Monday, March 15, 2010

HTL Quebec session report

As I alluded to in the previous post, Mark K. and I played a couple of games of the Quebec battle scenario from the Clash for a Continent scenario book, although we used the slightly different rules published in Hold the Line along with the components from that game.

And as I mentioned, the outcome was a bit unexpected, as the French managed to win both times. Historically, of course, they were decisively defeated in a very short fight, about a quarter of an hour.

Both our games went far longer than that, nearly running out the 20-turn clock as a matter of fact. As the scenario map shows, both armies begin the action within engagement range, which is not common in the series.
I started with the French. My initial plan was to try to advance on both flanks and then use Bouganville's reinforcements to hit whichever flank was the weaker one. As an aside, the scenario includes Bouganville's detachment, which historically was not on the field. Montcalm chose not to wait for his detached troops before beginning his advance.

The initial shooting from the French artillery and the Indians in the woods was highly effective and prompted the British to refuse both flanks and drop their hole line back out of artillery range. I became concerned that I might run out of time so I decided to try pushing on my left (the British right) flank because I thought there's be a greater chance that Bouganville's troops would be able to get onto the field without being too cramped by terrain and enemy units.

And this was essentially how it played out, as Bouganville came on the board next to the small knoll next to the river. It was, however, a close-run thing as the close-rage fighting was naturally quite bloody. With both armies teetering on the edge with 5 VPs each I closed with several units. This risked a lucky leader hit bringing the battle to an end but the British muskets, while able to cause a lot of damage to the troops, were unable to find an officer. With many muskets to bear the French return fire was able to get the last VP. Final score 6-5.

The flip-side of the match was much grimmer or the British. Mark's Indians were very active, seeming able to run up, take a shot and run back unscathed. His militia was also uncharacteristically deadly, with a couple of British line units actually being destroyed by militia fire. Each attempt to advance into effective range left a bunch of British units shattered. By Turn 12 the French were up to a 5-0 lead.

The surviving British hunkered down in tight formation and several fresh units formed a human shield while Wolfe rallied some of the shaken survivors. The French had a hard time getting that last VP as their muskets fouled, apparently. The British even managed to morale boost by finally killing a French unit. Still, the French edge was overwhelming at that point and it was only a matter of time before the final VP came their way. Final score was 6-1.

Our initial impression had been that the French were likely to face a hard time in this scenario, being outnumbered at the outset and being stuck with militia for a significant portion of their OB. Mark called them "walking Victory Points." Normally that has been out experience, but in this scenario the militia, especially in the second game, performed way above expectations.

Similarly the Indians ended up performing very well for both of us, which is a little surprising because there wasn't an awful lot of woods on this battlefield.

I'm not entirely persuaded that the French are favored in the scenario, despite the outcomes of both fights, but they clearly are competitive with the British. Having twice as many guns and a veryn open battlefield in which to use them seems to go a long way towards evening the score.

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