With another Weekender looming on the horizon Mark Shearwood shares his view of some wargaming Rock n' roll...
|Mark's first killing ground near Taunton.. lucky he was defending!|
I have followed the reports of previous weekends with interest and I must admit a little envy, so when a thread appeared by Barry on Fighting Talk on the Monday following Salute 2016 putting out feelers for a autumn weekend my interest was sparked.
So quickly moving through time and with finances checked I booked my place and waited with bated breath for the plans for the weekend to evolve, the hotel where all the action was happening sat on English Street in Dumfries - how appropriate for the subject matter of the weekender!
|The Duke of Berwick's forces for the weekend's campaigning|
In the months prior to the weekend Barry informed us the action would be the conclusion to a campaign where the Jacobites invaded England to regain King James crown from the forces of William III. We were allocated commands, mine being the King’s love-child(aka Bastard) James Fitzjames, Duke of Berwick.
So after several campaign turns where more than a little skulduggery occurred (I still want my ship back General Mackay you git!) and units were lost or recruited depending on the campaign Gods (well Barry actually), we were all set.
So with car full of figures and terrain I set forth on the morning of the 10th November up to Scotland to play a French born English duke invading England to take back the Crown for his Father. After checking in I found the game room, unloaded and over the next couple of hours all those involved arrived. There followed much discussion about who was playing whom.
The evening was spent (around a good dinner) sorting commands and assembling the 200 or so units needed. Eight collections were used and Barry and Toggy setting up four set up games for Saturday morning.
|Some of Kirke's battalions changes sides, some went down fighting, some fled... all at Badon, not here|
Replete with a hearty ‘full Scottish’ we headed into the hall to discover what surprises Barry had in store. The four tables represented Somerset, Oxfordshire, Shropshire and the a spit over the Esk into England. I knew my force along with Richard Hamilton’s had been campaigning in Devon and Somerset.
|The Williamite attack is giving Mark the collywobbles|
We knew which table was ours the question was were attacking a fortified camp uphill or defending it. The good news from Barry was that we were defending; the bad news was that combined, we had three battalions (all asleep) and four detachments in front of the camp.
|The Young Duke Victorious! Kirke calls off the attack|
The Mornings game was great fun. We were warned that casualties would be transferred to the main event I never knew it was so hard commanding so few forces, we were saved by some of my horse returning from a foraging trip and in the end it was a Jacobite win, overall the morning was a two-two draw.
During lunch the tables were changed into two 14 foot games, one in the north of the country and one in the south where my forces were located. We were set for the grand event with all commanders having secret victory conditions (more of that later). On our table the Jacobites were; the Duke of Berwick (myself), Richard Hamilton (Jacobite commander),Patrick Sarsfield and Dominic Sheldon.
We hoped the Earl of Marlborough would join us. Facing us were three Williamite commanders vonTettau (holed up in a village), Kirke and Tollemache. On our left flank was Marlborough (allegiance suspect). Due to my victory conditions I deployed next to Marlborough and opposite the village. With all the forces deployed it was left to Mr Hilton to unleash the dogs of war….
|Putting the Preusser under pressure - von Tettau feels the heat|
We were playing the new variant of Beneath the Lily Banners,called The War of Three Kings which worked extremely well regardless of how familiar players were with BLB2.
Berwick sent a rider with a note asking Churchill’s intentions and requesting he attend in person to agree a plan and to discuss a Dukedom (more of that later). I headed up to a half way point supported by two squadrons of my father’s Life Guard.
|Who will blink first? Berwick's Life Guards or Churchill's Horse Guards?|
Churchill arrived with two squadrons of his Elite Regiment of Horse. These faced off from Saturday pm till early Sunday morning neither fully trusting the other and waiting for who blinked first.
Our plan, which worked to some degree, was to pressure the village to push the enemy into reinforcing it thus leaving the centre of the Williamite line weak.
|These Danish lads are putting up some fight for Mercenaries!|
The rest of Saturday’s gaming was immense fun with Barry handing out event cards which just added to everyone’s enjoyment. We broke about 7 for dinner followed by some liquid refreshment and not a little more skulduggery.
Around 9 on Sunday morning we re-convened with both Churchill’s and my forces concentrating on the Danes in and around the village. Churchill sent several squadrons of cavalry off table to try and come around behind the Williamites whilst I was sending my infantry against the now thinning line of Danes. The Danish Guards were in the firing line. All the time I kept a close eye on Mr Churchill and had a squadron of Horse Guards ‘protecting’ his rear.
|You can't see these moments too often, can you Mark??|
After lunch, we continued with more skulduggery. It culminated with Kirke changing sides and charging into his former ally’s flank. As this happened on the far side of the battle my lead infantry 1st Battalion The Lord Grand Prior’s Regiment was about to engage with the Danish Guards but were taking considerable fire from the village. In fact, they took eleven casualties in one turn. With the help of a good Catholic Priest they passed the morale check.
|General Kirke, you are a very bad man... turning on your Allies!|
The following turn with dice gods on their side (and a well played event card) forcing the Guards to fire on their own men in the village) the now depleted Grand Prior’s charged with such force they won the melee and forced the enemy from the field.
|Churchill politiks his way to redemption|
With the battle all but one, Hamilton sent terms to the Williamites. There was some disagreement between the Jacobites as my Father had instructed that Tollemache and Kirke be arrested or killed, Kirke escaped and we agreed that Tollemache and his Danish troops be allowed to leave the field with full honours and colours flying.
Know back to Churchill, who had supported my flank all battle but was also on my Father’s hit list. I instructed that squadron of Horse been behind Churchill arrested him. This had the room in hysterics as no one else knew about my victory conditions.
The weekend was a narrow victory for the Jacobites and we had taken about half of the country but more importantly it was a great weekend of gaming with friends old and new. We all said we’d like to do again, so much that we are keeping the campaign on a slow burn and planning the next instalment in 2017… That takes place in three weeks… alas The Duke of Berwick is currently on tour in Eastern Europe as will be seen..
James Fitzjames, Duke of Berwick, aka. Mark