S12 Fighting Across the River – A Tilly’s Very Bad Day Scenario

This Tilly’s Very Bad Day scenario is based on Scenario 12: Fighting Across the River from “Scenarios for all Ages” by Charles Grant and Stuart Asquith. It is a small game on a small table with small armies (in numbers of units).


Mission

Setting: Either Thirty Years War or English Civil War.

The Red Army has taken up position south of the river line. The river is wide so can contribute to the defence. However, the river is neither deep nor fast, and can be forded almost anywhere. That means Red will be spread thinly to prevent Blue advance.

The Blue Army is advancing from the north towards the river. Blue must press home an attack across the river, fording it under fire, and then attack and defeat the Red army.


Map/Terrain

The map is:

Table - S12 Fighting Across the River - Tillys Very Bad Day

Table – S12 Fighting Across the River – Tillys Very Bad Day

Key features are:

  • A small table of 30 TUM x 30 TUM (this is 4′ x 4′ with my 80 wide bases)
  • Shallow small table lines for those who want a more smaller battlefield – these are the thin green dotted lines – use as the base edges
  • Flank lines – these are the grey dotted lines – used for deployment
  • A centrally placed west-east river; this feature is fordable; my river is 4″ wide on a 4′ table
  • Two bridges, which count as open terrain for all purposes
  • Six hills (Small 3 TUM x 4 TUM; Small 4 TUM; Medium 4 TUM x 6 TUM; Medium 6 TUM; Large 6 TUM x 8 TUM; Large 8 TUM)
  • Four woods (Small 3 TUM x 4 TUM; Small 4 TUM; Medium 4 TUM x 6 TUM; Medium 6 TUM)
  • The 8 TUM Large hill has the 6 TUM medium wood on top

Pre-game preparation

Game set-up (Phase 1) is a bit different. The steps are:

  • Step 1.1. Agree game size – Small Game
  • Step 1.2. Recruit army – Scenario specific
  • Step 1.3. Determine attacker – Defined by scenario
  • Step 1.4. Place Terrain – Defined by scenario
  • Step 1.5. Scouting – None
  • Step 1.6. Deployment – Scenario specific
  • Step 1.7. Bombardment – Normal

Step 1.2. Recruit army

The army composition is given by the scenario. Red and Blue organise their armies into commands.

Step 1.5. Scouting

No scouting.

Step 1.6. Deployment

Blue attacker first deploys all units. Red defender deploys second. Otherwise, normal deployment rules apply e.g. all Pike+Shot units must deploy in the centre (between the grey dotted flank lines).


Blue Player (Attacking)

Objective

Cross the river and defeat the Red Army.

Forces Available

The following units divided into two commands:

Blue Order of Battle

  • 2 x Commanders
  • 3 x Horse
  • 1 x Light Horse
  • 6 x Pike+Shot
  • 1 x Shot
  • 2 x Cannon
  • 15 Units; 56 Coins; 5 break point

Deployment

Deploys first, before Red.

Deploys behind the blue dotted line.

Otherwise, normal deployment rules apply e.g. all Pike+Shot units must deploy in the centre (between the grey dotted flank lines).

Cannon deploy limbered or unlimbered at the player’s choice.

Reinforcements

None.


Red Player (Defending)

Objective

Prevent the Blue Army from crossing the river.

Forces Available

The following units divided into two commands:

Red Order of Battle

  • 2 x Commander
  • 2 x Horse
  • 3 x Pike+Shot
  • 1 x Shot
  • 1 x Unlimbered Cannon
  • 9 Units; 34 Coins; 5 break point

Note: Red has a higher than normal break point.

Deployment

Deploys second, after Blue.

Deploys behind the Red dotted line.

Otherwise, normal deployment rules apply e.g. all Pike+Shot units must deploy in the centre (between the grey dotted flank lines).

No troops deploy on table.

Reinforcements

None.


