Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hauled out an old-timer today

Yes, I hauled out one of my all-time favorite game -- a set of miniatures rules from the 1980s called The Complete Brigadier.

Covering the heart of the black power era, from 1680 to 1880, The Complete Brigadier is a very tactical game ruthlessly focus on the perspective of a brigade-level commander.

My miniatures for this set of rules are from Flaying Pan & Blanket Amalgamated, 20 mm scale American Revolution figures. It just so happened that a couple of decades ago I often had staff duty officer while stationed in Germany. And because we were a nuclear-capable missile unit, we had secret message traffic all night long, so the SDO could not nap. As a consequence I had quite a bit of time on mu hands on a weekly basis and I used it to paint up a few hundred figures. I haven't had that kind of time since.

I won't say that they are well-painted, but they;re passable for wargame purposes.

I like the rules because they're very straightforward and while reasonably complex, they are intuitive. The rules concentrate on formations and orders and are deterministic when it comes to fireing and melee. There are enough modifiers that the outcome of combats is not overly predictable.

I ran a demo of the game at the local game shop today. I commanded a British force comprised of two regular foot battalions, a small converged grenadier battalion, an even smaller squadron of dragoons, a full-sized artillery battery and some Indians. Deployed off to one flank across a stream were three large battalions of Hessians, but unknown to the American player this was just a distraction force. The Hessians didn't know the stream was fordable and would therefore not take part in the attack.

The American player -- experienced with board games and Magic: The Gathering but not historical miniatures -- had a force comprised of a battalion of Continetnal Line, a battalion of militia, small battalions of light infantry and riflemen, a troop of dragoons and a small artillery battery. His missionw as to defend the hill, specifically the mansion near the top.

Because the opposing player was a newbie, a treated this as demo game, without a focus on victory for one side or the other. That said, it was an interesting and well-fought battle.

The Americans basically deployed in two lines of units -- with the first line made up of the militia, the Continentals and the light infantry, while the dragoons, rifles and artillery formed the second line.

For my part I placed the Indians on the far left, with an eye towards having them sweep on a wide flanking move though some woods. On the right I placed the lights and the dragoons, whose mission was to fix the Americans in front of them. In a compact mass in the center I placed the grenadiers and foot, with the artillery lined up in column on the road. I hoped to outflank the main American line with fire support form the guns.

The battle more or less followed the plan, with the inevitable adjustments due to the enemy's vote. On the right the lights advanced into firing range of both the American light infantry and the rifles while the dragoons attracted the attention of the gunners. There ensued a long exchange of fire that the lights and dragoons eventually lost. The good news is that this tied up half the American force for most of the battle, but the bad news was that it was costly.

The American player was not content to passively accept the attack and moved the Continentals and the dragoon troop up to meet the main British attack. The dragoons and the light infantry were pushed back by the advancing British foot units and as the game ended due to time on Turn 10 the British grenadiers and the Buffs were about to take the house. The American dragoons with the rebel general attached were last seen sabering the fleeing remnants of the other British foot unit but were out of the battle. Likewise the Continentals could not resist the opportunity to charge the British guns just as they were about to unlimber -- chasing them back and eventually capturing the whole lot. This also, however, removed the only regular formed Ameircan unit fromt he critical point.

Left holding the bag were the hapless militia, who were hit on both flanks. On one side was the Buffs, while on the other side were the Indians, who had completed their sweeping move and were now in the American rear area. The militia dissolved in a quick rout.

Overall, with two turns left, the Americans had no formed troops left in position to contest the objective, but the game ended due to time before the final moves could be made.

Still, it was a hard-fought battle, with the British side suffering more heavily. Of the American units the Continentals, the light infantry and the artillery were all unscathed., while the rifles had 9 of 12 left and the dragoons 5 of 6 figures left. Only the militia unit was completely destroyed.

On the British side, in contrast, the light infantry, dragoons on one foot unit had all routed off the field and the artillery battery were prisoners! The grenadiers had 10of 12 left while the Buffs had 22 of 24 figures left. Only the Indians had avoided loss.

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