Sunday, March 16, 2008

Skirmish at Twogates House

71st (Frasers) Foot in their campaign uniform - Minifgs 25mm DG and I got together yesterday evening for the first, and preliminary, skirmishing in the campaign... this turned out be a fairly short event as the fog of war had truly set in, and I had absolutely no idea that those advance British units were actually as large as they turned out to be..! J

Suffice to say that when six entire infantry regiments comprising King George's finest and their German allies, accompanied by two batteries of light guns entered the table north of the hamlet of Twogates House (2/. on the map) it came as a bit of surprise to yours truly, as my sole (under strength) Militia was expecting one regiment and a battery of guns at most!

So - let's start with the battlefield (and please click on this or any of the other pictures for a larger view):

As you can see I, as the American, was deployed on the edge of the hamlet, DG entered opposite (from the north). I needed to last six moves before reinforcements would arrive, in the form of a the American cavalry that up until then had been patrolling the road between OneTree Hill (1.) and Twogate House (2/.)

I managed to make four moves before being driven off the table so I'm afraid it was a pretty short game - my fault - I hadn't been clear enough in my campaign definitions and DG had registered the brigades in Berthier as strength 1, rather than 1 per unit... he'll correct it going forward, and no great damage was done as I now have a clear indication of where the main British forces are! My, how we laughed..... J

With plenty of time to spare and an enticing table set before us however, I dragged out the soldier boxes, slapped down two French regiments, two regiments of Continental's, and two regiments of regulars, plus some artillery, and with roughly equal sides we decided to set to afresh for a standalone game...

The Americans started off on the same edge as before with the British opposite.. here you can see the French and one of the two regiments of regulars deployed west of the hamlet on the road, the Continental's were on the other flank just opposite the barn and log cabin. The Americans had one of their guns unlimbered and facing down the road towards the British, the other gun was on their far left flank limbered.

The British deployment was fairly similar - I daresay that if we'd had time to think about it, we might have tried something different. In the following you can see the British deployment - Germans in front with the British regulars behind - guns were deployed on both flanks.. the road divided the command. That picture is good enough to grace the front of any book on wargaming... troops, terrain, a tape measure and dice, does it get any better?!

There then ensued what the football (soccer) pundits in the UK are want to call "a game of two halves" - the first half was definitely with the British, the second half I managed to claw some advantage back...

The game started with a general advance by both sides - the Continental's moved to occupy the farm complex..(see next)

..while their French allies moved forward towards the wood.. (see next)

The British opened up a particularly effective barrage in this part of the game however, if has to be said the DG had great amounts of trouble even throwing low numbers, whereas I as having exactly the opposite problem, suffice to say that one of the Continental regiments routed from the field as a result of casualties and failed morale tests, while my artillery and some particularly ineffective musketry resulted in little or no casualties being inflicted on the British!

On the American left flank an all out assault (see next)

.....was beaten back with casualties - it's always the most difficult of things to pull off successfully, but in this instance poor dice, and the intervening terrain contributed to the failure and the assault was bloodily repulsed.. added to the destruction of the American artillery on this flank, this was the low watermark of the American ambitions....

Half time - and over the tea and refreshments, I considered my next step - happily, things were about to change..

Holding back on the left, I decided to concentrate my efforts on the right flank where the British - shielded by some broken ground in front of the farm complex, were putting in a big assault - dragging my gun forward by main effort, and thus clearing the field of fire, I was able to start using canister (in our rules there is a range limitation, and a field of fire limitation - none of your own troops should be in a 45' arc of the front of the gun) and the initial blasts wreaked bloody havoc.

I also moved one of the regiments of regulars into the log cabin which brought the British gun within musket range, and I eventually drove off the crew... traversing my gun, I then managed to enfilade the British regiments on the edge of the wood opposite my right flank.

It was this I think that was probably the turning point of the battle - the casualties were enough for me then to launch a successful assault on the units in the wood.. one of the regiments was shaken which was enough to put them off their aim and the American regulars crunched home, the other British regiment stopped my French in their tracks with sustained musket fire, while on the far flank, the other French regiment squared up to the highlanders...

The American regulars drove off the first regiment in rout before turning to take the next regiment in the flank - the Highlanders were destroyed to a man (they had taken a fair amount of damage from my artillery prior to this) - when the British commander decided that discretion was the better part of valour the two French regiments were lining up on the same remaining British unit on the wood edge..

