Sunday, 7 February 2016

Muskets & Tomahawks & Heroes -- Such is the life of a toy soldier

Most of the Hamilton Road Games Group's gathering on Saturday was dedicated to a game of Studio Tomahawk's Muskets & Tomahawks, a French & Indian War skirmish game. The mechanics of the game are rather simple; what makes the difference is the card-driven sequence of play. The deck of cards controls when certain classes of unit can move. (i.e. regulars, irregulars, provincials, Indians, civilians, militia, etc.) Ralph, Steven, and Mark ran the French, Habitants, and Indians, while Andy, Bear, and I ran the British and British Colonial forces. On another table, Kevin and Martin play-tested a Naval Thunder game (early to mid-20th Century naval rules) they intend to use at an upcoming convention.

(All photos courtesy of Andy, Ralph, and my own camera.)

Big table with the game already in progress.
Bear to the left, Andy on the far end, Martin, Ralph, Steven, and Mark's hands to the right.

Mark's Canadian irregulars* face my American Rangers.
He had already dispatched a second small group of rangers and was whittling this group down.
(* Compagnie Franche de Marine)

Andy's British irregulars/light infantry on the other end of the table.
They were opposed by Ralph's Huron war-party.

Two sections of British regulars under my command.
The light green is open country, the darker green is light woods, and the real dark stuff under the trees is dense woods.
All of those effect spotting, movement, and musketry.
There was no need to randomly decide who would move first; the shuffled deck of unit cards saw to that. Both sides moved to toward the centre of the table with the regulars on both sides moving up to a fence line and exchanging fire. My rangers attempted a flank move through the deep woods. I had fielded them in to 6-man sections with a ranger officer in charge, while Mark ran his irregulars was one 12-man patrol with an attached officer. My dice were ice-cold and I lost the first section of rangers in short order. The second section exchanged fire with the Compagnie Franche troops and were destroyed without causing a casualty after a brief fire fight.the regulars on both sides exchanged fore until my two squads had to "recoil" and fall back a move from the fence line. They came back soon and did better (oddly enough after we had all eaten lunch. We either brought our own bag lunches or as some did, go over to the laundromat across the street for hot sandwiches. Yes, the laundromat has a sandwich kitchen in the back! And it's good! Not quite as good, in my opinion, as the Polish deli that used to be next door and is now closed. Now, THAT was a dynamite place to get a sandwich!)

Andy and Ralph chased each other through the woods on the far end of the table while Mark crushed my rangers. Bear and I kept up the fire against Mark and Steven, but with Mark's irregulars beginning to turn my right flank, I decided to withdraw. Bear manfully stood against the Hurons that came against his left flank and refused to leave. My ranger officer sniped at Mark's Compagnie Franche and cause a casualty - actually causing more damage than my two sections of rangers! Mark and I shook hands on that one.
Because of a random events card that came up, Andy's light infantry officer was declared a "Hero" with semi-god-like abilities or with a targeting laser or with fiery breath. I don't remember exactly what but it was a good thing... until a Huron sniper under Ralph's command did him in. The game ended in a resounding French victory. Steven's regulars suffered a number of hits from Bear's musketry but he captured the farm houses and the cattle.

Ralph's Hurons skirt the pond as they move to flank the British regulars.

They seem to be milling aimlessly, but there is method to their madness.

Mark's' French regulars move to take up a position at the fence line on the photo's left.
These are from Andy's extensive collection of F&I figures.
Half of my ranger section fire on the French irregulars.
All these figures are from my own collection.

Steven' s regulars, which he kept in a more open formation. They didn't get the extra punch of the closed "firing line" but they didn't suffer from being a "large target" which is what a firing line is considered to be.

Préparez-vous! Présent! Feu!

The Hurons move through the woods.
"Wit' one hand tied behind me back!"
My ranger officer makes a futile attempt to hold back the flanking maneuvre of the Compagnie Franche.
*Sigh*    Such is the life of a toy soldier!

They keep coming on!

The French irregulars eventually took of a position at the rail fence to fire into the flank of the British regulars.
Despite the flanking fire and casualties, my regulars held firm. My dice had warmed up a bit after lunch.
My officer charged the French officer (at Andy's urging) and was killed handily.
The centre of the table as the French advanced.

Another view of Steven's infantry

My ill-fated rangers put up a brave front before the French irregulars.

Andy's British light infantry attempt to hold back the Huron advance. Lots of musket smoke!

Bear's regulars hammer the French with musketry.

Mark's troops are almost in place at the fence.

At the end of the game, one of Steven's squads turned the corner to fire across the field at the light infantry.

Meanwhile, Mark's regulars hopped the fence to move toward my redcoats.

Early in the game, Bear's regulars move into harm's way.

Action in the deep woods.
Again, early in the game, the light infantry take on the Huron.
Most of the figures and all of the terrain were from Andy's collection. I was able to command my own figures. When the game was over, we discussed certain house rules and update variants that caused some confusion in the game at times, and we hammered them out to what appears to be everyone's satisfaction. Once again, my dice were cold for a long time. I'm going to have to immerse them in salsa or something like that for a while.

Next, Martin and I intend to have a game of Pike & Shotte using his French and my Swedes, opponents who should be used to each other my now. In two weeks, we've invited another informal games group to the library for a big ACW games. Big. I mean really big... like the Hail Caesar! game we had last week. (See the previous blog entry.)


  1. Great looking game, John. I especially like the log buildings.

    1. Thanks, Mike. The buildings are Andy's and they add a lot to the look of the table.