EXERT FROM APPENDIX 1 from Don Featherstone's Battles With Model Soldiers
(The book that got me started.)

"Nothing in these pages is a dictate, no word says you must or you shall do it this way. On the contrary, the book sets out from the very beginning to stimulate the reader to think for himself, and to use what he has read merely as a foundation for efforts and ideas which reflect his own temperament and character. Only in this way will he obtain maximum satisfaction from the hobby of battling with model soldiers."

-Don Featherstone 1918 - 2013

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

As they roved out on a May morning

The original idea behind this scenario was some variation on an attack on a fort or an ambush either of supplies or a relief column. Unfortunately, given the shape of the cloth and the placing of the painted on terrain features, the only place for the fort was near the middle of one long edge. Given the small table and the large footprint of the fort and of the units, the only scenario that would work was an assault on the fort so I removed it. The table layout then suggested converging columns bumping into each other without warning so that's what I went with. The time period for this historical fantasy setting was the ongoing low level warfare in Nova Scotia that preceded the official outbreak of war between Britain and France in 1756.

Checking the units that were available without too much fudging, I decided to field 6 companies per side. The British, marching up the road from Fort Edward had the Grenadier and 2 line companies of the Royal Irish (yes I know this was 10 years before the date they say they came to America but the reason for that will be seen and yes they do look a lot like the Queen's Irish in the service of Rosmark), 2 companies of Massachusetts militia and a  company of elite highlanders who have presumed the dark blue facings of a royal regiment a few years too soon. The French marching down from Beaubasin perhaps, had 2 bands of Miq'ma  warriors, 1 of veteran irregulars and 1 of less enthusiastic Acadian irregulars as well as 2 Companies Franches from the garrison at Louisberg serving as line troops.    The Miq'ma and Acadian irreguars are 8 man skirmisher units, the rest are 12 man line infantry.

The tracks were deemed open ground rather than roads. None of the pictures of the columns marching on seem to have survived so please picture the columns snaking forward separated only by a wooded hill until they spot each other across the open field and begin to deploy.

About 5 turns in. The battle lines form. On the riverside the farm is about to be contested while inland a group of Mik'ma warriors is working their way through the woods to flank the Highlanders.
I started off using the original 1 unit at a time card draw system which is still an approved option but after 2 turns it just didn't feel right for this scenario so I went back to the initiative option. I added a twist though, instead of dicing, I pulled cards like I have been doing for Square Brigadier and other games for the last few months. Worked like a charm including some chance cards. The rules allow units to fire on their turn instead of moving or to fire just before the joint melee phase so the initiative is important but not as much as in some of the other games.

The British surge forward to claim the farm, forcing the opposing skirmishers to fall back for their own good.  The grenadiers are a bit rash though and are caught by frontal volleys from the advancing French regulars and flanking fire by some Acadians. The telling blow was a handful of 5's and 6's from the brand spanking new company of PA bluejackets followed by a 1 on morale. 
Just after the dramatic repulse of the grenadiers I made a careless error. I pulled a chance card allowing the French to force a morale check on a company of militia. They failed and retreated off table while the Grenadiers also failed (2+ to pass with the Colonel there...) and fellback, except that's not the way it works. Units either rout when they take the test or they fallback a normal move and automatically rally on the next turn. Oops. When I figured it out a few turns later I brought the militia back. 

The British line has stabilized but note the warriors creeping up, firing into the flank of the Highlanders  at the top of the page as well as the 4 survivors of the 2nd Irish company heading for home after being caught in another crossfire and another handful of 5's and 6's from the boys in blue. 
The game was full of twists and turns and drama, some of it due to extreme die rolls at key moments as well as to gambles taken. I was rather surprised at the end to find that I had spent nearly 3 hours playing the 11 turn game. It didn't feel like it. 

I was even more surprised at a brand new unit, the varnish barely dry, rolling high consistently through the game.  I'll have to watch those lads!

The tide seemed to turn again as aggressive close range musketry attacks by the New Englanders and remaining Irish sent the remaining Acadians and Mik'ma as well as the white coated regulars skittering for cover. The Irish Grenadiers had launched another bayonet charge though and again ran into a wall of fire including an enfilade from the Bluecoats. The following turn the last, 1/2 strength,  company of Irish and the New Englanders all took a beating and routed.  The Highlanders, fresh from having chased off the Miq'ma, swords in hand,  moved up to cover the retreat.
Note: No cattle were injured during the playing of this game.

