Saturday, 11 June 2016

Simplicity in Practice

John and I both noticed a thread om TMP recently which pointed out (yet another) set of Neil Thomas Horse & Musket rules called 'Simplicity in Practice' published in issue 23 of Battlegames magazine. We both duly paid for PDF versions and got copies of the rules and comprehensive designers notes. SIP are pitched somewhere between One Hour Wargames and the rather more laborious eighteenth and nineteenth century sets, and are specifically designed to play Grants 'Tabletop Teaser' scenarios.

John duly produced a book of CS Grants Wargames Scenarios and we set to with the 'Delaying Action' scenario. I took the plucky British, while Tim and Tim took the wicked French. The scenario has a British force holding a reverse slope position (hidden deployment) until nightfall against a much larger French force coming on  in a somewhat irregular manner.   

The Black Watch and supporting artillery hold the vital gap. The rest of the British troops are hidden out of sight.

The French hordes pour on, Seven or eight infantry battalions (I lost count), three cavalry regiments,masses of artillery. They were handicapped by their entry points being randomised and they all converged in a huge traffic jam in the town.

The French sorted themselves out into a large column flanked by cavalry. First blood to the British as hits are registered on the leading French guns. This system has a traditional 'shoot at things' mechanism, the number of hits then translates into a morale roll which may (or may not) inflict a 'disruption point'. Units rout and are removed when they accumulate four such DPs. 

The French cuirassiers try and flank the guns, only to find a British battalion on the reverse slope. Oh dear! Over in the woods on the left, British light infantry (rifles, naturally) are operating. A couple of hits are visible on the Cuirassiers already (from the artillery) and the close range musketry of a fresh infantry battalion finished them off.

The French main attack lines up against the British right. The Black Watch fall back out of artillery range, while French light infantry threaten the extreme right flank. Another British battalion has been revealed, and they fell back to cover from the French guns.

On the left, French infantry engage the Rifles. Sharpe holds them off for now.

The climax of the battle, the main French assault goes in. The British artillery on the ridge have been driven back and the Light Cavalry and (very battered) Black Watch moves up in support.

As night falls, the French push the British off the ridge guarding the pass. The Black Watch and KOYLI are routed, but the French have also suffered heavy losses with their cavalry mauled and a number of infantry units routed.

This was great fun, really enjoyable and fast playing too (we got through fifteen turns in an hour and a half). The AMW yahoo group has a number of period variants including ACW, Pike and Shot, Ancient and FPW and I'd really like to try these out for some later periods. The rules included one novel mechanism I'd never seen before; in close combat units roll a certain number of dice depending on their morale, posture etc (so far, pretty normal) but then the scores are added up, the highest score wins. This worked really well and made close combat both very tense and quite unpredictable. A brilliant idea which I can think of ready application elsewhere.  

Highly recommended.

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