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.

Wednesday, 12 January 2022

Neil Thomas Horse & Musket Scenario 6

The next scenario in Neil Thomas' One Hour Wargames book is a much, much, much simplified version of Salamanca, where one Army believes it has found a weak flank, marches towards it, then in turn finds itself counter-attacked whilst strung out on the march, although overall numbers are approximately the same on both side.  As in previous games, the rules used were Neil Thomas' Simplicity in Practice rules, with the modifications I have mentioned on my blog elsewhere.  The forces generated for this scenario were as follows:

The Hanoverian Army:
5 Infantry units
1 Artillery unit
3 Dragoon units

The Franco-Jacobite Army:
6 Infantry units
2 Horse units
1 Dragoon unit

3 British units are positioned in front of the Franco-Jacobite army, which is in a long column, while the remaining 6 British units threaten the Franco-Jacobite flank.  The objective of the Franco-Jacobites is to break through the smaller British force or defeat the British army, the British objective is simply to break the Franco-Jacobite army.

The Set-Up:

The Franco-Jacobites are advancing in a column (centre) towards a small and apparently isolated blocking force (top), whilst the remainder of the Hanoverian army is positioned behind a hill, ready to strike as the Franco-Jacobites unwittingly march across their front...

The Hanoverian flanking force

And the blocking detachment

The view from behind the blocking detachment towards the Franco-Jacobite column

A closer view of the Franco-Jacobites: that looks like Berwick's regiment in the van, followed by the Royal Ecossais and then Clare's regiment

The Battle:

The Franco-Jacobite Army tries to shake itself out into some kind of order: the basic strategy here being to aggressively hold back the flank attack, whilst still maintaining enough momentum to overcome the blocking force

The action develops very quickly: musketry exchanges along the hill, whilst the French Horse tries to use its tactical superiority to overcome the numerical superiority of the British Dragoons (right), whilst simultaneously delivering an attack on the blocking force (top)

Defending the reverse slope, some of the French musketry tells against the advancing British

Regiment Clare charges the British guns, whilst the remainder of the Franco-Jacobite infantry engage the supporting British infantry in a deadly musketry duel

The French Horse manages to force the weaker British Dragoons into combat, but the remaining British move into a dangerous flanking position

The well-handled British guns force back Regiment Clare through sheer weight of close-range fire

Very predictably the British Dragoons (right) are forced to retire from the French Horse

However, the French Horse is then charged in the flank by the other British Dragoons, whilst British infantry have been re-deployed from the hill to threaten their other flank

The French Horse is defeated and the survivors surrender.

Meanwhile, the fusillade on the slopes of the hill continues: losses have been roughly even, although the British general is earning his keep by the encouragement he is giving to his men to stay in the fight - then he orders a quick bayonet charge by the central battalion (centre)

This throws back the opposing French battalion, with heavy losses

A French counter-attack tries to restore the situation by taking the top half of the hill...

...and succeeds!  The British infantry is thrown back with heavy losses, with the British general only just escaping injury and/or capture

Meanwhile, the furious musketry exchange between the leading Franco-Jacobite units and the blocking British units continues...

Until the Royal Ecossais breaks under the weight of fire! And the general becomes a casualty too!

A second bayonet charge from the flanking British force...

Another Franco-Jacobite unit is routed!

The overall position at this stage of the battle: the Franco-Jacobite assault on the blocking force has not swept it away (top), whilst its flank is slowly caving in under British pressure (bottom & right)

After re-organizing, the Franco-Jacobites launch another attack on the blocking force

Whilst in the centre, Dragoon meets Dragoon in mounted combat

The British artillery covers itself in glory by beating off another attack

And the British Dragoons are similarly successful.

The ranking Colonel, having taken over the Franco-Jacobite army, tries to rally his leading battalions for another effort at victory

The British Dragoons press home their advantage on their French counterparts

The Normandie Regiment on the French Right-Rear has been attacked from behind by the victorious British infantyr

The French Dragoons are routed

And Normandie's soldiers flee or are captured - note how many British regiments have retired to the rear to reform (Right)

The position at the end of the battle

Game Notes

Another very enjoyable game.  I thought the Franco-Jacobites deserved better: I thought their plan was good and their troops fought hard, but the British had an almost unbroken run of success in the really critical combats.  But one can see how close it was from the number of near-broken British units at the end of the fighting.  The only really good British move I thought was the re-positioning of the battalion to help 'catch' the French Horse regiment which had charged through the centre; the French 'weight' of cavalry should perhaps have been more decisive than it was but the exchange of a Horse regiment for a British Dragoon regiment was, in the circumstances, not brilliant.  The Franco-Jacobites would have done better in retrospect to send the Dragoons forward to accompany the assault in the blocking force, and keeping the powerful French Horse units together.  The rally rules in my modified version were important in this game, since the British general was able to keep his units in the fight just that little longer, whereas the loss of the Franco-Jacobite commander at a key moment meant that they lost that capability in their assault force at just the crucial moment. Again, the lack of artillery in the Franco-Jacobite force didn't help, although I don't think it was as important as in some of the other games.

Figures as ever by Baccus 6mm.


  1. I've run this scenario a few times in different periods, and I think that the best strategy is for the column to simply try and overwhelm the flanking force and largely ignore the blocking force until it is time to concentrate the entire army on them. I've seen the players try and bludgeon their way through the blocking force while their flanks collapse a number of times. There is plenty of time to smash the flankers in detail.

    1. Martin, I always enjoy your insights into the OHW scenarios. I have just dug my copy out to look at scenario 6 and it is an intriguing one. In this game,I liked the timing and impact of the loss of the commander - these sort of things make a game and it goes to show that you don’t need a huge rule system to deliver that kind of narrative.

    2. It is definitely a worthwhile strategy for this scenario and I will certainly give it a go. My main worry about it would be exposing the left flank of the column. An attack en echelon from the right/rear of the column could be possible but might struggle to achieve the necessary victory...all of which makes it an interesting scenario, I guess.

    3. It is as you say Norm. Neil Thomas' great contribution to the wargaming world, IMHO, has been to show how much of the wargaming experience can be retained even with radically simplified rules. And his works certainly isn't less historically plausible than many other rulesets.

    4. This is one of those scenarios which warrants some replay (as do some of me of the others). One of the things I like about the scenarios are the heart breaking command decisions each side is presented with each turn - perhaps less so for the first couple.

    5. Very true. The scenarios move quickly on from fairly standard fare done neatly to some real tabletop teaser stuff.

  2. These rules are the bee's knees.

  3. That's a good scenario for sure and it certainly gave an interesting game as per you AAR. The post game thoughts as always are an interesting read.

    1. Thanks Steve, I appreciate that. The game notes are one of my ways of trying to connect with the wider community, as part of that enjoyable quest to design and play better games.