Author Archives: fusilier55
Thursday brought another game of Sharp Practice to the Williamsburg Legati. Based on a minor event that occurred not far from here on the morning of January 1st, 1781. Infamous traitor Benedict Arnold had invaded Virginia and was working out his advance upon the new capital at Richmond.
At 2 in the morning, Militia activity was spotted from the James River. Arnold ordered Captain Johann Ewald of the Anspacher Hessian Jaegers to land with a detail of the Queen’s rangers to investigate. After a brief assault, the militia were pushed back to a plantation in Warwick county. There the militia attempted to have the advance of the Germans.
I ran the game as a meeting engagement, with the exception that I changed the victory conditions, only requiring the British to get across the table. The original objectives would have actually been more historic but I was very concerned about the game balance. I created the forces per the point system in the book, but looking at the forces on the table they certainly did not LOOK equal. Furthermore, the Americans had the advantage of the plantation house in the corner and I imagined a long night of trying to expel militiamen from the house. The Americans were defending with four groups of Militia in line and two militia skirmishers. They were further supported by a musician, holy man, water cart and secondary deployment point.
The Crown forces were two groups of Jaeger Skirmishers and 2 groups of Queen’s Ranger’s Skirmishers. They also had a musician, spirits/ tinder box, and a movable secondary deployment point. The crown forces began with a force morale of 11 and the American’s a 10.
The Jaegers began the fight by coming through the woods off the Primary deployment point, on the perimeter of the farm, but most of their forces deployed off of the secondary DP on the American’s Right.
The American’s responded by sending their second formation of militia to protect that flank. Unfortunately for the Ameircans, they had placed their secondary deployment forward of the primary Dp, which now left them deploying rather far from that flank.
Luckily for the Americans, the Crown Forces stopped their forward movement and elected to take positions and fire upon the militia.
This gave plenty of time for the second formation of militia to get into position and shake out into line. They fired their one controlled volley into the forward group of Queen’s Rangers, killing almost all of them including their officer, and sending them into a rout.
The British Force Morale started to drop dramatically but was still pretty firm. Apparently, here the Crown forces remembered their objectives, and the began a race for the table edge, making great use of the Leaders Staus III level.
Seeing that they were unlikely to stop this charge, the American’s ordered their own skirmishers to capture the Crown’s primary Deployment Point, hoping to cause a collapse of the British Morale, it was however too late.
In the end, the British made it off the corner of the board giving them victory.
In the end, I still feel the fight was unbalanced, and I am suspicious of the pointing system. even with all the special abilities of these skirmish troops and the superiority of the Crown forces, it did not offset the advantages of line troops firing in formation, therefore I think the skirmish units too expensive. If I were to do this again, I think I would give Queen’s Rangers in line.
I have been working with an idea for a “Pint Sized” campaign for the Too Fat Lardies game Sharp Practice for some time. Last night I ran what would be the first scenario for my club, The Williamsburg Legati.
This campaign centers upon the action of Benedict Arnold leading an army of mostly loyalist forces in my area of Virginia at the beginning of 1781. Not completely trusted by Clinton yet, the former American hero was sent to Williamsburg to build a defensible port for British efforts to deny efforts to support General Green in the Carolinas, as well as to disrupt lines of supply and destroy stores of war material.
His ships were spotted coming into the area and the word was sent to Governor Jefferson, who feared that they might really be French Allies decided to do nothing until their identity was confirmed.
Arnold brought with him the Hessian and Anspach foot Jagers sptsin Ewald, The 80th Regiment, under the Command of Lt Col Dundas, The Queen’s Rangers commanded by Lt Simcoe, Robinson’s Corps (Loyal American Regiment) commanded by Major Robinson, The Althause Sharpshooters (Company of York Volunteers), A Company of Royal Artillery and 100 Pioneers.
