Sunday, January 30, 2022

Fighting the Battle of Hubbardton with Live Free or Die!

 Ken came by today and we played our first game of Live Free or Die using my Battle of Hubbardton wargame scenario put out this past week.  This battle was more of a playtest for me both with trying out  the rules and to see how my scenario played out.  Ken and I finished the game in 2 hours and that probably was a bit long for the small amount of units on the table.  So how did it go??  Let's get into the battle.

The entire 5 x 4 setup.

0630 Hours

Ken and I stumbled a bit through the first turn regarding the sequence and when to do things.  While it becomes obvious as you read your way through the sequence, it's not obviously apparent when you allocate your command points.  (you do so immediately)  It does become second nature though as you work your way through the turn sequence, turn after turn.  Anyways, you roll D6 per command "star" for the scenario, so the British roll 5D6 and the Americans roll 4D6.  Every 5+ gives your command an additional command point for the turn.  The British move Major Acland to the 24th Foot to assist in the upcoming combat. 

 (this is also not completely obvious from the rules - when do you move leaders who are NOT attaching to units? We moved them during the command actions phase).

Major Acland joins the 24th Foot to assist.

The British start immediately with a "British Bayonet Charge" order, costing Fraser 3 command points (!) to launch the charge, and 1 command point for the movement!  (Fraser only had 4 this turn - so the lights and Grenadiers are staying put on the road!)

The 24th slices through the skirmisher picket line opposite Sucker Brook.

Major Acland leads the 24th Foot across Sucker Brook in a bayonet charge.  Sucker Brook a bit out of scale and it caused some problems for the British in the scenario.  I'll explain later! Note the use of casualty markers as "DMZs" or "demoralization points"

The 24th Foot charges through the skirmishers (and the invalid camp) and pushes the skirmishers back.  A very nice introduction to the charge and melee rules and Ken's "hasty" skirmisher fire doesn't do much to stop the cold steel of the 24th Foot.  The skirmishers head back towards the wooded area on the hillside.  The 24th cannot proceed and are halted for the remainder of the turn since they only won by 1-3 successes (5+).The 

The skirmishers retreat back to the wooded area up the hill, below the crest of "Monument" Hill

0650-0710 Hours

The next 2 turns, the British push across Sucker Brook with the Lights and the Grenadiers move up.  All are still in column.  The Americans have moved to the stone wall now and are watching the British march up.  The 24th Foot wheels left and is facing the top of the hill now.  They'd march into musket range and begin a furious exchange of volleys with the 2nd New Hampshire.

Grenadiers pushing across Sucker Brook while the lights have already turned to start their advance.  I kept the Lights in "line" and not in "skirmish" formation to give them more punch.

Ken skillfully moves the infantry forward to the crest, exactly as happened historically so far!

Meanwhile I kick out the Loyalist Scouts to maintain contact with the American skirmishers.  Probably did more in the first 3 turns than they did in the entire actual battle but still wanted to include them in the game because they're alot of fun.

Pushing towards the Castleton Road exit.

0730-0750 Hours

Warner's Green Mountain Boys against the stone wall, watching the skirmishers evade across their front.

Colonel Francis prepares his men for combat

Warner's Continentals prepared for the assault
After 2 straight turns of continuous volleys from down the slope, the 24th Foot moves in against the 2nd New Hampshire at the stone wall!  MAJ Acland goes with them.  The 24th Foot, now only 3 stands, pushes the "CLass 3" 2nd New Hampshire back from the stone wall in brutal, close range combat!


Meanwhile, Fraser positions the lights to assault up the hill.  They're sorely needed at the top.

The lights can make out the sights and sounds of distant combat as the 24th's assault goes in.

Meanwhile up the hill, the 11th Massachusetts sees the lights in the woods and are preparing for combat themselves!

Brutal close combat ensues at the stone wall as the 24th and 2nd New Hampshire come to blows.

The 2nd New Hampshire are pushed back!

The Situation at 810am as the 24th are at the top of the hill (but not on the objective) and the 2nd NH is pushed back.  The lights and grenadiers are not yet engaged.

meanwhile, a running fight breaks out between the loyalist skirmishers and the continental skirmishers!  The Selleck Cabin is in the distance!

