Heretical Gaming is my blog about my gaming life, featuring small skirmishes and big battles from many historical periods (and some in the mythic past or the far future too). The focus is on battle reports using a wide variety of rules, with the occasional rules review, book review and odd musing about the gaming and history. Most of the battles use 6mm-sized figures and vehicles, but occasionally 15mm and 28mm figures appear too.

Friday, 8 February 2019

Twilight of Divine Right First Look - The Battle of Fleurus

The Battle of Fleurus (1622), which took place between a Spanish army and Protestant forces in Dutch pay, is one of the two sample scenarios in the new set of rules - Twilight of Divine Right -  by Nick Dorrell for the period 1618-1660 in Europe, covering the Thirty Years' War and the English Civil War.

The scenario is helpfully quite small, featuring the following forces:

The Spanish Army:
C-in-C: Cordoba
1 small regiment of Musketeers
1 Elite tercio
1 Tercio
2 Small tercios
2 regiments of Cuirassiers
2 small regiments of Harquebusiers
1 Field gun

The Protestant Army:
C-in-C: Mansfeld
1 large regiment of Foot
4 regiments of Foot
7 regiments of Cavalry (Dutch tactics)
2 regiments of Cuirassiers
1 small regiment of Cuirassiers
1 Field gun

The aim of the battle is simply for the Protestant army to defeat the Spanish.  Not easy, since the Protestant army is mutinous...(there are some special scenario rules for this).

I don't have any specific TYW armies, so I proxied my WotTK's forces: the "Spanish" are Royalists, the "Protestants" are Parliamentarians.

The Set-Up:

Mansfeld's army is on the left, Cordoba's on the hill to the right; a small garrison of musketeers occupies the chateau (top)

Mansfeld's troops moving up the U-shaped valley (spurs on both left and right)

and another shot from behind Mansfeld's lines.

A closer view of the Spaniards.

And another shot.

The chateau

Looking from the Spanish position down the valley

and again

Another overall look at the set-up

 The Battle:

The Protestant left wing (right) advance up the spur towards the Spanish Horse and the musketeers occupying the chateau

Another view

The Spanish left wing observe the advancing Protestant Horse...

First clash! Cuirassiers upon Cuirassiers around the chateau...

The attack of the Protestant Horse on the Spanish Right is disrupted by remarkably accurate fire from the Spanish Harquebusiers, assisted by the Spanish artillery fire

Another view of the same

The fight continues on the Protestant left, slightly favouring the Protestant Horse

Cordoba advances his Tercios slighly and delivers an effective fire against the advancing Protestant Foot (centre-left)...

The Spanish Horse on the left wing (Harqubusiers to the left, Cuirassiers to the right) is proving devastatingly effective against their Protestant opponents (left); but the Protestant Horse has managed to overrun the Spanish artillery (centre)

The infantry fight continues in the centre...the bodies are piling up around the Protestant standards...

The cavalry fight near the chateau is nearing its end as all of the units involved have taken heavy casualties, including the Protestant Horse (top) which is receiving quite accurate musketry fire from the chateau

Cordoba drives his men forward to push of pike, hoping the impetus from the high ground will prove decisive...

The Horse continues their fight, but one of the Protestant regiments has evaporated under the weight of fire from the chateau

Mansfeld's Foot under severe pressure... one regiment has routed (bottom) and another is under severe pressure (centre - note the casualty markers)

The Spanish Horse on their left (bottom-right) has cleared away all opposition from its front...

The fight of the Foot gets bloodier and bloodier...

One of the Spanish tercios (bottom-right) breaks under fire and disappears to the rear

The Spanish Horse slowly moves around the Protestant flank (bottom-left)...

More Protestant infantry routs (centre), but more importantly, the remainder of the Protestant Horse has abandoned the Foot (top) and the morale of Mansfeld's army collapses!

The position at the end of the battle.  One fears that few of Mansfeld's foot soldiers will be able to make it away...
 Game Notes: Obviously no first game ever goes totally smoothly, but I did find these rules pretty intuitive.  There is no 'combat' mechanic as such: this is assumed to be automatic and the game only adjudicates the effect on morale (and in some circumstances, movement).  This actually resembles the mechanic I recently encountered in the Napoleonic Portable Wargame.  I think I first saw it Wargames Foundry's Age of Reason rules, where units had to test "Resolution" in much the same way.  It is all reasonably self-explanatory.  There are a fair number of possible modifiers but only a few will apply to any given combat, so this can be internalized very quickly.  There is a mercifully simple pursuit mechanic as an outcome, plus wing and army morale tests which are quite similar to those found in the Polemos series of rules.

Command and control problems are centred around action test for carrying out manoeuvres.  Some manoeuvres are easy and automatic, but others require a bit more skill and determination and have to be tested for.  Some units, and unit types, find this easier than others.  Better generals can do more of these kind of things.
The rules really encourage depth of deployment and support.  This is not only reflected in morale/combat modifiers, but also in the tests: one can do relief in place manoeuvres, and cavalry does much of this automatically, as damaged units automatically regroup behind supports.  I really liked this.  It makes a big change from the Polemos rules I am more used to, where doing this kind of thing is incredibly tricky and a big focus of the game is in managing how to use second and third lines of cavalry effectively.  This game seems to make that a lot easier.
There is quite a lot of detail in the set-up of this game.  There are a number of different infantry types (e.g. early tercios, tercios, Swedish brigades, regiments, with regimental guns or not, etc.) and cavalry types (cuirassiers,  Dutch-trained, Swedish-trained, Harquebusiers, Light Horse etc.).  This allows the rules to model the differences without much fuss.  There is a different scale for fighting the really big battles.
One thing to bear in mind looking at the pictures and reading the report is that I am effectively playing a 'scaled-down' version (although one which is supported in the rules).  The rules suggest two bases per unit, and the authors use 60mm x 30mm bases, effectively making a deployed unit 120mm x 30mm.  I was using a single 60mm x 30mm base as the unit, which allowed me to play this scenario on a half-sized board: 2'x2' rather than 4'x4'.  This fulfilled my objectives perfectly: I was looking for a ruleset which would allow me to play the bigger battles of the TYW on a relatively small board.  My circumstances will change later on in the year and space will again be at more of a premium, so this will be perfect.  I am really looking forward to getting a few more games in with this in due course.

Figures, tents and animals by Baccus 6mm, building by Leven.


  1. Very good, I am getting the impression that the rules are naturally giving the 'right feel' so that the narrative is natural, rather than the story teller having to be creative with the account. That, together with being able to scale down to the smaller table bodes well for the utility of these rules.

    1. Thanks Norm. Yes, I am very positive so far about that elusive 'feel', the playability and the practicality. Early days yet, of course.

  2. Looks very nice, lovely units!