Monday, 27 December 2021

The Silver Bayonet -- early trials

 The Silver Bayonet is Osprey Publishing's horror-Napoleonic skirmish game and I think it's a good one! The author, Joseph A McCullough, has done a nice job on this game. I saw it out of the corner of my eye a short time back... and dismissed it. I don't like horror stuff. I can deal with Godzilla kicking over Tokyo, but I can't stomach vampires and werewolves and the like.

I was wrong. The game is superb.

    The game is based in the Napoleonic period, a time of great war and upheaval, with the major powers of Europe (France, Britain, Spain, Prussia, Austria, and Russia) represented and a nod is given to lesser powers if the players want to set up a unit from those places. The premise is this: malevolent beings called "the Harvestmen" feed off of human suffering and terror. Whether they started the wars or just gorged themselves on what humans did is immaterial. These "Harvestmen" work through legendary beings on earth - ghosts, vampires, revenants, werewolves, goblins, and the like. All the major powers have put together teams to combat these critters, using veteran troops of great courage, investigators, occult practitioners, and even some legendary folks. (I'm using the term "legendary" rather than "mythological" out of respect for the spiritual beliefs of certain people, like the First Nations peoples here in Canada. Legends could be real, while myths imply something made up to the modern Western mind.)

    Since my family and I have lots of troops for skirmish gaming of the War of 1812, we took that path. I have Austrians on my painting table, but that will take some time to finish. My son saw the rules, inhaled them, and wanted to try them out. So on Boxing Day, we put together four teams for The Silver Bayonet.

My son, Robb's British-Canadian force
L to R: Supernatural investigator, infantryman, officer commanding, Highlander,
First Nations scout, junior officer, riflemen
(The green uniforms are the Glengarry Light Infantry Fencibles, a tough
Canadian Fencible unit in the War of 1812.)

My wife, Beth's Lenni Lenape force (She has First Nation's heritage)
(I was given their names in the Lenape language.)
L to R: 2 rifle-armed warriors (Xinkwëlëpay and Sek'téh), the Sachem commanding
(Chitkunk'tek),  the Shaman (Occultist named Mpaola),the Wise Woman
(doctor named Nushénakw), 2 more rifle-armed warriors (Tahkoxi and Pamputis)
{In English - Big Deer, Black Heart, Quiet Heart, Spirit Man, Mother Tree-willow, 
Little Turtle, and Snapping Turtle}

My eldest, Kaise's "servant of the Harvestmen" force
L to R: hobgoblin, 2 wolves, Troll, Changeling commanding, Imp/Pixie
(The idea of running the "monsters" intrigued them, so they used a fan-based
variant to work up these nasties.)

My United States force
L to R: sapper/"pioneer", infantryman, Supernatural investigator, officer
commanding, occultist, Scout (Kentucky Volunteer), rifleman

   Robb set up the table and Kaise watched the rules. Robb's Royal force faced my US force in one of the book's scenarios, although not the first one. 5 "clues" were placed according to the scenario and it all began.

The barn in the centre of the board was surrounded by clues.

An over-head view of the farmstead and surrounding trees.

As above, with my force mustering on the left side of the photo.

Robb's officer looks the situation over.

Each "clue" had an undead revenant right at it. As I moved onto the field, one caught sight of my force and moved ponderously toward it. Robb moved through a wooded area and was not so easily spotted.

Well, I made a crappy role and what appeared? A demon... taking the place of 
the revenant I had put down a moment ago.
(No actual demon figures were available so this pun'kin-head scarecrow 
agreed take the promotion and fill in.)

Of course, the demon saw and charged my pioneer. Eventually, the infantryman, the
officer, and the occultist joined the fray. The occultist (a more powerful character than 
I expected) enchanted the pioneer's axe, and we put that critter down after much blood-letting.

Meanwhile, Robb's scout and rifleman skulked around the storage house.

Still skulking

The officer got into the barn while the Highlander found "the Artifact" and began to 
carry it off. What was the "Artifact"? I don't know. Must have been whisky considering
how quickly that bearded kilt carried it off. 

Right at the end, a final revenant appeared to annoy Robb's force as the carried off the "Artifact."
Annoyed rather than damaged or worried.

In the meantime, my team was being shot up and cut to ribbons by Robb's musketry and rifle fire. So he won his first game of The Silver Bayonet and I lost. 

But it was a load of fun.

We broke for a bite of lunch and then reset for Robb, Beth, and I to play a three-sided game. (A little clunky, but it does work.) 

The Crown Silver Bayonet force prepares to enter.

The US rifleman, supernatural investigator, and infantryman scurry in.
The rifleman has already taken 5 points of damage from the Glengarry rifleman.

The Lenni Lenape ("Delaware") warband glides through the forest.

The Crown force shows itself.
The paper in front of the rifleman is "smoke" showing he's fired his rifle. 

Look who jumped up to fight the Lenni Lenape band!

...who proceeded to swarm the werewolf and make short work of him.

Werewolf? No werewolf here!

The US pioneer takes cover as the American force takes MORE casualties.
Meanwhile the brave infantryman moves to engage both a clue and 2 Crown figures
while the occultist looks on.

Another werewolf appears! the Crown forces shoot to take it down!

4 wolves entered at the four corners of the board right at the end.
This one killed my occultist.

We ran out of wolf figures so this were-moose filled in. (He so flexible!)

Well, this is a fun game and we all enjoyed playing. We have to get more familiar with some of parts of the rules. The "fate pool" is an interesting twist, as is melding hit and damage rolls for fighting. Robb intends to collect either a Prussian or Russian force. My Austrians are in process, and I may find some French if I find the right price for a dozen figs. (You can field a great force with a dozen figures, with gives you a normal force of 8 with a deep "bench" to try other options.)

We'll be seeing more of this. I wish a great Christmas season and happy New Year to all who are reading this.

Here's a few Candid Shots:
The American Supernatural Investigator

The Changling

A wacky, wild Pixie

The Crown forces' scout

Chitkuni'tek, the Lenni Lenape Sachem (leader)

The American Sapper
(The proper term for US forces is "pioneer." Each company in a regiment had one pioneer.
"Sappers, Miners, and Bombardiers" were a separate specialist corps.)