Saturday, 22 April 2017

Game 54 - Chatterton's Hill, 1776 (with Maurice)

There's always a need for another game of Sam Mustafa's excellent Maurice - and we especially enjoy it with the American Revolution.

 This game was loosely based on the action at Chatterton's Hill from Steve Jones' excellent Rebellion sourcebook for BP, and yet again highlighted some of the unique advantages with the Maurice system. There can be chaos in terms of what you can do, though the resource management is very much by choice. For example:

  • We had instances here, where on both sides, decisions had to be made with regard to dividing forces, and that meant that the focus had to be placed on one or other flank. In the American case in this scenario, it meant that the commander was stretched, operating on one flank in terms of moving troops to defend against the flank attacked, while also trying to pull reinforcements from the other, while the British player simply pushed the bulk of his force onto the American right, and was able to effectively ignore the left (the 'lethal volley' bonus really helped here in terms of gaining ground on the hill that the Americans held).
  • Though you sometimes don't get the card mix you'd prefer, it's the resource management that is the real crux of Maurice - forcing you to focus on where the action needs to be - but of course, there's always too much to do, and there's always a need to keep forces together - even though you can't - and that's where the mechanisms really work. If you get that wrong, especially as the defender, it has real consequences as the attacker eats into your flank.
  • Still a great game, and must get some Seven Years War 15mm finished in order to do some earlier battles with more cavalry. (The British cavalry didn't even move here- but then, it didn't need to, which is what we read about in historical accounts, as opposed to what happens in some wargame rules. There needs to be something stronger than a simple activation dice roll as with BP).

 The British made their initial crossings from Wolf Hill across the Bronx Rover. The objective was the road behind the ridgeline. That said, I had never seen an attacker capture an objective in Maurice yet, without having their morale level reduced to zero. (Today changed that one...)

  Well ensconced upon Chatterton's Hill, the Americans had a large amount of Levy & Militia, whose lack of 'Lethal Vollies' (in contrast to the British) would have an effect later.

  'Steady Lads. Wait 'til you see the whites of their eyes...' (Actually mate, they're going to do a flanking action...wait for it...)

 Things get interesting now. Using the 'that's not on the map' card, an unplanned for marshy area lies smack bang in the midst of the British advance.

 So the British & Hessians form column and advance around it (rather too quickly as it turned out). The forced flanking action however, should have given the Americans time to move to their right and reinforce. In the event, the presence of British light troops and cavalry on their left flank stopped them, and they did nothing.

  A tense firefight near one of the walled areas near the river, as the Allies cross.

 'Don't worry none Zeke. Every time this here Duc guy is in charge of us Yanks, we always win.'
(Don't speak too soon mate...)

Masses of British and Hessians approach the American right, and there are far too few Continentals to defend.

Two Continental regiments manage to make it to the flank, but are shot away with intense and supported musketry.

 'Need you to move to the other flank boys...!'

 More  American columns move just in time to see militia smashed by elite troops.

 Objectives captured, morale broken. It was over for the Americans before they could get enough Continentals into position.

 'Well maybe I was wrong about this guy Zeke...I think the British are comin' '

 (Remaining unused, the British cavalry successfully guarded the Action Card deck.)


  1. Looks excellent - really enjoyed the report and the pics. Maurice - I'm a big fan of Dr Mustafa - great stuff.

  2. Many thanks. Yes, a great game. I have tried Maurice & Blucher, but not Lasalle, but there's definitely something about his rules. He breaks convention and redefines wargaming 'methods' from his knowledge of history I think. Though the cards give a 'gamey' feel, I'm convinced it's one of the few rulesets that makes you actually think like a commander.
    Looking forward to 'Rommel' for WW2 Operational action...

    1. I have Lasalle, but (I regret to say) am still working out how I can tweak the game to suit my army organisation. My practical experience of Mustafa was mostly with Grande Armeé, and it's prototype fast-play variant. Even if you never use those rules, the ideas and the explanatory footnotes are a master-class in game design.

      "Gamey" is OK - I know what you mean, but a workable game is the whole point of this. As a good friend of mine said recently, if you are not actually sitting in a waterlogged rifle-pit, suffering from dysentery, any claims about the true flavour of period warfare can become fatuous very quickly! I had enough years suffering the tortures of games which blatantly didn't work, and the great driver behind this was invariably a search for realism, in whatever deranged form the practitioner envisaged it!

      More power to your games, young sir.

    2. Great points there. I think perhaps the gamey nature of Maurice actually points to its innovative mechanisms. A lot of 'dyed in the wool' wargamers perhaps see that as a step back - even if it's not. As you say, simulationist style games are a bit of a moot point really; the card mechanisms in Maurice are really there to (1) generate chaos and (2) enable a battle/resource management system. If those aren't akin to the C18th battlefield, I'm not sure what is.

      I do remember having seen Grande Armee, though must confess to not having played - though your comments certainly pique my interest. Also have a copy of Might & Reason. Must give it a spin with the 7yw stuff (if I ever get it painted).

  3. What a great looking game Duc, lovely pics and beautiful minis...

    1. Thanks Phil. I don't get a lot of time to paint, so have to cut some corners (with woodstain or Army painter for fine detail ) where I can. If it looks good in the big photos, I'm happy :)

  4. Very fine looking game! For the colonials, it was too little too late. Maybe next time?

    Maurice has been in action only once on my game table (or maybe twice?). The sequencing seemed a bit contrived but the guys were willing to give it another try. That is always a good sign! I need to get it out on the table again.

    1. Thanks Jonathan. Yes, my opponent really caught me on the hop today. Too many victories with the colonial forces in the past perhaps, and I was overconfident. Ha!
      I know what you mean about the sequencing, though it does seem to make sense after a while. Musketry can be invoked (or forced) at the start of the turn, and the subsequent card activations act as events/resources to determine what you can do next. That's the crux of the game for me, but with every game it's the 'focus' of action that continues to surprise - hellish melee on one flank while forces stare at each other on the other. It's always very reminiscent of what we read in historical accounts - be it Saratoga or Aughrim - there always appears to be one end of the battlefield where something should have been happening, but for reasons beyond the control of the commander(s), it hasn't. Add to that the tendency for the opponent to be able to do something unexpected which you can't stop.
      I haven't seen another set of rules (perhaps Field of Battle to some extent) where this occurs to the same degree.

    2. That is EXACTLY what we experienced in our, one-game outing with Maurice. One sector stands idly by while the our flank has all of the fun. In that respect, really not too different from Command & Colors; a game I enjoy very much. I really must try Maurice again.

    3. Yes - good point, C&C is exactly the same. It forces the command focus, and if you turn your attention elsewhere, you might lose initiative. Always seems to echo real Horse & Musket.
      I had been looking at trying a large scale game with 4 players and C&C style rules.

      Also see Jay's rules for AWI with hexes here:

      These look very exciting; I'll be trying these next with Saratoga, as I think they'll be a perfect test of what a 4 player hex based game would look like.

    4. The other defining issue with Maurice is the use of 'forces'. If you can keep all your infantry in a single force, you can act with them as a single force...but once a crucial regiment strays, through necessity, to cover that crossroads say, then the focus is changed, the use of resources has to be managed differently...and despite teh best laid plans..., you can never rely on the enemy to do what you want. I really like that too.

  5. Darren,
    Always a treat to see your AWI figures in action! Seems like you've a score to settle with the Hessians as well!

  6. Ha! Yes mate. My opponent is becoming dangerously efficient in Maurice games...using flank marches when I least expect it. Damnable sir, damnable...(Fitz, I'm looking at you!)

    Despite this, it was a great game...and I know where I went wrong (next time Fitz, next time ;) )

    1. That's the spirit! You will triumph next time.

  7. Great AAR for a great set of rules. We really must get another game !

    1. Yes definitely. I got some more 15mm stuff recently with a view to finishing my British/Dutch and French stuff for Fontenoy, to do the scenario in the Maurice rulebook. Also allows me a SYW French army to take on your Prussians :)

      But, also very interested in trying AWI with Field of Battle. I think it would work really well