"On 8 November 1632 “an advance party of about 100 men under Oberst Brandenstein found the main bridge over the Saale poorly guarded and captured Naumburg only hours before two Imperial regiments, De Suys’ foot and Bredau’s cuirassiers, arrived on the scene"(Richard Brzezinksi, Osprey Books). This incident of “small warre” would lead to the epic Battle of Lutzen eight days later. This scenario asks, “What if Imperialist elements had arrived sooner?” Up to 6 players get to find out. Convention-tested home brew 17th Century skirmish rules, 28mm figures, and buckets of dice."
Not to be warned off by the above description, there were six pre-registered players. On the day of the event, however, there were but five (one, apparently, had been warned off after all). This worked out well, though, since the scenario is scale-able and the five player version is the same as the six. Although I took the names of the players down, I failed to correlate which players played on which side, and my memory for names is lousy. So I shall name the stalwarts here in list form and in brief, without regard to cause. These sporting gents were: Richard W, James F, Jim M, William S, and Jeff V. A fine crew they were who made running the game a pleasure. On with the story. In this report, as usual, you may clix pix for BIG PIX
The game is afoot. The table set up and ready to go. There were two central hills worth 2 points each, and three 1-point objectives in the middle of the table, represented by a gun, and two wagons. The side with the most points wins (had to win by 2): simple, no? The Imperials started with one of their two units of Croats on the hill and some Dragoons in a house in the corner (who would activate on a die roll--tardy fellows who should have been on guard in the area). The rest of the forces (Protestant and Imperial) would enter in their respective areas over the course of the first three turns.
There were also some special cards that each side had that would act as a variable--these allowed them to return casualties (Mars), re-roll a result (Fortune), and influence activations (Command). In a six player game, each side would have nine cards, with each player having a "deck" of three (one of each). Given five players, the side with two (in this game, the Protestants) divided the cards between them (one having an extra). Cards could only be played within a player's command and upon an activation. Each card would be discarded if used. There would be a die roll at the end of the game that would combine with the number of cards remaining to produce extra points (so the fewer used, the more likely it was that a side would gain a tiebreaker point advantage, although not guaranteed: insidious, no?). I juggle these and their impact depending on the scenario. This mechanic invariably leads to some fun moments during a game when one player decides he needs to spend a card and his team-mates scold him for losing points. You'll hear about these cards again. But I digress...
The Imperials (above left) and the Protestants (above right) bring in their first units
Things start getting interesting as the opposing forces converge on the middle of the table.
The first contact involved the Croats sending off some Protestant Dragoons and seizing wagon #1, followed by the Protestant White Reiters trotting up and engaging another Croat unit and taking the gun. This area would see much back and forth fighting like this as both players thrust units forward to contest control. In the other part of the table, the advance was more deliberate.
The Imperial and Protestant commands weigh the situation as more forces become engaged. Meanwhile...
...the heavens look down down on the petty mortal strife below...either that or my camera went off while I was putting it away. But I digress (yet again).
The crisis of the battle arrives with the high water mark of the Protestant advance. The White Reiters have since been bundled back to the baseline, but the Protestant Brown Reiters have come forward to seize the gun in their place. One unit of Imperial Croats stubbornly hangs on to wagon #1 while the other Croat and the Imperial Dragoon come up in support. Meanwhile, at the other end of the table, the Protestant Dragoons dismount and take wagon #2 while the Black and Gray Protestant Reiters screen in the face of growing Imperial pressure.
The Blue Imperial Cuirassiers, not amused, come up to "debate" the Protestant Thesis.
The action near the end of the affair. Casualties among the Red Cuirassiers and the Imperial Arquebusiers, as well as the shaken status and red "wounded" markers on the Blue Curiassiers, are indicative of the action that has gone on. The kill rings, by the way, indicate empty firearms (pistols, arquebuses, muskets). The Protestant Reiters took their lumps, but held off the Imperial horse long enough for the Dragoons to drag wagon #2 back to a safer spot. Meanwhile, the musketeer lines of both sides have come up and have begun to influence the action. The pesky (heroic?) Croats (all 2 figures of them) still hold wagon#1, while the gun reverts to limbo. Eventually, the remnant 2-figure Croat unit would trot out to take control of the gun (laurels go to the Imperial Croats for their doggedness in this game).
So, who won? Well, at the end of the game the tally was 3 points for the Protestants and 4 points for the Imperials--the margin to win is 2, so a tie. BUT...I still had to account for the variable points for the special cards. Once I had counted those and added the die roll, the result swung to a 1 point advantage for the Protestants--still short of the 2 point margin needed for a decision. Thus, the convention game ended just as the club-night game: in a tie! In both cases, the games did feel close, and the players seemed comfortable with the result. I guess I'll have to either trash this scenario or run it a third time to decide the affair. My thanks for the good humor and elan of the players (a bad run of dice never became a bad run of attitude!)--'twas well played on both sides.
For those who have the stamina to still be reading this (I'm impressed!), in the very near future, I'll be adding another content page to this blog with my Smalle Warre rules and materials (this at the request of the players in this game--so you have them to blame, hence my masking of their full names!). Watch for it (or watch out for it) soon.