As I write these lines, the road to Copenhagen lies open and the Swedish invader is poised to cut deep into our Danish homeland without even bothering about beach-heads.
The landing at Humlebæk is one of those Charles XII's war stories that may appear minor in his military career yet still is a remarkable event. In the recently released The Great Northern War from Wargame Design Studio, the solo player is encouraged to play as an outnumbered Danish battle group of peasants, a couple of squadrons of cavalry and the support from a few guns.
I was a bit worried that The Great Northern War would leave me with a gameplay experience that would be no different than other similar titles. But the similar interface, clicking mechanics and (not-so-great) graphics do not deprive this game of a distinct flavor of this particular warfare era and of the military history of the war itself.
Historical engagements with lots of maneuver, orders of battle which in many cases lean heavily on cavalry, hastily assembled infantry units, so few artillery tubes. The works! This is a great war game.
Now for the story I'm reliving with The Great Northern War, I have to tell you that it is being a fantastic decision scenario for me. I inflicted a lot of losses on the Swedish (400 men or so), but they were able to land more or less with a lot of stamina. And they are using it to push inland like they want to be in Copenhagen in a couple of hours.
Should I leave the peasants to their devices in the trenches overlooking the beach, keeping my cavalry back to fight off any breakthroughs?
Should I use my cavalry to catch the Swedes on the beach as they land, disorganized by the fires of my guns?
I chose the second option, and it was a poor one. My cavalry had to cross trenches and a defensive belt of obstacles to get to the beach. As a result of that they got utterly disorganized. To that you have to add the poor horsemen facing Swedish naval gun fire in an open beach!
By the the evening, the Swedish had broken into the defensive belt, a battalion of them is even moving inland. My cavalry is still reeling to re-organize themselves in pursuit.
The Swedish start to roll up my right flank, which soon dissolves like thin air. Only a few peasants in the center of the defensive position hold, not because they are brave but just because is a safe place to hide from the Swedish ire.
The last shots of the day are for the Danish Cavalry who dares to charge on the Swedish Battalion that turned our right flank. The butcher's bill was too high. I was lucky to secure a draw.