Monday, 11 April 2016

Badly drawn map: French routed in French-Dutch War 1672-78 game No. 3

This week's game was on Saturday in order that Stockton John the Red could join us as since he's got a new job and he can no longer do weekday games. Robbie and John R came up as well and we had another highly enjoyable yet very tense game, with more than the usual levels of friendly teasing and 'banter'.

It was as the title of this post suggests another battle with my new French and Dutch armies from this incredibly colourful period. We threw dice to see who was paired with who and which armies we would take. The two Johns joined forces in command of the Dutch and their Spanish and Imperial allies, leaving Robbie and I with the French.

The scenario was simple enough. The French were covering a canal just off table and a nearby siege where the main army was trying to capture a Dutch-held fortress. They had to prevent the Dutch from leaving the table on the road in the centre of the French baseline and also hold 3 or more of the villages in order that they could be fortified to protect the canal, a vital lifeline to the troops involved in the siege. Destroying the Dutch field army would also be a good idea!

The Dutch had to destroy the French army, exit the table unopposed on the road in order to cut the supply lines and capture and hold the majority of the villages.

The armies were the same as last week except that the Spanish brigade were reinforced up to their full strength of five battalions,  a battalion of the Dutch-Scots brigade was added as were a large regiment of Dutch horse and a large regiment of Imperial Cuirassiers. The French were merely reinforced by a single large Scottish (in English service) regiment of foot. (Charles II was allied with the French against the Dutch in this war, well until he concluded a separate peace treaty with the United Provinces which really pissed the French off! I'm not sure whether its at all accurate to have Scots regiments facing each other in both armies, but I like the idea.

We let the Dutch deploy on the table while Robbie and I retired to the living room with a sketch map to decided our deployment. I really should have been more careful when I drew the map as I made a bit of a mistake leading to some confusion and congestion when we put our troops on the table and found that the gap we thought existed on our left wasn't as wide as on the map, leaving our troops crushed up together, and the small gap in the centre was actually a very wide one, held thinly by one Swiss and two French battalions. Oh well, sack the cartographer! On to battle, and as usual I will let the pictures and a short commentary tell the sorry tale of the French defeat.

 John the Red and Robbie survey their troops at the start of the battle.
 My command, all the French horse and a brigade of four battalions squashed into what was supposed to be a much wider area!
 Juan del Rosso commanded these fine Spanish troops.
 A Scots regiment flanked by Swiss advance to the hedgerows.
 The Dutch centre.
 The Cuirassiers du Roi on our left wing
 My infantry on the left flank
 One of John's regiments quickly occupied one of the villages in the centre.
 Robbie had sent the Gardes Francais over to support the right flank, lightly held by just two companies of dragoons, as Juan del Rosso had sent several of his battalions up the hill to take the village and wood. His dismounted dragoons were able to disperse the French dragoons and he occupied the village. He certainly sent too many troops onto the hill as this stripped the centre of a large body of men. He did see an opportunity and with a 'follow me' order hit the Gardes Francais in the flank with some Dutch horse. Unfortunately the cavalry became disordered during their charge while interpenetrating with some Spanish infantry so their charge was unsuccessful and they failed to break the stout Frenchmen.
 The Dutch horse were bounced back in front of their infantry.
 A hazy shot of our nemesis on the day, the Dutch Guard.
 The Gardes Francais locked in battle with the Spaniards in the village. The French were forced to retreat and didn't make any further attempts on the town.
 With nowhere to go on the left flank I moved all the horse into the centre.
 Marshall Turenne in the centre as the opposing lines get closer. 
 The Gardes Francais in the thick of it again in the process of defeating a Spanish battalion that had attempted to charge them. The Spanish were crushed in the melee and forced to retreat in disorder.
 This Dutch battalion blundered to the rear in move 1 and then spent almost the entire game lurking in this walled off enclosure as it repeatedly failed its command rolls.
 It was a close thing with the Gardes Francais also in the running, but the 'man of the match' award goes to the Dutch Horse Guards. Passing a 'follow me' order they passed safely through their own infantry and hit the flank of a French infantry unit, forcing them to withdraw. They then followed up their charge and hit the same infantry again, this time breaking them. This put them right on the flank of my cavalry. Unable to charge and as I didn't want to risk failing a command roll I turned to face using the initiative phase with two squadrons of Cuirassiers du Roi. The third squadron of horse failed its command roll. Robbie turned one of his infantry to shoot the Dutch in the rear at close range and my horse pistoled them from the front. Result? Just a single unsaved hit and no disorder. The Dutch charged my horse. I lost the melee (just) so took a break test and threw a 3! Break! My supporting unit then had to test and they threw a 4 so they broke as well! The Dutch followed up their victory by hitting my remaining horse unit in the flank, breaking them at once. In two moves the Dutch had destroyed four French units!
 The Dutch Horseguards then threw a blunder and had to move to their rear, putting them right behind my infantry on the left wing! Oh Bugger!!
 A large regiment of Dutch horse in reserve.
 Dutch troops assaulting the central French-held village, with rather a large gap in our centre.
 The Dutch Guard engaged in a prolonged fire fight with Robbie's Scots and Swiss beyond the village.
 Gaps are starting to appear in Robbie's line holding the centre/right.
 Back over on my flank I had cleared the village of Dutchmen but those bloody Dutch Horseguards charged my immobile infantry; I'd yet again failed to get them to move or about face! The result was predictable shall we say. "Run away a lot"
 Moving swiftly on, back on our right the Dutch horse supporting the Spanish charged the French frontally. That wasn't a good idea. Facing formed infantry with pikes doesn't work and they were repulsed shaken. Its a shame they weren't broken as it might have caused their supports to test as well.
 Robbie tried to sweep the Dutch Guard away with a charge by his Swiss and Scots. The Scots were broken and routed, and the Swiss were forced to recoil.

