Monday 20 July 2015

1914 WWI Game

Yesterday we played a WWI game. Set in 1914, the scenario saw a Belgian infantry company, supported by a HMG, a platoon of guides and a single Minerva armoured car, retreating in the face of a German advance. As the Belgians entered a village a small German force consisting of an infantry company, a platoon of uhlans and a platoon of jäger cyclists and their accompanying HMG managed to get across their line of retreat. The Belgians took position in the village and it was not long before another two German infantry companies, four HMGs and a battery of field guns appeared.

Above and below, the Belgians occupy the village

By sheer chance two reconnaissance forces, one British and the other French, each of an infantry company, a platoon of cavalry, a section of artillery and several HMGs were intending to use the same route as the Belgians, and arrived just as the Germans appeared.

The game began with the British cavalry dashing up the road and dismounting along a hedge row near a stream, with their HMG in close support. The French then commenced what was going to be a long march across the open fields. 

The British cavalry advance

The French advance

To counter the British move the German intercepting force took positions. The uhlans dashed forward and dismounted opposite the British troopers, within rifle range, while jägers and their HMG took a position a little to the right. The infantry company deployed a little to the rear and waited to see how the action developed. Meanwhile the main German force began an advance on the village with the HMGs and the battery covering the infantry.

The jägers and their MG take position

The Germans soon found that the Belgians were not going to be easily moved from the village and an initial attempt to push them aside were met by heavy rifle and HMG file, although the Belgian HMG team was soon taken out of action by two German HMGs. The Germans needed to get their guns into action, but they struggled to find the range.

Above and below, the initial German advance on the village

On the British front the uhlans and jägers got the better of the British troopers and after a short fire fight drove them off. But the leading British infantry and French artillery soon took their toll on the jägers and they were dispersed shortly afterwards. The Uhlans suffered equally and the defence against the British and French was going to fall to the supporting infantry company. One platoon occupied a house in the village at the centre of the table, while the other two took post below the crests of the hills.

The French Artillery

The first British infantry in action

The French command try to figure out where they are

Meanwhile the German main force, seeing the error of its initial deployment, moved to swing past the village while the artillery and the HMGs attempted to pin down the Belgians. The Belgian armoured car drove up and down the roads firing its MG whenever the opportunity arose.

The German movement around the Belgians

That Minerva armoured car

As the afternoon wore on the French command completed it long advance and approached the Germans holding position below the crest of the hills, while the British artillery began to find the range of the Germans there. The Germans were significantly outnumbered here and as the losses from British gunfire began to mount the Germans fell back from their position in the hope that the French might be tempted to forward across the crest where they would be caught in a crossfire.

Belgian Infantry advancing, with that armoured car in the backgroound

The Germans were in trouble now, more than a third of their units had fallen apart and another third were in bad way. The Belgians were hanging on to the village by doggedly and the British, although they had a bit of a setback against a flanking German force, stabilised and began to apply real pressure on the beleaguered German intervening company. One platoon, struck by heavy artillery, MG and rifle fire disintegrated. A second platoon assisted in an unsuccessful attempt to dislodge a Belgian platoon from a small wood, but was then pinned down in the open. When the French dragoons, that had been waiting all day for the opportunity to strike, charged, the German platoon fled directly into the fire of the Belgians in the wood and was destroyed.

The French dragoons prepare to charge

The German platoon in the house held out for another couple of turns before they were surrounded and forced to surrender. The other Germans, badly battered withdrew and left the Allies in control of the field. The Belgian force, the smallest on the field, proved to be the most effective - having been engaged all day they had lost only one infantry platoon and their HMG. The Germans effectively lost two of their three companies.

British infantry advancing

It was a great game that retained its excitement right to the very end.


  1. Nifty little encounter and excellent figures. Who makes them?

    1. Thanks Jonathan. It was one if best games we have played in a long time. The figures are a mix. The bulk are Great War, followed by Renegade, Footsore, Mutton Chop, Dixon, Ebor and 1st Corps, plus a few scratch built pieces.

  2. Great battle in my favourite period. Good to see plucky little Belgians putting up a good fight, and I love that armoured car.

    1. I had other names than "plucky little Belgians"...but then I was playing Germans. They certainly weren't chocolate box soldiers on this day!

  3. Great looking game Mark, nice to the cavalry making an entrance.

    1. Thanks Stu. The cavalry actually played a significant role, not the uhlans or the British lancers that were eliminated early, but the Belgian guides stuck around all day and pretty much held back two German platoons on their own, while the French dragoons ended up being in just the right place at the right time!

  4. Just curious what ruleset you played this with? Trying to get some WWI games going and haven't settled on one yet.

    1. The rules are homegrown. They started out as a variant for the original Fire & Fury, but now bear no resemblance to the original. We pretty much use the same basic system, with variants, for most of out games now, across a variety of historical periods. Surprisingly it works well, although the players need to have a basic understanding of the period and play to the spirit of the times.