Monday, 13 June 2016

First of my reports on AMG 16

No doubt I will be only one among many of the bloggers who will report on their attendance at the A Military Gentleman (of the 18th Century) Forum get-together in a lovely hotel near Warwick last weekend.
Preparations of 4 games each on a 12 feet plus x 6 feet table  designed for
about 4 or 5 participants. In the foreground is Will H who generously gave us each a
memento in the form of a 28mm casualty figure marker which we can put to good use
Reviewing my photos I've got so many I'll have to split my reporting. However, there must have been something about the lighting that conflicted with my normal wargame photo taking method as I've had to ditch very many and only used a few of the poor ones. Happily many turned out good.

This first report concentrates on the main event for me which was the refight of The Battle of Soor, 1745, during the War of the Austrian Succession. This was certainly the biggest and best 18th century wargame I've ever taken part in, at around 1500 28mm figures. It was put on by Robbie Rodiss and Colin Ashton from the North-east of England whom many readers will know  from their wonderful blogs (see my side bar).  They provided both armies and the terrain. Figures, I believe, were mostly RSM and Minden and looked an absolute treat to my envious eyes. Rules were "Honours of War" and for that reason the game was a bonus for me as I'm keen to start using them regularly myself. (See my previous blog post) . Two games were played during the weekend, I'm just describing the one on the Saturday

The participants and umpires

Steve P very competently handled the Austrian right flank
Colin explains their army to Prussian commanders Stuart I and Gary P
Robbie briefs Mark A on the merits or otherwise of his mass of Austrian cavalry
 on the Austrian left flank, before getting to me commanding the Austrian centre
and centre left as Austrian C-in-C
The Set-up
 Basic objective was for the Prussians under Frederick to push the Austrian army off the main road through Soor and the big hill which was on their line of communication.  For convenience all references to flanks will be from the Austrian perspective.
Austrian centre showing mainly the Saxon contingent 
Austrian centre left under Von Daun with quite an impressive hill to hold
The Austrian order of battle (above) and notes of special conditions for this game (below) .
Note the Dithering C-in-C and cavalry commanders

Close up of some of Von Daun's infantry of which the combined Grenadier battalion
was the best. He was classed as Dashing which was not as helpful as it sounds
when defending a good position
Prussian cavalry face our right flank....
.......along with Prussian infantry
Battle is joined
Prussians attack the hill in full force including cavalry. My front musketeer battalion
gives fire while it can.
Poor photo but the Saxon contingent is too pretty to ignore as it changed to
columns to envelope and occupy Soor. Guards on the right of course!
The Austrians, despite their handicaps, gain the upper hand in the right flank
cavalry battle. Steve is cautious over the strength of the enemy infantry position
but his ability not to throw units away needlessly probably helped our victory
Meanwhile Mark is engaged in a ferocious cavalry confrontation on the left
which would last all game due to his canny skills and of his opponent Gary.
Robbie and Colin were constantly helpful and understanding over any issues
in the rules
A closer view - those Austrian musketeers would not last long.  They managed to see
 off the cavalry, but remembering lessons from my first game I withdrew the unit on 3 hits
before the next onslaught
Still loads of Prussians to come (above and below). 
Prussian grenadiers look daunting especially with Frederick himself leading the attack,
however, soon after, I got the firing initiative and great dice rolls with cannon and infantry
 so two Prussian battalions crumbled and broke. Fred was at risk but Gary managed to avoid
 a wound for him (11 or 12 on 2 x D6 would have been fatal)
A command roll of "1" for my "Dependable" Saxon general meant his infantry
columns were held up for a move by the delights of Soor town, allowing them
to be targeted by heavy guns just outside this photo on the left.
The overview at the lunchtime halt. Austrian cavalry have the upper hand on the left for the moment. Austrian infantry units are dwindling under pressure and one battalion falling back to recover. Still plenty of Prussians coming on but crucially they have to face my heavy gun battery. Saxons are now forming line in and around Soor while the Austrian cavalry move forward against dwindling opposition in the distance
The Saxons now in line felt the full force of the Prussian guns, and all 3 units
suffered casualties from "grazing fire" 
The Austrian infantry line is thinning and the Saxon cavalry brigade moves up
to support
Gary looks happy as he feels he's getting the better of my grenadiers with
 initiative to fire first this move
Meanwhile Mark's Austrians look in charge of the left flank cavalry duel
My infantry line is now so thin the only hope is a charge by the Saxon cavalry brigade
Now there is no opposition Austrian Hussars have entered the field and head
for the Prussian camp.......
.....where among the booty are Frederick's pet dogs
While Dragoons take on the guns
Prussian infantry lurk in a walled orchard on the Austrian right flank, Steve's
infantry come on steadily 
Two of my Saxon battalions have fled the field from the Prussian cannon fire.
Saxon Grenadiers, Fusiliers and Guard Infantry still occupy Soor 
Saxon cavalry have pushed back the Prussians at the hill crest but lost a regiment
 in the process 
About this point I asked how Colin and Robbie would decide the outcome - were Army Break Points relevant? A quick tot up found the alarming truth that we were both not far off with Prussians having lost 10 points and the larger Austrian force 12. Moving towards a nail biting climax then, but in a big battle like this there were many opportunities for the deciding factor, and many distractions for the wargamers as the umpires were pushing us on at a cracking pace!
The left flank cavalry engagement is resumed. No fault of Mark's that his
opponents keep pressing as you can see from the Austrian game conditions on
the Orbat above.
At this point the cannon fire was being directed on Soor town and I got "11" on my
 General's saving roll. So the demise of the Saxon commander, and his replacement
by a "Dithering" subordinate
My final photo of the action - Steve's cavalry have attacked the enemy guns from two
  directions and got them on the run, the camp is now completely open.
I guess something critical was happening elsewhere though, as amid the hubbub, I heard Gary shout
"That's it !"   and he was shaking my hand across the table. "Excuse my ignorance", says I ,"but who won?"   "You did " he replied with a friendly smile.

