Saturday, December 26, 2009

Trenton, Dec. 26 session of Hold the Line

The Day after Christmas provided an opportunity to play an anniversary game commemorating 233 years since Washington led his bedraggled army across the Delaware in a bold bid to salvage something from his disastrous 1776 campaign.

The Young General decided he wanted the British (in this case Hessian) force, despite the historical outcome. He was impressed with the strong contingent of Elite infantry. And indeed, the Hessian force was remarkably strong, considering the historical record, with three elite Infantry units (marked 4E on the map) and five regular infantry. Rounding out the force was an artillery unit and one 2/1 General (Representing Rall -- spelled Rahl in the game notes). The effects of surprise are shown by giving the Hessians a Command Level of just 1 for the first five turns, rising to 2 after that.

The Americans did not have a huge advantage in numbers, just 9 regular infantry and three artillery units. The biggest American edge was in leadership, with Washington (2/2) and "Greene" (1/2), although by the setup Greene really should be Sullivan. The Americans have a Command Level of 3. The Americans also have a positional advantage, as can be seen from the map, with all their troops in two consolidated forces while the Hessians are spread out. The Hessians do have four hexes of town to bolster their defenses, though.

The victory conditions are interesting, with both players having a goal of 6 VPs. The Americans can get one Victory Point by taking the indicated town hex, while the Hessians can earn 2 victory points for every three units that escape across the bridge. The burden of attack is on the Americans, if the game ends without either side getting to 6, then the British win. The scenario instructions don't indicate a game length, so we assumed it was 30.

The initial turns really went well for the Americans, with multiple Action Die roll s of 3 giving the American 6 action points to work with. Hessian luck wasn't bad, but it wasn't good either, so the first five turns they had 2 or 3 action points per turn available. The Americans advanced on the bridge and generally closed along the whole line. The Hessian unit nearest the bridge was able to escape over it, and the two elite units on the Hessian left pulled back a bit in preparation for their own run for the bridge. The Americans jumped out to a 3-0 lead by eliminating the Hessian guns, the forward elite unit and the regular unit between them. So far the Hessians had inflicted just one hit on the Americans.

The next few turns saw the Americans try to push their advantage with a general advance across the front. Rall was threatened with encirclement as Washington led a regular unit to capture the victory point hex and other American units closed in. Another Hessian regular fell, at the cost of one American unit, so the score was 5-1.

The Hessians then rallied, as the Elites counterattacked the Victory Point hex and recaptured it, while Rall fought his way to them. The Americans lost the victory hex and two infantry units. This closed the gap to 4-3

Still, the press of numbers began to tell. The Americans could afford to pull badly damaged units out of the line and had enough command to rally others. The guns had been brought forward into range and Washington and "Greene" led fresh troops to the front. Both of the remaining Hessian regular units were eventually ground down and eliminated by Turn 16, making the final score 6-3. Presumably Rall and the two elite units would have surrendered at this point. Illustrating how tough the fighting was, only one of the surviving six American infantry units was still at full strength.

It was an interesting fight, although probably not a particularly authentic rendering of the battle, even by Hold the Line standards. Winning the battle with such losses would definitely have taken a bit of the shine off the trophy compared to the actual event, where no American troops died in the fighting (although some did die from the weather).

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