Monday, 13 June 2016

A Morning of Murderous Mutual Mayhem and Massacre.

 Jim was about half an hour late picking Andrew and I up to go to the Durham show- where we and the resat of the TWATS were doing a demo game.  With much of central Durham  covered by roadworks and temporary traffic lights -this could have been a problem. In the event it wasn't - much-  and we were still able to set up easily. 10mm armies don't weight much !  Even over 2000 figures.don't weight much.
 Scenario and strengths were the same as the previous post as Jim had not had the time to finish the additions as he- like most of our group -works for a living.
 However the playing area was a good bit larger- 10 feet by six as compared to the 8 feet by 5 of the last game..
 Player were- as previously Andrew and I for the Prussians but Mechanical Shaun had bee replaced by Theatrical Steve on the Austrian team- A late substitution cased by Shaun not being able to get in until after midday.
 So immediately things changed. Would Floating Jeff's uncanny ability to roll 6s just when needed be offset by Steves equaly uncanny ability to roll 1s when not needed......
The Prussian advance- already taking casualties,
The Austrian Infantry line. Jim's lads look superb.

 This was a very different game from our previos outing for Honours of War.
 The Austrain sat upon the defensive but deployed ignoring the hill on their flank other than to use it as an anchor.

The Austrian battle line.

 As previously the Prussians had 5 brigades(4 foot 1 horse) as against the 4 brigades- 2 of each including a HUGE 5 battalion brigade of foot which alone  contained almost 400 figures. Prussian brigades were 4 battalion(except 1 of 3) averaging 240 figures each.
 The Prussian got of to an -intentional - slow start  advancing  in line of Brigades except for the smallest brigade on the extremeleft who occupied the hill. However the Austrian nailed themselves down so we had to go and get them.
 First clash was on the right where our single cavalry brigade(2 Cuirassier 2 Dragoons 1 hussar) closed with the Austrian cuirassier Brigade of 4 regiments and mutual massacre ensued, By the end of the series of charges and counter charges both brigades were finished despite Jeff rolling his customary 6s
Theatrical Steve- having thrown another 1 !! 

 In the centre more mutual massacre ensued albeit at a slower rate- though not much slower-by the end of the carnage  no one had any usable units left- the second Austrian cavalry brigade immolated itself on the Prussian infantry BUT  did enough damage to force that brigade below 50% effective and therefore out of the battle..
 Next left brigades also destroyed each other and on the Prussian left the Austrian big brigade  saw off our brigade facing them BUT  despite holding on by their fingernails our small reserve brigade- still fresh- had flank marched aroud the rear of the "Austrian hill" and appeared behind the Austrian lines prepared to deliver a volley into the rear of that brigade.  This was enough to finish them off. So - if victor there was- it was a single 3 battalion Prussian Brigade
 In the meantime 2 small battalions of Russian had appeared but nobody had any troops to fight them. At least not for several turns so the Umpire declared "game over"
 If Prussia had won it was singularly unsatisfying.
 We found HoW in its second out extremely bloody- the game -even with all those troops was over by 1.30 - not having got started until after 10 in the morning. If getting a conclusion is you major reason for playing then these are fine. But if that is so then why start in the first place?. . Artillery can be deadly and armies on the defensive seem to have a singular advantage. There was much "all or nothing" here . Units  either function or do not and standing still to rally simply gets you dead   .
 Generals seem to have little to do other than influence movement- but then maybe I'm missing something here.
 I don't think- so far- that we have tested these rules to destruction but I'm not convinced either. I don't see how for example you could reproduce the British assault at Fontenoy- no battalion would last long enough to get within the  80 paces the Brits did before they opened fire.  Equally though somewhat out of period  I doubt Salamander Cutts would have made it to Blenhiem.
 Both sides lost over 50% of their troops- even if we assume that those battalion not actually destroyed made it off table.
Indeed at one point Mechanical Shaun observed that
"These rules seem to work well if you don't move or fire! "
 Now I wouldn't go that far - they certainly will do the deed for larger games with a little tweaking. How 18th century they are will depend upon the players. They are far too dice controlled for my taste- too much luck is needed for even a hope of success and they are far far too bloody. Certainly they give a good GAME  but for those wanting a little more than that I remain to be convinced as does Jim.
Some Prussian waiting resignedly for the slaughter.

The Prussian reserve brigade finally gets around the Austrian flank.

 As to the rest of the show  it is small but  nicely formed about a dozen traders  a decent cafe and a relaxed atmosphere. I picked up some guns from Eagle figures- these are large enough to go with my 30mm Stadden crew and are nice chunky pieces without being overdone.
Whilst wandering about came across- in one of the side rooms - a little boutique called Attic which was nothing whatsoever to do with wargaming at all. Therein lay its strength.
 Now my wife is into retro jewellery and clothing so this little place sparked my interest.  After a conversation with its very pleasant lady owner I bought a splendid silk scarf for my wife Carole.
This certainly helped to lighten the mood away from the  by now repetitive mutual slaughter. Man shall not live by wargaming alone.


