:
The biggest item that will have an immediate impact on gameplay is that Mounted Cavalry can no longer fire captured artillery.
In addition to that, TYW received some graphics tweaks and OOB corrections. The other three games in the series made the jump too, with both Renaissance and Sever Years War also seeing their scenario description formatting addressed - so a bit easier to read!
And now we will move on to todays primary topic, Vienna 1683. Our Guest Author today is Gary McClellan who is the scenario designer for this demo. He's also the lead designer for Seven Years War, Kriegsmarine, Wolfpack & Midway. So let's jump right in!
(All images can be clicked for full size viewing.)
I don’t fully remember when the idea came to me, but I’ve been thinking that the Relief of Vienna would be a good demo for the Musket and Pike series of games for quite some time. However, to be entirely honest, it’s proven to be even better than I expected, once I started really digging into the battle.
One of the strengths of the M&P engine is the level of flexibility that can be worked in, and that’s been well shown over the years. From the pike, sword and shot of the Renaissance to the linear warfare of the Seven Years War (and plenty of stuff in between), the engine has been able to handle it all.
Timewise, Vienna sort of sits in the middle of the time frame covered in the M&P series, but it’s at an extremely interesting crossroads. The game features three very different armies. You’ve got the very contemporary Imperial army, fighting in the European style, the Ottoman army with their light cavalry, and finally the Polish army, the great heavy cavalry power of the day. Each of those armies fights very differently, and players will have to learn the ins and outs of each to be successful.
In many ways, the roots of this battle go back over 150 years, to the Battle of Mohacs (covered in Renaissance). The destruction of the old Hungarian Kingdom brought the Ottoman Empire and Holy Roman Empire into direct contact and confrontation. Hungary ended up being divided into three parts. The first was the Ottoman conquest, which included the old capitol of Budapest. Then, the Hapsburgs were able to press a claim for a substantial part of northern Hungary. Finally, a rump principality of Transylvania laid claim to the rest, trying to play off the two empires (though more often acting as a client state of the Ottomans.)
The Ottomans then pushed up the Danube, briefly besieging Vienna in 1529. Early winter weather forced Suleiman to retreat without taking the city. Wars between the Ottomans and Hapsburgs would be a regular occurrence for the rest of the 16th Century, but Vienna would not be directly threatened during that period. Ottoman ambitions on the Danube would be checked by several factors, including the difficulties of supplying a large army on the far reaches of the empire, and the need to deal with enemies far to the east in Persia.
In 1664, the Hapsburg general Montecuccoli caught an Ottoman army in the midst of a river crossing at Saint Gotthard and secured a major victory. That led to the Ottomans and Hapsburgs agreeing to a 20-year truce. Both empires were largely concerned with other affairs during the meantime. The Hapsburgs were facing off against the aggressive young King of France, Louis XIV. Likewise, the Ottomans would be busy fighting elsewhere. One of their foes in this time frame was Poland, as they fought in the far southern reaches of Poland.
By late 1682 the truce was running out, and like many other truces, it hadn’t exactly been fully followed by either side. The Grand Vizier, Kara Mehmed, was convinced that there was great glory to be won by renewing the war along the Danube, even if there was still a year left on the truce. Early in the year, it was becoming obvious in Europe that the Ottomans were going to strike north, though the exact goal was still unclear. Emperor Leopold I spent the early months of the year preparing his troops and gathering his allies. He was able to secure troops from some of the Princes of the Empire, most notably Saxony and Bavaria. More importantly, he was able to secure an alliance with Poland. If either one was attacked by the Ottomans, the other would march to their aid. Perhaps most importantly of all, Louis XIV in Paris chose not to pressure the Hapsburgs that year (at least not the Austrian branch, the Spanish were another story entirely), probably not wanting to be seen helping the “infidel.”
While Leopold sought aid, the defenses of Vienna were also put into order. The walls were repaired, and various suburbs that had grown up outside the walls were razed, to prevent the Ottomans from using the buildings as cover. However, even with those feverish preparations, most in Vienna did not feel that the city was directly threatened. Instead, they felt that the Ottomans would go after one or another of the border fortresses.
Instead, the Ottomans screened Gyor, and pushed forward with the main army, going directly for the main prize. Emperor Leopold I and his court evacuated the city, and Charles of Lorraine was placed in command of the Imperial forces outside the city. On July 14, the Ottoman forces commenced the siege of Vienna.
At this time, the Ottomans were considered masters of siege warfare, but the fortresses of Europe did present some particular problems. The “Trace Italienne” style of fortress building dominated European military thinking, and the thick walls of this style of fortress were nearly impervious to any siege gun that the Ottomans had. However, the Ottomans were masters of using mines in siege warfare. They would dig tunnels underneath the walls and pack them with explosives, collapsing the walls and bastions of enemy fortresses.
