The Seven Years War, To the Strongest, 28mm
I arrived at the club fully expecting to take part in a medieval game, set in the Hundred Years War. However, for some reason Dave Imrie – who was supplying the toys – opted for the Seven Years War instead. So, instead of the meadows of medieval France we were transported to the pastures of Silesia for the evening, with Dave’s Austrians fighting Jack Glanville’s Prussians.This was very much a playtest, so the forces were kept to a minimum, and the terrain was non-existent, apart from a small copse of trees right at the side of the table. Dave Imrie and I commanded the Austrians, with me taking the guns, two battalions of grenadiers and a brigade of line infantry – mostly Hungarians. Dave had another brigade on my right, and beyond it were a couple more guns, a battalion of grenzers and a hussar regiment. Facing us were two battalions of Prussian infantry, three cavalry regiments, and a gun battery. Jack Glanville and Derek Hodge took charge of that lot, with Derek facing me on the Prussian right. The game began with both sides advancing slightly – the Austrians then stopped, and essentially didn’t move for the rest of the game. This was going to be a defensive battle, with firepower deciding the day. Well, almost. Over on my right Jack’s Freikorps cavalry tangled with Dave’s hussars, and the Austrians wiped the floor with the Prussians. Jack threw in another regiment, which met the same fate. So far so good. Meanwhile, on the Prussian right and centre, both sides were blazing away, as Jack advanced into contact.Actually, it wasn’t that easy for him. He lost a battalion through Austrian fire, and while the rest charged home, they seemed to make no headway on the Austrian line. Over on the left my troops were blazing away, supported by my guns, but my plans were thwarted by a gallant cavalry charge by Derek’s one regiment of dragoons. It did splendidly at first, overrunning the first of my two grenadier units. then though, it succumbed to fire from the Austrian line, and on the play of a poor card the dragoons broke and ran. After that Derek’s Prussian brigade sort of hung back, not from want of spirit but from a lack of suitable cards. By then, you see, a couple of the front units had been disordered by Austrian fire, and so were harder to activate than usual. Inevitably, first one and then the other were destroyed as the Austrians kept pouring in more musket and artillery fire. At one stage I even rotated my front-line units, as they’d run out of ammunition. So, victory on our flank was achieved through firepower rather than cold steel. Back in the centre the great melee continued, with neither side seeming to make any headway. In fact, both Dave and Jack were quite lucky with their saving cards – otherwise it could have gone horribly wrong for either of them. By then though, the Prussians were down to one victory token. They surrender two every time they lose a unit or a general, and by now they’d lost all their cavalry, and three infantry battalions, plus a brigadier. the last card of the game saw Dave’s counter-assault finally inflict a second disorder on one of the Prussian infantry battalions, and it was lifted from the table. With that the Prussians ran out of tokens, and the game was over.Although this was just a playtest we all thought the rules worked very well indeed. Essentially we were using an Ancient set of rules, with minimal modifications, and it worked. Next time though, we’ll do things a little differently. We’ll make it easier for infantry fire to cause casualties (right now there’s only a 305 chance of hitting, even at point-blank range), and we’ll adopt a few of the mechanisms Simon Miller and Andrew Brentnall have incorporated into their forthcoming English Civil War version. However, as far as we were concerned this was another demonstration that you can test Simon’s rules for things they were never meant to do, and they still work. splendidly!