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Marlborough s'en ve-t-en guerre

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TITLE: “Malbrough s’en va-t-en guerre” Wargame Rules for the War of the SpanishMarlborough Succession

AUTHORS: Brian Cameron, Bernard Ganley, Nigel Haworth, Peter Merritt, Mukul Patel & Keith Warren

PUBLISHER: Realistic Modelling Services

PUBLICATION DATE: 2005

WEB SITE/SUPPORT FORUM: www.Realisticmodelling.com

PRICE: 10.50 in 2011. See website for exchange rates

REVIEWED BY: Bernard Ganley (one of the authors)

PERIOD COVERED: War of the Spanish Succession

THE BOOK:  35 page Ring bound rules with colour cover with b&w content. There is a one-page playsheet, which is also the back cover.

Game Aids: 1 colour page of campaign counters, 1 French Army Strategy Sheet, 1 Confederation Strategy Sheet, 1 French Contingent Sheet, 1 Confederation Contingent Sheet, 1 sheet of weekly weather counters & Lines of Supply Markers, 1 Calendar sheet for VP’s, Campaign Year & Battlefield Clock.

SCOPE: The game combines a campaign system using the game aids noted above and a set of army level battlefield rules to resolve campaign battles. There is also a system for generating one-off battles if you do not want to use the campaign system. To play the game you will also need 2 packs of playing cards (not provided).

ARMY SIZE: The battlefield system is designed to portray battles using anything from 6mm to 15mm. The 10mm range from Pendraken and Irregular Miniatures are used in the rulebook. You will need 20-25 bases per 10,000 in your army and armies can be anything from 20-50,000 a side

BASE UNIT: The base represents a battalion, pair of squadrons or a pair of guns.

GAME SCALES:

  • Ground Scale: 1” = 100 yards
  • Time Scale: 1 Turn = 1 Hour
  • Table Size: 6 x 4 ft
  • Figure/Base ratio: Figures per base according to pocket. In the rules using 10mm figures bases have 10 infantry, 6 cavalry or 1 gun or approx 1:40 to 1:50.
  • Game Length: 2 – 4 hours depending upon size of battle

BASING SIZES

Use what you have already, but in the rules the following are suggested for 10mm:

Infantry Battalion: 40mm x 20mm using 10 figures in 2 ranks

Cavalry: 25mm x 50mm using 6 figures in 2 ranks with as much space as possible between ranks to give the impression of a couple of squadrons

Dragoons: 50mm oval base using 3 mounted and 3 dismounted figures

Hussars: 50mm oval base using 4-5 figures

Artillery 15 x 20mm, 20 x 30, 30 x 30 for Battalion, field and heavy guns with 1 model gun and 1 – 3 crew depending upon weight of gun.

TURN SEQUENCE

I will not include the Campaign Turn Sequence, but will include the pre-battle dicing for forces, army morale, terrain and deployment for the battlefield rules for the one-off battles

Size of Battle: Throw 1 Average + 1 Contingent cards per side. Allies use 13 Hearts Cards and French 13 Club cards from a deck of cards. Deal the number of contingent cards diced for. Each contingent card represents 10,000 men and dependent upon the value of the card will give the number of units e.g. 10 Hearts will give the French 2 Elite, 8 Trained Infantry battalions and 4 Elite, 4 Trained, 6 Poor Cavalry units. The higher the value of the card - the better the quality of the units.

Artillery: Throw 2 Average dice per contingent: The higher roll is the number of battalion guns and the lower the number of field and heavy guns.

Generals: If 3-4 Contingents then pick two of the named campaign generals, 5 contingents three generals and 6 contingent four named generals. Then throw an average dice per contingent for the ability of the unnamed generals with the army. In turn for each unnamed general throw an average dice for his ability.

