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Subject: Description and session report rss

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Michael Sommers
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Clinton
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DESCRIPTION

Blenheim appeared in The Wargamer #4 in 1977. It
is similar to SPI's Thirty Years War Quad,
but it has a different combat system.

Combat results call for step losses for both attacker and defender.
Each unit has two steps. When it takes a single step loss, it is
disrupted, and has its movement reduced and can't attack. If a
disrupted takes another loss, it is eliminated. The side that is
eliminated or that takes the most losses is the loser of the combat,
and must retreat. Units that can't retreat take another step loss.
Units can recover from disruption, and when they do they are restored
to full strength.

Artillery fire is separate from combat. Artillery units fire
independently. Units can't be eliminated by artillery fire: results
beyond disruption are ignored. Artillery is immobile, except for the
Imperial artillery that arrives as reinforcements, but even it becomes
immobile the moment it shoots for the first time.

Each side, the Anglo-Dutch-Imperial allies (called the Allies) and the
Franco-Bavarians (called by me the French, which might be ambiguous,
but context should make things clear), is divided into contingents and
commands. These divisions affect leaders and demoralization. On the
Allied side, the contingents are the British, the Dutch, and the
Empire; and the commands are the Anglo-Dutch and the Empire. On the
other side the contingents are two separate French corps, and the
Bavarians; while the commands are the French and the Bavarians.

Leaders help with combat and with recovery from disruption, but, with
a few exceptions, only for their own contingent. The exceptions are
all on the Allied side, and allow Eugene and the British leaders to
aid units outside their own contingent.

Each command has a demoralization level. If one command becomes
demoralized, the other command in the same army has its level
decreased, and both commands in the other army have theirs increased
(this increase happens only once). Demoralized disrupted units can't
recover from the disruption, and must run away, off the map, as
quickly as they can. If both commands in an army become demoralized,
the enemy may pursue them with cavalry, by exiting cavalry off the
enemy map edge.

Victory is judged by points. Points are earned for capturing enemy
guns and leaders, destroying enemy infantry and cavalry units,
occupying village hexes, and pursuing with cavalry.

REPLAY

Strategy

Allies

Here is an image (not mine; it was already in the database) of the
Cyberboard version of the game, showing the initial setup:

(Note that these counters are different from the real ones.)

The Danube is on the right, and impassable. North is up. The units
with the blue and white borders are the two contingents of the French;
the purple are the Bavarians. North of the stream are the British
(red) and Dutch (tan). The triangles in the upper left are where the
Imperials enter on turn 2. The units obscure most of the village
hexes, but their names can be seen, and give a general indication of
their location.

The burden of action is on the Allies, since the French (and
Bavarians) start out holding more villages hexes, worth lots of
victory points.

The French setup a hex or two behind the stream, which means that it
will be possible to attack them without the attackers being halved.
But at the same time, Blindheim is held by strong units, which will be
doubled, so an attack in that direction will have a hard time
succeeding.

Additionally, the Allies have little artillery, and it will be masked
by friendly troops as soon as the assault starts.

On the other side of the line there are also some villages, and the
units start off right next to the stream, so an attack there will be
hard, too. On the other hand, the Bavarians will be easier to
demoralize than the French, so they are a tempting target.

Given these considerations, it seems the best Allied strategy seems to
be to attack primarily in the center (which is held mainly by
cavalry), then roll up the Bavarians, while guarding the French right.
Then finally turn on the French right, and win the battle. If there's
enough time, and if the French cooperate, and if the die rolls are
good, ...

French

The French are on the defensive; they have no reason to attack. So
they will react to the Allied assault with, hopefully, devastating
couter-attacks. Since they can't move until the assault starts, they
don't have much choice.

Turn 1

Allies

All Allied artillery attacks had no result.

A few units shifted nearer the stream.

French

One French artillery fire disrupted a 7-4 infantry near Weilheim.

No movement.

Turn 2

Allies

The disrupted unit successfully reorganized.

Artillery disrupted a 7-4 stacked with a gun in front of Blindheim.

The reinforcements arrived, and headed mostly for the branch point of
the stream. No other movement.

