The Fight for Dutch Independence (1568-1633) at Campaign 2014
Later Eighty Years War Dutch vs Hugenot
Campaign - a year on from the debut of the Pirates, and a new venue for the event in glamorous Daventry. Or, to be more accurate, in an office building on the edge of an industrial estate in glamorous vibrant Daventry. Made a change from playing in a shopping centre in Milton Keynes - not necessarily a good change, but a change nonetheless..
The lists for the Later Eighty Years War Dutch and Hugenot from this game, as well as all the other lists from the games at Campaign can be seen here in the Field of Glory Renaissance Wiki.
The Pirates had since last year's Campaign recorded an unfeasible result in the Oxford Doubles, but otherwise had been languishing in the tray, waiting for a themed period suitable to their rather limited repertoire of skillsÖ and this year, Campaign was not it at all. The theme instead was the rise of the Dutch, a tight period of maybe half a dozen armies from the wars in Flanders. Swiss Kiels, Elite Spanish Tercios, massed Cuirassiers - all of these were possible exciting building blocks on which to construct a world-beating army, which inevitably meant that my choice was driven by the opportunity to de-jolly-roger the Pirate Ship and instead field it as a Dutch battleship, in the one list allowed which could use Naval support. The Dutch!
The Dutch also did have some other advantages - they were one of the few armies in period to use muskets, and they could have a lot of artilleryÖbut their lack of any sort of Superior foot, the relatively small numbers of permitted Cuirassiers, and the almost-certainly-wasted points on the ship all counted against them. But, having paid so much money for the ship, it was coming out, and so were the Dutch complete with 2 heavy and 4 average gunnes, a load of average Pike and Shotte 6-packs and 3 units of Cuirassiers.
Game 1 the Cloggers faced a Hugenot army, outnumbering the Dutch in Cuirassiers, and planting some intimidatingly Swiss Kiels firmly in the middle of the field. Having never actually deployed or played with the Dutch before, I almost certainly didn't set up that well to face them, matching the Hugenot Cuirassiers with my own and supporting them with the gunnes, and using a woodland to protect the other flank whilst waiting in line to receive a Swiss charge with the 6-packs.
Immediately the Hugenots were cheating, by unsportingly deploying far more dragoons than the Dutch possessed and threatening to sweep the tulip-eaters out of the woods at the double, which would leave the defended flank somewhat badly under-defended at a stroke. Not a good start.
The rest of the Hugenot army was split into two lumps, each of which had a clear and simple job to do. The Swiss charged forwards down the middle, and the Cuirassiers charged forward down the flank. But, with 4 Dutch gunnes ranged on them, the Hugenot Cuirassiers were soon taking a pounding, with one unit bearing the brunt of the cannon fire and losing half its bases almost immediately. The odds on the flank were already evening upÖ
The incredibly sophisticated Dutch tactic of "just wait in a line to be attacked" seemed to be working, as the enemy Cuirassiers closed in, struggling to maintain cohesion in the face of artillery fire. As the enemy horse approached, the Dutch infantry reluctantly stepped through their gunnes to add more musket-based fire support to the pounding being dealt out to the already wavering half-strength Hugenot unit. Taking him out would even the numbers on the Cuirassier battle, de-skilling it to a level which would suit the Dutch capabilities no endÖ
On the wooded flank, the Hugenot dragoons were running through the woods like trained tigers near Rainham (in Essex) - a tactic which was somewhat hampered by the fact the woods weren't big enough for them all to fit into. Cleverly spotting this, the Dutch sent forward a Pike and Shotte unit, hoping to knock a "better go home now" base off at least one of the enemy dragoons and even up the odds a little. As the flank seemed otherwise totally undefended, the Dutch had also redeployed their oversized harquebusier unit to try and at the very least draw off the attention of some more of the advancing Hugenots - whether there would be any of their own dragoons and artillery left by the time they got into a useful position was anyone's guess..
The Hugenots could certainly do their maths, and noticing that 3 vs 2 was pretty good odds, charged forwards, threatening both the guns and the folorn and by now quite hopeless 2-strong Dutch dragoon unit simultaneously.
On the other flank, both sides had coalesced into a skill-free solid pair of lines - the extra Hugenot unit being down to 2 bases and carrying some form of cohesion marker wasn't really tipping the odds one way or anotherÖ
The Dutch Accent
Desperation! The Dutch Pike and shotte, realising they were basically useless where they were, turned to the flank and sought to interfere in the dragoon combat, threatening a flank charge on the 3-pack.
