Sunday 10 April 2016

Irregular Wars - First outing for Portuguese and Dutch

The figures are mostly Grumpy Miniatures
Despite spending a lot of time helping to playtest the current edition of Irregular Wars, I haven't played it much since because I was waiting to finish my first pair of armies - 15mm Colonial Portuguese and Dutch. The bases still need texturing etc, but having stuck the figures to the bases, the armies are now usable. Unfortunately, I realised at this point that I had either miscalculated the figures I needed or the army lists had changed. Anyway, I had to make up a couple of new bases which now need to be painted from scratch. Hence the silver-coloured unit in the photos.

The battle-lines close. Things are going relatively
well for the Portuguese.
In this first game I took command of the Portuguese whilst my opponent, Bernard, took the Hollanders. Winning the respective dice roll, I opted to be the Attacker. In IW, being the Attacker or Defender is basically a mechanism for laying out the terrain and choosing table sides, and doesn't have any further significance in a standard game. As Defender, Bernard laid out the terrain with a hill and enclosure on his side of the playing area, so I decided to switch the board around.

The Portuguese left evaporates. Can the Portuguese
right save the day in time?
Fate then dealt me a cruel blow in in the chance card phase in that two of my chance cards (Uninspiring Lord and Rash Lord) were detrimental while the other (Local Knowledge) was of no benefit. Bernard, meanwhile, got three 'secret' cards (Well Laid Plans, Partisans and Rain Clouds) all of which were subsequently played to my certain disadvantage. Did I care? No, the chance cards generate an asymmetrical narrative which you just have to deal with. It's the game.

In the recruitment phase, my army looked as if it was going to be the more numerous, but greed is subtlety punished - the more you think you are going to have, the more you risk losing. Deployment was fairly predictable with disease and mishaps causing minor inconvenience, mostly to the Hollanders.

The Portuguese right is locked in combat while the Dutch
right is free to march to the centre.
My plan was to hold on the left and attack on the right. I needed to roll up the Dutch left before the more numerous Dutch right overwhelmed my own left. The Dutch played fairly defensively, at least to begin with, in order to benefit from their artillery and not to mask it. But then they became bolder, and obligingly closed with troops not best suited to close combat. At this point I thought there was at least an even chance of winning.

WI games typically proceed in four stages: manoeuvre, shooting, melee and catastrophic collapse as a crack appears and quickly widens.
The Portuguese Lord and Slave targeteers bravely
commit themselves to combat but are surrounded.
This game was no different. Slave units on my left scattered, and before long my entire left flank evaporated. Everything now depended on winning on my right and winning quickly, so I committed the Slave targeteer unit which also included my commanding Lord.

Overwhelmed by the superior numbers which the Dutch eventually brought to bear, my General's company was assailed on three sides and was scattered. At this point I conceded the game.


  1. Interesting report and thanks for producing it.

    I've not seen the Irregular Wars rules but enjoy the reports on the small wars of the period.

    1. Some information about the rules can be found here:

  2. Great little report Doc, thanks!

    1. I can't believe how much time has passed since I was playing IW so regularly. I'm still waiting for Khurasan to release their Tudor English! But I did dig some Samurai out of the lead mountain this morning, so some more IW armies are on their way.