Misc., The War of the Spanish Succession, Homegrown Rules, 28mm
This was the second of the three games I played in a single weekend, when I was down in Warwick for the AGM 2017 get-together. Of the three games this was the largest, both in terms of table size and number of figures. It was run by Paul Robinson from Grimsby, who not only supplied all of the figures and scenery, he also wrote the rules. Now, I’d used Paul’s homegrown rules once before, at the same event the previous year. Then he staged a colourful Great Northern War game, set somewhere on the eastern borders of Poland. This time we were off to Flanders, for a refight of Ramillies. We’d refought the Battle of Falkirk that morning, and pretty much the same players fought this one too, with Guy, Steve and I on the Allied side, and Will and Ally commanding the French. The only addition was Des, who took charge of the French left flank. This wasn’t the whole of Ramillies – that would have been virtually impossible given the time, figures and players needed. Instead Paul concentrated on the key southern section of the battlefield, between the villages of Franquenée to the south, and Ramillies to the north, which was just off the table edge. Essentially the French and Allies were lined up on a north-south axis between the villages, with the French to the west and the Allies to the east. In the picture up above (looking south) the French are on the right, and Franquenée is in the distance. Of the three Allied players, Guy took the left, Steve the right, and I controlled the centre. Next came the plan. We actually had one – for a bit. The idea was to avoid Franquenée, which was occupied by Will’s French dragoons, as we were outnumbered in both infantry and cavalry. We needed everyone we had to fight in the main battle. Next, Guy’s Danish horse were coming on as reinforcements. Once they arrived we’d have superiority in numbers, at least for the cavalry. So, we planned to avoid getting drawn into a cavalry fight until they arrived – something that proved easier to say than do! On our right, Steve had just four battalions to face off six French ones, while his two battalions in the centre were also outnumbered two to one. So, his job was to hang on until the cavalry came, and the big cavalry melee was won – or lost. Fortunately Ally, in the French centre, showed little inclination to commit his infantry. Instead, he formed up his massed French cavalry and advanced. So much for our plan of avoiding a battle. We were actually in the middle of redeploying our cavalry behind our infantry in the centre, so what happened next would all depend on who won the initiative. Ally duly won the roll. So, in came the serried ranks of the French horse, led by the Maison du Roi – Gendarmes, Musketeers and Horse Grenadiers. They creamed into two of my Dutch cavalry units – one of which was actually caught redeploying, and so was in march column, facing the wrong way! Amazingly, not only were the Horse Grenadiers repulsed, but although my other unit was battered, it survived, mainly thanks to the French being forced to pull back and reform. I was a little worried about the complexities of working out a cavalry battle with so many figures, but Phil’s rules dealt with it without breaking sweat. So, what next? Next, of course, was the arrival of the Duke of Wurttemberg and the Danish horse, which moved up behind the Dutch foot guards to threaten the French flank. So too did the rest of my cavalry, which by now had formed up in another big column, behind the far left of Steve’s infantry line. We all expected Ally to charge in again, and when he did we fought our second big melee, using the horse I had plugging the gap in my line. This time the two sides bounced back, licking their wounds, which actually wasn’t our plan. We never expected my two battered units to hang on against the elite of the French horse, and so our two great cavalry columns were waiting in the wings, ready to pounce on the French when they pursued our broken units. It never happened, and the now rather depleted French trotted back to reform. This though, was our big chance. Guy and I formed up our two cavalry columns and charged, meeting the disordered and still rallying French horse head on. I broke off one unit to charge the flank of the French infantry line just to the north of Franquenée – as you can see below – as unexpectedly Will’s the French foot were winning a firefight with Guy’s Dutch Guards. The foot regiment was routed, and following up the cavalry saw off a second French unit beyond it .. and then a third one. That, of course, freed up our infantry to go and help out Steve’s troops in the centre and right. As for the third and final big cavalry stramash, it ended with the now very battered French horse being pushed back, and a few units breaking and running. It was clear by now that the Allied cavalry had won the day. Elsewhere though, the French were on a roll. Steve’s four infantry facing Des’ six French battalions were now in a bad way, having taken heavy fire for quite a few turns. Amazingly though, while Steve’s firing die rolls were lousy, he consistently rolled great dice for morale. So, his units might have been dwindling away to nothing, but at least they were holding their ground. Ally tried to break the deadlock with a charge by some French reserve cavalry, but they were stopped by the Danish Foot Guards, and then routed by a counter-charge by Dutch cavalry. Over on the far right though, Des was pressing forward, and Steve’s now much reduced force had no option but to pull back. That’s where we ended the game. the French infantry on their left were doing well, and on their far right the dragoons still held Franquenée. In the centre though, the French had collapsed. One more big cavalry charge would have seen off the French horse, and with the Dutch Guards following them, they could have rolled up the rest of the French line. Tactfully though, the ever-patient Paul declared the game a draw. His rules were a real joy to use, and I can honestly say we all relished the opportunity to play with such magnificent toys. The spectacle and fun of those massed cavalry fights will be a wargames experience to remember!