Saturday, December 9, 2017

Muskets and Mohawks: Bloody Morning Scout

As promised, here is the After-Action Report of the first game hosted at Castle FusterCluck. Bruce joined Aaron, Steve and me for a play-test of Muskets and Mohawks using the more usual Two Hour Wargames activation system from Long Rifle (the companion man-to-man scale rules of the small-unit scale M&M). This activation system makes the differences in unit's REP ratings even more pronounced. Each turn, higher-rep units are likely to activate more often and before lower-rep units, and occasionally units don't get an activation at all! If you like to manage amidst chaos, these rules can be really fun. If you like something more like total control. . . well, you've been warned.

We used a scenario I'd designed previously as a convention game, based on the Bloody Morning Scout near Lake George, in New York colony, in 1755. The original scenario is here, for reference, and we played it with minimal changes. The biggest change was the addition of a little more open field around the fieldworks to provide an opportunity for maneuver, as a possible alternative to a straight-up assault. Above and below are views of the field from behind the Provincial defenses; note the British Regulars and Mohawk allies on their way down the road on "a scout."

We had 4 factions - one for each player. Aaron played the French Regulars and Militia with Steve his Native allies. I played the British Regulars with Bruce the supporting Provincial Militia. Each faction had its own Leader.

The French had two units of Marine Regulars (Unit REP 4, Leader REP 5) with a REP 5 Higher Commander and two of Militia (Unit REP 3, Leader REP 4) with a REP 4 Higher Commander.

The Indians had 4 units (Unit REP 3 Leader REP 4) with a REP 4 War Chief.

The British had two units of Regulars (Unit REP 4, Leader REP 5) with a REP 5 Higher Commander, one Artillery piece (Unit REP 4, Leader REP 4) and one unit of Indian allies
(Unit REP 3, Leader REP 4).

The Provincial Militia had 3 units (Unit REP 3, Leader REP 4) with a REP 4 Higher Commander.

The British and Provincials started on the table, the British and Indians strung out on the road and the Provincials behind their fieldworks with the Artillery.

The French Militia start in classic ambush position in the woods on both sides of the road; the Regulars and Indians enter on the short edge of the table opposite the defense works any time after the first turn.

First side to lose 4 units would lose the game. . .


BANG! The game begins at the moment the French-allied Indians fire a musket shot from deep within the woods to warn their Mohawk brothers marching with the British. The French win the first Activation roll and musket-fire erupts from the woods on both sides of the road!

The British and Indians both weather the initial fire from the French Militia with just a single Regular casualty. The Indians immediately turn and charge into the smoke on their right. The panicked Militia don't stand in the face of the savage onslaught and when the smoke clears the Indians find their quarry has run away!

The British Regulars are able to form up in preparation for a fighting withdrawal down the road in the face of the arriving French Regulars. A British volley fired into the woods on their left chases the French militia deeper into the woods, while the initial fire from the French Regulars (because the French won the Activation roll this turn) causes the still-celebrating and utterly surprised Mohawks to Run Away without a fight. Both sides have now lost one unit.

The British and French Regulars trade volleys. The British get the worst of the sustained firefight and one of their units is eventually sacrificed to allow the other to retreat down the road in good order, harried by the remaining French Militia and their Indian allies, now racing through the woods on the British left. The British Artillerymen watch helplessly, shouting to their compatriots to get off the road and give them a clear line of fire!

Suddenly, with a blood-curdling whoop, a unit of Indians burst from the woods on the British left. The Provincials watched in horrified disbelief as the Indians fell screaming onto the flank of the Regulars on the road, who valiantly turned to meet the charge.

But after sustaining 4 casualties, the Indians lost heart and Retired back toward the woods, after which the Militia gleefully opened fire on them, which sent the Indians scrambling for the safety of the tree line. This permitted the relieved Regulars to finally leave the road, opting to face the French Regulars they knew to be moving through the woods on their right. The British Artillerymen estimated the range. . . 

BOOM! The first shot from the British 6-pounder killed 4 French Regulars! 

The French passed their morale test and headed for the woods. On their next turn, they were able to retrieve half their casualties to that point, being more than 12 inches from any enemy troops. The British Regulars did the same after they left the road (a neat feature of the rules representing the greater morale and professionalism of European Regulars).

The French now had a firing line set up in the tree lines on both sides of the road; Militia and Indians on the British left and Regulars on the right. The British Regulars engaged their French counterparts on the right, but were eventually whittled down to nothing. The British cannon, even requiring two turns to load, was manhandled to the left, breaking the French Militia unit, and to the right, to provide some covering fire, but too late to save the Regulars. The French Regulars retrieved a few more of their casualties. . .but only half of those sustained since the last time they regrouped. 

Both sides were down 3 units, so the next unit to break would decide the game.

At which point two units of Indians came screaming out of the woods on the Provincial left flank, their intention clearly to overrun the open left flank of the defense works. Failing a crucial Activation roll, the Militia were forced to take the Indian charge fully in their flank!

After a brutal melee, the Provincials Retired from the defense works, severely depleted. Fire from the woods forced it's neighbor from the works, as well. The third Militia unit left the works to try to provide covering fire for the Retiring unit, but the Indians eventually mustered a charge and slaughtered the hapless Militiamen, giving the game to the French.

Vive le roi! We all thoroughly enjoyed the game and agreed that the Long Rifle activation system was really fun - even when it worked against you - and preferred over the standard Muskets and Mohawks "everybody acts in order every turn" system. The Long Rifle activation system is one of the hallmarks of the Two Hour Wargames suite of rules and what helps set them apart from other sets.

A note on markers. . . I don't like a marker-infested battlefield, or rules that require a lot of markers. The Two Hour Wargames rules mostly rock in this arena. We're using the smoke markers to show ongoing firefights. We use the little round wooden "powder horn" markers from The Baron's Fistful of Lead rules to mark units that are no longer in an active firefight but still need to reload (critical because a unit cannot move until it is reloaded). The red plastic "Unit Activated" marker from Litko is a good memory aid, along with the wooden "Routed" arrow marker from TRE Games (local Minnesota!) to remind us to attempt to Rally a Retiring Unit. That's it!

Happy Holidays (I know we can say Merry Christmas again, but. . . whatever)!


Friday, December 1, 2017

Castle FusterCluck hosts its first game of Muskets and Mohawwks!

Tomorrow by 12:00 noon this bare table will be dressed as the wilderness around Lake George in New York colony, circa 1755.

Check back in a week or so to learn the fates of all the protagonists in this early battle of the Great War for Empire in North America.