Thursday, May 23, 2013

Shadows in the Woods


I got in my first games of Muskets and Tomahawks on Wedensday, and judging by the fact I've had the soundtrack from Last of the Mohicans on a constant loop ever since, I had fun ;)

marke's target bottom left, with my CFdlM behind them.  On the right, my Huron allies.

I got in two 200 point games, one against marke, and one against Vonplutz.  Both used marke's British light infantry.  I ran a combination of Compagnie Franche de la Marine and Natives, each with an officer.  The former allow their player to deploy them as either regular infantry (line formation, better shooting and morale) or irregulars (better movement, especially in terrain).  I opted to go with irregulars, as it made my entire force  the same for purposes of movement, and I figured, the simpler the better in my first game.  As we're still in the process of getting stuff together for this game, only the test figures I painted a while back had their "colours", but after last night, that'll change quickly ;)

We decided that the right half of the table was light cover, with the templates indicating more difficult ground.  The farmstead was open.  marke opted for a headlong rush across the fields.

Although I had a few concerns about clunkiness and complexity when reading the rulebook (while a player activates units, actions, spotting, etc. are determined at the level of individual figures) the game itself was surprisingly intuitive.  We picked up on how things worked more or less by the end of the first turn, and I found navigating the rule-book incredibly easy.  I think I only had to refer to the table of contents once.

Forming a firing line.  By this point, my French are holed up in the building.

Activation is by card.  A deck is built by including cards for each side that correspond to the type of units in their force.  When a card is drawn, all units (including officer "units") may perform the number of actions shown on the card.  Basic actions include move, shoot, or reload.  Mechanisms are d6 throughout, with modifiers (sometimes bonus / penalty, sometimes column shift), and there's 2-3 tables that handle resolution.

The French fire their muskets!

This kills a few of les Anglais, and one unit recoils from the devestation.

One of the really appealing aspects of the game is the objective system.  Each player has an objective randomly determined according to their dominant troop type, and each player has their own objective (i.e., different goals and criteria for a win).  In addition, a random officer on each side may be given a "side-plot", the successful completion of which will modify the game outcome.  For example, in the first game, marke was trying to set a homestead on fire, while my goal was to wipe out 2/3 of his force.  In the second game, against Vonplutz, I was the arsonist, while he was trying to scout the terrain and retire his forces safely.

marke decides to try the assault rules.

Both games were absolute blasts to play.  In the first, marke didn't worry too much about tactics, and bulled ahead in a quest to explore game mechanics.  Turns out that buildings make pretty effective little bunkers against attack.  Not invulnerable, mind, but definitely assets.  This led to a predictable win for me, though I have to admit, my dice were insanely hot.  marke's last trooper went down in a rush from my Hurons, though he managed to take one of them out with him.

Hard to make out with all the night camo, but that's his lone surviving trooper surrounded by some rather eager natives.

 The second game against Vonplutz was actually quite tight.  For simplicity, we opted to keep the terrain the same (the game has a scale-able mechanic depending on game size).  He took over marke's Brits, while I kept my French / Huron force.  This time, I got the "burn the buildings" objective, while VP got a scouting mission.  He had to have a model end its movement in each of the 4 table quarters, and then get a third of his figures off the table.  We also opted to use the optional side-plots rule for our officers, and also decided to keep them secret (main objectives must be revealed).  I got one for my native officer in which he had to kill 6 enemy figures, and survive.  Given that VP would be looking to get in, and get out, I figured the odds were slim.


Because of mission priority, VP got to choose table edge, which left me with a slog across the table to the buildings I was to burn.  Given marke's experience, I opted to send my units down the wooded side of the table. VP split his units between the table halves, probably to maximize his chances to get to the far quarters.


We made contact pretty quickly on the left.  I figured I'd try to overwhelm the one flank, and then swing round against the buildings.  A mid-range firefight erupted, but the results were inconclusive; each of us mauled the other a bit, and units were pushed back and forth.  VP, being a clever monkey, kept retreating, slowing my advance, but staying out of range of melee, where my numbers might overwhelm him.


I eventually "peeled" my French away to move towards the buildings, hoping my Huron allies could keep the light infantry in the woods off my back.  While we'd been skirmishing in the woods, he had pushed his officer forward to scout the table.  My marines shook into a firing line, and unloaded, but somehow managed to miss with every shot!  To add insult to injury, VP then unloaded with his woodsmen, and the ensuing devestation made my Hurons opt for discretion.  A "Flight" result in reaction to casualties means that not only does the unit move away (as a "Recoil"), they also can act for the rest of the turn.


Opting to forget the officer, and focus on my objective, I cannily arranged for three (!) of my French activation cards to be drawn in a row.  This was enough to move my marines up to the first building, and set it on fire - with the British still inside!


This was a problem for VP, because at the beginning of each turn, the fire spreads.  If it spreads enough, the building is destroyed, killing any models inside.  We overlooked a rule requiring units in a burning building to take a Reaction test, but it was kind of moot, as VP opted to exit forthwith.  On his next activation, he managed a lucky shot at the one marine visible, killed him, and I promptly rolled a "Flight" result!  This meant I had nothing to stop him moving towards the table edge until the next turn, and it was almost certain he'd win.


Sure enough, he got a unit off the table.  While I did managed a volley that made his second unit flee (a Flight result off table makes the models count as casualties), enough of his men had survived with the Scouting info for him to win.  So close!

I'm hooked.  This game is fun, flavourful, and surprisingly intuitive.  While there are some guys in the club pushing to to this in 28mm (and I see the appeal), the Blue Moon 15mm figs we're using are frankly wonderful, and paint up quickly and well.  I've been jonesing for an 18th century project in this scale, and I think this game fits the bill.  It probably helps that this is probably my primary interest historically.  I've got a painting session or two left to finish off the DW stuff I've been working on, but then I think I'll steam ahead on these guys.  A fully painted game will look fantastic, and I can't wait to get some painted units on the table.

This is also a game for which I can see myself doing terrain.  Blue Moon does a range of gorgeous, and reasonably priced buildings.  Those, plus a few area templates and some trees, will make for a nice table, and at 15mm, would be transportable.  It's shaping up to be a summer of Spartans and French.  Can't wait!



  1. Very nice looking set up and sounds just like what I'm expecting when I get my first game in. Best, Dean

  2. Great first run! There are a couple of fellows locally who want to jump into this set but I've been stalling because we're spread thin in rules and periods right now. I may have to stop stalling and jump in. Thanks for the shove!

    1. You should! At 200 points, the smallest game size you can run, I managed to do a bounding withdrawal that stalled FMB's force long enough for my brave officer to scout the area. I can only imagine the tactical options available in a larger game.

  3. Great looking game and sounds like you really enjoyed it!

  4. Looks a good game, almost would drag me in but I am over committed as it is LOL


  5. Thanks for the report. I'm lookign forward to playing sometime soon.