Sunday, June 21, 2015

MacDuff shakes himself off and does battle.


The scenario I chose to play this weekend was number 4 from Programmed Scenarios. It wasn't actually because I just played and lost a Memoir44 version at Ron's on Wednesday, but because I wanted some sort of holding game but not one I have fielded a lot and I'm not sure I've ever hosted this one myself. Actually there are quite a few of the Programmed Scenarios that I'm not very familiar with. Something to look forward to over the next year I think.

I felt a bit lost as I set up the AWI  game on Friday though and it showed. I chose the wrong rules options and made some poor choices on converting the scenario forces to what troops I have. The resulting game was OK, barely not not satisfying. Rather than fret about it right away, I cleared the table and set up the planned Gathering of Hosts game (which I played most happily yesterday) and let my brain work on the problem in background mode. Today's forecast sun turned to rain and I had had time to consider things so I reset the table and played again with different rules options and a different Order of Battle. To my great relief the result was a fun, engaging game that whisked along to a nail biter ending. But that's for later. I'll just say a few words about the rules and the choices  I made and  append the Quick Reference Sheet to this post although it is also available as a download .

Game 1: 8 man companies of Continentals deploy and advance against the Hessians. 
When I wrote the original rules they were designed for companies grouped into battalions for bigger games. In some ways it worked and in some ways it was always a pain since sometime this group was a unit and sometimes this larger group was a unit and it easily got confusing. Eventually I found that life was easier and the game played better if game units were game units and I started using 8 man companies for petit guerre scenarios and 16 to 20 man battalions for larger actions. I have been reading up a bit on the AWI in Nova Scotia over the last year and while there are some interesting little engagements they are all very (Very) small. With that in mind I decided to use 8 man units and a nominal scale of 1:5. I also decided to use the deck of cards sequencing which was really designed for those ambush in the forest type of games, not for a straight forward assault. The resulting game didn't flow well, especially when playing both sides, the units were too small and fragile and the card deck was too small. In short the game was just OK, barely.

Somehow I had managed to forget that our War of Acadian Independence was based on the completely non-serious premise that Congress had sent the troops that invaded Quebec in 1775 and 1776 to Nova Scotia instead leading to campaigns involving several thousand troops on either side. So today, I reset the board with 12 man battalions and played using the initiative system. The result was a very traditional OS feel game which kept me on the edge the whole way through. Whew!

In truth the current (final?? maybe??) version has as much Rattle of Dice and Hearts of Tin in it as it does MacDuff but MacDuff has seniority and the intent on the sort of game is the same so I'm sticking with him! I'm 90% sure that these are the rules that the boys in havelocks will be marching to when their time comes.  

Tomorrow the 2nd game.
I think this might be the end of the game. Might have been a draw as in enemy delayed at too high a cost or maybe it was a victory. Oh well.


AWI Quick Reference  20 June 2015
(typing edited 24 May 2016)
SEQUENCE of PLAY. Roll for initiative each turn, winner chooses to go 1st or 2nd with all units. Once all units on both sides have acted resolve any end of move shooting then resolve all melees.
Alt sequence. If agreed players may use a deck of cards instead of rolling for initiative. Assign red to 1 side black to the other. When a player’s colour is drawn he may activate 1 commander or unit. This is especially relevant for small skirmishes or games set at night, in fog, forest. In multiplayer games allow each player on a side to activate 1 unit. Once all units on both sides have acted resolve any end of move shooting then resolve all melees.

