Murray Fish
Australia
Canberra
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They explained everything in detail and at great length. After they finished I sat, despondent, contemplating a bleak and empty future. "I’m glad you’re depressed" said one. "It means you’ve understood the situation.”
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One of my regular opponents had recently picked up a copy of Maurice and was keen on getting some games in. I had played one game a while ago and struggled with executing my plans in this card-driven miniatures battle game, but was in no way adverse to trying again. We decided to play a 100 point game with ‘vanilla’ armies. That is, no notables and no national advantages, to get the hang of the rules and see how the game ebbed and flowed. The game would be a battle between the Bavarians and the Hessians of around the Seven Years War period played in 18mm with the bulk of the miniatures coming from Eureka Miniatures.

The forces were as follows:

Hessians
6 Trained regular infantry - Musketeers & Fusiliers
2 Elite regular infantry - Grenadiers & Guard
1 irregular infantry - Jaegers
2 Trained regular cavalry - Dragoons
2 Elite regular cavalry - Cuirassiers
2 Irregular cavalry - Hussars
2 Artillery
Army Morale = 14

Bavarians
2 Conscript regular infantry - Cologne contingent
5 Trained regular infantry - Musketeers
2 Elite regular infantry - Grenadiers & Life Guards
3 Trained regular cavalry - Dragoons
2 Elite regular cavalry - Cuirassiers
1 Irregular cavalry - hussars
2 Artillery
Army Morale = 16

I chose the Bavarians as they had slightly higher army morale and, hopefully, would be a bit more forgiving of the mistakes I was sure to make. The terrain card showed that we were playing on plains, significant in that there could be a bit of everything but not too much of anything and there were no compulsory terrain pieces. Both regular and irregular cavalry counted for scouting.

As neither side had more scouting units no-one added +1 to his dice roll for the advantage; the Bavarians won the roll and could choose to attack or defend. I chose to attack; this had my opponent setting up first. In addition to having the advantage of seeing the opposition deployment, I could also choose an extra ‘mercenary’ unit (or two extra units if I chose irregulars). I opted for a regular infantry brigade. This would also add another point to my Army Morale.

Before we could set up the armies we had to place terrain. We each rolled a die to determine how many pieces we could set down (note this was a mistake - each player should roll two dice and choose one). Interestingly, in Maurice up to half of one’s terrain options can be ‘open’ represented, in the set-up phase as blank pieces of A4 paper which will quarantine the area it covers as clear.


Above: Finalised terrain setup.

My opponent immediately placed down a town which, as it was in his deployment area, would count as the objective unless another town was also placed there; in such circumstances it’s the defender’s choice. As I was attacking, I elected to place some clear ground in front of the objective. My opponent then tried a bit of foxing by placing a stream to secure his left flank. I attempted to remove any possibility of him using this to flank me by placing a town directly across from bridge over the stream. A few woods here and there and another piece of open terrain and we were done.

In my very limited experience, defending in Maurice is quite difficult as a poor deployment can be pretty hard to recover from. My opponent chose to place one of his elite infantry in the town, his cavalry in a mass behind the woods with his lights in the woods, two brigades on his left to counter any possibility of my forcing the stream to flank him and the rest of the infantry in his centre, supported by artillery with their flanks anchored on the town and woods respectively. Quite a reasonable deployment with no obvious weak links.


Above: View from the Hessian lines after both sides have deployed.

My Bavarians deployed with the two battalions of conscripts on the right. Hopefully out of the way from harm, but in a position to hold up any attempted forcing of the stream and supported by my guns who could cover the stream or even bombard the objective if my assault was repulsed. This seems to have worked as my right flank was quiet all game. On my left I deployed my cavalry en masse in a position to advance up the left flank. The infantry was deployed in two lines with elites (grenadiers and Life Guard) in the second rank with two more brigades ready to wheel around once the cavalry had advanced.


Above: Hessian infantry on their left flank.

Cards were dealt and the battle commenced.


Above: The Bavarian cavalry advance.

Unsurprisingly, I elected to march my cavalry and they shook out into a pretty reasonable formation, dragoons and hussars at the front with cuirassiers in the rear to exploit breakthroughs or plug gaps, to threaten to take the fight to the Hessian cavalry if and when they emerged. My opponent immediately scuppered this by playing the ‘That’s not on the map’ card as an event which saw him placing a swamp in front of the pride of Bavarian chivalry. This made things very difficult as I could either continue my advance and incur a disruption for each unit (except the hussars) or have to break up my formation by manoeuvring around the swamp. As I had a pretty good infantry line and both ‘Grenadiers forwards’ cards this confirmed that the cavalry would be relegated to the secondary arm and it would be my foot that would carry the day. Or not. A turn of ‘passing’ was also useful in that I could gather a few more cards to enable me to sustain any advance.


Above: That's not on the map! The Bavarian cavalry find an unexpected swamp.