French

The disrupted unit failed to recover.

Two British infantry units were disrupted by artillery, a 9-4 and a
7-4.

The French leader Cleram (I don't know the real full name) moved into
Blindheim to help with disruption recovery.

Turn 3

Allies

Both disrupted units recovered.

Artillery disrupted another French 7-4 stacked with artillery outside
Blindheim. The British object is to reduce the units in front for
when the assault comes.

Imperial cavalry crossed the north branch of the stream to hold the
Allied right. The Imperial infantry headed due south towards the
stream as a feint; they will head SE next turn.

French

One disrupted unit recovered.

The artillery missed.

No movement.

Turn 4

Allies

Artillery redisrupted the just undisrupted French 7-4.

The Imperial army lined up behind the stream. Units on the British
left shifted around, moving stronger units towards the center, and
some cavalry to the far left.

French

No disrupted units recovered.

Artillery disrupted two British units.

No movement yet.

Turn 5

Allies

Both disrupted units recovered.

Both British guns hit units near the center of Tallard's corps.

The Allies made a general assault from the stream junction to the
Danube. The results were that 4 French guns were captured, and 4
infantry units worth 26 VP were destroyed. Some other French units
were disrupted, as well as a lot of Allied units. A couple of French
cavalry units ended up surrounded, too. Combat is very bloody. The
French are already almost half-way to demoralization.

French

One French infantry near Blindheim recovered, but the others were in
enemy ZOCs and couldn't even try.

The sole remaining French gun missed.

On the left, the Bavarians spread out to guard the whole length of the
stream. Six infantry headed east to help in the center. De
Blainville and his units also headed east. On the right, where all
the front-line British units were disrupted, the French sidled by
Blindheim to try to cut them off. Another two infantry units headed
to the center, too. The French cavalry in the center pulled back a
little and tried to form a line.

Near Blindheim, an attack by a 9-4 and a 8-4against Cutts and a
disrupted infantry unit at 3:1 with no result. Had there been any
loss on the British side, Cutts would have been captured. Elsewhere,
the French were generally able to disengage, destroying 4 Allied units
worth 28 VP (7 Imperial, 5 Dutch, 16 British), while losing 2 French
units worth 12 VP. Eugene was almost lost, similarly to Cutts; those
were two very luck rolls for the Allies.

The situation:

Demoralization
French: 38/60
Bavaria: 0/15

Empire: 7/20
British/Dutch: 21/60

VP
Guns Troops Leaders Towns Pursuit Total
French: 0 28 0 90 0 118
Allies: 20 38 0 30 0 88


Turn 6

Allies

Six of ten Allied units recovered from disruption.

Both British guns missed (surprisingly they had clear shots).

A rules question arose: can leaders leave ZOCs? Since they have the
movement allowance of cavalry, I decided that they should be able to
leave ZOCs that cavalry could leave.

On the left, the British pulled back behind the stream, and Cutts ran
away from the unit he was with to join them. That unit, disrupted,
was unable to move. Some Dutch cavalry moved to plug a gap in the
line. In the center, the Allies continued pressure, attacking some
stacks of disrupted units. Marlborough attacked some cavalry in the
center, too. Towards the right center, Eugene had to attack a strong
stack, but three disrupted units were also targets. On the far right,
some Imperial cavalry crossed the stream to attack the Bavarian left.

On the left, the results were mediocre. Only one attack succeeded,
but Tallard was captured. At that point, the French were one point
shy of demoralizing. The next attack, against a disrupted infantry
unit, put them over the limit. Two surrounded disrupted cavalry units
were also destroyed. Eugene's attack was repulsed, as was the
Imperial cavalry attack on the far right.

French

Being demoralized, the French can't undisrupt any more.

The French gun missed.

French disrupted units must flee; they did so. One cavalry unit got
off the map. Five other units will leave next turn.

