Sunday, 5 August 2018

Hope was but a timid friend

Not that you would know from either James' blog or mine, but there has actually been some wargaming in the Lower Wharfe Valley. Two games in fact, very different in most ways, but what they shared was an eventual winner who had basically given up about two thirds of the way through and only carried on because there was plenty of time left.

The first was the blow the bridge scenario that we had played in the legendary wargames room two or three times a couple of years ago, and a very good game it gives. I was the Russians seeking to prevent said bridge being blown and, not remembering any details from the previous games, chose to bring the infantry on at the road entrance nearest to the bridge with the cavalry arriving later from one end of the table. When this was revealed there was much shaking of heads and sucking of teeth from Peter and James, with the strong consensus being that I'd got it all wrong. As it happens the gods of Piquet thought differently, because in the morale draw at the beginning I drew a Brilliant Leader card plus a Stratagem, which turned out to be basically another Brilliant Leader card for one command. The net effect was that that one infantry command stormed across the table and would actually have seized the bridge had I focussed on the important stuff rather than moving as many units as possible. If you ever play Piquet then that, dear reader, is the golden rule. The converse of having good cards in my deck was that I didn't have much morale. I failed major morale twice, ran out and actually started giving it to the Prussians. That basically means the game is over, but it was only about ten o'clock and my cavalry had just arrived so we carried on. The was nothing to do except act aggressively and damn the consequences; sure enough, from that point on it was a completely one sided affair and the Prussians fairly quickly succumbed.

The second game, in the less than legendary annexe, was the previously advertised Malesov. On this occasion the Imperialists gained an early advantage by immediately getting all their cavalry over the bridge - meant to be a bottleneck - and flanking the Hussites on both sides. With the warwagons' shooting achieving absolutely nothing, the Catholic crossbowmen advanced, fired and as luck would have it, killed Zizka himself; he not just being C-in-C, but also commander of the wagenburg. It didn't look good, but Peter - for it was he on this occasion - carried on because, well, the night was still young. And then, suddenly the wheels came off the Imperialists' caravan. They lost a couple of melees (although James did implausibly draw four tens in a row at one point), did very badly in the ensuing rout tests and, just like that, it was all over. The Hussites had won without moving anything off the table.

That last point does make me wonder about the quality of the scenario. James came up with a good sounding approach to force the crusaders to attack the warwagons front on, which of course is what they did at the time, but which no tabletop commander with any sense is going to voluntarily repeat. Details will be given in a future post along with those of one or two other changes to equipment that I am going to make to improve gameplay of TtS!. We are back to James' next week, but I think the next game in the annexe will be Varna, 1444. There are still warwagons, but it also gives me a chance to break out the Ottomans. And yes, I do have a Janissary marching band.

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