Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Maurice a second look

The opposing  armies meet across the battlefield
My friend Mike came over last week where we played our second game of  Maurice. I couldn't stand much as my back is really troubling me of late, so I did most things from a sitting position in true armchair general fashion. We played Maurice last summer and the experience was a mixed bag, where I liked the cards, but found the force structure a little hard to get my head around. However, I always felt I didn't give it a proper chance and so wanted to try again. Normally I know if I like a game first time around and seldom change my opinion after more games, but Maurice was genuinely a game where I wasn't sure how I felt and I'm very pleased I did try again as I had a fantastic time!

Why you may ask? The answer is I better understood the concept of the force structure combined with using the cards  or at least a more clear insight into some of it which enabled me to enjoy the game a whole lot more. I won't go into all the pro's and con's of the game or how it's played as that information is available on the Honour site, but I will mention a few things as I go along.

We decided to play " Imagi-nations" which is playing fictional armies in a real historical time frame. In this case we went with the 18th century which is the focus of Maurice. We grouped all of our SYW, FIW and AWI together as we don't have enough completed figures of any of those periods to play by themselves yet to do a proper historical battle and so all you absolute purists please look away now to avoid a unsightly mix of periods which could potentially upset you.:-) While we may prefer real historical armies "Imagi-nations" is fun too as it allows one to use what one has or simply cheery pick units you like from different armies and put them into one army of your own creation not to mention it works really well with Maurice.

We pooled our armies together and divided them equally with Mike receiving one extra unit for being the attacker(12 to 11 army points). Mike took the Austrians, Russians and half the Americans which we will call the Kingdom of Nuremberg for reference and I took the other half of the Americans, the French and British making up The Grand Duchy of Hollfeld. For right now and the near foreseeable future we will play equal armies until we have enough figures painted for each to build the standard 100pts force from their own personal collection. We also ignored the infantry and cavalry ratio of 3 to 1 and will continue to do so until we have enough cavalry completed to meet this requirement.  Also, we played without the terrain/scout special set up card or Nobles and National Advantages plus all units we counted as trained as we wanted to nail the mechanics down. We plan to add all these the next time around and in addition give two elite choices per army for extra flavour. One day we of course aspire to actual historical armies, but until then "Imagi-nations" will be the format for gaming Maurice.

I'll give a somewhat highlighted account of the battle so I'll leave out less dramatic activations. You can read Mikes excellent version of the battle here .

Mike began the game as the attacker and promptly opened up a cannonade to soften up my forces before launching a fast and furious assault with his small ruthless cavalry running down my equally small cavalry caught out in column with brutal efficiency thanks to a few choice cards he drew. However, my nearby infantry were able to exact a measure of vengeance and gunned down his hot blooded cavalry in a hail of lead.

At this point Mike realized he needed to advance his large compact infantry block if he was going to achieve any kind victory since I decided my army held the objective of the tower and didn't feel the need to move other then a few wheels to get a better position. So advance he did with drums and flutes signalling the advance in an attempt to overwhelm my thinner deployed formation and probably would have......except that I used a highly useful swamp event card and placed it right dab square in front of his advancing block which would disrupt any unit moving through it. Mike had no choice, but to bite the bullet and move through the swamp emerging on the other side of it in a bit chaos which I of course promptly took advantage of and unleashed a torrent of musket balls and cannister and nodding self satisfactory to myself in the belief I had him in bad way. However, to my surprise this did not destroy his force who through a feat of stubborn tenacity where able to actually stand and return a deadly fire of their own! The battle escalated into an almighty fire fight for the next few rounds with both our armies inflicting heavy losses.

Our troops were holding in there with both Mike and I staying about equal till we reached about 4 points left each at which point Mike cleverly used a nice little card to force one of my depleted units to charge his fresher one which sadly led to their demise and basically my whole left flank along with it! To add insult to injury my last artillery piece also went up in smoke. However, my troops where not quite ready to throw the towel in and with just 1 army point left managed to rally and counter attack and with lady luck smiling succeeded in destroying another of Mikes regiments bringing him to 1 army point left as well! The drama has now gone Hollywood at this point!

At this point our exhausted armies played a game of cat and mouse with both rallying then shooting or charging until we ran out of cards to draw from the deck.  I somehow managed to hold on to a few more cards at the very end giving me more time to rally and fire resulting in my lads breaking one of Mikes regiments and in the process his army at the very last moment!

Mike was an absolute gentlemen as always and the game could not have been better. It was a real nail biter down to the very last army point for both sides with all cards played and Mike holding the objective which he won through a real show of determination leaving me the only chance for victory was breaking his army before the very last card was used which is exactly what happened to my very good fortune! Major kudos to Mike for getting so very close as he had the more difficult task as the attacker and fought a outstanding battle. An amazing game and the kind of close one most of us gamers strive for.

There is no question Mike and I are very keen for another game of Maurice!

The Kingdom of Nuremberg

Some of the Nuremberg troops
The Grand Duchy of Hollfeld(minus one regiment not seen)
Some of the Hollfeld regiments
Mike prepares to unleash a cannonade
Mikes Hussars after running over my cavalry
Only to have themselves scattered by a hail of smoke and lead
The Nuremberg infantry advances without difficulty until an unexpected mire reveals itself
The armies clash in a maelstrom of smoke and repeated fusillades 
Casualties begin to mount at an alarming rate!
An undisciplined charge leads to near disaster for Hollfeld!
Hollfeld rallies after their flank collapses and mount a successful counter attack
 Barely giving Hollfeld a victory just moments before night falls leaving bodies to tell the story