The French have a dilemma: what should they do now that they are
demoralized? They are still strong on the right near Blindheim, and
the Allies are weak there. But if they fight they risk being trapped
against the Danube. They decide to keep fighting on the right, but to
shift their weight to the left. The cavalry tried to maintain a
screen in the center. On the left, Marsin attacked some Dutch troops
in the stream. The Bavarians counterattacked the Imperial cavalry
that tried to cross the stream. Four Bavarian infantry continued
moving to the center to back up the cavalry. The Bavarians have to be
careful, though, since their demoralization level is now 5.

On the right, the French managed to destroy three Dutch units worth 19
VP. A big attack in the center was repulsed. Marsin's attack
succeeded, marginally. The Bavarian attack killed an Imperial cavalry
unit because it could not retreat.

The situation:

Demoralization
French: 81/** demoralized
Bavaria: 0/05

Empire: 11/30
British/Dutch: 40/70

VP
Guns Troops Leaders Towns Pursuit Total
French: 0 51 0 90 0 141
Allies: 20 81 20 30 0 151


So far it is a marginal victory for the Allies.

Turn 7

Allies

Five Allied units recovered from disruption.

One British gun hit an infantry unit next to Blindheim.

The Allies need to get at the Bavarians, but they are untouchable
right now, behind the stream and with strong French units and a town
on their right. But the Allies have to worry about their own losses,
since they are approaching their own demoralization levels. One bad
turn could mean disaster for them.

They will try to attack from the center in a southwesterly direction,
hoping to get behind the Bavarians. There are still some strong
French units in the area, but since they are demoralized, even a
simple disruption gets they out of the battle. On the left, they will
grab any exposed units, and try to isolate Blindheim. On the far
right, the Imperials will try attacking across the stream again.

The Imperial attack was repulsed. Eugene was repulsed, too.
Churchill was also repulsed, but a disrupted French infantry unit was
eliminated when the French decided it was better to destroy it than to
disrupt a healty unit, which would then have to flee. Marlborough's
attack eliminated a French cavalry unit. A disrupted French 8-4 was
eliminated. Overall, the attacks this turn were a disappointment, and
not much was achieved. Certainly no breakthrough.

French

The French gun hit a Dutch infantry unit nearby.

Six French units fled off the map.

In real life, I think this would be the time for the French to
withdraw. But in the game if they do that, they will lose control of
Blinkheim and 60 VP, and will certainly lose the game. So they will
keep their extreme right in the village, while attacking an exposed
British stack. On the extreme left they still have an Imperial
cavalry to crush. In the center, they try to stabilize their line.

The Imperial cavalry was indeed crushed, but the attack on the exposed
British stack wss repulsed.

The French lost 17 VP in units this turn, as well as 1 unit
disrupted. The Imperials lost 4 VP.

The situation:

Demoralization
French: 98/** demoralized
Bavaria: 0/05

Empire: 15/30
British/Dutch: 40/70

VP
Guns Troops Leaders Towns Pursuit Total
French: 0 55 0 90 0 145
Allies: 20 98 20 30 0 168


Turn 8

Allies

Nine units recovered from disruption.

The British gun missed. The other had no target.

The Allies will just push southwards. They will be able to attack two
Bavarian stacks, but they probably won't kill any. Some British units
will be a bit reckless in order to get in some good attacks.

The British eliminated one 2-6 cavalry unit, but their other attack on
the left failed. Marlborough disrupted two French cavalry (the French
decided to disrupt both instead of kill one and keep one because their
situation is so bad that an extra cavalry unit lying around won't do
much good). The next attack had no result. Eugene and Churchill
combined in an attack that disrupted two Bavarian 7-4s. An adjacent
diversionary attack was repulsed with both attackers disrupted and no
loss for the defenders.

French

One Bavarian unit tried to recover, but failed. The two 7-4s are in
Churchill's ZOC, so they can't try.

The French gun missed.

Five French units flee off the map.

The French around Blindheim are almost cut off, so they will leave.
They have to attack a British unit that they ended up next to after
the Allied turn. They will have to abandon their last gun.

The French attack destroys a British 8-4.