Army Morale: Add together ability of all generals + 1 per 5,000 in the army to give Demoralisation total for that side. Once at O the battle is lost

Battlefield layout. The rules avoid use of tape-measures by using a gridded movement system: Extreme Left, Left Wing, Centre, Right Wing, Extreme Right sectors across the battlefield and 6 zones depth: 2 for the French, 2 neutral and 2 for the Confederation. Thus there are 30 zones to regulate movement. At the start of the battle deal 1 card from a pack of cards into each zone. A Spade will be a terrain feature such as low hills, village, wood etc all others means it is clear terrain.

Once done the defender decides which side he is fighting from and both sides deploy forces in each friendly sector or keeps some troops off-table as a hidden reserve. There are rules for the time to deploy your army, as this was a key feature of the wars of the period. The difference in deployment time means some sectors of the slower deploying army might be disorganised when the battle starts. To portray the forcing of reserves at the start of the battlefield there is a mechanism whereby those wrong footed might be forced to commit their reserves early to an outnumbered sector.

The game then proceeds with the hourly turns

  • Initiative
  • Movement
  • Combat
  • Reform
  • Loss of Army Morale

GAME MECHANICS

The rule set includes a campaign system for fighting the war using two packs of playing cards and the Game Aids mentioned above. 25 of the playing cards are used to create a five x five theatre of war with random friendly and enemy fortresses. This theatre of war is then fought over using the campaign counters, lines of supply etc. Most of the campaign effort is spent on besieging and relieving fortresses, but will result in a number of interesting field battles. Thus each battle will have a context, but a random system is also available if one you want to fight one-off battles.

Initiative: Dice for who moves first in a turn. Better C-in-C +1. Redice draws. Winner tests to move forces in a sector using 1d6 against a general’s ability in that sector (varies from 2 to 6). Then the loser does one sector etc. until all sectors have tested or passed.

Movement: Is by zone and except for the cavalry it is very difficult to move laterally. Forcing the enemy to deploy his reserves before you do gives a great advantage as you can then deliver a decisive attack.

Combat: The only ranged fire is field/heavy guns which are resolved by dividing total fire points by 6 for the number of hits inflicted. Infantry and Cavalry combat only occur when the forces attempt to break into an enemy zone. Combat is resolved in a similar way in that combat points are divided by 6 to give a number of hits, dicing using 1d6 for any residue. Depending upon their quality units require one to four hits to be removed. Once committed combat is attritional with the commitment of fresh forces the key to eventual success. Generals can attempt to order their forces to fallback from a combat, but it can be risky, as it was historically.

Reform: Generals can reform a few units each turn if they are not involved in combat. Thus if you win in a sector your choice is to press on probably in a disorganised state or spend time to reorganise before moving on.

Loss of Army Morale: Lose morale points for each infantry or cavalry unit lost, if you do not have a reserve, lost generals, baggage has been lost or if fighting in your reserve line.

ARMY LISTS/SCENARIOS

The campaign system or the one-off Battlefield system will generate battles of various sizes

The contingent cards can be modified or chosen for a specific battle.

REVIEWER’S COMMENTS

These rules grew out of 

  • Need to portray a game that simulates the description from say a battle in a chapter from a campaign history and therefore emphasise key army decisions: When to start the battle, commitment of reserves, movement of mass cavalry, when to quit before it was too late. In this period half a dozen units a side does not give the sweep of Marlburian battles.
  • Rules that were period specific and therefore rules are as simple as possible. There are a minimum of combat modifiers and only 1 playsheet. Battles could be set up, played and put away in an evening.
  • Not using Rulers: the bain of wargames in that it slows games down.
  • Not using unit labels: In 10mm we are lucky in that it is relatively easy to portray units of different qualities: If a base has a flag and a separate officer it is elite, if a flag it is trained and if it has neither then it is poor. A general’s base has figures on it the same as his ability. Who has initiative is given a coach and horses base, sectors are marked by small trees, broken guns, bush etc. This makes the game a lot more attractive to look at and do not distract the eye. This is important not just in a club game but also when doing displays.
  • Game that portrayed honour. To add a little flavour throughout the rules there are opportunities to gain military honour, possibly at the expense of victory! These add something to your decision-making such as allowing enemy to move first in a turn, allow him to complete his deployment, as he is not ready etc.

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