S140 Dominant Hill – A Tilly’s Very Bad Day Battle Report 2

Jamie and I thought we’d have another go at S140 Dominant Hill – A Tilly’s Very Bad Day Scenario. Our first play test was a blast and we both had ideas for how to play it differently. Once again Jamie was Saxons as the Red Army and I was Imperialists as the Blue Army. Tilly’s Very Bad Day of course.

Summary: Another great game. Five game turns. 1.5 hours game time. Tense and gritty, with 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-66 Saxon movement

Tilly-66 Saxon movement


Army Lists

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

For my Imperialists I rather a historically put all my foot into the vanguard. I wanted my Pike∧Shot to contest the dominant hill. I put all my horse into the main body to reinforce anywhere I thought I needed it. I also took two cannons, partly to see if I could make them contribute effectively to the game.

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

Jamie did something quite similar with his Saxons. His vanguard had pike&shot, like mine, but surprisingly his took a light horse unit as well. Now Croats were a peculiarly Catholic thing in the Thirty Years War so the Saxons shouldn’t have them, but they are allowed to both Red and Blue in the scenario, so fair cop. Like mine, Jamie’s cavalry was in the main body.

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

Deployment

The start of Game 2 saw a lot of infantry on table. On both sides.

Tilly-54a Table

Tilly-54a Table

My Imperialist infantry was lined up behind the village near my base line, headed for the dominant hill. My cannon were out to the left to get a line of fire to the approaching Saxons.

Tilly-55a Imperialist Vanguard

Tilly-55a Imperialist Vanguard

Jamie’s Saxon infantry was also lined up behind the village near his base edge.

Tilly-56a Saxon Vanguard

Tilly-56a Saxon Vanguard


Turn 1

Game Turn 1 saw both vanguards march forward and the main bodies arrive. Both main bodies appeared immediately behind the vanguards.

Tilly-58 Imperialist Main Body arrives

Tilly-58 Imperialist Main Body arrives


Turn 2

Jamie started pushing his horse out to the flank. Presumably to threaten my infantry’s right flank when I approached the dominant hill.

Tilly-60 Saxons cross northern small hill

Tilly-60 Saxons cross northern small hill

As my vanguard crossed the small hill, I extended my infantry line to the right to counter Jamie’s horse.

Tilly-61 Imperialists cross southern small hill

Tilly-61 Imperialists cross southern small hill

My cannon had a nice clear line of sight to the Saxons. I managed to maintain this for quite a while. One cannon doesn’t do much damage but two cannons, side by side, can pack a punch.

Tilly-62 Imperialist cannons open up

Tilly-62 Imperialist cannons open up

Jamie was experimenting with his Croats. He wanted to see if he could slow my line down. Not really.

Tilly-63 Croats skirmish in front of Imperialists

Tilly-63 Croats skirmish in front of Imperialists

Tilly-64 Imperialist foot drive off Croats

Tilly-64 Imperialist foot drive off Croats


Turn 3

My infantry started trudging up the slopes of the dominant hill.

Tilly-65 Imperialist movement

Tilly-65 Imperialist movement

On the other side of the hill, the Saxons also started their ascent.

Tilly-66 Saxon movement

Tilly-66 Saxon movement

The Croats were up for a fight and popped away at my foot.

Tilly-67 Croats still popping away

Tilly-67 Croats still popping away

Game Turn 3 saw a lot of charge declarations. The Croats evaded.

Tilly-68 Charge declarations

Tilly-68 Charge declarations

The charges went in. The Croats got sandwiched between the two infantry lines. I didn’t expect them to last long.

Tilly-69 Charges

Tilly-69 Charges

The melee results were slightly in my favour. Saxons suffered one rout and a rally back. I got a rally back. Surprisingly the Croats drew with the foot they were fighting, so became locked in melee.

Tilly-70 Melee

Tilly-70 Melee

The rout meant the Saxons on my left were a bit thin. Jamie would have to bring up more troops.

Tilly-71 Morale Phase

Tilly-71 Morale Phase


Turn 4

Jamie advanced his horse to threaten my right. He also closed up his foot so fill the gap facing my left.

Tilly-73 Saxon movement

Tilly-73 Saxon movement

Unfortunately for Jamie, combined fire from the Imperialist artillery and muskets routed one of those Pike&Shot units that moved towards the centre.

Tilly-74 Imperialist fire routes Saxon Pike&Shot

Tilly-74 Imperialist fire routes Saxon Pike&Shot

Imperialist musketry did quit well on the dominant hill as well, although there were no routs.