By early September, they had forced the Hapsburg forces to retreat from one of the outer bastions after it had been almost entirely destroyed. Further, they had made two small breaches in the walls (a few feet wide in both cases). The forces in the city were able to plug those holes with improvised fortifications, but it was clear that the end was near. Once the mines were set off underneath the stretch of wall between the other breaches, the city would be defenseless, and forced to either surrender or submit to a brutal assault.
The defenders were able to inform Lorraine of these developments, both by firing off signal rockets and by means of couriers who were able to sneak across Ottoman lines by dressing like Ottoman soldiers. Time was running out, and Lorraine knew he had to act.
The defenders of Vienna were able to hold out just long enough. Reinforcements had arrived, both the armies of the Princes of the Empire, and the Polish army under King Jan III Sobieski. The Poles crossed the Danube at Tulln on September 6, and the stage was set for the Battle of Vienna.
One of the things that makes the battle fascinating is the fact that it’s a meeting of three very different armies. The Imperial forces are a fairly standard European style army of the era, while the Ottomans are built around their levy light cavalry (the sipahi.) Then you have the Polish forces. The “Winged Hussars” of Poland are well known, and a unique force in this era, and are by far the most well known troops even to this day.
The Ottoman army is a mix of long serving troops and provincial levies.
First are the Janissaries. Taken in as children and intensively trained, they would be the backbone of Ottoman infantry for centuries. Well armed, well disciplined, these are in many ways the finest infantry in the battle.
The rest of the infantry is made up of the Azabs. This is provincial infantry, and were generally used for static operations, in siege lines or manning entrenchments. They did not directly take part in the battle, but stayed in the trench lines around the city, getting caught up in the general rout at the end of the day.
The best horsemen on the Ottoman side are the Kapikulu Sipahi. Like the Janissaries, these are long service troops from the Sultan’s household. While they fought as light cavalry, they did wear substantial armor. They’re found near the center of the Ottoman position, near the Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa.
The largest single group of Ottoman troops is made up of provincial levy cavalry, the Sipahi. They are very traditional light cavalry, but are going to be hard pressed to stop the combined arms assault of the allies.
The Imperial Forces consist of the Hapsburg troops as well as contingents from various states in the empire.
The Imperial Infantry are fairly typical European infantry of this era. Since the Thirty Years war, the usage of pikes had been declining, with the ratio of shot to pike increasing on a regular basis. In fact, the Saxon infantry left their pikes behind and were entirely armed with muskets for this campaign. These are solid infantry, though many of the soldiers were freshly recruited.
The Imperial Cavalry consisted mostly of Cuirassiers and Dragoons. In this era, the Cuirassiers were as inclined to use their pistols as their sword, and so are not rated as Heavy Cavalry. The Dragoons of this era are close to their original concept of mounted infantry.
The Polish Army had three types of Cavalry: Winged Hussars, Pancerni and Wallachians. The Winged Hussars are the most famous, using wooden frameworks with feathers attached to them to create the famous “wings.” Heavily armed and armored, they were the finest Heavy Cavalry of the time. The Pancerni rode into battle with the Hussars, and were also well armed and armored, if not to the extent of the Hussars. The Wallachians were light horse raised from the southern borderlands.
The Polish Infantry were at times called “Foreign Infantry” not because they were raised outside of Poland, but because they fought in the German Style. Generally solid infantry, though they often didn’t look it due to poor supply of uniforms.
The City of Vienna lies on the west bank of the Danube, and the entire battle was fought on that side of the river. The Ottomans did complete their encirclement of the city along the east bank, but those forces were not involved in the battle (and are not included in the game).
The allies attacked the Ottoman positions across a broad arc from the north and west. The Imperial forces attacked along the banks of the Danube from the north, with the Bavarians and other Circle troops approaching from the northwest. Finally, the Polish forces swung all the way around and attacked from due west.
The terrain was very challenging for the attack, a series of vineyard covered hills split by ravines. The attacking troopers found themselves fighting up and down the hills, slowly driving the Ottoman forces back.
By the day of the battle, the Ottomans had managed to punch two small breaches into the walls of the city, and where tirelessly working to break down the intervening section of wall. In the game, the breach is actually somewhat larger than that (mostly for game purposes), being about 300 yards across. The city garrison had managed to put up improvised fortifications in the breaches, so they are set up as fortification hexsides as opposed to high wall.
Vienna 1683 comes with eight scenarios, including the Getting Started.
000.Getting Started - This is an entirely hypothetical scenario with a Polish force lining up against the Ottomans in a solid defensive arrangement.
