Sunday, 23 October 2011

Another Adventure in Upper Canada

We tried another "This Very Ground" War of 1812 Adventure game on Saturday, October 22 at the Hamilton Road Games Group in London, ON. I was prepared for as many as 10 players, but we ran with 7. I served as both referee and player. Rob played the Native warband with British Indian Department assistance. Andy and Marty played two British Regular infantry details, while Mark ran the Glengarry Light Infantry Fencibles. Stephen worked the US Regular rifles, Steve the US Regular infantry, and I handled the mounted Volunteer rifles. Each had a distinct mission with Victory Points attached. (Rob - take scalps, Andy and Steve - forage for food, Martin - commandeer boats, Mark - destroy the beaver dam, Stephen - harass the enemy and find the lost dispatch box, Me - escort an engineer officer to find a new ford.) Andy also had a military band with him... just to annoy the players. He ended up putting it to good use. There were also some referee-run "free agents" on the table - the usual bear, rattlesnake nest, skunk, and caches of hams. I added bee hives, brigands, refugees, a lost pay chest, a stinky dead animal, and a still.
[For those interested, Andy came up with the idea of a "mission" oriented game, in which each player had a 'mission' to fulfill, which might or might not bring them into conflict with the other players. I added the idea of encounters from Iron Ivan's pulp fiction game, "Where Heroes Dare." This is the third or fourth time we've runt his kind of game and it never fails to be fun! That is why we play, I suppose.]
Robby led his warband over the marsh, finding a mired field gun, the recovery of which would have been the mission of some US Regular artillerymen, if another player or two had joined.  The braves hit the side of the US Rifles and almost wiped them out, stopping for an activation to scalp the casualties... gaining a Victory Point each. Andy marched his detail AND band and used the band to march off with a batch of cattle, sheep, and pigs. Neither he nor Robby aggrivated the skunk, although Rob killed it and threw it at the band. (Oddy enough, Rob, Beth, and I play in a local town band, Rob on baritone sax, Beth on auxiliary percussion, and myself on bass trombone.) Mark gathered up the cattle and turned them over to Andy. Then he proceeded to the beaver dam and destroyed it. Martin took a bit of time to find the boats but finally got them and brought them to the muster point. He found the still and had his superbly disciplined troops carry it along for his gin-soaked officers. Stephen encounted the rattlesnake nest and rifle-butted the snakes to death before they bit him. He was in the process of recoving the dispatch box from the brigands when the Natives bashed him. Four rifles escaped with the box. Steve's Regulars found the cache of hams,  discovered the pay chest, escaped a forest fire AND the bear, and fought the Natives... getting the short end of the stick, but not before sending the hams and paychest off with a patrol led by his first sergeant. He also exchanged fire with Andy's redcoats. For me, the "new unit" curse was in full effect. I had just finished the batch of mounted rifles I was using as well as the engineer officer. They encountered and out distanced the refugee caravan, ran into the brigands who shot three, unhorsed three more, then charged and wiped all the rifles out. The engineer escaped and fulfilled his mission by finding the ford and high-tailing it back to base - with the bear in pursuit. I was the only one who did not fulfill his mission; I felt the loss of the entire escort force did not merit full Victory Points. Such is life. The Crown forces accumulated the most Victory Points, so they have bragging rights... until 5 minutes ago.

The crew around the table is the Crouch Library

Stephen's rifles prepare to stomp the nest of snakes.
The mounted rifles trot by in the background.

Rob's Native warband deal with the skunk. I realize it looks like they're
making friends with it, but they killed it and threw it at the band.

Martin's nicely painted line infantry cross the cultivated field.
{Live with the pain, Kevin!}

Mark's Glengarries busily herd cattle.

The BID officer, troopers, and tribal braves skirt the bee hives (on the right)

The civilian refugees pass the tavern... which would be more than the band
would do. (Sorry, no photos of the band.) The red string shows the edge of
forested area of the board; The trees simply decorate, but the string lets
you know when you are in or out of the forest.