At this point we threw in the towel as we'd lost half of our brigades broken or shaken. The Dutch had also ejected us from the village in the centre and repulsed our counter attacks. It was an ignominious yet rewarding and exciting game, so defeat wasn't too bitter a pill to swallow.

 My new Imperial cuirassiers didn't see any action at all. Above and below are two shots of them lurking menacingly in support. 

 Also new to the table was this 'large' regiment of Scots in French service. They were subjected to a great deal of musketry and cannon fire throughout the game and were broken when attempting to drive off the Dutch Guard.
 My new regiment from the Dutch Scots Brigade didn't even get to fire their muskets on their first outing.
The last newly finished large unit of Dutch horse also failed to see any action, although at the end of  the game they were poised to crush some poor French regiment had we gone on another move.

Verdict. Yet another highly enjoyable day, a great game, good company, and a well earned victory for the Dutch. My ineptitude commanding the French horse continued so next time I really don't want to command ANY horse at all!!!!!

No game this coming week as its my birthday and as a present to myself I'm dragging my dearly beloved down to Salute for the weekend. I've not been since the 1980's at the Kensington(?) venue when we put a Mexican-American War game on, the Battle of Chapeltupec, in 15mm. Thats a long time ago although I no longer have the armies I know they are in the good care of my friend Conrad. After Salute, once I've recovered, we shall be trying out the new Impetus Baroque rules, although I'm quite happy with suitably adjusted Pike and Shotte for this period.


  1. Colin,
    It was a much better game from my point of view. I could get my head back around Pike and Shotte. We were a bit unlucky on the day, but it didnt detract from a really enjoyable game.
    John the Red, followed the first misrule of wargamers,
    [1] If there is a hill, move onto it, if there is a town enter it, and if there is a wood, move through it.
    Luckily John [the elder] pounced with the Dutch Garde, and didnt allow us to exploit the mistake.
    Great game.

  2. Hello,

    My dad certainly likes his 'follow me' moves, I have been on the receiving end of a few in our recent black powder games and these moves can be battle winners if timed right! Great looking game Colin :-)

  3. A cloud over the Roi Soleil

    Our glorious Spanish stormed the hill, wood and town, in strict compliance with our orders from the Dutch John the Elder. We then fended off the neo supermen Garde Francais and les amis, pulling the French reserves away from the decisive centre of the field, in a classic double bluff move.

    admittly no one quite expected the Dutch Horse guard to be quite so decisive, but it was all in line with John's cunning plan ....

    excellent game and hosting yet again, beautiful figures and such a colourful set of armies

    Juan del Rosso

  4. Splendid looking game as ever Colin! Very colourful armies too. Nice to see the villages taking centre stage ;~)

  5. Most excellent report Colin, and great pics of your splendid forces. Look forward to seeing your report on Baroque.

  6. Terrific looking game Colin. Well done.

  7. Hi
    Just found your blog. I am just getting into 1672 period and your photos have definitely enthused me. Question: your infantry are on 3 bases. What ratio do you use for pike to musket. Also I see you have a mix of northstar and warfare miniatures. Do you find them ok scale wise?