001.Nussberg - This scenario largely represents the first phase of the battle. It starts at 7:00 am and runs to Noon. In the battle, the Polish forces were on a long march to reach their attack positions in the west, and were not involved in the early stages. Instead, the early attack was carried by the Imperial Forces.
The Hapsburg forces are well positioned to drive along the banks of the river towards an entrenched position at Nussdorf. The Saxons are in position to drive towards Heiligstadt, while the Bavarians will arrive a bit later on the west end of the map.
The strongest Ottoman position is a force of 2500 Janissary infantry entrenched at Nussdorf. The rest of the position is manned by Sipahi Cavalry. Historically, the Ottomans advanced into the woods to engage the attackers there, but players may experiment with waiting for better cavalry terrain.
002. Polish Assault - This scenario focuses on the famous charge of the Winged Hussars. By noon, the northern attack and started to stall a bit, as both sides seemed to stop for a break. However, they were soon to see the long lines of the Polish Cavalry approaching from the hills to the west. By 2:00 pm, the Poles would be in position to launch their legendary charge, and sweep into the Ottoman camp and relieve Vienna.
One of the biggest difficulties for the Poles in this battle is the approach march. You have a large number of forces to bring through the woods, without enough roads. Will you want to carefully husband your forces for one large charge, or feed them into an ongoing battle as they emerge from the woods?
The Ottoman forces are largely Sipahi, though on the far north flank there are Janissary infantry dug in at the Turkenschanz. On the far southeast side of the map is the glittering prize, the Ottoman camp and the Grand Vizier’s tent.
003: Vienna Assault (Hypothetical) - Even while the Battle of Vienna raged, there was fear that the Ottomans would be able to take the city. Their sappers were working tirelessly and were very close to fully preparing the mine which would open up a full breach into the city. This scenario assumes that they were able to open that breach, and simulates an Ottoman assault on the city.
The primary Ottoman Strike forces are over 12000 Janissaries in position to assault. They’re backed up by Azabs and Sipahi. The difficulty is that they are going to have to funnel their entire assault through the narrow breach (which is still fortified.) Further, there is a second fortified line one hex into the city. A nasty, intense little knife fight for both sides.
004. Vienna Afternoon - This scenario represents the fighting for the entire afternoon. It not only has the Polish forces from scenario 002, but also the Imperial forces who have worked their ways down from their positions on the Nussberg. The forces on both sides in the northern part of the battle are weakened a bit to represent the losses and fatigue taken in the morning fighting.
005.Vienna 5:00 am. 52 turns - This is the full day scenario. In the northeast, the Imperial forces are ready to begin their assault, while the Center and Right Wing are still on their approach march. The Polish forces (Right Wing) are fixed until 9:00. This is to represent the difficulty with the march. Their start position is actually a bit closer, but they are set up this way to help the players and AI with pathfinding that force into the battlefield.
The Ottomans around the city are fixed, as they took no part in the battle until the final stages when they were caught up in the rout. The Hapsburg defenders of Vienna are not on the map, to prevent them from releasing the besieging forces. There is a large group of Tartars fixed on the south edge of the map, as they did very little in the battle.
006.Vienna (unfixed) 5:00 am 52 turns - This one is much like scenario 005 with a few major changes. The Ottomans around the city are not fixed. The city garrison is on map. Further, the Tartars will release mid-morning. Historically, the Ottomans had over half their troops tied up in the siege lines, not participating in the battle until the rout was on. This scenario offers them a choice. Do they want to try to force the city gates, or sense those troops out to reinforce the defenders in the field battle? Likewise, the Tartars are capable of getting onto the flank of the Polish forces and giving them major problems.
007.Vienna (No Poles) 7:00 am. 44 Turns - The garrison of Vienna was able to keep the Imperial Commander (Charles of Lorraine) apprised of their situation, and he was well aware of desperate things were. He had considered attacking without waiting for the Polish Army if they were delayed, and this scenario assumes that very situation.
The Ottoman defense is modeled on the initial defense they set up before they knew how strong the allied army was. So, more forces are tied up in the siege, but it’s still going to be a tough slog for the Imperial forces.
Overall, I hope you enjoy the game, and if you’ve not played the Musket and Pike series, I hope it gives you a good enough taste that you’ll want to take a shot at one of the other games.
As with all of our 10 Demos, Vienna 1683 is a fully functional game, but only contains a small fraction of what one of our full titles bring to bear. It's intended to give you a free tour of the system to see if you would like to branch out into one of the full games. You can head on over to the product page for Vienna 1683 to grab your own copy. You have to step through the Store process, but again there is no charge.