FoGR Age of the Sun King in Godendag 2013
Later Louis XIV French vs Habsburg Austrian
Usk - taking place in the middle of one of the most sustained periods of snow ever seen in the UK (most of one Friday afternoon), the fairytale castle of the Glen-yr-afur Hotel was waiting for hordes of wargamers to descend, all fresh from their disappointment that there were actually no Spitfires buried in Burma
Everyone in the FoGR competition was itching to get to grips with the fun of watching all the FoGAM players try to play a revised version of the AM rules whilst remaining connected to mains power and all sharing the same internet connection for their ipads. This time, yet again, the Later Louis XIV French were turning up for the fight, mainly on the basis of being one of the best painted armies I owned..and they woud start the weekend against the Habsburg Austrian Imperial army.
Review of the Habsburg Austrian Imperial Army list
The lists for the Later Louis XIV French and Habsburg Austrian from this game, as well as all the other lists from the games at Godendag can be seen here in the FoGR Wiki.
The range of armies in the competition was surprisingly wide - we had supposed that everyone would pretty much pick League of Augsburg Anglo-Dutch (for its large number of superior all-shot units) or the Louis XIV Frenchies (for their pretty uniforms and general all round joie de vivre)
However some surprising entrants distrubed the array of French and Dutch.
Austrians clearly had something going for them, and the Ottoman army looked like an interesting choice too - both would no doubt feature lots of good quality armoured cavalry, a good choice against the generally weak mounted options available to most armies in the later book of lists
West Sundanese could be a camel and rough terrain hugging attempt to reproduce the winning result of a similar army at Britcon 2012, and Quing Chinese would probably be either a bigger version of an army which I had fought to a fingernail-bending draw at Warfare in 2012, or a rehash of the army from the Oxford Doubles a year or so earlier
The first game was a very standard engagement with the Frenchmen facing off against a broadly comparable Habsburg Austrian army, with a load of 5+1 Pike and Shotte units, many of whom had little guns attached, backed up with quite a lot of Average horse and a couple of interesting looking units of Hungarian infantry with muskets and swords.
The table was very cluttered along the right hand edge, which limited the width down to around 5 feet. Our army had an FC and so we automatically decided to send a flank march on the left, which surprised and unnerved the Austrians almost immediately, even before it arrived.
The Austrians were prepared to advance, as they had deployed in a checkerboard formation.
The French however were planning to let their 4 gunnes do some talking and had deployed in a solid line planning to sit back on the defensive on the right, and push forward on the left so that the Austrians would hopefully be pushed back into the corner, ready for the flank march to arrive.
The combination of 6 shotte and 4 dragoons advanced for the French, immediately putting the Austrians dragoons under a load of pressure.
All of Louis XIV's Wars
Somewhat typically, the Austrians responded by scoring the first damage of the game, taking a base off of the French dragoons and also damaging their cohesion. The French were on the back foot in an area where they were supposed to be pushing forwards.
In the middle the French were much happier, sitting behind their substantial artillery park and waiting for the Austrians to advance on their prepared formation.
As the Austrians crept across the table, the French gunnes barked out - the poor unfortunate Austrian unit in the firing line had already dropped down to 4 bases out of their original 6.
Whats actually happening now?
The Austrians are pushing forward on a broad front, with a mix of Pike & Shotte and Shotte-only units. They have dragoons holding the rough terrain on their right flank, and on their left their sub-par-quality mounted formation has been surprised by the lack of French troops opposing them and is wondering whether to push forward.
The French meanwhile have moved up on their left (maybe more slowly than they would like) to seek an early engagement with the Austrian main line of infantry, with a formation which includes 2 of the 3 units of French Superior infantry - this also pins the Austrians back into the danger zone for when the flank march arrives. The French Dragoons have a bloody nose but are still confident of clearing the Austrians out of the rough terrain on the far left. The French right is firmly refused, with a static line behind guns, anchored rather tenuously by the third Superior infantry unit and some terrain.
The Austrians were advancing in a stately manner, and suddenly the French realised that their artillery park was unlikely to win the game before combat was joined. The one on-table unit of French Horse quickly started off to the left wing, where the French army's flank was hanging in the breeze, with only one red-suited Guards unit holding the whole end of the line..
By now the French dragoons were back in a steady state away on the far side, and combining more effectively with the German musketeer unit they were now driving back the Austrian dragoons - and the flank march was still to arrive…
The French started to move cautiously forward, as the point unit for the Austrians suffered a cohesion drop and was reduced to 3 bases - thus proving that it must be a Superior unit.