8:10-8:30 Hours

The lights advance through the woods on the hill and it takes 2 turns to pick through the bramble, and felled trees.  The Grenadiers, who historically moved with swiftness to the Selleck Cabin, turn up the hill in column and form line, eager to challenge the Green Mountain Boys to their front.  True to history, the lights will face off against the 11th Massachusetts.  

Steady Grenadiers approach Warner's Continentals.  You can just make out the Light Bobs emerging from the treeline upper right.

Francis' men move back, ostensibly to the next fenceline (as they did historically).  This is what I thought was happening, anyway :)

Meanwhile the skirmish fight is still going on at the Selleck Cabin.

The Grenadiers turn up the hill and are facing the 11th Mass and the Green Mountain Boys.

By 8:50am, the lights emerge from the woods and assault the 11th Massachusetts at the stone wall!  The DMZs accumulated from marching 3 turns through the woods, however, and lack of a superior officer attached to help rally or assist in the combat see the odds of success significantly reduced, and the lights take a bad beating at the stone wall.  They'd retreat to the safety of the woods, down 2 stands!

This is going to hurt!

Ken, also full of surprises today, launches the Green Mountain Boys, Warner's Own Continentals, against the British Grenadiers (as they did, historically!).  The Grenadiers are locked in an inconclusive round of murderous, close range firefights (leading to another question - If you're "locked in combat" after an inconclusive round of melee, and you both lose a stand, do you both take a morale check?  If the rules are to be interpreted literally, I guess yes?

The GMB did maneuver against the British Grenadiers as happened today on my table.

The bloodied lights are licking their wounds after being ejected from the stone wall.  All of this is easily justified as it happened historically.  The lights made a few advances against the crest of the hill on the day of the battle. So far, I'm mostly pleased with how the scenario has played out, even if I'm less pleased at how my British are doing!


With the ejection of the Lights from the stone wall and the inconclusive nature of the Grenadier combat, we called the game, 2 turns OVER the turn limit.  

What Happened?

Well neither side achieved their major objectives.  (although I as the British player forgot to bring on he Hessians so technically there's that - I'm sure that would have made BG Fraser happy :)  )The British did not capture the Castleton Road exit, or the Monument Hill objective (that honor should have went to the Lights, who were pushed back and ran out of time).  The Americans did not retreat off the table, but did preserve two-thirds of their force, which was part of the tactical victory conditions, so this was an American victory.  

Looking at stand loss, the Americans lost 4 stands and the British lost 5 stands.  Stand Loss points cost for the scenario were Americans 1 point per stand lost to the British who were 1.5 points per stand lost to the Americans (the British could not as easily replenish their ranks).  So even if the Americans did not preserve 2/3 of their force, they'd have won by casualties alone (all of this is very historical, BTW).

One problem I did note with the scenario was the time it took for the British to get into position. 

Technically, if you were to move in column all the way from the Sucker Brook, along the Road, to the Selleck Cabin, that should take you 5 turns (45" give or take).  With the British bayonet charge on turn 1, and the Sucker Brook costing 1/2 movement for units crossing it, that held up the Grenadiers and Lights for a considerable amount of time, both of whom lost a turn with 1/2 movement, and zero movement on turn 1 due to the 24th's bayonet charge into the American pickets (the expensive nature of bayonet charges meant that I did not have the command points to move the lights or grenadiers on turn 1, so in effect I lost a turn).  Turning the Grenadiers up the hill instead of moving towards the Selleck Cabin also cost me a turn since the Grenadiers had to change from column into line.

This is kind of a neat problem to have I think, being forced to make a decision to charge or move other units, but my fear is that is simply takes too long for the British to get into position to pull out a major victory due to making the Sucker Brook too restrictive.  I'll have to play it again to see.

If you try my scenario (and of course you should!!!) My advice is to try the game by STILL paying 1 DMZ to cross Sucker Brook, but not losing 1/2 move for it.  It's a stream, not a river or creek.  

I suppose I could have volleyed with the 24th Foot on turn 1 instead of charging, however even with 10 dice (!) [4 stands x 2D6 each when volleying plus 2D6 for Major Acland] the skirmishers likely would have stayed put.  Meaning I dont think I could have shot them out of their position but you're free to give that a try.  Additionally, the Hessians never showed up, and they were sorely missed.  A fresh unit arriving on the American flank where the 2nd New Hampshire were forced back could have turned the tide.

So as far as the scenario goes, I will likely adjust the penalty for the Sucker Brook, otherwise this was a very good scenario, I think.  Lots of fun and no shortage of excitement.

