Friday, 17 June 2016

Final report on AMG 16

Just to finish off I must report on the second day of the weekend. The previous part is More on A Military Gentleman Forum 2016

I had anticipated that Graham Cummings would be fielding his 1740s period armies for a game (see Crann Tara Miniatures and links from it to Graham's blog) but he magnanimously gave way to others who had put a lot of effort into providing our entertainment.  So I asked Mark Dudley if I could participate in his refight of Chotusitz (1742) and he and Steve Metheringham treated us to an experience that was very different to my normal wargaming.  Again my photos are second rate but you can see better ones on their blogs Ilkley old school and Lace wars in tin.

Two of the Austrian commanders, Graham Cummings and Leigh B,
 look unnecessarily pensive as the rules are explained
Angus K and Steve M with a view of Dave's Prussian modest cavalry flank
Dave looks on while Steve demonstrates what Mark's comical
hand signals mean to the players
The rules were Field of Battle - Piquet, and completely new to me.

I fancied trying Prussians this time since I'd been on the receiving end of their manouvrability and fire power the previous day at Soor. Unfortunately, as many will know from Charles Grant's latest "Refighting History" volume 2 the Prussians were not starting in a happy situation.  A small infantry force was defending the village of Chotusitz and were hoping for relief by loads of cavalry on their left who had to channel across a bridge in between an uncrossable marsh and stream area. Also the Prussian main body, under Frederick, was forming up to their rear in a hollow, unseen by the attacking Austrians. On our right Dave Hall had charge of a Prussian cavalry force which had to fight with its back against Cirkwitz pond.  As can be seen from the general views an immense Austrian army was marching straight for us on all fronts!
First moves and Graham has moved 4 regiments of cavalry forward to face
the meagre one of mine up the road from the bridge
More of my cavalry follow but getting them deployed would prove difficult
Above and below: Angus' Austrians catch Dave's cavalry stationary with a triple move

Above and below: At the moment things don't look too bad in front of Chotusitz

...but poor Dave is suffering on the right flank
Enough Austrian cavalry to spare to turn on my infantry......

.....and destroy one battalion while the infantry come on too

Mutual musketry begins to sort us out; fleeing Prussians at bottom right
This and the next two show how bottled up my cavalry have become trying to
funnel over that bridge and are blocked by Austrian dragoons

I've got one regiment passed them but in column of march they won't last long
Austrians didn't have it all their own way - 3 of those 6 battalions are fleeing

But this photo marks the demise of Dave's stalwart cavalry defence in front of
the ponds
Hooray! - the "Special Event" card came up to mark Frederick having
organised the main body and advanced to frighten the Austrians. It looks impressive
with Grenadier battalions authentically creating a box to refuse the right flank
In front of them my overwhelmed and abandoned cannon are being commandeered
by white coats.
This and the next 4 pics show I'm still trying to cause a headache for Graham by
running rings round his cavalry with mine in march formation! 

Then changing to line.........

...and having an almighty bust up in which I can't now remember whose is whose!
And then counter attacking in desperation from the vicinity of Chotusitz village
Above and below: Frederick's first line engages but the expected firepower was
rather pitiful. Gaps appearing on both sides though. 

Apologies for fuzzy photo but it sort of epitomises how I  (and maybe Dave too) was feeling in the maelstrom of multiple combats (after "the night before"). Angus' cavalry attacking on the right, and watch those hands, they are preparing an attack by Hussars 
They had been spare on the Austrian left wing most of the game but Angus
brought them into the centre and  Leigh charged home to add to the mayhem. 

This last photo shows the gaping holes in our line with many battalions having been destroyed. Austrians had gained the high ground by Chotusitz and practically wiped out my left flank cavalry. A pretty conclusive victory for Austria that day!
If this feels one sided to the reader then it certainly did to me and Dave! It's not that we were incompetent or didn't know what to do, but that the Piquet card and dice combination system mitigated against coherent tactics or a plan. Mark warned that the inconsistencies can be explained away as the "fog of war", which is true, but I believe all wargames need to allow the player a fair degree of control to exhibit some skill. For example a card allowed my cavalry to "move" but not manoeuvre (i.e. change formation). A dice off with Graham meant I scored a triple move so I could squeeze units across the bridge past his cavalry but not change formation and attack him. That of course left me very vulnerable next turn.

