The Seven Years War, Seven Years, 28mm
It seems we’ve all been tinkering with Seven Years War rules. My own revamp of Die Kriegskunst comes on slowly, with progress hindered by tons of real world work. However, Michael Schneider belted out a set of rules in what seemed a week or so, based on some of the same mechanics we’ve been tinkering with, which in turn were ones we’d looted from General d’Armee. Michael is a very talented fellow, (although quite mad) but this speedy production was truly remarkable.It turns out that the rules are pretty simple and straightforward, with a very logical fire and melee system. The core though, is the command mechanism, adapted from the ones we’d been tinkering with. I have to tip my hat to Michael for pulling it all together, and so quickly too. So, this week was all about giving them a go. In this “division-sized” game, Michael, Dougie and Peter took the Allies, while Bart (pictured above), Alasdair and I commanded the French. Essentially, everyone had a brigade to play with. Twelve units a side, plus a gun battery and a light infantry unit. That’s Peter’s Hessian brigade up above, ready to advance against my French. They’re actually all Michael’s AWI figures, hence the later flags and the new-fangled fusiliers. They began surging forward from the very start, hindered by some surprisingly effective fire from my two-model battery, sited as tradition demands on the top of a small hill. In the centre of the battlefield was a small wood – the Grünwald – which I forgot to occupy. So, the Hessian jaegers claimed it themselves, but were kept from doing any real damage to Alisdair’s centre brigade by a screen of light regimental guns and the Chasseurs de Fischer. Strangely for Bart, commanding our four units of cavalry, he was staying put. Normally he opens the game with a cavalry charge, and keeps charging throughout the game, but this time he was playing a suspiciously laid-back game. By now the Hessians were approaching my line, which I’d extended by moving the one battalion Chambresis regiment up to cover my left flank. It was just as well as a steamroller of Hessians was heading my way. My guns now looked a tad exposed on their hill, but being an ex-naval type I understand guns better than muskets, and so the gunners just switched to grape. So, when Peter launched an all-out charge he was stopped all along the line by fire from two French battalions and the gun battery. Flanking fire was provided by a third battalion, of the German La Mark regiment. So, for the moment, disaster was averted. While Peter paused to regroup, the action switched to the other side of the table, where Bart and Dougie’s cavalry brigades were facing each other. Bart – or rather his alter ego the Duc de Brissac finally trotted forward, then launched the Bercheny Hussars in an all-out charge against the British 17th Light Dragoons. His three heavier regiments were also advancing, although two seemed to be heading towards the exposed left flank of Michael’s second Hessian brigade, rather than at Dougie’s other cavalry. What was he playing at? Actually, it was all part of Bart’s masterplan. The blue-coated Dauphin cavalry regiment body-swerved the waiting line of Hessian musketeers, and instead crashed into the end of a line of fusiliers, which had been moving up to refuse the flank to Bart’s other cavalry. The infantry didn’t stand a chance, and were routed from the field, while the French horse pulled back to reform, albeit still in musket range of the Allied musketeers. To cap the successful turn, the British light dragoons also retired from the field, leaving the Allied flank looking more than a little shaky. By now though, we were almost running out of time. This had been a fairly slow game, as Michael had to keep explaining the rules to the rest of us, and we were forever running of to the bar for more beer and gin. Yes, it was that kind of game. That’s why in most of these photos you can see beer glasses on the tabletop.Anyway, the situation was now that the two sides had reached something of a stalemate. the Hessian right hook with five battalions had ground to a halt, and their left flank was coming unstuck. They started with one more infantry unit than us (9 to 8), and we had one more cavalry unit (4 to 3), but neither side was really in a position to take advantage of that slight advantage. Peter was still rallying, and Bart was pulling his cavalry together for another charge. So, after Peter tried and failed to take my guns in another hell-for-leather infantry assault on the hill, we called it a day. I would have called it a minor French victory on points, but this was the age of good manners and gentlemanly behaviour, so we declared the game to be a draw. The rules worked fairly smoothly, at least after Michael had explained them to us, and his command system revolving around staff officers was easy to pick up and use. Firing uses one simple matrix chart, as does melee, and Michael’s aim for the evening was to test both out. We managed to do that quite successfully, and had fun in the process. In Michael’s rules there are only two phases – the command one, and then the action one, where everything sort of happens at once. Units get two actions (for instance fire and reload, or move and fire), so things move along at a fairly swift pace – or rather they did if we were all sober, and knew the rules. All in all it was a good, fun game, and by the way Michael was taking notes I think he’ll want us to take the rules out for another spin very soon. I leave you with a picture of the one-battalion Tournasis regiment, which in my book should have won the “Unit of the Battle” award for keeping the Hessians at bay.