Rank and File – Hacking for the Great Northern War and War of Spanish Succession

Victory after the Battle of Narva
Victory after the Battle of Narva

Well, that’s a long title!

Truth is, after one game of Rank and File, I felt really comfortable with them as a rules system for the Seven Years War (7YW). After a week of pondering them, I find I am feeling really comfortable with them as a rules system for the American Civil War. I can also see me using them for the Great Pacific War (if I can ever find those bloody figures). I’m not sure about them for the Napoleonic Wars yet.

However, if did odcurr to me that if they work well enough for the Seven Years War, they should work well enough for the earlier ways – namely the War of Spanish Succession (WSS – Marlburian Wars to the English) and the Great Northern War (GNW – Stora nordiska kriget to the Swedes; Северная война to the Russians). During this period there were a couple of innovations in Europe and a little anachronism in Northern Europe.

Duke of Marlborough signing Despatch from Blenheim, Bavaria in 1704
Duke of Marlborough signing Despatch from Blenheim, Bavaria in 1704

Artillery was more effective as I understand later in the 18th century but apart from the pikes and the possibility of the odd plug bayonet what really separated the warfare of 1700 to 1721 from that of 1740 onwards?

Now I am researching some more and looking at modifying Rank and File to suit one of my sorely underplayed and modelled favourite periods of history.

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French-Indian War – Battle One at the Gun Bar

The French Battery and and battalion
The French Battery and and battalion

For a change from the Rapid Fire, Anthony suggested I read Rank and File on the bus up to the Gun Bar ((with one small change of letters this could become the Gin Bar)). I’m not sure that it was because he was bored with Rapid Fire but rather than he had received some new toys in the post and wanted to play with them.

The first part of the day was trying a burger from the barbecue as the search for the perfect burger continues (see the next post).

We then retired to the table where some terrain was laid out and Anthony’s French-Indian War figures were ready for battle.

Rules of Engagement were simple. Two roughly equal forces face off against each other across a valley. Let loose the dogs etc etc.

I deployed my cavalry and a battalion of infantry to product my right flank, positioned the battery with another battalion to protect it on the hill and split the remaining four battalions. Two were to hold my left flank and the remaining two to act as a strike-force up the centre. The centre was to be the main strike force as I could rapidly reinforce with another two battalions and support with the artillery.

The main strike force ready to advance and the right flank covered by the dragoons and another battalion
The main strike force ready to advance and the right flank covered by the dragoons and another battalion

It was a plan.

This was out first battle using Rank and File rules

The battle commenced. My left flank advanced and formed line waiting for an expected onslaught from the British. It came and my two battalions performed admirably, not only holding the flank but forcing the British back.

Meanwhile my artillery played on the British battalions and caused them some consternation.

On my right, my dragoons advanced on the river in company with a battalion of infantry to attempt to prevent the British crossing at that point.

My dragoons however ended up being roughly handled by the British and left the field.

Towards the end of the battle before things went pear-shaped on my right. Soon after this both the French and British right flanks crumbled. We called time at this point as both armies would have withdrawn from the field to lick their wounds. We really enjoyed the Rank and File rules and by the end of the battle we were playing bound after bound quite comfortably.

The advance up the road was initially successfully but ultimately failed
The advance up the road was initially successfully but ultimately failed