Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Patriot's Day Pounding

The redoubtable Mark K. and I celebrated Patriot's Day with a couple of appropriately themed American Revolution games, the new Washington's War from GMT and Liberty, the block game from Columbia Games.

Each game covers about the same ground, although Liberty is much more strongly focused on the military campaigning while Washington's War's card-driven allows it to include more political effects.
In both games I took the British, so history was well-served by Mark's eventual double victory.

Each game was marred a bit by inexperienced play and some rule errors, so I won't go into a lot of detail, but both games went the distance, ending in 1783. The British came within 1 victory point of getting a draw in Liberty, but that didn't reflect that the British cause unraveled relatively early and benefited from a late French entry. The Washington's War game, on the other hand, seemed t me to be somewhat close than the final result indicated. There was one critical victory by Benedict Arnold in North Carolina that had far-reaching effect as the was a real chance that Arnold and the entire southern Continental army would be captured which would have resulted in a solid loyalist South with little chance for a Patriot counteroffensive. Instead Arnold stuck around to cause more trouble and by the time the British secured the South they were too short on time and resources to take the North back.

Both games were enjoyable, however, and rematches are eagerly awaited.

Before tackling those two new games, Mark K. and I continued our Hold the Line series, playing the Battle of Ste. Foy from the French and Indian War. Until I got the French & Indian War expansion to HTL I had never even heard of this battle. Accounts of the Quebec campaign always concentrate on the Plains of Abraham battle and give the impression that it ended the campaign. But there was an additional battle the following year that the French even managed to win but the arrival of the British fleet shortly afterwards meant that the city of Quebec would remain in British hands.

While the French won the historical battle, in our match the British won each time. In the first go, Mark K. took the British while I took the French. The French have an advantage in numbers and quality, although the numerical advantage is largely made up by near-worthless militia and a matter of fact, on neither case did the militia take part in the battle. Looming larger was the French having starting values of 4 while the British were all 3s.

On the other hand the British had a major advantage in artillery and the French a disadvantage in time, with just 20 turns. Rounding out the British order of battle was a unit of useful colonial rangers while the French had a couple of allied Indian units.

Mark tried standing and fighting for a bit, with the intention of retreating after the early volleys. This didn't work out as he intended as he found it hard to withdraw under fire and the French jumped out to an early lead in victory points. In the middle game, however, the tide began to turn as the surviving British pulled back and the French began to straggle as they tried to stay within range,. Before too long the British outnumbered the French at the point of contact and they began to rack up points in turn. One French Indian unit made it to one hex of Quebec where it scooped up a VP marker, but it was eventually destroyed. The final score ended up being 7-6 in favor of the British,.

The second fight was more one-sided as I consistently retreated my British units which prevented the French from massing their army. Instead they ended up being strung out and caught outnumbered at the actual point of contact. The final score ended up being 7-4 for the British.

We agreed that this appeared to be a tough scenario for the French to win given the time pressure. Given that both of us have played quite a few games of Hold the Line by now, we felt that the level of play was reasonably good and the outcome was a good reflection of the scenario's balance.

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