Friday, 13 July 2012

Prestonpans - The Wargame

With the scenario described in yesterday's post, we set about recreating the Battle of Prestonpans using Sam Mustafa's Maurice rules.

The first few turns were, unsurprisingly, fairly uneventful with the Jacobite player manoeuvring his clans to form a single force whilst the Government artillery began to chip away at the Camerons under Lord Lochiel.

The Situation at the end of Turn 10
The following turns saw the lines staying fairly static as both players attempted some sly shenanigans with a flurry of events. Firstly, the Government drew Keppoch of MacDonald out of line using Confusion and forced the Jacobites to waste a turn (and a Retrograde card) to bring them back to their original position.  Luckily for the Jacobites, the Government gunners appear to have fled by this time, as they failed to find their target for several turn in a row, allowing Lochiel to rally his men whilst the Rogues! Do you want to live forever? card was stolen using Captured Intelligence.  

Emboldened by the capture of Sir John Cope's private documents, Bonnie Prince Charlie used his ill gotten gains to make a rousing speech to raise his own Army Morale by 2, and lowering the Government Army Morale by 1 in the subsequent turn with
Death of a Hero (perhaps the summary execution of the poor aide entrusted with the stolen portfolio!).  Meanwhile, frustrated by his artillery's lack of success, Johnnie Cope proceeded to move Gardiner's Dragoons from their right flank position to form a larger cavalry reserve in the centre.

By turn 26, the positions showed very little change and both players had a full 10 cards in their hands.  With the first deck almost exhausted, now was the time for action.

Over his next two turns turns, the whole Jacobite line surged forward to within charge distance, avoiding most of the artillery bombardment.    Avoiding a Volley phase on the Government turn by playing
Firefight, the Jacobites were primed to complete their charge, although with the (inevitable) play of That's not on the map, the Jacobite left flank would have to slog through a patch of just-discovered marshy ground to reach their foes.

 that he had to soften up the solid Government line to have the best hope of success in the Combat Phase, the Jacobite player opted for a Volley Phase in his turn, hoping to maul the redcoats sufficiently to reduce their return fire.  In the event, both sides played Deadly Fire to enhance their volleys and the phase ended with their respective right flanks pretty chewed up by the experience but with both army's left flanks relatively intact.

Throwing everything into the charge, the highlanders hit the now fragile-looking red line.  Both players used cards to get +2 on their combat resolution and the highland Clanranald was further hampered by the play of
Attack Falters.

Turn 31's Combat Phase was sheer slaughter, with the 
Government losing 3 regiments to doubled die rolls (the a la Baionnette advantage allowing the Jacobites to re-roll combat dice came up trumps, turning mediocre or losing rolls into battle winners).  Now reduced to an Army Morale of 5 and with a fragmented line, Johnnie Cope's situation looked bleak. The remaining units of both sides ended the phase looking extremely battered, with the possibility of crippling losses during the next Volley Phase.

The end of Turn 31 - the skulls represent Disruption Points on units.
Playing his 2nd Firefight card, carefully held back for just this situation, the Jacobite player again prevents a Volley Phase in the Government turn.  With no sizeable force within reach, Sir John Cope is left with only being able to rally his right flank Picquets, before moving himself over to his left flank in the hope of bolstering this in the face of the next Jacobite attack.

Deeming discretion to be the better part of valour on this occasion, Prince Charles opts not to have a Volley Phase and 
successfully rallies most of his clans.

The end of Turn 33 - things do not look good for the Government
In the next Volley Phase, the Jacobites seize the initiative using First Fire and deal cruelly with the regiments of Murray and Lascelles, breaking both of them and causing the Government player the loss of another 5 Army Morale points - enough to break the army and send the survivors fleeing towards the dubious safety offered by the walls of Preston Parks.


This was another enjoyable and satisfying battle.  The decisive highland victory mirrored the real-life battle in result, if not (at first appearance) in the swiftness of the outcome.

However, if you look at the game as a whole, the real fighting took only 4 of the 34 turns to resolve, the rest of the game really being a matter of both sides 
engaging in a little preliminary sparring but primarily cycling the card deck to build up a good hand for the forthcoming battle phases.  The Jacobite player was particularly successful in this respect and it contributed in no small part to the decisive nature of the victory.  Without the use of cards allowing him to control the Volley Phases for the vital turns, the battle would certainly have gone on much longer and could have had quite a different outcome.

From my point of view, the game has vindicated my belief about how highlanders should be represented in Maurice but mainly it is a major endorsement of the robustness and flexibility of the Maurice system itself as we have, uncannily accurately, recreated the historical outcomes of two battles, both of which use a force which is certainly not a mainstream 18th Century army.

A big hand for Sam Mustafa for producing another superb and hugely enjoyable set of rules!

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