What's Going on Here Then?: The two sets of Cuirassiers are squaring off pretty early in the game over on the Dutch left, and if one side can come out of the upcoming ruck with a decisive advantage the survivors will surely have time and opportunity to influence the infantry battle in the centre, where the infantry are closing on each other only slowly. The Dutch right is seeing some rather ineffective and not particularly well executed fumbling by both sides - the Dutch have much more to lose, as their artillery park lies dangerously close to where the Hugenots have advanced to.
Luckily the 3-pack knew the rules, and had worked out that an intercept charge cannot take place through any form of disordering terrainÖ so it charged home, with the badly positioned Dutch harquebusiers forcing their own Dragoons to try and stand against the superior oddsÖ.but unluckily for the Hugenots, they then proceeded - of course - to come off far worse in the initial combat against the Dutch 2-pack!
The Hugenot battered Cuirassier unit declined to charge home, and instead broke as all the other armoured horsemen got well and truly stuck in. Tesco's global head of lasagne content acquisition watched eagerly as the tonnes of horseflesh slammed together at high speed (or, probably a trot).
Thousands of dice, hundreds of death rollsÖ. No losses on either side. Oh well..
With both flanks now fully committed, the Dutch suddenly discovered that they had plenty of spare units of infantry, and proceeded to build themselves a very well engineered Tercio receptacle, into which the Swiss obligingly found themselves compelled to advance. Shooting vs combatÖ would the modern approach win out or the classical one?
Suddenly the consensus of stalemate on the Cuirassier flank evaporated in a welter of flying clogs - the Dutch were having a cow, losing bases, and haemorrhaging cohesion as the Hugenots suddenly grasped the upper hand and squeezed for all they were worth!
The Dragoon combat was however going the way of the Dutch. Not a great tradeoff for what historically was a great trading nation admittedly, but you take what you can I guess. The eventual arrival of the Dutch flanking unit had dropped the Hugenots down to fragmented, and they were now stuck, agonisingly short of capturing the Dutch gunnes..
But the Hugenot Cuirassier had achieved the sort of breakthrough that only those cute little Mikes Models cuirassiers can get away with - blowing a hole in the middle of the three Dutch units and pursuing vigorously. Things were looking grim on this flank for the Dutch.
Flicking furiously through the rules, the Dutch master of horse noticed the little-used Breakoff section, and defiantly dropped his DISR unit of Cuirassiers back out of harms way - and then rallied them in the next turn to restore some semblance of order in what had looked very much as if it were an unmitigated shambles. At least whilst some of the Dutch had been crumbling, the furthermost unit had been steadily chipping away at it's opponent - who was now down to 2 bases and carrying a worriesome marker of his own. A win there and the odds would be yet again evened up..
As the bendy-speared Swiss advanced, the Dutch poured fire in on them from all angles. The Swiss were tough, but sheer weight of dice was starting to count as they lost bases from their rear ranks. A couple more well placed shots and the opportunity to count that 4-ranks-deep POA on a broad frontage would be lost forever.
Amazeballs! The Cuirassier battle had now totally swung the other way, with the Hugenot breakoff leaving a FRAGGED unit becalmed far from the action, and the rest of the combats suddenly swinging the way of the Dutch! One clog-wearing general looked across and saw luck evening itself out, whilst the Frenchman gazed upon a scene of utter and capricious misfortune.
What's Going on Here Then?: The Cuirassier battle on the Dutch left has been won by Holland, and now Dutch thoughts are turning towards the centre. On the right again the Dutch have emerged ahead, but there is nothing here to unduly influence the steady advance of the Hugenot infantry who have been spared from too much Dutch artillery attrition in their advance. The Dutch infantry in the middle will be no match for the Hugenot Swiss, but their answer - enveloping the flanks - may have taken a little too long and the Swiss are close to charging home...
