Sunday, February 26, 2012

Stony Creek Surprise


Uncle Billy and his Blues may have thought that their plan to launch a new invasion of the Origawn Territory was a well kept secret but very little escapes the Faraway Trading Company's sharp eyed, long eared Factors. Full of their usual arrogance, the Blue troops crossed over the Neverwaussie at the Stony Creek Bridge. Posting a few Light Horse picquets, the army settled down  in a ramshackle mess of tents, nothing like the ordered rows in one of Her Majesty's camps. Little did they know that brave FTC Voyagers had watched the whole process and slipped away with word to General Turner who had recently arrived at Fort Belmont in anticipation of just such a move.

     The layout of the camp.
(ed. The scenario calls for the camp to be laid out in a disorderly fashion so I divided it into 6 areas and diced for the location of each unit which left brigades well scrambled. Each unit is represented by 1 stand or a few loose figures, apart from the Dragoons who are represented by some tethered horses. The whole area was treated as Broken Ground for movement. 

General Turner, made good use of the information provided to him. He sent Brigadier Topper around to the North with 2 battalions composed of elements of the Royal, Dover and Uniake Fusiliers, a detachment of FTC Voyagers, and the Royal and A batteries of Foot artillery. To the South West he led the rest of the command, The Princess Charlotte Dragoons, Larsen's Lancers the Rocket Troop, and the Wye and Brooklyn Fusiliers. Right on target, the columns converged on the Republican invaders as the sun peeked over the horizon.

(ed. Dawn and full visibility was on turn 3 by the book. I started off with 25 yds (1") visibility on turn 1 stretching to 200 yds on turn 2. The columns arrived on Turns 1 and 2 having each rolled a d6 for arrival time.)

ALARM!!  (In the center right can be seen 1 of the vedettes circling to indicate "Enemy in Sight" - If they had of rolled more than "1" on their orders check, they would have been riding back to camp.)

Confusion and consternation were the watch words of the day in the Republican camp, Some of the vedettes galloped in while others tried to stand and shoot it out and yet others circled aimlessly. In camp, panic threatened to rout the army before the Queen's troops could get close.

The Rocket Troop opens fire. A video clip shot on a whim. The little green dice show the results of the panic and disorder caused by the surprise attack.  2 of Blue's batteries have already reached their Breakpoint before a shot is fired.  The Blue Guards were so surprised they didn't even have time to flock their bases before falling in. 

(ed. The original TT Teaser had a special reaction test while the later version used here leaves it to the GM. Since Hearts of Tin does not use separate morale tests, I was stuck at first but eventually decided to roll 1 die per stand, subtracting 3 from the score. This would give the number of cohesion "hits" on the unit from panic meaning a unit would suffer any  where from no effect, to the need to rally for a turn or 3 to dissolving in panic. It worked so well I have added it to the rules. )

As the Blue troops tried desperately to deploy for battle, the Queen's cavalry trotted calmly forward, wheeled into line, and charged. The enemy's 1st Dragoons met them, 1 foot in the stirrups and  were scattered to the wind. Without drawing rein, the Scarlet Dragoons spurred forward, crashing into the Blue Guards, formed on the edge of the camp. The Blue Guard, barely recovered from their initial surprised (they had rolled 6 hits, the highest of any unit but had rallied well) were obviously rattled as they fired into the air and fled towards the bridge.
Confusion in camp as the Princess Charlotte Dragoons charge home. The remnants of the Blue 1st Dragoons are vainly attempting to ride through a hail of musket fire from red's infantry just off camera while the Blue Guards have crumbled under the impact of the Scarlet Riders. Brigadier Wavey has been captured during the pursuit.

Despite being hampered by the tangle of tents and equipment the Queen's men plunged ever deeper into the camp. On the right of the Blue line, the veteran 3rd infantry, still crawling from their tents and buckling on equipment formed a hasty rallying square as the Guards rushed past. To their left, the 2nd infantry, formed in line to resist the approaching Wye Fusiliers, doubled into square as a tide of horsemen appeared out of no where.