A real advantage to playing this campaign is that two of the commanders wrote memoirs that survive. Captain Ewald, who had command of Hessian Jaegers, and Lt Colonel Simcoe of the Queen’s Rangers. Ewals also made a number of maps which decorate this post.
After landing at Portsmouth, Arnold quickly sailed up the James towards the New Virginia Capital at Richmond. After a failed attempt to land near Jamestown, Arnold continued to sail westward. Where he encountered Hood’s battery.
Artillery had been placed upon the bluff to stop British vessels from sailing up the river to bombard Richmond. Arnold needed to remove this battery. Ewald Jaegers and either the Grenadiers and the Light of the 80th or the Queens Rangers, depending upon which memoir you believe, landed at Wards Creek where the ships are shown on the map above. From here about a mile from the battery, they marched around the flank to attack the unprotected rear. The Americans, having spotted the landing boats, fled, leaving the guns to the mercy of the enemy.
This does not a good wargame make. For this campaign I have decided to propose a “what if” aspect. The fictio0n of this campaign, is that Jefferson responds by ordering reinforcements be raised, and for some of the Virginia State Line, being raised and trained by Baron Von Steuben to be sent to the Carolinas, be diverted to face a new threat.
The Americans were defending the battery with two groups of Militia as well as to groups of these Virginia State line. They also had two groups of militia skirmishers. for support, they chose an explorer scout and a marksman specialist.
The British were mostly Queen’s Rangers. Two groups of line and two groups of Skirmishers. Ewald was represented by a group of Jaeger skirmishers which they choose to further support by spending their points an a second.
Early on, the Americans took a strong flank position with their militia skirmishers, much to the chagrin of a local farmwife. They also dispatched some of their line militia to try to figure out how to turn and load some of the guns.
The Hessians also had flanks on their mind, and they used their rifles to good effect, safely outside their opponent’s musket range.
Here things got difficult for the British. Although inexperienced as artillerymen, the militia at the guns, aided by the withering fire of their comrades still in line, had a devastating effect on the main body of the Queen’s Rangers, The slowly fell back and eventually one group broke. That combined with a lack of red cards left the British forces frozen in the field and exposed.
In the end, everyone had a good time, but those guns were an issue. Now that I look at Ewals map, I think I will leave the actual battery of the table, and center the fight on the redoubt instead.
until next time, Cheers,
This last weekend brought Williamsburg Muster, a local convention, to town again. I was registered to run two games, a Pulp Alley Game on Friday evening, and a Gunfighter’s Ball Game on Saturday night.
Friday turned into a bit of a disappointment. One, because I had no takers for the Pulp Alley game ( not an unusual situation for a Friday at these local cons I am afraid, and two because I would like to have played the Lion Rampant game that was going on right next to me! I wish this convention had a more automated system of game registration, more like what Marscon did. They used Warhorn. This is far from a perfect system as it appears to be more for organizing campaigns for roleplaying games, but it allowed me to see what games had already been registered in almost real time. Pretty cool to be able to re-plan what you want to do around what others are doing without waiting for a PEL! even more important when you consider that Williamsburg Muster’s PEL only became public about a week previous to the event! Second, it allowed players to register online for games. This allowed me to know what to expect and freed me to cancel unpopular games if I saw fit, rather than arriving, spending all the time to set up a table, only to have no one play.
Because of these circumstances, I have taken to run fewer games and to choose games for the local conventions at least, that are less set up intensive. Saturday nights game was a great example.
Gunfighter’s Ball is a great example. This is Knuckleduster’s new wild west skirmish game which apparently was playtested through years of convention play.
Wild West games are perfect in that a pleasant table can be created very quickly. Roll out a mat, the one in the pictures is a Hotz Western mat, but I have a desert mat I have used as well as grasslands one, and Knuckle duster makes a nice neoprene one. Throw on some western buildings. These ones are Gamecraft miniatures but nowadays there are lots of options, many with their own interiors which are certainly preferable for western skirmish. Lastly, a few pieces of scatter terrain, mostly in the form of Pegasus Cactuses in the pictures. My Gamecraft buildings are the original ones, they now have the capability, though limited, to be made to allow gameplay inside them.
