The Seven Years War, Seven Years, 28mm
We’d planned to have another playtest of these nascent Seven Years War rules, so that’s exactly what we did this week. the battle was fought between the French and the Western Allies, with two brigades of foot and one of cavalry per side, plus a battery of guns. That came to eight battalions of foot, three regiments of horse, a unit of light infantry, a gun battery and a couple of regimental guns on each side.The 8×6 foot table was dominated by a sprawling low hill – the Zwieback Hügel, and a shallow stream, the Krautertee. The Allies deployed their guns on the hill, with their cavalry to the left of it, and the two infantry brigades to the right – one Hessian, the other Hanovarian (that’s them below). The French were behind the Krautertee, and pretty much matched the Allied deployment. In our game, Michael and Alisdair took control of the Allies, while Bart and I ran the French army between us. We were keen to really get to grips in this game, to test the rules to destruction, and that’s pretty much what we did. Bart and Alisdair commanded the French and Allied cavalry respectively – both with three regiments of heavy cavalry. The two sides got stuck in straight away, initiating a sprawling, swirling cavalry melee that went on for about three turns. The only real advantage the French (apart from a more experienced wargamer in charge) was the proximity of the La Couronne brigade of infantry, and their attached popgun. In fact only one battalion of the La Couronne regiment managed to fire off a volley during the entire game. No, this one was decided using l’arme blanche. Two of Bart’s regiments (Chabrillant and Talleyrand) managed to push back their Hanovarian opponents (both of the Breitenbach dragoons), but the Hodenberg regiment drove back the French Dauphin regiment. So, the French had a slight edge. This increased a bit when the two victorious French cavalry units drove the Hanovarian dragoons from the field. That left the Hodenberg regiment looking a bit isolated, and it was disordered too, despite the rallying of its brigadier, von Grothaus. That’s when Bart (the Duc de Brissac) launched a blinder, and rode into the back of the Hanovarian horse, while pinning it from the the front with the reformed Dauphin regiment. The result was that the last unit of Allied cavalry was swept from the field.The upshot was that the French cavalry rode onto the Zwieback Hügel, and threatened to charge the Allied guns in the flank. Thanks to some rather nifty staff work Michael extricated them, refused his left flank by sticking his two grenadier battalions in line at the bottom of the hill, and waited for the French onslaught, from both the victorious cavalry brigade and the four battalions of the La Couronne infantry brigade. So, things were looking pretty good for the French. However, this was only part of the battle. My brigade, and the guns, had the task of holding off two brigades of Allied infantry, to buy time for Bart to work his magic over on the French left. My four battalions were separated by the Krautertee, with two battalions of the Grenadiers de France on one side, supported by a detachment of Fischer’s Chasseurs, and two battalions of the Swiss La Planta regiment on the other bank, supported by the gun battery. The Allies were advancing steadily though, with the Hanovarians heading towards my grenadiers, and the Hessians towards the Swiss. A spirited charge by Hanovarian regulars drove my chasseurs deep into the woods, but my grenadiers held the small hill they were on, while the Swiss moved forward across the stream, to take on the Hessian Leibregiment. Still, as I was outnumbered two to one, then things weren’t going to be easy. Sure enough, the leading Hanovarian battalion (von Diepenbroik) was badly shaken by the fire from the grenadiers, and so I charged home. This broke them, but left me vulnerable to the supporting battalion (the von Wangenheim rgt.), which drove the grenadiers back, badly shaken. My far left was now in a bit of trouble. Over on my right a rather cheeky opportunistic charge by Hessian jaegers ended when they ran out of movement in mid-stream, just a couple of inches in front of my guns. The factors may need tinkering with, as despite two good rolls in two turns all I did was to make the jaegers shaken, and forced them back a bit. Still, flanking fire from Bart’s light regimental guns finally saw them off. Just to the right, the first battalion of Swiss charged into the Leibregiment and routed it after a short, sharp melee. Just like before though, that exposed the victors to the supporting line, and the next Hessian battalion fired a volley which routed my Swiss. Things were looking pretty shaky, and the only consolation was that thanks to the flank attack from the hill, I was only facing six battalions rather than eight – and two of those had now routed. So, effectively, on this side of the battlefield we were down to four active Allied battalions, and three French ones. Still, help was finally arriving. Bart’s infantry brigade – two battalions of La Couronne regiment (below), and two more of La Conde – was rolling forward, while Michael’s strangely fast-moving gun battery (with its attendant limbers and wagons) was still running around, trying to avoid being ridden down by cavalry. But, the writing was now on the wall. The Hessians had stalled, while the Hanovarians, still pressing forward, were hemmed in by the woods to the French left, where the chasseurs were lurking. So, that’s where we stopped the game. The game was a clear French win – one freely admitted by the Allied players. Another turn or two though, and my brigade might well have broken. As for the rules they worked very smoothly indeed. We had made some changes since last time, and we’ll be making a few more – like no force-marching of heavy artillery or more beneficial canister fire. I also think that musketry is too effective compared to the historic model, but Michael argues that you need that to speed up the game. He might be right. So, the playtesting continues, but generally we’re getting happier that we’ve got a workable set of rules on our hands.