Thursday, September 20, 2012

Recruits XX AAR

The game I presented at Recruits XX is an abstraction of the Battle of Quebec, fought between the British and the French and their colonial allies, on the Plains of Abraham in 1759. I disregarded Bougainville's detachment and created two opposing forces balanced with the point system provided by the rules to provide a "balanced" convention experience, but otherwise tried to represent the battlefield and the armies within the constraints noted. Based on the feedback from the players, I think I achieved both aims of the scenario design: provide a tense game that either side felt they could win, while providing a sense of the drama inherent in the original conflict.

Above is a scale drawing of the game as presented, each terrain square 12" across, and each "unit" represented by 10 54mm soldiers, or a cannon and 4 or 5 crewmen. The rules played are This Very Ground by Iron Ivan Games. Check out my earlier blog post,  
"A Frontier on Fire", for background on the rules, figures, and how I approach the game. I play the rules straight up with no house rules, because they play really well as written! For this game I made unit cards which gave players access to most of the essential stats needed - I think I am the only person that actually opened a rulebook during the games. Another new addition was the addition of white and red D4s to track Volume of Fire and Disruption levels respectively. The D4s were easy to use and kept the battlefield looking tidy. . . at least until the casualties started to mount, all of them left on the field where they fell.

The scenario was designed as a straight head-to-head clash of mostly European Regulars, with the French having some advantage on the flanks, the British their strength in the center, deployed in some depth with more Officers. Additionally, both armies had a stronger left flank facing their opponent's weaker right flank. To their credit, nearly all of the players recognized the strengths and weaknesses in the respective deployments and at least attempted to play to their advantages.

The main battle lines started within musket range, so the game started as a series of decisions as to which unit should activate and volley first in order to maximize effect. At the end of the first full turn the players were in full command of the musketry rules and just needed me to help with the various modifiers afterward.

So on to the games!

Game One on Friday night at 7pm

For a variety of reasons, my usual helpmates from Tulsa couldn't make the convention, so "thank you very much" to Lead Addict for his spontaneous offer to help me set up the first game and so get it started by 7pm. The armies are set up as shown on the map, the main lines of Regulars and Artillery facing each other across the open field, with the French-allied Natives and Canadian Militia skirmishing from the woods on the flanks.

Musket and artillery fire opened the combat in the center of the field, the French winning Initiative and then dominating the dice contest for most of the game.

The British had some success on their stronger left flank, as the Light Infantry of Fraser's Highlanders chased off the Indians in the woods and engaged the Canadian Militia. . .

. . . but couldn't hold off the French Marines and Indians on their right flank long enough to win the center. The French win.

Game Two on Saturday morning at 9am

Lead Addict showed up unexpectedly - so thanks again, Addict! - to help set up the game. You'll notice I inadvertently set up the British wide across the Plain with only one company in reserve.

This set-up - along with a series of abysmal opening musketry die-rolls - contributed to a rapid collapse of the British right wing while the left wing roared through the French forces in the woods on their left flank. 

The British advance farther on the left flank, getting Grenadiers of the 47th into the woods, where they rout the Canadian Militia but are in turn killed to a man by the French Marines. The British center advanced so far forward one of the French 8-pounders was momentarily captured in hand-to-hand combat! But the British sustained too many losses on the way to the gun. . . The French win again. What did we learn? Melee is brutal - don't charge the enemy unless you have more soldiers than he does!

Game Three on Saturday afternoon at 2pm

Same set-up as Game Two. French out-roll the British again over at least the first half of the game and the battle plays out in similar fashion to the previous. Third French win.

  Game Four on Saturday night at 7pm

Armies are set up per the map. I am getting tired. . . and know we probably won't have time to finish this game. The British win Initiative and proceed to reverse the French dice luck of the previous games.

 With the coaching help of a "repeat" player from Game Three, the British neutralize the skirmishing fire on the flanks by Disrupting the Natives, then draw in their flank guards and push up the middle.

When we had to end the game due to time, the British had broken 3 French Units versus none of their own and looked on the way to a win. So we all "agreed" the British won.

Thanks go to the players of Game Four that helped me tear down the game, and to the Recruits staffer that helped me load the car - THANKS! 

The more I play This Very Ground, the more I appreciate the game it provides. The new grass mat was an aesthetic success and got lots of positive comments from onlookers. We had a bit of a challenge with some of the figures not standing consistently on the uneven surface of the mat, so I may need to work out a fix of some sort.

Addict, I hope The Battle of Quebec was worthy of Recruits XX : )

See ya!


Monday, September 3, 2012

The Redcoats are here!

Lt. Colonel Hunt Walsh deploys the 28th Regiment in time for Recruits. The 28th will be represented by 2 companies of line Regulars and one company of Grenadiers.

All of the soldiers for the Battle of Quebec are varnished and ready for action. We'll have 250 54mm figures, give or take, and 3 cannon on the field of honor. Three games are scheduled; rules will be This Very Ground by Iron Ivan Games.

Come see us at Recruits XX in Kansas City on September 14th - 16th.