Tilly-75 Imperialist fire hammers Saxons on right

Tilly-75 Imperialist fire hammers Saxons on right

Jamie’s horse was a bit stymied by the Imperialist Pike&Shot I had out on my right.

Tilly-76 Imperialist fire gives Saxon horse pause for thought

Tilly-76 Imperialist fire gives Saxon horse pause for thought

With the Saxon unit facing my right wing routing, I saw an an opportunity and moved some horse to exploit it.

Tilly-77 Imperialist movement

Tilly-77 Imperialist movement

The Saxons still had a bit of pepper in them and conducted a couple charges. I had one in return.

Tilly-78 Charge declarations

Tilly-78 Charge declarations

Hmm, I lost a unit routed and suffered a rally back. The Saxons also got a rally back.

Tilly-79 Melee

Tilly-79 Melee

Both vanguards had taken a bit of a hammering. I had a hole in my centre that I had to fill. Jamie’s centre was intact but the resolve of those units was weakening. Jamie did have a problem where my left wing horse was going around his open flank. My right flank foot were preventing any ambition moves by Jamie’s horse.

Tilly-80a Morale Phase

Tilly-80a Morale Phase


Turn 5

I shifted one my my Pike&Shot units left to partially fill the gap in my centre. And used a horse unit to securely plug it. This movement intentionally opened a small gap on my right centre, a gap I filled with a couple of horse units. I advanced my left wing horse as did Jamie.

Tilly-82 Movement and shooting

Tilly-82 Movement and shooting

Lots of charges. Six of my units charged including three horse.

Tilly-84 Charge declarations

Tilly-84 Charge declarations

I scored four routs from six charges! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!

Tilly-85 Melee

Tilly-85 Melee

Here is what the battlefield looked like at the climatic moment. Very intense combat on the dominant hill.

Tilly-86 Melee - Battlefield view

Tilly-86 Melee – Battlefield view

On the dominant hill itself the Saxon line collapsed.

Tilly-87 Melee on dominant hill

Tilly-87 Melee on dominant hill

A massive hole opened up in the Saxon line on the dominant hill. Not that it mattered because Jamie had hit his breakpoint. On the positive side Jamie’s Croats were still fighting at the end of the battle, despite being in melee for three consecutive game turns. A small miracle give they were frontally facing a Pike&Shot unit.

Tilly-88 Morale Phase

Tilly-88 Morale Phase

Game over.


Conclusions and observations

Another great game. The scenario offers some interesting challenges and we could both already imagine tweaks to how we would play the next time. And there will be a next time.

For myself, although I won this game, I wasn’t too happy about entirely splitting my infantry and horse. I was bumping the command range too often. Next time I’m likely to go back to mixed commands.

I think the game also showed that cannon work, if they have unobstructed lines of fire, and you have more than one of them. We did have a discussion about whether the red player (Saxon in this case) had sufficient open space to the west of the villages, to allow them the same trick with the cannons. We think, on balance, “yes” but I could tweak the map to nudge the medium size wood towards the western table edge.

The Croats won “player of the match” for this game. They were engaged the longest of any unit and survived. The question is, could Jamie have got more value from them if he’d used them differently.

And, I must say, it is nice to get the Saxons on table.

Next we’ll probably play S12 Fighting Across the River – A Tilly’s Very Bad Day Scenario as this is another scenario that Roger Calderbank has provided some feedback about.


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 2

  • Roger Calderbank

    Looks a good game, as did the previous game using this scenario. The Croats did well, but a position between the two battle-lines isn’t where I would expect to see them operating.
    Thinking about your games, and mine for this scenario, I note that there is little reason for either side to occupy the wooded part of the table (East in your scenario map). All the objectives are on or West of the centre line, and it is likely that one army will break before either village is contested. A possible variation of the scenario could be to move the crossroads nearer the East edge of the table. There might then be an incentive for one or both armies to have shot units, and the armies would have to spread out more, with choices about the order in which you try to take the objectives.
    RogerC

    • Steven Thomas

      A fair point Roger. Of course, I’m basing the scenario no the one from the book. But I agree moving the objective more to the centre would probably improve it.

  • Another fine game and write-up. Once again your addition of captions and arrows on the photos is an excellent idea that adds greatly to the understanding of events.
    Regards, James

    • Steven Thomas

      Thanks for the feedback James. The annotations take most of the time in preparing these reports so I’m glad they add value.

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