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.

Monday, 27 December 2021

A Third Simple Neil Thomas' Horse & Musket Scenario

So, the third scenario from Neil Thomas' One Hour Wargames book, played through with a slightly modified version of his Horse-and-Musket rules, Simplicity in Practice.

The force generator in One Hour Wargames, used with a 1.5 multiplication factor to bring the forces to 9 units rather than 6, resulted in the following armies:

The Franco-Jacobite Armies:
6 units of Infantry
2 units of Horse
1 unit of Dragoons

The Hanoverian Armies:
5 units of Infantry
2 units of Artillery
2 units of Horse

The scenario requires that each force seize a bridgehead over the river by capturing both bridges and getting units to the other side.

The Set-Up:
The Franco-Jacobite forces will approach from the bottom, the Hanoverians from the top.  This is a meeting engagement, so both forces move onto the board during turn one.

The Battle:

The Hanoverians (left) have sent out their Horse regiments to quickly seize one of the bridges (centre-bottom), with a brigade and artillery battery tasked to attack each bridge; the Franco-Jacobites have done the same but in reverse, sending their mounted units to take the top-centre bridge.

A closer shot of the British Horse moving up to the bridge.

The Franco-Jacobite Horse and Dragoons have taken some casualties on the approach from the Hanoverian artillery (off-picture to the right)

A wider shot of the same.

The artillery is able to concentrate on the Franco-Jacobite horse.

The Hanoverian Horse across the bridge is met by a combination of Franco-Jacobite Horse and Foot.

The British Horse charges the French Dragoons (centre); note that the other British Horse has withdrawn having taken some casualties from musketry fire.

The British Horse makes short work of the disordered French Dragoons, who are broken, despite the efforts of the French general.

The dragoons are killed, captured or routed; and the French general, wounded, has surrendered also.

The Scottish Jacobite infantry try to restore the situation with their musketry fire.

The Franco-Jacobites, in some disarray, try to get their attack going again: with the disparity in artillery, they simply must attack to have any chance of winning.

Another shot: note that the British infantry are occupying the wood (top) and that the Franco-Jacobite infantry brigade has already taken some casualties as it approached the bridge.

However, some clever manouevring has enabled the Franco-Jacobites on the left to isolate and attack one of the leading British Horse regiments...

Which is defeated and surrenders!  The situation is at least somewhat restored on this flank.

The musketry exchange around the second bridge: the British infantry have advanced forward to attempt to concentrate more fire on the French infantry opposing them, but the French seem to have had the better of the initial exchanges; the British artillery (top-right), which was so effective earlier in the battle, seem to be having trouble hitting anything during this phase of the battle.

The British troops on their left make another attempt to force the passage of the bridge; the Jacobite Royal Scots withdraw (bottom-right) but the remainder of the forces hold firm

The Jacobite Horse (left) has successfully charged the British Horse, which has scampered back over the bridge (top-left) in disorder

Meanwhile, French casualties mount around the other bridge: the Normandie Regiment has, after a heroic resistance, succumbed to severe losses

The French brigade is starting to look a little threadbare

A wider shot; both sides have found the action very hot around the bridges - but the withdrawal of both sides simply hands the advantage to the Hanoverians, whose superior artillery can play freely on the unfortunate Franco-Jacobite forces.

The Franco-Jacobite Left advances again, but runs into a wall of British musketry and artillery fire

A wider shot: casualties mount on both sides, athough some particularly effective musketry from the French on the Right has broken one of the British battalions in the woods (top-right)

Note however that the Franco-Jacobite infantry casualties are now mounting unsustainably quickly all across the front.

The Royal Scots are in a parlous state and cannot take much more (right)...

The Franco-Jacobite Right is little better off...

At this point, the surviving Franco-Jacobite commanders decided that their soldiers had done what honour demanded, but withdrawal was now vital if their army was not to be eliminated pointlessly by the Hanoverian artillery.