The biggest issue of the day was communication. Andy, Mark, and Robby sent officers or sergeants to confer and swap mission descriptions. (No talking between players -besides the usual trash talk- without officers/NCOs 'talking' on the table.) The US side didn't. The players that cooperated made the biggest headway in fulfilling their missions. Important tip for the next time.
Since it was still early, a few of us set up a straight "shoot-em-up" game with three units of line infantry and a rifle-armed skirmish unit each. (Bear joined us for this one. He's a gamer, not the bear on the table.) Everything depended on who got the initiative, with the Crown forces did most often so the US lost.
US Regulars hold a ridgeline.

Martin's nicely painted British line infantry advance.

The British line. The "thing" behind the nearest office is the still, which
Martin insisted on keeping from the adventure game.

The US Regular infantry held it's ground... and paid for it.

Like I said - paid for it in cash.
(The yellow bingo chips denote "smoke" or loaded/unloaded status.)

A view of the US infantry line.

All in all, it was a fun day. The "Adventure" game takes some planning and some imagination as well as a sense of humour. I find the Iron Ivan rules for this period to be quite satisfactory and very flexible. They were written for the French and Indian War, but since the technology doesn't change until the advent of the percussion cap musket so it works well for 1812. It just takes some finagling for the troop types, mainly just assigning values to the different types - Regulars, Volunteers, Fencibles, Militia, Native warbands, and the very rare elites. Brown Bess had a long and distinguished career. (Some were used in the American Civil War and rumour has it some were issued to some units of  Ireland's Home Defense Volunteers in the 1940's when invasion threatened. Now THAT would be an interesting twist to a Disposable Heroes game!)

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

¡No pasarĂ¡n!

It was time to play the Spanish Civil War again... and the Nationalists did not pass. Last Saturday, at the Hamilton Road Games Group, we played a scenario in 15mm using "Disposable Heroes" with Iron Ivan's SCW specific guide. We also included some pieces of equipment that hadn't seen the light of day for a LONG time. You'll see in the photos.
The Republicans set up in trenches behind barbed wire and the Nationalists assaulted the position. It was messy. The Republicans included an International platoon, a POUM militia platoon (Non-Comintern Marxists), a Anarchist platoon, and a small Assault Guard platoon with an armoured car - who stayed far away from the Anarchist, avoiding the house rule whereby paramilitary police and Anarchist units might fire on each other due to antimosity... even though they are on the same side! Supporting this stellar cast was an armoured train with 2 76.2mm field guns, leant to us by my wife's Russian Civil War army. (Hence the Cyrillic slogans on the side. Obviously a "Gift from the people of the Soviet Union.") There were also a few HMG's and a 37mm AT gun along with an Anarchist armoured truck.
The Nationalists had two platoons of the Spanish Foreign Legion (the "Betrothed of Death"), a large platoon of Carlist Requites (fanatical Catholics with a chaplain toting a submachine gun), a platoon of the Guardia Civil, a platoon of Moroccan Regulares (which Robby wanted to command since they were "more-rockin' than any other unit on the table." Ugh!), and 3 platoons of the regular Army. 2 75mm field guns, 2 FT-17 Renault tanks, and 2 CV33 Italian tankettes rounded out the assault force.
The Nationalists started half way across the table and still got cut to shreds. The position was just too strong. The guns of the train were ineffective while the Nationalist 75's caused a few morale checks. The Army and the Moroccans took the town but it ended up being contested by a few squads of the Internationalists. The Guardia Civil died first and nobody else on the center of the field fared any better.

The Republican entrenchment and the Train (a Peter Pig model)

A side view of the entrenchments... with flags!

The Carlists advance past one of the field guns. Note the chaplain in cassock
and surplice to the left of the photo. He started life as a Martian Metals wizard!
(I have some REALLY old and odd figures in my collection.)