Not wanting to make things easy, my opponent now brought up his cavalry which, if not countered, would threaten the flank of my advancing infantry lines. This compelled me to bring up my cavalry and incur the disruption penalty for bad terrain. Nothing was to be done and this caused my opponent, after some long-range sniping from his jaegers in the woods, to bring up his cavalry to engage my chaps at a disadvantage. After a few charges, where he used the ‘Stirrups in’ card to get the edge he wanted I had lost a couple of dragoon regiments for the cost of one of his. More tellingly, however, was the end of melee situation where a number of Hessian horse regiments were out of position and reasonably battered about. It would take considerable effort from their command to rally them and redress their lines.


Above: Bavarian infantry advance to musketry range.


Above: Cavalry battles of the Bavarian left flank.


Above: The Hessian cavalry have the better of the early clashes.

I resolved not to allow him the luxury of time to reorder his cavalry and I elected to push forward with my main assault, using the ‘Coordinated approach’ card to move two forces, infantry to musketry range and the reserve cavalry to form a second line and cover the flank of the infantry. My first line of infantry engaged the Hessian lines, braving some good musketry (aided by my opponent’s play of the ‘Deadly fire’ card) and grapeshot from his guns. Despite these setbacks the guns were quickly silenced by Bavarian infantry fire (they need a mere two disruptions to be silenced - their loss impacting Army Morale at the same level as the loss of an irregular unit). The Hessian Guard in the town were shot at all day, but, being elite and with the judicious use of rally actions, did not break.


Above: Infantry battles in the centre.

The abstracted command and control mechanism of hand management really did work over this period. With each player having the ability to volley or not and then either march, charge, rally or play an event. This system really did force some difficult decisions, including whether or not to support any action by with the play of increasingly scare cards as each player’s hand was depleted. As this was where the fighting was the most furious the forces on the flanks were sidelined for around half a dozen moves as the full attention of both commanders was devoted to attempting to get the upper hand in the centre.


Above: Bavarian reserves march into position to support the attack in the centre.

As the battle ebbed and flowed the Bavarian line would surge forwards in a charge and apart from breaking the jaegers were usually repulsed. Casualties began to mount for both sides from the bayonet work and ensuing musketry so I marched the Bavarian reserves (the two brigades intended to wheel around and join the advance who formed column instead early on in the battle once my cavalry hit the ‘surprise swamp’) up to form another line to rally around and support future attacks. As the first line of Bavarian infantry broke, the grenadiers and Life Guard represented the last real chance I had to achieve any sort of success in the Hessian centre. Both units charged forwards and in the contest between the two elites the fresh Bavarian Life Guard broke the Hessian grenadiers while the grenadiers defeated the force in the town, but could not quite dislodge the Hessian Guard.


Above: The Bavarian Life Guardbreak the Hessian grenadiers.

The Hessians then scrambled to form an effective second line which, almost as soon as the ranks were dressed, received a devastating volley from the Bavarian Life Guard who followed this up while the Hessian musketeers were still reeling. The play of the ‘Grenadiers forward’ card assisted the Life Guard to break both Hessian brigades despite being out numbered. This tore a huge hole in the Hessian centre which, as a stop-gap measure, prompted desperate cavalry charges which were thrown back by the Bavarian Life Guard with heavy losses.


Above: The Bavarian Life Guard shatter the Hessian second line.

With the loss of both artillery batteries, the jaegers and so many regular infantry, the Hessian Army Morale was moving into dangerous territory. One more charge would do it and the Bavarians had several choices. After some deliberation the Bavarian dragoons, who had been waiting in position while the matter in the centre was decided, charged their Hessian counterparts who were disadvantaged by being in rough terrain. The matter was decided quickly with the Hessian horse breaking which was enough to shatter the morale of the entire Hessian army who withdrew from the field.


Above: The Bavarian prepares to charge the Hessian dragoons.

So, the day went to the Bavarians. Over the course of the game I noticed that my opponent would play a card for the event, to improve an attack or even use the interrupt option, far more often than I would. This left his hand dangerously low at critical points in the battle while, as attacker and having also taken a pass early in the battle, I seemed to have enough cards to do what I needed to do, even if I rarely interrupted and only played one of my ‘Grenadiers forward’ card to support the decisive charge of the Bavarian grenadiers when the destroyed the Hessian centre. Hand management really is the key to this system.

We both agreed it had been an excellent game and we seemed to have a pretty good working knowledge of the rules. We undertook to play again soon, this time with national advantages and notables to further explore the possibilities offered by Maurice.
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Mark Hickernell
United States
Waltham
Massachusetts
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Great session report, and lovely miniatures!
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Charles Lewis
United States
West Des Moines
IA
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Victory By Any Means
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"Fear God and Dread Nought"
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Hmmm...I'm not doing much miniatures these days, but I'm intrigued quite a bit by the description of gameplay....may just have to check these out.
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Murray Fish
Australia
Canberra
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They explained everything in detail and at great length. After they finished I sat, despondent, contemplating a bleak and empty future. "I’m glad you’re depressed" said one. "It means you’ve understood the situation.”
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Thanks for the kind words.

I have found that the game works well.

In out next battle we played with National Advantages and Notables and it worked really well.
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