Friday, 22 August 2014

More Marlborough

You will recall that on Parataikene Day we also played a War of Spanish Succession game put on by Richard Lockwood. The rules were his own, written in a coffee shop on his way here. We liked what they were doing and he sent me a copy and also the results of some further playtesting. It only remained for us to give them another go.

I had to make a few quick changes, - Richard's armies are 15mm with eight company bases to a battalion. Mine are 20mm with three elements. Pretty much identical really.

I threw some European looking terrain on the table, and deployed everything I had. Anglo-Dutch are to the right, French to the left. The Anglo-Dutch are effecting a river crossing and trying to capture the road junction. The French are trying to stop them.

This is just another gratuitous shot of some of my figures.

Phil arrived and took the Anglo-Dutch, so I got the French. In classic WSS fashion I immediately despatched three battalions of foot to occupy the village. If you are interested in where the buildings came from you only have to ask.

Phil boldly advanced down the road, pushing his cavalry ahead to try to catch me before I deployed.

I started to occupy the village on my left.

As we advanced towards each other I congratulated myself on how nice my 30 year old Airfix conversions look. Thanks to Pete Berry of Baccus for talking me into doing this army when I was a student so he had an opponent for his GNW Swedes. It has been re-painted and varnished since then, and given new flags, but it's still the same army to me.

Phil seized the initiative at the appropriate point for him and charged headlong into the front of my infantry column advancing up the road (yup, get me before I deployed). The red counter indicates I have inflicted a "Disruption Point" (DP) on him with my musketry as he came in. Cue discussion on what should be happening as this didn't happen in the previous game. I argued for my column being a bit like a square mainly because I didn't want to lose the game this early. Phil was too polite to push the point.

On my right flank I launched a charge with my horse against Phil's flank guard infantry. More of that later.

My remaining infantry moved up and deployed as Phil charged more cavalry at my centre. Don't know what I expected in the game, but it wasn't this (when I set the figures up I was intending, as the Anglo-Dutch, to weaken the French centre with my infantry then bust it open with well timed cavalry charges).

The village on my left sees cavalry swirl round it. Phil has charged down the main street (out of picture) and I'm pinning his infantry with my cavalry. As you can see it is costing me some DPs.

The combat across the centre has become more generalised, with infantry firefights breaking out. One of my battalions has broken, failing a die roll against its DPs. You can see the yellow trail of shame off to the left. My infantry in the centre are holding on against the cavalry, due to the efforts of the brigadier attached to them. Another one of my units, the one with three green DP markers, also fails a die roll against them and beats a hasty retreat. Dammit.

I have to move some more units up to plug the hole. Luckily Phil's cavalry is fairly tied down, so can't get at me.

I'm light a few pictures on this flank, but the cavalry attack didn't go well, with two out of three units being forced to retire. The remaining unit is still stuck in and doing okay, despite being pistoleers rather than hard charging cavalry.

We ended the game at this point as we had run out of time. It was all looking a bit sticky for me, and another half an hour would probably have seen me retiring en-masse.

Richard's rules were basically one side of A4 so were never going to answer every question we had, so lots of notes were taken. Having said that it was a known work-in-progress when we started. The DP mechanism with the associated recovery process and outcome moves works very well. The core of the system is solid. What Richard needs to do is work his ideas up into a full set of rules, filling in the gaps and hopefully not losing what makes them fun.

Another enjoyable afternoon's game.


  1. "The rules were his own, written in a coffee shop on his way here."
    That sounds about as simple as it gets, but the rules seemed to work well. I enjoyed the pictures.

    1. The great thing is they're written to a philosophy not from a mechanistic point of view, bolting bits together.

      I've got great hopes for v2.

      Good to hear you liked the pictures.

  2. Great looking game! Those Airfix cuirassier horses are full of movement.

    1. They're nicely animated, if a bit wobbly and a bit light on detail. Very nostalgic to use, of course.

  3. An enjoyable game and discussion ... and getting your Airfix 'Marlburians' out puts a tick in their box after a long stint in reserve. Challenging though it is these days, it fells good if most of the collection can get a run out from time to time.

    I'm yet to see how these armies fall apart and one side wins. This could be a simple 'break level' a la Thomas or BP, or some finer form of disintegration or permanent degradation. The artillery rules are also a bit .. er ... hit and miss ... ;) ...


    1. If we can get these right then I think the Airfix boys will be out more often and also get some added units.

      You are right we don't have victory conditions yet, but I'm thinking that this might be a 4-6 hour game, rather than our standard 2 -3 hours.

      The artillery rules had even less thought in them than the rest as I wrote them in less than 5 minutes. They may not do what Richard wants.

  4. Lovely photos of what sounds like a most enjoyable afternoon! Fabulous to see an army of Washington's Army and converted French cuirassiers! We too have those as the basis of armies for this period; courtesy of my colleagues Julian and Mark. Also, refreshing to hear you using a shell of rules written on a single A4 sheet. Marvellous. Richard's challenge is to keep them to as few pages as possible! I wonder, is there a problem with horse being able to succeed charging foot frontally? They should be shot to Hades, shouldn't they? Or did I get the wrong impression?

    1. I always thought is was good of Airfix to give you enough useless figures in WA to be able to transfer the hats to cuirassiers.

      The horse may have charged foot frontally. None of the attempts achieved anything.

  5. Well ...

    Cavalry do charge infantry frontally in this period (so there must be some sort of point to it even if it isn't generally successful ..) ...

    Most of out Horse v Foot charges were actually on unformed (marching undeployed) ...

    We had about a dozen such charges - all failed bar one which looked odds on to prevail if the game had carried on (but that would have been down a round of combat dice and some morale tests) ...

    I think that kind of suggests the odds are stacked a bit too heavily against the cavalry (re ... I'll suggest what I think ought to be happening when I've figured that out ;) ...) ...

    The great thing about recreating history with toy soldiers is it makes you have to figure out (_figure out? :) ) what you think was really going on ...


    1. I think this is the one area of the rules Richard had done the least on. Foot v Foot & Horse v Horse being much more common in the period.

      You are right on the recreating history bit. You have to fill in the gaps the history books just gloss over.

  6. Thanks for clarifying Phil.
    I/we too love the playing history aspect of the hobby. It's great to check that rules are giving reasonable historical results, without losing the game aspect.

    1. I agree. If you aren't getting reasonable historical outcomes then you're just playing the rules rather than playing a wargame.