A bit of a gap was starting to emerge in the middle of the Austrian army - the almost-broken by-now FRAGGED unit was looking over-extended, and if, or more likely when, it broke the Austrians only had a shotte-only unit of Hungarians rushing up to fill the resulting gap. The French started to filter units out past their battery of artillery, ready to reinforce the advance against the now-weakened Austrian infantry.
Inevitably, the Austrian Guards suffered their 4th casualty and broke. The French plan seemed to be working!
The French gunnes turned their aim on the next unit in line, and immediately inflicted a DISR result on the shell-shocked Austrians
The Austrians recovered cohesion and moved onwards - there were now two separate battle lines forming as the French left flank pushed forwards, anticipating the arrival of the flank march, and the Austrian right also charged towards the static French left. As the Austrians closed in, the French stepped up through their own gunnes to take on the Austrians in proper Pike and Shotte combat
Whats actually happening now?
The two lines are close to coming together, but as the French have pushed forwards on the left there is something of a gap in the Austrian line in front of the French gunnes, which the French are hoping to exploit in some way yet to be determined.
The Austrian attack on the French left is still pretty coherent whist the French facing them have taken some dangerous levels of casulaties - although perhaps fortunately these have fallen on the two Superior units. On the French right the Austrians have been rather mauled by artillery and French shooting and may well struggle to press home their charge against the French who have stepped through their gunnes to bring more firepower to bear. The flank march has still not arrived, and this is allowing the Austrians to bring up a mounted reserve to support the attack on the French left
Both sides were shooting at close range with deadly effect - bases were removed and markers sprouted up across the table, making the imminent clash of close combat into even more of a lottery that it normally would be..
The Austrian musketeers were finding their range - a French unit was blown away, meaning both sides had managed to engineer huge holes in crucial positions in their opponents lines.
Battle was joined, as the French charged out from their position around the gunnes - The Austrians had shoved some musket-only units into the front line and these looked like tempting targets for the French as the effect of all-MF units losing against Impact foote units including pikemen was worth playing for.
On the left a desperate struggle was developing - the French Guards were losing cohesion, but so were the Austrians. The one surprise was that the Austrian shotte-only infantry were standing up incredibly well right in the thick of the maelstrom of combat
Suddenly the initiative swing in favour of the French on the left - the extra points spent on the Superior unit was paying off as the red-clad Swiss Guards recovered morale and continued to hang on in there as the Austrians ran out of steam and started to crumble almost in sniffing distance of the French gunnes which had caused them so much trouble earlier in the game.
Back on the left and the blue-clad French Guards were also holding up well - and the Austrians were starting to struggle here as well, even with generals being committed to combat to hold up the Austrian line.
The battle remained in the balance…. the French were losing units steadily but were tactically in the ascendancy
The Swiss Guard had managed to knock their opponents down to FRAGGED, but they had also been reduced to three bases - the French right flank was now hanging by a thread…
And that thread finally snapped - the Swiss Guard broke and fled, in the face of a punishing attack from the FRAGGED Hungarian unit facing them! Suddenly the French flank was in dire straights, with the French gunnes now exposed and the ignominious situation of French cavalry possibly being forced into a last-ditch charge against enemy infantry in order to hold up the flank for a little longer..
Etiquette and Louis XIV
On the left though the French were doing far better - here it was the turn of the Austrians to crumble, and for the French Guards to crash forwards in pursuit - and in the distance the sound of an arriving flank march could be heard…
Whats actually happening now?
The two lines of battle have largely neutralised each other, with an even exchange of units on the French right just about allowing the French to hold the line in front of their guns, whilst on the French leftone unit of Superior French Guards have broken but the other is still holding firm against the Austrian infantry, and slowly winning a war of attrition in the process.
The flank march has just arrived, and so the Austrians are committed to using their mounted reserve to attack the French infantry in the hope of forcing a win as the reserve is now so close to the battle line that there is no realistic prospect of them now redeploying to take on the French flank march. Across the board the two armies are trading units almost one for one
The Austrian army was now in real danger of being crushed and overrun by the French units pouring towards them from all directions. The Austrian dragoons had deserted the flank, the French Horse were riding across the Austrian rear and the French Guards were pursuing forwards at great pace…
This inspired the French infantry on the right - despite being only one base away from breaking they had battered their opponents down to FRAGGED and were ready to deliver the coup de grace..