The situation:

Demoralization
French: 100/** demoralized
Bavaria: 0/05

Empire: 15/30
British/Dutch: 48/70

VP
Guns Troops Leaders Towns Pursuit Total
French: 0 63 0 90 0 153
Allies: 20 100 20 30 0 170


Turn 9

Allies

Five Allied units recovered.

The Imperial gun, in action for the first time near the confluence of
the stream, missed.

The British moved cavalry into Blindheim, capturing the last French
gun in the process. A strong force moved to attack the retreating
French in an easterly direction, trying to cut them off. In the
center, the French allowed a gap in their line, and the Dutch moved
into the void. Churchill and Eugene attacked the Bavarians to the
west.

One of the attacks near Blindheim disrupted one infantry unit, while
the other, under Marlborough, destroyed two intact cavalry units.
Churchill's and Eugene's attack resulted in the destruction of two
Bavarian infantry units, demoralizing them. A diversionary attack
resulted in the loss of a Dutch 7-4.

French

The entire army is now demoralized, so there is no more
reorganization. They have no guns left, either.

One French and one Bavarian flee the map. The French continue
retreating, and the Bavarians start pulling back.

There are two combats, with units stuck in Allied ZOCs. One French
infantry is destroyed in one attack, and two Bavarians are disrupted
in the other.

The situation:

Demoralization
French: 114/** demoralized
Bavaria: 16/** demoralized

Empire: 15/30
British/Dutch: 55/70

VP
Guns Troops Leaders Towns Pursuit Total
French: 0 63 0 70 0 133
Allies: 25 130 20 50 0 225


Turn 10

Allies

Only two Allied units reorganized.

One British gun hit a French unit. The two other Allied guns had no
targets.

The Allies continue pushing east and west, trying to isolate their
opponents. Nine British and Dutch cavalry units exited the map in
pursuit, generating 60 VP. Imperial cavalry that had been lining the
stream started shifting to the center to exit through the gap.

There were only two attacks. Marlborough and friends destroyed two
French 8-4s and captured de Blainville. Eugene and Churchill
destroyed two Bavarians.

French

The French have no hope now. On the right they have just two stacks
left. These will attack Marlborough. On the left they have more
left, and still have a stable line, although they had to abandon both
hexes of Oberglau.

The attack against Marlborough succeeded, disrupting one unit.

The situation:

Demoralization
French: 130/** demoralized
Bavaria: 29/** demoralized

Empire: 15/30
British/Dutch: 55/70

VP
Guns Troops Leaders Towns Pursuit Total
French: 0 63 0 30 0 93
Allies: 25 159 10 120 60 374


The Allies now have a decisive victory. There is really no point in
continuing for the last two turns. The French position can only get
worse.

LESSONS LEARNED

Combat is bloody. It is very dangerous to leave a unit unstacked in
the presence of the enemy, or to attack with a single unit. There is
always a possibility of getting a 2 result, which will result in the
destruction of a single unit, but which can be reduced to disruption,
which is curable, for two or more units.

Artillery is not very effective, especially in the attack, when it
will often be masked. Even in defense, it didn't do much good. It
can, however, occasionally disrupt a unit at an opportune time.

CONCLUSION

I liked the game. The ending surprised me, as the Franco-Bavarian
position looks very strong. I expected the Allies to get clobbered.

There are a few small glitches in the rules, but no rules are perfect,
and, to be honest, some of these ambiguities are probably not real
ambiguities at all, just places where the game departs from more
common practices; that is, just accepting the rules as they are
written, disregarding any preconceived notions, eliminates the
ambiguity.

The most obvious thing missing from the rules is some sort of
functional differentiation between infantry and cavalry beyond merely
letting cavalry ignore infantry zones of control. Maybe a
retreat-before-combat rule for cavalry would be nice, too.

I think also that there should be some limits on inter-contingent
coordination. I sent some Bavarian units to the center of the French
line, but I'm not sure if that would have been considered in real
life. The British and Dutch, though, seem to have operated as a
single army, so they probably should be allowed to cooperate with each
other (Marlborough spent almost the entire game stack with the Dutch
units he set up with). I wonder how well the two French contingents
cooperated in real life.

