Saturday, November 7, 2020

Germantown, 1777 MEGAGAME Special Rules, Setup, and Practice Game Pictures!

 Work continues apace on the Germantown MEGAGAME project!  Having set up the table to find out how the scale looked and worked, it's time to put pen to paper and figure out how to recreate this epic battle on the tabletop.

The battlefield.  Roads are marked with masking tape (for now) until I gather up some felt.  Road to the far right is Germantown Road, the middle road is Limekiln Pike, and the road coming in from the far left is Old York Road.

Yesterday after work, I took to setting up the table on a hex mat to see how it looked and "felt" using about 200 yards per hex.  As it turns out, this scale worked remarkably well and in the practice game I played "felt" right.

I thought at length about some special rules and extra considerations for gaming Germantown.  So in my opinion, no game of this battle would be complete without the following at least:

The fog.  The fog wreaked havoc on the execution of Washington's plan and for at least the first 4 turns, there will be fog rules in effect (more on this below).

Sluggish British Divisions.  The British, if not for their advanced picketts and light detachments warning them with fire, would have been doomed and caught unawares by Washington's attack.  The main body of the British force was encamped south of Germantown proper on higher elevation.  It took some time to rouse them from their camps, form up, and march off.

Victory Conditions and endgame.  Clear winner required.

Command rules and exceptions.  The light detachments are FAR forward of the main body and they do not have command stands with them.  Many rules require units to be in command or suffer penalties.  In this case, these units were hand-picked and their officers and NCOs were experienced fighters who demonstrated initiative and tenacity.

Reinforcement schedule and American column arrival.  The Americans are all over the place trying to execute an overly complicated plan.  While the arrivals will not be random, staggering the arrivals for the formations so the battle makes sense is at least important.  Everyone arriving at the same moment is not historically what happened.  Staggering column arrivals also adds an element of uncertainty and tension.

Special Rules for Germantown (assuming we play Fields of Honor AWI rules - but these special rules are probably easily ported over to other systems)

1. The Fog.  The following rules for fog are in effect until after turn 5. 

No artillery may fire until after turn 5.

Columns only move 2 hexes on roads.  Columns on roads do NOT get an extra hex of movement.

2. Sluggish British Divisions.  

No British main body units (left division, center division, right division) may move or do anything except change formation until Turn 4.  Leaders may move normally.

3. Victory Conditions and Endgame.  The Americans must capture the Market Square and must have a unit on any of the hills south of Germantown NLT turn 20. 

4. Reinforcement Schedule and American Arrival.  No American units start on the table.

Turn 1.  Sullivan and Greene arrive on the battlefield all units in column on their respective roads.  Washington and Knox's artillery arrive with one of them.

Turn 2.  Armstrong arrives with his militia brigades.

Turn 3. Smallwood's militia brigade arrives.

Turn 8.  Stirling arrives with his column.  British and Hessian Grenadiers arrive on the battlefield.

*note - from my playtest of the first 8 to 10 turns last night, this arrival schedule made most sense given that the East-West axis is a bit constricted.  Smallwood and Armstrong would have arrived a wee bit earlier, and if playing on a 6 x 6 table that would make sense.  Also playing it this way saw the action unfold almost exactly as the real battle unfolded.

Some special sneak-preview pictures from the test battle!  Just a taste of the action to come!

Sullivan's column marches down Germantown Road in the early morning fog!

The British advanced picketts are waiting for them!

Just like in the real battle, Green and Sullivan's columns drove the light units back, with both falling back towards the Chew House.

Lieutenant Colonel Musgrave with elements of the picketts at the Chew House!

British columns from the Right Division forming up to move out!  You can just make out the Continentals and retreating lights in the top of the picture.

Naturlich, the Hessians are already formed up and awaiting the enemy!  

Fighting breaks out at the Chew House as Sullivan's columns deploy to lay siege to the building!  Stick to the plan, men!

Heavy fighting as Greene's Division deploys to destroy the lights - they just wont die!  Washington is impatiently following the column as well.

British right division about to make contact with Greene's regiments.
I'll leave you all with a teaser of some of the pictures of the overall fighting, once the Divisions made contact.  it was NOT pretty for either side, I'll say that, but pretty historically accurate I should add.  Enjoy and stay tuned! 

 I'll post some pictures in the coming days of the custom QRS and unit labels I made which are a bit more streamlined from the original FOH game but will greatly aid play.

You will enjoy these pictures regardless of whether you're a Tory, a Patriot, a Lobsterback, or a "damned rebel"!  

Sullivan's men bear down on the British center Division!

Lord Howe in the center watching the battle unfold.  Their sanctimonious German allies watching them march disapprovingly!  

Greene's men about to make contact with the British right division.

Queen's Rangers tangling with Smallwood's Militia


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Jonathan! It was a blast! We are playing a full practice game tomorrow. Yesterday was just a scrimmage:)

  2. Steve - Have been following your and Jonathan's webpages on simple rules with a lot of interest. Keep posting guys, especially the AWI materials. Great stuff!

    1. Stay tuned sir! More epic AWI battles coming!

    2. Who made the map? Very nice indeed. Do they make mats with smaller hexes? (Need to accommodate my 6mms.)
      Especially looking forward to seeing what you'll do with Bryan L's HTL rules. When we were playing Brandywine, every player and his units got a dedicated CP. Each CINC also had his own points he could dole out to players for extra mvmt and/or attack. Inherent unit CPs made the game more fun and moved things along nicely. It especially avoided the problem in some HTL scenarios of some units not getting moved because of having too few points. Maybe one refinement might be for each unit having to roll <= morale factor to move? Anyway excellent stuff.

    3. I played in Bryan's Germantown game and it was exceptional! his mods keep HtL from getting " stuck in the mud". I'm hoping he comes to our December megagame.

