After a year of painting, basing and quite an investment, we finally got to the first Great Northern War battle, with more than 1000 figures on table for a two man rumble.
It was a stand up fight, both sides deployed 6″ in, on a table 8′ x 4′. The first photo will give you an idea as the terrain was the same for the game, but the deployment for the game was not, I laid some of the stuff out to take some photos beforehand.
Rules were Warlord Pike & Shotte with amendments. I use P&S as it makes artillery less effective and move ranges are shorter, plus supporting is more difficult, so it all fitted the period and the scale of 10mm figures better for me.
We rolled to pick sides, and thankfully I got to be the Swedes, as I felt was fitting for the first outing, and hey, who doesn’t want to be the nutty Swedes?
14 infantry battalions (3 guard), 8 cavalry/dragoon regiments, 6 batteries
21 infantry battalions (3 guard), 10 dragoon regiments, 10 batteries
As you can see from the first photo, the Swedes were deployed on the left, and it instantly became obvious that the Russians sat across a flat plain, protected by a river and a marsh…who laid this terrain out!
|Swedish attack columns storm across the flat terrain|
So I decided an all out assault across the plain was in order, to get across it as quickly as possible, and to get over the river before the Russians could get lined up and deploy their superior artillery.
I put 8 battalions in column so they would get a +2 order bonus, and in addition all the Swedes are Elite 4+, so that with the superior commanders (mostly rated 9 and 10) I could get across the plain quickly.
On the left I massed most of the Swedish horse with the grand plan of sending the whole lot against the three Russian dragoon regiments on their right, to overwhelm them, and get behind the Russians, pinning them against the marsh and the advancing infantry in the centre.
However as you can see from the photo below, the pivotal decision took place in turn two, when I spotted the Russian guard regiments three battalions moving around the edge of the marsh to outflank my infantry centre. So I diverted half the cavalry…. with far-reaching consequences!
|The fatal decision to not hit the left flank!|
In the centre things went well. All the assaulting infantry battalions stormed to the river bank, formed line, and went across without any order fails. The Russians were struggling with failed orders and artillery only just deploying. Ga Pa!
|Swedish assault across the river|
Meanwhile on the Swedish right, a token cavalry brigade of two units waited to see what the Russian left did. They sent a dragoon brigade over the bridge, and stood on a hill, effectively creating a stand off.
|Russian dragoons show unexpected boldness!|
In the centre an absolutely ferocious battle ensued for around an hour. The Swedes were tooled up with ferocious charge, plus other special rules, and in addition also benefit from a special rule I have made.
Swedish foot can counter-charge like cavalry, to keep them aggressive and stop “gamey” Russian charges to negate their ferocious charge rule (lets face it a charge was about fifty paces). Swedish cavalry AND infantry can also charge/counter-charge when shaken. So they are incredibly dangerous.
However, numbers began to tell. The Swedes failed several break tests and started to break, at the same time the Russian heavy artillery finally got itself deployed, and three batteries started pouring 3 D6 each into them alongside the superior musket fire of the Russian infantry.
On the left, the smaller Swedish cavalry attack bogged down, and my decision to divert half the cavalry began to tell as a poor one.
The Russian guards deployed between a wood and the marsh, so they could not be outflanked. The cavalry had to attack steady infantry frontally, and got smashed to bits. I threw in the three battalions of Swedish guard, who stalled in melee and then started falling back through break tests.
In desperation, and the last photo below, I did a “follow me” order with Charles XII himself, to lead a shaken cavalry unit over the river to try and give my shattered infantry a chance to reform.
|The end. Numbers and firepower tell as the last Swedish foot get outflanked on their right|
|Shaken cavalry cross the river with Charles at their head. Too little, t||oo late.|
The end had come. The Swedish horse on the left could have swung round still as the Russian dragoons on the right were falling apart, but the Swedish centre had gone, and on the Swedish right, the additional Russian dragoons numbers were beginning to tell.
Of the 8 + another 2 battalions later that went across the river, 4 shaken battalions were left with their backs to it at the end.
I had been concerned of making Swedish “super units”, but felt they needed to be far superior to reflect the historical reality for most of the war.
In the end, they were about right. Incredibly aggressive, well led, drilled. But against superior numbers, who had more firing dice per unit plus superior artillery, they started to simply melt away, aided by my bloody awful break test rolls, as always!
The key decision that lost the battle was to water down the Swedish massed cavalry attack to deal with my centre being outflanked. It created a situation where the far superior Swedish horse were simply decimated by steady infantry who could not be outflanked.
The rule amendments worked well. I introduced another layer of command, the wing commander. It’s explained in the stats download, but basically, each side got a commander of foot and one of horse, who could rally, follow me, and intervene (a re-roll of a failed brigade order). This seemed to work well and gave both sides another option to slightly offset the frustration of the order system!
Download My GNW P&S Stats And Amendments
If you would like to download and try my stats and amendments for GNW, you can click here to download a pdf.