Friday, 17 January 2014

The Fort - A Muskets and Tomahawks Scenario - Trial run

I have always thought that Bernard Cornwell's The Fort, based on the Penobscot Expedition in 1779, was a good candidate for a M&T scenario. With the help of a few guinea pigs, Dave; Rodge & Shaun, I recently ran my first trial. I tried to keep a balance between the book, M&T playability and forces available to me.
I decided to go for a 3 player game, the British, the Massachusetts Militia and the Continental Marines. Splitting the American forces between two players allowed me to introduce friction between Commodore Dudley Saltonstall and General Solomon Lovell.

Instead of the standard M&T objectives I went for Victory points. As there was no end point other than the capture of the fort I also decided to recycle destroyed units.

The Terrain 

The game was played on a 4x4 foot table.
The fort, or part of it, was placed on a hill in the North-east corner of the table. I used gabions on top of the hill for the main fortification classed as heavy cover. The base of the hill had a trench with a staggered entrance - this required a full move to enter and a full move to exit. It provides no cover and is within point-blank range of the gabions.

Along the southern edge of the table from the eastern corner I placed 2 foot of sea, a large hill and then another foot of sea. The large hill, representing Dyce's Head, had 2 small woods. A cabin, the Beach House, was placed on the beach section of the 2 foot sea feature.

3 small hills, running lengthwise into the centre, were placed along the western edge.

The open edges between the fort and the sea and the fort and the western hills were filled in with impassable woods.

A ruined cabin was placed half-way between the fort and the the western hills and another was placed at the northern foot of Dyce's Head.
A big thanks to Eric the Shed for his tip about Homebase Tiles

The British
Forces
3 Regular Officers
3 Highlander units - 10 x Regulars with Muskets - Elite, Firing Line
2 Garrison units - 10 x Regulars with Muskets - Firing Line
2 Light guns - 4 x Regulars
1 Ship with 1 Light gun

Deployment & Special rules
The Ship deploys in the 2 foot stretch of sea and can only move to aim its Light gun
1 unit of Highlanders can start hidden in the woods on Dyce's Head
All other units start in the fort
The garrison and fort guns can never leave the fort
Highland units can, for 2 AP, deploy 12 inches out from the fort's trench line
Victory Points
1 VP per turn for holding the fort
1 VP per turn for holding the ruined cabin
1 VP per turn for holding the Beach house
1 VP per turn for holding Dyce's head
-1 VP per unit or officer killed or gun spiked
-1 VP to bring back a destroyed Highland unit - garrison, gun and officers can never be brought back

The Massachusetts Militia
Forces
2 Provincial Officers
3 Provincial Units - 12 x Provincials with Muskets - Firing Line
3 Light guns - 4 x Provincials
1 Indian unit - 5 Indians with muskets - Scouts & Natives

Deployment & Special rules
A tent is placed between the 2 northern-most hills on the western edge to represent the camp
Two guns are deployed on the 2 northern-most hills. Each is protected by earthworks - heavy cover
The infantry can be placed anywhere on the 2 northern-most hills
The 3rd gun plus earthworks is deployed on Dyce's Head when it is captured by the Militia
Recycled units appear at the tent

Victory Points
20 VP for capturing the fort
1 VP per turn for holding the ruined cabin
1 VP per turn for holding Dyce's head
-1 VP per unit or officer killed or gun spiked
-1 VP to bring back a destroyed Provincial unit - guns and officers can never be brought back

The Continental Marines
Forces
3 Regular Officers
3 Marine units - 12 x Regulars with Muskets - Scouts, Firing Line
3 Landing boats

Deployment & Special rules
The Marines always enter from the sea edge
If the British ship is in play they can not enter that sea area
Each landing boat can carry 1 unit plus 1 officer and moves at 6" per AP

Victory Points 

20 VP for capturing the fort
1 VP per turn for holding the Beach House
1 VP per turn for holding Dyce's head
-1 VP per unit or officer killed
-1 VP to bring back a destroyed Marine unit - officers can never be brought back
-1 VP per turn to attempt to remove the British Ship - roll 10+ on 2 D6 Points to remove
Other Rules

The Marines and the Militia both get VPs for Dyce's Head - only one force can claim the points.