      The hex mat is from tiny wargames in the UK and they have custom mats - you can make the hexes bigger or smaller. They're a bit pricey but it's a great product!

    4. For this game we're looking hard at Fields of Honor AWI, but I dig your idea about morale rolls for movement.

  3. A goddam Lobsterback here! Great looking table. And having two test games is very thorough.

    1. Nundanket, all Lobsterbacks are welcome on this blog!

      I want the game to be good and so I'll keep testing it and the scenario.

  4. Great pics of the trial game Steve and like your thoughts on the scenario and the tweaks you plan to make for the rules.

    1. Thanks Steve im hoping it's an effective representation!

  5. Looks superb mate. Looking forward to the epic clash.

    Chew house looks epic too. The units really suit the hex battlefield etc.

    1. Thanks Darren! Practice game tomorrow to see how it goes. Stay tuned!

  6. Your deliberations have come to a good conclusion, this looks very workable with the battlefield being a really good fit for your table. Brings memories of our PBEM game flooding back. Look forward to whatever falls out of this.

    1. Thanks Norm, I was thinking the same thing about the Germantown PBEM game :)

      Stay tuned and thanks for being a great sounding board for my screwy ideas!

  7. Splendid armies, priod...and pictures!

  8. Indeed, this looks very exciting. You seem to be getting a good flow of play needed for a big battle in fog with lots of tentacles. I'm keenly looking forward to more, and the labels and specially customized QRS. I will be visiting regularly.

    1. Hi Noel,
      This quest has been alot of fun. We played a larger game over the weekend and discovered more about what's needed, etc. Visit and comment as often as you like!

  9. At Amazon Today - 2.99 Kindle Limited Time

    Award-winning author Michael C. Harris’s impressive Germantown: A Military History of the Battle for the Control of Philadelphia, October 4, 1777, elevates this important action from obscurity in the first full-length study of this pivotal engagement.

    1. Bought good sir! I'm frankly ashamed I didnt already own this.

  10. I’m glad I played in Norms online game awhile back as I now have a greater appreciation of the battle and its elements. It looks like you’re really on the right path for getting the historical context right. And the pics are great. 😀

    1. Thanks, Stew! It's a work in progress. It's funny that playing in Norm's game (I was Knyphausen) gives us a unique perspective for the battle with the wonderful and frustrating limited intelligence we got. That was one for the books!

  11. Gnarr. Damn Blogger ate my comment.
    Harris' book is relatively new, maybe 2-3 months old. Mike also did an excellent book on Brandywine and lives in that area. During a Zoom meeting I think he said he's a wargamer.
    Back to your battle mat from tiny wargames. It's made from t-shirt material, right, not neoprene or the other choices? They are indeed a bit pricey but really sweet looking. You may have cost me a lot of money.
    Am checking out Fields of Honor rules thanks to your suggestion and hope to give that a playtest.
    Looking forward to reading about your latest playtest findings!
    - Doug

    1. Morning Doug,
      I saw when the book came out in hardback, a whopping 35 dollars! I did not purchase it but the kindle buy was a no brainer.

      I sort of live in the area am about 10 miles north of Philadelphia and all of the roads the armies traveled on, camped along, or traversed at some point are all around my town.

      The mat is tshirt material and possibly a bit "firmer" than a light tshirt. It will take some abuse. I highly recommend purchasing g one if you play miniature hex wargames.

      I will also say that the hexes are not at all obstrusive like the cigar box mat with hexes.

      I cant recommend the tiny wargame mat enough.

      FoH - I will be posting again on the blog about this, soon. Also - I'm playing Bryan L's Hold the Line now on the same table. Pics to follow so stay tuned!

  12. You are spot on with your comment about the unobtrusive hexlines. Add that to the subtle muted background on the print and its really a great looking table you have.

    My friend and I are working up a scenario for 'Trenton' which assumes the British had redoubts, were alerted to Washington's crossing and sent a relief column from Princeton. (It's from Princeton and not Bordentown because we don't have enough Hessians.) Sort of a 'hold the fort till the cavalry arrives' idea.

    He's a Guards re-enactor who likes to use 'Carnage and Glory' rules (which I've played only once at Historicon). Since he's doing most of the tedious computer input work, I'm looking forward to giving this a go. If it were me doing it though, we'd be using simple rules with hexes.

    1. Cheers Doug- I would not have purchased the tiny wargame mat but I played in a " for king and parliament" game with a friend who purchased one and i loved it. Way better than the cigar box mat one (and ordinarily i love the cigar box products but they need to produce a mat with smaller hex lines! The thick black lines are too "loud" against the light green.

      That scenario sounds like fun- IMHO all of the 1777 battles are nail biters and you picked a good one with a great added element of tension.

      I've played Carnage and Glory and thought it was alot of fun. I've also noticed it has a huge following at conventions.

      Hexes are fun. I cut my teeth on board wargames so for me they're throwbacks to my teenage and college years!

  13. Me too regarding hexes.
    My battle mat is currently green felt that I marked up with a brick-pattern hex grid using minimized brown lines, mostly at the corners. For roads I use brown chalk which I can wash off, partly.

    Your cool table made me wonder about an easier way to do roads. Frankly your tape roads look decent enough, except maybe for the color. Have you seen or tried this? STIKK Brown Painters Masking Tape 1" inch thick. Its cheap and easy enough to get. Might save you the tedium of cutting felt.

  14. Great looking game, especially those beaut photos down amongst the trees.
    Regards, James

    1. Thank you James! Sometimes I think that picture-taking and blogging is a hobby within a hobby!

  15. A great looking table and a very well thought out game. Your game us incredibly impressive and I am going to have try it out myself. Very well done sir!