Many readers will be familiar with Neil Thomas' book, One-Hour Wargames; Practical Tabletop Battles for Those With Limited Time and Space. Mr Thomas has addressed the issue of time and space, and come up with a solution based on a 3 foot by 3 foot playing area and fast play rules for 18 historical periods. His book also provides 30 different scenarios, applicable to all periods. All-in-all a useful book addressing a clear need. So, on this year's St. George's Day (23rd April), Dr. Alf R. Ont and his long-term adversary, Master Ont, sought to play test the rules and, as they say, see how they stacked up.
We chose scenario 'Pitched Battle 2', and our force-creation dice roles gave us matching forces of 4 line infantry regiments, 1 cavalry regiment, and 1 battery of guns each. Our chosen period was Horse and Musket, for which period elements of my sort-of-Seven Years War stood duty.
Above, three of Army Red's line regiments poised for battle, along with:
the horse, and in the far distance, on the hilltop, another of foot and the guns. While, below,
the bearded Master Ont sets out his Army Blue. The whole affair looking like this:
The game was for 15 turns, the victory conditions were to be in control of both the hill and the crossroads at the end of the game.
Below, first blood to Army Blue's horse, as they manage a flank attack on the left of Red's line, which was in the process of attempting to enfilade a Blue regiment of foot:
Brigadier A.R.Ont had hoped that the presence of his own horse would have prevented such an event (and the large number of hits sustained - each unit can take only 15 hits before it is removed from the field). Fortunately, Brig. Ont was able to fortify himself:
Then unleashed his own horse on those of Blue, catching them as they withdrew from contact with Brig. Ont's foot.
Two rounds of horse melee and Blue's horse left the field. This allowed Red's three regiments of foot, plus Red's hilltop guns and fourth regiment, to pound the three regiments that Blue had pushed towards the hill. The overpowering weight of fire quickly saw first one, then another Blue regiment removed. Below:
the situation shortly before the surviving Blue regiment was defeated. Which, in turn, left Blue's crossroads forces - guns, and a regiment of foot - outnumbered. However, they managed to see off Red's horse. So, by the end of turn 7:
The crossroads were held by the brave fellows above. At this point we called the game a draw, as further fighting would undoubtedly have left only one, perhaps two, regiments in the field, which just seemed too unlikely.
Verdict? Well, it was quick - the game last 35minutes from set-up to draw. Had we taken it to the bitter end, it might have lasted another 5-10 minutes. It was bloody (in a tin and enamel sort of way), as concentrating fire on single units quickly led to 15 hits being sustained. With 12 units (each with a 5 inch frontage) on the 3 foot by 3 foot table, there was little room to manoeuvre, but, then, it was the 'Pitched Battle' scenario. Overall, worth trying again a good few times, using different periods, and getting a much better feel for the approach. And, a pleasant way to spend a St. George's Day evening at home.
Postscript on the PR Spitfire. In my last post, I was prevaricating about how much wear and tear I should add to the excellent Airfix PR Spitfire in Swedish service. It was suggested that I should go for the light touch, which I did:
A sound bit of advice!