If the Militia have deployed their 3rd gun on Dyce's Head then the Marines can never claim VPs for it 

Artillery can not shoot at other artillery - this stops the game from becoming a counter-battery battle

Artillery LOS is not blocked by cabins

The British ship can not elevate it's gun to fire on Dyce's Head

With the exception of the Indians and gun crews, a unit is immediately removed when it is reduced to 3 figures
The Game

A lot went on during the game as units were destroyed and recycled. Therefore I'll just mention high and low points
The British deployed a unit of Highlanders on Dyce's Head which the Marines immediately assaulted and captured after a hard fought struggle.
Probably because I hadn't made the VP rule clear the Marines then allowed the Militia to deploy their 3rd gun on Dyce's head giving the VP to the Militia
Using their special rule, ie 2AP to deploy 12" from the trench line, the British constantly deployed Highlanders towards the Beach house and the Ruined cabin
The Militia kept up heavy pressure on the Highlanders in the Ruined Cabin and caused quite a few casualties from musket and cannon. The Highlanders twigged that they were better off in close combat so they charged a Provincial unit, destroying it and then went on to spike one of the Militia guns.
At only one point the game did the Americans try to assault the fort when a Provincial unit boldly marched towards it only to disintegrate under a volley from the garrison.
Meanwhile on turn 3 the Marines successfully rolled to remove the British ship. This allowed them to capture the Beach house and assemble for an assault on the fort - sadly (pub closing) time caught up with us and we had to call it a day.
Conclusions

Overall I was pleased with how the scenario went although I think it needs some tweaks

My intention was have an open-ended game unless of course the Americans captured the fort which would be game over. Using the recycled unit mechanism allowed for this and made the players a bit more gung-ho about chucking units into the fray.
The friction between the American players needs looking at - probably by having more than one mutual VP object and maybe giving the Indian unit to the Marines player.

I'll change the Victory Points so that VPs are awarded for killing the enemy rather than being penalised for having troops destroyed

Force-wise I think the Marine player needs a unit or two of Militia Sailors just to up the card spread as they only had the American Regulars card to activate on.
Also the British garrison will be reduced from 2 down to 1 unit

Finally I'll add in some terrain features,ie cabins ,in the centre of the table to provide more VP objectives

The Toys

Most of the figures are from Peter Pig's 15mm AWI range with the exception of the British garrison units which are Essex SYW
The British ship was from a range brought out when Peter Pig started their Pirate range and is now OOP

Two of the Marine landing boats are 25mm Viking rowing boats from Shaun at Dreamholme Scenics

All of the buildings are by 4Ground

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Liberty - Test game 1 for PAW 2014

Deadwood, Tombstone and Dodge City pale into insignificance when compared to the chaos that is Liberty. There is more lead on the streets of this town that in the Cannington mines in Australia.
Various unsavoury gangs appear from nowhere, causing mayhem by robbing the bank, freeing prisoners from the jail, looting the gold mine, gunning down towns folk and delaying the 3.20 to Yuma train. Even the old Indian burial ground isn't safe - but that's another story

Over the Christmas period 3 gangs, The Mysterious Al Clan, The Twang Gang and the Cinco Esquiladas, rode into town looking to make a few dollars
Word was out that the miners at the Liberty gold mines had struck a rich seam and were yet to bring the gold into town. What could be more tempting.

The 3 gangs each numbering 5 very bad men, started at the far end of Liberty. For some bizarre reason the Liberty Town Council had issued an Ordinance that no shooting was permitted this side of the railway tracks.
Due to low movement cards the Mysterious Al Clan lagged far behind the other 2 gangs so they decided to form a line overlooking the gold mine
After a brief shoot-out with the Twang Gang the three surviving members of the Cinco Esquiladas pushed up to take the gold
The gold mine - one miner has taken several wounds and the other looks mighty worried as the Twang Gang sneak up on him
The Twang Gang advance towards the Cinco Esquiladas looking for a showdown
A fist-fight breaks out between the Cinco Esquiladas and the Twang Gang leaving several dead or wounded
Mysterious Al, having seen the rest of his crew shot down, takes up a position on the Water Tower waiting for the 3.20 to Yuma
Right on time the train arrives along with Pat Garotte and his posse of lawmen
Mysterious Al, now wounded, jumps on the train but so does Pat Garotte who finishes Al off
The sole surviving severely wounded member of the Mysterious Al Clan looks down on the shoot out between the lawmen and the Twang Gang and dies in a hail of law-enforced lead
The last two members of the Twang Gang way up their chances of taking out a lawman and getting the gold
Law and order prevail in Liberty - Pat Garotte stands astride the now delayed 3.20 to Yuma knowing that the gold is safe - resting in his bank account

Train, terrain and figures by Shaun. Buildings by 4Ground and Whitewash city

We will be putting this on as a participation game at PAW 2014 in Plymouth on 1st and 2nd February

Friday, 27 December 2013

Liberty - There's gold in them there hills

The wild west town of Liberty is an enigmatic place at the best of times. Various unsavoury gangs appear, causing mayhem by robbing the bank, freeing prisoners from the jail, looting the gold mine, gunning down towns folk and delaying the 3.20 to Yuma train.
We use a simple set of rules that someone else wrote several years ago. The game uses two decks of cards so it is possible to have 5 Aces!.