20 comments:

  1. This one really looked like fun. Wish I could do decent terrain boards as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was definitely a game in my old manner. The cloth was a fabric end that I originally painted as a throw away Chateauguay battlefield for the 1998 Cold Wars convention. It saw service for 15 years then I refreshed it a few years ago for one last convention outing and suddenly its getting service again. Ling past time for a new one designed for generic games.

      Delete
  2. G'day Ross,

    Nice looking game! I have one question for you: if this is an attack on the column moving down the road, how did you decide where the French and Indians were starting? Did you use a rule of "It would make sense if they started there..." or did you randomize the start positions? I could see where you might pick ten possible ambush positions including one or two reserve positions, roll a D-10 and then locate the figures at the appropriate locations.
    The game sounded exciting and the fact that three hours flew by so quickly certainly confirmed that fact.
    All the best,
    Jerry

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This was not an ambush, it was 2 unsuspecting columns bumping into each other so each entered along the road and had to follow it until tbey spotted the enemy. Turn 3 as it turned out.

      Delete
  3. I need to pull my F&IW 40s out and run a game; that looks great!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They have been rather neglected. I was surprised to realize that our Pontiac game was 8 years ago.

      Delete
  4. Wonderful!
    I love the terrain setups you create with this cloth.
    Thank you very much for sharing Ross!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Ross,
    That cloth looks really good, but I can see how it would limit your options. Just out of curiosity, why didn't you use the gridded cloth and ignore the grid?

    Speaking of 18th c. actions, have you ever played any European battles from that era? If so, which rule set did you use?

    Regards,
    John

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Partly for a change, partly to avoid distracting myself, partly because the cloth was originally made for MacDuff games. I could have swapped the river section for the other 1/2 but I was intending to use it in the scenario right up to that last minute.

      Can I skip the 20 years last century using 15mm and 25mm with various rules? inc but not limited to WRG 1685-1845, Konigkreig, Age of Reason, Volley & Bayonet, my rules(published in Wargames Illustrated) and.. I forget what else. There were often weekly games back then, in various periods and I can't claim to remember them all.


      This century using the semiflats and Charge! we have done Lobositz and sort of Fontenay as well as various generic European scenarios. Using MacDuff we have done a number of historical FIW actions as well as the made up ones.

      Is that useful at all?

      Delete
    2. Supplementary. Having played the Volley & Bayonet version of Lobositz with accurate OB and terrsin and the Grant version with fudged OB using a few big units, fudged terrain using Charge!, I have to say thst the Grant/Charge! game felt more like the real thing.

      Delete
    3. Sorry. Ross, I should have been more explicit that I was only referring to your rules. I wasn't sure if you ever did an 18th c version of Hearts of Tin or Square Brigadier and I missed it.

      Come on, Ross, you know I don't care about any rules but yours! :)
      Thanks for the recap tho.
      John

      Delete
    4. Hearts of Tin was originally for the 18thC using 1/72nd AWI, and the semiflats before I converted to Charge! as well as with Les's 10mm SYW figures and my 15mm French Revolution. I've used HofT for Saratoga (Freeman's Farm), some 1812 battles in 40mm & 54mm and lots of generic 18th and early 19thC European & North American scenarios but I didn't have access to large enough forces for historical SYW battles in Europe, even if they'd been fudged.

      Delete
  6. What a great wargame table! full of action and very colorful. The miniatures are very nice, and the photos are excellent. Very interesting report. Cordially, Carlos

    ReplyDelete
  7. Fantastic looking game, Ross Mac!!! Very inspiring! I must try to make fences like yours one day, I love the flavour they add to the table. And Ross, during the summer I really want to play a game using your rule system. I found another reference to it the other night while re-visiting a series of articles about 40mm that was in WI a bunch of years ago.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The fences are by Lemans (Christmas village stuff). Ken at All The King's Men used to sell them to wargamers at a better price, he might still do so but if you google the company make sure you include Toy Soldiers in the search.

      WI? Are you talking the issue with the Guillotine on the cover from back in 80's? If so, don't try those rules! The AWI & 1812 guys already know MacDuff though.

      Delete
  8. This is a fantastic report with this so well known 40mm Prince August figures! I am ravished to see that!! Wonderful, what a great joy for me!
    Peter

    ReplyDelete
  9. A fine spectacle and just some good old heart warming wargaming - enjoyed, thanks.

    ReplyDelete