Yeeeeeeeeah, let's talk about the Great Northern War (1700-1721).


To me warfare in the 18th century always was kind of a blind spot. Sure a bunch of landmarks come to mine: Kabinettskriege, Empress Maria Theresia, War of Spanish Succession, Louie XIV., good uniforms, Prussians nicking Silesia by use of ungentlemanly measures ( :P ), seven years war, american war of independence... and then it's French revolution time already! Kinda.

Concerning warfare: Tricorns, linear warfare, the vanishing of the pike, Grenadiers wear funny hats, good uniforms (a point which should always be stressed), kinda slow cavalry, Prussians get +1 on all rolls (because in the 18th century Prussians are Space Marines), etc.

Now a fine gentleman approached me and asked me to paint his Swedes and Russians for the GNW. A good reason to get a bit more into this topic. During the Thirty Years War Sweden cemented their position as a major European power. Over the course of the second half of the 17th century the Swedes expanded and consolidated their realm along the borders of the Baltic Sea.


Enclaves and often important centres of trade in Poland, the baltic states and northern Germany were in Swedish hands. This allowed for the kingdom (which mostly was agraric in nature) to be and remain a major player in Northern Europe.

After the death of Swedish king Charles XI. his then 15-year old son succeeded him to the throne as Charles XII. The kingdoms of Denmark (along with the kongdom of Norway) as well as the King of Saxony and Poland, August the Strong, took this opportunity to forge an attack alliance against the Swedes. Tsar Peter I. of Russia also joined the Anti-Swedish league and three years later, in 1700, they attacked Sweden from all Sides.


Denmark-Norway marched into Schleswig-Holstein to their southern border, Saxony-Poland besieged the important trade centre of Riga and Russia invaded from the East (Livland). Somehow though the Allies had miscalculated. Charles XII. immediately raised an army, led it to Denmark and forced a peace treaty. Then he went on to Livland and after a 2 months campaign he beat a numerically vastly superior Russian army. The Swedish king left a garrison force in Livland, with the rest of his army he marched into Poland and reliefed Riga. In 1705 a peace treaty was reached with Poland. To top it all off Charles XII. led his army right into the heart of Saxony. King August was forced to nullify any treaties with Russia and, and this is the big thing, to relinquish any rights to the Polish throne. Within 6 years Charles XII. had proven his enemies' conceptions of the king's weakness wrong. The Swedish army, who enjoyed a reputation of being the best and most aggressive soldiers in Europe had a bunch of new combat experience and were of the best of morales.

So what do you do when you got the tip top army of the continent? You march it into Russia!

Denmark-Norway and Saxony-Poland were out of the game for now and Russia was still licking her wounds. After the Russian crushing defeat at the battle of Narva Charles XII. had a very low opinion of the Russian army. Russia at this point still was very much stuck in feudal times. This is why he immediately turned to Poland afterwards rather than marching into Russia. This gave the Tsar 6 crucial years to reorganize his army further. Because this Tsar wasn't any guy, but Peter I. (the Great).