I really enjoyed the "Live Free or Die" rules.  There are alot of unexpected turns of events in "Live Free or Die" with the morale rolls, officer casualty rolls, and even the uncertainty of the melees.  Ken seemed to enjoy the rules and the scenario and I'm hoping we will play again.  I have enough 15mm stands to play some of the bigger engagements of the war and would love to try, although there is also something fun about these smaller battles as well (thinking Wetzel's Mill, Edge Hill, and some of the "smaller" battles of the war with about 1000 - 2000 troops on a side) and this game took a little over 2 hours to play.  Perfect for a Sunday afternoon of gaming.  Mission accomplished!


  1. Loved that - looked like great gameplay.
    We had similar problems with the turn sequence and getting used to how things worked, but eventually, it all starts to make sense.
    Loving the fact that the British have to charge in order to reach the objective - or at least make rapid decisions. There seems to be a quite logical time constraint on things here. This was the only problem I had with a couple of the Little Wars scenarios - they seems very tight in terms of allowing time for stuff to happen. Great stuff Steve - and the endgame deserving of all the research.

    1. Cheers, Darren and thanks for your kind words. Glad you enjoyed the post. yep we were pretty much running by turn 3. I enjoyed the game and the rules very much, and I think the scenario works but it's tense. its tough to get a major victory for the British or the Americans, but historically the British didnt win a "major" victory anyways but rather a tactical one by my scenario's conditions. If you play it, I'd love to hear what happened!

  2. I like it! Got to give it a go soon. With or without the Hessians.

    1. thank you sir! I'd love to hear how it went if you play it. I already ammended the Sucker Brook rules. Britush no longer pay 1/2 but still suffer a DMZ for crossing. That should help. a bit.

  3. Looks to have been a historically aapccurate outcome which is a good recommendation for the rules. Nothing "left field" happened and all the results were plausible...pity the Hessians dilly dallied and failed to arrive in time to help out!

    1. I know! I could have used Von Riedesel on my left flank, too. the Hessians could have turned the tide!

  4. A fun and enjoyable AAR. Your extra work and research paid off in making this a great game. Although I do not play the rules I have greatly enjoyed and appreciate how you explain them and walk us through them.

    A true outstanding job here. Well done Sir!

    1. thank you much, Mark! feel free to use the scenario for whatever rules you use for AWI!

  5. Steve, a very enjoyable journey from research through to game. thanks for all of the hours you have put into sharing this, your armies and table look very nice.

    The rules seem to give a very believable narrative (from memory they are just a few pages long?) and I like that you can’t do everything because of command limits and I am guessing that the ‘tight’ number of game turns in the scenario that Darren experienced is all to do with ensuring that the pressures of the command system are maintained.

    It was very interesting to see that the game frequently followed historical outcomes. The terrain and orders of battle probably delivered some of that, but the system bits that use dice were still pushing the game in the historical direction, which say much for them.

    Anyway, very enjoyable - thank you.

    1. Thank you, Norm glad you enjoyed the battle report. This has been a very fun exercise of showing the research behind, and development of a scenario. Having no experience with these rules also added to the enjoyment since we got to play them and the scenario for the first time.

      Hubbardton is a good one in that it's small and easy to study and also easy to anticipate what ought to happen with the s.all number of units. I was on the lookout for any dramatic departures from "reality" and I have to say aside from Major Acland attaching himself to the 24th Foot (purely a-historical and my decision) and the Loyalist Scouts taking a more active role in the battle (also my decision) everything else seemed to play out "as it should."

      I really enjoyed these rules and am keen to play again.

  6. That's a nice little action Steve and a lot going on, all of which seemed historically plausible, which is of course a good thing! I've played in games over the years with different rulesets where a unit or two really doesn't have the time to cross the table to get to grips with the enemy, so is effectively out of the game despite being on the table. A simple tweak or two as you've already done often suffices to improve things no end. The rules seem good and a friend has them so hopefully we might get to play them this Spring.

    1. Steve this was a very fun little scrap and I think removing the restriction on crossing the brook will make it that much better and allow the British to get into position a bit faster.

      Another option might be to start the action AFTER the 24th have pushed the skirmishers away and are already in column on the south side of the brook.

      I enjoyed the rules very much. they gave a fun, relatively fast game with lots of historical flavor. they felt right for an AWI battle if that makes any sense.