GDW, TORGAU (1974)

TORGAU is an operational level simulation of the decisive battle of the Seven Years' War fought in 1760, between the Prussian Army under King Frederick the Great and the Austrian Imperial Army under Field Marshal Daun. TORGAU was designed by Frank Chadwick and published by Game Designer’s Workshop (GDW) in 1974.


View of Targau game map section

TORGAU is a complex battalion/regimental treatment of the single most critical battle of the Seven Years War; a battle that was also one of Frederick's greatest and most unlikely victories. During the course of this long engagement, The Prussian Army, which numbered some 44,000 men, attacked and defeated an Austrian force of 50,000 that, besides being numerically superior, also occupied a strong, fortified position near the town of Torgau in Saxony. However, before the Prussian monarch could even close for battle, Frederick had to concentrate his four arriving corps which were approaching on different lines of march.

Historically, once it began, the bloody action lasted all day and into the night of November 3rd. And interestingly, the course of much of the battle did not go well for Frederick. In fact, the attacking Prussians were repeatedly repulsed at high cost by Count Daun’s entrenched Austrians throughout the entire day; Frederick's fortunes only changed when darkness fell and a Prussian contingent, led by General Zieten, finally found and exploited a weakness in the Austrian defenses. Under cover of night, Zieten’s troops smashed into a thinly-held section of the Austrian line and rapidly pushed through to gain the heights and capture the Austrian batteries; after this reversal, Daun was forced to withdraw his army from the field in some disorder. The respective losses of the two armies reveal how costly this victory was for Frederick: the Austrians lost 4,500 killed and 7,000 captured; the victorious Prussians lost 13,000 killed.

Any game system attempting to simulate a battle like Torgau must, of necessity, incorporate a number of features that capture the flavor and operational limitations of armies during this period. Thus, a single game turn is conducted in three phases: movement (which includes fire); melee; and recovery. However, the players are confronted with far more than just moving and fighting their units. TORGAU also includes rules for unit formations, step reduction, and unit facing. In addition there are rules for morale, march order, dragoons, Austrian Uhlans (lancers), the uncertain arrival of Prussian forces, and even Prussian sappers. Both players have interesting challenges, but for the Prussian player, it will soon become clear why Frederick considered Torgau his greatest victory.

TORGAU offers only the Historical Standard Scenario, along with a minor optional rule for unit facing. However, given the fact that the Prussian Army’s arrival is always variable and subject to chance, no two games need ever be the same. Game length is dependent upon the arrival of Prussian forces, but can last up to fifty-three game turns.

Design Characteristics:

  • Time Scale: 15 minutes per game turn
  • Map Scale: 200 yards per hex
  • Unit Size: battalions/regiments
  • Unit Types (a GDW trademark is unit variation, and hence, this partial exposition): infantry, cavalry, dragoons, lancers and artillery fusiliers (Austrian only), sappers (Prussian only), artillery, horse artillery, and information markers
  • Number of Players: two
  • Complexity: above average/high
  • Solitaire Suitability: low
  • Average Playing Time: 3+ hours (with a potential game length of 53 turns, don’t make any other plans for the day)

Game Components:

  • One 21” x 31” hexagonal grid Map Shhet
  • 480 ½” cardboard Counters
  • One 6” x 9” Rules Booklet
  • Two 8½” x 11” Combat Results Tables/Effects of Formations on Combat Charts
  • One 8½” x 11” Unit Identification Chart
  • One 8½” x 11” Prussian Approach March Table
  • One 8½” x 11” Time Record Chart
  • One 8½” x 11” Prussian Step Reduction Chart
  • One 8½” x 11” Austrian Step Reduction Chart
  • One “Ziploc” Bag (original packaging)


  • I wished GDW had done far more games using this system. I thought this was a excellent game and being able to plan your Prussian groups and where/when you wanted them to enter play was wonderful-And to plan your Austrian deployment to meet the threat from anywhere was really something

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