Macquire deployed around and to the left of the village.
Facing him, the Bevern's Prussians were deployed in the centre and to the right.
What Bevern didn't know, was that Macquire would try to withdraw at the earliest permissible opportunity and Maquire's Army Characterisation card draw would allow him to do so - the Austrians had drawn only 9 morale chips.
Rule Note: In Age of Reason, a battle ends when a player loses so many troops and objective points that he is forced to withdraw. Piquet battles end in a similar fashion but with a wholly different mechanism and consequently I had to come up with something that, at a certain point, would end a and / or allow withdrawal. I said that once a force got to zero morale and failed a major morale check it could declare a defeat, end the game and withdraw. I must confess that I think I have got this wrong, as this battle will show.
The Austrians, with an open flank beckoning, decided to throw their Grenzers forward to exploit it. The Grenzers went forwards unsupported (I thought a little cavalry support might have been useful - but no one listens to me) with alacrity.
This small band (three battalions) rounded the lake and forced a refusal of the Prussian's right flank. However, it was at this point that their inability (as skirmishers) to press home (where was that cavalry? But no one listens to me) was felt.
Meanwhile the bulk of the Prussian infantry began its advance on the hill top village.....
....whilst the Prussian cavalry began to move out towards the threatened flank.
The Grenzers are charged and take to their heals with heavy loss.
As the Prussians begin their assault on the village the Austrians, now on zero morale, fail a major morale check and declare a withdrawal and the game ends. This action, I will not call it a battle, caused the loss of just 1 SP per side.
After the battle Macquire retreated to Munchengratz. In the 'Pursuit Fire' stage of the retreat Macquire rolled four dice against Bevern's eleven dice. Both rolled two sixes so no SPs were lost in the retreat phase.
Graham (Austria) left feeling the happier commander having fought an un-costly delaying action. Peter (Prussia), though happy to accept the action for what it was, probably left feeling a little cheated. I must admit, I felt the same, the action ended in a most abrupt and unsatisfactory way.
Graham was helped by his low morale chip count. If he had drawn double the amount of morale he might have had to fight for the village against overwhelming numbers, so it might be said that Graham had just been lucky to get such a low number of morale chips and by spending them at every opportunity was able to get down to zero and escape very quickly. I think he was able to get away too easily.
I have been thinking about how to change the withdrawal criteria for a couple of days. Before next week's battle (the Battle of Sobotka), I wish to introduce a new withdrawal rule. However, because we have played the campaign using the other rule in two battles, and because the rule change is quite severe, I will need the approval of both players before it can be implemented. With that in mind I'm going to outline the rule here so that Peter and Graham, and you too, can think about / improve it:
Rule Note - Withdrawal Criteria: No army can begin to withdraw until it reaches zero morale chips. Thereafter, command groups can only be withdrawn after failing a major morale check: On failure the player must declare that the command will withdraw otherwise it will fight on.
Withdrawing units, capable of doing so, must move towards the friendly or a flank table edge on all applicable move cards (they may otherwise act as required) at half rate or more until a Major Morale card in their sequence deck is turned. When a Major Morale card is turned withdrawing commands may be removed from play in their entirety. On being removed in this way, units in contact with the enemy will lose any remaining UI, all others within 12" of the enemy will lose 1 UI per unit. Units physically withdrawing off the the table edge on move cards are treated as 'removed on Major Morale' for the purposes of UI loss.
The exception to this rule concerns commands entirely consisting of cavalry. Cavalry commands can be automatically withdrawn if they are the last commands to withdraw - a declaration of withdrawal will suffice.
Well that is the rule. For some people this kind of rule is an anathema as they would like to physically play out the withdrawal as part of the game and let the chips fall where they may. However, I'm of the opinion, and I think Graham and Peter would agree, that sometimes a game just looks over and one side or the other simply doesn't want to play on for any longer than necessary to get a fair result - it's not a matter of winning or losing, it's a matter of having fun. We only have so much time to play our war games, so why would we want to play a game that we've lost any interest in playing further when that limited time can be used to fight another game?
Anyway, onwards and upwards.