Friday, January 24, 2020

Thunderbox Ridge: Rebels and Patriots AAR

Ralph Holloway and I played a game of Rebels and Patriots Thursday afternoon at The Panzer Depot in Kirkland, WA. I packed up my car and headed down after work. We played Scenario A from the rules book, which is a fight over an objective—in our game the local thunderbox—between equal-sized forces.

My 24-point company of British consisted of the following:

1 x Line Infantry, Large unit, Good Shooters @7pts
1 x Line Infantry, Large unit, Aggressive @6pts
1 x Light Infantry, Large unit @7pts
2 x Skirmishers @2pts ea.

Ralphs 24-point company of rebellious colonials consisted if the following:

3 x Line Infantry @4pts ea.
1 x Line Infantry, Timid, Good Shooters @5pts
1 x Skirmishers @2pts.
1 x Light Cavalry, Aggressive @5pts

I deployed my Skirmishers on my right with the light infantry opposite the objective and the Line Infantry (good shooters + officer) in reserve. For some reason, I thought it would be a good idea to put my grenadiers (Line Infantry, Aggressive) way out to my left in the fences. It wasn't really a good idea, although it ended up tying up a lot of Ralph's attention.

Making all my units large and expensive (except for the Skirmishers) was a gamble. The size makes them pretty resilient, but there's a lot of points in a single large unit lost—or wasted in a large unit that does nothing all game (see below).

I was unlucky in other activations. My officer's unit, the large, good-shooting line infantry, never fired a shot all game. My cunning plan was to move them up to the top of the hill, form close order, and then send shivering blasts of volley fire at the rebels. I think I managed to get four activations in the 10 turns that we played. At one point, they failed the morale test they had to make when one of my skirmisher units routed away within 12". It took several failed attempts to get them to rally. It was only on the last turn of the game that they got into position (though not formed in close order) and ready to fire—only to have their only target rout away after losing a figure to my half-strength Skirmishers.

Dithering below the insurmountable hill
Just barely cresting the insurmountable hill, where they stayed for most of the game
That Skirmisher unit is the hero of the day, with secondary honors to the Light Infantry. I got him into position controlling the objective by turn 2 and he held for the rest of the game.

The light-bobs advance!
Holding the left side of the hill
My other Skirmisher unit failed a morale test after taking one casualty and never recovered. He kept failing and retreating, failing and retreating, failing and retreating until he failed so bad he just went home.

Fusiliers doing nothing, skirmishers failing away
The grenadiers of in the fenced-in fields, traded shots with several of Ralph's units, but eventually got forced back and routed after a failed morale test. Although they didn't contribute much to Ralph's losses, they tied up 3-4 of his units most of the game. That was a fairly heroic in itself.

Grenadiers bravely contesting the bean fields
One fear with having so few (and large) units was in being outgunned. I had five units on the table to start with. Ralph had six and got the blesséd 6-6-6 activation role, which allowed him to bring another unit of Line Infantry on the table for a ratio of 7:5. However, one of his units was Light Cavalry, which galloped about a bit and skirmished once or twice, which is not effective fire. Nevertheless, only three of my five units ever fired in the game and mostly just two.

Surprisingly, however, I won the firefight. Ralph was plagued by bad morale rolls and I was blessed by some pretty good shooting with the few units that actually shot. I managed 2-3 casualties each time I fired. Many of Ralph's shooting rolls fizzled. Part of the disparity of results was due to my frontline units being Light Infantry and Skirmishers, who take three hits before losing a casualty, while Ralphs units were all Line Infantry and took a casualty for every two hits. If he rolled five hits, I lost one figure; if I rolled five hits, he lost two.

The end nearing for the rebels
Ralph also consequently lost 4 points of units on the curséd 1-1-1 activation roll. The Line Infantry unit he pulled out was shot up and broken, but still above half strength and could have been rallied. As an aside, I was in mortal fear of getting the curséd 1-1-1 activation. With so few units I would have had to pull out both of my Skirmishers—one of which was the sole unit holding the objective—or one of my big units (6-7 points), which I couldn't spare (even the fusiliers who did nothing all game except move onto the hill on the very last turn).

