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Subject: Can you win the Battle of Rocroi with the French? rss

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Joe Lott
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Ok, so if you don't know, the Battle of Rocroi, in 1644, was a victory for the French. At it, the French despite odds, won the day, and defeated the Spanish Tercio's despite the fact that the held up well for themselves (they were forced to the wall so to speak, and kept fighting, but time does tell).

HOWEVER, I have played this battle out in two different games, one a very simple styling and the other, a bit more complex. In NEITHER of these games, have I ever seen a French win, EVER, and I've played both several times. Let me explain:

The first: Thirty Years War Quad (second edition)
This is an oldie. It plays like an oldie, and the units are very simple. The french have speed, but over all, they are simply out classed. The spanish cav pulls back and hides behind it's own infantry. Which while it can't hunt it down, will protect it, till the french make a mistake. The French infantry also, can't help their cav, because they are out strengthened, A LOT.

My friend once tried an interesting move, in attempt to expoit the French speed advantage, by massing EVERYTHING in the Center, moving towards the Spanish, and when they opened a weakness, shift and pounce with full force. It almost worked.

Of the two games, it seems like this game a chance of going to the french, but don't bet on it. Sure they can get lucky, and if the Spanish don't play smart, there might be a good chance, but a careful Spanish player, can win most of the time, with ease. (AND I am anything but careful, I'm impulsive!)

Second Game: Under the Lily Banners
Oh, I have issues, and I have been made them known and got SERIOUS back talk from the fan boys on this game. When we get specifically to the battle of Rocroi, I have to say: I CAN NEVER SEE a French Victory. I've tried, seriously, but the spanish has it easy, and simple, MOVE UP THE INFANTRY in the center. Hit the French infantry fast and hard, and destroy them. You have an advantage in both man-power and Morale, which is huge in this game. Your not going to take to much from those french guns, so don't worry about it, just get across the field.

Your wings? Well on your right, you will win a cavalry clash, generally, just hold back, make a 'slow' charge. Let him cross the stream, and BANG. He's toast, if he doesn't cross the stream, move up to it but try and hold their. If he brings his cav across his front to face the infantry your brining in the center, perhaps you should counter? Not a big threat. Also, just refuse your flank with your infantry, with 3 lines, shouldn't be a problem.

On your left, you might loose, those 3 musketeers that are there, should do fine distracting him, and all you got to do though is hold on for a while, a couple of turns is enough. IF you can get him all spent, with all units, Formation Broken and Double Pistol used, and still have a small line left over, you win. He wont' be able to recover in time to do anything useful, by the time he can (and has dealt with your left overs) you should have smashed the french center, and can face him with considerable infantry (perhaps even in hedgehog).

Just remeber, you win the center. Why? Because the french are a) weaker b) less morale c) more spread.

You win.
(this is not theory, I have played this several times, I would like an opponent who knows what he is doing to try and disprove me, but I find it unlikely.)



SOOoooo my point is, is their any game where the french can win this battle? Seriously? Were the Spanish would have to be less than a total failure to lose?
 
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You must have gotten "serious backtalk" from "fanboys" at another site, not BGG.

I've played Rocroi once, as the French. It was my first game of Musket and Pike, and I lost badly. I attributed that to my poor knowledge of proper tactics of the period.
 
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James Lowry
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Rindu wrote:
You must have gotten "serious backtalk" from "fanboys" at another site, not BGG.

I would guess CSW.... Not that things like that never happen here though.... cry
 
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Mark Luta
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In Under the Lily Banners--Rocroi, I would suggest mandating the Spanish attach the infantry elements to both cavalry wings, rather than leaving it optional, so the Spanish lose the cavalry wing advantages. I will admit that at first, I really hated the seemingly very gamey command rules with this system, all the continuation and preemption...But then, I realized it really isn't normally any sort of decision process, you just always try to preempt a continuation, at least until doing so risks not being able to move a formation at all. So I will not say I really like it, but it is less obtrusive in the simulation once you realize that--and to the point here, taking away the Spanish cavalry wings does work to put them at an initiative disadvantage.

Still, I agree that the Spanish infantry are pretty much unstoppable (though you have clearly played this far more often than I have!). Of course, historically they did not advance in this manner, and perhaps this is the lesson to be learned from this battle--the Spanish can only lose by ceding the initiative and not advancing in the center, which no player is going to do.

After all, there are a number of battles with similar analysis throughout history, where one side simply should not have lost but did. Cannae is in this vein (assuming the Romans really had 8 full double legions on the field), it is simply difficult to see in simulation how Hannibal could possibly have completed a double enevelopment of such a force, the frontage and depth are simply too much to reasonably allow it. Or Plate River in 1939, there is just no way in simulation that the Graf Spee does not handily defeat all 3 RN cruisers in the battle.

Sometimes that is just the historical result: A side which never should have lost a battle, somehow managed to find a way to lose. Not that it isn't fun to keep trying to find some way to defy the odds once again!
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Joe Lott
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I would have to agree with you here, if the Spanish, in Under the Lily Banners, do cede initiative, by not attacking with there infantry in the center, then the french stand a much better chance, the French right wing, which can spend time recovering from it's attack, can then be ready to do a double pounce on the center. Then it's all a matter if the other cav wing, can survive. It under lily banners, I think it is better to hold this wing back, and let the Spanish come to you, at the very least, follow the same ideas I espoused for the Spanish (wait back, if they cross the stream POUNCE), if not, try to cover the advance of your infantry if your making the attack after your right cav has recovered, and of course, ALWAYS look for an opportunity with Cav to pounce a infantry in the flank with a shot and momentum.
 
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Peter Bogdasarian
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I crushed the Spanish in MPBS with my French the one time I played - and, yes, they attacked in the center. It's certainly doable in the system...
 
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Oh my God They Banned Kenny
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With regard to Thirty Years War (first edition), yes it can be done. Part of the 'trick' is to get your opponent to 'advance' closer to your artillery than you advance towards his. In this 'dance' of manoeuvre / feint / counter, the French have an advantage due to their high movement allowance. If the French allow it to develop into a 'slugging' match, at equal distance or closer to the Spanish guns, then the French will be in trouble due to the higher Spanish combat values. There is an interesting 'psychological' effect in a f-t-f game, where the one playing the Spanish feels perhaps the onus is on him to initiate combat, given his superior combat factors. The French player needs to take advantage of that (if it actually works out).
 
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In Rocroi 1643, I smashed the Spanish with the French... I just hold still and tigth in the center and on my left and broke and outflanked the spanish on my rigth then moved forward with my center once my rigth wing was threatening the spanish center at the same time...
In this game I would say it is 60% for the Spanish 40% for the French and it is quite a nice game...
 
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