We set up smaller armies on 4' x 4' boards, and had two games on the go. The armies were 80 points, with the usual restrictions (although Ralph seems to have ignored them).
I used four infantry units, four cavalry and three artillery, with the cavalry mostly upgraded to Elite along with the Cavaliers and Professional Train advantages. My aim was to hold with the infantry, and attack with the horse, sweeping away that of my opponent (Caesar) and then turning his flank. The artillery would support as required. Caesar had six infantry and two cavalry, plus three artillery, and had Guard units plus Rally to the Colours.
Here's our setup, with my army (still unpainted) at the front. That small town divided the battlefield somewhat, and would cover the flank of any advance Caesar made from my cavalry. Annoying.
Here's John and Ralph's game. Ralph actually fielded an illegal all-infantry army, and I'm not sure what John had.
Geoff and Peter played DBM.
There were Swiss involved.
Now this is what you really want to see - my three units of elite cavalry, advancing majestically up the table.
Here's Caesar's lovely infantry. Scum of the earth, of course, but they look nice.
And here's the pathetic enemy cavalry. Beneath contempt.
With more Maurice experience under our belts, plus my having read the rules, we rattled through the games, burning up the decks and hurling cards around like confetti. John and Ralph got stuck in first, with John's cavalry hitting one of Ralph's units. Experience has suggested that this - frontally charging steady infantry - is normally a bad thing, but after an initial repulse John seems to have scored a win here. The preponderance of sixes his dice seem to have stored up in them may be the reason. Who know?
Meanwhile Caesar and I edged towards each other, supported by artillery fire of varying effectiveness.
My cavalry got stuck in, and then fell back. They won, but didn't break the enemy cavalry.
Ah! Here's John's cavalry breaking Ralph's infantry unit. I knew I had a picture of it somewhere.
My cavalry persisted, as I burned through my hand launching charge after charge. My spare unit worked around the flank, and that was enough to give me a winning position. First one enemy unit routed.
Then the next.
Of course, my cavalry then spent the next few turn totally failing to rally, and milled around in confusion instead of getting on with their main task of destroying Caesar's infantry.
Meanwhile Caesar's infantry was destroying mine.
At last! Here comes the cavalry. But too late. My main line had collapsed, and all I could really do was pick off Caesar's flanks in revenge.
After destroying my centre, Caesar was content to pull his infantry line into a defensive position, leaving me to destroy myself against it. An annoying Death Of A Hero card took my last moral point to give him victory, just as we started the third deck of the game.
At the bottom of the picture is my star unit, the one force of regular cavalry I had. I had deployed it as a reserve on the right flank, whilst the elites got to work on the left, and we both forgot about it. That is until I saw the exposed flank of one of Caesar's guard infantry units before me, and was able to use a Clear Instructions card to move it from across the other side of the table. In one charge they routed the guards, and salvaged some honour for the otherwise beleaguered Riskovians.
This was a great game, with the small armies delivering a battle that moved at a cracking pace. To be honest we have the experience to run 100 points or more at this speed now. I have to acknowledge Caesar's bold use of interpenetration in this game as well. Once he used it to advance his infantry line, whilst swinging his artillery about to threaten my cavalry from across the table, whilst later on he used it to swing an infantry unit into a position to protect his vulnerable flank from my marauding horsemen. We're relying less on card effects now, and more on intelligent maneuver.
On the other table Ralph's's infantry rolled over John's line, forcing his morale points to zero before the end of the first deck.
Relying on cavalry is a bold way to go in Maurice. I'm sure it can work, but I don't think I'm up to it yet. The Cavaliers advantage doesn't seem worth the points, as it can only be used in attack and then only against enemy cavalry. Rerolling combat dice is good, but it's only one dice - the odds aren't brilliant. For the same cost Maison de Roi, which gives you Guard units, offers more versatility - a +1 in close combat for two Elite units, regardless of whether you're the attacker or defender and regardless of troop type. But if someone can explain how Cavaliers could be used, I'd be glad to hear it.
Caesar's choice of national advantages was good. Maison de Roi is covered above, and Rally to the Colours seems to be the best advantage of the lot, allowing rally re-rolls - a huge bonus and a real life-saver. A couple of times I wore some of Caesar's units to near breaking-point, only to have them fully rally forcing me to start on them again.
Anyway, reading the rules the other day was worth the effort. It speeded up the game, obviously, and gave me the chance to concentrate on how to implement a plan, instead of worrying how the mechanisms worked. Now all I need is a better plan.