Saturday, January 25, 2020

Rebels and Patriots: AWI First Clash at Lament Ridge!

As noted in my 2019, 2018, and probably 2017 reflections, I haven't played much American War for Independence games.  That's sad considering AWI was really my first foray into historical miniatures gaming after microarmor.  I really tried to get the lads on the table and played a few One Hour Wargame matches, but it never stuck.  Well that changed today when Dave came over and we broke out Osprey's "Rebels and Patriots" rules, and some of my 15mm AWI miniatures!

We played with smaller, 22 point armies and played the first scenario in the book, the battle at Lament Ridge.  The British were the attackers, with a 22 point company consisting of 4 line units and a single "light" unit.  I played a strictly militia unit with 5 green "line" units, and a single "minuteman" skirmisher unit.  We rolled for our officer traits (you do that in this game which is neat and adds some character to the table).  Suffice to say that none of the traits we rolled for really mattered in the game as there were no artillery pieces and no defenses.

Lament Ridge is visible with the yellow die on top.  (today's objective for both sides)

Dave, AKA Old Brown Trousers, the British commander - note the nice, neat battlelines!
 The game has a neat system for activating units where you have to beat a 6 or better on 2d6 to allow the unit to carry out an action.  It's seems easy enough and your commander gives you a +1 to activate, which is super helpful if you are milita and automatically get a -1 to your activation rolls.

My sharpshooting Virginia farmboys were incredibly lazy and failed their activation roll probably half the time.  What's up with that?!?!

The "blunder table" for rolling snake eyes on your activation rolls has some very unforgiving things that can happen to you I will say.  Although we didnt track this, Dave and I both would have lost a few "honour points" in the end of the game (more on this later) for BOLO'd rolls on this table.

militia units strung out along the advance.  
 While this game is more of a "detachment" or platoon scaled game, I played with my normal 15mm units, where a stand represented 2 figures.  It got a bit finicky once or twice, but played fine, and I enjoyed the spectacle of the larger looking units anyways.

American state line move through woods and through fields to get at Lament ridge where they know the British are coming to hold!
 The move and shooting values are quite generous in this game and it means you come to grips rather quickly.  Even though we played in 15mm, we kept ranges as-is for this game.  I wouldn't mind halving the values to make the ranges look a little more realistic.

Both of us pushing troops towards Lament Ridge - the Americans are having a little bit better luck for now.
 My minutemen reach the ridge first and using a skirmish order, open fire on the British light bobs who are climbing up the steep slope on the other side!  The ball has opened!

Minutemen open fire on the British!  

The 24th Foot is happy to return fire!  They are currently in "open" order and havent closed ranks just yet.
 Dave scrambles his line units to get into position around the hill.  His plan is to surround teh hill with close ordered units and basically evaporate any unit I leave in the open.  It's a good plan and the shooting forces my skirmishers back.  Meanwhile I'm struggling to move my line troops further up.

Dave's having crap luck with the dice and while he's getting to reform his units into close order, the ones who are already in close order are just not passing their rolls to activate and fire!  My troops are consolidating their positions in the meantime!  I have a state line unit brought up to reinforce the lights on the hill while Dave's regulars can only watch!

Speaking of regulars, here are the British advancing!  The unit to the rear is in close order and the other units will be there soon.

We arranged the close order troops in 2 lines of 3.
 So far no one has been disordered but that is about the change very soon as I roll my first "snake eyes" in an activation roll.

Pennsylvania militia stuck in this cabbage field.

Meanwhile my Virginia farm boys pass their first activation roll of the game and advance towards the British.  They might be lazy, but they are DEAD ACCURATE shots!!!  The poor British unit to their front will be sent packing twice!

More state line taking up positions to fire at the British.
 The game "seems" like it's going my way but it's only turn 4.  While I have been on the objective for awhile now, the British are moving into position and close ordering their troops to fire on me from multiple directions.

Old Brown Trousers himself with a unit in close order.

More militia at the top of the hill - they move into close order!  Note the british unit to their right.

More militia running to reinforce the hill.  The terrain is tough and I'm having a hard time getting everyone through all of the forests.

I learn the value of close order troops whose fire is deadly.  While close order is a very unwieldy formation, it shoots and fights with great effectiveness.  Dave shreds 2 of my lead line units and I've already pulled the minutemen back.  I need to start getting my boys to shoot!!!

Note the skirmishers below the hill and my line troops on the road already taking casualties!

Note the disorder marker.  It's permanent because they're down to 50%
 Dave starts getting his rolling skills back and a horrifying volley takes out 2 and a half stands instantly!  They fail the morale check and go disordered.

Meanwhile the militia on the hill go disordered, too.  Yikes - trading shots with British regulars!  There has to be a better way!

Speaking of better way, my Virginia Farm Boys finally earn their pay - they unleash a deadly aimed volley at the British to their front who break contact, fail their morale check and retreat back into the woods!  The left flank has been successful, but I have not been able to concentrate my fire.  Dave hasn't lost a single unit even though he's been taking casualties.  I've lost 3 units already!  9 out of 22 points!  When you get to 50% you take a company morale test!

VA troops firing and forcing back the British troops 

2 disorder markers!
 On turn 9 we rolled to end the game and rolled a "5" which was enough to end the game.  We both looked up how the game ends and it turns out this game was a draw!  I was on the objective the longest and therefore my officer earned 3 honour points.  Dave took the least amount of casualties, 1 honour point, and infllicted greater than 33% casualties on my force, another 2 honour points.  Pretty neat way to figure out who won!  I was really on the ropes, though, and if I had lost another unit, I'd be over my 50%.  Plus Dave "severely wounded" my officer figure.  (his made it out without a scratch - hardly surprising for "old browntrousers"!)

