I posted a note about setting up the field for this game (click here). Subsequently I spent an evening experimenting with some tweaks to the solo version of my rules (which went moderately well), and then had the pleasure of a Zoom game with Mark, the Jolly Broom Man.
As discussed previously, this is very closely based on the Battle of Blenheim, but it is definitely not the actual B of B, since the world is full of knowledgeable students of this very battle, and I would very justifiably be taken to task for my ham-fisted effort if it were.
First comment is that I was surprised by the number of units on such a compact front, and by the fact that both armies used so much cavalry in their front lines; I double-checked, and it seems that this is correct. This may have much to do with the fact that the French originally did not intend to contest the field, and the Allied army arrived in a set of parallel columns, some of which were cavalry. Anyway, I left it as it was, and decided just to go for it. Because of the size of the game, we spread the action over two evening sessions.
Again, because the action is so dense, there was little scope for exciting strategic manoeuvres or surprise attacks, so we expected a lot of attritional fighting, with the occasional significant morale collapse to enliven things. The outline of the action is quickly described, so let's start off with a complete spoiler:
On the Allied left, Lord Cutts' infantry assault on the (fortified) village of Blindheim made little progress, the French had huge reserves behind this position, so both sides took massive casualties in this area, but the French held on. There were 2 Victory Points available to the Allies if they took the entire village, but there was no chance. Charles Churchill's regiment (The Buffs) briefly fought their way into the place, but were promptly chased out again.
In the centre, both sides put together a mighty cavalry conflict. Initially the Bavarian cuirassiers rather battered their Austrian equivalents, but the Austrians pulled back to recover, the Bavarians were reinforced by French cavalry, the Austrians by British, and this action surged backwards and forwards throughout the day.
On the Allied right, the Austrian foot advanced, after some delay, against the Bavarians, who were established in some woods. This never really developed into anything decisive.
The armies ground each other down - there were a few surprises; amazingly, no General officers were lost on either side. The final surprise was that the Gendarmérie de France (King Louis' elite cavalry) were heavily repulsed by the Hessen-Kassel regiment Erbprinz, and were so shaken by the experience that they decided not to bother returning to the action. We do not know just what effect this episode had on the overall French morale, but it secured the 14th VP needed for an Allied victory.
Notional awards for outstanding unit and/or Leader? The performance of the French infantry at Blindheim was excellent, considering the tricky situation they started from. Bavarian cavalry was also very good, and their General Arco was always in the thick of the action, encouraging his troopers and steadying them in moments of stress. If we had an award for the outstanding name of the day, I would nominate the Furst von Holstein-Beck, whose family was obviously named after two bottles of beer.
My affectionate thanks to the JBM for his stamina and courage throughout the two sessions. It was a bit of a marathon, which we expected, but it was a test after all, and I am very pleased to record that the rules handled the big battle with no problems (apart from the occasional memory failure on my part).