Saturday, June 16, 2012

Back Bigger and Better

I managed to squeeze in my 2nd AWI game over last night and today, a few turns at a time. While I was reorganizing the troops, removing the trees from their multi-tree bases (go ahead and snigger)  and doing the rules figuring already described,  a suspicion began to creep on me that I confirmed during play today. This is NOT really the rules that I was trying to write for the last three years, but the game WAS exactly the sort of game that I have been wanting to play for the last 10 years!   That's what happens when your initial design criteria is flawed. Never mind,  we seem to be there now.

One more technical note that I missed yesterday. During the Skype game with Lentulus I discovered with a mix of amusement and annoyance that I had created a sort of Morale Limbo where a unit with multiple Disorder markers might not rout but could never rally. Whether or not this makes sense historically it makes little sense in game terms. If it can't rally or fight, take it off. If its not going to come off, find some way for it to recover. I decided to do the latter and after some study decided to change the 1,2,3 result on the table so that a wavering unit may remove 1 and only 1 disorder marker and may fall back but may NOT shoot. Thus if you have 1 disorder marker, rallying is essentially automatic for all except Militia or Irregulars but may prevent shooting. With 2 disorders, not only is there a risk of breaking but recovery might take 2 turns. This way even with Shaken brigades, there is a chance to recover from disorder if the enemy gives you a quiet place to rally in.

Oh and about the trees, as I looked at the table, i realized that the tight clumps of trees glued to CD's was a good way to get the maximum number  of trees into the minimum amount of space but were nearly impassible to figures, left big open areas on the table and meant that some of the smaller trees were locked in to the biggest ones. Once back on single bases I was able to spread them out more evenly over the forest areas and move individual trees easily to make room. Just like in the old days. Oh well.

On to the game.

The approach marches are over and the shooting begins.

For this game, I rearranged the Americans in two 20 figure units of regular line infantry and two of militia as well as two 8 man light infantry units, 1 of rifles, 1 of militia with muskets. I again grouped the militia into 1 brigade and the Regulars into another Brigade. Technically the Regular Brigadier was also General but I played the Brigades as independent. Thinking about it afterwards, the light units should probably have been independent for a better historical flavour and as a more effective organization given that they were essentially operating independently. This was after all the American Revolution, not the French one. At the end of the day this gave the Americans 10 militia more than last time, 96 in all, 48 regular, 48 militia.

The British appeared with one unit of 16 Hessian grenadiers, one of 12 Highlanders, one of 8 Hessian Jaeger, one of 8 Loyalists and two of 8 Indian & Canadian Irregulars. Once again the Hessians and Highlanders formed one brigade and the Loyalists and Indians another. Again the Jaegers should probably not have been brigaded with the line infantry but with the lights. The numbers of line infantry were decided by what was painted. Over all the British were stronger by 8 Indians and 4 Highlanders compared to last game, 60 figures in all, 16 Elite, 28 regular, 16 militia.

Given the larger force, I let the British check for other fords (4,5,6 on 1 die for a unit wide section) and the Indians found one just North of the ford where the road crosses.

Once again, the Rebels rolled well and appeared before the British did. They coolly formed up along the road and sent their skirmishers forward. It felt right to be able to move and fire with the skirmishers again.
The American riflemen, keeping in mind that their main job was to prevent the enemy from slipping by, kept back to keep their options open and potted away for 5 or 6 from beyond the enemy's range. The Hessians however, eager to drive the enemy back and open an escape route closed right in and were rewarded with 2 hits disordering the Rebel militia. On the next turn these had to rally, being militia, on 5,6 they could rally and return fire, 2,3,4 they would rally but being unable to fire might choose to retreat to safer ground, or, on a 1 they might opt to take John's body home to Ma and head down for a drink at the tavern where they could tell stories about having fought the King's mercenaries eye to eye and traded fire with them. The day was turning hot so it was no surprise when a 1 came up. If he had thought  of it their brigadier might have been close enough join them and try again but the risk was probably not worth it at this point anyway.

 The light troops bicker while the line troops deploy.

Somewhat taken aback by the quick disappearance of the skirmishers, the militia commander was at a loss as to whether to attack before the British could consolidate or fall back behind the fence and take up a better defensive position. I ended up rolling for him: 1,2 Fallback, 3,4 dither, 5,6 attack. A 2 sent them scampering to cover with a detachment occupying the town. This left the Regular commander wondering if he should pursue his planned attack so I rolled for him too and the die accurately came up "dither" so I just closed up on the militia. The British took the opportunity to get formed up. A plan seemed to be developing to attack the left end of the militia with the Regulars while the light infantry worked around the enemy right. It seemed a good enough plan so I went with it.

