Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A weekend of gaming

To help Bill Protz celebrate his belated birthday, a group gathered for gaming, good conversation and dice rolling.  In the morning the 17th Bengal Lancers needed to do a reconnaissance from Fort Grant to determine if the Thugees under the mighty Khan were approaching.  I volunteered to share referee duties with another during the scenario.  The Thugs had a 24' table to work with and placed their troops on a map.  The lights were then turned off to simulate a pre-dawn march and we saw how far they could move in ten minutes before the lights came up. 

The Thugs decided to deploy forward to ambush the troopers right away, presumably before they could gather any military intelligence.  Personally, I would have held them back, in the gaps between the woods, maybe with a unit dismounted and facing the rear to shoot lancers in the back after they rode past.  But, they attacked right away and after two turns we refs had nothing to do.  So we amused ourselves developing special rules for things like this:

At first it looked very difficult for the lancers, with enemy cavalry on all flanks.

But the advantage of close-order troops vs. open order and the lance bonus on first contact meant in the end that although the reconnaissance was defeated, the cost to the Thugee cavalry was huge.  Fire from the battlements of the fort and a sortie by infantry in support also brought grief to the Khan's forces.  I'll leave other commentary to the players.

After very pleasant lunch and delicious birthday cake the group divided for two games.  The first was the assault on Fort Grant by Khan and his Thugs.  Although I thought I took pictures none turned out.  I'll leave it to Bill or others to report on the desperate fighting after the walls were breached and the Thugs entered the fort.

I played in a French and Indian War meeting engagement.  Bill and I had the French with three small line battalions, a smaller converged grenadier battalion, a good-sized group of miliciens Canadien and a war band of natives.  Four light guns rounded out our force.  We were faced by four larger British battalions, one of which were grenadiers, three guns of unknown weight and the ubiquitous Roger's Rangers.  Oh how I hate those little green men!  I had expected we would be playing Drums of War Along the Mohawk, Bill's rule set for the F&I period, but we used the more familiar Batailles de Ancien Regime (BAR).

As commander I hit upon the flawed plan to take the grenadiers, natives and milice with the lightest gun on a flanking maneuver.  The natives and milice, being open order types, could go through the woods and became engaged with the Rangers right away.  Our grenadiers, wanting to stay formed took the long route and ended up never being engaged. 

Again, I have no idea what happened to my pictures, but given the result it is perhaps better there is no record.  <grin>  While I had the pleasure of surrounding, meleeing and routing the Rangers, the British line in their best tradition went "hi-diddle-diddle, straight up the middle."  A combination of a joker in the hole, eight or more straight red cards and hot vs. cool dice we could not stand up to the onslaught.

Despite disappointing results, it was a great day.  Whether you call us Old Schoolers, old farts or just gentlemen, the games at Bill's are always characterized by good-natured kidding and active competition.

Sunday my friend Bent Olson introduced me to SAGA.  Todd took a 6 point Irish "army" while I was given Normans.  For those like me who are unfamiliar with Saga it is a skirmish game in the spirit of the currently fashionable systems.  That is to say, vaguely historical with a lot of gamey flavor.  It is a competition game where much like Maurice or Flames of War there are national specialties or gimmicks.  You roll Saga dice every turn to determine what options you can use in the action phase.  Most are offensive though a few can have a defensive nature.  Combat is resolved in any order desired in terms of missile attacks, movement and melee so as a former tournament chess player I felt I had an advantage being able to visualize a "combination" to get to the position I wanted.  Whether such perfect coordination belongs in a game I'll leave for others to decide.  Meanwhile, the pictures I took speak for themselves.  Yeah, my camera worked Sunday.


In the end the combination of Norman archers and killer cavalry left the Irish broken and returning to their swamps.

All played on a 3x4' table in about three hours with LOTS of time taken explaining abstract concepts to the slow-to-understand, like me.  I'm sure that if I played again it would go much, much faster.

However, much like my exposure to Maurice I have a hard time reconciling the options on the battle-board with anything historic or realistic.  If it was fantasy and the Normans were Rohirrim, which is how I always saw them pre-movies, then fine, but as soon as you call it historical I have a problem.  I'll play it again if given the chance, but for now I'm not going out to purchase the spendy (IMHO) rules and high-gloss supplements.


  1. Very nice pictures, especially the bridge and the tiger for me!!

  2. Re the Colonial Cavalry Game:
    Michael, I was very happy you and Curt ran the game before and after the ambush was sprung plus enjoyed moving the tiger and alligator around to cause mischief. Totally taking over all spotting mechanics was a good idea too. This saved time because it was speedier than if Brent or I had to think and decide and all the rest. Saving time always is a BIG happiness to me in games - so there is more time for other things and hopefully another turn or two - or three or more.

    The Brits. in the F&I game seemed to be on the ropes in their own minds. Nope. No doubt now this was a clever ruse de l'guerre - the rascals! They were brilliant in execution and luck was on their side too. Next time, we'll get 'em!

    Thank you very much for all you did. I had a great time planning all three games, being in two and as a host was gratified to see everyone enjoying themselves.

    Cheers and bravos especially to you and Curt plus the other birthday celebrationists too, John, Jon, Chuck, Greg and Brent.