It turned out to be a fantastic game, exciting, frustrating, unbelievable in some of the dice rolling (mostly appalling by both sides), and a no-quarter-given slogging match that at one point I thought might just have actually reached a stalemate from which we couldn’t escape.
With pipes and drums playing (literally on the stereo – well tablet these days), the French began with a cavalry attack on my right, which soon floundered (too far from his commander to get orders easily), it ran the gauntlet of my artillery fire (complete with notable gunnery commander Van Hussen – a random draw), destroyed a single unit of British conscript cavalry before being subjected to repeated volleys of musketry, under which it withered. The first phase of the battle had gone to the redcoats, 3 French cavalry units lost to 1 British. My guns then turned on his massed infantry in the centre and started to punish them too at long range - go Van Hussen!
The next French attack arrived on the left, through a narrow gap in the thick woods, one unit at a time could squeeze through. These were enfiladed by fire from my irregular light infantry in the woods, to little effect sadly. I counter charged with my left flank cavalry (again only mere conscripts), to see it massacred as they failed to make any impact, recoiled and were then gunned down. I now moved up my infantry to face the assault, including elite grenadier guards who (backed by the ‘rally to the colours’ national trait) withstood a furious pounding. The two lines faced off and exchanged musketry, but the British, hard put to it, held the line, although the mercenary Irish-traitores destroyed my mercenary light infantry (thieves, brigands and murderers anyway).
Whilst this flank was playing out the French main assault in the centre began, 6 infantry regiments were on the march with his cannon battery firing in support, heading for the wall in the centre, where my guns and elite infantry awaited to see them off. This was the lynchpin holding the British position together, it must not fall. The French advance took a heavy pounding from my artillery bombardments and it seemed it must fail, as three units were lost. But the third line of infantry was his elite guards, and they wielded left to screen the attack from my infantry on the right, which was marching to enfilade his attack column with extra musket fire. Again, these lines met and a protracted musket duel ensued, with neither side breaking as the smoke clouds thickened.
In the centre, the last French infantry regiment reached the wall, withstood some very poor cannister shooting and charged the guns, only to be defeated and thrown back. The guns fired again, again no effect from the cannister (what!), for the brave French to charge again and overrun the guns. Drat!
By now the army morale totals had plunged on both sides. The French had just 2 left, the British a secure 10. It seemed the redcoats would have the day, but no... Piers is wily with these rules and fought a bold fight, reducing me to 4 as I failed to break him. In desperation, seeing the victory slipping away, I used a special event that could cost him 1 or 2 army morale. I rolled a 1, he was still going.Double drat!
Now we reached an impasse, both sides volleying away, whilst the other rallied. Neither side would break. Turns passed, and rallying kept both sides in perfectly good order. In needed just 1 point to win and couldn’t get it. In end I committed to a desperate charge, taking a chance it might cost me the game, but risking defeat for the win as I sent the brave boys on my right in with the bayonets. Facing his best infantry my chance of victory was slim, but a special card (For the King!) gave me a 50-50 chance of winning it. As my two battered regiments went in, I won 1 and lost 1 fight, but inflicted enough damage to break one of his guards units. At last, with the clock now passing 1am (we started at 8pm the day before), the French had been beaten. But it had been a very long hard pounding and damn close run thing. My final morale total was just 3. Great game – time for bed!
Here are some shots of Piers' marvellous toys in tricorne hats. Not a historical period I have much interest in, but I do love these rules. Like Longstreet, they just produce game after game that has tension, drama and feels like a battle of the period. I’m think I might get a force for the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth or Russians to use with Maurice.One-day.
A bit later, the first rank of the defence is now gone, but the thin redline behind held - just, thanks to rally to the colours.