The dunny is ours! Hurrah boys!
Ralph's choices for many turns was a) attempt to rally from disorder/broken or b) fire disordered with half dice. His best shooters spent most of the game firing—or attempting to fire—while disordered, thus diminishing the harm he might inflict on me. Even while rolling all 12 dice, Ralph's firing was less than stellar. Only one of my units went to half strength (the heroic Skirmishers of the the Dunny) and there were only a few times that I took off more than one figure casualty from shooting at a time.

The game went to 10 turns. In the last couple turns, things went badly for Ralph. The Line Infantry unit his leader was attached to finally went away after 50% casualties and a bad morale roll. He was left with 10 points of units, one unit was at half-strength and broken. I still had 16 points on the table, with one unit at half strength, the heroic Skirmishers. My Light Infantry had been in the thick of it and dealt out a lot of punishment, taking in turn only three casualties. The 23rd Fusiliers were just observers, although my officer who was with the unit provided an essential +1 to morale and activation more than a few times—just not to his own unit.

Bold defenders of the hill—and that other unit...

Saturday, January 11, 2020

1672: Les messieurs de la France

It's been a long time since I started the 1672 project, with a very different end in view. So, I look with some satisfaction on the fact that I've been able to get a lot done in the last two months. I've gone from a box full of neglected unpainted lead and a few partially-painted minis to several units ready to game—in fact, for The Pikeman's Lament I have more than enough French painted to make a 24-point company, with more in the works.

The first unit I completed was 12 pikemen that I started sometime in 2012. After nearly 8 years languishing in obscurity, they're suddenly the stand of pikes for Le Régiment Picardie.

The only uniform information I have specifically for 1672 is from the Osprey book on the army of Louis XIV, which says that the men of Picardie wore gray uniforms with gray cuffs. The green-brown trousers, red hose, and red aiguillettes are just my own fancy.

As I was completing the pikes, I started two 6-figure units of grenadiers, one for Picardie and one for the next French regiment, Normandie, who are also in gray/gray, but I've given them differently colored trousers, hose, and lace. I've only completed the grenadiers for Picardie at this point, but the Normandie grenadiers are close behind. I'll field them as some variation of Forlorn Hope in The Pikeman's Lament.

Along with the pikes and grenadiers, I started three units of Swiss in French service. So far, I've just completed one unit of 12 musketeers. The pikemen, with their heavy armor, and the other musketeers are coming.

With the pikemen of Picardie being done, I dipped into the pile of raw lead and pulled out 24 musketeers—or rather 20 musketeers plus two sergeants and two drummers. Except for the Swiss, who are all musketeers, my shot units will all have some "command" element of a sergeant/officer and drummer.

Another unit I started back in antiquity were some dragoons. In my own rules Pike & Periwig, dragoons were 8-figure units with both dismounted and mounted versions, plus a stand of horses and a horse-holder for when they were dismounted. The Pikeman's Lament doesn't differentiate between mounted and dismounted versions of dragoons; they're a shooty unit that moves fast and can skirmish/evade. I opted to incorporate dismounted, mounted, and riderless horses into my dragoon units. I only have the one unit done, but I'll have three or four by the time I'm finished.

For a bit more firepower (hitting on 4+ at 18"), I have some regimental guns. One is a nice design produced by Old Glory, the other is a galloper produced by Northstar. Not pictured is the one field gun I've completed. In The Pikeman's Lament, these are bruisers (hitting on 3+ and 48"), but entirely immobile except to use a move action to pivot.

Finally, I have one officer painted. The figure is actually l'homme lui-même, Louis XIV from the now-discontinued Phoenix Miniatures range, which produced the first 1672 Spanish troops for Northstar (which I also have several of—stay tuned).

It's a nice collections so far, but there's much to do before the game I'm running at our annual convention Enfilade! in May.

Under the brush at the present time are the Normandie grenadiers and the Swiss mentioned above and a 6-figure unit of cavalry for the French. I've got two musketeer units and a pike unit under way for the English (painting Dumbarton's regiment in green facings, although there was also a regiment with these colors in the Anglo-Scots brigade serving under the Dutch) plus a regimental gun for the English. There are also some units I started a long time ago for Austrians. I'm waiting until I receive my Helion book on the Imperial army before I get back to those. It's been 8 years since I last touched them; they'll keep.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

The Boys of Sumer

Pat Lowinger hosted another PNW Rampant event at the Gig Harbor library. We had a truncated day due to new library rules about how long anyone can book the meeting room for, but I still got in two games with my freshly-painted, you-can-still-smell-the-dullcote Sumerians that I painted for use with Pat's Chariots Rampant variant to the Lion Rampant rules by Dan Mersey.

