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By smacdowall, Mar 16 2019 09:41AM

Returning to my Battle of Malplaquet project it is time to test out the table set up, deployment and rule mechanisms for the cavalry actions in the centre and on the French left.




Previous test games have played out Schulenburg and Lottum’s assault into the Bois de Sars and as the storming of the French entrenchments by the Dutch.


In this game we wanted to see what might happen if the French abandoned the redans in their centre and the allied horse to attempt a break-through (as both did historically) . We also had Miklau’s cavalry and Withers’ foot arriving on the French left flank in an attempt to turn it.


The game action was set to began at 12 noon on the day of the historical battle. By this time Schulenburg and Lottum had made it through the Bois de Sars with significant casualties only to see entrenched French infantry waiting for them.



French, Irish and German troops withdrawn from the redans
French, Irish and German troops withdrawn from the redans

We assumed that the Dutch attack on the French right prevented any reinforcements from that wing. Villars had withdrawn his French, Irish and Germans from the redans to block the allies in the woods — possibly to counter-attack.



Overview of the table looking west  to the French left.
Overview of the table looking west to the French left.

We played the game on a 6 x 4 foot table with 15mm miniatures in brigade sized units. Ground scale was 1” representing 100 paces. We ignored the action on the French right except for the Gardes Suisses and Françaises holding the far left of the entrenchments, with the Maison du Roi in reserve.



The Allied cavalry advance
The Allied cavalry advance

The game opened with the allied howitzer battery lobbing shells into the massed ranks of French Horse. Then Auvergne’s Dutch horse advanced on the empty redans with Bülow’s German horse.


The centre of the battlefield, the Bois de Sars on the right
The centre of the battlefield, the Bois de Sars on the right

The French Horse moved up as the Dutch split their formation to pass through the gaps between the redans.





Imperial Dragoons of Miklau's command
Imperial Dragoons of Miklau's command


The Royal Carabiniers move up to engage Miklau.
The Royal Carabiniers move up to engage Miklau.

Miklau’s German cavalry, including several squadrons of Imperial hussars, arrived on the second turn (tanks to a good die roll) at La Folie on the French left flank. The French advanced the Royal Carabiniers to counter them. Against the odds, Miklau’s men held their own against this elite enemy brigade.


The Champagne brigade leads a French counter-attack.
The Champagne brigade leads a French counter-attack.

Villars organised a counter-attack against Lottum’s Prussians and English in the Bois des Sars. Led by the Champagne brigade this succeeded in driving back Lottum’s first line defending the edge of the woods.


A fluid cavalry action develops as the Allies pass through the redans
A fluid cavalry action develops as the Allies pass through the redans

A fluid cavalry battle developed in the centre. The Dutch horse rode through the ranks of the lead French brigade to come up against the second line.



The English Foot Guards assault the Gardes Suisse in the entrenchments.
The English Foot Guards assault the Gardes Suisse in the entrenchments.

Meanwhile Marlborough ordered Orkney’s men to storm the French entrenchments. Led by the English Foot Guards, supported by a battery of guns, they succeeded in driving the enemy back and taking the position. This mirrored the historical battle when the Gardens Suisses and Françaises put up little resistance when they were attacked.


The French counter-attack stalls
The French counter-attack stalls

The French counter-attack into the woods came up against the second line of Prussians and English as Gauvin’s Hanoverains, recently arrived from Mons, moved up to support them. Eugene, commanding this sector, ordered the Danish foot guards from the Prussian left flank to move in to join the fray.


A huge cavalry melee develops
A huge cavalry melee develops

More and more horse from both sides were fed into the action beyond the redans as the action swayed back and forth. The huge resulting melée ended up with the lines separating.


We called time after about 3 hours of play. The result was a bloody draw favouring the Allies. Although initially successful, the French counter-attack in the woods had bogged down. The action around La Folie on the French left was stalemated but on their right Orkney’s English had taken the entrenchments. Two brigades of Hanoverians were moving up to support Orkney but the French had no reserves left. Almost all of the French horse had been engaged but there were several lines of British and Imperialist cavalry following up behind the Dutch and Germans. At this point Villars would probably have ordered a withdrawal as was the case in the actual battle.





By smacdowall, Feb 8 2019 11:42PM

The Malplaquet project proceeds with most of the troops now painted.


Having play-tested the Allied attack into the Bois des Sars last year, the next step was to try out the suicidal Dutch assault on the French right. Here 30 battalions of Dutch, Swiss and Scots attacked more than twice their number of French, Swiss, Italians and Germans.