The following is the final picture from the game and is taken from the American left.. in front of the wood the French regiments are lining up for their "go", just the other side of them, and the wood, you can see the American regulars... in the far distance the other American regulars are in the process of quitting the farm complex so as to finish off that flank.

Post Match Analysis:

  • ..all in all then an excellent game, and despite the fact that DG conceded when we totalled up the "bill" there was only a point difference in it - truth if any were needed that assaults really are "bloody" - mine in the first half had almost equalled his in the second..
  • Truly dreadful dice throwing by yours truly in the first half (I think I'm still paying back for the game DG and I had a couple of months ago!) but managed to get it back in the second half... we had some discussion afterwards as to how to launch an assault more effectively - the secret is probably to get at least two units to one so that the one can't drive both off with musketry, but it's not easy to get the numbers given the largely linear nature of warfare at this time. All in all - totally realistic then..
  • Browsing Will McNally's AWI blog (click here) earlier in the week I noticed that Will had been playing around with the idea of command and control - reducing the god-like status of your table top brigadiers and generals... you can see the thoughts here ( and we decided that we'd have a go with this game. We did change one aspect, which was to drop the idea of the supplementary test - basically we said that the commander could attempt to order all his units, if one failed, then he just carried on rather than stopping.... general consensus was that for us the additional die rolls didn't really add anything, and only slowed the game down (and the speed of the game is one of the things we really like about it).. we may not have been applying it correctly though, so I may drop an email to Will for some more of his thoughts... it may just be of course that neither DG or I are keen on rules that limit the actions of your table top men, based on the characteristic of a table top general, when it's us who are actually in charge... J we like a straight fight, and dice throws limiting movement & action are just a luck element...but hey, that's just us!
  • All figures for this game were Minifigs 25mm's, terrain by TSS, buildings by Hovels, tree's by K&M. Snake rail fences were home-made (using the extra long matches you can buy). The normal fences, are Airfix, and I reckon that they are probably in the region of 30+ years old - bought them with my pocket money when I was in Oz (forces family so we lived in Sydney for a couple of years) supplemented by returning coke bottles for the deposit..J
  • For those for whom I know it's important - the tea on this occasion was Twining's Everyday a lovely brew. More solid refreshments were provided by a plate of the emperor amongst dunking (and check this link out to know why we dunk!)biscuits, the digestive, and also a couple of generous slices of Wild Blueberry and Apple cake... we lived like kings!

Stay tuned for more campaign moves...

Last of all - many thanks to everyone - I've just gone through 10,000 visits, which I think is amazing!


  1. Steve,

    As always I enjoyed your photos and write-ups of the two games . . . well one and a quarter games . . . okay, one rout and one game.

    I also appreciate the rule discussions at the end. Thank you.

    -- Jeff

  2. Hi Steve
    I agree with Jeff.
    I have played this campaign once or twice and tried it in the Napoleonic period with 'my' group.
    It got too much for one of the players who just said he couldn't win and gave up. A shame for the rest of us who put a deal of work in. I think it is a fun campaign.
    Command and control is a difficult one. My regular opponent and I had a set of chance cards, one of which was drawn on a throw of 1 (2 if we were playing solo). That worked to remove complete control from us. We found (as I have with other groups) that the idea seems good but can take up a lot of time. They have usually been dropped except where they are integral to the game as in Ga Pa.
    Best wishes

  3. Thanks Jeff.. (and b.t.w - get well soon)..

    Thanks to you too Jim - it's a difficult campaign for the incumbent player - it's a race too consolidate, but DG and I just enjoy playing the game so neither of us is likely to quit because we can't win - if anything we see it as a personal challenge!

    The question of command and control is a difficult one - DG and I both play and enjoy Blitzkrieg Commander for example - but I can't see that method working for this era..... I guess part of the problem is that we like the AWI rules exactly as they are because they work so well, so any changes have to be beneficial to the overall experience... :o))

  4. I like the figures and terrain; great stuff. I especially like the roads, with their ruts worn by wagon wheels. I need to make some like that!


  5. Thanks Dale - I can't take any credit for the roads I'm afraid... the roads are integral to the terrain tiles I use which are the two foot square ones from TSS who are at:

    ...very reasonable prices & good quality (these have lasted me years) - and no involvement other than as a customer.. :o))