The “Characters” are very simple, with really only one stat, their Action Number. This is the number missing from Bronco O’Neill’s card there, but it would usually be a number from 1 to 3 which would be placed on the red poker chip in the lower right corner. This number equals the number of activations the character will have in the turn. These activations are chosen by the drawing of a card, using a normal poker deck. There are various attribute you can take as well, but the optional “Pistoleer Deck” provide a very enjoyable a quick way to determine random attributes, quirks or disadvantages and is just the thing for effortless and enjoyable character creation for a convention game!
On each Activation, two actions may be taken including all the obvious ones like moving, shooting. drawing weapons, throwing dynamite, etc. An interesting feature is your card in the hole. This allows a non-active player to respond to an attack by borrowing from his next activation. Damage is determined in the rules by rolling hit location, which then tells you how many chips you must cash in. (Most characters began the game with three red and six white chips representing their current health. The red chips show when a character has bled into a mortal wound). A very enjoyable alternative, however, is to use a random draw from the optional ‘Black Deck”.
The Ball I ran was intended to be one of the more advanced ones from the book, but due to scheduling issues we got a late start, and since two of the players were younger I went for a simpler shoot out scenario.
The game is short, quick and bloody! The picture above is just in the second turn (second complete rotations of all activations). We started at about seven, and by 10:30 I had run two games with four players each, all with no experience in this game at all.
I have played a number of cowboy games, and I do so mostly at conventions. Of all the shoot out games I have tried this one pleases me the most. I have been looking for this game for years. Good job Knuckle Duster!
Until next time
Last Thursday we decided to give Lion Rampant a try. Since I have a number of figures from my Sharp Practice II variant, we decided to make use of them. While Sharp Practice is intended for much later periods, Lion Rampant is intended for just prior, but a set of alterations and new unit types is available on Boardgame Geek, and they were used for this game.
We rolled for terrain, using another online chart, and for the scenario as per the rulebook. The rolled the tax collection scenario. In this scenario, it is tax collection day for the defenders, the people have conveniently left their taxes in 6 piles about the village. The caches are represented by tokens each representing different amounts hidden from the players. Unfortunately for the defenders, their enemies have learned of this and come to steal away the goodies.
After setting up the table and placing tokens we rolled for are parts in this play. The Lancasters were the defenders and the Yorkists were the thieving raiders.
The Yorkists arrived first but as the battle began, they were moving only piecemeal towards the village, their commanding knight was having difficulting activating his force forward. the Lancasters however came on strong marching straight into the center of the village.
Then fortune waved her fickle finger and matters reversed themselves. The Lancasters held a strong position with the Shire Billmen in the road supported by Men at Arms and Dismounted knights in their rear, and the Shire Archers defending their flank. The Yorkist positioned their own German Pikemen into Schiltron and awaited the worst. It never came.
A withering fire from the better train Welsh Archers of the Yorkist command whittled away at the poor billmen and the Lancaster commander was unable to activate anything for at least 5 turns! the Yorkists used this time well, to steal gold, to successfully challenge and kill the Lancaster leader and many of his knights.
The most common issue I have heard mentioned with these rules is the challenge of failing to activate. In my previous battles, I have enjoyed this feature, but this extreme version was NOT fun! I have read a suggestion online of giving all leaders the commanding skill, which allows a reroll of an activation, plus one additional random skill. Peter mentioned that someone he has played with house ruled free missile fire of any unactivated units. Next time I play I will try the free commanding skill option. I do enjoy this game, but would rather not have either myself or my opponent suffer in such fashion as we did that night!
Thanks to Sir Geoffrey Hummel of the House of York for his fine pictures.
Until next time,