Close Order units massing fires on the hill!

Skirmishers taking refuge behind the hill

Dave's units in close order formation

Dave's troops on the road

Light bobs in the woods after retreating a double move

American militia officer

More of Dave's troopers

The British after the Americans vacated the line.
Well we both really liked the rules.  First of all they are light-hearted and don't take themselves too seriously!  Units can come to grips quickly and the game gets down to the business of fighting which is great.  I feel like the game had a decidedly "AWI" feel to it, and I will definitely play them again.  It was a little finicky with the multiple figure bases but we were able to get through it pretty easily and pretty quickly.

What I liked about Rebels and Patriots:
I love the shooting system whereby 2 hits remove a figure in the open, but it takes 3 hits to remove in cover or at long range.
I like the unit builder system which allows you to make neat combinations of 24 point units.
I like the generous movement and firing distances (probably meant for 28mm figures)
I like the officer traits and I really like activation system for individual units.
I like the scenarios in the back of the book as well as the generic force lists in the back.

What I disliked about Rebels and Patriots:
The things in the rules are quite scattered and in various sections.
Not everything is explained well (company morale checks)
Lots of things to remember each turn (this is why everyone has been making rosters for their companies - very smart!)

So after playing this, Dave and I really want to play more AWI, which I suspect you will definitely see more of this year.  Also, after this past week's "Little Wars TV" video, we are both hankering to play Fire and Fury!  Something I haven't played in quite awhile, but used to be my absolute favorite ACW rules.


  1. Good to see your AWI troops out on the field of battle. The end result was closer than I expected given the casualties you were taking. I enjoyed your battle report a lot and look forward to seeing this collection out on the table more in 2020. Are you in the midst of rebasing?

    1. Yes it was great to get these guys on the table finally! I had more units that were cheaper than the British units so i could afford to take more casualties!
      I actually finished rebasing but never reflocked the bases. This game has given me all the impetus needed to restart that project. Not to mention painting my last 3 units!

      I promise you will see more AWI in the coming months!

  2. Oh yeah now I want to get my AWI units in olay again

    1. Do it! I regret not doing any AWI gaming for so long. Hoping to change that this year!

  3. Really enjoyed your game and your table. The rules are worth their price just for the eye candy in them alone, but I do prefer a game that looks a bit more like it has full units, rather than the skirmish level and so to that end, I was really interested in how you played, as your table had the 'bigger unit' or 'higher level of command' look that I would want.

    Looming forward to future thoughts. If you halve weapon ranges, would you halve all measurements (frontages, movement and officer range of influence etc) or be selective?

    1. Thank you Norm. I really enjoyed the game and the concepts in the rules. If playing a small game they play through very quickly.

      I almost imagined the units as whole battalions, rather than detachments or platoons, but the ranges as they are were not conducive to larger unit actions and so id reduce both range and movement. I would likely keep thr frontage to 6 stands as i like the look of the larger units.

      I think the little wars guys did this with "the men who would be kings" rules in order to use them for a big battle.

  4. A great looking AWI game, nice to see militia units in action (love your Pennsylvania militia...), great report!

    1. Thank you, Phil! They were more industrious than the Virginia troops as i never had a problem with moving them.

  5. Excellent report sir. Seems like an interesting set of rules, especially so in terms of unit design.
    This will sound mad - but the thing that struck me as a potential hack for the officer and activation systems in some of Dan Mersey's systems was that they could be used to play a small unit / special forces style game in a modern setting - as the units have traits / activations / characteristics etc. which lend themselves to the genre. I think Jay also was interested in pursuing this over at the 'Numbers, Wargames and Arsing About' blog.

    But good to see the rules used for AWI too - as you say, really suits the period. ...another set of rules to try...

    I suspect once the rosters are perfected for unit and company characteristics, the rules design could be patterned for multiple periods.

    1. Thank you, Darren. These were a great set of light hearted rules that were extremely hackable, as you like to say. You're quite right, too, i think, this activation system could easily be transported to the late 20th or early 21st century.

      The little wars guys even used TMWWBK for a big, massed battle game so i see mods on either end of the spectrum.

      I really should have used a roster as it would have dramatically sped up the game.

      I loved the militia's penalty to activate on their own, which was made easier by the presence of an officer. To me that captures the horse and musket era problems nicely, and to be honest, my officer couldnt be everywhere and those damned Virginia farmers just didnt want to get stuck in! What on earth shall i report to his excellency, General Washington???

    2. Haha. I'm sure George will be fine. he just needs a good cup of tea. Wait! He'll be getting rid of that dohhhh! LOL

      Yes - it was also good to see the original F&F reviewed by the guys. Makes me want to dust it off and try it with my 20mm.

    3. I had the same reaction to their review! I really miss playing fire and fury! Even uf for old times sake!

  6. Great looking game and very nice write up. Your terrain is outstanding.

    1. Thank you very much for your kind words, Mark. The game was a blast!

  7. Replies
    1. It was! These rules are screaming out for the 28mm treatment with your AWI figures!

  8. if each stand is two figs, might play nicely with larger figs, say 40 or 54mm ones. One of the painting challenge guys is painting 15mm AWI for these rules. I dunno, I'm always leery of anything Osprey does, they can be so hit or miss.