Saturday, October 3, 2020

Simple Wargame #6: Fields of Honor AWI

RIght along with the esteemed Mr. Freitag and his recommendation, I re fought Hubbardton with the "Fields of Honor" rules.  At first, FOH was not part of the "Allure of Simple Wargames" experiment but these rules were just too good to pass up!

Grenadiers challenge the 2nd New Hampshire atop Monument Hill

Dismounted Colonel Hale


Those of you who read the previous Battle Report where I used Norm's Two Flags, One Nation AAR for an AWI battle know the story already, and you can read more about the rear-guard action in the 1777 Saratoga Campaign here.


The one thing about FOH you notice off the bat is it's fast.  REALLY fast.  The hex-based rules are made for big battles, and the rules present Bunker Hill, Monmouth, Brandywine, and Guilford Courthouse to refight in their entirety on nicely printed hex maps (the game itself comes with cardboard cutout unit chits representing fighting regiments, detachments, gun sections, and cavalry troops).  Fighting an "engagement" like Hubbardton took less than 30 minutes with only 7 total units on the table.  In the hex-based rules, units that take a hit from firing or from melee must pass a morale check.  If they fail the morale check, they're gone!  That's probably the best way to fight a big battle in a reasonable amount of time.  FOH-AWI also includes rules for playing an "open" game without hexes (or squares in my case) and that game looks like it would take a bit longer.  Units are 3 stands, and each stand gets to fire.  When a unit loses all 3 stands, then it's gone.  Those rules, meant for play with miniatures, seem like they would make a game last longer.  This is not a bad thing at all.

British advance on the Selleck Farm after pushing the American rear guard off the hill

24th Foot Bringing up the left flank

The 2nd NH is flanked by the 24th!  

What Happened

Again, I played the battle according to what happened at the Battle of Hubbardton in 1777.  The British deployed a bit smarter this time, with the Lights moving into the woods immediately and squaring off against the 11th Massachussets instead of the 2nd New Hampshire.  The Grenadiers and 24th Foot formed line and advanced per the plan.  In FOH, units move and shoot or melee and so the 24th and the converged Grenadiers both got the chance to fire, with the Green Mountain Boys fleeing from the field right off the bat!


The Grenadiers moved up and fired on the 2nd New Hampshire who are rated in this battle as "Veteran Line" and have a better morale rating.  They cooly stand the fire and give back to the Grenadiers, hitting them but the Grenadiers easily pass with their high morale rating (all tests for shooting and morale have you scoring a 5+ on a D10 in FOH-AWI).  THe lights also volley into the 11th Mass and force them from the field as well!  Colonel Francis joins the 2nd New Hampshire as his Regiment is shot out from under him - the Continentals are now facing 3 British units, with Hessians on the way, with only the veteran 2nd New Hampshire.  The 24th advances up monument hill as do the lights.  While the Grenadiers charge the 2nd NH!  The hard-pressed but tough mountain men from the "Hampshire Grants Territory", the "live free or die" men, lose the melee but pass the morale test, falling back to the Selleck Cabin and take up position at the fenceline.  Colonel Francis joins them.  Crown forces seize all of Monument Hill and I called the game at this point.

2nd NH making it's final stand


The Simplicity Questions!

How Long Did the Game Last?

4 turns, 28 minutes!  You can't beat that on a Friday morning before work!  Although as described above, I played the hex-based set from FOH-AWI and those are built for big battles.  And I only had 6 units on the table (The poor Hessians never even got there!).  The fact that units can move and shoot also dramatically speeds up game play.




THe Battle of Hubbardton, 1777 - an American rear-guard action fought during the Battle of Saratoga


What Happened?

See above.  The game played out quite historically.  I like how the subtle differences between units is brought out by altering the firing, melee, and morale level of each unit, but literally everything between those three actions happens as the result of a simple test.  It's super easy to learn and play and some basic tenets come out as a result:


  • Poorer morale and quality units should be in cover!
  • Shooting is tough to dislodge units and not always decisive
  • Leaders need to be at the critical place in your plan to bolster flagging morale and to reinforce an attacking unit.
  • Watch your flanks!


If I sound like a COlonel talking to one of my new Battalion commanders about an upcoming battle, then the rules have done their job :)


Extraordinary Events

Well The 2nd New Hampshire stood up to the best that Great Britain could throw at them and literally marched off the field - they didn't run.  They took a determined charge from the Grenadiers, as well as 3 volleys from multiple units and continued passing, even as the Green Mountain Boys and the 11th Mass took to the hills.


Also there is a cool "Fortune" and "Calamity" roll at the beginning of the turn (like Norm's
events table in TFON).  If you roll a 10, you may roll on the fortune table.  If you roll a 1, you roll on the calamity table.  The Continentals rolled a "6" on the fortune table and earned a "Those Bast****!" which signified a well respected or admired officer or NCO being killed and allowing the unit to reroll a combat roll.


Who Won?  Why?

The British won, as they did historically.  They won because the GMB and 11th Mass evaporated after receiving killer volleys from the British, leaving the 2nd New Hampshire alone and flanked on Monument Hill.  They pulled back to the fence at the Selleck Farm and stood for another turn, but they would have been overcome by numbers if they didn't pull back.  No one wants to be meleed from the flank.  This was a sensible and realistic outcome.  ALso quite historical.  The Americans quit the field when the Hessians flanked them.  I had the Hessians arriving on turn 7 (1 hour, 45 minutes after contact).


Did You Enjoy the Game?

YES!  It was a fun game that is full of potential for big battles.  Since I have the space, terrain, and minis for a larger game, it might be worth trying out their Brandywine Scenario (or my own?) or even Germantown with this one.  I could see completely finishing a battle like Germantown in under 3 hours if using the pure hex rules (about 15-18 units per side).  This battle really felt like an AWI battle with the Americans firing, then evaporating under solid British volleys, but with the surprise of the 2nd New Hampshire who refused to leave the field when their comrades left, and continued firing at the British Grenadiers and Lights.  I will definitely play FOH again and many thanks to Jonathan for suggesting.


Advanced QUestions


How Many Consultations Occurred with the Rules?

A few in the beginning.  There are only really about 5-6 pags of rules but I had to make sure I was following correct procedures.  The game still ended up only taking less than 30 minutes in the end!  I had to read about a unit retreating from melee and if the attached leader had to take a casualty check (the rules only stipulate what happens when the unit is knocked out).


Details or Chrome that's Missing

I'm sure in a 6 page set of rules there are some things missing but the procedures are well explained.  I felt the chrome came out in both the unit attributes (Milita seriously lower class morale than regular troops), the presence of leaders making a huge difference, as well as the fortune and calamity tables.  There were a couple things you had to read through the rules to understand but not big deals.  (fences are considered "obstacles" and grant soft cover - things like that).


Final Thoughts

This was a great game which I'm surprised I had never heard of before.  It had a good number of modifiers to the die rolls, but with only 3 tables, you can accept that.  The system, as simple as it is, flows surprisingly well and feels like an AWI battle.  The authors did a great job and it's a shame this game didn't get more recognition.  I will play this game again, and, it could be a serious contender for the Germantown MEGA GAME!  (its competition being Norm's Two Flags-One Nation rules, and modified Hold the Line rules from Bryan L).