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Sunday, 8 November 2015

Battle of Oudenarde–play test game

This was the first historical battle tested with the new 18th century wargame rules, Best Allies. Previously the games had been either equal point battles or published scenarios. So in this case it was an interpretation of the actual battle with the figures available.

For details of the battle, see here.

For the figures we had available, our army lists were as follows:

Allies (points 482)
11 battalions of infantry (platoon firing)
  3 battalion guns
  3 regiments of cavalry (shock)
3 average brigade commanders
1 excellent brigade commander
1 excellent CinC

French (points 415)
12 battalions of infantry
  3 battalion guns
  2 regiments average cavalry
  2 regiments guard cavalry
5 poor brigade commanders

This is working on a 1:10 ratio of actual units. The French have no CiinC  as both of their senior officers were off doing something else. One was based on the other side of the river with seemingly no interest in the battle and the other was personally leading an attack, fighting hand to hand with the enemy. The other French commanders were rated as poor, possibly justified by the confusion about what they were supposed to be doing but also to see what difference poor commanders would make. In hindsight, the rating of the French commanders was over severe. For future versions, I would make the French brigade commanders average which would more approximate an even battle (+50 points to the French).

We started our version of the battle from the point where both armies were facing each other.

We used 6mm armies with Baccus figures.  Initial setup below, seen from the French left. The broad strip is a small river whilst the thinner strip going away, is a stream.

View from behind the Allies lines

In our game the Allied commander massed all 3 regiments of his cavalry on his left. Ready to sweep round the French right flank. The advance of the Allied cavalry is seen as a red arrow. The French infantry brigade on their right (circled blue) tried to reform to face the Allied cavalry. Whilst the two regiments of French average cavalry moved up to their support.

The French player, decided to press the Allied right and started moving everything else he had across the river and stream.

At the end of second turn, 2 brigades of French infantry had crossed the stream and were advancing on the Allied centre. The other French on the left had taken those two moves to cross the river and were well behind. The Allied infantry had chosen to form columns and march away. Following behind their cavalry swinging in on the French right. The centre of the three French infantry brigades circled was destroyed by an Allied battalion gun, which broke one of the French battalions and the rest were carried way in the rout (with very poor die rolls).

At the end of the third turn you can see the situation on the French right as the Allied cavalry form up for attack, followed by columns of Allied infantry.

And at game end. The French right and centre have been crushed. And the remaining French brigades (2 of infantry and the guard cavalry) wisely decide to retreat from the field.

This was the first test of the rules using an actual battle situation. Although the result was very similar to the actual battle it was too much of a walk-over for the Allies.

So as pointed out earlier, better for the French commanders to be rated as average, that will allow them to respond a bit better to the Allied attack.

However it was also too easy for the Allied infantry to up-sitcks and move off the hill. To that end forming column will be the only move a unit can make that move, It will not be able to both form column and move. Likewise the artillery was too effective and the rules for firing will be changed, so that only an active brigade and its enemies can shoot.