Monday, 21 January 2013

Patriots and Loyalists playtest

Towards the end of last year we tested three sets of AWI rules and decided that Patriots and Loyalists suited us the best.  In our recent game we experimented with using different ability rates for the brigade commanders.

A fictional scenario was set up proposing an encounter battle between two forces.  The terrain was rather congested, as was often the case in the AWI and this hampered the deployment and movement of both forces.  A roll of the dice allocated the American force to me.  I had three brigades of similar size under the command of Archer, left flank (average), Bannister, centre (good) and Cowman, right flank (poor).

This view shows the battlefield from behind the British left flank.  Archer's men in the far corner face the fields, Bannister's face the wood and hill. Cowman's men had a more open area before them, so had the sole unit of cavalry attached.  My plan was to use Bannister to seize the centre ground and with Archer defeat the British brigades opposing them.  Cowman, as befitted his poor command status, was to advance as far as the gap between the marsh and small lake and then stand on the defensive.

At first things went smoothly, all three brigades moved forward, pretty much together, although Bannister's men were hampered by the hedges to the left of the wood.  Archer pushed forward his riflemen into the field and began skirmishing with the British light troops who had moved into the wood on the far left.  It was Cowman who had the most success, high dice meant that his brigade moved forward quickly, belying his 'poor' rating and soon his artillery was firing at the British brigade advancing towards him.  Caught in column,  two of the battalions were forced to fall back to rally after failing morale tests.  Seeing the disruption suffered by his opponent, Cowman perhaps became over ambitious and sent a battalion into a wood on his right, with the aim of bringing flanking fire on a British battalion which had taken up position on a hill (seen lower left on photo above).    Once in position, the battalion fired, but to no effect.  The volley in reply was effective and sent the Americans tumbling back the way they had come, forcing them to spend time rallying.

Meanwhile, Archer had continued to move his battalions forward in support of the riflemen.  This support was needed as the British infantry were advancing in numbers towards them.  Archer ordered his riflemen to fall back, but in doing so they hampered the advance of the line units behind them and the British infantry, taking advantage of the confusion, advanced and fired.  The lead unit of continental infantry was forced to fall back to rally.  Their supports, caught in flank by the jubilant British also fell back.  Archer, quickly moved to the stricken units to rally them.  As he did so the British light infantry crept forward and began firing.  Astride his horse, Archer was a tempting target and not surprisingly was hit.  Mortally wounded he was carried from the field.

In the centre Bannister had at last got his men onto the central hill.  His riflemen started exchanging fire with the Hessian jaegers who covered the advance of the central British brigade.  The leading American unit of continental infantry moved through their skirmishers and charged the Hessians who quickly fell back, evading the charge.  Carried forward by their momentum the Americans hit the lead British unit, a converged grenadier battalion.  The Americans had out-distanced their supports, but the Grenadiers had not and this proved decisive in the ensuing melee. As the Americans fell back, the grenadiers continued their advance. 

Ignoring the fire of Bannister's artillery they charged and defeated a second American unit.  Bannister joined his remaining reserve battalion and led it forward towards the seemingly unstoppable grenadiers.  The melee was short but decisive; the grenadiers were defeated, driven from the field, but at heavy cost.  Bannister was killed in the fight.  The American commander rode forward to rally Bannister's men,  but the day was lost.  With two brigade commanders gone, most of the artillery ammunition fired and losses rising the only thing to do was retreat.  Cowman's brigade was in the best shape and they formed the rearguard as the American army fell back.

The different command ratings for the brigadiers worked well, injecting a little uncertainty into movement.  The use of a single d10 for morale throws was not as successful, we will look at using a d20 in future games.

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