Sunday, May 24, 2020

Washington Strikes! Germantown 1777 Game Research

Continuing on with my AWI kick of late, I had some precious "free" time recently and decided to try out some of my ideas for the Germantown 1777 MEGAGAME. 

This is really in 2 x parts with the first taken up by putting the miniatures on the table and "having a go" with the Neil Thomas rules, and the second trying to get a more operational perspective of the battle by playing Decision Games' "Germantown 1777" folio game.

Maryland Brigade and Pennsylvania Brigade come onto the table!

I played the "Late Arrivals" scenario from the 1 Hour Wargames book which sees a constricted attacking force having to punch through a gap in order to seize a town in the SE corner of the map.  The defender has 2 unit come on turn 5 and 10.  It normally makes for a very tense if that doesn't sound like Germantown I dont know what does.

Starting positions for the Redcoats.  Their commanding officer is with one of the units.  Note the Colonials coming on in the NW corner of the table!
I also used the force selector from the 1HW book so each side had only 6 units.  Where Cavalry would come up, I made that an "elite" Regiment/Battalion instead, granting the unit elite morale.

I did learn an interesting lesson that became apparent as I was moving forward - the Neil Thomas "4 stand" rules are played in centimeters, while the scenarios from "One Hour Wargames" are played in inches.  That sounds innocent enough right?  Well, when the line battalions / regiments move 8 cm's per turn and you only have 15 turns to capture the objective, it makes the game a bit more interesting...Lesson learned.  But we're really here to see how the mechanics and experimental rules go, right?  Noted.

The British watch as the Colonials deploy for battle.  They're measuring from the road so they're backed up in a traffic jam.  it will take 5 turns just to get the attack started.  
A few turns later the Colonial line shakes out with the Pennsylvania Brigade leading the attack.  The British are spoiling for a fight having been roused from their sleep without breakfast and watch, patiently.

Colonial shooting is not so hot and the British don't suffer too badly.  Meanwhile the Pennsylvania troops are getting the worst of things while the Marylanders form up behind them.
I'm taking my time to close with the British and it was a mistake.  The attack should have gone in quickly instead of waiting for the artillery to come up.  The Continental attack doesn't quite get off the ground until about turn 6 or 7 and by then the British reinforcing line are already forming a second line to reinforce the units in contact.  Worse yet, their artillery is coming up.

The 3rd Foot coming up to reinforce the line.  note one of the Pennsylvania Regiments is gone.  It's turn 9

Turn 10 more British units heading up the Germantown Pike to reinforce the fighting units!  

Steady redcoats advancing to the front!

Warm work!  Units of Pennsylvania and Maryland line trading volleys with the British.  Note the reinforcements coming up to the front.  The Continentals have less than 5 turns to break the British line and capture the town.  This is NOT going to happen.

That was a good lesson but the rules tweaks discussed during the previous few weeks worked very well and had a good period feel to it.  I think I will take up Darren's idea for light bobs and have them enjoy a save even in the open since they are trained in making the best use of cover and skirmishing.  It just makes sense.  This was a good practice game with the rules before I try out something a bit larger and with considerably more units.  I learned I need a QRS that has all of the mods on it so I rarely have to look in the book.

Now to scale up a bit, later in the evening I threw down my Decision Games "Germantown 1777" board wargame.  Now this was fun and a real nail biter!  I did NOT finish the game but what I did finish played out VERY historically in that:

  • The fog severely hampered the advance of General Washington's columns.  
  • None of the columns arrived in any kind of logical fashion.
  • The huge force under General Sullivan drove back the British picketts to the Chew House.
  • The forces in the Chew house held out despite incredible odds.
  • British Regulars advanced on a broad front from their encampment led by General Howe and created a solid line running east to west from Paper Mill Run to Mill Creek in Germantown.
  • General Howe personally commanded a counterattack and the primary column under General Sullivan was pushed back
  • Casualties were relatively light
Here are some quick snapshots of the battle.  I was referring to the rules too much to take many pictures.

