Saturday, 17 May 2014

Malplaquet 1709

I was actually in two minds about whether to blog this wargame that we played on Thursday at the Uni using Maurice rules...

Its not that it wasn't a great scenario, diligently researched and prepared by Caesar, and, incidentally, available to download on Sam Mustafa's 'Honour' Forum:

My Pendraken SYW Prussians - slightly out of place at Malplaquet in 1709 but close enough for government work!
Its not even that I only provided one measly unit out of the dozens that were used - that's never stopped me from blogging away with adopted pride in some other bugger's work!

Caesar's lovely WSS French Regiments - take my word for it, they are amazingly well painted!
Its just that I'm not sure that 10mm games, no matter how entertaining and enthralling to participate in, are that much of a spectator sport - whilst I have discovered they can still give that 'big battle' epic feel when playing, compared to 28mm figs I don't think they have the same visual impact...

So what changed my mind and set me to put fingers to keyboard? Well my mate Kaptain Kobold, aka Alan, normally the most fair and accurate of despatch writers, has cast such a gloomy aspect of our joint endeavours - I was Marshal Villars, he was Marshal Boufflers - on his blog: Kaptain Kobold's Malplaquet-1709  that I felt compelled to share my interpretation of our impending glorious victory - for we didn't have time to complete the game...

I do this not out of vainglory, I hope, as our gallant opponents were even less experienced than we were with Maurice rules: this was Ulli and Naz's first game, and I think Marco second. John, actually playing as Corporal John, is much more experienced. However that would be Alan's problem over on the right flank...

But, nonetheless, its not often, well not for me, anyhow, that you succeed in leading your cavalry brigade on a raid right around the enemy's flank and end the game with them poised to launch charges in the enemy infantry's rear!

The actual battle was something of a pyric victory as the French managed for once to fight the Allies to a standstill, despite the now renowned British volleying. The French started off in a very strong position, as did we in the game, able to cover much of the defiles around the isolated Wood of  Thiery with earthworks and gabions for our guns. Additionally, whilst Alan still had to face Corporal John's lethal volleys, my opponents, as well as being new to the game, lacked the killer attribute of 'Lethal Volleys', which embolded me to be a little more aggressive with my cavalry than normal...

The allies made full use of their initial deployment zones well out on my left flank, and advanced aggressively to seek to outflank me. In fact so aggressively were they that they charged the front of my guns with infantry, a tactic, which, though expensive, did eventually succeed in doing away with both guns. However, as Marco kindly pointed out, after my less than stellar performance in the ACW battle of Olustee, losing 2 limbered batteries, at least this time they had fired a few times first!

An Austrian infantry regiment with French cavalry to its flank, front and rear!
Alan had kindly placed a swamp in the front of the Allied advance using the 'unscouted terrain' event, and I profited from the opportunity to advance my cavalry around the rear of the Austrian advance, losing then winning two cavalry engagements, and lining up an enemy infantry Regiment for the
unpleasant experience of receiving a cavalry charge in the rear! This episode delayed the deployment of the Austrian Infantry sufficiently that my fresh infantry reserve was able to march across to the flank ready to engage the discomfited and disordered enemy infantry. And for once during this terrible war, the French Infantry would have the edge with the 'a la baionette' national advantage - Revenge beckoned! 

However, at this point I had to leave the game and handed over to Caesar, and I understand that play did not continue for much longer, but that Corporal John had started to make inroads into Alan's defences over on the left flank. However both Austrians and British were a long way from securing the objective of Malplaquet, stoutly garrisoned by the French Guard.

An enjoyable game which, thanks to Caesar's hard work, gave a historical feel and a good representation of this epic battle. Definitely one I would like to revisit once we are all much more experienced with the rules.

It was good to introduce a couple of new players to the game, and, I think, in Naz's case to wargaming. And a good way to celebrate the birthday of both Caesar and Alan!


  1. Lovely pics Ralph, and somehow you do make the wee 10mm fellas look spectacular with your photographic flair. Great battle well fought by all. Nice to see new players taking part too!

  2. I am impressed by your lovely pictures, great looking armies!

  3. Great write up and pics, those guys are so tiny though! :-)

  4. Yes I heard you were delving into Maurice sparker. Good looking game….looks like some thought was put into it, very nice.

  5. Ralph

    Just a note to say how much I enjoy reading your blog and that I have nominated you for a Liebster Award. Keep up the good work.