Victory Conditions

The victory conditions, and which side wins, depends on whether:

  • The Blue army has reached its breakpoint
  • The Red army has reached its breakpoint
  • Blue has two or more units south of the river at end of Game Turn 10.

The diagram shows the combinations resulting in a Blue or Red victory.

Victory - S12 Fighting Across the River

Victory – S12 Fighting Across the River


Scenario Special Rules

The river is fordable for its entire length. It counts as difficult terrain except for units crossing at the bridges.


Notes

Nominal unit size: 1000 for Pike+Shot, Shot, and Rabble; 500 for Horse, Dragoons and Light Horse; 8 guns for Cannon.


Where to get Tilly’s Very Bad Day

Tilly’s Very Bad Day is available for Download (PDF).


References

Grant, C. S., and Asquith, S. A. (1996). “Scenarios for all Ages”. CSG Publications.

4 comments to S12 Fighting Across the River – A Tilly’s Very Bad Day Scenario

  • Roger Calderbank

    I tried this scenario solo, as it is somewhat like the Battle of the Lech (the Very Bad Day). My feeling is that it is just too difficult for Red. Red has little option except to form a cordon along the river line to try to prevent Blue crossing. Blue can then use its superior numbers to dominate a shooting duel across the river, until a gap appears to allow it to get enough units across to meet the victory conditions.

    When I tried it, the game was effectively over by turn 4. The Swedes (as Blue) were getting the better of the shooting with the Catholic League when a stray bullet killed the Elector of Bavaria. The resulting commander loss and morale erosion saw all the Elector’s units rout, and the Swedes could cross the river with ease. All they then had to do was survive until the game end, which was also easy as Red was now too weak to drive them back. I tried again, and although there were no dramatic collapses, the Swedes still managed to win the shooting duel, make a gap in the Red line, and get enough units across the river before the end of the game.

    If I was playing this face-to-face, I’d probably give Red some reserves to arrive later in the game, and bolster any weakness in Red’s cordon line. Blue may then have to attack more vigorously to try to break Red, rather then just get a couple of units across the river by shooting until a gap appears.

    RogerC

    • Steven Thomas

      Roger, I really appreciate you giving these scenarios a go. I’ve not had a chance to play test them myself yet. The new Covid lock down in London prevented getting together with my usual crew.

      The scenarios from the books often give the attackers a massive advantage in numbers.

      I like your suggestion of Red reinforcements. That would also put an additional time pressure on Blue.

      Of course, it would simpler to just give Red more troops to start with.

      I wonder if I should change the victory conditions to ensure Blue has to push past the river and so give Red an option to deploy further back on the hills. So rather than…
      > Blue has two or more units south of the river at end of Game Turn 10.
      perhaps …
      > Blue has two or more units out of the river, on the one or more of the three central hills, at end of Game Turn 10.

  • Roger Calderbank

    Thank you Steven. I realise you are adapting these scenarios directly from the book, and I am playing solo, so there may be better tactics for Red than I’ve realised. Having said that, my view is that Red has to hold the river line to have a chance, and saying that Blue must get to the hills wouldn’t change things. In the two earlier games I described, Blue was firmly on the hills by game’s end.

    I tried it with a Red reserve. The reserve was 3 units of pike+shot, 1 of horse, and a commander, arriving (on my shallow table) in turn 7. I decided not to change Red’s breakpoint once the reserve arrived. As before, Red defended the river line and, coincidentally, Blue got a breakthrough also in turn 7. The breakthrough and the Red reserve clashed, and it came down to the final melee in turn 10. With commanders joining the fight, it could have gone either way, but Red managed to rout 2 Blue units, so Blue had only one unit across the river at game end. Both sides had also lost 4 units at that point, so one more loss for either side would have also decided the game. Looking back at the two earlier games, I doubt the reserve would have helped in the first where the Elector was killed in turn 4, as Blue got too many units over the river for the reserve to deal with. In the second, the reserve would probably have been enough to stop the late breakthrough.

    I’ll use the reserve again when I get to play this scenario face-to-face.

    RogerC

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