Thirty Years War in Oxford 2018
TYW German vs TYW Swedes
After a substantive hiatus caused more by bad scheduling than any other plan, a large-format FoGR army has yet again fought their way out of the cupboard and made it's way to Oxford, Royalist capital of ECW England for a 1-day competition. Will they remember the rules? Well, that's a hard one given that these particular figures haven't yet played with the updatd FoGR amendments - but surely the simplicity of Superior infantry with embedded guns plus mad charging cavalry who are hoping to take advantage of the revising to make Armour less effective...
The lists for the TYW German and TYW Swedes from this game, as well as all the other lists from the games at Oxford can be seen here in the FoG:R Wiki. I selected the army manily because they have the most expensive and impressive looking flags in my 28mm collection, and they also feature little guns (which I also have too many of, and which looks cool). The Guns give a bit of extra firepower which allied with the opportunity to take several Superior units means they have at least a chance to maybe stand up against the expected Swedish armies in this shallow-table format.
The army also has more Horse than one might expect - but with 8' wide tables there is potentially more chance to use them. The rules of the event included pre-set terrain in order to help get 3 games in a single day, and in hindsight this was likely to mitigate against Horse tactics, although the event-specific mod allowing each player to move one terrain piece each game did mean that the tables got progressively more open as the day progressed as the terrain was not re-set after each round.
The morning mist was yet to clear over a spread of low-lying fields which sit astraddle the ancient railway lines of the Oxfordshire countryside as the Wolvercote Historic Hall hove into view for the freshly vittled German army.
Their battle today would be a duel amongst gentlemen, their memories of the horrors of the continental struggle long forgotten in the wake of a refuelling at Starbucks and a sojourn of at least 2 years solidly locked in a metal toolbox away from the hue and cry of war itself.
But, what opponent might they spie across the plains of valour? The canary hues of their historical foes perchance? Was it... The Swedes? Surely only they could channel their inner Ikea so strongly to take on such clothing choices?
A closer inspection however showed some anachronistic strangeness of dress amongst the Scandinavian opponents lines.
Puffed sleeves, tight breeches - was this perhaps a late 1970's Abba Tribute Swedish Army, appearing some 250 or so years before the strains of "Mamma Mia" first rang out from the winners of that fated night in the as-yet-un-built Brighton Pavilion?
The 8-foot-wide tables would have been excellent foundations on which to build a massive and hearty feast, but here they also provided possibly enough scope for the massed cavalry of the Teutonic hoste to find space to charge home boldly, or possibly once some of the pre-set terrain had been moved around in the pre-game sequence.
The enemy, in their pre-slotta Citadel glory had taken less units, but more infantry - and almost all of it somehow Superior or event Elite against the numerous and more well endowed in the legs department German construction.
Zur Hölle damit! Galloping furiously - for with hats this stylish there is no other way to gallop - the German horsemen looked bold and enthused as they careened towards a date with destiny and some pretty similarly equipped (but marginally better) Swedish horsemen on the extreme right of the table.
But attacking was not - unusually - the order of the day for everyone in the German army. Faced with the prospect of being slapped by Swedish Salvos foot, the expensively flagged-up German infantry in the middle of the line may as well have been nailed to the table for all their willingness to advance.
Swedish halberdier Unboxing Video
This was not just cowardice - by staying still the German centre were both maximising the number of shots which the German artillery park could dish out and also daring the Swedes to advance into a position in which their left wing might be exposed to overwhelming numbers of German Determined Horse who even now had fanned out into a solid and well supported line extending the German left.
As they advanced the Swedes were indeed starting to separate into ever more isolated blocks, pulled to their right by the need to avoid being overrun by the German mounted flank. Hiding in a forest in the centre of the table, German dragoons considered who best to snipe at as the Scandinavians advanced past them on both flanks.
The Swedish right flank had only carbine-armed horse to face off the German's Determined Charging cavalry - but embedded within their formation were some newly minted Commanded Shot markers. This allowed the Swedes to ping shots at the Germans from long range - and, of course, secure a few telling hits which quickly whittled the German horse units down in numbers.
The Swedes had a clear advantage on the German right, where an Elite and a Superior Swedish Brigade was supported by some terrain-friendly firelock armed infantry. The German dragoons were cowering among the undergrowth, wondering what their role was in this new iteration of the FoGR rules now their movement had been curtailed in such drastic fashion. Mist!
The Germans waiting for them were similarly tooled up quality wise - 2 Superior Brigades of Pike and Shotte, both festooned with little gunnes to throw out more shooting at whoever dared approach them
Sadly this tactic did not fare particularly well against their Swedish opponents who also had similar gunnery enhancements themselves leading to a fairly even - and therefore luck dependent - shooting exchange.
