John and Rob came up last week to play another SYW game using Black Powder and the Last Arguement of Kings supplement. I thought I'd experiment slightly with size and set up a scenario that used quite large armies. The scenario had the Russians being attacked from the rear after the Prussians had carried out a flanking/encircling march. The forces engaged involved 11 batallions of Russian infantry in 3 brigades, 5 guns, and 2 brigades of cavalry, in total 1 regt each of horse grenadiers, hussars, cossacks and 2 regts of cuirassiers. One infantry brigade and the cuirassiers/horse grenadiers were off table and would enter at some random point during the game. The attacking Prussians had 7 btns of infantry in 2 brigades, a small unit of jager, 1 rgt each of hussars, friekorps lancers, and dragoons and a brigade of 3 cuirassier regts. The cuirassiers would also enter the game later in the game, hopefully.
Rob took the Russians and John and I shared the Prussians. We got off to a mixed start as John's brigade made slow progress whilst mine was able to enter the table, deploy and then advance into point blank range of the Russians. As I had the Guard and grenadiers in my brigade, I took a (big) chance in the hope that I would survive their first fire, (we were using the LAOK ammendment that doesn't allow you to fire if the unit makes more than one move in a turn) and sacrificed my jager to ensure that I wasn't enfiladed, but my dragoons failed to charge the Russian hussars who in turn charged them actually beat them. I passed my break test but the dragoons still had to retire shaken and disordered. My hussars did better and eventually managed to break the Russian hussars.
On the right John was making slow progress still in getting to grips with the Russians, who had advanced their line to try and envelope the Prussian advance. John's regiments were taking casualties and not giving much back in return apart from driving off the cossacks. Rob's line was holding at all points and my grenadiers were in danger of being taken in the flank by Russian artillery and a dismounted dragoon regiment until one of his battalions blundered and charged my line. Closing fire and the ensuing melee saw them off but the saving grace from my point of view was that while this was going on the flanking artillery and dragoons couldn't fire on me.....phew! To cut a long story short, despite some crap dice throwing on my part and some very stubborn/valiant Russian infantry who took considerable damage, the brigade on Rob's right (i.e. facing me) eventually broke. However, it was very close and right up to the start of my move 5 thought that my forces were going to falter as I was taking a great deal of damage, was disordered and still in danger of being flanked.
On the Russian left, the cuirassiers and horse grenadiers made a timely appearence, and as there was no sign of their Prussian counterparts, John's attack was in some danger of stalling due to disorder, casualties and sight of three regiments of nasty Russian cavalry thundering towards them. Thankfully the latter never happened as Rob was throwing some dreadful command dice and couldn't get moving. His commanders were all pretty average (7) with only one being an 8. Move 6 saw the Prussian cuirassiers and Rob's last Russian infantry brigade enter the table. The cuirassiers failed their first command role so didn't actually appear until the following move, and then only one regiment made it! Rob then launched his horse grenadiers in a 54" charge (death ride more like!) across the front of John's brigade in order to try and engage and drive off the battered remains of my cavalry. They took flanking fire from infantry and artillery fire from the front and the rear and were disordered and therefore pinned out in the open for all to shoot at. Meanwhile John's infantry had continued to pressurise the Russians to their front breaking one unit. When the dismounted dragoons also broke this meant that three Russian brigades out of five had broken so end of game.
Verdict? I think it went quite well. The troop characteristics meant that the Prussians were quite manoeuverable and could survive some tricky situations, but still died as quickly as the next man. They are certainly not supermen or a super army, but the characteristics reflect what they achieved in the real SYW, even when they lost, as they did about half the time! Similarly the Russians were very hard to break due to their toughness, but suffered from some poor commanders, and as I didn't give them the platoon fire rule it meant they were outclassed in firefights (in theory only most of the time). Last time this combination made for a very close game. This time it was still close right up to the end and I was convinced it was all over for the Prussian by turn 5, but the dice just didn't fall right for Rob. We played 8 moves and were finished in just over 2 hours which is just what I need in a thursday (or any) evening game, i.e. a large game fought to a conclusion.