S140 Dominant Hill – A Tilly’s Very Bad Day Battle Report 1

Roger Calderbank play tested my S140 Dominant Hill – A Tilly’s Very Bad Day Scenario and gave it a thumbs up, so I thought I’d have a go. Jamie came over and took Saxons as the Red Army and I took Imperialists as the Blue Army. Tilly’s Very Bad Day of course.

Summary: A great game. Six game turns. 1.5 hours game time. Seemed balanced but ended in a decisive result. We will play it again.


I do like the look of Tilly’s Very Bad Day with my Big Bases. The games look like a proper battle of the period.

Tilly-35 The battlefield

Tilly-35 The battlefield at the start of Game Turn 5


Army Lists

The scenario allows you to choose your forces, within certain constraints.

For my Imperialists I chose two commands of mixed Pike&Shot plus horse. My thinking was I’d need cavalry to contest the objectives quickly and infantry to hold them.

  • Vanguard
    • 1 x Commander
    • 4 x Pike+Shot
    • 3 x Horse
  • Main Body
    • 1 x Commander
    • 4 x Pike+Shot
    • 3 x Horse
  • 16 Units; 64 Coins; 6 break point

For his Saxons, Jamie chose horse and Cannons for his vanguard and pike&shot for his main body. Jamie intended to use his cavalry to capture the hill quickly.

    • Vanguard
      • 1 x Commander
      • 6 x Horse
      • 2 x Limbered Cannon
    • Main Body
      • 1 x Commander
      • 7 x Pike+Shot
    • 17 Units; 64 Coins; 6 break point

Deployment

Jamie and went for quite different tactics. The Imperialist vanguard was spread out across the table where Jamie’s Saxon vanguard was bunched up on my right.

Tilly-11 Table

Tilly-11 Table

Jamie took horse with a couple of cannons for his vanguard. They were all on the flank with the hills. There were, without a shadow of a doubt, going to reach the dominant hill first.

Tilly-16 Saxon vanguard - left

Tilly-16 Saxon vanguard – left

I had my vanguard foot facing them. They would reach the hills much later than the opposing Saxon cavalry. But once they got there they would be able to contest it effectively.

Tilly-15 Imperialist vanguard - right

Tilly-15 Imperialist vanguard – right

I put my vanguard horse on my left and they had nothing in front of them. My intention was to use them to worry the Saxon flank. If I was lucky I might be able to entice some Saxons off the hill or even perhaps charge a flank.

Tilly-14 Imperialist vanguard - left

Tilly-14 Imperialist vanguard – left


Turn 1

Turn 1 saw the arrival of both main bodies. The scenario didn’t specify whether they arrive and move or just arrive on the edge. We decided they should arrive on the edge.

Tilly-17 Imperialist main body - right

Tilly-17 Imperialist main body – right

Like the vanguard, my main body had both cavalry and infantry. I lined up the reinforcements behind their equivalent types in the vanguard. There was a bit of a risk with that as I we grouping the horse and grouping the pike&shot, but I didn’t have a cavalry general and a infantry general. So command and control might be a problem.

Tilly-18 Imperialist main body - left

Tilly-18 Imperialist main body – left

The vanguards advanced. So my vanguard foot trudged towards the hills, but they could see the Saxon horse already past the first of the small hills.

Tilly-20 Imperialist vanguard advances on right

Tilly-20 Imperialist vanguard advances on right

My vanguard horse moved past the village near my base line into the open area to the west of the junction. I was still hoping Jamie would have to respond to this and split his massive cavalry command to deal with this threat.

Tilly-19 Imperialist vanguard advances on left

Tilly-19 Imperialist vanguard advances on left


Turn 2

And sure enough, in Game Turn 2, Jamie swung half his horse to the west to respond to mine. It looked like my vanguard pike&shot, when they finally arrived, would only have to deal with three horse units and two cannons. Speaking of which, Jamie was trying to use his cannons as horse artillery, riding them up to support his horse. Unfortunately, in this period, artillery was ponderous, so it was taking a while for the cannons to get into position. And, of course, his horse was out in front blocking any line of fire.

Tilly-22 Saxon Horse swarm over the dominant hill

Tilly-22 Saxon horse swarm over the dominant hill


Turn 3

Game Turn 3 started with my Imperialist vanguard in a crescent formation around the dominant hill. The Saxon vanguard was on the hill but was responding to my movements.

Tilly-24 Imperialists are definitely not on the hill

Tilly-24 Imperialists are definitely not on the hill

The Imperialist cavalry was approaching the junction.

Tilly-26 Imperialist horse threaten junction

Tilly-26 Imperialist horse threaten junction

The Imperialist foot had climbed the first small hill and were approaching the dominant hill.

Tilly-27 Imperialist foot trudge towards dominant hill

Tilly-27 Imperialist foot trudge towards dominant hill

Jamie rode three of his horse units off the dominant hill onto the flat. And he kept advancing his cannons, so they started to climb the dominant hill.

Tilly-28 Saxons advance into Imperialist fire

Tilly-28 Saxons advance into Imperialist fire

Tilly-29 Saxon horse advances across junction

Tilly-29 Saxon horse advances across junction

I pushed my vanguard foot towards the dominant hill. This is where I wanted to fight.

Tilly-31 Foot of the Imperialist main body also advance

Tilly-31 Foot of the Imperialist main body advance

But I held my vanguard cavalry back. There were two reasons for this. I wanted Jamie to split his forces and come off the hill. I also wanted my main body horse to catch up to the vanguard.

