Thursday, September 17, 2015
Hunting Grounds: Game One at Recruits
After a 6-hour drive from the Twin Cities to Lee's Summit, Missouri, and 2 hours of setting up, we launched into the first of 4 games of Hunting Grounds, a scenario taken directly from the This Very Ground rulebook. The background is provided above; the scenario is basically a running firefight from the farmstead, into the woods and off the far edge of the table, the winning side determined by "points." The Indians began the game within the stone walls of the farmstead, with the Rangers arriving on the first turn at the far north edge or up to 12" from the north edge onto the west and east edges. The Indians earned one point for each warrior they exited from the far wooded table edge, one point for each Ranger killed and 3 points for exiting their Warchief. The Rangers earned one point for each Indian warrior killed, and 3 points if the Provincial Officer survived the game.
The lay of the land. . . from the Northwest:
. . . the Northeast:
. . . the Southeast:
. . . and the Southwest:
The Indians started with a Warchief and 4 5-man units; the Rangers with 3 units of 5 men each. Each unit had a leader, and many of them did not survive the games! In all 4 games we had enough players to assign one 5-man unit to each player. It was fun to watch the players trying to manage their very finite resources while trying to accomplish their missions.
I had not played a battle using This Very Ground with just skirmishers - and small units - and was very curious to see what kind of "feel" the Volume of Fire rules would give to the game. They worked like a charm, providing a real "running firefight" feel. One spectator, who claimed to have re-enacted the period "in his younger days," claimed it was actually quite possible to reload while on the move with some practice, so the rules "got it right."
We played the rules straight up, the only changes being a handful of "special events" that were possible depending on specific Initiative Rolls at the beginning of each turn. Most of the events were minor "role-playing" twists that would add some flavor with minimal impact. One would have a larger effect, so that one would require two sets of back-to-back duplicate Initiative rolls to occur, which I thought would never happen. . . but of course happened on the first turn of the very first game! It did alter the course of the game. . .
All of the games were very close-run and all were variations on a single theme: the Rangers entering on both edges to form "flanking parties" with the Indians running toward the woods. With the help of some players who played more than one game, by the fourth game the Indians figured out that it was way more about running and way less about fighting! The Rangers won two games, the Indians one and one game was a tie. Two of the wins were by only two points!
The first turn of the game was deployment. . .
And then came the first Initiative Roll. A tie! And the second roll. . . a tie. . . triggering the special event: Blood Feud! The Warchief and the Provincial Officer when next in sight of each other, each recognize the other as their mortal enemy, responsible for the deaths of beloved members of their respective families. And of course they were already in sight of each other. . .
They now had to move toward each other each turn with the goal of engaging in melee, with the winner getting 5 points. Oh, and they could not tell the other players what they were doing . . . but it sure was fun to watch them slowly figure it out!
Some of the Indians made it into the woods, but the Blood Feud delayed the Warchief and his retinue in the farmstead and allowed two flanking parties of Rangers to trap them within the walls.
The Warchief was finally able to maneuver into a position facing the Officer. . .
. . . and was dispatched by a single blow!
Game One to the Rangers by 10 points, thanks at least in part to the Blood Feud. I can't believe we never named these guys!
Next post: Game Two.