With the German Average Horse also falling back in the face of Swedish Armoured Average horse it was starting to seem as if the entire battlefield was one where the German tactic was simply to fall back and avoid combat for as long as possible...with no real area where they could move forward and press an advantage.
The Swedes eventually made their Bretonnian-bashing way pretty much all the way across the table to tee themselves up for a devastating charge against the waiting German line. Men were girding their loins, horses were loining their geldings and everything was now as good as it ever was going to get for both sets of men and mounts as the decisive clash approached.
The German army had survived pretty much all of the long range Swedish shooting, but as the bright yellow pseudo-C15 plunderhosen-wearing Vikings got to nostril-hair-comparing distances the Germans secret weapon, the Tartyfushcia infantry, sucked up a couple too many balls of lead and lost both a base and a level of cohesion - weakening a key part of the Teutonic line at the worst possible moment. Autsch!
But this was not a one-way swing in luck - one of the Swedes Colour Brigades also suddenly decided to become a bullet and cannon shot magnet as they homed in on the German line.
Battered by the shooting of artillery and infantry, sniped at by some cheeky Dragoons the Yellow-clad wanna-be Swiss and Landschnects lost bases and cohesion dramatically over a couple of turns dropping to a very endangered Fragged status.
This was good !
Ich glaub mich knutscht ein Elch! Now there was an opportunity for the Germans to drive forward in part of their line, swinging onto the flanks of the main Swedish attack
Loudly shouting "boo", the German horse faint towards the demoralized and traumatized Swedes causing them to turn and flee immediately without ever closing to salvo-shooting range of the Germans. Its' a huge hole in the Scandinavian strategy which the Germans are now considering how best to attack.
The onus now was on the rest of the German battle line to hold up against the shock of the initial Swedish charge - Superior cavalry, heavy infantry needed to hang in there and pin back the storming first round advance of the charging Games Workshop Wizardly, Orcish and Human figures with their blunderbusses and swordsmanship to buy time for their colleagues to swing round onto the Swedes flank.
Zum Teufel!l... that plan didn't really survive contact with the enemy particularly well at all. Hit by hard-charging infantry the German line pretty much evaporated at contact to leave a staggeringly large hole in the plan which had been so carefully built and assembled ... undone by a round of combat and some dramatic death rolls.
The Swedish Brigade roaring into action
The other half of the battle was also starting to resemble a strange mathematical puzzle in which the Swedes, supposedly at equal points to the Germans, had managed to concentrate far more Elite and Superior units into a circle of fire which was even now being poured relentlessly into the faces of the well-coloured and certainly more historically accurately attired (even accepting some liberties being taken) TYW Teutonic troopers.
This was also real backs against the wall time for the German army, as even their unarmoured horse had run out of road and tablecloth and were looking down the barrel of a do or die against the odds charge to rescue their day.
Heiliger Strohsack! Hope springs eternal though - the Swedes had started with fewer units, and having lost one to shooting there were large gaps starting to appear in the 8 feet of table width.
These gaps would have been manna for fast moving mounted dragoons in earlier iterations of the rules, but even with a "near the enemy" move distance of just 3MUs they had spotted an opportunity to dash forward out of the woods and try and chase down the enemy gunnes.
With the rest of his army either smashed, or well generalled anyway the German CinC stayed with the Dragoons to urge them through the wall of incoming case and shot from the Swedish artillery park.
The Tartuschier and Determined Horse may have failed to stand up to the Swedish assault, but proper old school Cuirassiers were made of sterner stuff - especially when fighting against mock-medieval gothic styled halberdiers without their own Heavy Armour in melee phases.
Despite being whittled down to just 50% of their original strength the Cuirassiers had held up one of the Colour Regiments long enough for the liberated German infantry unit to wheel round into the gap created after the first Swedish cohort had fled and slam into the flanks of the disgruntled Scandinavians.
This was clearly not a good position for them to be in - although probably somewhat better than their original incarnation as GW Empire soldiers in which case they would have been expected to take on Dragons and Tree Ents and all manner of it's definitely not Tolkein's IP-type beasties on a near-daily basis.
The Swedes sure don't like it up 'em, and certainly not when it's being jammed up 'em from two sides at once with a combination of pikes, pistols and hastily improvised musket-shaped clubs and cudgels.
The once proud and indomitable Colour Brigade turned tail almost immediately and fled back to the Nottinghamshire plastic injection moulding factory on the outskirts of the Bretonnian Empire from whence they had first emerged blinking and cursing many years ago.
