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
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
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
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.

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