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     DESIGNER: Brian Berg Asklev Hansen and David Ekberg

SYSTEM DESIGN: Ben Hull
DEVELOPER: Dick Vohlers
ART DIRECTOR: Rodger B. MacGowan
MAP & COUNTER ART: Knut Grünitz
BATTLE CARDS GRAPHICS: Jonas Hitomi Balslev Ishibori
PACKAGE ART: Rodger B. MacGowan
PRODUCERS: Andy Lewis, Gene Billingsley, Mark Simonitch, Rodger MacGowan, & Tony Curtis

COMPONENTS

ONLINE RESOURCES

LIVING RULES

From the Box Cover (back) and Internet:

 

The Bohemian Revolt of 1618 triggered the Thirty Years War and in the early period of the war the Catholic/Imperial cause enjoyed an almost unbroken string of victories. This game, part of the Musket and Pike Battle Series, simulates six battles of the early Thirty Years War. In the period covered, the armies deployed in more compact formations so each battle fits on half of a standard map.

The battles covered in this game are:

White Mountain
November, 1620
The combined army of the Holy Roman Empire and the Catholic League under Johann Tserclaes, the Count of Tilly, strike a blow directly at the Bohemian capital of Prague. The Bohemians make a stand on the slopes of White Mountain outside the town. Their Transylvanian allies desert them at the most critical point of the battle, causing the total collapse of the Bohemian army and its cause.

This is a short scenario where the qualitatively superior Catholic forces must crush the strongly positioned Bohemians who are bolstered by a large Transylvanian contingent of questionable reliability.

Wimpfen
May, 1622
Tilly joins forces with the Spanish under Cordoba. Together they pursue the smaller army of the Markgraf of Baden-Durlach. They catch his army near the town of Wimpfen, where it is drawn up in a defensive position in a river bend. The Badian camp is fortified in a special traditional way with Spießwagen ("pikewagons"), mobile barricades equipped with sharp poles and small mortars. Only when a powder wagon detonates in the midst of the Protestant position, scattering the defenders, the Catholics are able to storm the wagonburg and heavy fighting breaks out.

A balanced pitched battle. A larger Catholic army tries to defeat a Protestant army that is not only protected by a wagonburg but also possesses a strong cavalry force for counterattacks.

Höchst
June, 1622
The Bavarians under Tilly catch the forces of the zealous Protestant Duke Christian as they try to cross the river Main. To protect the crossing, Christian makes a stand at a stream. At first Tilly hesitates, but eventually the Bavarians attack and the Protestant army dissolves in a chaotic retreat.

A rearguard situation, where the Protestants must delay the Catholics while simultaneously trying to retreat the majority of their army to safety.

Fleurus
August, 1622
Defeated and demoralized, the combined forces of the condottiere Mansfeld and Duke Christian try to escape the German theater and enter the service of the United Provinces instead. Cordoba's Spanish army blocks them at Fleurus in what is today Belgium. The unpaid and mutinous Protestants attack at dawn in an attempt to break through. In a vicious five-hour fight, the Spanish hold, but enough Protestants break through to force the Spanish to lift an important siege in the Netherlands.

This is a smaller pitched battle where a large but very unreliable Protestant army attempts to overwhelm the smaller but more experienced Spanish army. This battle is suitable as an introduction to the game system.

Stadtlohn
August, 1623
Following the battle of Fleurus, Duke Christian again rebuilds an army with raw recruits to join with Mansfeld in the Netherlands and renew the fight for the Protestant cause. However, he soon finds himself outlawed by the Imperor, unsupported and forced to retreat when Tilly's veteran army bears down on him. The Protestan army, slowed by a massive baggage train attempts a last stand and finds itself caught by Tilly's vanguard when within sight of the Dutch border. True to form, Christian decides to risk his army to save his baggage train, but ends up losing both.

A race-against-the-clock rearguard situation where the focus is on the fate of the Protestant baggage train that is slowly moving towards the map edge.

Lutter am Barenberge
August, 1626
The Danish King Christian IV intervenes in the Thirty Years War and pushes Tilly back during the early summer. However, he finds himself outnumbered and on the defensive when Tilly is reinforced by Imperial troops. Christian decides to turn on his pursuers and gives battle in a strong defensive position at Lutter am Barenberge. The initial Catholic attacks are repulsed, but the subsequent uncontrolled Danish counterattack results in the eventual collapse of the Danish army.

This is also a rearguard battle, but with more evenly matched armies, though the Danes are severely hampered by an unusual command situation.

In addition to scenario specific special rules that highlight the unique events of each battle, the battles in the game all share a simple set of special rules. These rules show the peculiarities of the early years of the Thirty Years War, such as Croat/Transylvanian style light cavalry.

Even though not all of the battles included were equal contests in military terms, the player victory conditions are balanced. Along with the special rules, that means the battles are interesting for both sides.

The Bohemian Revolt of 1618 triggered the Thirty Years War and in the early period of the war the Catholic/Imperial cause enjoyed an almost unbroken string of victories. This game, part of the Musket and Pike Battle Series, simulates six battles of the early Thirty Years War. In the period covered, the armies deployed in more compact formations so each battle fits on half of a standard map.

The battles covered in this game are:

White Mountain
November, 1620
The combined army of the Holy Roman Empire and the Catholic League under Johann Tserclaes, the Count of Tilly, strike a blow directly at the Bohemian capital of Prague. The Bohemians make a stand on the slopes of White Mountain outside the town. Their Transylvanian allies desert them at the most critical point of the battle, causing the total collapse of the Bohemian army and its cause.

This is a short scenario where the qualitatively superior Catholic forces must crush the strongly positioned Bohemians who are bolstered by a large Transylvanian contingent of questionable reliability.