Game Notes:

Another exciting game: the formula of Simplicity in Practice plus scenarios from One Hour Wargames continues to be a successful one.  No real points on this one, except that experience is proving the truth of Napoleon's maxim that it is with artillery that one makes war: the first three battles have all gone to the force with the greater number of guns.  This is perhaps not surprising in a Neil Thomas attrition-focused game but perhaps indicates that the force generation tables may need some modification.  One thing that might be worth pointing out is that because unit efficiency does not decline with unit losses until the breakpoint is reached, it encourages units to tactically withdraw in many circumstances since neither the unit nor the player 'wants' that breakpoint to be reached.  One can certainly argue that such retreats should be involuntary rather than through player choice (the only enforced retreats are for units defeated in melee that still have strength points remaining) but it is still an effective mechanism, one that other, more complicated games don't replicate as well: such is the strength of Thomas' rule writing techniques.

There was a wider point of interest about the ending of the game.  If I had been playing the Franco-Jacobites in a head-to-head game, I would certainly have conceded the game at the point I did: the chances of success from that position were so low that it wouldn't be fun for either player to continue; in the context of a campaign, I would have done the same without a second thought: the Franco-Jacobite force was faced with a nearly impossible task but had inflicted more-or-less proportional losses on their opponents to that point, so withdrawal would be in almost all circumstances the correct thing to do; but in a one-off solo game should I have ended the game at the point I did, rather than continue to try and win a very improbable but not impossible victory?  I think I made the right choice, but not so sure that I haven't mulled it over a few times.

The materiel of the game is as in previous games: Baccus 6mm WSS figures on a 2'x2' board.


  1. Interesting to read about your games using simplicity in practice rules, and your 6mm tabletop set up looks very effective.

    1. Thanks very much Peter, I appreciate that. More soon, insha'allah.

  2. I become increasingly pleased / impressed with the OHW scenarios, they remind me of Grant's Teasers and are perfect for my space / collection sizes.

    How do you apply the 1.5 x multiplier? do you round down and give preference to infantry?

    1. For the multiplier; artillery doesn't get multiplied (the allocations are generous anyway for the number of units), then the other things get rounded up or down as seems most appropriate for the scenario. So 4 infantry, 2 cavalry would go easily to 6 & 3; 3 infantry, 1 cavalry, 1 dragoons, 1 artillery would go to 4-5 infantry, 1-2 cavalry, 1-2 dragoons, 1 artillery, with me picking which the extra unit(s) should be given the terrain and the mission.

  3. A nice little action once again and good thoughts too on the game at then end. I would have ended that game as you did, rather than fight on for what might have been a Pyrrhic victory. I always tend to think of it in campaign terms, that you might need to protect LoC, preserve your force etc.

    With regards to upping the forces, the simple multiplier is a good idea. I'm also finding that I need to tweak the compositions somewhat dependent upon the period played, to better reflect historical periods. As you say at times the preponderance of artillery can feel wrong when other rules are used.

    1. Thanks Steve. Although the force generator is pretty good in general, it was never going to be able to handle 6 millenia of warfare without the odd tweak!

  4. That two bridges scenario is one of my favourites. As you note, given the force sizes, rolling up two guns can be disproportionately powerful. In some scenarios that isn't the case, but in the majority of situations being to just blast the enemy to bits is a huge advantage. I've tweaked the force generation tables a lot, and for this period I reckon a maximum of one artillery per side is plenty. Maybe give a player who rolls two an option to pick a horse or infantry as a substitute?

    1. You could be right about limiting the artillery to one-per-side for this period, otherwise the additional artillery is just too decisive - especially in these attrition-based rules.

  5. PS your 6mm stuff looks amazing, I thought they were 15s!

    1. Glad you liked it - you are far too kind about it though!!

  6. An excellent battle report, sir. what modifications did you make to SiP? they are some of my favorite of the NT rules!

    1. Many thanks DF. I have collected some of the modifications I have made to SiP and put them up here: as a page on the blog.