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, 21 January 2022

Neil Thomas Horse & Musket Scenario 008

The next game in this series of Neil Thomas' scenarios from his One-Hour Wargames book is entitled 'Melee' for no very apparent reason, but is in fact a conversion of an old Stuart Asquith scenario for Lundy's Lane from the War of 1812.  Essentially, a small force has seized an important bit of terrain (here, a large hill) and the enemy force has concentrated some superior forces to try and seize it before the smaller force can be reinforced.


As ever, the forces are randomly generated from a 'representative force' list in One-Hour Wargames, then increased by 50% to allow a slightly bigger and more complex game (!) in Simplicity in Practice, which were once again the rules I used for the game, with some modifications here.

The Forces:

The Hanoverian Army:
6 units of Infantry
2 units of Dragoons
1 unit of Artillery
The Hanoverian army has 1 unit of Infantry, I unit of Dragoons and the artillery deployed initially; later 3 units of infantry will arrive, followed by the 2 units of infantry and the remaining Dragoons.

The Franco-Jacobite Army:
5 units of Infantry
3 units of Horse
1 unit of Dragoons

The Franco-Jacobite Army arrives in two contingents: the first consists of 2 units of Horse, 1 unit of Dragoons and 2 units of Infantry; the second compromises the remainder.

The Battle:

(We are straight into the action this time, some of the set-up shots weren't good enough).
The Hanoverian detachment on the hill.

The first Franco-Jacobite body arrives and attempts to deploy; the Horse is moving forward to outflank the hill; the Dragoons (on foot) and the Infantry move to the left towards the woods

Another shot

The British Dragoons have entered the wood (on foot); the infantry battalion has faced towards the road in fear of a mounted flank attack

The Franco-Jacobite Horse advance up the road

Whilst the Dragoons and Infantry prepare to assault the wood

More British Infantry battalions arrive

The French Horse retires slightly; it had been a mere demonstration to give the Franco-Jacobite Foot a little more time to prepare and execute its assault

The remainder of the Franco-Jacobite army has arrived: the Foot are deploying off the road (the other Horse regiment has already moved off to the left)

Meanwhile, the first Franco-Jacobite infantry assault goes in (left)

A wider shot

The Dragoons in the wood have repelled Berwick's Regiment (centre-right); whilst the French Dragoons have suffered some losses (centre)

And they suffer more, as the musketry battle continues with unabated ferocity

The Franco-Jacobite general is trying a bold plan: to redeploy his Horse to the Left (right), whilst his reserve of Foot takes over on the Right (top)

Another infantry assault goes in from Clare's Regiment against the British Dragoons in the wood

And again, the Irish infantry are thrown back with loss!  The Dragoons have beaten off two bayonet attacks and won the musketry duel so far, despite the 3:1 odds against them.

The French Horse regiment on the left is suffering heavy losses from the British artillery

Whilst the British Dragoons have suffered even heavier losses in defending the wood

The advancing British Foot regiments have caused heavy casualties amongst the Franco-Jacobite Foot on the right

A wider shot: the huge losses of the Franco-Jacobites so far can be easily seen, although all their units are still in the fight

The Franco-Jacobites are trying to redeploy one of their battered infantry unit (bottom-left) to throw a fresh unit in.

A wider view

Seeing their moment, the British infantry charges; Clare's Regiment (centre) collapses

Leaving a whole in the Franco-Jacobite right flank

The Royal Italien Regiment (right) fares no better

The wider position: the collapse of the Franco-Jacobite right flank will probably decide the battle, unless the Franco-Jacobites can make some progress in the centre and left

Another angle

The situation for the Franco-Jacobites goes from bad to worse, as the Dragoons rout when exposed to fire on their exposed right flank

The Franco-Jacobite attack on the left is already suffering from further British artillery fire

A wider shot

Needing some success now if the fortunes of the day are to be reversed, the Franco-Jacobites launch a cavalry charge, against the odds

And sometimes that works!  The French Horse (bottom) defeat the second regiment of British Dragoons who retire to rally beyond the hill (top)

However, the other  Horse was seen off by the British artillery (bottom-left) and the Royal Ecossais are losing the musketry battle with the British Foot battalion (Seymour's Marines)

Not quite at the point of collapse, the Franco-Jacobites refuse their centre (centre) to try and hold off the triumphant British infantry (right) whilst preparing another assault on the wood! (left)

However, the Marines charge the Scots with the bayonet...

