David Bickley's Wargames Blog

The occassional ramblings of an average gamer, journeyman painter, indifferent modeller, games designer, sometime writer for Wargames Illustrated and host of games in GHQ.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

The SYW game, Part the Second

On Monday this week Phil and I had played out a SYW game using the Honours of War rule set and the  second scenario from the rule book, 'Action at Kutzdorf'. Jon and I had decided it would be fun to refight it later in the week using the Black Powder rules. Reflecting on the first run through I decided that for these rules the forces on both sides would need to be increased to reflect the different way the rules work. I added a Guards Infantry brigade to the British, exchanged their Light Troops fr two composite Grenadier battalions and increased the cavalry arm by three extra regiments. The French I added three extra cavalry regiments, but otherwise left them as they were in the scenario.
As attackers, the British have the initiative in the first turn.The British left advanced aggressively in Turn one, while the centre failed its order test. The French response saw the cavalry on the left flank advance to threaten any infantry advance and to fix the British cavalry in place. The French artillery opened fire on the advancing British lines

Turn 2 saw a violent cavalry clash on the French left. One French cavalry regiment was shattered and routed but its British opponents were forced to retire also. British infantry moved to occupy Kutzdorf and prevent the French cavalry outflanking their compatriots. In the centre French infantry and artillery fire disorders the Grenadiers and one line battalion, while the French cavalry on the right move to outflank the British advance.

By turn 4 the French are having problems on their left, unable to defeat the British cavalry and loosing another regiment themselves to rout. However, in the centre the French infantry and artillery have halted the British advance, even causing two battalions to rout in the process, The French Hussars smash into the flank of two British lines, supported by some Dragoons.

The Hussars bounce off the British flanks thanks to some unbelievably good dice from Lord Walton! Ominously British cavalry masses on the French right to defeat the remnants of their French opposing number! In the centre though the fight is still going for the French.

Turn 6 sees the French cavalry at last record a decisive win routing the Greys. On the British left the French Hussars de Bykli hurl themselves once more on the thinning British line!

Turn 7 sees the final defeat of Lord Walton's command when another British infantry battalion breaks in rout and the army's morale shatters! Just as the Wild Geese were finally moving to assualt Kutzdorf as well.

The final moments of a defeated army as the British commander realises its all fallen apart, and after such a promising opening few moves too. 

A very hard won victory, celebrated in great style by the Comte du Merde...

So: two games; two sets of rules; two French victories; both in Turn 7. What have I learned? Well, firstly there was far more movement in the Black Powder version particularly with cavalry charges and rallies going too and fro all over the place. The 'Follow Me' rule was extensively used by both of us with our cavalry at different times to deliver a telling blow on the enemy. Sadly, Jon was never really able to exploit his advantages there and my cavalry did me proud in the end, especially the Hussars who pinned vital units when the game was in the balance. Firing was about the same in effect as in Honours of War, although excess casualty removal after testing keeps that in check in Black Powder. The real difference seems to lie in the Command and Movement phases of the game. Black Powder is a hit or miss system on the whole for Commanders and movement can as a result vary considerably. Keeping your units and Brigades coordinated can be more of an issue than we found in Honours of War. On the whole, I enjoyed the Black Powder game more but thought perhaps the Honours of War set was a more satisfying attempt to produce a SYW game on the table top. Both games lasted about three and a half hours I recall and both produced a clear French victory. But, in the end, I'd play whichever game my chums chose; after all, two wins out of two can turn an Average Joe's head really easily!


  1. A very interesting game. I didn't pay enough attention to my starting dispositions and paid the price. Really struggling to maneuver into any sort of firing line.
    My cavalry did well but their victories were Pyrrhic, winning several melees but each time sustaining just enough casualties to prevent them exploiting a success. In fact the cavalry bashes were pretty vicious, frequently resulting in 8 hits (we allowed a one miss re-roll) but my saves were better, even sending the French Cuirassiers packing.
    The real nail in the coffin was managing to roll low (every time!) when testing reaction to excess casualties or losing in melee.
    Still we have to let Mr.B win sometimes!

    1. Your assessment of the issues is spot on Jon. The Dice gods deserted you when it most mattered, for a change!

  2. Another excellent looking SYW game David! I think you should do a third attempt using Maurice ans see what happens.:-)


    1. I might be tempted to try it, but not yet. For what it's worth, Maurice seems to suit the AWI rather better in my view than the SYW or the FRW.

  3. Thanks to Jon and Christopher for interesting comments. As to the others I sometimes wonder why I bother if they can't even leave a simple comment to let me know what they thought. Perhaps if I posted on fairies, dwarves and frostthingie I might get more traffic? Who knows?

  4. Feel I'm up for a go with Maurice at some point Mr. B. Interested to see if it concludes at turn seven ;-)
    Jon, I think it was the hill that did for us :-)

  5. I blame the person who made 'em!

  6. We'll give Maurice a run out on Monday then Phil! I've set up the start positions ready to go. About 10.45 am kick off I thought?