Each player controls up to 5 figures and is dealt a hand of 5 cards.

Each player  in turn plays a card which for shooting or brawling affects 1 figure or for moving affects a group of figures

Spades - 1 figure can take a shot
Diamonds - 1 figure can brawl or 1 or more figures can move
Clubs - 1 or more figures can move
Hearts - 1 figure can defend against shooting or brawling

The card value indicates either the number of  inches a figure or group of figures can move or the accuracy of a shot or the strength of a punch. Ace = 11, King, Queen and Jack = 10

In order to shoot a Spade card must be played. The target must reply with a card. If the target plays an Heart that equals or beats the value of the Spade then it is a miss otherwise it is a hit

Each figure can take 4 hits before they die. Each hit reduces the value of any card they play by 1

Everything else is sort of made up as we go along
The game, There's gold in them there hills, was played with 3 players, Mike, Shaun and myself controlling 3 figures on a 2 foot square table. The objective being to steal the gold from the miners and leave town on the 3.20 to Yuma.
My plan was to sneak up on the miners, shoot them, steal their gold and run for the train. I have no idea what the other 2 varmints had planned but my gut told me it was something along the same lines
I should have got worried when the 2 other gangs started sneaking around together
Leaving one guy, PacĂ­fico, to provide covering fire my two remaining guys, Tuco & Benedicto, snuck round the back of the camp, past the Bean Master no doubt sleeping off a quart of cooking sherry in the chuck wagon
Meanwhile the other two gangs had started taking pot shots at the miners wounding one of them
Tuco found the miners' stash in a tent and headed back to join up with Pacifico
At this point the 2 gangs started to try and head me off at the pass
Somewhere along the trail Benedicto and Pacifico were shot down leaving Tuco to get on the train alone - hey that's life - they weren't relatives. The opposition had other plans though
Having made it onto the train Tuco found himself the target of every ne'er-do-well between here and the Rio Grande and died in a hail of lead.
The 2 other gangs broke their alliance gunning each  other down in a mad frenzy trying to grab the gold. By this time my only living gang member, Benedicto staggered onto the scene
As the train thundered through the canyon the 3 gangs fought a terrible duel....
leaving Mike's single Apache to claim the gold and clamber onto the train. Benedicto looked on helpless with 3 wounds and no Spades. Hey at least there was a clean pair of pants on the miners' washing line

All of the terrain was made by Shaun. All of the 28mm figures,various manufacturers, were painted by Shaun, The Train is Shaun's. The Chuck Wagon is by 4Ground

Watch out for more posts from Liberty

Thursday, 26 December 2013

The Oasis at Kalab - Romans vs Blemmye using BFE2

This is the third scenario in our Romans vs Blemmye "campaign" using our variant of the 19th Century colonial ruleset Battles For Empire 2. (BFE2).

The game is set in Upper Egypt circa 400AD. The figures are 15mm and based for Armati. Each figure represents about 5 men so a Roman Legionary unit represents a Century
The Scenario
Following their defeat to the Romans at the Temple at Kalabsha the Blemmye responded with a series of vicious raids. Much booty,including many slaves, was accumulated and the raiders headed south towards towards their tribal lands to enjoy the rewards.

The Blemmye have stopped for a brief overnight respite in the deep southern wastes at the Oasis at Kalab believing they are safe from Roman attentions. The Romans, however, have other ideas and have force marched to catch them.
The Terrain
The oasis is surrounded by low sand dunes that block line of sight. The booty and slaves are held in a temple compound. and a building, a few tents and clumps of palm trees are scattered around the oasis. The temple and the building can each hold one unit that always fights as skirmishers. The Temple compound is placed 30" inches from the southern edge so that it will take the booty/slaves 6 turns to exit the table moving at 6" per turn

Roman Objective
Retake the booty, rescue the slaves and destroy the Blemmye raiding force

Roman Forces
1 Commander+1 12" Command Radius, +2 if attached to unit
2 Leaders+1 if attached to unit
6 x Century LegionariesInfantry, Elite, Spears / Javelins - treat as Pila
1 x Egyptian AuxiliaInfantry, Foot Bows
2 x Egyptian AuxiliaSkirmish Foot, Foot Bows
1 x Equites Ala SecundaCavalry,Spears / Javelins
1 x Ala GermanorumCavalry,Spears
may add +1 to a UCC roll once in the game
1 x Auxilia SagitariiSkirmish Horse, Horse Bows

Roman Deployment
The Romans have surprised the Blemmye at dawn and caught them napping.
Upto 3 units of any type plus a Leader can enter anywhere on the East table edge 15” from the South East corner point. They may enter on Turn 3 or any subsequent turn.
All other troops must march on table anywhere along the northern table edge.

