Saturday, March 30, 2024

Hawkins Ford

Bruce popped over for a game this week. I was keen to get my War of 1812 plastics out for a spin so I dusted off Rebels and Patriots (part of the Osprey Rampant series). It looks like we'd last played these rules in 2019 with the Battles of Pork Rind and Baby Duck Ridge. I decided to play Hawkins Ford, which is a bit of a cheesie race scenario as the British defend a key river crossing against a superior American force.

The Americans had three line units, two half-sized skirmishers, a light cannon, some dragoons, and a leader. They started in the top left (by the white dice) and needs to capture Hawkins Ford (mid-board on the right. 

The British had two units of militia dug into hard cover by the ford plus two units of line and one of Indian allies that started bottom left (by the red dice). The river was impassable except to the Indians and the dismounted dragoons. Points-wise, this was 3-2 for the Americans.

Bruce advanced the Americans up the road, swinging his line units towards the river's edge and his cavalry and skirmishers to the other flank. This was the reverse of the approach I'd taken in my playtest but didn't seem make a big difference in the end.

The British managed to advance their line units towards the ford to reinforce it but kept crapping out on command rolls for everyone else. Based on our 2019 experiences, we amended the rules such that a failed unit activation caused initiative to switch (more in keeping with the rest of the Rampant series). The game was to end when turns plus 1d6 =16.

The Americans formed up into close order to assault. I missed getting a picture of the dragoons approaching and getting absolutely murdered by a lucky British fire. Meanwhile, command blunders stymied the British. Eventually, I got the Indians moving towards the flanks of the formed up Americans.

A nasty fire-fire and set of charges sea-sawed at the ford. Bruce had terrible combat rolls. Meanwhile, the Indians plowed into the rear of the American advance, with devastating effect.

One unit of American line was routed by the Indians while a second was damaged by fire and forced to retreat. This was enough for Bruce to call off the attack. A couple of thoughts. First, having initiative switching on failed command rolls made the game more interesting (because the sequence of activations now was a more consequential decision) but still not super interesting.

Second, having played Xenos Rampant, really what the game needs is to bolt-on the newer Xenos mechanics to create more differentiated units and more interesting choices and caused units to fight more like they did historically. So I think that's what I'm going to work on next. It should be a pretty easy adaptation. That also streamlines the kind of clunky morale tracking, I think.

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