     Colonel Flowerdew breaks into the enemy square. (the first test of the revised square rule)

For  a moment it looked like they would succeed but in the confusion, Colonel Flowerdew jumped his horse through a brief gap. Two troopers followed and the square collapsed in a panic. The 3rd infantry held however, and as the musket fire rippled up and down the faces of the square,  the troopers slowly obeyed the insistent call of the trumpet and rallied back to the hillock to rest their horses, tend the many wounded, and regroup.  A ragged cheer broke from the square, only to die away as the smoke cleared.

The Royal and 'A' batteries unlimber in canister range of the 2nd Infantry's square while the Uniake Fusiliers deploy into line and the Voyagers prepare to fall back to the flank of the guns. Note that the tents are coming down as troops form up.

For a few minutes quiet descended on the battle field then the guns opened on the Blue square. Minutes later the rattle of musketry was added to the din as the Uniake and Wye Regiments  pressed forward. The 3rd Infantry had a brief chance to escape but seeing the press of refuges behind them, they stood firm and fought to the last man, inflicting heavy losses on their red coated foe. (of course if their commander had remembered that returning fire as a reaction would prevent him from moving or if a Black card had come up 1st on the next turn....)  Their stand was not in vain however. Behind the rampart of their bodies, the Blue Guards rallied and headed for the bridge as  did the cavalry and 2 badly shaken batteries whose ammunition wagon horses bolted early on (well that's what their report said)
Seeing the Elephant. The Lafayette County Volunteer Rifles, newly recruited and in their first fight, step up to the line and trade volley for volley with the Queen's veteran soldiers.

It looked like the rest of Blue's army could make its escape but General Turner wasn't done. A brisk note was sent off to Brigadier Topper and the Royal Fusiliers pressed forward to push the retreating Guards and seize the bridge, trapping the remaining Blue forces. In the confusion, General Ross suddenly found his bridle grabbed by an officer in red and was forced once again to surrender his sword.

It was beginning to look like this campaign was over almost before it began,  but one can never discount those Blue coated soldiers. Calmly reforming from square to column of divisions, the 1st Infantry, the oldest regiment in the Oberhilse Field Force, marched at double quick time, disregarding the disorder caused by pushing through the camp at speed, and threw themselves onto the Royal Fusiliers. Fighting was desperate and prolonged but eventually the red coats fell back. Withe their backs to the river, the 1st Infantry held the bridgehead while the Volunteers were ordered to double back, covered by their skirmishers. A hail of canister and musket balls cut up both regiments and the brave Brigadier St. John was struck from the saddle by a spent canister round as he  crossed the bridge and had to be carried to safety, but the army was saved.

The invasion was over but with its rear protected by the Guards, Light Horse and the 2nd Dragoons, the army could pull itself together and fight again tomorrow.

Notes: For anyone who missed it, this was not only a test of the latest draft of Hearts of Tin but the 1st game in Steve the Wargamer's response to Jeff's call for mini-campaign ideas.

The Queen's army did suffer losses but no units reached their breaking point (though a couple were but a good volley away!) The Republic lost 2 infantry regiments, a light infantry regiment, a cavalry regiment and a battery (gun)  destroyed, 2 generals captured and 1 wounded. Two more infantry regiments reached their break point and lost stands.In all 17 stands were lost.   A thorough defeat. The next game will see the troops left on table in a delaying action. Some of the removed stands may be ready to return for the 3rd battle.

I'm really happy with how the rules are working. I did find a few gaps (for instance no mention of visibility distance at night) and at least one case where a change in wording appears to have been poorly thought through. I have usually revolved melee by determining unit by unit if a UNIT was defeated or not, not by determing if one SIDE won or lost. Right away I got into multi-unit melee's and the results didn't make sense (eg by the current  wording, the cavalry vs squares melee would have had both squares break because of the way the hits fell even though the 1 square tied. ) so I reverted to unit by unit status. A revision to the wording will follow. The cavalry was in a nearly optimum situation, a pursuit from the flank into an emergency square, a situation in which an infantry unit might well have been cut down, and the Blue troops were unlucky but I'm not sure a proper square wouldn't have broken with the same die rolls. I need to check that out in case I've missed something but I may have to put the cavalry vs square square penalty back to -2 again. There was also not enough thought and words put into the skirmisher and support rule. To get it to work the way I meant, I had to treat the skirmishers as a detachment, which meant I hadn't really needed a new rule after all  but it doesn't hurt,  I just need to explain it better.