Blemmye Objective
Get the booty off the southern edge of the board

Blemmye Forces
1 Commander+1 8" Command Radius, +2 if attached to unit
2 x Leaders+1 if attached to unit
1 x Retainer CavalryCavalry, Spears / Javelins
3 x Light HorseSkirmish Horse, Javelins
1 x Camel troopMelee weapons
On contact enemy cavalry become Shaken on roll of 1,2 or 3
1 x Guard WarbandMelee weapons
Can ignore 1 Shaken result once per game
3 x WarriorsWarband, Melee Weapons
3 x Light footSkirmish Foot, Foot Bows
2 x Light footSkirmish Foot, Javelins

Blemmye Deployment
The Blemmye have been surprised at dawn and caught napping in their camp
Secretly deploy units within the oasis area.
Pack Mules/Camel Baggage/Slaves must be in the Temple compound area.
1 unit of any type may be placed in each building/tent
1 skirmish Foot Unit may be placed in the Temple

Blemmye Activation
All Blemmye forces are asleep at the start of the game - they are activated by rolling the Turn Number or less on a D6 ie on turn 1 a 1 is required, on turn 2 then a 1 or 2 is required. If a unit is caught asleep then they are immediately destroyed 
The dice roll has the following modifiers:
-2 if Heavy Unit
-1 if Skirmish Unit
- leader bonus if attached

The Game
Steve and Shaun were the Romans and Paul and I took the Blemmye. The Romans kept 3 cavalry units off table for the flank march.
The Blemmye arranged the warband as the frontline with foot skirmishers on the flanks and cavalry at the rear of the oasis in the hope that everyone would wake up very quickly
The Romans arrived on the northern edge at the crack of dawn. Our activation rolls only woke up two of the Light horse units and the Slaves
Due to their elite rating the Roman Legionaries moved swiftly towards the camp spotting a sleeping warband which failed to activate
With the exception of this warband and the the booty, the rest of the camp woke swiftly and started organizing itself to face the Romans
The Romans sent a Auxilia unit in to give the warband a rude awakening. This warband fled leaving only the Guard Warband to take on the might of Rome
Although Blemmye light troops had got onto the wings and the rear of the Roman force, the latter were unstoppable and stormed the camp
However the remaining Blemmye warbands advanced to join the Guards and managed to hold the line
The Romans decided to bring their cavalry flanking force on into the back of the skirmishers on the Blemmye left flank. Regular readers will note that smiley faces are now only used for the Blemmye. The Romans have proper casualty markers and use Cornicines to indicate Shaken units
Whilst the Blemmye left flank and centre grimly held on, it was a different story on their right flank where a Legionary unit attempted to storm the temple. This was held by a javelin skirmish unit aided by light horse that charged the Shaken Legionaries. Rule - skirmishers can only charge shaken units or other skirmishers
In the centre the Blemmye warbands looked like they might hold up the Legionaries but as the Roman rear was cleared of Blemmye Light Horse the pressure started to mount
Eventually the remaining booty got organised and started to leave the compound covered by the warbands and skirmishers
From the far south the Blemmye camelry went into action on the left wing against the Roman Cavalry and Legionaries in a vain attempt to save the skirmishers
Gradually though the Legionaries wore down the warbands one by one leaving a huge hole the Blemmye centre
At the temple the fight raged on until the Legionaries were rescued by Roman cavalry attacking the Light horse in the flank. The Light Horse fled the field but not before seeing the Legionaries worn down by kills and destroyed.
As the slaves and booty headed south the Roman pursuit was bravely thwarted by the Blemmye Retainer cavalry.
With the slaves and booty gone the Romans were masters of the oasis. Although they had beaten the Blemmye force they had only recaptured 1 of the 3 items of booty and the slaves were nowhere to be seen.

I must apologize for the Roman end of the table in the above photo - it is an utter tip

The Epilogue
After the battle a Roman officer discovered a necklace in one of the tents. Only one such necklace exists in Upper Egypt and belongs to Chlamydia, eldest daughter of Flurus, Roman Governor of the Province. She must have been one of the slaves that got taken south - dan! dan! daaan! - looks like the set-up for the next game

This game was based on the San Lorenzo scenario from Tim Tilson's Colonial Campaigns book Maximilian in Mexico. It worked extremely well and certainly gave the Blemmye players an edge-of-the-seat game. It's a mark of a good scenario when it can be played across different periods

Once gain the rules came through with little or no Rule Debating or Recrimination phases

Well done to Rodge for another enjoyable evening

More pictures can be found at photobucket