So, as promised, we have one of my favourite wargaming periods and one of my favourite sets of rules. We had a Seven Years War battle using Warfare in the Age of Reason. I haven’t played these for a while, so it was good to get a game in. I have 2 armies for SYW (Swedish* and French) and am building a third (with plans for a 4th, and possibly even a 5th) and arranged for my French to fight Sandy’s British. This would be a first for me, as I’d never fought Brits before.
*What a surprise…..
The terrain was placed with a river running the length of the table. It could be crossed by way of a ford on the left and a bridge on the right. It was late in the season and the water was low, so there was the possibility of the river being fordable elsewhere along its length There was a village around the ford and a few hills.
The French deployed between the hill on my right and the village on the left. I could deploy up to the river and garrison the buildings with one battalion each. The Brits deployed some brigades on the table, with the rest marching on. The French objective was to stop the Brits attaining a foot hold across the river (remember that, it may be important). The Brits had to force a crossing.
So, with me commanding the French and Neil and Sandy splitting the Brits between them (Neil on their right, Sandy on their left), battle was ready to commence….
A field in the Low Countries….
French deployment…left flank…
….centre and right….
The first couple of turns were pretty uneventful. The Brits (and Hessians, as Sandy was to remind me several times) were marching up the roads and bringing more brigades on and the French (confident in their deployment) did nothing. Eventually, Neil advanced some infantry close enough to the ford to tempt me enough to send my cavalry across. Next turn they charged a limbered gun and an infantry battalion. The gun retreated out of charge range, so I charged another infantry battalion instead. This proved to be a mistake, as both cavalry units took fire from their targets, failed their morale tests and fled back across the ford!
French cavalry run…
Meanwhile, over on my right flank, the British (Hessian) cavalry had moved up to the river, looking for a ford. To counter the threat of any advances across the river, should they find one, I moved my second cavalry brigade (led by the Garde cavalry) onto that flank. In the centre, Neil moved his infantry and guns up to the river and started exchanging fire with the French on the other side.
French cavalry ready themselves for enemy cavalry crossing the river…..
….a battle of attrition starts in the centre…
With no cavalry to worry about, Neil charged some of his own over the ford, the Scots Greys to be precise. Instead of limbering and retiring, I chose to stand and fire, and what a fire it was! A blast of canister at the cavalry sent them reeling back across the ford. Neil also moved a couple of guns and some infantry battalions to exchange fire with the infantry in the building on his side of the river. They were only militia, but they were proving to be a bit of a nuisance, inflicting a few hits on the British.
Over on my right, Sandy unlimbered a cannon on the bridge and began an artillery duel with the French gun there to protect the bridge. This was probably a mistake for 2 reasons: the French had the better of the duel, and it gave me time to move an infantry brigade up to defend my end of the bridge.
The Scots Greys charge….
….French infantry move position…
Undeterred by his cavalry being repulsed, Neil then sent 2 infantry battalions over the ford, to try and take the gun. They met with the same result; a blast of canister and a retreat back across the ford. In the centre, the battle of attrition was turning in favour of the British. Their superior number of guns were beginning to make the difference. Not wanting to abandon my river bank, I moved my last reserves up to replace the damaged units when they were forced to retreat.
By the bridge, Sandy finally got the nerve to charge some grenadiers over it. The look on Sandy’s face when I told him he had just charged the Garde Francaise will keep me smiling for a while. As you can imagine, it did not go well for the Hessians. They lost 5 out of 12 figures as they charged, but somehow passed their morale test, in the ensuing melee, they lost 5 more. Remarkably, the 2 remaining figures only retreated a half move and ended up back on the bridge, where they were promptly wiped out by musket fire from the Garde in the next turn.
British infantry cross the ford…..
….the French reserves move up in the centre….
…the Hessians charge the Garde….
With time getting on, Neil made one more attempt to charge across the ford, this time with the Household Cavalry! They charged the gun, received a blast of canister, and passed their morale test. They charged home, destroying the gun and continuing on into the infantry battalion behind it. This infantry kept their nerve and the following melee was drawn. This gave Neil the opportunity to move another cavalry regiment into the melee. It also gave me the opportunity to move my (now fully recovered) cavalry into it too. The melee that followed was vital. Neil routed my infantry, then pursued and destroyed it, but I beat one of his cavalry units and routed it back across the ford and continued into a third cavalry regiment, which I also repulsed in melee. With time running out and only 1 British cavalry regiment across the river, we called a halt to the game.
Household Cavalry charge the ford….
….the big fight at the ford….
…the British bounced back across the ford (again)….
Neil suggested that it was only a matter of time before the British won the battle. That is a statement I find difficult to argue with. The British superiority in cannon means it was inevitable that my centre was broken (by the end of the game, they had 6 guns in the centre). It was by no means certain that they would find a ford there, but it seems likely, and then they would have had an unopposed crossing point. That would be ‘game over’ for the French. However, remember the French objective? I did say it may be important. I stopped the British gaining a foothold on my side of the river (it’s not my fault they ran out of time). Therefore, there is a legitimate claim for a French victory!! I will let you make up your own mind. However, when Sandy and Neil offered the draw, I accepted, and will stick by that. It was a draw.
So, another good evening at the club, with a great set of rules. Sandy opined that you never get a bad game with Warfare in the Age of Reason, and I tend to agree. No concrete plans were made for next week, so we’ll see what happens.