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Re: WSS infantry firing and attacking - how?

Roy Beers
The British were certainly rated as the best infantry by the French, although not necessarily for their musket drill, or at least not only that, and as you say this was used to advantage to pull the wool over French commanders' eyes on occasion.
I don't know if you remember the old book Firepower by Maj Gen B P Hughes (which I think all wargamers had back in the distant 70's): he produced stats which surprisingly appeared to show that early 18th century musketry could be more effective than later Napoleonic.
However I think we have to take a big pinch of salt, or maybe snuff, with this period, in many different aspects - the other canard (to use a nice French word) is the "French cavalry were old fashioned and useless" argument, as they supposedly relied largely on mounted pistols and carbines. I think the Anglo-Dutch did have an edge, but at Malplaquet the French Carabiniers (supposedly firearms troops) charged and routed Withers' flanking cavalry force; and at Ramillies the Maison du Roi broke four successive lines of Allied cavalry on the Allied left before reinforcements drove them back, and at Malplaquet, again, despite enormous Allied cavalry superiority the Maison du Roi counter-charged repeatedly until the closing stages of the battle, then covered the retreat of the army and never in fact broke ... although admittedly they were the cream of the French army. By contrast I don't think the French dragoons were ever any good, and were useful only as scouting and screening troops in the grand tactical approach to battle.
One factor which must be mentioned is the large number of new infantry regiments the French created to try and meet accelerating demand, and most of these would have been very poor, and in no way a match for the British, Dutch and of course Prussian infantry.
Fascinating period which I am very much looking forward to doing in 20mm ...I'm painting up Strelets GNW Russian dragoons as assorted German dragoons while waiting for Cadogan and the British Horse to arrive!
I think we are pretty well in agreement on most of this Roy!

I am always deeply suspicious of anything, and any era, where for some reason a certain troop type or unit(s) is/are rated as greatly superior to others. True 'elites' do exist, but they are few and far between. The 'elite' phenomenon is, as I think you observe, something that pervades many sets of wargames rules but is not really very accurate, historically.

And, having read a great deal about French armies in the 18th and early 19th centuries, I am generally in awe of their military prowess and achievements. Certainly, they had a bit of a 'dip' in performance during the Seven years War, but otherwise...

Rapidly-formed units will, inevitably, be inferior to units which have been together, drilled together and perhaps fought together for years. It was ever thus and always will be. So it is no surprise that, with the rapid expansion of the French infantry in the early 1700s, and then again (through necessity) in the later stages of the Napoleonic wars, the quality of that infantry would always be somewhat unreliable.

But...Maison du Roi cavalryman circa 1706 v. English/Dutch/Danish cavalryman? My money would (probably) be with the Frenchman....he, after all, is well-mounted, well uniformed, well-equipped, and is fighting on behalf of the most powerful King in Europe....

I am also looking forward very much to the release of the Strelets WoSS cavalry sets.

PS: yes, the Zvezda GNW cavalry sets are very good. Have just been painting some of the Swedish cavalry of Charles XII set as Dutch WoSS cavalry this morning....

Re: WSS infantry firing and attacking - how?

I agree with the need to be suspicious, even cynical, about alleged troop type superiority: we used to call it "red jacket syndrome", in which it was "plus 1" for everything as soon as you put on a British uniform ...but difficult to strike a balance as in both 18thc and Napoleonic most British troops were among the best, if not the best, in Europe - except for the notorious "fox hunt" tendencies of the British, but not KGL, cavalry.
In WSS some period-specific rules draw a sharp line between Anglo-Dutch practice and quality and French/continental, which I've never been convinced reflects the reality.
French and many other cavalry did still rely on pistols and carbines to a greater or lesser extent, whereas the Anglo-Dutch famously attacked at the trot without recourse to firearms; come to that the British also looked after their horses better (in both periods)too.
In the WSS "dragoons" would include Hay's and Ross's regiments; Scots Greys and Irish, who appear to have been near equivalents to "Horse" but could also fight on foot, whereas French dragoons, apart from elite royal regiments, appear to have been poor in both the infantry and cavalry roles.
The Gendarmes de France performed very poorly at Blenheim, while the Maison du Roi seem to have been exemplary wherever they fought - and no doubt the line regiments were every shade in between, depending on unit and campaign background, leadership etc.
I tend not to like generic "horse and musket" rules, as too much is averaged out, but have never found a WSS set I believe in, so we'll be using home-spun rules with theatre specifics for the war in Spain.
Meanwhile I think Zvezda are the best figures yet produced by anyone - a big claim, but they really are superb - and it's tragic they have accepted reality by largely ditching figure sets for their expensive WW2 stuff ...but best of luck to them.
Strelets and also Red Box are astronomically better than previously, and often among the very best available; and Strelets are incredibly prolific.
I agree with others on this forum that the WSS pikemen are a waste of a set (although maybe of use for GNW!) and the muskets in two of the French sets are inexplicably way too short ...but luckily the British sets are splendid and unless you are obsessed with pockets (in 1/72 why bother) they will do the job for most WSS infantry with a suitable paint scheme. The masters for the cavalry look terrific, and I am going to pre-order some from Models2U.