Sunday 20 March 2016

Something different, the French-Dutch War 1672

I was keen to get this as yet un-blooded collection on the table as a break from 18th century games. As I mentioned in an earlier post I have been amassing these figures in secret over a period of almost four years. Most I did myself but I did have some, e.g. most of the French cavalry, done for me. I knew (and indeed even now, know) very little about the French-Dutch war of 1672-78, but I fell in love with Mark Copplestone's Glory of the Sun King range of figures now available through North Star. Trawling eBay and several North Star sales and special offers has resulted in quite a tidy force, but a not quite finished one. Given the lack of information on the period I decided I would just make the forces look as colourful and diverse as possible, which I reckon I have achieved.

So, this week Paul came up for a trial game. I was unsure which rules to use, and was spoilt for choice: Pike & Shot? Black Powder? Beneath the Lily Banners? I''m not keen on the latter and although the other two sets could have worked especially as the former technically cover the period, I've gone off them a bit. So I made some quick amendments to Honours of War. Paul and I agreed to basically play test the amendments and make any changes necessary as we went along.

As it turns out I didn't have quite as many troops as I  thought, as I was sure I had some more Dutch horse and a couple more French and Dutch commanders. I still had enough for a reasonably balanced game, putting the Dutch on the defensive. I chose not to table my main Spanish force on this occasion as I don't  have any horse or artillery to complement the five regiments of foot. Next time.

So, the armies were arranged as follows:

French (Paul)
Commander in Chief:Dependable

Horse: Dependable
Horse grenadiers      x 1 small unit*
Maison du Roi         x  2   *
Cuirassiers du Roi   x  2*
Horse                       x  1

Independent units:
Dragoons                 x 2 small units**

Foot: Dithering
Gardes Francais       x 1 large unit*
Gardes Suisse          x 1*
Swiss Foot               x 2*
French Foot             x 2
Artillery                   x 1 light gun**

Foot: Dependable
French Foot             x 6
Artillery                   x 1 light gun**

Independent unit:
Artillery                   x 1 heavy gun**

Dutch (Me)
Commander in Chief: Dithering

Horse: Dithering
Dutch Horseguards  x 1*
Dutch Horse            x 2

Foot: Dashing
Dutch Footguards   x 2**
Dutch Foot              x 3
Artillery                  x 1 light gun**

Foot: Dependable
Dutch Foot              x 2
German Foot           x 2
Artillery                  x 1 light gun**

Independent units:
Artillery                   x 2 entrenched heavy guns**
Dismounted Spanish dragoons x 1**

The Dutch were holding a line along a river with four bridges. To win they had to deny at least two of them to the French, who were tasked with capturing at least three. The river was crossable if a 4-6 was thrown on a D6 for each terrain piece section whenever a unit was in contact with it. * denotes the unit was classed as superior, ** as inferior.

I chose to refuse my left and concentrate on defending the two stone bridges in the centre and on the right, ignoring the other two apart from posting my dismounted dragoons in the village covering the bridge on the extreme left. Paul chose to refuse his left also, which was to cause some delays to his master plan.

 The Dutch Army deployed behind the river. In the distance the Spanish dragoons hold the village.
 The commander of my outnumbered cavalry. He was a ditherer and almost all my orders failed to reach him.
 The imposing mass of the French army.
 The central Dutch brigade with the entrenched artillery to their left.
 The French advance. Paul had refused his left flank and all his foot were massed in the centre or on the right.
 This formation of French was tasked with assaulting across the river in the face of my entrenched heavy artillery. They tried very hard but were unable to break through.
 Paul ordered his other infantry brigade to cross the river on his extreme right opposite the village, lightly held by my dismounted dragoons.
 My dragoons facing impossible numbers of French and Swiss Guard, and Swiss and German regiments.
 The dragoons were assaulted by a german regiment but succeeded in driving them back shaken. Meanwhile a long tail of French and Swiss bypass the village in order to attack my refused left flank.
 The French attack in the centre grinding to a halt, under close range fire from my artillery battery as well as musketry from two of my regiments. It didn't help that much of the river they were attempting to cross was found to be impassable!
 The gallant Spanish dragoons flee from the village after taking crippling casualties from French artillery and infantry.
 As we were running the game partly as a play test for some period-specific amendments to the rules Paul thought he'd charge across the bridge into my infantry. He survived the 'closing fire' but despite causing some casualties on my infantry, his horse were bundled back in disarray. 
 On the right I'd finally managed to get my horse to move, and in the spirit of testing the rule amendments I crossed the river and attacked Paul's much superior and more numerous cavalry.  I contacted two squadrons of Maison du Roi and a troop of horse grenadiers head on but was flanked by another squadron of Cuirassiers du Roi. Predictably my flanked unit was shattered and broken. The squadron in the centre was forced to withdraw, but my Dutch Horseguards destroyed the horse grenadiers and went haring off round the back of the French army.
 A lone troop of French dragoons supporting their comrades in the centre. The other troop of dragoons had been broken earlier in the game.
 One of the French regiments rallying after failing to cross the river.
 The French attack in the centre. No amount of hat waving by their commander was going to get them to advance any further.
 The French on my left finally managed to deploy, but too late to interfere with the battle, especially as crossing points at this part of the river were not plentiful. 
 The Dutch artillery. They had an impact on the game but were not devastating, which is good as they ought not to be. Then again Paul did launch his central assault directly towards them, which resulted in a great many battered French infantry regiments which had to waste time rallying.

 Rallied after their failed attempt to cross the bridge this squadron of French cavalry has turned to face the victorious Dutch Horseguards which are threatening the French rear.
 Dutch Footguards lining the riverbank.
 A Dutch regiment supported by an allied Hanoverian battalion.
 The Dutch Horseguards.

At this point we called it a day. The French had captured two bridges and were very likely about to capture another now that the Dutch horse had been driven off. It was therefore deemed to be a French victory, although the Dutch would have been able to extract themselves easily enough.

The amendments to the rules worked rather well. I will publish them as a separate post shortly, after another game or so.


  1. It sounds funny to use the word "pretty" to describe everything, but this game was very pretty, even beautiful by the look things. Gilder-esque (in the very best late 1970s way of course) and inspiring as a result. I hope it was a much fun to play as it like. A feast for the eyes.

    Best Regards,


  2. Beautiful pictures and figures, what a great report for a great period to play!

  3. A wonderful looking game Colin! Fantastic looking troops!

  4. Superb Colin. Well worth the four years of work.

  5. Fantastic looking game and the flags really set things off a treat:)

  6. Thanks for the positive comments, especially Stokes' :-) I must admit that the thing that sold this period to me was the uniforms and flags. Never had one of my games called pretty or beautiful before. (Warm glow inside).

  7. Splendid and very inspirational!

  8. A fine looking game, Colin, but I expect no less from you by now. It's really colourful and well worth several visits to the blog!

  9. Cracking game and collection Colin. The massed ranks of the Sun King are certainly a sight to behold. Less of the heretical comments on BP though please

  10. War games allow players to take command and play with history in ways that classic games like Chess will never allow.
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