At under an hour, this was probably the fastest ever game I've played, apart from initial games of WRG with 2 or 3 units aside. Old School Tony contacted me the other day about his acquisition of Hallmark War of the League of Augsburg figures* and the Twilight of the Sun King rules by Nicholas Dorrell. OST was enthusiastic about the rules and used the phrase "less is more", so I thought they must be worth a look. He sent links to Mr Dorrell's YouTube account where he explains the principles of the rules and runs through some sample games.
* They look nice little figures (15mm).
As well as the Twilight of the Sun King rules, the author has also developed variants for the earlier 17th century (Twilight of the Divine Right) and for the mid-18th century (Twilight of the Soldier Kings). Mr Dorrell takes you through a turn by turn sample game of the Soldier King rules - the battle of Strehla, 1760. The videos are so helpful, and the rules seemingly so simple, you almost don't need to buy the rules.
Despite being simple to pick up, the rules have much subtlety that make you do all the things a good eighteenth century general had to do on the field of battle. Like make sure your flanks are secure, and have a second line and even reserves handy. Combat is very brief - in the terminology of the rules a player with a unit in combat checks for the unit's 'morale' rather than the opposition checking for hits. In most games you check both. An elegant feature is that moves straight ahead don't cost anything, but any direction or formation change can only be undertaken by the player passing a simple dice test. General's can improve your chances - not by giving dice bonuses but by allowing you to re-take a failed test.
A standard unit (brigade) is made up of two bases of cavalry or infantry. Movement and firing are done in base widths. So the usual statement of 'no re-basing necessary' holds. However, in a nice little piece of luck, the recommended base widths are 60mm wide. Just the size of my SYW bases (which originally derived from the Polemos basing convention). [Of course Mollwitz was in the War(s) of the Austrian Succession and not the SYW]
Because it is dicey (literally), you have to be very careful if you are carrying out any fancy moves with the enemy around. You really need a second line close behind, especially for cavalry or a push back turns into a rout. At one point in my trial game, I wheeled two Austrian brigades across a stream and it was touch and go whether the second line would wheel into place in time.
My overall impression was that these rules seemed to have captured the deceptively simple elegance of Command & Colors, without the grid. This could spell the end of my experiments with my own SYW rules.
The rules can be ordered through the Wire Forest Wargamers website at:
My order has gone off for the print version. There is a pdf version available but to be honest the saving isn't massive and I find it nicer and easier to have a printed version. The website has some downloadable scenarios too. I might have a look at Gross Jägersdorf and see how it's been tackled. That always looked a tricky one to game.
As I said before the game seems simple enough to learn just from the videos. I had to make up some rules on the spot for cavalry charging infantry as I didn't see how that was done. I probably made some other errors too. But the fact I could have a passable game (and with a near historical outcome) shows what a lean and robust set of rules Mr Dorrell has produced.
So how did my game go. Well the Prussian artillery bombarded the Austrian left wing cavalry in an attempt to stop them attacking the inferior Prussian cavalry. In true historical fashion, rather than "stand here and be shot like dogs", Römer's Austrian horse attacked. The cavalry combats went better on the left for the Prussians than historically, and slightly better on the right. I may have been too kind on the Prussians' ratings, but they did have some very good dice rolls in their favour. I made Frederick a '1' (average general) and Schwerin his nominal deputy a 2 and Neipperg the Austrian commander a 2 (2 means good in these rules). Other generals were classed as 1.
|The starting positions. Austrians at the top. The Prussian second line is just out of shot at the bottom.|
|Römer's Austrian heavy cavalry crash into the weaker Prussian cavalry wing. This time Austrians are at the top.|
|On the Prussian left, the Prussian cavalry advanced to the attack whilst the Austrians are re-deploying across the stream.|
|In the centre the Prussian infantry comes under bombardment from the Austrian guns - this is really harassing fire under these rules, with the object of slowing down the Prussian advance.|
Maybe I'll refight it when the rules arrive and see what mistakes I made.