Who are routed in short order!

The French Horse charge the disordered British Dragoons by the hill

And the reformed and rallied Berwick's Regiment try another assault on the wood!

The French Horse are entirely successful, routing the British Dragoons!

A wider shot

But the British Dragoons will not be dislodged from the wood, and Berwick's Regiment surrenders or flees (including the French general)!

At this point, the Franco-Jacobite Army's morale collapsed.

Game Notes:

The seeds for the Franco-Jacobite disaster were sown early on because I didn't get my battlefield management right.  I think the scheme for using the Horse to delay the British reinforcements was not a bad one, but it implied keeping open lanes for that Horse to retreat and redeploy.   Instead, because the initial deployment was messy, then valuable time was wasted in manoeuvering thus negating the aim of the exercise in the first place.  The simple but brutal 'no interpenetration' rules give this kind of thing an importance unusual in many games since typically there will be pushing back and re-arranging and so on: not here, especially if one is pedantic about no 'nudging' (i.e. minor moves to accommodate small changes in angle).  These 6cm wide one-base units might strike some readers as the epitome of the 'nippy little battalion' syndrome.  I can absolutely assure those readers that that is not the case in these rules!!! The only thing I have known a bit like it is using Horse in Polemos: ECW which really emphasizes keeping the correct distances and breaks in ones brigades of Horse.  I am not entirely sure if the writers knew that that is what they were doing but that is what they did...same thing here.  It becomes much less important if playing with fewer units (because the problem won't arise) or in a straight-up battle like some of the earlier scenarios in this series, but in this kind of scenario it is quite a challenge, and done without any micro-management rules.  I was impressed, despite myself. 
Apart from that, the main point of interest was the heroic defence of the woods by the Dragoons, acting as light infantry as per my amendments.  Mechanics-wise, this boiled down to winning three separate 50:50 assaults.  The Franco-Jacobites would have struggled to get better odds than this  for this type of attack, they were just unlucky that they lost all three.  Better luck next time!

Figures as ever by Baccus 6mm.


  1. Another great game there from what at first seems a relatively simple scenario. I did play this last year using the Honour of War rules IIRC and frankly can't remember what happened!

    I find that some form of interpenetration is a requirement for this, and other, periods as it did happen in practice. There is a penalty in HoW for units falling back through which works well IMHO but still allows for some freedom of manoeuvre, but not too much so.

    1. Yes, it was a great game.

      As you say troops could interpenetrate in this period, although passage of lines wasn't a particularly easy manoeuvre, but I consider it a good gaming simplification; ruling it out makes you think harder about positioning, support and reserves and so on, rather than do the thing which could be done, rarely, in certain conditions. His use of pivoting rather than wheeling (which is the more historically accurate) performs a similar function.

    2. HoW seems to work quite similarly to Polemos in that matter, which is definitely more accurate, but also less representative in a low base count game.

  2. Another great game! Really like the casualty bases for marking hits.
    Are you playing on a 2x2 foot table?

    1. Thank you! Yes, 2' x 2'. Seems to work for the base sizes involved. For 'Tabletop Teaser' type scenarios, I would normally use 3' x 2'.

  3. Another great game! Really like the casualty bases for marking hits.
    Are you playing on a 2x2 foot table?

  4. In this Neil Thomas derivative, can a unit both fire and move in the same turn?

    1. Only light infantry, so for this game with my mods, that means dismounted dragoons can.