On Friday evening I had a try-out of the Maurice rules before my up-coming game with Nick on Sunday. Although Maurice units in their raw form are a fairly generic representation of 18th century armies, there are National Characteristic cards which allow you to modify the units to represent the strengths and weaknesses of the nations in the war you are simulating. As my armies are for the War of Spanish Succession, the British/Dutch had Great Captain (for Marlborough) and Lethal Volleys (representing platoon firing) characteristics while the French had A la Bayonette (better in hand-to-hand combat) and Maison du Roi (giving them 2 Guard units).
The objective was on a hill which French chose to camp 2 infantry battalions and some artillery around, so the British decided to concentrate their force on the opposite flank while holding the objective flank in place with 2 infantry battalions and 1 cavalry squadron (all Dutch), all the while pounding the enemy on the objective with a grand battery of 4 guns.
After an ineffective opening bombardment (despite some +1 bombardment cards), the infantry assault kicked off with 6 British battalions facing off against 4 French. Things looked to be going badly for the French until a marsh appeared in front of one of the leading British battalions (the hilarious “That’s not on the map” card), who then rashly charged through it but were driven back in the ensuing melee into the marsh to rally and lick their wounds. This front descended into a fairly ineffective fire fight while each side collected cards, until the British decided to force the issue with their cavalry. The plan was for 2 squadrons to engage the 2 squadrons of French cavalry, and at the same time the 3rd British squadron would attempt to take the end French infantry battalion in the flank.
Unfortunately, one of the French squadrons was the much vaunted Maison du Roi, and as the initial combat totals with the addition of a cavalry combat card show, they are not to be toyed with ….
Luckily the British rolled high while the French rolled low, so the result was a bit of a Mexican stand-off as the British drew off.
However, the 3rd British squadron did get the charge in on the left-most French infantry battalion, but remarkably they withstood the charge, drove the cavalry off then followed up with a volley to add insult to injury.
Meanwhile, the French general had quietly been marching his cavalry in the opposite flank towards the Dutch contingent. Even though they were quite a distance away from the general, a couple of cards which allow you to activate any force on the battlefield regardless of distance allowed them to get within charge range of the patrolling Dutch cavalry. The British general was distracted by having to perform a rally action on his depleted cavalry facing the French guard, so this allowed the French the opportunity to declare a charge on the Dutch cavalry.
In a decisive melee, the Dutch cavalry disintegrated, leaving the British grand artillery battery exposed. Forced to burn cards to perform a bombardment action, the artillery inflicted some disruption on the cavalry, but not nearly enough. The French had just enough command span on his remaining cards to order a charge, and in a one-sided fight, the British artillery were wiped out.
British army morale was now down to 5 (started at 16) while the French was still just in double figures at 10, and as I had tried out most aspects of the rules I left it at that. Initial impressions are very good – Maurice reminds me a bit of Command & Colours Ancients with the hand management and mad bits of action in an area followed by lulls as players seek to rebuild their hands up before attacking again. It’ll be interesting to try the card mechanics against a canny opponent like Nick.