Sunday, November 22, 2020

GERMANTOWN 1777 Practice Game #2 - Field of Battle 3

 Not much posting lately but Ken and I linked up for another practice game of Germantown, 1777 last week using the interesting "Field of Battle 3" rules.  Right off the bat I'll say that FOB3 is a strong contender for the December battle with the interesting, asymmetric approach to "when things happen." I'll admit that while I'm not a huge fan of the non-linear approach (I tend to find comfort in Move-Shoot-Melee!), the game has delivered a very good AWI "feel" to things, and to dispel doubters out there, the cards don't exactly rule when you can do things, but instead provide the commander with interesting battlefield opportunities to either invest in, and the game is chock full of decision making at every turn.

5:30am near the Chew House and Kelly Hill.  The light pickets and a detachment of the 40th Foot guard the approach to the British encampment 

Unlike the last battle, we rotated the table 90 degrees playing from the long edge.  This cuts out the unnecessary approach marches for the Continentals and focuses the battle down to the actual engagement areas, instead of a much larger geographic area.

Greene's Column heading down Limekiln Pike enroute towards Germantown

Sullivan's troops on the Germantown Road make contact quickly, but marching through forested terrain is constricting and they can only deploy 1 regiment at a time.  Their first volleys drive the British lights back and the battle is joined!

Sullivan's men fire on the British lights opening the battle along the Germantown Road

So far, so good.  The resulting combats from Sullivan's men bumping into the lights has been satisfactory, and historical.  The lights give ground and the 40th moves up to cover their withdrawal.  Meanwhile, Smallwood's column arrives on the field.

Smallwood's column arrives on the field

General Washington arrives on the field!

Given the rules for units exiting terrain, Sullivan is having a hard time pressing forward the attack but the initial success in driving back the lights is just too good for this wargamer to ignore and I press on with the lead regiment!

The lights give ground while General Howe watches on.  The British divisions to the south have stood-to and are preparing to march to the sound of the fighting!

Note the columns of British towards Germantown.  Ken skillfully deployed them astride Germantown in open areas, effectively "locking down" the quickest route to the objectives.  I'll have to batter my way through.

The Guards and the British Right Division make their way towards the battlefield.

The British Guards and Smallwood's Militia Columns find themselves on a collision course similar to the real battle and there will be a fight!

Meanwhile Greene's column has about reached the Chew House!  Note the lead regiment deployed into line 

British Regiments moving through Germantown to reach the fighting

An interesting note here - we did NOT model the effects of the buildings within Germantown to have any influence on the fighting - they are really just to show the location of the town.  

The Guards making their way forward through the fields around Germantown
Smallwood's militia men while marching towards their objective are suddenly and violently ambushed by the British Guards in column!  Very bad news for their lead Regiment, which suffers greatly from the excellent British volleys!  The lead regiments melts away and runs into the woods to the north!  Smallwood escapes numerous brushes with death rolling extremely close to kill him in the ensuring checks!

The lead regiment of Smallwood's column is fired on in the flank by the Guards and they run for the trees.  yes I KNOW that is a 2nd New Hampshire colors!  They're New Hampshire troops!!

At this stage, we've played a scant 2 x turns but the battle is unfolding historically at this point where contact is made by almost all of the columns, with Sullivan's column joining battle first.  Again, while I'm not a huge fan of the non-linear approach of Field of Battle, I do really like the combat mechanisms and the simplicity of resolving fire and melee.  Big win in my book.

The situation at the end of turn 2 - dont be fooled either - MUCH activity happens in a turn.

Along the Wissahickon Creek, Sullivan's men march at the double to exit the woods and assist their comrades fighting!

Greene's men deploy around Germantown through a lucky break, all of their Regiments move and deploy, spurring Howe to remark "The damned Rebels form well"

Meanwhile, Ken moves up the British left Division to contest Sullivan's approach.  While Sullivan's lead regiment is pretty beat up, more Regiments are approaching and are committed right out of the march.

