Twilight of the Sun King – Test Game

After my successful run with Twilight of Divine Right earlier in the week I thought I’d try out the predecessor, Twilight of the Sun King. This covers the period after Divine Right, primarily the wars of William of Orange, Louis XIV, Marlborough, Great Northern and Ottoman Wars.

The rules are fairly similar to ToDR. There is a few differences in unit types to match the shift away from pikes and muskets towards flintlocks. They’re also aren’t any pursuit rules making cavalry more reliable than the wild charge affairs of the earlier periods.

I picked the forces out of the example scenario on the rule book though set the table up slightly differently. The armies consist of a small elite force of Swedish and a larger but more raw force of Russians and Saxons. The Swedish are all Galloper Horse, Ga Pa infantry and Determined. This means they like to close into close combat and use their steel, and are more resilient due to their high morale. The Alliance troops tend to be more Raw and Wavering, so don’t have as much staying power, despite superior numbers.

Slightly larger table this time so using the more recommended setup of two bases per unit, 40mm each for a frontage of 80mm total. I used the rule recommendations to allow it to work with 2D6 same as DR (Original SK used average dice)


Swedish on the left, Russian and Saxon Alliance on the right. Stream at the top, hill at the bottom and two forest areas of bad going.
Opening sees both sides move towards each other. The Alliance (green) is the defender but hopes to use its larger line to anchor between the hill and stream and close on the flanks. The Swedish (blue) cavalry sweep up the flanks and the Alliance attempts to match them. One unit of cavalry on the top left fails to move. They would remain static through the entire battle.
The infantry lines close in on one another in the centre, though two Russian units peel off to stave off the encroaching cavalry leaving the Saxons to face the Swedish infantry. The cavalry battle it out with the Swedish cavalry driving the Alliance back at the bottom while at the top the Alliance horse push back the Swedish left flank at the top.
Things turn from bad to worse for the Allies. The cavalry battle at the bottom turns to a rout as the Swedish gallopers hit the Allied horse from multiple sides. The the centre the Swedes have no desire to stand off and shoot so “Ga Pa” into the enemy formation and in a series of abysmal morale rolls, two units of Saxon infantry rout entirely.
The Allied cavalry at the top finally gets a move on but are still far from doing any harm. The infantry exchange fire while an elite unit of Saxons press the flank of the Swedish infantry, on a unit already demoralised from artillery bombardments. Russian infantry manage to drive back some Swedish cavalry with concentrated musketry at the bottom.
The beleaguered Swedish infantry flank pulls back but the rest of the Swedes manage to swing round the flank of the Saxons and charge from the front and side. The unit breaks and routs under the ferocious charge. The Swedish cavalry at the bottom, most of it still fresh, charges home against the Russian infantry. One unit breaks, the other takes damage, but at this point with the centre and flank both in collapse the Allied general calls the retreat. The Swedish aggression once again took the day.

This one was good fun. Running it on a bigger table made measuring much easier (though moving multiple bases was a bit of a faff, will definitely do single large bases with I do this with figures) and I was a lot more comfortable with the rules. They live up to their fast play name with the battle playing out in an hour or so. I was using the brigade level army lists, so using regimental would make for a bigger game, but I suspect it would move along at a good clip too and be payable in a couple of hours. I did get one or two bits wrong, but it didn’t impact the game and I was able to get my queries answered quickly. Down the line I’ll probably make some sort of consolidated Quick Reference Sheet so I’m generally using the same core rules in the same format for both SK and DR rather than having the two separate sheets.

The biggest difference I noticed was probably the lack of a pursuit mechanic. In DR this makes cavalry potentially unreliable as they go haring off after fleeing enemy units. Here that doesn’t happen and the cavalry generally do what you tell them to. This reflects the more professional nature of the forces, though the pursuit mechanic could easily be ported across if a scenario justified it.

The quality vs quantity matchup was a good one. I’d initially thought it would be a tough fight for the Swedish given the size difference and that I’d have to use their aggressive historical tactics to try and break the Allies before they could surround them; and what do you know, it worked! I always like it when a game rewards historical tactics. When the Swedes were charging in they did serious damage while suffered when charged themselves or shot at from range.

I’d only had a passing knowledge of the GNW but reading around it a bit more it seems like an interesting period and one I might be tempted by in future. I’m pretty happy with these rules, so I hope to get a painting project in the works soon to add a bit more colour to the table. The Pendraken LoA range is very nice so I suspect there’ll be some packs ordered in the coming months and the 2mm forces will hopefully morph into painted 30YW bases.

The publishers also offer a number of scenario books covering the various wars of the period. I’ll likely pick up some of those in the near future as well as the example scenario was very well put together so that’s a good sign they’ll be a useful source.

Thanks for reading,

Matthew

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