Tuesday, 11 September 2018

A Chance Encounter - An Honours of War AAR

Following the recent Cotswold Wargaming Day, my mind has been somewhat focused on the 18thC when it comes to wargaming. Having seen Karl's wonderful British troops at the show, I decided to treat myself to a small force from Pendraken. Now they could fight my Austrians, but with our daughter in Edinburgh at Uni and our foray into the '45 a year or so ago, a Jacobite force was an obvious choice, figures again from Pendraken. 

So whilst in the 18thC groove and with some time on my hands, I thought it time to dig out my wooden blocks and get a game of HoW in. Now I have plenty of scenario books kicking around, so I dug out my copy of 'Scenarios For All ages' by Grant & Asquith and decided upon 'Scenario 25: Chance Encounters.' The broad details are that both sides are advancing either side of a river, unaware of each others presence due to early morning mist. Once the mist burns off, the are suddenly aware of each other. I thought this would make for something a bit different. More information can be found below:

Scenario Details
Both sides organise there forces into a line-of-march as they see fit. This is how they will enter via their respective table edges. How far in they are when the mist lifts is determined by the roll of a D6, the number relating to how close they are to one of the 3 bridges over the small stream. The stream is fordable, but it is vital to take control of the bridges to allow artillery and supply wagons to cross the stream

Order of Battle for Prussia & Austria
Both sides have identical troops, but the quality of their commanders is determined after they have been placed (Note that the Prussians use the post 1760 table). Both sides ended up with Dithering Cavalry Brigade commanders, whilst the Austrians managed to get a Dashing Infantry Brigade commander

1 x Cavalry Brigade with 2 units of Dragoons.
1 x Infantry Brigade with 2 units of Line infantry
1 x Infantry Brigade with 1 unit of Grenadiers (Superior), 1 unit of Line infantry and 1 Light Artillery piece (rated as Superior for the Austrians)
1 x Light Infantry unit (Independent)

For ease of set up, both sides deployed in the same line-of-march, with the Prussians having the head of their column in the middle of the table, whilst the Austrians only managed to be opposite the first bridge crossing. So with both sides deployed, it was time to get on with the game. I've annotated the images to hopefully give you an idea of how the game went.

The Austrians (Red) have just become aware of the Prussians (Blue) over the other side of the river.

The Austrian line-of-march, with the Light Infantry in the lead and the Dragoons at the rear helping to protect the Light Artillery.

The Prussians in the same formation.

The Prussians got to move first, but their lead infantry rolled a Poor result, leaving them to move into line only. On the other hand, the Austrians rolled Admirable & Inspiring, allowing their troops to quickly advance towards the centre of the table.

The Cavalry moved off to the left flank, whilst the Light Infantry occupied the village.

The Prussians had to move past the road block of infantry, but easily moved into the town, with their Grandiers in the lead.

The Prussians failed to make any real progress, just moving their Light infantry into the woods by one of the crossings over the stream. The Austrians lead formation failed to move, forcing their centre to move past them.

The Austrians manage to form what resembles a battle line.

The Prussians are all at 'sixes-and-sevens' at present.

Both sides suffered some Poor command rolls, which really hampered their planned deployments.

The austrian centre pushed towards the bridge, but their left flank is somewhat congested.

The Prussians left flank manages to clear the town.

Both sides managed some good command rolls, with the Austrians taking good positions by the left and central bridges.

The Austrian right flank and centre face the Prussian left. Both sides have deployed their Light Artillery.

The Austrian cavalry are ably supported by the Light Infantry.

Both sides begin to exchange fire, with the Prussians getting an early upper hand. The Austrian cavalry, poised to cross the stream, rolled a Feeble command and could only form into a two deep formation.

An Austrian unit has to retreat to reform, with the Austrians taking more hits than the Prussians.

The firefight continued, with both sides having units having to retreat to reform. Once again the Austrian cavalry rolled a Feeble, leaving the Prussian cavalry free to move up to the other side of the bridge.

Both sides have units reforming.

The Prussians suffer from canister fire from the Austrian light artillery.

A bit of a Mexican stand off develops as both sides face off across the bridge.

