Napoleonic, WSS & ECW wargaming, with a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Friday 26 May 2023

WSS: Ça Marche!

"Corporal John" looks like a success!

My new WSS rules seem to work very nicely, about which I am delighted! I enjoyed a test game with the Jolly Broom Man via [International] Zoom yesterday evening, and it went really well.

[artwork in my new rule book is by my good friend PaK, who is a pro, so this stuff is seriously copyrighted, and I must request that you do not copy it!]

I have to acknowledge JBM's generosity and industry in helping to proof-read and sanity-check my efforts on Corporal John over recent weeks - including making up the 2 decks of cards required at his end for the game! - and his preparedness to work with me yesterday in reading carefully through the odd rules point we only half-remembered. The only problems we had, really, were to do with certain aspects of my scenario, and the rather hurried final prep; I had the trusty notebook and pencil laid out to record things which arose in our game requiring fixes and/or further thought, and really there is nothing worth mentioning.

Our pace last night was not especially rapid, but familiarity will undoubtedly help a lot - there was a lot of double checking, and some discussion of how certain points should be interpreted, and the game runs rather slower than my past experience of Commands & Colors type rules, because of the extra Rally Check step involved in Combat.

Though it is a hefty re-write, CJ uses the core systems of Richard Borg's Tricorne game, which is designed for the AWI, and it is to be expected that that game, as sold, would have most of the wrinkles smoothed out. Anyway, I have to say that I am well pleased. The limits of solo playtesting are well summed up by my gradual realisation that the author will interpret his rules as he intended the game to go, so you really don't know what you've got until you let a stranger loose on it!

Thanks again, JBM - yesterday's bash was very valuable for me!

I'll give a sketchy overview of the actual game. I had the Austro-British Allied army, and JBM's Franco-Bavarian boys beat me in the end, though it was a see-saw for long periods. For brevity (and lack of patience), I shall refer to the armies as Allies and French, but you'll know what I mean. The French had a rather larger army, and the Allies were defending a ridge position which looked pretty formidable. The scoring was standard C&C, with some bonus VPs available for some objectives on the field. If anyone feels that the battlefield looks somehow familiar, let me hasten to assure you that you must be mistaken. Our battle was that of Marschfeld, in 1703, in the Rhineland, the two prominent advanced posts held by the Allies were the farmhouses of Hugenberg and Heilige Hecke, so this is a different story altogether!

The Allies had 3 Generals present, the French had 4. Each commander had a hand of 4 Command Cards and an initial allocation of 3 Combat Cards. 9 VPs required for the win.

Initial view from behind the Allies' right flank; the puffs of Boots' own-brand cannon smoke indicate that we took the optional step of having an Initial Bombardment, and it is ongoing here. The Allies scored a rather lucky hit on the battery on the French right, but, disappointingly, my Aufseß Dragoons (dismounted) decided to vacate their forward position defending Hugenberg - you can see them in the picture, wondering what to do next
The Aufseß boys were persuaded to return to their defensive duties, but the French had begun an advance on their left. The regiment in pale blue on the end are the (elite) Bavarian Leibgrenadieren, who were eventually the outstanding performers of the day. The pattern of the action was that the French chose to ignore the strong ridge position, and attacked on the left. You may be able to see some black counters on the far edge of the table. Because of some misunderstandings in pre-battle orders, some of the French right wing units were delayed, leaving that flank a bit thin at the outset, so the counters mark the positions of their eventual arrival!
In very short order, the Aufseß Dragoons were dislodged again, but this time were sufficiently discouraged to fail the requisite Rally Check, and they disappeared into the distance. The new occupants were the Régiment de Languedoc - one VP changed hands on the spot as the farmhouse was captured, and of course another VP was allocated for the vanishing dragoons.
On the opposite flank, encouraged by the lack of numbers opposing him, Earl Cadogan took a cavalry brigade forward to harrass some isolated battalions on the French right, and had a couple of notable successes. Here he attacks the 1st battalion of Béarn (the 2nd battalion was expected any time soon), who are supported and encouraged by Marshal De Villars himself (French CinC). Things did not go well here for the French, and 1/Béarn was routed from the table. This also forced us to study the bit of the rules which explains what happens when a General is attached to a unit which fails its Rally Check - De Villars was swept away as well! This spread a panic among neighbouring French units that witnessed the event, and a few more Rally Checks were required before things calmed down. Note Cadogan's dog, which faithfully followed him throughout the day, and in fact the dog is probably runner-up in the man of the match nominations
Back on the French left, the Leibgrenadiers and Régt de Toulouse advance, with cavalry support
The Leibgrenadiers eventually made a real nuisance of themselves among the Austrian infantry on the Allies' right. Here they make their last stand in a wood, having wrecked the enemy units all around
Better late than never, French reserves arrive to support the right flank - these are the 2nd battalions of Poitou, Béarn and Navarre, and their arrival stabilised things greatly
With the Allied centre still waiting for an assault which never came, their right was running out of troops. Late in the day, with the game still pretty much in the balance, the French cavalry made a frontal attack on this flank 
A more general view shows the result - the 2nd battalion of the Austrian Gschwind regiment, on the end of the line, was defeated and eliminated, and the cavalry gained a position on the ridge itself, for the first time. 1 VP for the eliminated Austrians, plus a bonus VP for getting a unit onto the ridge, was enough. The French had won 10-7
General Jean-Artège Bineau, with the Régt La Baume, gains a position on the ridge and scores the bonus VP needed to win the game

Footnote: our token Bavarian general officer in the French army yesterday was Alessandro Scipione, Marquis de Maffei (yes, he's an Italian). JBM's spell checker corrected this in the OOB to "Maggie", which, given the state of his wig, seems a far better name. Thus are historical reputations destroyed forever in an instant... 





  1. It’s odd; so little of contention came up that it didn’t really feel like we were testing anything to be honest. It just ran smoothly like a regular game…which is about the highest praise you can award the whole shebang come to think of it. I know you initially went down a more complex route but what you’ve ended up with is a considered and very polished piece of work. Hopefully a lot of other folks will get to enjoy playing these WSS rules alongside you.

    1. Thanks again JBM - we must play again soon!

  2. Sounds like the rules worked well and I'm looking forward to finding out more about them. Just a little struck by the win when, with the exception of the French cavalry on the ridge, the penultimate photo looks like two armies on their start lines rather than the end of a battle.

    1. My potted narrative explains, I think (that's all that writing stuff underneath the pictures), that the action all took place on the flanks. My scenario was less than perfect, in truth, in that the Allied position in the centre was too strong, but it would be sad to find something critical to say just for the sake of it, wouldn't it?

  3. A grand looking game Tony…
    The art work is very nice… Maggie hair and all.

    All the best. Aly

    1. I guess Maggie hair is the way to go. Do you think eating jelly helps?

  4. Great stuff, looks like you have a winner on your hands! Nice-looking game too, as ever.

    1. Thank you David - you will have to rock up to Scotland for a game! [Zoom is possible, but you need the card decks...]

    2. Good man - I'm banking on it.