Stuart Asquith very kindly sent me a copy of his Big Wars rules after I had mentioned them to him on the telephone when he had rung up to order some paint. I hadn’t had chance to play them up to now but Anthony and I both thought that a game using the rules would be a fitting memorial on the day of Stuart’s funeral.
The scenario chosen was Scenario 25 from the “Scenarios for all ages” book by Stuart and Charles Grant. The two armies are identical and coming along a road from east to west. The aim of the game is to seize a river crossing and deny a crossing to the opponent. The middle bridge is a footbridge only and is not one of the objectives.
We used my 19th Century Little Wars Revisited 54mm figures organised into 8 man infantry, 4 man cavalry units. Both forces were 4 infantry, 2 cavalry, 1 light infantry and a gun.
Curiously, both of us organised our column of march identically! We also both rolled so that the head of the column was level with the first bridge when the game began.
We soon discovered tht artillery was fairly ineffectual in the rules (though we did miss the rule to do with firing at structure which would have made it slightly more effective at infantry hiding in a house).
The first cavalry clash came by the far bridge with the Germans coming off the worst and being wiped out in the two rounds of melee.
The game developed with both sides moving along the river with occasional potshots at the enemy. The British were driven back from the first bridge by the German light Infantry.
The Germans then moved across the central bridge in column and were attacked by a cavalry unit who wiped them out to a man. This cavalry unit then crossed the bridge and wiped out another infantry unit before succumbing to a charge by the remaining German cavalry.
The loss of two units to the cavalry proved to much and the Germans were eventually forced to concede as they no longer had enough forces to hold a bridge.
The game was fun and both of us enjoyed it, having not played the scenario before, but we did have some problems with the rules:
We added an initiative roll to determine who moved first, with all shooting and melee being simultaneous after movement as there is no turn sequence described.
The major problem we had was with Cavalry. Even if we had been using the suggested 10 men Infantry units, they would have still been eliminated by cavalry as Infantry shooting at Cavalry halve their hits, so struggle to eliminate a figure when being charged. Then, in the melee the Cavalry are +2 for cavalry, +1 for charging, +1 for lance against an infantry of +1 for bayonet…
In both melees, the infantry were almost completely elminiated in the first round of combat…
I don’t think we read the rules incorrectly, but cavalry seem too powerful for 1870 onwards.