Monday, 2 July 2012

Culloden 1746 - A Scenario for 'Maurice'

The latest ruleset to appear from Sam Mustafa's stable is Maurice, aimed at covering the period 1690-1790.   

Without going into an in depth review of the rules, which has already been covered many times elsewhere (and probably better than I could take credit for), players in Maurice take turns to activate a force (of infantry, cavalry or artillery) and support it's action through the play of cards.  During the course of the battle, units gain Disruption Points which represent casualties, disorder and wavering morale until they can take no more and break.  Each time a unit breaks, it's army loses a random amount of Army Morale.  When Army Morale reaches zero, the army itself breaks.  In Maurice, players are forced to make decisions as to whether they move, fight or rally each turn 
rather than the general advance and battle across the whole front that many rules allow.

One of the discussions on the Maurice Honour Forum is about how to represent highlanders of the Jacobite Rebellions in the game, which you can follow here
.  To test some of my ideas, I decided to set up a refight of Culloden, using historical deployments and, as far as possible, representing the forces that were present on the day.

I'll be posting the battle in two parts.  The first post (this one!) will be the scenario itself with the rationale for decisions that I've made, with the subsequent post being our wargame of the battle.

The Jacobite Army

1 x Irregular Cavalry 

1 x Conscript Regular cavalry
1 x Artillery
11 x Regular Conscript Infantry
2 x Regular Trained Infantry 

Army Morale = 15

National Advantages - a la Baionnette!, En Masse

The Government Army

2 x Artillery

3 x Trained Regular Cavalry
13 x Regular Trained Infantry

Army Morale = 18

National Advantages - Lethal Volleys, Steady Lads

Scenario Special Rules

  • The All Guns Bombard rule is in use.
  • The Government player has the first turn
  • Starting card hand - Government = 6 cards, Jacobite= 4 cards
  • The enclosure walls count as cover and block line of sight (as Obstructing Terrain) but do not hamper movement (although they were 6ft high in places, gaps were made fairly easily for troops to pass through).  They do, however, count as Difficult Terrain for any unit charging across them.
  • All Jacobite infantry must deploy in Massed formation.

Special Victory Conditions

There is no objective placed on the battlefield.  This is a fight to the finish with the loser being the side whose Army Morale is reduced to zero first.  To make this a little more interesting for the Jacobite player and to encourage an aggressive stance, each time a Government unit is 
broken, the Jacobite rolls on the ART, Irregular row of the Army Morale loss table and ADDS that amount to his Army Morale.  In this way, the Jacobite may be able to keep his army in the field long after it would ordinarily have broken.

Initial Deployment

Culloden - Historic Deployment
The Government forces are in Red with their Jacobite opponents in Blue.  The greeny mass to the top right of the map is the infamous boggy ground that so disrupted the highland charge.  The thin yellow line that runs from top to bottom is the Inverness road, which is just for show and has no effect on play

Design Notes

The battle was played on a 48 x 48 Base Widths (BW) board (for those not in the know, Maurice neatly defines distances in terms of the width of a base of figures, 4 of which make up a regiment).  The setup has the armies placed slightly further apart than when the action began in real life for a couple of reasons.
It gives the Government player the option to move up to better defensive terrain or bombard the Jacobite army for an extra turn and it forces the Jacobite player to decide whether he is going to stay put and beef up his card hand by Passing or Bombarding weighed against the risk of being bombarded himself.  I think that this quite nicely allows for simulating the initial artillery bombardment that the Jacobites suffered without forcing them to remain stationary for one or more turns.

The lines of the respective armies are set up more than 2 BW apart so that players could not immediately form a Force with multiple lines of troops.

Forcing the Jacobites to deploy in Massed formation helps to simulate the deep formations that their regiments were drawn up in (making them better in melee but more vulnerable to enemy fire).  In game terms it also makes them less effective in standing toe to toe, exchanging shots with the enemy, quite apt considering the way that the Highlanders fought.

I classed most of the Jacobite regiments as Conscript to reflect their poor organisation, indifferent armament and training plus their exhaustion on the day of battle.  The two exceptions are Lord Ogilvy's men and the Royal Ecossois, both of whom fought well enough on the day to rate as Trained.  Somewhat controversially, I kept the Irish Picquets as Conscript as, during the actual battle, they somehow appeared to have gone
from facing a wavering, outnumbered cavalry force to fleeing to the shelter of Culloden Parks with heavy casualties a few minutes later - hardly the mark of solid troops.

Finally, I decided to make Bagot's Hussars an Irregular cavalry unit, for no better reason than it seemed to fit their character.  In practice, it probably makes little difference if you rate them as Conscript Regulars.

Culloden is a difficult battle to simulate as a wargame if you want both players to enjoy themselves.  On the day, the Jacobites were not only outnumbered, outclassed, fatigued and poorly led but disadvantaged by both terrain and weather so they realistically had little chance of a conventional military victory.   However, despite their abject defeat, it is the romanticised image of the noble, brave and ferocious Highlander that has survived in the popular consciousness so I have tried to reflect this in the Special Victory conditions, which allow the Jacobites the chance of a moral, if not, military triumph.

Tomorrow, I'm planning to post details of our Culloden refight along with my reflections on how I thought the battle played, both as a balanced game and as a historic simulation.

If you want to learn more about the Battle of Culloden, I can do no better than recommend the Osprey Campaign Book No 12, Peter Watkin's 1964 TV documentary reconstruction Culloden (not strictly historically accurate but full of atmosphere) and, of course, Stuart Reid's splendid book 'Like Hungry Wolves'.

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