Monday, 26 September 2011

“I have conquered an Empire but I have not been able to conquer myself”

A first attempt at using the “Le Roi Soleil” warfare in the 18th Century supplement for Impetus.

Rob (B) has a bunch of 6mm Great North War miniatures which we thought would be ideal for this. The army lists provided on the Impetus website are mostly for the War of Spanish Succession but it was a relatively easy to throw together a Russian and Swedish army list given the period. A bit of tweaking meant that the Swedish player would be encouraged to close to melee while the Russian player would be better engaging with firearms.

These were basic army list to enable us to play a stand up fight and keep things relatively simple as it was our first time with the Supplementary rules.

The good news is we already knew the core rules from the amount of Impetus we play for the ancient, medieval and 17th Century games we play of which my earlier blogs have commented on.

The major change is in command and control which varies the command radius rule. Basically the whole of the army must remain in touch with the general though this radius can be extended by Wing Commanders.

There is also an option to disengage and a variant of the “pilum rule” for cavalry using pistols depending on whether a nature of nation’s cavalry doctrine is Shock or Non-Shock.

I took the role of the Russian with Rob (B) taking the Swedes. I deployed in three commands. On the left were three lines of Non-Shock Cavalry with two horse batteries deployed to their front. To their right were two commands of two lines of infantry with two foot batteries on either flank. On the extreme right were two units of Cossacks which were assigned to the right command.

Rob (B) deployed his infantry similarly but with his foot batteries placed together on his right. On the extreme right he deployed half his cavalry looking to sweep around a wood for a flanking manoeuvre. The Remaining Cavalry was formed up on the left.

Things started bizarrely when for the first initiative roll we both rolled double six’s. A draw and both commanders going up a level!

I advanced my Russians only a short way so as not to spoil the fields of fire for my artillery which was spread along the length of my line. I advanced my horse artillery slightly to make sure they would be in range once the Swedes inevitably advanced to contact.

Initially I had the best of it with pouring musketry in to the advancing Swedes and on one roll getting 4 six’s from 6 dice! (6’s being hits in this game).

The first line of Swedes was being punished but the fresh troops behind waited eagerly.

Rob (B) could have used the “passage of lines” rule in the supplement to move his fresh troops through the ones which were now getting somewhat thread bare. However he decided against this because of the risk of not getting the initiative. – In a turn each side nominates a command and then rolls, the highest score activates there nominated command. This continues through the turn until all commands have been activated. As such it is possible (if your lucky) to conclude a turn by activating your remaining inactive command and firing on the enemy. Then nominating it first the following turn and getting another round of fire before the enemy get to close-

Rob (B) decision paid off as I managed to get more musketry in to the advancing Swedes before he charged home. Initially the Swedish infantry did not have a huge impact but this was because the front units had been so weakened by the Russian fire as they closed. However it was not long before the fresh units were in contact and they really started to go to work on the Russian centre.

The Russian right was a cavalry versus infantry battle which thanks to us forgetting the fact that the infantry were sporting pikes and so should have had the benefit of the long spear rule was a much more even match than it should have been. These units continued to trade blows.

On the left I had a line of cavalry that went to support the Russian infantry in the centre and protect the artillery while my remaining horse wheeled slightly to the right to be ready for Rob (B’s) flank attack (if it ever made it around the woods!).

The centre was a bloody affair with no quarter asked or given. In an amazing turn of countless rolled 6’s both commands managed to annihilate each other. Suddenly there was a wide open space in the middle of the battlefield where the Russians and Swedes had fought themselves to a standstill.

Both of us had lost one command each. Whoever lost the next command lost the game.

The outcome on the Russian left was now academic as Rob (B)’s flank march would not arrive in time and the Russian Cavalry was too far away to influence the outcome on the right.

On the right the Russian infantry continued to face down charge after charge of Swedish Cavalry. It came down to both commands being so weakened that the next lost unit would decide the game. Luckily I won the initiative roll and got to act first and so charged my Cossack light horse in the flank of some very already shattered Swedish horse. The charge carried and destroyed the Swedes. Rob (B) could not finish of my engaged infantry and so his Command broke and mine stood meaning a narrow and somewhat Pyrrhic victory for Russia.

We both felt that having played Polemos and Black Powder for this period this was the best set of rules for getting a game finished in an evening. It may not be as aesthetically pleasing as with the Black Powder Rules but they are fast, simple and the national rule variants do lead the player to play in line with that Nations accepted tactical doctrine.