The worst thing about the game is that the counters are a little too
big for the hexes. As you can see from the image above, the units are
in nearly continuous lines, and it is impossible to touch one stack
without nudging another. This, though, is an annoyance, not a fatal flaw.


Note:

After playing and after writing the above I realized that I did the
cavalry pursuit incorrectly. Pursuing cavalry must leave by the road,
but I just had them leave any old where.

Had I remembered the rule correctly, the French would have played
differently, by trying to protect the road, perhaps even abandoning
their left flank position on the stream earlier. The Allies may or
may not have been able to open the road. However, even without the 60
VP they got for pursuing cavalry, the Allies would have won a decisive
victory, keeping everything else the same.


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Kim Meints
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Michael

Thanks for the great AAR. I loved this little game when it first came out in the Wargamer and last year I was able to get the zip lock bag edition with the coversheet.

Yes it's basically SPI's TYW quad for rules so easy to learn. Graphics aren't the best even for back then but then again there sure weren't a flood of games on the subject(was there ever a flood?)

The Allies(British/Dutch/Holy Roman Empire) seem more favored but I need to set it up and play more to make sure.

All in all it's still a nice game to play when wanting something light,fast and simple
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Kris Van Beurden
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tms2 wrote:


Given these considerations, it seems the best Allied strategy seems to
be to attack primarily in the center (which is held mainly by
cavalry), then roll up the Bavarians, while guarding the French right.
Then finally turn on the French right, and win the battle. If there's
enough time, and if the French cooperate, and if the die rolls are
good, ...
Well-designed game then, if the best allied strategy appears to be the historical one

Quote:
I think also that there should be some limits on inter-contingent
coordination. I sent some Bavarian units to the center of the French
line, but I'm not sure if that would have been considered in real
life. The British and Dutch, though, seem to have operated as a
single army, so they probably should be allowed to cooperate with each
other (Marlborough spent almost the entire game stack with the Dutch
units he set up with). I wonder how well the two French contingents
cooperated in real life.

The real battle of Blenheim was IIRC lost mostly because of the bad cooperation of the two French contingents ... (at least, bad cooperation of local commanders with the overall commanders ... most of the reserves were sent into Blenheim where they overcrowded the village and deprived Tallard of his reserves)
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Dougie LB
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Great AAR
Great AAR, I never played this but owned and wore out the 30 Years War Quad at that time (except for Freiburg!).
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Kim Meints
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That is why I enjoyed the game so much as it was like Thirty Years War and played(and still play) it to death.

Now if someone with good computer skills could make up some nice new upgraded counters(it sure isn't me in this regard) I(and a whole lot of others) would be a very happy

You got to admit that's a wild color combination for the Allies with Red, Brown, Yellow & Pink units! Not hard to tell who's who there
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Michael Sommers
United States
Clinton
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Tegarend wrote:
tms2 wrote:
Given these considerations, it seems the best Allied strategy seems to be to attack primarily in the center (which is held mainly by cavalry), then roll up the Bavarians, while guarding the French right. Then finally turn on the French right, and win the battle. If there's enough time, and if the French cooperate, and if the die rolls are good, ...
Well-designed game then, if the best allied strategy appears to be the historical one
Assuming that the historical commanders knew their business. With Marlborough, that is probable, but in other battles, with other commanders, ...

Quote:
wrote:
I think also that there should be some limits on inter-contingent
coordination. I sent some Bavarian units to the center of the French
line, but I'm not sure if that would have been considered in real
life. The British and Dutch, though, seem to have operated as a
single army, so they probably should be allowed to cooperate with each
other (Marlborough spent almost the entire game stack with the Dutch
units he set up with). I wonder how well the two French contingents
cooperated in real life.
The real battle of Blenheim was IIRC lost mostly because of the bad cooperation of the two French contingents ... (at least, bad cooperation of local commanders with the overall commanders ... most of the reserves were sent into Blenheim where they overcrowded the village and deprived Tallard of his reserves)
I don't know much (anything) about the real battle, but when reading the rules and the short description of the campaign that accompanied them, I did detect the faint aroma of the Russians at Tannenberg.
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