Queen's Rangers.....ranging
The fighting in front of Greene is tough - the British hold their fire until the right moment and a furious number of volleys completely spoils the initial Continental assaults east of Germantown.  It's a tough spot and eventually Greene's lead 2 Regiments route and are sent packing!  A tough day for the Virginians indeed!

And Darren - this is for you - for if I recall a FOB AWI game you played, the Guards were handled roughly by a militia regiment or two.  The same thing begins to happen here, where Smallwood's columns, raw though they might be, turn to fight the Guards and unleash a number of volleys against the Regiment in the wheatfield.  The Guards Regiment is handled roughly by their fire!  Ken's assault against them is also beaten back!  

I can't believe my eyes - British Guards being disordered and roughly handled by the shooting of the militia!!!  Smallwood's militia is holding their own on the left flank!  

The entire battle so far - from left to right across the line, all of the columns are now engaged at the end of turn 3.  Smallwoods units are fighting against the British Guards in the wheatfield, Green's men are decisivley engaged next to Germantown, and Sullivan is still bottled up in the woods on the Germantown road.  Armstrong's militia "horde" continues to demonstrate against the Hessians on the American right.

The Wissahickon and Armstrong's men demonstrating against the Hessians

One of Sullivan's Pennsylvania Regiments with a UI marker.  The 40th under Musgrave, far from fleeing to the Chew House, charges them!

So we completed roughly 3 turns of Field of Battle 3 with a serious eye towards using these somewhat unpredictable rules for our Germantown MEGAGAME this December.  So far, I'm very happy with the table setup and feel like focusing on the actual battle area is probably the way to go for this game.

I've enjoyed Field of Battle much for this type of warfare and appreciate the role of the officers and all of the decisions to make.  I will say you really need to be clever when both shooting, melee'ing, and deploying, and you need to have a plan.  Had Greene's men held their fire a bit longer, his column may not have been in the predicament it's in now.  Today we will meet to finish last week's game and I aim to play the same battle with Black Powder next week during the long weekend.

Preparing for Germantown has been a huge project with much reading, research, and more importantly playtesting!  But we're up to the challenge and I'm heartily looking forward to more and more Germantown with my team.

Also - many thanks to Alex for providing what I have to say is one of the best maps on the fighting at Germantown I've yet seen. They are from McGuire's Volume II of The Philadelphia Campaign and they are a wonderful resource for the wargamer.

Taken from McGuire's Volume II of "The Philadelphia Campaign" used without permission

Tune in as we continue to experiment with rules and ideas for recreating this huge AWI battle in all its glory!


  1. What a great looking game, beautiful terrain, armies..and map!

  2. Fantastic Steve! Fantastic!
    Great to see you enjoying FoB ...I still haven't got around to playing 3 yet - but what a game you had there.
    Yes - the mechanisms are sweet - and I think the little bit of chaos, but also the fact that your army morale slowly decays in front of you, are big bonuses for an AWI game.
    Those militia are lucky, but they can melt away very easily - so you start making decisions like a commander with regard to what you do with them. Some units are like 'glass hammer's - and as you get closer to army morale checks, it gets very exciting.
    Great to see sir - keep up the good work.

    1. Darren I'm glad you enjoyed this battle report! We are definitely putting these rules through their paces that's for sure. I think playing a game 3 consecutive times in a row is a record for my gang here!!
      Yes I'm seeing the apparent strengths of the rules in their ability to demonstrate battlefield chaos and opportunities, And allow a clever general the chance to take full advantage of the opportunities. Lots of fun!

  3. Great looking set-up. I particularly like the stream. And as Phil said, great map.

    1. Thank you sir! The stream comes from Battlefield Terrain Concepts which I purchased from a convention in the USA.

  4. Steve, lovely looking game. i love that aerial shot of the table from the end of turn 3.

    Sounds like you are seeing both the pros and the cons to the ruleset, but I am also sensing that you are getting drawn in to these because they are perhaps providing a richer game with a bit more depth and nuance. I say this purely as an observation to your project earlier in the year when looking at simplicity v players fulfilment. Says much that the whole group is liking these.