Lights holding in the Chew House

snake eyes!  the Pennsylvania Militia assaulted the Jaegers and drove them back toward the Hessian main body!  In this game, militia must beat their poor morale to end movement in an enemy ZOC.  Here the men rolled "1" per unit and closed with the enemy!
Stabilizing counterattack by Howe disorganizes Sullivan's column while the lights are still holding on at the Chew house.  Note the other column has not even reached Germantown yet!

So that's it.  A fun couple games and a nice diversion from the state of the world at the present moment.  I learned a ton for the Germantown game, however more experimentation is needed I'm afraid!  I like the Neil Thomas 4 stand rules for this but will definitely keep all of the period tweaks discussed in this blog and other blogs.  Going to try a variation of "Hold the Line" next and see how that plays.  I hope everyone has a great week. 

Sunday, May 10, 2020

AWI Quick Dustup: Neil Thomas 18th Century Modified Rules

I've certainly been on an AWI kick of late.  Perhaps finishing the Guards battalion last week put me in the AWI spirit or maybe I'm getting excited thinking about a big Germantown MEGAGAME for this year?  Either way, I've definitely caught an AWI bug again.

Anyways as with any talk of a MEGA GAME coming up, I'm keen to try out several rules that I feel will try to meet the following requirements:

  1. Period feel for the engagements.
  2. Conducive to multi player
  3. Plays quickly

New Jersey and Pennsylvania troops face off against the dreaded "Hessians" in the fall of 1777
I've also been reading Joseph Plumb Martin's book for some extra "period flavor" of which the defining characteristic of Continental troops seems to be....hunger.

Anyways, I left the terrain setup basically the same from some of my previous games, save for the addition of some fields for close in work.  The British and their German allies are pushing to break through and the American generals have found a constricting spot where to hold them.

British forces form for the attack.

American artillery sections prepare themselves and their pieces for action!

Yet-unflocked Guards will have their baptism by fire this day!
I decided to put my money where my mouth is and try out the Neil Thomas 4 x stand "napoleonic" rules, with my modifications for the Seven Years War, but with further modifications for the AWI.  Those mods include all of the mods from last week and also:

British drill & discipline - British troops never roll a morale check after losing the first stand

Continental Maneuvers - American troops do not get "free" turns or pivots.  Those count as movement.

Morale Checks - prior to charging and receiving a charge.  Charger must beat a morale score and the defender must also.  I wanted to play this like "Hold the Line" where failing means you simply retreat after the melee, however I went more "old school" and felt it was in the spirit of the AWI for troops to possible run like hell with a wall of angry British redcoats coming for you with glistening bayonets.

Light Artillery - all artillery only hits on a 5 or 6.

Rally - Troops in cover may rally and recover 1 stand loss (red dice) by having the commander present and also passing a check.  units may never rally their first hit.

Royal Artillery gunners handling their light guns while the Guards prepare to enter the woods in a march column
 The keen eyed among you will notice the units have 6 stands.  That is purely decorative.  These are all 4 x stand units.  I'm NOT removing stands but simply tracking "hits" with a green die, and "stand loss" with a red die.  this is the same way I play single-stand games with the Neil Thomas 4 x Stand Rules.

Eager Hessian troops anxious to close with the enemy.
 The Hessians have the easiest route to the enemy.  They have the famed "Jersey Blues" in front of them, anchoring the American right.  All of the American infantry are behind a fence, so watch out!  Saving throws!

Vorwarts!  Eins!  Zwei!  Drei!  Eins!  Zwei!  Drei!

The Americans have met the Hessians before and are ready to dole out some payback.
 In the center, the Guard battalion takes a good 2 turns to emerge from the woods and form line.  The Americans fire on them the entire time and their first volley is just awful, earning only 1 hit and even that is saved by the presence of the fenceline.  Not an auspicious beginning!

Jersey Blues!  Present!  FIRE!!!!
 After multiple turns indulging in a murderous firefight, the Hessians start to close.  The Guards are getting chewed up in the woodline and a runner requests from the general that they apply more pressure on the rebels.

The Pennsylvania troops, with artillery support, are faring better.
 The Guards give it a go and charge in.  They pass their morale check and so do the Pennsylvania troops, however, as has become characteristic of these men, their energetic charge is checked at the fenceline and the Guards limp back to the woodline to reform.