The French entrenchments
The French entrenchments

The French front lines were entrenched. Their right flank was protected by woods. They had a massed battery of 20 guns sighted to enfilade an attack, and they had more than adequate reinforcements.



The 6x4 game table based on a battlefield map
The 6x4 game table based on a battlefield map

Our game was played on a 6 by 4 foot table with 15mm figures (mostly Minifigs) with each miniature battalion representing a brigade of 3 historical battalions.



The Gardes Suisse and Française
The Gardes Suisse and Française

The French left was held by the Gardes Suisse and Française facing off Rantzau’s Hanoverians and Orkney’s English. This was the centre of the whole Malplaquet battlefield but for this game we ignored that action on the western wing.



The Prince of Orange's command
The Prince of Orange's command

The Dutch attacked the French entrenchments in two divisions, The Prince of Orange commanding the right with Dutch and Swiss...


The Dutch Guards and Scots
The Dutch Guards and Scots

...Baron Faegel commanding the Dutch Gardes te voet and Scots on the far left.



Converged grenadiers held the far French right
Converged grenadiers held the far French right

The French far right was held by converged grenadiers backed up by Germans and regular French in the woods.


The Alsace Brigade is driven back
The Alsace Brigade is driven back

The initial Dutch attack went very well. Their long range artillery fire managed to wear down the Brigade d’Alsace holding the corner of the closest entrenchments. Led by the Prince of Orange in person the lead Dutch brigade stormed across the French entrenchments, driving the Alsatians back.


Excellent dice rolls helped the Dutch attack
Excellent dice rolls helped the Dutch attack

The success of the Dutch attack was significantly enhanced by some pretty good dice rolling. With a 5 or 6 needed for a result every die counted.


Close range artillery fire decimated the Dutch
Close range artillery fire decimated the Dutch

The French fed in the Navarre Brigade to hold the Dutch break-through while their enfilade battery decimated the middle column of the Prince of Orange’s command. By they time centre Dutch brigades reached the French entrenchments a volley from the Royal Italien sent them reeling back.


The Dutch Guards breach the French entrenchments
The Dutch Guards breach the French entrenchments

D’Artagnan (of Three Musketeers fame) commanding the French far right, turned his grenadiers to threaten the flank of the Scots, forcing them to halt their advance to meet the threat. The Dutch Blue Guards, however, were able to successfully storm the entrenchments, driving off the French defenders.



The Dutch did better in our game than historically
The Dutch did better in our game than historically

After 3 hours of play we called a halt as the pub was beckoning. The Dutch did far better than they had historically. Against superior numbers hey had breached the French entrenchments in two places. Even if they could not hope to sweep away the French right wing there would have been able to do much more than simply pin it which was their objective. Although they suffered more casualties than the French the numbers were far less than they suffered historically.


By smacdowall, Dec 15 2018 05:58PM

The latest troops to emerge from my painting table is the Austrian Thüngen Regiment, 2 battalions of which served with Prince Eugene of Savoy at Malpalquet (1709). The miniatures are 15mm Dixon


What follows is a step by step progress from painting to wargame table.


I base each figure on a handling base and always undercoat with a matt white spray. This gives more vibrant colours than a black undercoat and allows the translucent properties of acrylic paints to do much of the work, as a thinned down colour is naturally highlighted by the raised parts of the miniature and becomes darker in the folds.


An initial wash of highly thinned down Raw Umber helps to define the detail for painting and avoids any white gaps that might appear later.



This wash is applied with a thick brush and the ‘paint’ is little more than dirty water. This really helps to bring out the detail for easy painting later. I always do this with 6 mil miniatures, and often with 15 mil. When painting 28 mm miniatures I rarely find it necessary.



Tüngen regiment had ‘pearl grey’ coats with blue facings. I will achieve the very light grey with a near black wash. The blue also benefits from this so this is the first colour I paint — deviating from my normal practice of painting from the inside out in which flesh would be the first colour to be painted.


Next step is to apply a very thin wash of Payne’s Grey (which is almost black). This is applied in the same way as the earlier Raw Umber wash.


When dry the coats are a white-grey and the detail is clearly outlined. If you want further perfection you can pick out the highlights with an off-white, using pure white for the officers if you want to give them the look of wearing finer cloth.



I then paint the faces and hands with a basic pale flesh colour. When dry I apply Games Workshop’s Flesh wash which brings out the details and gives the skin a more natural look. The miniature on the right has had the wash, the one on the left not yet.



