Home Forums Horse and Musket 18th Century 18th century big battles

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  • #5077
    Henry Hyde
    Participant

    I was wondering which, if any, actual battles from the period you would really love to play but perhaps don’t have the miniatures or space for unless you ‘bathtub’ them down so much as to become meaningless? Blenheim is an obvious one for me. Or perhaps you have managed to achieve your ambition as a club project or at the Wargames Holiday Centre?

    Charles Grant’s “Wargaming in History” series for Ken Trotman really piqued my interest for having a go at a number of battles from the Wars of the Austrian Succession and Seven Years War.

    Tell us about your gigantic battle experiences — or lack of them..

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    #5085

    Torgau. The depth of the deployment makes this battle almost impossible to do in 28mm.

    My experience of gigantic battles is quite limited but, the gigantic ones I’ve played in have tended to become a bit tedious. Big battles, with one or two thousand figures, have been great, but the truly huge ones (more than 2000 figures, biggest 3500+) have just become pointless, overcrowded, painfully slow slogging matches. I’m not sure why that is. All, with only one exception, have been 28mm affairs.

    What, BTW, is your definition of gigantic?

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    #5086
    Henry Hyde
    Participant

    What, BTW, is your definition of gigantic?

    I suppose I mean anything that exceeds perhaps 1,000+ miniatures per side, usually requiring several players (though of course 6/10mm might skew this).

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    #5092

    I think we are in the same ball park.

    This Zorndorf game had 1600 figures (from memory, roughly 700 Prussians Vs 900 Russians) and one player per side. The table was 14 x 6. It took about 7 playing hours, over two show days, for the two players, plus myself (umpire, extra hands to move stuff, and punter fielder) to fight to a satisfactory conclusion. I call this a big game. A gigantic game would be much bigger. This size of game is usually great fun. I used to think that a bigger game was always going to be a better one; now I think that games have an optimum size and this is at the upper end of that. Funnily enough, I think that more players often make games worse. I think that three or four per side is the absolute limit and two is optimum – more than that and the game tends to go at snails pace, one or two players get stuck with a boring table sector and, for some reason, simple discussions can become arguments (because you can’t please all of the people all of the time?).

     

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    #5121
    willz
    Participant

    Interesting comments from both Henry and James, sadly for myself I have not had the pleasure of playing a large 18th century game but having run several very large WW2 games I can agree with the statement that there is a maximum number of figures/players, playing a large game before movement boredom, figure overload or tactical stagnation sets in.

    I think a the secret of large 18th century gaming is maybe playing several smaller games (maybe 250-350 figure a side) on the same theme in the same area.  I certainly will be trying this option for my large WW2 games in future.

     

    • This reply was modified 6 years, 5 months ago by willz.
    #5140
    Henry Hyde
    Participant

    The biggest 18th century games I’ve been involved with are the ones I’ve organised myself. Our Ayton games are, of course, imagi-nations based, but we’ve had a few stonkers in the last handful of years. You can see the ones from this April on my Flickr feeds: the Second Battle for Pescadrix day 1 is here and day 2 is here.

    What I’ve found is that you need an extremely active umpire(s) who makes sure that everyone is engaged as much as possible in one way or another, even if that means helping out other players who are busier. I would agree that this size of game, which also included off-table map moving, is only possible occasionally, if for no other reason that I couldn’t take the strain of doing it more often! The other thing that makes these Ayton weekends winners are that everyone displays ‘the spirit of wargaming’ that I tend to bang on about. I’ve witnessed some large games where that spirit was in very short supply, if not altogether absent.

    Perhaps the imagi-nation aspect means that people don’t take themselves so seriously, even if they take the battlefield tactics very seriously indeed.

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    #5154
    willz
    Participant

    I am with you on your last post Henry, some people do take this gaming hobby a bit seriously after all it’s not real.

    Imagi-nations are made up but you could argue that all war-gaming is made up as it’s a subjective or is that objective mater of concept.

