Friday, October 20, 2017

Sticky Bottom, Muskets & Tomahawks AAR

We played a couple games of Muskets and Mohawks last night. Both games were 200 points per side played with our 15mm figures mounted 3 infantry per base. The first game saw me lead the reserve squad of British regulars while Bill was Lt. Foghorn, with a squad of Provincials and a team of Rangers. The British were tasked with defending the homes of the locals at the hamlet of Sticky Bottom.
The perfidious French & Indians were led by Rick as Chief Lisping Turtle with two teams of warriors and Jay leading a squad of backwoods Canadian militia. They were on an evil mission: slaughter the settlers of Sticky Bottom! Boo, hiss!
The Indians moved with incredible speed while the Civilian card didn’t come up in a timely fashion. This had unfortunate consequences, as seen below.
The photo below is mislabeled. The staff will have to be flogged. The bodies are those of Canadian militia. The Canadians fell back, then in time came forward and fired.
You will note that my 15mm houses do not have lift-off roofs. Oh well. Lisping Turtle urged his warriors forward on the En Avant/Forward Boys card, judiciously staying behind. Two tomahawks flew towards Lt. Foghorn. One bounced off his gorget! The other, unfortunately, cleft his skull. The Indians stopped around his corpse and had themselves a scalping party, also lifting the gorget. The regulars arrived on table.
The Rangers charged and were driven back by these Indians. The other team of warriors charged the lower house and cut their way in after stiff resistance by the civilians, whose survivors fled out the window. But the regular card came up and a wild bayonet and tomahawk fight ensued, with heavy losses on both sides. When it was over all of the warriors had been slain and the regulars held the house.
The Rangers now fired a deadly close range volley and brought down most warriors of the other team, the few survivors heading for the hills. Chief Lisping Turtle called it a day. Both sides had lost 50% of their starting forces. The Indians failed to wipe out the civilians and so didn’t make their victory conditions. The British didn’t protect half of their civilian charges – though at this moment I realize their victory conditions for this scenario were to protect the houses, so they might indeed have attained their victory conditions. This is the first time we have played these rules and of course we made some mistakes. Mainly, though, all enjoyed the game. Losses were some 12 French and Indians, and some 15 British and civilians. It had taken about 90 minutes so we switched sides.   

I was Chief Running Dog and Bill led the Canadian militia, looking to scout the hamlet of Sticky Bottom. Rick and Jay were ordered to protect the settlers. In keeping with our less sanguinary motives, we opted for a game of feint and movement.
I moved all my warriors to the edge of a copse and traded fire with the Provincials. Their fire was too hot for us. One team of warriors recoiled and the other fell back, considering that sector of the table scouted.
I began moving to the British right. The Rangers side stepped to parry that. The Canadians advanced into the gap to scout that sector but were unable to pull back again before the British turned and fired on them with effect. Meanwhile the civilians had run into the houses, covered by a shield of Provincials. The regulars now appeared and marched in a column past the wheat field. Running Dog and a team of warriors advanced against their rear at close range. Both sides waited to see if an Indian or regular card came up first; none did for a while. By the time an Indian card came up I had thought better of firing into the fresh regulars and instead took off. We fled the table, having made our victory conditions: scouting each sector of the table and having at least 1/3 of our troops left. But the British had made theirs also: at least half (in fact all) of their civilians safe. Sticky Bottom would continue to beckon to other settlers. We lost 3 Indians and 5 Canadians while British losses were 2 Rangers and 2 Provincials. This game took a little over an hour. Again, much fun was had by all. We are thinking about having a 400 point per side game next time. And perhaps remembering to roll dice for when the game ends… I don’t think we’re up to speed enough to have side plots yet. In this game the Indians feel very different than the regulars - a good thing.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Marengo 1800 redux, BBB AAR

The long postponed second test of my Marengo scenario was done last evening. Bill played First Consul Bonaparte aided by Ken as Victor. I took on the role of the Austrian Melas, trying to defeat the French who have got between him and Austria. The rules were Bloody Big Battles, as usual. The French deployed first and the Austrians moved first. 

On to the second turn (of 9):

And turn 3:

Turn 4:

Turn 5:

And we broke for dinner, afterward returning for turn 6.

On the French half of turn 6, Desaix arrived with reinforcements.

Ken had a real problem on this turn. All of his units were disrupted by the various assaults up and down his line around Marengo. All failed to rally and his flanks were both compromised. Turn 7 looks to be a hard one for the French.

That was a close call, since if Bonaparte was hit the Austrians gain a victory point.
Turn 8:

On turn 9 O. Rivaud again made a disciplined fighting withdrawal (rolling another 6 to make his escape).
We had taken 4 hours and 21 minutes to play 8 and a half turns, about 30 minutes per turn. I find Napoleonic games take longer in BBB because musket fire doesn’t stop many assaults, so we have a lot more assaults to resolve along with the small arms fire.

The French had 1 point for holding the crossroads near the east edge of the table while the Austrians had 1 for taking Marengo. The French held the village until the 7th turn. I think if they had given it up a turn or two earlier they would have taken fewer losses and been better placed for a strong late game counterattack. I tried for a game winning point by causing twice as many bases removed but didn’t get there. Bonaparte had a close call but it was not to be.