Tilly-30 Imperial horse of the main body come up in support

Tilly-30 Imperial horse of the main body come up in support

My foot got into an ineffective fire fight with the Saxon horse on the dominant hill.

Tilly-32 The battlefield

Tilly-32 The battlefield

Tilly-33 Saxon shooting

Tilly-33 Saxon shooting


Turn 4

Game Turn 4 started with the armies closing in on the dominant hill.

Tilly-35 The battlefield

Tilly-35 The battlefield

Jamie (mostly) rode his horse forward, towards my vanguard horse on the flat and towards my vanguard foot on the hill. His cannons unlimbered on the lower slopes of the hill. To give them a clear field of fire he had to withdraw one of his horse units. All four of my vanguard pike&shot units shot at Saxon Horse on the dominant hill, and they suffered.

Tilly-36 Saxon horse ride into Imperialist musketry

Tilly-36 Saxon horse ride into Imperialist musketry

All the rest of my army advanced.

Tilly-37 Imperialists advance

Tilly-37 Imperialists advance

The only charges were on my left, where the opposing horse were facing each other on the flat.

Tilly-38 Charge declaations on the left

Tilly-38 Charge declarations on the left

Two horse units routed, one on each side.

Tilly-39 Ouch on the left

Tilly-39 Ouch on the left

Tilly-40 Well that tidied things up a bit

Tilly-40 Well that tidied things up a bit


Turn 5

I got initiative on Game Turn 5 and took the opportunity to reorganise my horse on the left. The main body horse was on my extreme left. The survivors of the vanguard horse, with the commander, was to their right, next to the foot. My vanguard foot was engaged and I moved my main body foot up to support them.

Tilly-42 Imperiaist main body closes in

Tilly-42 Imperialist main body closes in

And then charges galore. The Saxon horse on the dominant hill charged, but one of those charges was cancelled by the charge of the Imperialist vanguard horse. On the left both sides charged their horse.

Tilly-44 Charge declarations

Tilly-44 Charge declarations

On the dominant hill both Saxon horse routed. The other three Saxon horse units were reduced to one resolve (“Hurt Bad” in the photo). Although there was a strong element on luck in this result, I like to think it demonstrates the superiority of Imperialist Cuirassiers over the lightly equipped, Swedish style, Protestant horse.

Tilly-45 Saxons take a beating

Tilly-45 Saxons take a beating

Suddenly Jamie’s hold on the dominant hill doesn’t look so secure.

Tilly-46 The battlefield

Tilly-46 The battlefield


Turn 6

With the Saxon foot approaching, I pulled my vanguard horse back. The vanguard commander joined his foot on the hill. And more or less all my foot advanced. By god, I was going to have that hill. Jamie was bringing his own foot up to the sides of the dominant hill. Only two of his pike&shot were on the hill itself, and both were on the extreme northern edges. The horse battle on my left continued (“Locked in Melee”) because there hadn’t been an outright winner.

Tilly-48 Last maneuvering

Tilly-48 Last manoeuvring

The only charge was on the hill. I wanted to eat the Saxon cannons.

Tilly-49 Charge declaration

Tilly-49 Charge declaration

The Imperialists won everywhere.

Tilly-50 Imperialist steam roller is unstoppable

Tilly-50 Imperialist steam roller is unstoppable

On the dominant hill the Imperialists destroyed the two cannons. This is automatic when cannons find themselves in contact with enemy.

Tilly-51 Imperialist foot roll over the Saxon cannon

Tilly-51 Imperialist foot roll over the Saxon cannon

Just to their right, a Saxon pike&shot unit charged but bounced off their opponents.

Tilly-53 Saxon foot bounce off Imperialists

Tilly-53 Saxon foot bounce off Imperialists

On the left, a Saxon horse unit routed and nearby the commander became a casualty.

Tilly-52 Saxon horse rout and a commander leaves the field as a casualty

Tilly-52 Saxon horse rout and a commander leaves the field as a casualty

Game over.


Conclusions and observations

Another great game. Once again, Tilly’s Very Bad Day lived up to my intention of “fast play”. We played six action packed Game Turns in 1.5 hours of real time.

The gamed seemed balanced but ended in a decisive result. Jamie’s endorsement, “I know a good scenario when I want to play it again. And I want to play this one again.”

The Scenario involves some important pre-battle decisions. Decisions a real commander would face. How will I capture the dominant hill? How can I organise my troops (vanguard, main body, rearguard) to facilitate capturing the hill? Do I go for speed (horse) or strength (foot)? It was very satisfying.

I do like the look of Tilly’s Very Bad Day with my Big Bases. The games look like a proper battle of the period.


Where to get Tilly’s Very Bad Day

Tilly’s Very Bad Day is available for Download (PDF). You can also get a printed copy from Lulu.

4 comments to S140 Dominant Hill – A Tilly’s Very Bad Day Battle Report 1

  • Joseph

    Cool AAR, I too like the look of your big bases. And another benefit, less time to move stands about.

  • Jean-Michel Vray

    Very good and inspiring !

    We will try this scenario when we will have a sufficient number of units ( 2 canons and 6 dragoons at the moment. A first pike and shot has not been based yet).

    Regards and thanks for sharing.

    John

  • A visually pleasing and entertaining report of what looks like a top game.
    Regards, James

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