It's almost an annual tradition that I get to play a large 28mm war of the Spanish Succession game over the festive period. This year my French took the field against the Maritime Powers from Marks collection.
I say almost because the game this year was smaller than we could have played, largely due to a substantial proportion of my forces having been dispatched to the colonies. This gave the unusual position of the French being outnumbered in horse.
Deployment at the start of the game was fairly predictable.
The French (on the left of the photograph above) were as follows moving from lower foreground to the far distance:
Bavarian foot - 4 battalions
Maison du Roi - 6 squadrons of elite horse
Guardes - 2 battalions elite foot
First brigade - 7 battalions (6 French & 1 Spanish)
Second brigade - 6 battalions (French)
Third brigade - 5 battalions (3 German & 2 Swiss)
Horse brigade - 12 squadrons of horse & 6 of dragoons (all French)
Right wing horse - 7 squadrons
Anglo -Hanoverian - 2 battalions & 4 squadrons of dragoons
English foot - 8 battalions
English foot guards
Dutch brigade - 4 battalions (inc. one of Guard)
Dutch horse - 12 squadrons (inc 3 elite Guard du Corps)
The central attack for the French was not as planned. The first line moved forward after the superior number of guns here on the French side failed to make any impact in the opening bombardment. The idea was for the two center brigades to advance in unison and place extreme pressure on the English lines. The French in a deeper formation than the enemy need to have numbers to make them effective and not to have a one on one fire fight develop.
This means that any disruption to the advance can have serious consequences for the French. and so it proved.
The right hand brigade deployed two battalions wide and in three lines. However, a single volley from the enemy battalion in front of them was enough to force Regiment Normandie to retire. This stopped the entire brigade for a couple of moves as they reorganised themselves.
The consequence being that the left hand brigade had to bear the brunt of the fire. Four guns and two battalions of the enemy caused the first line of the French to retire before coming into contact with the second English lines. This delay allowed the English to reform and move forward some of the their battalions to threaten the exposed right flank of the brigade.
Enter the French guards. The two battalions of the guards moved forward to stop any threat. The Guardes Suisses came face to face with the Royal Irish (a regiment of almost legendary reputation in the club for their dogged persistence in the face of adversity). The Irish showed their mettle once more and fought both battalions of the French guard one after the other before they had to make way for the second English line.The damage had been done.
The French lines were never able to roll forward in a combined effort.
In the end the French had to withdraw. Not having numbers in position to gain the advantage and battalions out of line meant that they could not win. At the same time the position of the enemy meant that they could not claim a victory although having been left in control of the field no doubt the newspapers in London would proclaim it as such.
My thanks, as ever, to Mark or making it such a fun day and good game. The rules used were our own and allowed a game of 2,000+ figures to be fought over the day at no great pace. Equally the rules don't appear to give either a two deep or three deep formation an advantage. First rounds may go to the smaller frontage of the deep formation but second line advantage goes to the two deep rank formation. It would appear that the true advantage goes to the player best able to control the lines and maintain formation - just as it should be.
A great day and a magnificent way to end my gaming year.