    1. Thanks Norm! I was thinking of taking enough pictures from above to do what Jonathan did in his C and C Ancients game with photos and descriptions but never got around to it.

      I really enjoyed the game that FOB produced and if you like chaos and not being in total control those rules are for you! For me, the narrative of what us happening down on the ground is my favorite part of gaming and so these rules do really give you a good story to tell! Yesterday, General Grey died, and General Greene died, both in seemingly fluke rolls but it happened! Smallwood's militia saw OFF 2 battalions of foot guards (!) With their musketry and all sorts of interesting and neat things happened.

      The simple experiment is not over, either! I will still need to play a number of games to get a but more data before putting out my paper.

      I do think my friends are getting a bit tired of playing Germantown- this was game 4!!

  5. That's a lovely looking game and nice AAR too. I'm sure the actual game will be a real blast for all involved:)

  6. A lot of pretty pictures here, Steve. As norm notes, the overview shots are fab but my favorite is the close-up photo of the troops defending the plank bridge. Good to see you are enjoying FOB3. Dos FOB3 fall into the "simple" category of game for which your were striving? I had forgotten about that fine map in McGuire. His two volume work on the Philly campaign is a good one to have in your library.

    1. Cheers Jonathan, Alex actually got the book from his local library, who procured it for him at his request for "good maps"!

      I'm not feeling like FOB is a simple wargame. While the rolling and combat mechanics are seemingly simple, there is so much going on and so much to do - it is a very involved game. As the Continental Commanding General, I could not wander off to make coffee or grab snacks for my guests.

      You know how I love taking pictures of the lads in action! Thanks for commenting sir!

  7. Glad to see that you are enjoying FoB3, my personal favorite rules set.
    While not overly complex, I don't think FoB3 could really be called simple, either. Most often the Gurds will make short work of the Militia, but there is always the chance the underdog will prevail. That's especially likely to happen if they are advancing upon a loaded militia unit, so it fires first - if the Militia roll high and the Guards DD rioll is low, it is very possible to rout them! Perhaps their muskets were resting on a Fence line, or they were concealed by a hiollow in the ground until the last minute. Who knows?

    1. Ah Gonsalvo I knew youd be commenting here soon! Yes we enjoyed FOB very much. We kept 1 regiment "loaded" so if the Guards charged they'd get a "volley in the face". It was pretty much lucky rolling but it happened more than once and was spectacularly exciting too see. You'll see us play FOB again.

    2. Assuming the Guards have good stats (DD8, CD12 or better) and the Militia don't (DD4, CD10 or worse), the Guards might consider advancing to within long range, and inviting the Militia to shoot at them. If it's the first fire for both units, it will be D10 vs D8 for the Militia (so the Guards still can get routed), but D12 vs D4 for the Guards. If they decline the invitation, and you then declare fire. it will at least be simultaneous. Works even better if the guards *could* continue to move further, especially if you have several cards yet to play that initiative.

  8. I had been really looking forward to your next post and enjoyed it greatly. I guess after you complete this game you'll know whether FOB3 is the set required. This approach of playing exactly the same battle to decide which set or sets is the best is really valuable. As a 15mm AWI gamer who prefers fast and compact games, I'm looking forward to your further experiences!

    1. Thank you, Noel! It was much fun and another game under our belts. I'm thinking my group may be a bit tired of playing Germantown over and over again! Next up is Black Powder.

  9. Your getting some great use out of the AWI collection and the table, terrain, and figures are so good that I bet any rules will give a fun time; however play testing out the rules is a great way to experiment so that you’re megagame will be a complete success. 😀

  10. Very nice indeed I have shared your post here

    Feel free to join and share your work

    Take care