With the Hugenot dragoons now swept away, the noose was tightening around the advancing Swiss kiels as Dutch 6-packs converged on them from all sides. The sheer volume of fire was unsustainable, but even so one Swiss unit still fought through the flying lead and charged home. Close combat was joined - always where the Swiss liked to beÖ
An utter rout was now in full swing on the Cuirassier flank, with the initial successes of the Hugenot Cuirassiers having been fully reversed by the Dutch courage (ah!). 2 Fragged units, both having broken off, were all that stood between the Dutch horse and, erm, a vast empty space. Winning the cavalry wing was of limited use if the enemy infantry were already engaged by the time it happenedÖ
The two Swiss Kiels were now fully engaged on all sides as the Dutch units stepped up to close quarters. The Kiels were fearsome beasts in normal situations, but when facing in two directions the fear factor was much reduced and the Dutch were taking full advantage of this to press home the attack.
The Swiss however had other ideas, and digging deep into their reserves of stoicism they fought back, punishing the Dutch unit for their merciless attack on the dragoons earlier in the game. The French infantry, sneaking past the back in column breathed a sigh of relief- being burst through in column by a routing Kiel would not have been at all prettyÖ
The other Kiel was also performing similar feats of resilience, as the rather surprised and irritated Dutch started to drop cohesion across the table.
Seeing the game time slip away, the Great Commander of the Dutch forces joined one of his infantry units and waded into the flank of the Kiel. Could he tip the balance?
Markers sprouted, and then were culled from units all across the front, as Generals made their presence felt in a battle that swung more than an under-watered tulip head in a gale blowing across the polders.
What's Going on Here Then?: The Hugenot Swiss are doing the business, making a bit of a mockery of the Dutch victories on both flanks as they shrug off the resulting attacks. There is a chance the Swiss may win the game on their own, but equally if one of the mightly Kiels does falter, the game is up for France. A sweaty last few minutes
The Dutch were now slowly gaining the upper hand as the relentless drip of casualties started to erode the Swiss' confidence and abilities. Admittedly, the fact that the French infantry were now engaged was also helping greatly, as they were a bit pants compared to the rather tasty Swiss, so the Dutch getting stuck into them was somewhat of a bonus.
With the centre locked in a death struggle that may take months to resolve, the final action of the game involved the troops who started it all off - the Dutch dragoons finished as they started, hiding in the woods and trying not to get beaten up by 3 Hugenot dragoons!
The Result is a 14-6 win for the Dutch.
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 Eighty Years War Dutch Commander
What a great day for me, Andre Rieu, master of bland Eurotrash light operatic musical theatre - I feel I may celebrate this great victory by playing some show tunes on my second most expensive violin, winking in a way which only women of post-retirement age find alluring and which everyone else finds slightly disturbing, and then flirting with a backing singer who is dressed as a German milkmaid. All in all a pretty typical day really.
For the first ever outing of this army, I feel vindicated in my choice because the ability to shoot has been proven better than the ability to fight. This I can confidently say, despite the fact that if one were to review the battle one might struggle to find anything but a single incidence of shooting seriously damaging a unit in the entire game.
But, without musketry the Swiss would have been much more competent and fully loaded by the time they hit home, and that in turn would have been rather unfortunate - it would have been as if the dyke of Dutchness had collapsed and a tide of Swissism had overwhelmed the entire country. Nasty - unless you are a fan of chocolate more than you are a fan of cheese. And who wants to be that eh, especially when one's entire career is based on the latter.
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
Success? Victory? I see only an intact army before me in the enemy colours, and a lack of tactical nous on your part which was only mitigated by the fact that your troops barely moved, as this saved them from worsening the positions into which you carelessly flung them in what you somewhat overoptimistically called "deployment".
Your strategy depended on successful use of the massed artillery park you had dragged along - so, what did you do? Split it up into three isolated sections, and then expose one of them to an attack through a woodland that you couldn't have done less to defend if you had been a Frenchman in 1938 marching down the centre of Unter der Linden in Berlin waving a big banner proclaiming "Holiday Homes for sale in the Ardennes - guaranteed no Allied troop movements to spoil your vacation"
Really, any serious analysis here would say that you got lucky in a crapshoot on the left, and still only came out partly ahead of the game there anyway, and you got very lucky indeed with that unriskable 2-strong dragoon unit in the woods. They really are so brittle that you would be better keeping them in your pocket instead of putting them on the table, so getting them into combat in the first handful of turns is utterly unforgivable.
Concentrated artillery against the Swiss, Dragoons used to slow their advance and maximise the number of shots being fired by the gunnes, and a Pike and Shot unit deployed to support the Cuirassiers was the way forward here - you are just fortunate to survive, never mind come out ahead as you stagger onwards into the next game
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