I admit, I am not stopping with playing Fire & Stone which is definitely one of my best acquisitions on Essen Spiel 2022. The game is making pretty well impression on me in various dimensions. Today I would like to bring to you some more information about it, its story, one of my session reports plus my initial thoughts about it. Hopefully that will be interesting for you!

The Story

Let me bring some more background story before we shall talk about the game. In the end, I am wargamer very much focusing on actual history so this is very important dimension for me.

Siege of Vienna, (lasting from July to September 12, 1683), was an expedition by the Ottomans against the Habsburg Holy Roman emperor Leopold I that resulted in their defeat by a combined force led by John III Sobieski of Poland. The lifting of the siege marked the beginning of the end of Ottoman domination in eastern Europe.

The leader of the Hungarian Calvinists, Imre Thököly, appealed to the Ottoman grand vizier, Kara Mustafa, to attack the Habsburg capital. With the tacit support of the Hungarian army, 150,000 Ottoman troops laid siege to Vienna, succeeded in capturing the outer fortifications, and began to tunnel to the inner walls. The emperor fled the city. Pope Innocent XI tried unsuccessfully to induce Louis XIV of France to aid Leopold against the Ottomans and then appealed to Poland with a large subsidy.

Although Sobieski and the emperor had made a pact of alliance earlier that year, Sobieski was reluctant to come until Innocent persuaded Charles of Lorraine to join a combined army with the electors of Saxony and Bavaria as well as 30 German princes. The 80,000 troops of this relieving army formed along the top of the Vienna hills, and, on the morning of September 12, Lorraine’s and Sobieski’s forces attacked the Ottomans.

By this point, Ottoman forces had made serious inroads into the city’s defenses and are generally believed to have come closer to taking Vienna than they were in 1529. The battle raged for 15 hours before the Ottoman invaders were driven from their trenches. The red tent of the grand vizier was blown up, but he escaped while thousands of members of his routed army were slaughtered or taken prisoner.

The Game

Material which I created about the game mechanics

In Fire & Stone: Siege of Vienna 1683 you are placed as one of the commanders in one of the most dramatic sieges in history. You will have a complete different set of cards for each player, your actions will be similar only to some extent and the goals and victory conditions – completely different. This beautiful, asymmetric wargame gives you many options to outmaneuver opponent and keeps the tension to the last moment.

So what you can do? Conduct deadly assaults against impenetrable fortifications, dig tunnels packed with explosives, and launch desperate attacks to delay your enemy’s advance. But you can also use some of the powerful events with the power to change the course of battle.

On top of this, the game includes historical notes about the siege and 17th century siege warfare – which further enhance the experience.

The Session

It is time to move now to the session report. I had a chance to play the game on Essen Spiel and here was my second attempt. We split the forces in following way:

  • me (Michal) leading attacking Ottomans
  • Lukasz (my good wargaming buddy, whom you might remember from our multiple Commands & Colors games) was commanding the defending Hapsburgs

I am of an opinion that picture tells a thousand words the AAR will be based exactly on this!

PS. You can always click on the image to enlarge it in the new window.

The initial round show a good, steady progress for Ottomans. Three areas were captured, including some fortifications (blown up!) and also decent hit on the Hapsburg morale.
“So far so good” said Kara Mustafa. Another two well-aimed attacks allowed to fully take the no-man’s land as well as part of the outer walls. Lukasz was fighting to keep morale high but the situation started to look grim.
Very blood and intense turn. On one hand, superb victory by my Ottomans, completely overrunning external walls. On the other hand, huge morale drop (to 4) due to losses. First cracks in the attackers resolve clearly visible.
That was very difficult turn for Ottomans. They were couple of times repulsed, lost central bastion due to Hapsburg counter-attack and suffered morale hits. But defenders troops were on the verge of depletion too…
Last turn was very dramatic! Ottomans were close from taking both bastions (one of the victory paths) but failed to do so. Hapsburgs again counter-attacked and my morale was left at 1! In the end, Hapsburgs withstood the siege and won!

The Impressions and summary

That was such a fun and tense game! The initial balanced and steady Ottoman progress was very worrying for Lukasz – no hasty attacks, meticulously planned advances and well placed assaults. What is interesting, the first cracks on Ottoman resolve and progress started to be visible at the moment of their greatest success – conclusion of Round 3. In the end. the Hapsburgs managed to regain some territory and crush Karl Mustafa army morale to 1!

I will be definitely coming back pretty often to this game as it provides fantastic experience. Highly recommended!