It was a warm Memorial Day afternoon as Michael and I withdrew the gloriously painted Seven Years War figures from his cabinet in anticipation of our inaugural game of Maurice written by Sam Mustafa (author of Grande Armee, Lasalle, et al).
The troops were painted to a museum standard by the studio of Ioannis Mavromichalis and this was to be their first time on the field of battle. Although Michael and I had both given the rules a reading, we wanted to take a small game to completion so we only fielded four units for each side with no intervening terrain. We rated everyone as "Trained" to keep it simple. Michael's Prussians in blue squared off against my Allies who were tasked to defend the church which doubled as the objective.
With a jaunty tattoo from the drummers, both infantry regiments marched toward each other. The battle had begun! Eager to get to grips with the enemy, the Saltzburger infantry marched too far forward. This is a huge no-no in Maurice. My error would now mean that I now had two forces of infantry instead of just one to activate until I brought them back within two base-widths of each other. Ugh. I had made a novice mistake on my first turn. It wouldn't be the last...
I decided to leave the Saltzburger infantry there in hopes of tempting Michael to focus on them. Besides, I had something sneaky in mind: since my army was already split, why not use the two leftmost elements to envelop the enemy? In my hand I had four excellent long distance command cards to handle this situation. Now, if I were trying to move quickly... then I should form column with those two regiments and go, only to switch back to line at the last minute and pour fire into the enemy. What a brilliant tactician I am! What could possibly go wrong?
As the La Marck and Infanterie de Provance formed column and began to quick-march to the left, Michael's Norman Dragoon cavalry could not resist the now idle Saltzburgers. He took the bait and they charged straight in... and bounced back after losing the combat. Ouch. His cavalry had 2 DISR to 1 DISR for my infantry. Well done lads!
Meanwhile, my two regiments of infantry were skirting the left side of the board when Michael, with a glint in his eye, played the "Confusion!" card which allowed him to move any unit 4 base-widths. Michael wouldn't do it... would he?
He did. As you can see, the La Marck unit marched right off the board. "Attendre, revenir!", yelled the de Provance infantry. It was too late. They were gone. I rolled on the Army Morale table and ended up subtracting 3 from my total of 4 (the number of initial units in the game is your starting army morale).
Although we knew that we were playing with a fifth of the troops that we should have been for the game mechanics to work properly, I wasn't expecting to be teetering on the edge of defeat so quickly. The battle had just begun and the situation was desperate. What would happen next?