The Austrian Dashing commander rolls an Inspiring command roll and so must move towards the Prussians, bringing him into canister range. Neither sides shooting causes and reform moves this Turn.

The Austrian Light Infantry cross the stream to take the fight to their Prussian counterparts.

The Austrian left and centre take a bit of a hammering from the combined Prussian fire, causing them to fall back and reform. On the Austrian left, a cavalry charge sees both sides losing one unit of cavalry.

The Austrians under pressure from the Prussians.

The cavalry have a bout of mutually assured destruction.

The Austrians are under severe pressure, with their cavalry gone and being pressured in the centre and on the right.

The Austrians feeling the heat.

The Austrian left flank is wide open, with only the Light Infantry to try and hold it.

The view from the Prussian side shows how the net is closing in on the Austrians.

At this point I called it a day, with the Prussians in the slight ascendancy and with another round of good shooting, the distinct possibility that the Austrians would be blown away.

Post Game Thoughts.
After a drought on the gaming front over the Summer, it was nice to be able to get another game in so soon. Once again Honours of War failed to disappoint, with them being my 'go-to' rules for the SYW and 18thC.

  • The scenario worked well, despite it being quite different from the normal linear warfare of the period. It certainly made it quite hard to easily deploy both sides units in a way that they could support each other, but it was nice to have a different challenge for once. I think maybe a little more depth to the table would have helped.
  • I thought that the Prussians being that bit further onto the table would give them an early advantage, but this didn't prove to be the case. The varied command rolls from both sides made sure of this, with early good Austrian rolls off setting the Prussian advantage.
  • The Prussians managing to gain fire superiority at a crucial time proved to be the turning point in the game. However it could easily have gone the other way if the Austrian die rolling had been better.
  • It was good to get my wooden blocks back onto the table and it is something I should do more often. I know they don't look anywhere near as good as painted figures, but they are so versatile, it allows me to try so many different rulesets and periods with them. The only thing I need to do is make some smaller command stands, as the current ones are simply too big.
  • I'm slowly replacing a lot of my terrain that I originally made for use with 28mm and 15mm figures. When playing HoW most of it is simply too big. However when playing BKCII, a lot of it is still fine. Anything no longer of any use I will try and sell. I know I certainly need to make some rivers, streams and roads, some of which are already in progress.

This weekend is the Colours show, so I'm looking forward to going to see what's on offer this year and to meet up with some of my wargaming friends. To date there is no info on what games are being put on, which is a real shame as it is something that the organisers are always a bit tardy in doing. 

I'm not sure what my next game will be, maybe some BKCII to get my tanks on the table again and my stalled Normandy campaign going again, or maybe something at the show will inspire me. Watch this space...


  1. Brilliant report, the unit blocks are perfect too.

  2. HoW has become my 18th C. "go-to" set as well having recently refought Zorndorf.

    Your blocks look terrific and present an aesthetic elegance that I find very pleasing to the eye. I would enjoy seeing your block armies out more often. Enjoyable BatRep!

    1. Praise indeed Jonathan and I will certainly try and give them an outing more often:)

  3. I like the blocks, gives a birds eye schematic view. I have HoW, but have not really delved into them, so never realised that that a side could be hampered by poor command rolls. I like the effect that that gives very much and here, it probably saved the Prussians at the moment they were divided and snarled up in the town. All good.

    1. I like the way it is easy to see the action unfold with the blocks from the birds eye viewpoint too, especially when doing an AAR. I highly recommend HoW and the variable command rolls do add a great deal to the game.

  4. Nice AAR. The blocks look absolutely smashing!

  5. Chance Encounter! Well I never. I've been promising myself to play that scenario for years, but never seem to get around to it. Great to see it being played, and love the wooden blocks (much better than 2mm figures!).

    See you Saturday Steve.

    1. There are some scenarios you keep thinking, "I must get around to playing that" and before you know it, 6 months has passed. So you know you need to get this onto the table:). I agree the wooden blocks work better than 2mm, especially with my ageing eyes.

      See you Saturday.

  6. Yep, I too am very impressed with your troop blocks. Like Kriegspiel, but better.

    Best Regards,


  7. I love it Steve so clean and simple yet so very engaging.
    Great to see that great games don't need 000's of figures to be fun.