Wednesday saw me and Foxlington sit down to a game, the first in a while, as the two of us seem to have been missing each other of late. Muskets and Tomahawks, 200 points, but a bunch of firsts for me. Fox plays a pure Native force (first time I've played against that force), he uses boats (ditto), and for the first time I ran my Marines as regulars (new again).
|Foxlington's boats. I think we can all agree, he's done a terrific job.|
The game itself turned out to be pretty straightforward. Foxlington had the Raid objective, I had Engagement. As it turns out, we both had Usurpation as a side plot (officer must stay 4" away from all units), and in an interesting twist, we ended up playing a night game. I deployed my unit of ten Marines and the officer towards the centre of the table, supported by rifle armed Natives, and a second unit of natives from the Pays d'en Haut (no rifles, but good in close combat) out on my left flank to cover the river (if you buy boats, you get to deploy a river, and Fox had one running across the short edge about a 3rd of the way in on my left).
Fox deployed his boats (2 canoes, each with a unit), and the rest of his force in the wooded approach to the settlement I was defending.
|Marines take up position to defend the settlement.|
Early stages of the game were pretty straightforward. I advanced my marines in firing line to defend the settlement, while my rifle-armed natives pushed forward to take up position in the forward building. My back-country allies moved to cover the ford, while Foxlington moved up, sticking to cover as much as possible.
With my unit covering the ford, Fox opted to beach his canoes, and have his water-borne units join the main assault.
|Check out the water effects on the bases.|
This was a bit of a double-edged sword for me. One the one hand, it meant that there were two units of enemy raiders with relatively unimpeded access to my defending units and the settlement. On the other hand, it meant I had a unit in what amounted to the enemy's rear, always a good option.
|That's my Pays d'en Haut fellows in the foreground.|
Back in the centre, my troops were struggling. While my allies had taken up a defensible position in the buildings, my Marines were out in the open (in order to gain the benefits of their Firing Line ability, they had to assume a formation only possible in open terrain). I might have done better to put them in the buildings as well, but I wanted to try out Firing Line, having only experienced it from the receiving side so far.
The cover of night meant that the extra range of my rifle-armed troops was mostly nullified, and Fox was able to get his raiders in quite close, before unloading on my marines. Several fell, and the unit recoiled into the lee of the buildings. This had the added "bonus" of costing my my sub-plot, as the marines had pulled back to within 4" of the French officer.
|Driven back by fierce musketry, the Marines suddenly realize their officer is an imposter!|
Meanwhile, a run of activation cards meant that Foxlington's water-borne troops were pressing hard toward the settlement; my beleaguered defenders were looking a little surrounded.
|A bit of a bad situation. There's 5 native allies in the forward building, and they're looking a little lonely.|
But then the pendulum swung. Having waited until their targets drew into point blank range, my Natives holed up in the building opened fire. They gutted the unit to their front, and managed a casualty on one of the boat units drawing in on their flank.
This is where the weakness of the Native force kicked in. While they are absolutely peerless as guerrilla fighters and skirmishers (natives in the woods are hard to deal with), when they take casualties, they tend to react dramatically. This is partly a product of their morale table, and partly a product of the fact that they deploy in small units (it also reflects the historical record; natives fought to kill the other guy, not to get killed, and would typically withdraw and redeploy when facing heavy fire). The net effect is that one of Fox's units simply disintegrated, while the other recoiled in flight (it wouldn't activate for the rest of the turn).
|Going to have learn the mohawk for "Screw this shit!"|
Foxlington, undeterred, returned fire, driving my rifle-armed allies out of the forward building (they also got a Flight! result), which he then occupied.
Things pretty much hung in the balance. Fox was going to be able to fire at least one of the buildings on his next activation, and if he drove back my Marines, would have a decent shot at the other. If I was going to pull this out, I'd need to take a chance. On the next activation for my Marines, I had them advance, and then assault the building that Fox's troops had just occupied.
Now ordinarily, the cover buildings provide can be game-changing. For whatever reason, however, this game, things worked out a little unexpectedly, both when my guys were driven out by fire, and when I assaulted in response. My Marines, apparently angered by the casualties they'd taken, drove the raiders out of the building, killing several in the fight, and more when their opponents fled.
|Audace! Toujours audace!|
Foxlington had now taken fairly significant casualties, and it was time for my allies from the hinterland to shine. On their next activation, they fell on the fleeing unit that had been driven back earlier the turn (the one in the cornfield), and managed to do enough damage to tip Foxlington over the 2/3 threashold. The French and their allies had managed to drive back the raiders. The survivors fled to their boats, and paddled away.
|Lesson 1: Never get off the boat.|
|Especially a good-looking boat like this.|
The end of the game kind of surprised me, as it happens. With such a small point level, hitting that 2/3 kill mark can happen quite quickly. The game could have easily gone either way, however. The building assault was risky as hell, and had my Marines lost, I'm pretty sure that the raiders would have proceeded to torch the buildings.
Firing line was useful, but at least in this game, seemed less impressive on the friendly side (possibly a product of my Marines' lower shooting value). On the other hand, the morale table for Regulars was terrific. It was also interesting to see a force made up entirely of Natives. I think they'd be a challenge to play, for me, as they really depend on their commander being patient, and using their ability to exploit cover to whittle down an opponent before closing, something that my tendency to aggressive play would make rather difficult.
If things ever settle down around here in terms of employment, I'm going to have to pick up some more stuff for this game. I'd like to end up with some playable diversity for both the French and English, along with some terrain of my own; those 4Ground buildings are looking more and more tempting. I really like M&T, and love the period. This one, I think, is for the long haul.