Monday 20 September 2021

This weekend we played a Thirty Years’ War game, but no cute puppies or kittens.....

Yes, for the first time since 2017 my Thirty Years’ War collection was dusted off and sent into action. They’re not large armies compared to some I own, but they’re still very colourful and appealing to the eye if I say so myself. Well over half of the figures are Warlord plastics, the remainder being TAG (the best), Foundry, 1st Corps and Bicorne I think. This whole collection was on my 'to sell if I don't use 'em' list for a while, but not any more. 

Part of the Swedish Blue Brigade prior to the battle.

I decided to use Warlord’s Pike and Shotte rules and the TYW supplement The Devil‘s Playground, exactly as they were written, the only exception being that troops could only shoot if they moved once rather than up to three times. P&S split a battalia down into three separate units, two shot and one pike. Much debate has been had about whether this is ‘right’ or not, but I suspect that wings of shot did operate separately of their parent pike block when required to do so. My Swedish regiments have three bases of shot to give them a slight advantage in firepower, in theory. Readers please note that this week there are no cute puppy or kitten photographs. 

Conrad and Nigel were Swedes on the right, while Paul and John took command of the Catholic League army. I didn’t play but umpired and gave occasional ‘advice’ as well as being in charge of the commissariat, and calling the shots regarding any queries or rules queries/challenges, of which there were barely any. The objective wa for the Swedes to capture the hill and the roads leading off the Catholic table edge. The Catholic League not only had to prevent this but also had to defeat the Swedes. Just hanging on to the high ground wasn’t likely to work in the face of aggressive Swedish tactics, so some aggression of their own was going to be required. The Swedish infantry were superior to most of the the enemy foot, but the Catholics had much more cavalry, especially cuirassiers, and had superiority in artillery…..not that it was to matter in the end. As usual, I hope the photos and captions will tell how the battle unfolded.

The Swedish army as seen from their right wing, with Finnish horse leading the way..
The League centre anchored on the village with more infantry deployed out beyond it to the right. Catholic League dragoons are in the village.

The Catholic League right flank, with cuirassiers and harquebusiers in their rear. A lone gun  is firing at a Swedish piece across the table.

The Swedish centre. Led by the Blue Brigade with the Yellow  regiment in  their rear.

On the Swedish left were five squadrons of Swedish horse (not all visible) and four of  Hessian harquebusiers.

The Catholic League plan appeared to be to hold the centre and refuse both flanks. They had deployed Croat cavalry as speed bumps on their left with their heavy horse held back. On the other flank were 11 squadrons of horse. Their seven infantry regiments formed up in the centre, with one brigade on the hill and the other slightly offset covering the open right flank. The Swedes’ plan was to punch through the centre while pinning the enemy cavalry on each wing. Subtle it was not.
The artillery in the Catholic centre bombards the enemy from their hilltop vantage point.

The Catholic bombardment continued as the Swedish infantry marched closer.
Swedish cavalry weave their way forwards between the village and the woods while the infantry advance.

The Swedes continued their advance. One body of shot has fallen behind victim of the Catholic artillery fire.
Swedish horse on their right.

The Croat speed bumps. Nigel's over-rated Finns charged them and they failed to evade, one squadron being destroyed at once, and another was shaken. The rest fell back.
John's League infantry holding the centre.
The Swedish regimental artillery foolishly moved through the bee hive area and on throwing a '6' became disordered!

A surviving squadron of Croats on the League left.

John pushed a regiment up into this enclosure to anchor his left flank. There were dragoons in the woods to the left, beyond which were their left-wing cavalry.
The Swedish moved two regiments up towards the extreme left of the League centre against the troops in the enclosure.

Meanwhile, the Yellow Regiment veered off to the right and attacked the League troops in the enclosure.
The Yellow Regiment piling in over the he3dges into the enclosure. The League musketeers you can see were being distracted by the Green and White regiments seen earlier.
Conrad held his Hessian harquebusiers back, not wishing to  risk them agains the  more powerful League cavalry.
League and Swedish cuirassiers clash on the Swedish right in what was to become a see-saw battle of attrition.
More fighting on the Swedish right. It wasn't going all their way.
Fighting in the centre.

And still the fighting on the Swedish right went on!

The yellow Regiment forced the League infantry back, isolating the musketeers who were by now facing the Swedes to their front in melee.

Paul had been incredibly unfortunate with his command rolls and had barely been able to move his cavalry or infantry on the right wing. In desperation he carried out a 'follow me!" order and hit this unit of Swedish shot in the flank. Miraculously, thanks to extreme dice scores, the infantry stood!

Paul finally managed some movement with his wing and the infantry advanced.

Conrad ordered his left wing Swedish horse to charge and they got the worst in a bitter and brief melee. Three squadrons were destroyed and the entire brigade was forced to pull back spent.

In the centre the Swedes charged the League infantry and artillery. The latter were swiftly overrun without causing much damage but the infantry combat was to last several turns before the League were beaten.

....and  STILL the combat on the right went on!
At this point we agreed to call time. The Swedish left was effectively destroyed and their right wing cavalry wasn't making much progress against the League apart from seeing off the rest of the Croats. However, several squadrons of horse damaged earlier (including the dreaded Finns) had recovered and were now ready to rejoin the fight.

In the centre though the League had disintegrated under pressure. It was not however a Swedish victory as despite everything there were still maybe ten squadrons of League cuirassiers and harquebusiers plus three untouched regiments of foot swinging slowly round from the right. The only Swedish reserves would take time to come up and cover their exposed left, but based on Paul's dreadful command dice scores they'd probably get there with time to spare! We all agreed that all things considered the battle was a somewhat costly draw.

Everyone enjoyed the game. However, the supplement suggests Swedish foot should be stubborn. Thats too much of an advantage, so next time I will use another way to reflect their determination, probably by adding one to their stamina. I think we were all more or less ok with the rule mechanics, but agreed that overall the stats and characteristics in the rule book and supplement need some informed tweaking, which we shall do for next time.

It was good to get this lot out on the table again after such a long break. I do have a couple more Imperial and Saxon units but couldn't find them, but they'll be somewhere under the table. Thanks to everyone for taking part. Next time I am determined to play. 

Next Saturday, another game and an other period......


  1. Fine looking game, as is only to be expected from the Burrow.

  2. That's a great looking game Colin!

  3. I pity that poor artillery crew amongst the bee hives!
    Fabulous looking game and an entertaining report. I agree that this is a very attractive looking period.

  4. That's a good looking game Colin. Excellent figures and a great layout.

  5. A fine looking collection and game, no canine or feline intervention but I spied a little bovine action there.

  6. Great looking game and enjoyable BATREP. I love your armies- nice big units!

  7. That is another brilliant looking game.


  8. Wonderful pictures of what looks like a great game. Fantastic to see so many 17thC figures on the table.

  9. Excellent looking battle. The war correspondent must be as unflappable as those cows to get so close to the action everywhere!

  10. Fantastic-looking game, and sounds like you had fun!