  1. Well it did at least look more battle-ish than many a game as well as being attractive.

    On a nearly totally unrelated topic, I just recently read your ECW article in MiniWargs. While I'm not saying I agreed with every word, it is as a good an example of what a proper article should be as any I've seen.

    1. Thanks Ross- appreciate it.
      Yes Jim has done a good job on those 10mm troops ans the game looked great. Once we iron the bugs out of the rules we'll be good to go. Jim reckons he wants to try the same scenario with Black powder next.

  2. Interesting thoughts on the HOW rules. You're the first that I've read with a negative view towards them. The knack we've found is knowing when to retire your troops (usually at the first time they get to 3 hits) and when to commit your reserves. I quite like them overall.

    1. But you can only retire when you get that choice.... most units don't seem to last that long. And of course retiring hurt units compromises the brigade which then drops below 50% and is gone. By these rules- so far- Dettingen, Fontenoy, Minden, Warburg Emsdorf - all would be hard to reproduce. Not sure you could do Quebec or St Foy either. If you can't reproduce the tactics of actual battles of the period they represent then what is their function .
      However having said that two games is hardy a worthwhile sample so for me the jury is still out.

  3. Andy,
    While you were at Durham fighting with Honours of War, I was in Warwickshire fighting with Honours of War. I love the rules, although because I am usually in charge of Austrians they are not as good as their opponents, the Prussians.
    The key is to retire units when they reach 3 hits. Even if you fail a command throw, as I often do, the brigade can allow units to retire where they can rally causalities off. If they have an inspirational Commander, then they can rally an additional 2 off, in one move. I would argue that Marlborough and Eugene are Inspirational commanding generals, so I cannot see why you didnt use either to rally the units quickly.
    The French should not have someone that good, ergo they rally more slowly. The key is to provide the correct ratings for each battle. At Fontenoy, the British/ Hanoverians should be superior units,with a minimum of dependable commanders, backed up by a dependable Cin C.
    They will take hits, but they will be able to rally quickly. Plus, they should have an additional advantage in the command and firing initiative, key to hitting the weak spots first, and not allowing them to recover from being shot up.
    Ho W are a very good set of rules, and we have gone over to them, because they capture the period really well.

    1. Robbie I accept the game technicalities I merely observe that these constant retirements were not period tactics. Troops would stand still to rally not retire as a retirement would cause confusion in the battleline. All the to -ing and Fro-ing did not happen.
      Now it may be- indeed was as it turned out- that our Umpire never mentioned rallying other than by standing still . The ability of dashing commanders to rally off 2 hits would certainly have changed things in at least 1 part of the field. The Prussian foot were rated as superior but although I've played HOW twice I have not so far read the rules- nor do I really intend to unless I end up running a game.
      Mind you one thing was missing- neither side had a C-in C. Probably because Jim has not painted any yet.
      I had nothing to do with the organisation of the game only providing much of the terrain. Like I said the Jury is still out- it looks as if the Umpire needs to read the book again....

  4. As Robbie says we've really taken to these rules and refighting Soor twice last weekend was a great experience, even though my Prussians got beaten both times. While I might agree that retirements to rally might not have been period tactics, maybe they were, but are dressed up differently in the accounts we read. "So and so'S grenadiers attacked three times and they were repulsed three times". For that read getting 3 or 4 hits and rallying before having another go. Husbanding your troops isn't unhistoric unless you're FtG surely? Wimpish yes but.....

    I do agree that as written the rules for artillery were too deadly, and I'd be inclined to reduce maximum ranges somewhat. We also vastly reduced canister range. Then again, infantry attacking against the front of massed enemy artillery as FtG was wont to do is a guaranteed silly idea.

    I'd give them a few more goes, better still read them so you can understand what the author so trying to reproduce, even if you don't agree.

    1. Hmm - see you point Colin. I'm a long way from writing them off just yet. Indeed I'd say that I was rather more in favour than the rest of the crew and I'd say that there was quite a bit of rallying in place in period- disguised as "taking breath" in British sources . Not sure about what Theatrical Steve called 18th century Hokey - Cokey though.
      Equally our bigger battalions will need more hit points and something has to be done about cavalry.

  5. I quite like the rules and I came across a quote the other day that struck a nerve regarding tinkering with rules sets - "you're probably reading this on a paper print out or on some electronic device, either way it's not written in stone". As such I would amend the rules to suit your needs.

    1. Paul No rules are ever set in stone so amendments are already being discussed. These include- increasing hit points for our larger units Possibly lessening artillery effect and possibly changing the rallying rules. When we next get this set out we'll see