Kicked off our mini campaign last night for the Bohemian Phase of the Thirty Years War. Having spoken for some time with gaming pal Doug Knight who has a tried and tested campaign system that has been used for the Napoleonic period as well as ACW and SYW – we decided to give the TYW the campaign treatment. The campaign has an intentionally limited scope and focuses on seven days of manoeuvring around a very specific campaign objective. The idea of the campaign is to give players an extra layer of decision making to each tabletop battle but within a limited period of time with a definite conclusion. In this campaign the Imperial/Catholic League army are trying to defeat Rebel forces and break through to Prague.
The picture above shows the campaign map that Doug has kindly drawn for us, the map shows the various features such as woods, rivers, hills, villages and roads that the armies will have to negotiate.
The Rebel forces are marked on the map in red, unsure where the main thrust is likely to come from they have had to spread their forces quite widely in order to intercept any probes from the Catholic army. Each number on the map represents a group of units, the identity of which the opposing side will be unaware of. Both sides write orders for their forces and move their forces on the map. Each such move represents a day in campaign time.
After several days of Imperial advances and Rebel manoeuvring, the Imperial force launches an attack. At this point the battlefield is set up and the units deployed. The battlefield was set up as shown in the picture above. The Imperial force included a couple of powerful German and Bavarian tercios plus supporting regiments of mounted arquebusiers and Croat cavalry. The rebels fielded a force of similar strength with five rebel battalions of foot and supporting Hussar cavalry. The Imperial force can be seen approaching from the right hand side, the Rebels are deployed along the road and around the village. Both armies seem reasonably well matched and both sides are happy to test each others strength – the battle is on. Had both sides been wildly out-balanced (which is always a risk in campaign games) the weaker side would have to stay on the battlefield for at least six turns before they could withdraw.
The Imperial force attacks. In the centre of the picture, just to the right of the village, two tercios begin their attack. To the right of this Imperial and Rebel cavalry skirmish which results in one Hussar unit on the Rebel side breaking. The Rebel general did manage to rally this unit but not before losses are incurred – losses that will last for the duration of the campaign.
The results of the Imperial generals sinister laughter soon became apparent to the Rebel commanders as the Catholic army brought on powerful reinforcements in the form of four powerful German tercios and a couple of cuirassier regiments. These additional forces arrived in turn six and where the fruit of the successful manoeuvrings of the Imperials, sadly for the Rebels no such reinforcements were available – all of a sudden this was becoming a very unequal fight.
With two battalions of foot holding the line, the Rebels try to salvage the remainder of their infantry by withdrawing it to the rear. At this point the Imperial force sends its Croat cavalry and mounted arquebusiers to ride down these vulnerable units trying to make their escape. Sadly that was where we had to leave the game for the evening but we will be picking it up again next week.
Every one who played the game definitely got a sense of having an extra layer of involvement, with the need to husband forces rather than throwing units away in frenetic one-off battles being the overriding concern. And just as the routing Hussars fled for home (see picture above) we abandoned the battle but unlike the Hussars – we will definitely be back for the conclusion of the battle. I will report back next week.