Two Battles

Rob Dean

As I mentioned in my previous entry, my son William was in town for a visit, and we played two games with the 40mm home cast soldier collection.  While these figures are ordinarily used for the Not Quite Seven Years War, a long-running conflict with Schoeffen-Buschhagen on one side and North Polenburg on the other (along with some long-standing traditional allies on each part), most of the forces resident here are traditionally allied, and most of the enemy forces reside elsewhere.  We’ve established the the NQSYW takes place in the 1750s, so when we are at home and restricted to our own collections, we usually set the scenarios in a more roughly sketched out earlier conflict, the War of the Western League, sometime in the 1740s.  This involves the League (consisting of Schluesselbrett, Hesse-Hattemstadt, and Saxe-Weilenz) against the Alliance (consisting of Schoeffen-Buschhagen, the League of Free Cities, particularly Wiegenburg, and Wachovia).  
All of which is merely intended to say that the narrative behind these games is a bit thin…
A Regional Map of the Seat of the Conflict

In deciding on the day’s gaming agenda, William expressed a desire to see his Wiegenburgers on the table, and agreed to give A Gentleman’s War (AGW) a try, so we tried using the random army generation table to put out seven units per side, rolled from the main force chart.  He ended up with four line infantry, a light infantry, and two guns, and I ended up with four line infantry, a light infantry, a heavy cavalry, and a light cavalry.  In trying to decide what that meant to the narrative, we concluded that the Alliance army was protecting a siege train moving into position, and that their cavalry was elsewhere, while the League army represented an advance guard which had force-marched and outrun its artillery, and was attempting to deliver a hasty attack to prevent the opening of the siege. (Of some unnamed city…)

The first battle: Attempt to Prevent a Siege; League on the right; Alliance to the left

After the field maneuver game over the Memorial Day weekend, I decided that I would work up a dedicated ground cloth for the table well, three feet by five feet.  I have been a little short on time since I bought it, though, and we cut it to size just before the game.  Its color is pretty similar to the Cigar Box Battles plain mat I used for that previous game, and I thought the cloth roads needed a little more contrast, so I cut some new ones as we were setting up.  I’m not sure about this color either; more experimentation is in order.

At any rate, we put our a fairly generic field and rolled for choice of sides.  William chose the left side in the picture above, and that left me with a difficult task.  Maneuver room to make use of my cavalry was limited, and the walls (as will be seen) provided significant protection for his forces.  
Alliance troops await the attack

Schluesselbrett infantry with some Saxe-Weilenz jaegers on the League right

The League left wing; with the purple cavalry standing in as Saxe-Weilenz light dragoons

 I decided that the only chance I had was to jump out with my light infantry and attempt to occupy the woods at the left of the Alliance army.  I got off to a good start with a high movement roll, but the activation cards did not favor me, and the Alliance light troops occupied the woods first.  My jaegers were quickly shot to pieces.

Hesse-Hattemstadt infantry attacks on the left

An attack by the line infantry to the left also bogged down, and, as can be seen in the picture above, the Alliance forces were able to anchor their right flank on the woods beyond the wall position, leaving no opening for any threat by my cavalry.
So, I admitted defeat and withdrew.  Since it was still early, we agreed to reset for another game.  Having decided that the narrative of the first game was an unsuccessful attempt to prevent the siege, clearly the siege was now in progress.  William cleared the troops from the table while I went to dig in the boxes of siege gear in the basement (as one does, William noted) and came back with an artillery emplacement, a couple of mortars, and some trench sections.  We kept basically the same armies, save that I added a gun to the League, and set the table up so that we were fighting down the length.  We decided that the League had to destroy two objectives, the mortar emplacement, and the supply magazine.  Of the Alliance troops, only two started on the table, and we agreed that a face card could be used to enter the next reinforcing unit, as the Alliance army gathered from the lines of circumvallation.  The League troops would enter from the far end of the table. (See below)
The objectives; guns and the supply magazine/headquarters
League columns marching on; showing overall set-up

This turned out to be a much more interesting game, and the situation was uncertain for a long time.

William noted that the rules are very swing-y, which is probably an intended design feature.
At any rate, he was turning up face cards at a good clip early on, so that my initial advantage in numbers didn’t last long.  The League cavalry had one shining moment when they overran an Alliance artillery unit (after passing the morale test from the pointblank canister fire) and went on to disperse the siege gunners and engineers.

Hesse-Hattemstadt dragoons ride down the gunners…

…and rides on to spike the mortars.

The Alliance started with one gun defending the magazine initially, and a lucky sequence of activation cards allowed them to turn the gun and finish off the dragoons as they started across the field toward the magazine.

With the cavalry gone, I attempted to bring up two infantry regiments in columns screened by the Saxe-Weilenze jaegers to attack the magazine.
The Wiegenburg infantry was mostly in position by the time the attackers arrive
Wachovian “Wilderin” light infantry arrive in the nick of time

I suspected that attacking into the muzzle of the cannon was going to be difficult, but it got worse as Wachovian reinforcements arrived for the Alliance.  My lights were split to screen against two threats, and were shot up again.

So, the attack on the right flank stalled.
On the left, the Schluesselbrett infantry did better against the Allies.  We were starting to roll up the Alliance flank, which was alarming to the Allied commander, though a long way from the critical magazine.  

Red coated Schluesselbrett infantry in their final attack on the Wiegenburgers

With a final brave effort, though, the Wiegenburger foot managed to reorient to meet the threat, and broke the Schluesselbrett attack.  With that, 50% of my units were gone and those remaining were at much reduced strength, and the retreat was sounded yet again.  It was probably just as well, as the players needed to make some dinner and clear the table in order to serve it.  Having a gaming table doubling as a dining room table does have a few disadvantages, and a 40mm game is too tall to put the table topper back on with the game in progress.

William agreed that the rules were fun.  I hope soon to be able to run a game for some people who have played before so that we can throw in a few more complications such as the unit distinctions and perhaps some cameo roles.

via The Sharp End of the Brush http://sharpbrush.blogspot.com/2019/07/two-battles.html
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