Sunday, 30 January 2011

Beware the Lion of the North!

Thirty  Years War - Swedish v Imperial

Rules - Basic Impetus Baroque

This was an adaption of a scenario based game for Thirty Years War using the Basic Impetus rules with their Baroque Renaissance add-on supplement.  The original scenario was written around the Battle of Lutzen 1632 but focused on one element of that battle; Bernhard’s assault on the Imperialist artillery batteries situated in front of some windmills.

I had arrived late so it was a case of getting the toys on to the table as quick as possible and cracking on with it.  This was different to the original scenario but had the Imperialists as defenders anchored by a village and enclosed fields to their right.

I was commanding the forces of Wallenstein for the Empire and Mick was playing the part of the Swedes.

Order of Battle.

Bernard’s Regiment which was 3 units of Pike and Musket (P&M) of good quality but their preponderance of pike meant they had a negative firepower modifier but a positive modifier in melee.

Supporting this were two other P&M Regiments 3 units each (Leslie and Wildenstein’s Regiments) and a Regiment of Bernhard’s Lifeguard Cavalry (3 units of Galloper Horse).

The Swedes also had one Artillery Battery.

Two Regiments of P&M Foot made up the core of the Imperial Forces, one of 3 units and one of 2.  (Waldstien and Alt Sachsen’s Regiments respectively)
In support of this was a single unit of Croat light horse and two units of Trotter Cavalry (Destour and Holk).  Holk’s unit was slightly weaker to reflect his poor performance on the day.

Finally a unit of Skirmishers (Dragoons) and two artillery pieces made up the Catholic order of battle.

A double line of P&M units, three in front and three in the rear with a single unit of foot thrown out to the left to push up against the enemy dragoons and one of the Artillery pieces.
On the right were the Swedish Cavalry.

Two lines of infantry, three in the front and two at the rear but the rear units 12cm back from the first line.  These deployed between the two artillery pieces.  On the left two units of the Trotting Cavalry with the Croat light horse as a screen.  The right was anchored by a unit of Dragoons lining the walls of an enclosed field.

Things did not start off two well for me.  I advanced my cavalry on the left intending to cause some disruption to the enemy’s cavalry with my light horse and slow them down a bit.  Trouble is I forgot we were playing basic Impetus where there is no evade rule for light horse (there is in the full rules).  My Croats were quickly dealt with by Bernhard life guard without loss.

The Swedes advanced across their whole front.  Their Artillery was practically out of range at the start so only had a 1 dice roll per turn (6’s and double 5’s are hits in this game).

The Imperial troops held their ground and allowed the Swedes to close.  It did not take long before both blocks of infantry were exchanging fire, the Imperials having the better of it because of their supporting Artillery on their flanks.

However meanwhile, the Swedish Cavalry had smashed in to the Imperial Horse Regiments, they held their ground for a few turns but were no match for the Swedish Gallopers once in the thick of a Melee, they did good work but were eventually destroyed. The Swedes were then able to charge and destroy one of the Imperial Artillery batteries.

On the Imperial right the dragoons had been sent packing by a single unit of Swedish foot.  This unit was in an awkward position though and had to manoeuvre to try and bring itself in to the rest of the fight.

 The Imperial left was now open.  However the gap between the 1st and 2nd line of infantry now paid off.  The 2nd line wheeled to the left and deployed at right angles to the first line,

To the front the Imperials were now starting to suffer.  The better firepower of the Swedes and the fact that some of the units of the second line had moved up to extend the 1st line meant that they were outnumbered and out gunned. 

Eventually, this told and in quick succession, two units on the 1st line were destroyed and the remaining unit was so heavily reduced as to be practically ineffective.

The 2nd line which had wheeled left to prevent a flank charge by the Cavalry was now open to a flank attack by the advancing Swedish foot. 

However this was academic.  Mick had succeeded in destroying well over 50% of my army including my Generals unit and so the field belonged to him.