French losses were 15 stands of infantry knocked out with 5 run off, 3 stands of cavalry gone with 2 run off, and Lannes and Victor both hors de combat for a total of 27 bases. Austrian losses were 10 stands of infantry KO’d and 1 run away, 4 stands of Cavalry KO’d and 2 run away for a total of 17 bases. I needed to wipe out 7 more bases for that extra point and was nowhere near getting it. A sanguinary tie was the result. I thought the game was cracking fun.

I think the scenario is solid enough for me to pass it on to Chris Pringle (BBB designer) and have it posted on the Yahoo group in a bit. I look forward to feedback from other gamers to this draft scenario.

Game trivia: Lannes was sabered and out of action for three weeks. Victor was badly stunned but was only out of action for a day. This was via our house rules and the dice were kind to the French. The Consular Guard cavalry and infantry were both scattered in this game. Both times we have played Kellermann’s brigade is gone long before the late game. Next time I play French I’ll keep it in a bandbox – until I can’t stand it anymore and order a charge. 

Our next game will be in two weeks. We’ll see if it will be another BBB game or perhaps a game of Muskets and Tomahawks.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Muskets and Tomahawks AAR

Back on September 7 I was treated to a game of Muskets & Tomahawks at the Metropolitan Wargamers in Brooklyn. (I then left town for a couple weeks, hence the delay in posting this.) This is a set of skirmish rules for the French & Indian War – and the American Revolution too. The Metro Wargamers have a basement in a Park Slope brownstone, with multiple wargame tables, not a few with board games on them, including an on-going strategic game of the Napoleonic Wars.

But I was there for tin soldier action, courtesy of the MW President, Kimber. He had set up the scenario and graciously gave me the rather numerous French & Indians, some 4 groups of Indians (6 each) and a 10 man unit of French Canadian militia. The Indians and French each had a leader. The British had an 8 man unit of armed civilians who’d apparently just finished loading a wagon with barrels of rum, the objective of this fight. Nearby was a 10 strong unit of Provincial troops. Unknown to me, a 6 strong unit of Rangers was to appear later in the game. The Provincials had a leader. All told that made 25 British colonists to 36 French and Indians. The two to one advantage in leaders would tell too.

Now for a short introduction to the rules; activation for both sides is controlled by a single deck of (rather attractive) cards. Indians, for example, get 4 cards, each giving one action. Civilians/militia get 2 cards, 1 action each. Provincials get 2 cards. One has 2 actions, the other has 1. If regulars are present they two cards, each with 2 actions. Leaders each get 1 card. When drawn, the leader can give a subordinate unit within range an extra action. Event cards are also in the deck; when all three have been drawn, the turn is over and the deck is reshuffled. Firing is one die per firing figure, hits always on the same number. There is a second roll to convert hits to an actual casualty and this roll is modified by cover, range, type of target, etc. Once a unit loses a figure it must check morale. The result varies from carry on to recoil to flight (out of action until the end of the turn) to rout (out of the game). There’s more to it than that but you get the idea. The size of the units is also a clue to their staying power. Larger units hang around longer. The game lasts for 6 turns. A lot can happen in a single turn. 

And back to the game. The civilians noticed Indians approaching and opened fire, bringing one down. (Looking at the photos after coming back to town, I decided to name the tribes and leaders.) An Abnaki warrior went down but high dice and the cover of the woods kept them carrying on and they returned the fire. On my left, the Micmacs ran in single file to flank the civilians, with Bear Claw urging them on. On my right, the militia moved to flank the rum runners urged on by Lieutenant Legrand. My dice ran hot and cold, but Kimber’s dice mostly ran cold.

Concentrated musket fire told on the laborers. After most of them had been shot, the survivors took to their heels. In truth they had stood up longer than I would have.

And now a poorly focused picture of my left flank:
Now the Rangers arrived from the side table edge – decided by a die roll. They arrived behind the Abnakis. In the excitement I failed to get any pictures of it. They closed with the leading Abnaki group and set to with their tomahawks. They had two to one odds against two warriors and one on one against Bear Claw. My dice were pretty hot, nailing two rangers. The rangers only brought down two warriors. Bear Claw was spared, I suspect more by Kimber’s generosity than by the rules. A tie resulted which means a second round is fought immediately – good thing, I heartily dislike melees that last more than one turn. On the second round Bear Claw knocked a ranger on the head and survived. Having lost more troops in the fight, the surviving rangers recoiled. Kimber’s dice were cold and mine were hot, so the rangers were defeated. I do think that a surprise attack like this should get some additional bonus. I really expected at least one group of Abnakis to be defeated.

My musket fire continued to tell on the Provincials as the British side went below 50% effectives. An army morale card was added to the deck. Whenever it was drawn every British/colonial unit had to check morale. I now realized how fast the Indians could move and the Micmacs began a rapid move around the British left flank. I offered to end Kimber’s misery but he opted for one more turn. Some of his Provincials ran into the house while others were still out in the open. As the fourth turn came to an end, it looked like curtains for the Brits.
We ended the game. I like these rules. They are fairly simple but give a good period flavor. The Indians feel very different that the militia and regulars. I shall have to get a set of the rules. With minor tweaks because our 15mm figures are mounted 3 to a base, we can play this at our local club meetings. Since the card decks are sold out, I’ll have to make cardboard counters that we draw out of a cup, no big deal. I do intend to wander by the Metropolitan Wargamers again. This has inspired me to start painting up a small group of Conquest Miniatures Iroquois warriors that have been laying around after being primed for a year or more..