COMMAND CONTROL.(optional)  If a unit is not within 12” and line of sight of its commander when activated roll 1d needing 4 or better to move.  +1 Elite, -1 Militia

MOVEMENT.  Player must declare move before rolling. A unit may advance at full speed or retire full speed backs to the enemy. It may also move backwards or sideways at 1/2 speed. Wheels are made on a stationary pivot.
Charges. Enemy must be visible to front before moving. A unit is pinned if contacted by a charge except that cavalry which has not yet moved may counter charge and skirmishers that have not yet moved may retreat.
Regular Infantry
+d6 if beginning or ending in column
Irregular Infantry

Cavalry, Commanders
6+ d6" x 2

1d6”+6” if limbered
+d6 on road
Wagons, Heavy Artillery
+d6” on road
-1d6 against or across current
+1d6 with current
Terrain:  Roads negate terrain. Visibility in woods etc 3”.
Broken Ground. Irregulars and skirmishers move full, formed reg infantry, cav ½ move.
Difficult Ground. Irregular and skirmishers and infantry columns ½ move
SHOOTING.  Once per turn. Shoot instead of move or at end of turn.
2 ranks if formed inf o/w 1. Arc 45 either side.Roll 1d6/2 inf or 1 gunner
Effect:  5 or 6 = hit.   1/2 dice long range,  +1 to die if sharpshooter or regular 1st fire or if shooting at column of flank.
-1 if inferior.  Troops in cover and skirmishers suffer ½ hits. Round ½ up if partial cover, round down in full cover.



Light gun

Foot artillery

MELEE: 1d6 /2 infantry or gunners or 1 cavalry. Count 2 ranks in line. 1 rank if others or if attacked in flank or rear.
Effect. Each modified score of 5 or 6 inflicts 1 hit on the target.
      • Troop Quality +1 If Elite or Shock Troops, -1 if Militia or not equipped for melee.
      • Charging. +1 if charging without having fired this turn or if pursuing
      • Obstructed :  -1 if attacking an obstacle or uphill
Result. Unit taking more than inflicted test morale.
MORALE.  Unit lost melee or lost 25% from shooting must roll 1 die:
+1 Commander joined, +1 Elite, -1 Militia or irregular. -2 Below 1/2
4,5,6 Steady. if lost melee fall back in good order, if disordered, rally.
1,2,3 Retreat full move in disorder facing enemy.
0 Rout.
DISORDER. Count ½ when shooting and in melee, may only shoot as a reaction. They must spend a move halted to recover.

RALLY MEN! A Commander may move up to 12” to join a unit which has lost a casualty to shooting or which is in melee. He must stay with the unit till the en of the turn. Roll 1 die 1 d6 4,5,6 =1 hit cancelled, 1 = Cdr ko.
FOLLOW ME! A commander may join a unit and add 1d6" of movement but must stay with the unit till the end of the turn.


  1. Ross, a guy I game with wrote the gunfight rules Fistfull of Lead. He does order of movement buy dealing each player a hand of cards equal to the number of units he has. Kings are high, and you use spades, hearts, diamonds, clubs for suit order. Everyone with a king throws it in, and in the suit order you move a unit. Aces are wild, they can be used as any card, though an ace used as a specific card moves after the real card. It gives a nice flow to the battle, and the players decisions to make as well as having a random order.

  2. I like the idea of Quebec campaign transposed to Nova Scotia, though having visited both citadels (Halifax, VdQ) in the dead of winter, I'm not sure which would be worse.
    I had a cracking time playing your MacDuff rules several years back, I must revisit them.

    1. I'm thinking winter quarters. The New Years Eve surprise attack during a bizzard thing didn't go too well. Our 54mm reprise also hit a snow storm, in Maine, but we made it through with 3 guys and the city Quebec complete with snow and cliffs in a 2 door hatchback. The guy in the backseat had to carry a box of troops on his lap but it was only a 3 day drive. it was fun but I'm not doing that again!

    2. That's an epic wargaming story, the stuff of legend.

  3. Fascinating to see MacDuff distilled down to one page and it seems to me, at first sight, none the worse for the experience.

    I was wondering if infantry may fire when charged, before meleeing.

    1. Thanks Steve, It is easier doing just the quick reference, lets me imagine what the full rules are.
      Yes if the infantry had not fired earlier they may shoot during the end of turn for phase even though charged. Essentially I just postponed the charge response.