1 stand loss (the red die) and 3 hits (green die).  1 more hit and they'll take another stand loss (red die goes up to 2)  In the Neil Thomas rules, 4 x hits from fire or melee remove a stand.  Every unit is 4 stands.  So basically a unit takes 16 hits and it's gone.  Instead of removing stands, I track stand loss with a red die and individual hits with the green die.

Guards have 2 stands lost (red 2) and 2 new hits (green 2).  Is this too confusing?
 Meanwhile the Hessians close the distance to the Jersey troops, preparing to charge!  The Royal artillery makes its presence known and fires solid shot into the ranks of the Americans.

The Hessian charge is remarkable and they seize the fenceline from the Americans.  The Jersey troops fall back 10cm into the field.

 The American commander rides over to make a fiery, Mel Gibson styled appearance in order to rally the men...

An extra ration of ships biscuit and salt pork if you lose 1 hit on that red dice!
 The Jersey troops lose their hit, but suffer far worse after the Hessians cross the fenceline.  The Hessians choose to shoot and the Americans take a fierce volley.  The Jersey troops make their morale roll and lose their final stand.  They head for the rear.

Meanwhile the Pennsylvania troops refuse the flank and this battle must now end as the American position is flanked.

The Guards rally with their "elite" status they easily pass the check and advance again!

Final dispositions.

So that's it.  It was a fun game and as always, a quick one with the Neil Thomas rules.  I feel as though they need a bit more modification to capture the large disparity in unit type and quality from the AWI, or perhaps I just need to add more unit types on the field in a game? (light detachments?  Militia?  Grenadiers?)    Definitely need more experimentation but I'm also keen to try out "Black Powder" with period modifications as well.

I do think the 6 stand units is a nice touch and makes the table look good with so many colorful troops to adorn it.  I'm going to keep the 6 stand units for sure.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

"But if they mean to have a war, let it begin here" May WIP

Of course that order by John Parker was somewhat embellished in the 19th Century but the gist was the same.  The confrontation between Massachusetts militia and British "Regulars" put the spark to the powder keg that eventually became the American Revolution. 

The dastardly redcoats, trampling the Widow Madison's cabbage patch.
 Like the 24th and 33rd Regiments of Foot, no British force modeled in the American War for Independence is complete without the Foot Guards, and here they are in glorious 15mm!  Like a dope, I put the 3rd Foot (The Buffs) colors on and realized I did that too late, so I ripped it off and put a more standardized color set on the lads, since I don't have any Foot Guards colors...

The British are coming!

 The figures are Old Glory 15mm and boy were they fun to paint!  All of this 10mm painting of late had me remember just how much fun and easy 15mm is to do, especially with figures who have exaggerated equipment like the OG 15mm figures.  I took some pictures of the expressions on the men, and it highlights what I love about OG figures.  You dont get this kind of personality with block 10mm.  I could probably have done more like highlights and more specific webbing colors, but it's not going to matter at 3 feet and they look good to me.  Progress is progress!

Anyways, I have an encampment, Ox cart train, 2 x batches of AWI British "Regulars" remaining, with 3 x Continentals left and my entire AWI force collection in 15mm will be DONE. 

Getting all of that painted will be a feat, but it will be a major goal completed for the last few years, and what better way to celebrate a completed goal than to use all of them on the table in a MASSIVE Germantown 1777 MEGAGAME.  Readers of my blog know that when I affix the MEGAGAME title to a game, it's something to behold!

Besides Saratoga, Germantown is one of my all time favorite battles from the AWI and I'm anxious to set it up on the table and play.  I've purchased the board game GERMANTOWN: WASHINGTON STRIKES from Decision Games to get a feel for the battle before planning the tabletop scenario.

I'm also looking to my buddy Bryan L's modifications for "Hold the Line!" to see if those rules would be better suited for a massive, multi player game.  more to follow!  Meanwhile feast your eyes on the great detail from these troops - but I implore you gentle reader, overlook the bad paintbjobs!!!!

Captain Richard Fitzpatrick.  Possibly?  

The Drummer.

That's all for now.  I hope everyone is staying healthy!