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Age of Absolutism

2 August 2003

by Elliot Woodruff


History, they say is written by the victor.  If so then this battle report should be a joint effort since I hope that the game, my first in Hong Kong was a success – for battlefield winner and loser alike.


Elliot Woodruff’s debut game in Hong Kong was set in the middle of the eighteenth century – with a French force defending a line against a numerically superior Austrian one.  The rules used were Age of Absolutism written by Birmingham wargamer, Roger Underwood, complete with battle and terrain generation modules and army lists for each side.  Elliot showed off his Austrians and John supplied the French.


The Austrians gained the initiative, having a ‘good’ commander while the French, with only a ‘poor’ one, struggled to find a suitable defensive location and when at last they did – they did not have the time to build any redoubts.   The scene was set – together with some very Italian looking buildings and poplar trees.  The pre-game build-up and terrain laying complete the game commenced – egged on by a rousing round of applause from the neighbouring DBM game to signify the first turn.   The Austrians refused their left flank, while infantry advanced in the centre and massed cavalry advanced on the right.  The French held high ground along the centre and left with their cavalry on the left flank. 


With typical élan, the French cavalry (3 brigades: 2 cuirassier and 1 hussar) advanced and charged the Austrians.  Unfortunately the hussars hit an Austrian cuirassier brigade and were routed in short order.  The first line of French cuirassiers hit the leading brigade of Austrians only to be beaten on the dice.  This left the French left wing “shaken” and obliged to retire.  The next turn the Austrians pursued and halted, only to be charged by the French second line cuirassiers whose commander managed to muster sufficient “PIP”s to delay the obligatory withdrawal.  The French gained the advantage and the Austrians routed – so honour at least for the French cavalry. 


Meanwhile the Austrian centre moved forward steadily.  The Austrian gunners were a little rusty to say the least.  Their French counterparts were much more accurate and the lead Austrian infantry brigade soon suffered casualties.  They made it to the French line and suffered dearly in the fire fight which followed.  Seeing the Austrians on the verge of breaking, the French infantry tested to charge.  Successfully.  The Austrian line wavered but passed the response test subject to shooting at long range not short.  With five d20s requiring a dice 4 or less, the charge was in the balance.  The Austrians fired; one “4” forced a charge-in test – and the charge fell short.  A desultory fire fight followed, causing the battered Austrian line to withdraw voluntarily.  The Austrian C-in-C got too close only to be wounded when the French line turned their sights on his HQ. 


But this was all to no avail.  The Austrian left wing advanced to engage the French right and, before long the French had suffered 50% casualties  in terms of elements lost/shaken commands and were forced to quit the field – albeit in good order.


And so the battle ended – after 8+ turns and action on almost every turn.  Unsurprisingly the Austrian numerical superiority eventually told against the French but it was not a totally one sided victory.  The Austrians lost a cuirassier brigade and a brigade and 1 ½ brigades of infantry (3¾ Army Points out of 24 – so over 12%) – and this could be telling in a campaign situation (indeed, another lost brigade and the Austrians might even have considered withdrawal).  French losses in terms of routed APs came to about 5-6 APs (nearly 33%) - so the decision to withdraw was a sensible one.  The casualties in percentage terms looked right for both winner and loser alike.


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