Big Blenheim Bash

Big Blenheim Bash

I have been building up to this game for a while. I ran it on Coronation Bank Holiday Monday. This was a refight of Blenheim on about a 1:3 unit ratio. That meant about 60 battalions of infantry and 80 squadrons of cavalry. Plus some guns. The table was close to its fullest extent, with a playing area just short of 11 feet in length.

This was a six player game, including me. I’ve been pondering how to deal with the Blenheim end of the French line, and decided that if I played it then I could be appropriately inert, and suck in resources without asking a player to have a miserable time. As this game was prepared for one of my quarterly gatherings, not all the local players could be present, so I settled on Tim, Phil and Chris K from our regulars, with West Country Richard and Chris A making up the numbers.

As you can see, it was quite a set up. The most recent WSS games I’ve been running have been sections of this to see if I’d got things like the rules and the troop density right. I also needed a player who would know how to handle the centre of the table, with the main British cavalry attack, and Chris K passed the audition last time out, without knowing he was doing it.

Game pace was possibly going to be an issue, so I positioned the players to take account of that. At the far end of the table were Tim and Phil, who have played in most of the WSS games recently. I hoped they’d be able to run a fair amount of their action between them without too much intervention. I was this end, on the left, with Chris A opposite me. Then to my left, running the French centre was West Country Richard (WCR), opposite Chris K. That put me next to/opposite the two inexperienced players, so I could support them. 
Here’s Blenheim, stacked full of French defenders.

Here’s Marlborough’s massed cavalry, about to be led across the Nebel stream/marsh by the intrepid infantry. On reflection I should have moved this back a square, and started the game with the infantry about to emerge, with some Disorder like I did on the trial run.

Prince Eugene’s forces mass on the Allied right wing.

The village of Oberglau anchors the French/Bavaria centre.

The Anglo-Imperialists start, and Phil is across the stream with his cavalry without pausing for breath, incurring disorder in the process.

Chris & Chris followed on, but more cautiously.

Tim opened up with his artillery, and then ordered a full scale charge. This could be a short game.

Phil immediately starts to break the game. His inability to roll four or more to get a hit when you are +2, looking for sixes, means Tim prevails. In the first combat of the game he breaks the Imperialist front line, which causes their supports to rout as well.
Not quite so bad in the next combat. Phil loses, but manages to hold on, only suffering a push back

Chris A opens up on Blenheim with some of his infantry, to try and soften me up.

More cavalry fun and games at the Tim/Phil end of the table. Phil tries to launch a counter attack, but Tim catches him with two of his reserve cavalry units.

The Bavarian and Imperial infantry get stuck into each other.

Chris K moves up out of the river bed. I think Richard has missed a trick here. I’d have charged them in the marsh.

The infantry supporting Oberglau are charged to keep them occupied.

The attack is driven off, so Chris K rallies his cavalry back out of the way.

Phil is clinging on at the far end, but then that’s all he has to do. Eugene’s job is to hold the Elector’s forces in place whilst the battle is won in the centre.

The cavalry melee in the centre commences.

The results are a bit mixed. However, Chris K’s infantry supports enable him to rally back and reform.

He is steadily gaining the upper hand, however.

Richard and Tim contemplate the situation. I’ve been shot at in Blenheim, so I’ve called for reinforcements. Two battalions have been released to me.

Then one of Richard’s brigadiers got killed. Chris by this point is reforming his cavalry, safe behind his infantry, prior to launching another attack.

Chris A continues to put pressure on me in Blenheim. His musketry breaks my two brand new painted units of dismounted dragoons.

Chris K sends a mass charge into the right centre of the French line. Another brigadier dies.

He now surveys the centre of the table. He’s mostly going forwards, and Richard is mostly going backwards.

Phil is turning the tide a bit too. 

The British infantry are pressing forwards in the centre, supporting their cavalry. Richard’s loss of two of his brigadiers is posing a problem for him, as he can’t use command pips to accelerate removal of Disorder, or influence melees.

Phil has driven his cavalry into the heart of Tim’s position, and his infantry are holding their own in the distance. The garrison of Oberglau is being held in place by some of the Imperialist infantry, preventing them intervening.

You can see from where the smoke is that most of the game is being played in the French half of the table, as they are steadily driven back.

Chris K was continuing to make progress in the centre, but Tim & Phil’s wings had stalled. Blenheim was going as it should, with Chris A not breaking in, and me not breaking out. We ended the game at this point. We got in about 5 hours game time, allowing for lunch and so on. Not bad, given the inexperience of some players, and the sheer volume of kit on the table. My hopes that players would be able to run most of the game didn’t come to fruition, and on reflection that was no surprise. If I was to revisit with the same group, given some tweaks to the starting set up, 4-5 hours should be enough to get a proper result.
This is a much bigger game than the rules are intended to handle, so I shouldn’t be surprised at some of the outcomes. However, I saw no reason why it shouldn’t work on games of this size, and this game has shown that to be the case. Maybe we’ll see Ramillies in 6 month’s time. 
So we shoved all the toys up to the far end of the table, and tried something else.
This was „Nimitz“ by Sam Mustafa, playing the Aleutian scenario, with the US trying to intercept a Japanese supply convoy with a heavy escort.

We lost a destroyer to Japanese fire early on, but we had inflicted some damage when it came time to pack up and go down the pub.

We didn’t do the campaign system, but the tactical game works as well as any rules I’ve played for the period. You still need the detailed record charts, so it is a rivet-counter’s dream in that respect (although, I note that reviewers elsewhere think that he’s streamlined the stats, so what do I know).
I would also note that at £40 the rulebook isn’t cheap, even allowing for it being in colour. Afterall, it is paperback. I would also remark that it looks great AND it is self published via Amazon. The layout looks professional, so I don’t know if he paid someone to do it. However I do know what it costs to produce a 120 page paperback on Amazon. If this sells well, then Sam will be trousering a decent wedge.

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Autor: Trebian / Wargaming for Grown-ups

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