The fighting spreads all along the line.

It didn't take long for the British plan to become evident. If the Rebels just stood there, the British would slide around them and be gone. (Victory being based on Brits leaving the table edge behind the Rebels, not on casualties or breaking armies except as a means to the end.) The drums beat and the entire line marched forward, well except for the Rifles who were trying hard not to be outflanked by Indians. Hesitant to launch bayonet charges on a fresh enemy after their die rolling in the last game, the British, finding them selves mostly within 6", opened up all along the line.  The Rebels returned fire with deadly effect. The brown coated Canadian regiment being particularly effective, scoring 5,5,6 or 3 hits on 5 dice against the Loyalist skirmishers disordering them. This gave me pause for thought as I was already worried that skirmishers were too vulnerable yet reluctant to rate them as equal to fortifications. Then I remembered that not only was this above average (though 2 hits would not be significantly so), skirmishers can move and fire again so they don't have hang around in danger zones and they once again have the option to hang back outside of 6" and fire with impunity, albeit for 6's only. Since the line infantry can't move and shoot, the skirmishers can hang back, wait for them to move into range then fire and scoot back out of range again. They need to be nimble, active and always thinking because if they don't they can be easily crushed. Scissors/paper/stone.

I pulled back the remaining Loyalists and eventually rallied them by the river.    
  Mini Cannae.

A fierce and prolonged firefight raged in the center but eventually the Highlanders began to lose and with an eye to the Brigade Morale, pulled back, hoping to prolong the fight, tie up the regulars and give the Hessians time to see off the militia. The Canadian Regiment, hoping to pin the Loyalists against the river pushed forward, apparently forgetting that it was fordable right there. In the woods, the riflemen had lost their firefight with the two Indian units, a mix of questionable vs good tactical decisions and some good shooting on the part of the Mohawks. The remaining Riflemen pulled back hoping to at least hold back the Indians until their morale broke.   Looking at the situation, British General decided that attrition and numbers were going to defeat him if he didn't play to his strengths and take some chances. Joining the Grenadiers he led them in a charge defeating the Avalon militia, wounding their commander and  then pursuing into the Belmont militia and defeating them.

The Avalon militia give way.

Between casualties and being defeated, the militia units each had 2 disorder markers. There was a 1/3rd chance that they would rout. The Avalon boys wavered but the Belmont men rolled a 6 and rallied. The grenadiers followed up with a 2nd charge and were held!  By now the Militia Brigade was shaken and additional disorders started landing on them. The Avalon lads had had enough and headed home but the Belmont Regiment, unable to rally under the fire of the Grenadiers, refused to flee either. Turn by turn they rallied one disorder and got another hit but they refused to give way and let the enemy march off.

In the center, the American commander suddenly woke up, pulled his men back and turned to hit the Hessians in the flank. The crisis was at hand, both British Brigades were still steady but both were only 2 or 3 hits from being shaken. It was once again time to do or die. Throwing the handful of Jaegers in the way of the advancing enemy line, the British Commander led the Grenadiers at the fence one more time. It was enough, the militia finally give way and after a steady trickle of casualties all day, two hits from rifle fire were enough to bring the Rebel Regular Brigade to 1/2 strength as well and force a general retreat. The road home was open to the British force.

The game hangs in the balance.

So there we are. I've had some really enjoyable games over the last year but few if any that felt so right without any stickling questions or doubts and with such a good mix of things happening as they should while still having moments of tension and excitement (more so if it hadn't been a solo game where one side was my historical favorite and the other a favoured wargame army that has only known 1 defeat in 10 years). Next up will be a game to test out the updated cavalry melee rules then something to get the ACW troops into play and an 1870 something troops  to test the rules for later weapons with truncation threatening failure.  

I was planning to add some more explanations and do more formatting  and start work on the design notes but I think I will just leave things be till I have played 5 games without touching a word. So the clarifications added to the LOS rules under shooting and to the charge reaction rules are the last.

1 comment:

  1. Ross,

    Please try to get some "building fighting" situations in your upcoming scenarios. The last time out you simply used artillery . . . but fighting for them didn't happen.

    -- Jeff