Legio Wargames

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By smacdowall, Sep 28 2019 04:39PM

Play begins
Play begins

Earlier this week, having re-arranged my living room to accommodate a 10 x 6 foot table (boards on trestles), 8 of us fought out the last of the Duke of Marlborough’s big battles with 15mm miniatures.


Battlefield overview
Battlefield overview

As readers of this blog will be aware, Malplaquet (1709) has been a project in the making for quite some time. My journey to this point has involved two battlefield terrain walks; the scaling of the terrain to 1 inch representing roughly 100 yards; several years of collecting and painting all the troops needed at approximately one 15mm miniature to 150 actual men; refining my War of Spanish Succession rules to fit the ground and figure scale; and several trial games along the way.


Malplaquet village - the French HQ
Malplaquet village - the French HQ

Marlborough and Eugene meet at the Saart windmill
Marlborough and Eugene meet at the Saart windmill

It also involved the design and creation of purpose-built terrain — not by me I hasten to add. My skills are not up to the building of such incredibly detailed and atmospheric pieces.


The allied centre
The allied centre

The 3 French and 4 Allied players started off with the historical armies and deployments of 11 September 1709. We would play 17 turns, each representing 1/2 hour from the opening allied bombardment at 07:00 through to 15:00 when the French withdrew from the field on the day of battle. Players were free to make their own decisions, not bound by historical precedent. Their objectives were to do better than their side had done 310 years ago.


French foot behind abatis in the woods
French foot behind abatis in the woods


The French player pulls his troops out of the woods
The French player pulls his troops out of the woods

The French players surprised the Allies when they decided to abandon their defence of the Bois de Sars on their left flank. They had 20 battalions in the woods facing an attack by some 80 Allied battalions coming in from several directions. Giving up the woods meant that the Allies could advance through them unhindered but it gave the French the opportunity to concentrate their troops in a strong defensive position to the south of the woods.


The Dutch attack
The Dutch attack

On the other flank the Dutch advanced with only half their foot against the French entrenchments. Taking fire from French artillery and some dismounted dragoons hidden in Blairon farm, the initial Dutch attack was repulsed.


The Hanoverians are driven back
The Hanoverians are driven back

Rantzau’s Hanoverian brigade cleared the dragoons from the farm and then surged forward against the entrenched Gardes Suisses only to be thrown back.


Lottum's men move into contact
Lottum's men move into contact

Count Lottum’s Prussians and British advanced on the French centre then swung to their right to take the abandoned French positions in the Bois de Sars and emerge on the southern edge of the woods. They launched an immediate attack on the French lines but their ranks were thinned by enfilade artillery fire as they went in. The first Prussian attack was thrown back. A second followed with the same result as Lottum and Maréchal Villars joined the front ranks to steady their respective troops. Lottum and one of his Major Generals were both as Villars launched a counter-attack which drove the Prussians back into the woods.


Eugene's Imperialists advance into the woods
Eugene's Imperialists advance into the woods


Withers' column moves along a woodland track
Withers' column moves along a woodland track

Prince Eugene’s Imperialists found it slow going in making their way through the woods although Lt General Withers with 20 battalions on the far right made better headway. His troops began to emerge on the edge as Major General Miklau’s Imperial hussars and dragoons skirted the wood to come out on the far French left.



French horse move against Miklau
French horse move against Miklau

The French sent 2 brigades of horse against Miklau’s men, driving off the hussars. The imperial dragoons dismounted at the edge of a stream and formed a firing line. Against all the odds they managed to see off a charge by the French cavalry.


The French Redans in the centre
The French Redans in the centre

In the centre the French redans, supported by artillery and cavalry were too strong for the Allies to attack. With the Imperialists still slowly struggling to get through the woods, Marlborough rode over to the Allied right to encourage the Dutch in another attack on the allied right.


D'Artagnan's men stand ready to receive the Dutch on the French right
D'Artagnan's men stand ready to receive the Dutch on the French right

The attack ended in disaster. Marlborough was shot dead. The Dutch faltered and with the great man’s demise the Allied hopes died with him.


The death of Marlborough
The death of Marlborough

Rolling two 'skull and crossbowns' results in Marlborough's death and the end of the battle. The French had won the day.


Look out for a full article in a future Wargames Illustrated













By smacdowall, Jul 21 2019 12:27PM

Having just moved house I have not had the time to post much of late. However the games room is sorted and the painting table set up so I have been doing a bit of painting in between unpacking boxes and sorting furniture.


I will endeavour to post some pics of the latest troops to march off the painting table. First up are Dutch Horse Guards from 1709 — ready to join the Prince d’Auvergne’s squadrons on the Malplaquet battlefield.



I have painted the unit to represent the 1 squadron of the Life Guards of Nassau-Ouwerkerk (red coats) and the 2 squadrons of the Blue Guards who fought brigaded together at Malplaquet.


All flag references I found dated to the reign of King William III and carried his cypher on a blue ground. I decided on a similar design but substituting the coat of arms of Holland which seemed plausible for the post William era.


The Life Guards in front are a converted command group from Minifigs French Musketeers. The officer is wearing a cuirass which the Dutch attempted to have all cavalry wear from 1708 although without much success.


In William's day the Life Guards rode grey horses. I decided also mount the Blue Guards on greys as it makes them stand out and look more impressively 'guards-like'.



In the 1690s each of the three troops of the Blue Guards was distinguished by its men wearing red, yellow or green feathers in their hats. Not having many models with feathered hats I decided on using Minfig French troopers with shoulder knots and painting them in two of the distinguishing colours (red and yellow). The life guards do have tricorns adorned with feathers (taken from French Musketeer miniatures) and I decided to paint them green which was also the allied army’s identification colour.

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.


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