    Having been an umpire on several large games, it helps to have active and fun umpires.  The hardest part I have found with using large tables is that war-gamers tend to stick to a 4 – 6 foot space, they can’t get their heads around large spaces and maybe that’s why some games can stagnate.

    My rule is enjoy this fascinating hobby and have fun.

    • This reply was modified 6 years, 5 months ago by willz.
    • This reply was modified 6 years, 5 months ago by willz.
    • This reply was modified 6 years, 5 months ago by willz.
    #5170
    Neil Scott
    Participant

    I think I’ve been rather lucky, been involved in a number of large games, Blenheim, Ramillies, Platzen and Minden all come to mind. All were done in 15mm in a friends purpose built wargames room on a 18ft x 6ft table. Even number of players and an umpire are essential to keep the games flowing. We normally fight over a full day with breaks every couple of hours for refreshments and discussion.

    Double six! I need a double six

    #5183
    Will McNally
    Participant

    Have successfully run several large (3K+) Napoleonic games using Black Powder. I’d love to have enough figures to do the same with C18, can only manage just over 2k so far.

    #5979
    dhauser
    Participant

    I would love to game Monmouth. It’s less about the total figure count and more about the space required for the endeavor. It’s a battle that ran back and forth all day and was frankly in doubt right up to the end of the day. Washington believed he would need to continue the fight the next day and Howe withdrew during the night or the vicious pounding both sides took would have continued.

    Both sides performed marvelously on the field and I suspect it was the ability of the Continentals to finally stand up and go toe to toe with the British Army all day that convinced Howe that it was pointless to continue to oppose the rebellion. So he  returned to NY never to really sally forth again.

    Reading about the battle, visiting the field, viewing the distances and the movements of the opposing forces. It really needs to be done in a scale of 1 to 10 at a maximum I think. Someday!

    Chickens got livers? I'm gettin' some!

    #6982
    Brendan Morrissey
    Participant

    Don,

    The problem with refighting Monmouth Courthouse in toto (“You AND your little dawg – mwahahaha!”) is that it took place at two separate locations, and to a great extent you are at the mercy of the dice as to where the morning battle goes – Lee should have done better against the (initially) small British rearguard.  Hence it really works best when played as two separate battles, which is why Eclaireur and I did it that way in the British Grenadier scenario books.  “Big” AWI battles are probably best achieved by using bigger units (ie lower figure:man ratios), as very, very few got above 5,000 per side and those that did tended to be a series of small battles rather than one big one (eg Long Island and White Plains).  Ironically, two of the biggest potentially didn’t quite happen – the Battle of the Clouds five days after Brandywine, and Whitemarsh in December of the same year, both had 10,000+ per side and could have seen major bloodletting.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Clouds

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_White_Marsh

    On the factual side, Howe had actually gone home a month before Monmouth, it was Clinton who fought the battle – although he managed to do it by galloping about “like a Newmarket* jockey”.  And without decrying the Continentals efforts, I think it would be fairer to say it was having half of his British infantry – 15 batta;ions, IIRC – stripped away from him the following winter that stopped Clinton being more aggressive for the rest of the war.  Most of the individual unit-to-unit engagements at Monmouth were won by the British, who only stopped when they came up against the considerable (having walked it) physical obstacle of Perrine Ridge.  There does seem to be a view among American historians that Monmouth evidences a sea change in the ability of the Continentals – my view is that they were pretty much already there and Steuben’s bigger contribution was to the staff/admin side of the army.  A year or so earlier, the performance of Continental units at both Saratoga battles (albeit against lesser quality opposition than Howe’s/Clinton’s army), and of some units at Brandywine – which in turn led Washington to over-stretch them at Germantown, despite a good showing there, too – illustrated what they were capable of when well led.

    The fly in the ointment was really Washington himself – at Monmouth he was too far behind Lee to support him properly, and ended up having to hide behind a ridge all afternoon instead of crushing Clinton’s rearguard, and bringing his main force to battle, which in turn would leave the wagon train vulnerable to Morgan coming up from the south.

    [ * Widely regarded as the “home” of English horse-racing  ]

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