How's that for a close result, and great credit to Robbie and Colin for such a well balanced game that kept my attention somewhere on the tabletop for  the whole 5 hours of playing time and got me so distracted as commander I didn't even realise we were winning. Thanks to all concerned for a very enjoyable game played in the spirit of "Military Gentlemen of the 18th Century".

More thoughts on "Honours of War"
Colin and Robbie had tested the rules with big battles before but still accepted they were developing thoughts. Gary had played three times and displayed a very good grasp which helped keep up the pace . I knew a bit from my test games so was able to follow what was happening. Not sure about the level of knowledge of Steve, Mark and Stuart but they all seemed to manage very well under umpire's eyes. It was great fun having Robbie as an unashamed Austrophile umpire but since his advice proved about 50% sound and 50% c**p I don't think it affected the result. HoW handled all this mayhem extremely well and I'm looking forward to trying bigger games myself.

The national characteristics were applied so the Prussians got extra initiative for Moving and Firing and could manoeuvre and change formation with little or no deduction. On our part the Austrian guns were Superior when firing. Given the Prussian army was smaller and attacking uphill these helped to balance the game well.  I think heavy guns were able to move, change angle and fire a bit too easily for this period though. Our hosts had reduced all canister fire to 30cm as they believe it is too effective at longer range and spoils the game; I reserve judgement till I've tried the longer ranges. For my part I felt that grazing fire for round shot through every line within 30cm was too effective given that in reality every bounce was shorter than the preceding one. I'll have to read the rules and have a think.  The rules are totally dismissive of "Ditherers" as Commanding General to the extent it is detrimental to let one come within command range. This produces the unrealistic side effect that I was told to put mine as far away as possible. I would like to see them at least have the possibility of rallying off casualties within the safety of their own lines. My rationale is that a bunch of top brass would probably have some enthusiastic aides and subordinate officers who could gee up the morale of flagging troops even if M'lord Elektor, or whatever, is a dolt.

None of this detracted from my enjoyment -  thanks once again to all concerned. Another report on AMG 16 as soon as I can manage the time


  1. Chris,
    Excellent report and glad you enjoyed the game and the weekend.

  2. Great report Chris. Good to meet you and pleased you enjoyed the game. We forgot t apply some of the scenario specific rules but I doubt it would have saved the Prussians!

    Ps the painting is lovely by the way.

  3. Chris,
    A pleasure to meet you and really pleased that you enjoyed your games. It was a terrific weekend and you've written an excellent report on a game that I sadly couldn't get to play.

  4. Graham, Colin and Paul, thanks for your appreciation and likewise it was great to meet you and all the others for the first time. I forgot to mention in the blog that Graham organised the whole event which seemed to go without a hitch - many thanks. Colin - maybe we will see the painting in the background of photos of your wargames or will you hide it in the loo? :-)

  5. Wonderful report Chris with superb photographs. Very envious that so many AMG members had such a tremendous weekend! Well done.

  6. Thanks for sharing. Looks like a great game.

  7. Really does look wonderful

  8. What a fantastic battle report! Makes me envious to wargame also soon!!
    Thanks for sharing it with us!

  9. Chris,
    I can finally comment on the weekend. It was great to meet you in the flesh, and set the world to rights. Sorry about that. Its great to get other views from fellow wargamers about rules, battles etc, as it makes you rethink your own views. Grazing fire has bothered me since the rules came out, but the simplified system allows for quicker moves, personally each bounce should be made harder to hit, perhaps a simple increase on the dice throw could help that. As for Dithering C in C's, well because I wont fight as a Prussian, I often suffer from this affliction which really hinders the Austrian abilities to rally off causalities, I have just learned to accept the penalty. Canister, well having suffered terribly from the original ranges we can just differ on this.As regards the free movement of heavy guns, I totally agree with you, again I have suffered from this in many games, and just dont buy into the ability to man handle these beasts easily. Great account, and thanks again for a lovely weekend.

  10. Carlo, Allan, Dave and Peter, thank you for taking the trouble to read and comment, none of you would have been disappointed if you had participated. Robbie, this game will live long in my memory, it was superb. Yes, grazing fire keep it simple but reasonably difficult otherwise it's more damaging than close range canister. I don't totally disagree on canister range as we have not tested it properly in our games yet. Likewise it was great to meet you, and I will be emailing you and Colin to keep in touch.

  11. An excellent photo report Chris, sorry about such a late response but I have only just found your report. It was great to meet you in the flesh and an enjoyable weekend with you and all other AMGers.

    Will Harley

  12. Yes indeed Will. Your participation in the weekend will live long in the collective AMG memory too! So glad you've finally caught up with this - soon be time for next year's bash :-)