The Moroccans advance into Papertown.
(Note the monks in procession to the left of the photo.
More Martian Metals!)

The troops of the International Brigade enter the town. The lone figure on
the hill is the commissar, often entrusted with boosting morale...
by shooting one figure when morale fails. Sometimes... they shoot back.

Horsepower! The green object is a bingo chip used to show that the
unit has be activiated. A red one means the unit has failed a morale
check. (A "Guts" check in Iron Ivan-speak.)

The Army comes to the support of the Moroccan Regulares.
The Model T is a gem from the Minifigs WWI range.

Casualties! I mount the squads/fire teams on large washers and mark
casualties with small plastic drapery discs. I should buy stock in Canadian Tire!

Nationalist Army troops

One last look at the Republican position. The white rings are the casualty
caps. The "barbed wire" is just coated wire wrapped around a pencil,
and glued to a piece of balsa or card.

Attacking over an open field under fire from more-or-less modern rifles is a death sentence. Someday I'll figure out how to stop setting games up where this is the major action.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Fanshawe Pioneer Village hosts the Grand Tactical

This past weekend, hundreds of War of 1812 reenactors gathered at Fanshawe Pioneer Village in London, ON for the 2011 Grand Tactical. I don't know the final total of reenactors but there were plenty, and about even numbers of Crown and US troops. The weather was cold and wet, but the event was fun and the Village treated us to a pig roast on Saturday night.

Enjoy the photos; there will be more later. The photos are from various sources including the Village's Facebook page, my daughter, Katie, and other reenactors kind enough to share their photos.

A view of Fanshawe Pioneer Village's Tecumseh's field.

Robby, in the lighter blue fatigue cap, often goes out with the 21st US Infantry who do more light infantry tactics than our 17th US who stand in the firing line. Ah, to be young and spry with a full cartridge box!

Andy, myself, and our adjutant, Andrew head to our guard post. I do an impression of a US Regular infantryman, 17th Regiment, as does the rest of the King's Company of Reenactors. Andy marches with us as a Western States militiaman. Andrew is starting to learn the drill.

The US firing line in Saturday afternoon's battle. My unit is on left in this photo, with me in the back rank.
The US line advances on Saturday. I'm sitting on the ground, "wounded", just to the left of the Colonel in green. 

The US line at Sunday morning's battle at the dam (or "the dam battle" as it was called.) Various uniforms are in evidence - Regulars in blue, black, and grey with shakos, Volunteers in blue with lots of red and top hats.

My wife, Beth (green hunting coat), our daughter, Katie (grey cloak), and our dog, Pooka (all to the left of the photo) shop on sutler's row. Pooka is in his "Regimentals"; the "17" can be easily seen,

The Crown forces - British Regulars, Canadian Fencible infantry, dismounted Light Dragoons, and a regiment's music - prepare to march off to the afternoon battle.

The Crown forces Sergeant Major passes down the line. On the photo's right stand Caldwell's Rangers, dressed and ready for battle in the forest.

The dismounted Light Dragoons.
Although I wear them too, I'll never figure out who folks would wear white pants to war.
The US "first brigade" crosses the field with colours flying. The blue flag is the National Colour and the white/buff/yellow one is the regimental colour. (The US Army was forbidden by law to carry the Stars and Stripes until much later in the 19th Century.)
The Canadian Fencibles let go a good volley. They brought their band, too.

Okay, yes, it's a shameless plug. Since I don't march so well anymore, I stayed in "town" as crossroads guard for both of the morning battles. I ended up greeting the public, saluting the ladies, presenting arms to officers, giving directions, and posing for photographs... like this one from the Fanshawe Village's Facebook page. I even ended up posing in "battle positions" for a gentleman taking photos to use as models for a mural being painted at a battlefield in the States. I hope the mural's figures are more handsome than I! I'm quite proud of my wife's work on my coatee.