And with the Austrian musketeers having just positioned themselves for a devastating flank charge, the Frenchmen delivered the fatal blow - and pursued, gratefully, out of the way and down the table. Admittedly this exposed the guns, but nothing is perfect…
With the flank march behind them, the Austrians decided to throw their Horse into combat, clipping the careless French/German musket-only unit in the open … with predictable results! The strong left flank was suddenly looking like a liability rather than an opportunity...
On the right, the Austrians also threw horse into combat, but these were no match for the French Nobility and instantly lost cohesion and bases in the face of the French Determined Charge of Horse. Meanwhile the only half-decent unit of French foote left on this side of the table is only one base away from being autobroken, so is choosing to continue to pursue the routers rather than turning back to try and take on 6 Hungarian musketeers.
The game was swinging wildly in favour of both armies - the French/German infantry had (with the support of one of their Generals) manaed to stand up and recover cohesion against the charge of the Austrian Horse, and now the flank march was bearing down on the Austrian Dragoons as the pursuing French Guards also closed on them from the bottom of the shot. The French Elite Horse were closing in on the rear of the Austrian Horse as the ongoing infantry battle was also poised on a knife edge with the Austrians FRAGGED and the French unable to lose any further bases.
On the right, the French Horse obliterated the Austrian Carbine Horse in double-quick time and swept forwards in pursuit of the fleeing harquebusiers - the Austrian foote suddenly looked extremely concerned as the jubiant French Horse pursued to their rear..
The French Horse, fresh from utterly destroying their opponents in 2 rounds of melee and 2 episodes of pursuit, wheel about and aim for the next possible opponent - and suddenly appear in the rear of the Austrian infantry !
Back to the left and the longest melee of the game finally was decided for France - the Austrian infantry's morale finally collapses, and the French nobles in the flank marhc are instantly faced not with a prepared opponent but instead with an onrushing tide of Austrian routers..
Whats actually happening now?
The blitzkrieg style success of the French Horse on the right has evened up the battle on that flank and now they are preventing the Austrian infantry from mopping up the French artillery train.
The French have eventually come out victorious in a somewhat Phyrric slogging match on the left and as their foote sweep forwards they, and the flank march are fast converging on the remnants of the Austrian army in the centre. Austrian troops are fleeing for their lives as the French pincer movement gathers pace, and the Austrian army is now on the brink of defeat - with the French not far behind them due to the attrition they have suffered in getting to this position
The flank march swept forwards as the Austrian army collapsed - a unit of Austrian Dragoons came under fire from the rapidly advancing French Guards and French Dragoons, and was eliminated, and then the other Austrian DRagoon unit dropped to FRAGGED - the Austrians were on the brink of utter collapse….when the whistle finally blew for the last bound !
The Result is an 11-9 win for the French - with both sides close to utter defeat!
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition, or read on for the post match summaries from the Generals involved, as well as another episode of legendary expert analysis from Hannibal
Post Match Summary from the Later Louis XIV French Commander
Je pense this is une grande victoire pour Les Frenches, and Je believe that it is a great plate-forme pour nous to go on and win the whole damn thing from ici onwards.
Mes hommes were very brave, ils battled avec grand cœur et dans une bataille tres difficult, mais avec beaucoup de determination we took the fight to them and it was tres bonne
Si seulement le flank march arrivé on time, nous would have certainement enregistré une grande victoire en totalite, and those extra 5 or 6 points would have been très utile
I can't wait for the next jeux du guerre !
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
Thou pernicious rough-hewn death-token! What fear must lie in the hearts of the poor unfortunate wretches under your command when you cast their lives away so profligaltely with ne'er a thought for tactics or subtlety
To pretend that you had a plan to defend, when actually you realised that on the left you wanted to advance with speed but had deployed your men butted up against each other and unable to move by division - thou art truly a mewling lily-livered manikin to not admit such incompetence when there is evidence aplenty in these photographs to take you down
The flank march was also a piece of bad fortune waiting to happen - in a combat-rich game with equal odds battles and many Average units, you threw away one of your four Generals on a wild goose chase which ended up achieving nothing more than disconcerting the enemy - look back at the photos and you will see that the flank march achieved precisely nothing in this game.
You may wish that they arrived earlier, but the facts are that they didn't - and for that error, you have thrown away 5 or more points and the honour of a decisive victory. The game played out in a way in which if you had simply stood and waited the result would have been the same...
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition
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