Sunday, 20 November 2016

I'm Waiting For My Wine, M'sour!

I'll explain the title shortly.

This past Saturday at the Hamilton Road Games Group, Andy wanted to try an experiment, mad scientist/wargamer that he is. He put together a Seven Years War game (French vs. British/Hanoverians) using a mash-up of Black Powder and Age of Reason with a special twist: The brigades orders HAD TO be written and  any changes in orders had to be written and handed to the umpire (Andy) who then determined when those orders might be delivered. In some cases... never!

I assumed the role of Ferdinand of Brunswick, the over-all British commander. I also commanded the infantry brigades of Murray, Wolfe, and Cumberland. Bear commanded the Hanoverian infantry brigade of Luckner and the cavalry brigade of Sackville. On the French side, Martin commanded with Mark and Brian commanding the brigades.

The board -- British to the left, French to the right.
Martin and I drew maps and named the features - each had entirely different names.
I named the towns Dunkton and Shickshinny; Martin called them Alpha and Beta or something like that.

An angled view of the British/Hanoverian side. Bear has the right flank.
Bear and I won the toss for initiative. Our mission was to capture the bridge on our far left flank. I intended to have Bear take and hold Shickshinny with Luckner's troops and more or less refuse the right, guarding the army's right flank with his cavalry. I sent Murray's brigade (Highlanders and line regiments) to take the bridge. Wolfe was in reserve with a Guards regiment, a combined grenadier battalion and two line battalions. He was to support Murray at 12:00 noon, but hold his ground until then. 
Mark and Brian came on fast when they moved. A nasty firefight ensued between the Highlanders and Mark's French troops (who were "unreliable" but who did everything Mark asked of them) and the Highlanders ended up falling back and one English regiment was destroyed. I felt that Bear had misinterpreted my orders and had thrown his cavalry out too far. My repeated messages all went off into the some postal black hole. (Andy was gleefully dicing to see when messages would get through and did not had out messages with equal glee.) Martin seemed to send a lot of message and I thought his messages got through for the most part.

Brian's French Cavalry

Brian's column of French infantry and Mark's left-hand brigade

Mark's brigade on the bridge

Bear's British cavalry and his Hanoverians.

My center brigade with Wolfe's reserve brigade behind

Murray's brigade led by two large Highland regiments
Mark's troops guarding the bridge.
The French target was to take and hold the road in the centre of the board.
By this time, of course, all the plans we had were unraveling and the written message system was realistically frustrating, (It was a game and I actually kept my sense of humour.) Bear's infantry took the town and had to fall back once the French infantry came up but the town was contested right to the end of the game. Brian's infantry column felt threatened by Bear's cavalry and each regiment formed square while the French cavalry turned to engage the British horse rather than sweeping past. Murray's brigade was sorely hurt (one regiment vaporized, and the other three were "shaken.") Wolfe's brigade advanced but only barely got into the battle by the end of the game. My third brigade was being nibbled to death by Mark's and Brian's troops. 

Bear's cavalry begins its run. I was left chewing my sleeve and writing notes and orders
... that never arrived!

Bear's Hanoverians approach Shickshinny in good order.

Meanwhile on the other side...

The action get's hotter at the bridge crossing.

Casualties begin to tell. Andy cut plastic straws as casualty caps.
That's what you see on the far left of the first Highland regiment.

My mixed brigade of Hanoverians and British were ordered to hold the ground between the two villages,
even moving up to the road. It's hard to misinterpret your own orders!

Bear has the town! Huzzah!

The brigades exchange fire.
We lay down cotton balls to show when a unit has fired.

The French cavalry would soon turn to face the British cavalry and end their reign of terror over
Brian's infantry brigade,

Wolfe's reserves begin their march through Dunkton.
(I don't care what Martin called the village.)

The swirling cavalry melee on the far British right.

Now Shickshinny in contested.
Murray's brigade was broken. Wolfe's was still coming up as the "rain" began to fall. (Our table-top reason to stop playing.) Cumberland and Luckner's brigades were holding on rather well, although some of Luckner's regiments were shaken. A few of Mark's regiments were shaken, but they really did quite well. I only learned that they were "unreliable" in the postmortem. In reality, Bear's ride came and the rest of us had to get on with other things. We'd call it a contested win for the French.
The system of blind delivery of messages and orders was the point of the game, and it made the game. We used the combat mechanics from Black Powder and the movement mechanics from Age of Reason. We all agreed that there needs to be clarification of the hybrid rules in those areas, but the order system made the game. Andy had been objecting to Black Powder's rules on command, feeling it was entirely too random. This hybrid experiment gave the game the right feel. Using Black Powder sized units gave the table top the right look, in my opinion.  Using the weapons' ranges from Age of Reason required us to get "up-close-and-personal" right away. 
Had more people been able to play as brigadiers, Martin and I might never have seen the tabletop at all! Cudos to Andy on this! We'll do it again. Maybe next week.

Oooh! Mark has received a message from the High Command!
Is it workable? Is it realistic? Is it legible? Is it comprehendable?

Wolfe's brigade comes into play.

An eagle-eye view of the centre of the board.
Pinch-hitting for a tree in the town was my very old Martian Metals Ent or Treeman.
In a message Martin sent to me, he said he was sending a case of wine to my heardquarters. I don't know wine, but I think the vintage he spoke of was a-kin to vinegar or Windex or carpet cleaner. I sent a note back (which Andy promptly lost) saying "Thank you, Mon General... you raunchy B*st*rd!" Martin got a kick out of that.
I may have missed a few things in this report, but I sure enjoyed the game.

The game ending on the table. The "12:00" indicated the game time as we were to mark the time sent on our orders.
In reality, it was about 3pm and threatening snow.
On Sunday, we got a good bit of snow. It didn't shut the town down...
...and Pooka loved it.


  1. I "sent" you a case of Chateau Mouton. Now it goes by the name of Château Monton Rothschild.

    It's arguably the greatest claret in the world.

    It's the closest thing to T-bills when it comes to investing in wine.

    1. I certainly understand now and I stand corrected and humbled. I don't know wine, as I said, but I know you and I assumed you had sent the imaginary equivalent of the One-Eyed Monongahela or Old Cardtable (One drink and your legs fold up under you.)