Friday, 30 July 2010

Black Powder III

.... and the irony is that we have the prettiest table ever and I forget the camera.

Imagine a verdant green sward of teddy bear fur
, bespoked clumps of birch and beech, snake fences, rocky outcrops, cornfields and a delightful Virginia town.

With a scenario loosely based on Guilford Courthouse the British/German force consisted of a dozen line and guard batallions, a couple of cannon and four skirmish units including one of injuns. These were divided into four brigades. Two in the first line and two immediately behind.

The American force was fifty percent larger and had the advantage of three distinct defensive lines including the ultimate goal of the town. However twelve of the rebel units were militia with poor or very poor morale.

We began with a brigade of North Carolina Militia, of four units, behind a snake fence a couple of feet from the British end of the eight foot table. British skirmishers began in range of the yankees (8" using the 2/3 movement scale). The Militia's opening fire was poor - having no effect upon the redcoats. On the British turn the majority of the advance brigades moved into long range and opened fire, adding a dice for first volley. A half a dozen hits - all but one saved by the lucky militia! With the militia's poor morale they required sixes to save; it must be noted that this was done with Adrian's blue dice (and we all thought they had no sixes on them).

On the right the Hessian's were finding it difficult to move forward but a British cannon laid low a regiment of mounted dragoons with one fine salvo of grape and the unit of indians was sent through the woods to outflank the second American Line. Their "bloodthirsty" bonus was used to good effect and they broke a militia batallion.

On the left the second British brigade were advancing smartly forward towards the second line of militia and were hit by a smart volley at long range by Kirwoods riflemen. A valiant charge however broke though the militia and the belt of wood and scrub into the open ground before the town. Similarly on the right the British-Hessian brigades proved too strong for the Virginians and they fell back towards the town to form a new line behind redoubts

However now the government forces were facing the cream of Greene's army, Maryland and Virginia Continentals. Firefights, charge and countercharge ensued but no breakthrough was made before we had to call it a day and the damned rebels claimed victory as they still held the town and pike road.

The first line of militia had proved very obstinate and while it was inevitable that they would break, the four moves it took cost the British too much time and while they were still relatively fresh at the end of the game the Continentals too had plenty of fight left in them.

Had we had time to continue for a couple or three more moves any victory would have been pyrrhic. A true reflection of 1781 when Cornwallis's tactical victory ultimately cost him his army.

Today's cheese was Jervaulx.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Battle of Freeman's Farm

Washington ponders the news that the British are a coming.

Another attempt at the Black Powder rules.

We took the scenario from the Black Powder book but as we were using half size units
we adopted the 2/3 movement and range play sheet (thanks Jeff).

The British/German army had a couple more battalions than the Rebels and also four guns whilst the American's had none. Moreover the British troops were deemed to be "steady" and "crack", effectively enhanced morale.

Initial dispositions had the first British brigade (Hamilton's) marching along the road and a picket were wandering over to have a peek at the farm and woods. No pesky rebels in sight. The Brits get to move first, in theory, as a throw of 11 on Command prevents Hamilton's brigade from moving. The second Brigade however marches onto the table and along the road. The picket is (not very) surprised to be fired on from the woods as Morgan's brigade reveal themselves.

(piccies look better when enlarged than shown here)

With an excellent Command throw Poor's Brigade of Rebels advance between the farm and woods to Morgan's left hoping to reach the stream before the British.

The second British Brigade, Fraser's, enter the table in column of march with a skirmish line of injuns covering their right. In the centre the pickets engage Morgan's brigade in a long range firefight and Hamilton manages to bring one battalion forward before another Command failure.

Fraser manages to advance (slowly) on the right but in the centre Hamilton manages to turn column into line but then fails to advance following two Command Failures. The Yanks however pour forth along woodland paths and find an excellent defensive position with stream in front and between woods and farm.

Eventually the Germans arrive following Fraser along the road. Two excellent command throws see them in line and pouring fire into the rebels while the British continue with poor Command throws and struggle into battle line. The Picket and the lone batallion in the firefight with the American right are routed but the Americans hold their line.

The Americans have an excellent defensive position behind the stream and although this deters the charge with cold steel the British/ German firepower enhanced with artillery is proving superior. The "steady" and "crack" rules prove invaluable to the Brits in the firefight. Eventually the poor morale of the Americans begins to tell and they begin to withdraw.

Regimental mascot assists in British interrogation of a captured rebel.

The result was pretty much as that played out by the authors of the rule book and given the breakdown of the armies seems alomost inevitable. Given the poor Command thorws of the Brits more agressive tactics could have paid off for the Americans. However given the poorer troop morale levels and the excellent defensive position on offer it would have been a very brave and fortunate commander who could beat the British in this scenario.

Regimental mascot eats colonel's tricorn!

Washington ponders defeat with faithful friend.

The game started off quite slowly as we tried to get to grips with the rules again. While they are a good read they are not the easiest to pick out the relevant bits.
I want to like these rules but I'm not yet sure if we'll persevere. As players we make enough mistakes so do we need to be slowed down even more with Command rules. The argument is that this is realistic. Firstly how realistic is it that a brigade of professional British soldiers of 1777 would not be able to deploy in time to participate in a fight with rebels a few hundred yards away. The fact that we all know an example or two proves how rare this was. Secondly I play for fun not for a faithful reenactment of warfare.
Otherwise I like the mechanics of the rules and if we used them more then I think we would get used to the special rules such as "crack", "steady", "marauders", "blodthirsty", etc etc.
The self inflicted problem is that we never play the same rules two games running and rarely play the same rules two or three times a year. This tends to mean we go for the simple rather than the detailed. Mmmmm watch this space.
Todays cheese was Vignotte.