The traffic was good driving down from formerly bucolic Lynnwood, WA. I made it in just over an hour and got there early enough to set up before our official 1:00 start time. The plan was to play two games with Scott Abbott; one a Chariots Rampant game against his Mycenaeans and the second being a Rebels and Patriots game with Jubal Tardee's company of butternut-clad Rebs against Scott's blue-clad 6th Wisconsin. Alas, Scott dropped the box containing his Lincolnite hirelings when he was loading it into his car, so we played two games of Chariots Rampant. We'll have to schedule a Rebels and Patriots game for some time later—after the repair work has been done.

I set up the table using my 'desert mat,' which is a piece of flannel with a tan tie-dye pattern that I got at Jo-Ann's fabrics, along with a few old Games Workshop 'desert' rocky hills, some lichen, and a small pond that served as the oasis whose possession was the victory condition for our games. Water is dear in the desert.

Scott's force was the following:

     2 x Light Chariots + expert drivers + bow-armed (like Mounted Yeomen in LR)
     3 x Spearmen (like Foot Sergeants in LR, but no schiltron)

My force comprised the following:

     1 x Heavy Chariots (like Mounted Men at Arms in LR, but can shoot javelins 6")
     2 x Spearmen (see above)
     1 x Archers (same as in LR)
     3 x Skirmishers (like Bidowers in LR)

I designed to force to be shooty with just a we bit of punch (and quite wee it was). I could also have replaced two Skirmisher units with a light chariot and chariot runners. In hindsight, I ought to have done so for the second game just to see how the rule works.

Scott's lack of missile troops, apart from his Light Chariots, was decisive. I was able to sit back and let him smack into my Spearmen while the Archers and Skirmishers pelted him with arrows, javelins, and slingstones.

My one foray into aggressive behavior in the first game was when I sent my Heavy Chariots, led by my general, against one of Scott's light chariot units. That got me stuck in a beehive. Scott kept bashing into me with his Spearmen. I managed to bounce most of the attacks and pass the morale checks and dodge the lucky blows, but I kept taking losses unit I had just one hit left before they went. I kept trying to move him back to safety, but several turns running he kept failing his move activation. Finally, Scott got one more blow at him and he was gone.

Leading with my chin
However, Scott lost his general just before that. He'd been smacking away at my poor Archers, which had always managed to pass morale and thus managed to survive the game, albeit much abused. I managed to inflict a bit of harm on his General's unit with every attack, but it took getting caught after trying to evade my Spearmen that did him in.

Attacked by Spearmen
Almost gone...
The Heavy Chariots were the only unit I lost, however. Even the poor Archers came through. My Spearmen were pretty beaten up as well. The Skirmishers kept to the difficult terrain for the most part and escaped punishment. Scott was aggressive, but not so much that he'd send his Light Chariots into the rough to get at me.

Mycenaean last hurrah
In the end, Scott lost all his units and my Sumerians were able to quench their thirst in the oasis' cool waters.
The end of game 1: Miller time for Sumer
The second game went similar to the first. I was more cautious with my general and his donkey carts. He never got into action at any point in the game. Heavy Chariots are tough (like mounted men-at-arms), but brittle. I thought that keeping him back directing things and giving his +1 to my morale checks was a better use than getting him beat up by a bunch of proto-Greeks.

The bowmen take position in the oasis
My general mastering masterly inaction
Hard pressed on my right
 One big factor in the second game was my skirmishers up on two rocky hills (rough terrain) from which they could shoot at Scott's units with impunity.

It was great to finally get my Sumerians in action—as well as finally finishing them. I started them some time in 2018, but they sat partially completed until just last week when I could pull myself away from the 1672 project long enough to get the last bit done.

Pat is running a dedicated Chariots Rampant game day in March and next month we have a dedicated Dark Ages Lion Rampant variant day. This may be the occasion to work myself into putting together my 20+ year old Old Glory Picts into a proper LR retinue.