Sunday, 20 October 2013

Game 13 - Battle of the Boyne 1690

It has taken a little time to get things together here, though the game proved to be worth it. I had been increasingly worried that Maurice would be unable to handle the number of units, the comparative size of the game, or that it would become bogged down with minutiae. In the end, the rules flowed smoothly. In fact, some of the 'mad' (and increasingly lucky in terms of dice rolls ;)) Jacobite cavalry charges, devastated much of the allied lines, although these opportunistic actions were made all the easier through the allies sticking their neck out a little with absolutely no cavalry support. (Did I hear someone say 'practically begging to be flanked'?).

There was also agreement beforehand that two C in Cs would be used on each side, mainly due to the number of units and the prospect of the game bogging down. This meant that a number of slight rule changes were in effect.

(1) The 'Death of a Hero' card could be used to remove a General if he were within 4BWs of battle. This would remove him from the game and permit only the other C in C to command. The card could only be used once per side. (This would have dire consequences and be eerily accurate).

(2) Although there were two C in Cs, the number of card draws remained the same. In essence, the only change here was the addition of a second command 'centre of gravity'. This consideration was mainly focused on the number of reinforcements that would be available and to avoid any sense of bogging down the game due to the number of units.

(3) Troops could wheel and assemble as they reached the other side of the river (otherwise, there was no room for them to wheel in terms of the scale).

And so to battle:

The Jacobite starting positions in front of Donore hill. Elite cavalry and dragoons bolstered by...raw infantry for the most part.

The Dutch elite Gardes de Voet cross the Boyne heading for Oldbridge, and Clanricarde's raw troops. Luckily, James's own guard units are close by.

The Jacobites in Oldbridge bend...

...then break as platoon firing and a handy 'Confusion' card push them from their covered position in Oldbridge, and accurate fire finishes them off.

Allied reinforcements in the shape of French Hugenot and Northern Irish troops are delayed through rough going, while Jacobite cavalry moves menacingly close to the river.

It is only a delay to the inevitable however, as the first reinforcements cross the river, joined by Schomberg.

 ...straight into the jaws of elite cavalry charges. Gaps in the line mean that a Guards regiment is flanked early on in the confusion and broken. Cries of desperation along the allied line (well, from the player anyway).

Canny card play and the effect of massed muskets however will force the cavalry back.

As yet more Dutch and English reinforcements make ready to cross. The Jacobite infantry have remained relatively unengaged as the allied infantry deflects the blows of the cavalry.

 As English and Dutch troops successfully cross the river and the Allies push deeper, Schomberg, apparently in the thick of the action, is killed by a stray musketball.

Leaving William to coordinate the army.

The allies have some success on their right against the trained guard units, though one remains.

As Danish reinforcements start to ford the river, Dutch and allied cavalry waits their turn. Things look bleak for the Jacobites, unless they do something rash of course. 

  The Jacobite infantry holds on, despite withering fire. the cavalry moves to the flank. Are they hoping to quell the Danes and Dutch at the river?

Despite what it looks like, the allies move their left flank, just in time for the massed cavalry charge.

By this time, Richard Hamilton is starting to run out of infantry to inspire, and moves to support the cavalry.

 ...who dramatically disrupt the Dutch and Northern Irish units as the flank melts away, and the charge goes on.

Not without cost, as the allies start to consolidate, Hamilton leads the cavalry on.

But the Jacobite morale is on the verge of collapse.

Hamilton's string of impetuous charges strikes the next Northern Irish and English regiments after he uses his 'notable' bonus to rally the almost shattered cavalry...

...and the charges destroy the integrity of unit after unit, though his cavalry become further weakened.

Despite the use of multiple advantageous cards, Jacobite morale is almost shattered, with only two points left. Having said that, with thousands of men running to the rear, allied morale was even taking a battering.

Final accurate platoon firing from the rallied Gardes de Voet puts and end to Hamilton's almost decisive action however, as the Jacobites roll poorly for morale due to losses, and flee the field.

 At game end, there are few units left on the field, and the Danish will be moving to reinforce, with massed cavalry just behind them.

We could probably call this a draw in terms of comparison against actual events. This was mainly caused by Hamilton's last minute success, the fact that the allies had to deal with it rather than focus on getting reinforcements across the river and the length of time that the Jacobites were able to hang on without being forced to Donore Hill.

The turning point was the death of Schomberg. Had the allies been able to retain two command radii, they would, as the Jacobites were able to, command a wide range of troop movement and thus bring troops across the river with more fluidity. As it was, one remaining C in C proved decisive in terms of where the allies could centre their attention.

One could argue that this is a flaw with the rules. I don't think so. Let's look at what happened historically. Schomberg was killed, there was utter confusion in the allied attack at times, the Jacobite charges were successful in terms of delaying the advance and significant numbers of allied troops were mauled and the pursuit was flawed (although historians have argued the real reasons for that). Granted, the flanking actions did not really happen, though we can see the price paid here was due to allied inattention to their position.

In other words, I still love the rules.

Next up? More Maurice or ...Modern Spearhead is beginning to call...or more Snappy Nappy...*sigh*...need more hours in the day dammit!


  1. great images, thanks for sharing in such detail!

  2. Thanks Kevin. The pictures turned out much better than my usual attempts (truth is, I 'borrowed' my daughter's expensive camera).

  3. Very nice report; a close run thing indeed. I like it that as the report goes on the shadows from the figures grow longer, showing lengthening shadows as the day draws to a close.
    I think you're right about the loss of a commander. There are plenty of examples of a downed leader changing the course of a battle.

  4. Thanks Mike. I hadn't noticed the shadows, but a great effect I agree (must remember that for next battle and start the game at the same time of day). These rules really hold the attention. Volley and Bayonet had a similar focus to a large extent with division exhaustion and the strain of trying to keep each division one step ahead of running away. Maurice certainly takes things a little further and makes much of those random factors which make battle 'management' a real headache but a great game.

    Also quite compact, as a game can easily be finished inside 3 hours - though of course, it is VERY unforgiving with respect to poor judgement or when you don't keep an eye on troops who are close to breaking.

  5. Somehow I missed your Boyne game??? It looked a spectacular affair, well done to all involved!

  6. So many beautiful troops, a great report!

  7. Thank you kindly Ray and Phil. I have to confess Ray, that I used some of your wonderful flags. Thanks for your efforts. Would have been lost without them.

  8. I'm glad you liked the flags and I'm pleased you used them too!