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. 


  1. Your figures and photos look great, Steve! For the Germantown game, the counters and markers look very familiar to me. Does Germantown use the same system as Decision Games' Salem Church from the Quick Play Musket & Saber series?

    1. Thanks Jonathan, I am very proud of my AWI collection. Hopefully I'll get them all on the table with this project! They need flocked but otherwise good to go.

      Yes the Germantown game is also part of the Quick Play Musket and Saber series folio game. Lots of fun, too!

  2. Cool stuff, man.

    I imagine you saw Norm's AWI PBEM solicitation for commanders?


    1. Thanks Jack. Yeah I saw that. Very tempting but with the state of the world right now, I cant commit to play - still too busy and still working weekends.

      Heartbreaking, too, because I love this battle. I cross over it on my way to work everyday!

  3. Great stuff Steve. I'm beginning to respect this battle like I have come to respect the Saratoga action(s).
    I noticed the cm/inches thing from NT's rules. I think there you have an absolutely wonderful AWI set here, which will suit Germantown perfectly.
    This is great research sir.

    1. Thank you, Darren. Germantown is one of my favorites, particularly because it's close by and some of the terrain and routes (the ones that have not been completely built over) can still be walked on.

      The cm/inches thing really confounded me and I need to completely start over with a test game. If I'm to keep CM's there will need to be some conversion work particularly when using the 1HW scenarios.

      The best part about this "research" is that I'm having an absolute blast conducting it!

    2. Yes - the best kind of research. Can you get us some post pandemic shots from the actual battlefield :)
      I debated yesterday actually during the game - whether base widths might be a better unit of measurement over cm/inches.

    3. The most preserved is of course the Chew House and the Rittenhouse Mill area is there. The roads however are simply paved versions of themselves and I could drive down Limekiln Pike, Germantown Road, and Schoolhouse Rd easily.

  4. Nice work DF! I'm taking notes!!


    1. Thanks, Jay. This has been fun so far. Aiming for an autumn 2020 refight if the world opens up. Perhaps on the anniversary of the battle?

  5. Great stuff; between you and Darren, you have me thinking about doing AWI, which is probably not a good idea! :-)

    1. I think with your painting and collecting prowess you could do it appropriate justice!

  6. Really interesting post and Your lovely table / figures giving superb photography. I have done a few adaption ideas with NT rules, but I felt with OHW that his relationship with the 6 inch frontage, the 6 inch move and the 36 inch table were all importantly interrelated to make the 15 turn scenarios work.

    When I see other peoples posts, I invariably feel that I am painting the wrong army :-)

    1. THank you very much, Norm. I cannot wait to get some more troops on the table, I just need to find some rules that hit the spot.

      You're right about the OHW rules as well. I think in the interest of time, any rules for a large, multi player game ought to be in inches if just to speed things up a bit.

      and I understand the notion about painting the wrong army!! I feel like I'm always painting the wrong army here.

  7. You need British in cut down coats and unfolded hats. I believe they’d modified their uniform to suit the campaign by the fall of 1777

    1. You are correct as validated by my trusty Osprey Philadelphia 1777 campaign book. That said, the cheapest 15mm stuff comes with the classic tricorne hat and regular coats! Can you see it in your heart to game with these guys? :)

  8. Of course! Is there even a 15mm manufacturer that does them in the campaign uniform?

    1. Thank heavens! Honestly I dont know. The OG 15mm guys I just finished seem to have shorter coats but still have the classic tricorn. I am banking on failing eyesight and the 3' rule to get us all through this...oversight.