Wimpfen
May, 1622
Tilly joins forces with the Spanish under Cordoba. Together they pursue the smaller army of the Markgraf of Baden-Durlach. They catch his army near the town of Wimpfen, where it is drawn up in a defensive position in a river bend. The Badian camp is fortified in a special traditional way with Spießwagen ("pikewagons"), mobile barricades equipped with sharp poles and small mortars. Only when a powder wagon detonates in the midst of the Protestant position, scattering the defenders, the Catholics are able to storm the wagonburg and heavy fighting breaks out.

A balanced pitched battle. A larger Catholic army tries to defeat a Protestant army that is not only protected by a wagonburg but also possesses a strong cavalry force for counterattacks.

Höchst
June, 1622
The Bavarians under Tilly catch the forces of the zealous Protestant Duke Christian as they try to cross the river Main. To protect the crossing, Christian makes a stand at a stream. At first Tilly hesitates, but eventually the Bavarians attack and the Protestant army dissolves in a chaotic retreat.

A rearguard situation, where the Protestants must delay the Catholics while simultaneously trying to retreat the majority of their army to safety.

Fleurus
August, 1622
Defeated and demoralized, the combined forces of the condottiere Mansfeld and Duke Christian try to escape the German theater and enter the service of the United Provinces instead. Cordoba's Spanish army blocks them at Fleurus in what is today Belgium. The unpaid and mutinous Protestants attack at dawn in an attempt to break through. In a vicious five-hour fight, the Spanish hold, but enough Protestants break through to force the Spanish to lift an important siege in the Netherlands.

This is a smaller pitched battle where a large but very unreliable Protestant army attempts to overwhelm the smaller but more experienced Spanish army. This battle is suitable as an introduction to the game system.

Stadtlohn
August, 1623
Following the battle of Fleurus, Duke Christian again rebuilds an army with raw recruits to join with Mansfeld in the Netherlands and renew the fight for the Protestant cause. However, he soon finds himself outlawed by the Imperor, unsupported and forced to retreat when Tilly's veteran army bears down on him. The Protestan army, slowed by a massive baggage train attempts a last stand and finds itself caught by Tilly's vanguard when within sight of the Dutch border. True to form, Christian decides to risk his army to save his baggage train, but ends up losing both.

A race-against-the-clock rearguard situation where the focus is on the fate of the Protestant baggage train that is slowly moving towards the map edge.

Lutter am Barenberge
August, 1626
The Danish King Christian IV intervenes in the Thirty Years War and pushes Tilly back during the early summer. However, he finds himself outnumbered and on the defensive when Tilly is reinforced by Imperial troops. Christian decides to turn on his pursuers and gives battle in a strong defensive position at Lutter am Barenberge. The initial Catholic attacks are repulsed, but the subsequent uncontrolled Danish counterattack results in the eventual collapse of the Danish army.

This is also a rearguard battle, but with more evenly matched armies, though the Danes are severely hampered by an unusual command situation.

In addition to scenario specific special rules that highlight the unique events of each battle, the battles in the game all share a simple set of special rules. These rules show the peculiarities of the early years of the Thirty Years War, such as Croat/Transylvanian style light cavalry.

Even though not all of the battles included were equal contests in military terms, the player victory conditions are balanced. Along with the special rules, that means the battles are interesting for both sides.


SAINTS in ARMOR joins VI:This Accursed Civil War, VII:Sweden Fights On, VIII:Under the Lily Banners, IV:Gustav Adolf the Great and V:Nothing Gained But Glory in the GMT <usket & Pike Battle series.

The game uses D10s which sounds as if it would make combat results too random but in fact offers better variables that reflect the way combat would have occurred in the period. Artillery can be very good if placed and used to their prime but usually they are too close to the front and are quickly overrun and out of the action very soon into the battle.


The rules are full and wholesome. Even for experienced players they are rather daunting and not just a little confusing in places. They do need an experienced eye to read them through and then return to the salient points to ensure they are taken in. On GMTs complexity scale SiA rates a mid-medium and one step up from that on the solo play possibilities.

The counters are regular wargame style, small, colour coded and with a lot of information; there are some double-sized counters that have similar information which is printed the same size despite the additional size of the counter. 

The GMT Musket & Pike games rely on the players being able to control the arms of their army by keeping them rallied and in reach of Orders. Unlike earlier armies, the M&P era had a much better communication system and this is depicted here by allowing units to be within 1-2 hexes of each other and available to act on the same Orders. Of course this can have an adverse effect if a Unit breaks and close Units react similarly, but of course close-by Units can also give support.  

This was also an era of confusion on the field and Movement can at times trigger actions that can affect more than the Moving Unit. Each Move decision should be pre-empted by a serious consideration of the possibilities; there are almost certainly going to be either for or against actions and reactions to every decision.

Most combat over distance causes little damage but it can soften Unit's morale up and make them susceptible to a strategic hit by a heavy unit. Close-in combat is the way towards kill and chaos. Speaking of chaos, the Wimpfen 1622 scenario is quite unusual in that instead of being the usual steady compromise of tactics and strategy it is a full-on slugfest where you can almost smell  the Whoom! of the artillery explosions.

As I have said already, Orders are the order of the day. Get them right and you are on your way to victory, send the wrong message and it's backs to the wall and grit your teeth/cross your fingers time. Basically the orders that can be given are: Charge, Make Ready, Receive Charge, and Rally, with the player making the most Charge orders tending to their Units first in battle. Charges can be extremely destructive to your opponent's forces, but they can also lead to much disarray of your own troops and rallying your force afterwards can become a real problem.

Each scenario is finely balanced in its own way. Sometimes it is virtual equality in the number of units each side has, other times it may be the terrain or victory conditions that balance it out. There are no favoured sides though, each game is down to the combating players and perhaps a little die-rolling luck.  

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015