Monday, 15 May 2017

Game 55 - Glorious Morning

'Glorious morning' is a free set of AWI rules on Jay’s excellent blog ‘Numbers, Wargames & ArsingAbout’, in turn derived from the excellent rules on Peter's ‘Grid Based Wargaming…’ blog. Free does not mean bad, as there are wonderful nuances and twists in these rules which have the same flavour as OHW and games like Maurice, but they’re handled in very different ways, and these are excellent for multi player games too, I think.

Highlights include:

  • Hex based, but unlike Command and Colours style rules, there are fronts and flanks, which can make an enormous difference with linear warfare.
  • There is differentiation between troop types, and we found that American and British line were the same in our playtest, though it’s very easy to amend – i.e. for Hessians, British, early American line – just by varying hits.
  • The real crux is resource management. We played with a lot of units and two commanders on each side. Each rolls a D6 – spending 1 point to move or RALLY hits off (that’s important)  adjacent units or 2 points on those further away. This is a real killer in play as you really need to rally, keep momentum with your attack, while also moving up reserves.
  • Cover does not make it easier to hit – but it does give you extra hit points. The clincher here is that once the unit crosses its threshold…it can still hold on if it stays in cover. It’s sheer genius. Units hold cover or disappear.
  • Charging hurts the opponent a lot – that’s if you roll hits. If you don’t, it hurts you. So If I roll one success and one failure – the success gets two hits on my opponent, but one hit on me…really innovative.
  • Resolve points (commander gets 2, but more for grabbing strategic features) mean that (1) it’s important to rally and reinforce units – while being very hard to pull them out once engaged and (2) it’s important to be the first to grab that crossroads or that farm. This is inspired too!

I really liked these rules and they are full of subtleties. Now, we did expand the scope with two commanders per side, but that was really with a view to using the rules with a Saratoga game where we would have 3 British and 2 American Commanders (Maurice just wouldn’t suit the multiple players). I think they would work really well for this.

I’m also thinking it’s an easy conversion to late C17th – ‘pikes forward’ would earn extra hit points vs cavalry, and might convince a unit not to move. That’s quite genius for the period really – and it would take a leader to rally off hits and get them moving. Though it’s quite an old school system with hit points, it’s the actual difficulties in getting units moving again, once ‘stuck’, that is inspired. And hey, while we’re at it, wouldn’t the system of command radii and hits work for Operational WWII? Market Garden anyone?

And so to battle.

  A nice 'hexified' battlefield.

 The farm 'box' on the American left would become critical.

 British command rolls not so good throughout the game.

While the Americans had some early luck.

The farm box would have to be assaulted...again and again. That fence line had some real advantages.

On the British left, Americans were able to assemble good lines of fire, which offer sustained and devastating musketry vollies.

Early charge moves from Grenadiers.

A '3' just ain't going to be enough to do what needs done here.

Ahhh, that's more like it. I've never heard a game where each player said 'I really need a 6 here,' so often.

The Americans ensconced in the 'box' as we took to calling it.

Bloody murder as assaults and musketry take their toll on both sides.

Sustained American fire had stopped the British assault on their right.

While the box simply got hotter.

'Here we are again Zeke, in reserve as usual.'

No hits on the British assault, which means they take 2 hits for the Americans' none - the rules are they should be.

Two sixes! - for American musketry though ...

 ...and the assault is shot away - resolve points...gone.

A great game. Yes, we can do some tinkering with the rules and 'dials'. It's a system that can be easily hacked and shaken to make it what you want. Love this...

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Le Duc on the Road - Part V - Dunluce Castle

Dunluce Castle is another of Northern Ireland's trademark ancient ruined castles. That said, new archaeological evidence suggests that there have been much older historical fortifications on the site and that there was a quite modern (for the time) town there, which was destroyed during the 1641 rebellion/uprising (depending on the historical point of view).

It really is wonderfully situated, and surrounded by steep drops on each side. Perfect defensive position.

First used by the McQuillans, it became the seat of Clan McDonell in the 16th century, and served as the seat of the Earl of Antrim until after the Boyne in 1690.

Less historically significant, it has also been used to film the latter parts of the less than stellar Jackie Chan movie, The Medallion (but Clare Forlani was also in it, so how bad can it be :)  ).

The view from the approach across the bridge.

The 'drop' down to the caves below, which run beneath the castle.  D&D anyone?

View to the west along the coast, toward Portrush.

 View to the east, and some of the beautiful (if dangerous) coastline. Running smuggling ops onto this coast in the nineteenth century might not have been the most advisable occupation.

View from the original 'inn' structure, where merchants and travelling mercenaries might have stayed until gaining hospitality / entry to the castle.

The interior of the original Manor House. Interesting features here like some of the original plaster on the walls, remnants of the original stairs and...

  ...graffiti on the fireplace from the nineteenth century, when the 1850 equivalent of delinquents raised the bar, by engraving their street art into the fireplace...those crazy kids.

Visitor signage is excellent as usual.
 ...though not all areas are accessible on the day. Damn you Health & Safety...

 A model of the topography and positioning of the original castle (and the strangely 'disappeared' surrounding town).

 A pic on the way out - showing the commanding bluffs and that wonderful cave network below (the pics in the caves never really came out).

And this is just the start of the better weather. Who knows where Le Duc could end up in the summer months ?

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.)