Friday, 10 June 2016

Battle of the Boyne - playtest for Piquet:Field of Battle

So, with a large summer game planned next week, I did a playtest with Field of Battle for the Boyne scenario that we did a few years back (yes - 2013 to be exact - with the then new Maurice). A few tweaks and changes required, though points to remember below (G, hit me with your thoughts on this...  :) )

  • I have 'tweaked' the cards with some special sequence deck cards - a little more 'uncontrolled charge' and ability to withdraw for the Jacobites and some movement and firepower bias for the Allies.
  • Reinforcements at river crossing points will be dictated by availability of movement cards during the turn i.e. after first two moves crossing with the Gardes de Voet  - then the Hugenots, next move card Allied/Dutch, then Irish units on next card etc. This gives a nice stepped approach...however...
  • The river is a class II obstacle - and needs 2 moves to get across, so rolls will be required to cross it and form line on the bank in the same turn - there may be a dangerous temptation to get troops across in column on a single move, though with elite Jacobite cavalry 'hovering', this could spell disaster (just like the actual battle).
  • Pike armed units can increase defence vs cavalry by one step by forming 'pike defence', though can't then move without formation change (a period flavour inclusion). Units without pikes are great for firepower but poor in defence dice. (Hugenots)
  • Allied Army Morale points will increase as the Danes and Dutch cross the river. (If the Allied Army Morale has not been driven down by this stage, the scenario becomes a real Kobayashi Maru for the Jacobites).
In this game, the Jacobites ran out of morale points and failed a test, while the allies had 5 points left. Somewhat unbalanced so may need a few tweaks, though the Jacobite cavalry was devastating!

Action around Oldbridge.

 Jacobite elite cavalry 'aligning' itself.

Moving toward the river.

As allied reinforcements start to mass.

Mid-game, with Oldbridge becoming a meatgrinder as the Jacobite cavalry charges in the centre.

Not a good day to be a dismounted cavalry picket.

Action during the epic charge in the centre.

A hole in the Allied centre, though it has cost the Jacobites dearly.

 By game end, the allies are securing their flanks, and the Danes have crossed (fresh troops at top of pic). By this stage, Jacobite infantry was starting to flee, though the cavalry was still of use.

Will the centre hold next week?
Will the Jacobites be forced back to Donore hill as they were historically?
Will the Allies be stuck trying to ford a river into the cold steel of enemy horse?

It's a great ruleset and really gives you a feeling for the ebb and flow of battle with card and multi-sided dice mechanics. Very quick resolution too. I recommend these rules, and I'm liking them more and more for the entire Horse & Musket period; they even have room for some early period tweaks.

Stay tuned...


  1. A crackin looking game! Its a hard battle to try and get right.

    1. Thanks mate. You'll see some of your flags being used again :)

      Yep, a hard one to balance, and it comes down to how well the infantry can hold the onslaught and how effective the cavalry can be early on. These rules offer a nice chance for the effect of early maneuver and charging to take its toll on the Allies trying to cross, but as soon as the Danes and Dutch start to cross, the endgame begins ...

  2. Those tweaks sound plausible and seem to have worked. I wouldn't worry too much about balance. Looking forward to the game.

    1. Good stuff. They seemed to work ok. I really love these rules now.

      There a re few things that still get missed - out of commands and card draw counting - but with enough players, it flows smoothly. Excellent set of rules - gives a real feel for the ebb and flow of battle, and you can really tweak the card deck to give historical results.

    2. I read Leo Murray's book on military psychology recently. There are numerous factors which affect morale, but a table of modifiers doesn't really model it. These rules seem to come pretty close - all through the chaos, there is a tipping point, where troops make the 'is it worth it' calculation. You can't really model that, but these rules come as close to placing some sort of framework around the utter chaos of war, morale and initiative/momentum (and the utter chaos of some rules).

    3. I will bring my Piquet 'clock' which helps with Initiative Counting. Out of Command mainly caused by losing against an Even roll.

  3. Good looking game. Awaiting the battle conclusion.

    1. Thanks Jonathan. Yes, the 'big' game with many players should be an eye opener - as despite what I think might happen, 'no game survives contact with the players'!

      I also need to get Baroque on the table and give it a least before 'Pikeman's Lament' comes out and I have another set of rules added to the pile LOL.

  4. Splendid figures in a great looking game...and nice questions!

    1. Thanks Phil, and this was just a playtest.

      The real thing on Saturday :)