Monday, 21 September 2015

Maurice in 15mm

I have always had a great fondness for 18th cetnury wargaming. There's just something about the period. Could be the tricorns, masses of colourful uniforms, more states and nations involved, a panache not offered by the modernised nation armies of the Napoleonic, ... or just those lovely neat linear formations blasting away at each other in such a gentlemenly way. I have dragged all of my gaming partners into this peeiod with an increasing level of success. Might and Reason was well liked by didnt't create the enthusiasm that Muskets and Tomahawks did and that Maurice just sparked. After two games, there are two more gamers who have dug out, rebased and/or purchased new armies to play. A great development for me as an avowed lover of the period ... esp the Seven Years War. 

These images show the second game i recently initiated, the one that started the frenzy of modelling. It features my two armies, the classic combatants of the period - Austria and Prussia. It utilises only part of my collection. On this occasion, the battle of Beersteinia 1761, the Prussians were tasked with driving an Austrian force from the crossroads. The top two pictures show the initial dispositions. Half the Austrians were deployed in formation while the Prussians awaited the order to assault in marching columns. Their commander had thrown away any pretense of subtle action or guile and threw all infantry forward in frontal assault. Just by having units on the objective in Maurice is enough to garner a victory and this was his plan.

Not all went to plan for the Prussians and the frontal assault became a retreat as the Austrian infantry doggedly held then went on the attack with flanking moves from their cavalry. This blog has also not gone exactly to plan as i just realised the above photo was from a different battle. However, i will keep it in place as it does show the exact same tactic, frontal assault, being slightly more effective, by the Prussian infantry on that occasion - due to unprecedented rallying rolls. 

It is the final two images i really like as it shows the Austrian cavalry wheeling onto the Prussian flank. I do love the sight of the blue wall crushing all before it but i do equally enjoy when the valiant Austrians are able to hold out. Four regiments of cavalry in formation bearing down on their barely protected flank (one lone Prussian Dreisen cuirassier unit held out) was enough for capitulation. 

Okay,what about these Maurice rules then? Mr Mustafa has produced a wonderful set of rules that are simple where it is needed (movement, terrain, firing and combat) and thoughtful where it should be - command. The game continually forces the player to make command decisions that require a careful balance of tactical and overall strategic goals. Players must choose whether to ram their attack home with pace (gambling the enemy cannot stand up to this approach) or marshall their forces in a much more integrated manner that may let the initial offensive edge slip away. Cards have been used extremely well to introduce command difficulties, randomn events, battlefield occurances and positive bonuses. Players must carefully husband their hand of cards as spending each bonus card on sight may produce a short term positive situation that will ultimately result in a stalled attack which can then be very open to a counter thrust. In fact the faces of the players of Maurice communicate the agony of commnd as they are forced to choose between using cards which instil an effective bonus or on activating units. Early players often "go for broke" with their cards resulting in games where only segments of armies are used. As experience grows more of each army is utilised as people realise cards come and go but good movement and positioning is the key to any battle success. As it bloody should be!

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