A tiny dab of brown in the eye sockets, red-brown over the lips, pale pinkish flesh on the cheeks and very pale flesh on the nose, cheek-bones and chin bring the faces to life.



Then it is on to the browns — buff belts, brown cartridge boxes, wood spontoon and flag shafts, dark brown muskets and various shades of brown for the hair.


Gun-metal musket barrels, black shoes and sword scabbards are next, along with silver buttons.


For the tricorns I use a dark grey first then touch up the low-lights with a black ink wash. This

helps to retain a three-dimensional look.



Then comes the part I really do not like — painting the hat lace. Invariably my brush strokes are not perfect and I have to touch up with black in those areas where the white over-spilled. For regiments with yellow hat lace I find it necessary to first do the lace in white and then yellow on top as yellow is not a strong enough colour to go over black. I try to avoid raising regiments with yellow hat lace!



The final step for the figures is another super thinned out wash of Raw Umber.



This further picks out the detail but, perhaps more importantly, gives the figures a realistic patina.



The final step for the unit is the flag. I design this first on my computer, scale it down to a height of 1.7cm for 15mm miniatures and print it out.



I then over-paint it. Why bother? Well a computer printed flag looks like a computer printed flag. Painting it makes it look much more natural and in keeping with the look of the unit.


And here is the finished battalion of the Austrian Thüngen Regiment, ready to move from the painting table to the wargames table









By smacdowall, Dec 5 2018 01:00PM

Next year I intend to re-fight the Battle of Malplaquet (1709) in 15mm scale with each game battalion/squadron/battery representing three actual ones. In preparation for this, Dave Allen and I recently conducted a test run featuring the allied right wing attack on the Bois de Sars.


Schulenburg's 3 lines of Imperialists advance on the Bois de Sars
Schulenburg's 3 lines of Imperialists advance on the Bois de Sars

Here 20 battalions of French infantry, under d’Albergotti, defended dense woods behind abattis. They were attacked from the north by 40 Imperial battalions commanded by Schulenburg, and Lottum’s 22 battalions of Germans and English from the east. Lottum’s attack was supported by a bombardment from a massed battery of 40 guns.



The open centre defended by French fortifications
The open centre defended by French fortifications

The open ground in the centre was strongly held by the French in fortified positions supported by cavalry and artillery. Orkney’s English formed a single line to protect Lottum’s attack.


The game orders of battle were as follows: —


Allies


Schulenburg

40 Imperial battalions (Austrians, Germans, Danes & Walloons) represented by 13 in three lines

12 guns represented by 1 model attached to the rear line

Lottum

22 Prussian, Hessian and English battalions represented by 8 in three columns

40 guns represented by 3 models

Orkney

11 English battalions represented by 4 in a single line

20 guns and howitzers, represented by 2 models

Wood

24 English squadrons of horse and dragoons represented by 8. Reserve in the centre.


French


D’Albergotti

20 battalions French represented by 7, on the edge of the woods .

10 guns represented by 1 model

Puysegur

12 battalions French represented by 4, entrenched to the south of the woods

Chemerault

18 battalions French, Irish and Germans represented by 6, in the redans

20 guns represented by 2 models

Vivans

36 squadrons horse and dragoons represented by12, behind the fortifications in reserve.



Lottum's colums advance on the French
Lottum's colums advance on the French

Our game unfolded much like the historical battle. The allied massed battery wore down the French on the angle of the woods.



Schulenburg's Imperialists close but the first line is repulsed
Schulenburg's Imperialists close but the first line is repulsed

When the allies closed they wavered as they crossed the stream and abattis but although some battalions were thrown back the attack continued to be pressed home.


Lottum's Prussians and English storm the French position
Lottum's Prussians and English storm the French position

Fierce hand to hand fighting ensued but eventually weight of numbers began to tell.



Schulenburg's Danes break-through
Schulenburg's Danes break-through

Finally the Danish foot guard broke through the abattis driving off the French defenders as Lottum’s English closed in on the other flank.



The French entrenchments
The French entrenchments

We called a halt to our test game at this point. The allies had broken into the woods and it would take them quite some time before they sorted themselves out to emerge on the other side only to find entrenched French infantry waiting for them. Historically this took 2 hours, by which time events elsewhere on the battlefield shifted the emphasis from the allied right to the centre.



Massed melée as Lottum's columns close
Massed melée as Lottum's columns close

I was very pleased how the mini-game played out. The rules (Close Fire and European Order) worked very well as did the amendments we made to reflect the reduced ground scale of 1 game unit representing three and the difficulty of movement in the dense woods. I look forward to similar test games for the centre and allied left.











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