I daresay Field of Battle - Piquet is a great set of rules for a fun game in a relatively open and well balanced scenario, but it did not feel appropriate to me for the bottlenecks and local outnumbering of Chotusitz.  I don't tend to like card driven games much anyway and this had frequent dice duels attached to every action that one tried, even rallying, so often frustrating for both sides.

Rules aside I must take my hat off to Mark and Steve as they have revived the classic semi-round Prince August cast-your-own-army 40mm figures, and commissioned more to make a complete 18th Century army experience. They are presented beautifully with singles and small groups of figures on professional looking sabot bases. With basic, but lovely, terrain the whole thing was an old school atmosphere of which I've dreamed but never experienced, but with very new-school rules. Thank you both for the chance to try this out, and I'd recommend it to everyone for sheer spectacle and the satisfaction of handling those handsome blocks of figures.

Last but not least in the room was Paul Robinson's 28mm Great Northern War, Swedes versus Russians game. I'd have loved to try his too but, as I know nothing of that period I thought I'd have to place the more familiar War of the Austrian Succession and Colonial games above it in my priority list, sorry Paul. Just a few poor photos of what really was a splendid looking game and you really must read his blog - Grimsby wargaming  he's even put my balding head at the forefront of his first photo - must be a unique punishment for not participating in a game!

In Summary
John Ray published "A Military Gentleman, of the 18th Century" in 2013 and by early 2014 had opened up an online forum just for owners of the book.  The membership includes some of the most talented names in the more traditional styles of wargaming and model making and I'm incredibly privileged to be part of that, and to be able to view digitally what John, and many others, get up to in their studios and wargames rooms. This was the second AMG get together, and as I missed the first was my first opportunity to meet many of the people who had just been names and photos up to now. It was much better than a wargames show (though I haven't been to one since 2012 for various reasons) as all the participants were involved and it was in a lovely venue hired specially for us with meals and rooms within yards. There was a bring and buy with a trust the purchaser ethos, and I was happy to bring home some of Mark Allen's cast offs as well as two battalions of Fife and Drum Hessians from Graham! The company was good and the games spectacular, and arrangements are already being made for same time next year.

The spirit of AMG is hard to explain but we get so much out of it that I felt I wanted to give a little gift of my AMG-associated art work to participants, and evidently Will Harley felt the same as he gave us each a beautiful 28mm casualty marker on a counter base which will be used avidly in my next games of Honours of War.  Thanks to all involved for a great time.


  1. Chris,
    brilliant write up and I have to admit I felt the same playing as the Prussians when I did Chotusitz to a totally different set of rules the outcome was remarkably similar!
    Hopefully if there's an event next year I promise my British and Jacobites will make an appearance. :)

  2. Chris
    Great write up and very well put.
    No punishment parade on my blog as every one was a winner from the weekend.

  3. Chris, I loved your summary, it sums up the weekend really.
    I have never fought with Piquet rules, and I am a bit long in the tooth to try card driven games. I enjoy making my own plan and then mucking it up myself, it is what wargaming means for me really, acting as your own general. good post again, well done.

  4. Robbie, couldn't agree with you more about bringing on my own disasters, but the AMG weekend was good for exposing me to a couple of new rule sets, and credit where it is due to Mark and Steve who had worked hard and ran the game superbly despite this wingeing Prussian general.

  5. Looks like it was a good weekend Chris.
    Sorry to have missed it, but I was sunning myself in Rhodes instead!!
    Thanks for posting the reports...

  6. Yes Phil, I'm sorry you weren't there too - you got me into AMG!