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.

Thursday 30 November 2023

RPG Book Review

I know there are a couple of people who follow this blog who are into role-playing games so just to say, I have put up a review of a new book about Gamesmastering - called So You Want To Be A Gamesmaster on my other blog. It is very good indeed! So have a quick read if RPGs are your thing.  In fact if game design more generally interests you, it is probably worth a look.

And if not, at least this post was short!

Sunday 5 November 2023

Battle of Wimpfen: a Twilight of Divine Right refight

The Battle of Wimpfen took place in 1622, during one of the early campaigns of The Thirty Years' War. There is a scenario for it in the Pike & Shot Society's scenario book, To The Peace of the Pyrenees and following on from my recent re-fight of White Mountain, it seemed a very doable battle.

Naturally, I gave the associated ruleset, Twilight of Divine Right, another run out. 

It was a pretty positive experience last time, so I was hoping for the same but a little better, as I got more familiar (once again) with the rules.

The Set-Up:

The battlefield. The Imperial-Spanish-Catholic forces approach from the bottom, the Markgraf of Baden's Protestant forces defend a line of wagons, with their flanks hinged on Ober-Eisesheim (top-left) and some woods.

Ober-Eisesheim, with some marshes on the left.  Some Cuirassiers look to attack anything moving in the gap between the village and the wagons.

The wagon line, with Baden's infantry defending it. There are some musketeers in the gaps - don't think of these as real commanded shot, they are more just a visual marker that the wagon line will always contain musketeers until the Imperials get over it.

and Baden's left, with musketeers in the woods.

Looking at the Imperialist Army - this is Tilly's wing.

and another view - the Imperialists still favour large tercios at this early stage in the war.

and Cordoba's wing, with the Spanish reinforcements. Cordoba has overall command of the army.

The Battle:

The real action begins with Tilly's left-hand Tercio attacking Ober-Eisesheim, supported by his Cuirassiers.

Tilly's troops make short work of the defending infantry!

The rival Cuirassiers then join in the action between the village and the wagon line. Tilly's tercio has gone through the village (top-left) - some of Streiff's cuirassiers (top) are re-deploying to meet them. Note that the next Imperial tercio column is following up to the right of the cuirassiers

A lot of fighting occurs, but it hangs in the balance for some time...until a couple of Baden's Cuirassier regiments rout and his Right is looking distinctly flaky...especially as Tilly, leading in person, gets his tercio across the wagon line (centre)

Almost nothing of note has happened on the Imperialist Right, until now, as Cordoba leads his Cuirassiers forward

The collapse happens quickly: Streiff's remaining Cuirassiers flee, and this inspires the remainder of Baden's troops to join them...

Game Notes:

Two games in a week? What madness is this?! Well, it was great to get another game in and continue my refresh on the Twilight of Divine Right rules. This particular battle was totally unknown to me - or if I had ever read about it, in Wedgewood or similar, I had forgotten. It ended up being a relatively easy Imperial victory, aided by having some re-rolls from better leadership and a couple of bits of outrageous bad-fortune for the Protestant die rolls! Still, c'est la guerre...the tactical choices in this are relatively straightforward, but still meaningfull, but much of the game is about army/wing management rather than clever tactics...and as I get more used to the rules again, that bit gets more fun and I can concentrate on the simple mechanics of action tests and morale rolls, which do get very fast once you are used to them.

What I am struggling a little to get my head around in this game is its 'philosophy of firepower', for want of a better phrase. Some units are capable of 'defensive fire', although I am unsure as to how the mechanics of that work and its conditions. Most units appear not to be able to do this. Now, a unit's move is typically longer than the range of musket fire, so it is trivially easy to not expose oneself to counter-sire whilst attacking, especially if the defenders are in a prepared position (in the open, the defender might close the range to fire, but they are not going to do this if they are defending earthworks or a village or whatever). This was important in the game, as Tilly's tercios could move straight into melee combat and avoid the potentially quite dangerous Protestant musketry. And frankly, this seems a bit unintuitive? Anyhow, only artillery has direct fire range to matter, and that is relatively easy to avoid if you want to.  I note that Polemos: ECW takes a similar approach and has similar issues.  

AsI get older, I see more the logic of the approach taken by Neil Thomas' abstracted approach, with ignores 'real' ranges entirely and concentrates on relative ranges: set the movement rates and ranges to ensure the number of 'fires' a defending (or attacking) unit should be able (in the game, we aren't counting individual volleys here) to fire in a given combat sequence. But perhaps all the above is wrong and I am simply missing something: entirely possible!

Anyway, a neat scenario and a good game, really enjoyed it. Figures by Baccus 6mm ,buildings by Leven. I think my marshes look a bit too much like ponds, I need to sort them out a bit. I am still working on my ideas to replace the blue 'Small Unit' counters, hopefully I will get them done over the next few weeks.