Monday, July 11, 2011

The Whites of Their Eyes

The redoubtable Mark K. and I had a great game day -- as is so often the case we pretty much traded wins all day long -- split matches of Commands & Colors: Ancients and Hold The Line, he notched a convincing win of Washington's Warm while I eked out an unconvincing win in Richard III. He managed to break the tie with a win in Martian Fluxx though ... .

The Hold the Line game was actually a scenario from Clash for a Continent, the Battle of Bunker Hill. Now, even by the loose standards of HTL this Bunker Hill wasn't very Bunker Hill-like. There's not much resemblance between the order of battle and the layout of the ground between the scenario and the actual event, except in the very broadest sense of some British troops making a frontal assault on a hill held by Americans.

The scenario features some "regular" Americans, some "Light Infantry" and a few cannons!! backed up by some militia along a line of hills and a rail fence. This is quite kind to the American quality level and yet basically ignores the field fortifications the Americans erected. The famous reboudt is nowhere to be seen, for example. The British force seems reasonable, with some elites, some regulars and some light infantry. It appears to me that the scenario isn't meant to represent the entire battle, but is meant to depict the final British assault alone.

For the first game I took the Americans while Mark commanded the British. He endeavored to make his main effort on his left against the right corner of the American ridge, which he managed to take, albeit at some considerable loss. My survivors fell back towards the left. I had meanwhile redeployed the artillery from the American fence to the ridge -- a move that Mark considered ill-advised. While the cannons definitely beefed up the firepower of the main line, it opened up the possibility for a dash for the victory point hexes by the British left flank Light Infantry. Decent shooting at the last moment by a couple of American militia units (taking advantage of flanking fire) cut down the British lights as they crossed the fence -- but it was a very near-run thing indeed and one bad roll would have given the Mark the win. As it turned out, though, the failure of the Lights left the British facing a tough situation and the Americans were able to get the kill they needed for a 6-6 win. (The Briitsh needed 7 VPs to win, the Americans just 6)

When it was my turn with the British I decided to hit the other corner of the American hill line and was able to break into the American line at relatively less cost. At that point I had a choice between turning toward the Victory Point area behind the fence OR trying to roll up the Americans in the other direction. In retrospect, I made the wrong choice. I tried a push for the lucrative VP areas, but Mark had retained the artillery and the high quality infantry on that flank and my British troops did not have the necessary edge to prevail. Had I gone the other way I would have had a numerical and quality edge and that flank was within supporting distance by the British reserves. Instead I "snatched defeat from the jaws of victory" and the game ended with another 6-6 American win.

Overall it seems like a good balanced scenario -- it's just not very authentic, even considering the abstractness of the game.

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