The tide was now turning in Germany's favour..
Donnerwetter! The two Superior Regiments of German Foote were the next to shoulder the awesome responsibility of being the recipients of a Swedish Salvo charge. Seeing at first hand the devastating +2 factors at Impact made the Germans wonder how the Swedes failed to conquer the entire world even in the brief 30-year duration of the 30 Years War!
With gunnes a-firing on both sides the lines crashed together valiantly - and the Germans (just about) hung on, suffering a frightening double level cohesion drop on the Red Regiment but with the Blue's surviving intact as the Swedes slammed home. Would this be enough to hold the line at a time when the rest of the battle was going in their favour?
Combined with accurate and deadly shooting on the way in, the Swedes additional hit at first contact sent the Red Regiment of the Germans into meltdown as only 1/3 of their original number were left standing - or more accurately now, "fleeing" as they broke and ran towards the edge of the table.
The Swedes now had an unimpeded route to the camp, and an opportunity to put the squeeze on the German horse who had been dithering on this wing since the start of the battle.
With time and space running out faster than a Dr Who in their third series the German Horse took their chances and charged home.
The Blue Infantry Regiment were about to be swamped anyway, so the German General joined his mounted wing and led the charge bravely from the front - and delivered, through his inspiring presence and startlingly frightening moustache (no doubt) a mortal blow to the enemy, devastating them in the (when armour doesn't count) Impact phase.
To add insult to the already severe injuries the Germans then unhorsed the Swedish commander, causing the enemy unit to lose faith and hope and rout in a single round of combat!
On the opposite wing a denuded battlefield was being trampled underfoot by pursuing units and their own pursuers.
The German Cuirassiers were so proud of their achievements in helping hold up the Swedish line that they refused to give up on their prolonged pursuit - a feat of persistence which was soon to put them at risk of being charged themselves by the Swedish Carabiniers ... moments later though the German foote regiment would soon arrive to make the outcome utterly incomprehensive
The Dragoons had at last, painstakingly made it to the Swedish artillery park - walking slowly forward step by step with their horses in tow trotting alongside them with their long, puzzled horse faces wondering why their masters did not just remount and ride forwards much more quickly?
With the clock ticking down at some speed the Swedish Carabynyatteryists piled headlong into the flank of the no-longer pursuing Cuirassiers. The game was delicately poised, the Swedes did terrible damage... but the Cuirassiers knew their role as the solid Germanically efficient workhorses of the TYW German Field Army.. The vital cohesion test and death roll were both passed with flying colours, the charge was shrugged off and the game clock ticked down to zero.
The result pans out at a narrow but indecisive vistory for the Germans, with equal numbers of units lost on both sides and the larger German unit count allowing them to shade a win on the Duckworth Lewis method!
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 TYW German Commander
Well, that was quite an orderly and well executed plan, which came together at the right time and with a degree of efficiency which surprises no-one back in my home town but positively astounds the excitable and unruly British observers who saw it unfurl.
Of course, this is not the only way to analyse this outcome. A less German general might have said that the game was one which was determined by the lack of remembering of the new updated rules, which forced the commanders on the ground to revery much more so to thinking about the real world tactics needed to defeat an army with superior combat hitting power, but most probably weaker numbers of mounted troops on both wings.
In this sort of analysis a policy of sitting back with the infantrty centre and delaying combat with better troops for as long as possible was entirely logical and indeed the only sensible approach to take.
As a proud German I am very pleased to report that this exact, logical and efficient plan did indeed end up being one which was succesful. I look forward to a bright, Teutonic future for the rest of the days battles.
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
Aaah, you ox-brained lump, a man so unskilled that he attempts to turn his own lack of knowledge, preparation and general competence into a virtue - and astonishingly succeeds as well, thus proving at a stroke how hapless a fool he must be to perform better when he knows not what he is doing than when he does!
Here I see no skill, only luck that the sheer mass and inertia of your army could not be overcome in the time allowed by a far better enemy force. It appeared that every unit you had of ordinary stature, the opposition had managed to construct a list with equal numbers of Superiors - an outcome which taxes surely even your mathematical innumeracy in its puzzlement and lack of digits on which to count above 10.
Your so called superiority in cavalry also appeared to be a mere illusion - if I count correctly your best mounted units were despatched in short order by the previously hapless carbine-holding trotting horsemen of the average part of the enemy army, with your sole victory coming down to a lucky hail-mary attack when you had as good as lost the game already
The table in this competition is wide, and so you have a long way to slide down it towards the bottom where you surely belong. I look forward to seeing that slide start in earnest in the next game
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition