Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Game 34 – Freeman’s Farm, Sept 19th 1777

I always wanted to play this one with the scenario in the original ‘Black Powder’ rules, but I’ve been reading Volley and Bayonet with such interest in recent weeks, combined with Jeff Glasco’s amendments for smaller scales, that I’ve got that V&B bug again.

The scale in this instance is ‘Battalion Scale’ – reduced slightly from the smaller Regimental (smaller again when compared with Napoleonic scale say) in the original V&B rules book – where a strength point for AWI was 200-250 men.

In this instance we have:

  • Musket Range 2” (1”= 50 yards) (Having fired one of these things though, 100yards is a bit optimistic – if you are intent on hitting anything ;) )
  • One Strength Point = 100 men
  • 30 mins per turn
  • 2 guns per strength point.

To be honest I wasn’t sure how it would play with the changes. However, the move from a larger scale battle was quite seamless. The system plays equally well at both levels of battle - lent credence by the two genius design features of 'exhaustion' and 'stationary' fire. Granted, as with all rules, there are some caveats and prices to be paid, but we see that in most cases. (It will be very interesting to contrast gameplay with one of the Piquet variants when I get around to it).

The Battle
I didn’t use the Black Powder map, and instead scaled down from the map in W.J.Wood’s Battles of the Revolutionary War. I took the OOB from there and checked with the seminal work by Greg Novak (Campaign Book #7 – The War of Independence in the North – the Ulster Imports version, though of course, this has recently been re-published). Strengths are of course slightly larger than normal, and this played out beautifully and resulted in a very tense game.

Giving a nod to history, we rolled randomly (4-6 on d6) as to whether Riedesal and Fraser would arrive/grant reinforcements to the battle in the centre, and whether Gates would release Learned’s brigade to the battle. This random element proved pivotal to the whole battle as we will see.

Rather unhistorically, it would be Riedesel, rather than Fraser, who would be slow to move with fresh troops. And as for Gates, the man couldn't have been nicer to old Benedict Arnold. Clearly, dark forces were at work... 

(OOBs at end of pics)

The battlefield looking south. Fraser is on the road on the British right, while Riedesel is on the left. Contact has been made between Fraser's pickets at Freeman's Farm in the centre, and Hamilton is deployed.

Morgan's men give fire from the woods. Indians point out the obvious (we get a lot of that later too...)

 Hamilton moves up...

...and Fraser rolls well and starts to reinforce in turn 2, defying history.

Riedesel stops to...ponder.

 Hoping for reinforcements early in the game, Arnold moves troops straight toward Fraser on his left, while pushing Poor's men to attack in the centre, keeping the militia in reserve (a damned good idea in V&B).

Fraser starts to deploy on the right, in expectation of an American assault, He outnumbers them, this should be easy...?

 A protracted firefight in the centre, trading musket vollies, which would wear down both sides considerably. Who would break first?

Hamilton uses his other battalions to deal with the light elements in the woods.

 ...even as Gates, who is apparently in a good mood, releases reinforcements to Arnold early in the game.

View from the American left - Fraser's position on the road, American militia in reserve, firefight in the centre.

After a number of turns, where the American musketry tells, while the British suffer, converged Grenadiers are shot away, without even getting a chance to charge and use shock bonus !!!

 ...while in the centre, the Americans hold on.

Brunswickers hold their position (the dice were very unkind here), watching as their allies bear the brunt of American fire..and slowly, slowly, the centre is being outflanked.

 British moves threaten to outflank the American centre after Morgan's men flee...

...though Learned has found a way through to the British lines.

 'The general said we were gonna hold this here position Zeke, so that's exactly what we're gonna do...'

 The centre holds...still

Still confident, Fraser charges on the American left...and fails miserably, leaving the flank open, and forcing the brigade into exhaustion...

 The centre too is exhausted and felled by accurate American musketry.

Remaining troops being flanked and forced into supportive positions, but they are worn down.In fact, two British brigades suffer morale collapse in the same turn (rolling two 1s).

 Riedesel moves by 2pm, but it's too late, far too late. The battle is over.

 The endgame. Americans control the left flank. Though one brigade is exhausted in the centre, they are about to be reinforced by Learned's men (who haven't fired a shot) approaching from the east. Though Riedesel is closing, there is little that he can do.

Maj Gen Burgoyne

RIGHT WING – FRASER Brigade Exhaustion 10 (moves after turn 2 on a 4-6)
Converged Light Inf 3-6
Converged Grenadiers 3-6shock
24th Foot 3-5
Light Inf & Brunswickers 2 x 1-5
Artillery 6/3 pdr 2-6 Field and 2-6 light
Indians 2 x 1-4
Loyalists/Tories 2 x 1-4
Canadians 1-4
(These last three deliberately out of command at Freeman’s Farm due to poor command on the day, and their forward movements)

CENTRE – Hamilton Exhaustion 7
9th Foot 3-5
20th Foot 3-5
21st Foot 3-5
62nd Foot 3-5
Artillery 2-6 field

LEFT WING – RIEDESL Exhaustion 6 (moves after turn 2 on a 4-6)
Regt Riedesel 3-4
Regt Rhetz 3-4
Regt Specht 3-4
Artillery 2-6 field, 2-6 light

Maj Gen Benedict Arnold (Gates’ command excluded from battle)

MORGAN Exhaustion 2
Morgan’s Riflemen 2 x 1-5
Dearborn’s Light Inf 2 x 1-5

Poor’s Infantry Bde  - Exhaustion 9
1st New Hampshire 3-5
2nd NH 3-5
3rd NH 3-5
2nd New York 3-5
4th NY 3-5
Cook’s Militia 3-4m
Latimore’s Militia 3-4m

Learned’s Infantry Bde – Exhaution 5 (Turn 3 or thereafter on a 4-6…if Gates is kind)
2nd Massachusetts 3-5
8th Mass. 3-5
9th Mass. 3-5
1st Canadians 3-4

Another great V&B game. We really must get a game of Sabre Squadron in now...

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Game 33 - Battle of the Brandywine - Sept 11, 1777

 Ok, ok, so there's no point in me giving all the excuses for my lack of blog activity - suffice it to say that work and a part time lecturing post are sucking up time significantly.

Yes, we should have been doing a WWII variant of Steve's 'Battle' rules and Sabre Squadron...and Field of Battle WWII by now. Instead, I have had a large amount of AWI lead on my painting table for months now, and have been trying to do the Battle of the Brandywine with Volley & Bayonet for even longer. SO...first things first, and let's clear that table.

The Brandywine is a beautiful example of V&B's scale and scope combined with an insane map that seems to change depending on which authority you go to (see Jeff Glasco's here - this is probably most accurate and we'll return to this version at some stage - but we kept the V&B rulebook map for this version. JG also has some wonderful 'wing scale' etc. scenarios for AWI V&B. It's a great site.)

And so to battle. V&B gets a slagging in some quarters, but I still love it so. Simplicity, decent rules for disorder and the fact that division exhaustion creeps up on you (and can be used to determine commander abilities and national characteristics, despite what the detractors say).  Ed Mueller also has a brilliant nine years war version of the rules. What's not to love?

So. The classic Brandywine flanking action is presented below. I played the Americans. ...and lets put it this way...Mr. Washington would have been in even more trouble this time around!

So...youngest daughter provided the river and ford detailing on the cheap felt ...again. (I didn't even have to pay her this time).

 The British viewpoint, from their right flank. Howe and Cornwallis's classic flanking move, and  positions at the start of the battle.

 The centre was a little less fluid, with American blocking positions firmly set.

Actions on the British right started early, with the disordered (automatically by the rules) American militia taking the brunt of the damage.

British moving on the American right - using road movement to rapidly advance and secure the flank...and the rear...more to follow.

American units move toward Dilworth in order to secure their rear.

...while the British elites are moving VERY quickly to secure the area around Dilworth and the American escape routes.

Melee started early in the centre across the Brandywine as the Highlanders attack.

...while the American rear appears to be in trouble.

Stirling and Sullivan provide a delaying action on the right flank with a view to letting the rest of the army escape.

 River crossings are being less strongly held in the centre...

...while the American left holds on...just.

The Americans try to apply pressure at Dilworth, but it's now a strong British position. the British in turn attack across the river in an effort to force back what paltry defenders remain.

 The American rear at Dilworth...

 ...panning out to show the right flank...

 ...and the entire battlefield- which was rapidly becoming three separate battles.

A morass of melee on both flanks are forcing divisional collapse after line with British requirements for the victory conditions.

By turn 7, it's all over, and the Americans concede.

'With a tow, row, row, row, row, row, row, for the British Grenadiers.'

Volley and Bayonet never fails to impress. We're looking forward to some of the reduced scale variants that are out there for the AWI.