The Last Vikings
The Swedish Army at Kliszόw 1702 and Fraustadt 1706
Author: Paul Comben
Designer: Sławomir Łukasik
Here and there around the passages of arms there are events that the board wargaming hobby has not devoted a great deal of attention to. The Great Northern War, and indeed many of the battles of the late 1600s and very early 1700s, irrespective of what war they belonged to, are a case in point. It is not a matter of complete oversight, but rather one of rather sparse coverage. We are, at least in certain cases, in the region of battles a broader audience has never actually heard of or has willingly passed by even if it has. And to my mind that is something of a pity as one of the most interesting aspects of the study of military science is when the practice of arms enters a phase of notable transition.
This certainly applies to the battles presented here, and to the era in general. In a time of military evolution, finding the balance between firepower and shock, and within both disciplines, the optimum use of the weaponry available, is very much part of the story. And inevitably, armies that were shaped by varying perspectives on leadership and what we might broadly call national temperament came up with an assortment of methods – some of which were to prove rather more effective than others. In the book Destructive and Formidable by David Blackmore one can trace the gradual evolution of the battalion firing practice that was a keynote of Marlborough’s army. Other nations came up with their own ideas – or, for better or for worse, simply stayed with what they already had. With regard to the game we are studying here, Brent Nosworthy’s The Anatomy of Victory, analysing method from across the continent, is featured topmost in the supporting literature’s bibliography.
Continue reading “The Last Vikings – A BoardgamingLife Review”
by Paul Comben
Designer: Denis Sauvage
Publisher: Golden Games, Shakos
Napoleon’s 1806 campaign in Prussia was one of those occasional examples in military history where two culturally similar nations, armed with much the same sort of weaponry, and this in the hands of more of less similar numbers of men, managed to produce entirely different results. To be blunt, from beginning to end, this campaign really wasn’t close. One tempting comparison (involving much the same combatants, broadly speaking) was the German offensive against France in the spring of 1940. One side (no two guesses which) had the modern method to match the modern weapons, and a daring plan to match the method and the weapons. The other side (narrowed down to a choice of precisely one) thought they were still fighting their last war, and thus had no relevant method, no daring plan, and not that many commanders who would have looked out of place posing for one of Mister Fenton’s photographic portraits in the Crimea.
It was largely the same story in 1806 – just with the roles reversed. Napoleon was the modern military thinker with an army nearing peak performance. By contrast, Prussian leadership was obsessed with the doctrines of Frederick the Great (in 1806, the best part of half-a-century past their best) and the higher tiers of its automaton army were thoroughly overpopulated with aged fossils with no inclination to think or fight other than how it had all been done decades earlier.
Continue reading “Napoleon 1806: The Boardgaminglife Review”
By Paul Comben
Designer: Godfrey Bailey, Geoff Noble
Publisher: Legion Wargames
Is there fun in total failure?
Some military ventures are simply wrong from the start. Everything about them is inauspicious and ill starred, with calamity and disaster simply awaiting their cue to show themselves to full effect.
Colenso, the subject of Legion Wargames Redvers’ Reverse, is about as good an example of this as you can get. A British army of over sixteen thousand men was meant to be lifting the siege of Ladysmith in the last days of 1899. In their way were several thousand Boers with German rifles, a small number of German-supplied and German manufactured artillery pieces, a winding river the British had not positively identified the fordable regions of, and a fair amount of high ground overlooking the British low ground. Continue reading “Redvers’ Reverse A BoardgamingLife Review”