Time to flock some more bases and reset the table for Game 2, sometime this week.



  1. Ross

    Good game and it looks like the rules worked well. I'm looking forward to seeing the next instalment. Every time I look at this teaser I remember the game where Doug decided that it was un-winable for the attackers and created a self fulfilling prophesy by marching away just as he had us beat.


    1. Ah yes, the Scicilian campaign. I don't think Ron was too happy with him. if nothing else, Doug could always be countwd on to invoke colourful language from his allies.

  2. Ross Mac,

    When I began to read your battle report I had no doubt who was going to win ... but as the story unfolded it became less obvious and much more tense ... until the end when the result was a much closer one than I had expected.

    Like all good stories, the story of this battle had high drama, suspense, and an open ending ...

    A great blog entry/battle report, and I look forward to reading the next instalment of your mini campaign.

    All the best,


    1. Thanks Bob, thats what it felt like playing the game, I'm glad that came across.

  3. Very nice setup and report. I like very much your cloth terrain. I think this method of providing terrain looks really good and works very well with stands based figures.
    I also want to congratulate you for the addition of the short video, it gives a very different perspective. I hope you could repeat it in next reports.
    I want to ask you two questions:
    Which is the size of the stands? And What goes wrong with Skirmishers and supports rule?
    Thank you very much for sharing!

    1. Cesar, my pleasure. The green table was meant to go with the classic toy soldier look on single green bases. I like the cloth better with the stands too.

      The stands are 2" square, mostly. Some light infantry are on 2" by something less, because I had them and I'm cheap! The artillery will probably go on 3" x 3" but I am still experiemnting to see what fits the guns.

      There was nothing wrong with the skirmisher rules, just that I had not thought of everything when I quickly wrote it down and had to improvise during the game and think about it again afterwards, for example, I had written what they could do if charged but not if reacting to something else.

  4. Marvellous stuff, Ross -- it looks great and, more importantly, it sounds like you had tremendous fun, and that's what it's all about.

  5. Ross I have a question about rule 3 b) WHAT: A reacting unit must take an Order Check and abide by the result. If allowed it may do ONE of:
    i)Shoot. The enemy may be able to shoot back.
    ii)Charge. The enemy may convert an ordered move forward into a counter charge.
    iii)Change formation or facing. The enemy may choose to halt a charge partway.
    iv)Retreat. The enemy may halt or continue their move.
    In ii), iii) and iv) must the enemy take another order check to react to your reaction?
    So in case ii) for example:
    A Red unit is ordered to move forward within 200 yards of the front of a Blue unit. (take an order check, and pass it).
    The Blue unit is ordered to react charging (take an order check and pass it)
    Then the Red unit is order to counter charge (take an order chek).

    1. Cesar, I still need to work on this explanation. Some examples might help.

      In your example, the Red unit does not need to react in order to convert his advance into a charge. The ability to do so is inherent in the order to advance which is why I included that in part b rather than part a. I did think about making them test again but the dice in combat will let us know if they were caught napping.

    2. I have understand it now. Nevertheless I think some commented examples or a short turn by turn sample game would be very usefull. My be a video?
      Thank you again.

  6. Such an exciting report it was quite exhausting to read! I liked the video clip - very advanced for the 1840s....

  7. Whewww.... I didn't think they were going to be able to get away right up to the end - looking forward to the next instalment now..!

  8. Steve, neither did I. If that last desperate attack had failed, the campaign would have been over. The temptation to over rule the scenario and discover a ford would have been strong!

  9. A great report! I shall look forward to the next installment!