Sunday, September 17, 2017

Game day at Fort Steilacoom

Yesterday was our annual game day at historic Fort Steilacoom. This event was begun by Lawrence Bateman, who has been involved with the Historic Fort Steilacoom Association for several years. The event raises funds ($10.00 donation per attendee) to help upkeep and restoration of the remaining buildings from the fort.

The fort was founded in 1849 to give the US Army a presence in light of recent attacks on white settlements by native American tribes. During the Puget Sound War of 1855-56, the US 9th Infantry Regiment was stationed there. The fort was in use through the Civil War and after, but was decommissioned in 1869 and the grounds were used for the Fort Steilacoom Asylum for the insane, which is today Western State Hospital.

Fort Steilacoom circa 1860
Several of the original buildings remain, which are kept as a museum housing several artifacts from the era. There are also a few old cannon on the grounds.

The days of boom are long gone for this old veteran
We set up 4 tables for games in the restored officer's quarters and run two periods, morning and afternoon. So, there's potentially 8 games that attendees can join on a late summer's day.

Our venue
I came (late) for the first game period, but managed to wheedle my way into Kevin Smyth's "America Rampant" game, which is his modification of Dan Mersey's excellent The Men Who Would Be Kings skirmish rules. I have the rules, but this was the first time I played them.

Kevin has a long-running project that focuses on the hypothetical interaction between forces of the nascent American republic and the Spanish influence in the Old South along the Mississippi. Think of it as another French and Indian war, set 40-ish years later, with the Spanish as the French allied with Choctaws.

I commanded a couple units of mounted rifles, who got jumped on turn 1 by two bands of excitable Choctaws hidden in a patch of woods. I got smacked and sent reeling back.

Were'd all them gol-durned injuns come from!?
I had my back to the edge of the board/world. One unit kept failing it's rally test and ran off home to mama. With the other unit, I managed to dismount and start shooting slow rifle shots at my attackers, who kept ripping into me with tomahawks and clubs.

Meanwhile, three units of Spanish regulars were advancing.

¡Adelante, hombres!
In the center and left, American militia and regulars were advancing against a Choctaw stockade and some cornfields, which they had a mind to burn down and deprive the Spanish-Indian forces with food (or capture and make into corn liquor).

Let's make us some popcorn, boys!
Choctaws manning the stockade
The American right (me) continued to crumble. However, the wee American cannon in the center managed to drive the Choctaws out of their stockade. On the left, the American regulars were giving short shrift to the Choctaws skulking in the woods on that end.

I lost my second unit of riflemen under a fury of Choctaw war-clubs and took over command of one of the militia units. I traded shots with the advancing Spanish, but when the Choctaw warbands, fresh from killing my riflemen came on, it was all over.

The last stand
With the last of my units gone, I ran out on a mission to get cash (which I rarely carry) so I could pay my donation and maybe pick up something at the swap tables. When I got back, they were picking up the game. I don't think I ever knew who won. I just know that many fewer militamen were comin' home to their kinfolk.

Other games being played were Dean Motoyama's beautiful First Battle of St. Alban's, which he ran using Lion Rampant rules. Dean's blog has featured his work painting these over the last few months—and really, just a few. He not only paints well, but fast.

Yorkists attack!
The game Yorkists apparently didn't come out like they did historically. The gates of St. Albans (really just barricaded lanes) proved a nut too tough to crack for York and the Neville boys.

Forward to defeat
The one other game played in the first period was a naval game between George Kettle and Damond Crump. I'm not sure what the rules were, but the models were all battleships (WW1, I think), so a hard pounding on both sides, I imagine.

Battleships engage
Kevin Smyth and I went out to lunch in "downtown" Steilacoom where we talked of many things, of shoes and ships and sealing wax, and cabbages and kings, etc. We also talked up the idea of using The Men Who Would Be Kings for playing the American Civil War. We both have significant ACW lead-piles that we want to do something with. There was talk of doing Fire & Fury Regimental in 28mm, which would be a big undertaking. Doing ACW with TMWWBK is more manageable (for me, the painting weenie—Kevin is another prodigious painter like Dean).

I didn't stay for the second period, but there were a few games setting up. One of them, run by Lawrence, was a skirmish between set in the Puget Sound War using his modification of the Brother Against Brother rules.

After Kevin and I came back from lunch, we chatted with other gamers a bit. Then I headed back north—with a few stops en route—to make it to the vigil mass, so I could sleep in and goldbrick this morning. Last week was a long week.


  1. Thursday we played an ACW game using TMWWBK. Apart from horrific dice rolling becoming rampant, it went OK.

  2. Is "OK" a ringing endorsement? Did you count the troops as all regulars?

  3. Yes, all troops were regular. Not a ringing endorsement but the scenario, whose author shall remain nameless, and the dice atrocity didn't give the rules a fair chance. Will have to try another encounter to reach an impartial verdict but I believe they are definitely worth a second look.

  4. David, it was really nice to see you, and wish I could've chatted with you and Kevin a bit longer. I also wish I could've played in Kevin's game - I'm keen on trying them out (maybe modified a bit) with my Napoleonics - smallish Peninsular stuff. Hope you can make it to the Lion Rampant game day at Gig Harbor next week.

    1. I have several bits of LR armies painted or in progress, but no actual completed armies. However, Mike G. is graciously lending me his Mongols for the day, so I plan to be at the LR game day on Saturday. See you then.

    2. Awesome!I'm not a tournament player, but enjoy the company.