These rules play really well for this period.  The limited number of units and unit types mean the game flows quickly.  (Compare it to my comments on the previous blog concerning Polemos).  It looked right on the table was good fun and what was pleasing for me is the army lists I have devised led to a result similar to that on the day (at least initially).  The imperialist lost the Windmill Batteries but Bernhard took such heavy casualties in the assault that he was too weak to resist a counter attack later in the day.

I have played Impetus a lot over that past year or so and I have to say that I find the rules so logical and simple to understand that they always lead to interesting and fun games.  The Baroque supplement is excellent and I can’t wait to use this supplement with the full rules allowing for larger armies.

Rob (S)
20th January 2011.

Monday, 24 January 2011

6mm Great Northern War.

0th January 2010

Polemos Great Northern War
Swedish vs Russian.

Rob (B) a new member to the club (now bringing the number of Robs at the club to 5!)  He has been kicking his heels in a Wargames Club-less area of the South for a few years and was eager to dust off a lot of his 6mm miniatures and try and game of Baccus’ house rules for this period.

Rob provided the gaming table courtesy of the Games Workshop modular set which comes in its own carry bag! the terrain (Baccus) and two armies of 6mm, Swedish and Russian (again Baccus), both wonderfully painted and based.

Nobody had played Polemos previously and so we expected things to be slow.  Rob (B) and I had both read the rules leading up to this pre-planned game.  Even though I loved the design of the rulebook, especially the pencil drawings throughout (reminiscent of the early Warhammer Rule books) I had struggled to understand some of the content and did not find it as easy to read as say Black Powder or Field of Glory.  Anyway playing the games usually clears up any ambiguity so we set about sorting out armies and deployment.  Rob (B) was going to referee while I played the Swedes and Mick played the Russians.

Relatively conservative for the period.  The Russians took up a defensive position with 2 brigades of foot across the right to centre and 1 brigade of Dragoons and another of Cossacks (Light horse) on the left occupying a hill.

The Swedes had a brigade of foot on the left, a brigade of foot in the centre and then two brigades of Cavalry lined up one behind the other on the right.

Things started off pretty well.  It was pretty much a case of advance to contact as we just wanted to see how the rules played rather than anything else.  Mick sent his Cossacks out to his far left in wait for the inevitable Swedish charge on his Dragoons.

 The Swedes advanced under bombardment from the Russian Artillery, the first Brigade getting close enough to the Russian Dragoons to charge.  The Charge faltered and they were then caught in the flank by the Cossacks.

Unfortunately that is about as far as we got as from this point things seemed to really get bogged down.  The amount of tables one has to refer to in respect of charging, firing or melee is bad enough but then each table seems to have a long list of modifiers that one then has pore over.  Now I appreciate that this was the fist time we had played the rules and that things will speed up as one gets to know them.  The trouble is we were all so put off by how long it took to achieve anything that it is unlikely we will feel enthusiastic about revisiting this particular rule-set any time soon.

The rules are well thought out and do have their merits.  The idea of "tempo bidding"  to determine who goes first is an outstanding concept that adds an extra layer of tactical consideration which I think once you have some experience becomes the real key factor in winning and losing.  However,  the mechanics of combat system in  my view  are simply too unwieldy to be able get even close to finishing a game in one evening so the rules are not really suitable for a game night.  I do intend to play a few more games at some point as it would be unfair to simply write them off on one bad experience and as I say, I love the tempo bidding system.

I have Principles of War for this period but have not played those yet, I think I will try and arrange a game so that we can compare the two and apply a bit of balance to my first impressions which are somewhat negative.

On the up side, Rob’s 6mm figures looked excellent on the table top.  I personally hate painting this scale but there is no doubt that once deployed on the table top in numbers they give an outstanding sense of grandeur and scale.  The accompanying villages and woods (all again made by Baccus) added to what was an aesthetically excellent table top!