Sunday, 11 June 2017

Marlborough's Wars with The Pikeman's Lament, Part II: Archie's Lament

This is a continuation of the previous posting:


The Battle

Having brought his force to the van of Marlborough's army, friend Archibald Cunningham is now tasked with taking and holding a vital crossroads. Can he do this before the French beat him to it?

The scene of battle, showing the crossroads town of Elixham.

The golden light of dawn on an early morning Flemish landscape (van Ruisdael would love it).

On the left, the Dutch and Imperialists move up... and spy French columns in the distance. 

There they are: the French right, consisting of a mixed force of Bavarians and French (oh, and O'Doul's Wild Geese, too).

The French left, moving up splendidly on Elixham.

Time for Archie's lads to deploy. That's our Hero himself, leading the Dragoons in the centre. Cunningham's Own Company of Heroes are on his left, Converged Grenadiers to his front. "I say,"  asks an officer of Grenadiers, "are those the Fwench just over there?".  

"Good God!" he answers his own question. "Fwench Twotters!" The Grenadiers have rolled snake-eyes on their activation roll and have inexplicably routed to the rear, colliding with their own Dragoons en route. The French haven't moved a muscle! It's up to Archie to rally them: "Get back in the ranks, you mutinous swine!" bawls he, pistoling a few, and thus concentrating their attention.

Meanwhile, the Dutch and French begin to come to grips on the left.

A bird's eye view of the field as the sides start to engage: French on the left, Allied on the right.

French and Dutch companies blast away at each other, while Imperial and Dutch support moves up.

It's all happening now: Dutch and Bavarians giving each other Hot Hell...

... and the Bavarians break. Good use of 'First Volley' is highly important in the rules. Shoot too soon, and you've thrown your 'First Volley' away. But if you time it right, and wait to see the 'whites of their eyes', you can quickly cripple your opponent.

To whit: now the Dutch have been sent reeling by the first volley of the supporting French company.

The Dutch commanding Officer is sent packing by a French volley

Montrose's Highlanders occupy Elixham. "We'el aw gang intae yon bonny wee toon (mind the Kirk, 'tho)."

But when they try to deploy in order to charge a nearby French company, they, too, are blasted away by its first volley.

Things are looking pretty bleak for Archie's command. The Converged Grenadiers move up, hoping that the French Dragoons facing them will fail their charge activation, and thus give them the chance to go into 'Close Order'. No such luck; the Dragoons charge before they can form, and they're sent scattering.

The mandatory follow-on charge by the French smashes them into Archie's own Dragoons, and he, too has to make an inglorious run for it.

Battle over! Loses are four-to-one in favour of the French!

So how did it play? Pretty well, but things tended to move very fast in the game. For example, there were four units of field guns, but only one had the chance to actually unlimber and get into the action. The others were left bringing up the rear, failing their activation rolls as they went.

Also: you need to be careful which unit (Horse or Foot) you assign your Officer to. If Horse, you get to lead from front but risk getting taken out early... and your entire command with you. Three of the four Officers in the game were leading Dragoon units, and all were routed. The fourth led an infantry unit, and got to steadily control things from the rear.

As I mentioned in the earlier post: the 6mm scale is a prefect one-to-one figure-to-man fit for the notional scale of the rules, but even through they work just fine (with a few adjustments), I think that 28mm probably 'feels' better. Osprey's Honours of War most likely has a better feel in 6mm

And as for Archie? Disgrace in this action left him packing his things for an extended stay the Highlands, and a future meeting with Rob Roy.

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