Tuesday, May 12, 2015

AWI Rules Test: Fife and Drum

last week, Ambler Gamers tested the "Fife and Drum" rules by James Purky.  We used the same terrain as we did for our ACW game last week. We just adjusted the armies back in time about four score and seven years.

It has been a while since we games a rules set that allows each side to activate all of their units.  Steve contemplates directing traffic with so many British units at his command.

Joe casually brings his Hessians into range.
Despite holding a stone wall, Mark's riflemen fell back against a virtual wave of British line infantry. 

Mark and Joe trade shots. Despite sometimes shaky Continental morale, Washington's troops made the British and Hessians pay for every yard they gained.

My French artillery. This heavy battery was shockingly effective at long range. I almost felt guilty.

Two of my French line units.  All they had to do was keep Steve's Brits pinned on the other side of the stream.  Not an impossible task, but they were clearly outnumbered.
The Hessians begin their slow, costly, but inexorable advance around the Continental left.  Joe has a son in the Marine Corps, and it broke his heart to rout the Marines who anchored the American position.  Just for a little bit.

The British advance.

This was the one sector of the battlefield where the Franco-American army saw its greatest success.  The angle by the woods turned into a devastating killing ground. However, that meant the other sectors were stretched thin, and the line eventually began to crumble. My two large French units advance across the stream, creating that deadly angle.

As hits accumulate, the morale of the American army starts to waver.  The forward militia units begin to seek safety.

Monsieur? Time for le dejunner?

In the end, the left of the American army began to crumble against the stubborn Hessians, who repeatedly managed to rally after taking heavy casualties. With the flank now exposed, the Franco-American army had little choice but to cede the field.

We found that the rules gave satisfactory results, and no "unrealistic" outcomes caught our attention.  For our after-work gaming community, we found that the counting-up of figures and then dividing by four was more math than we were used to, and that tended to slow the game down.  It was also a bit disorienting to reliably command every unit on a given side on its turn--we have grown accustomed to the vagaries of rules that simulate uncertainty and friction, and its absence was a little jarring.  The rules were designed around a simple and consistent mechanic, which made the core concepts easy to pick up and apply (though we found the need to roll low a change. Speaking as someone who cannot break a 3 on a roll of a ten sided die, I was perfectly happy with this design principle!).  Finally, on retrospect, I think the rules did a good job of modelling the different qualities of training doctrines of the infantry units on the battlefield. regular troops proved their worth over militia, and while Continental regulars could not stand toe to toe with their British counterparts on every occasion, they sometimes showed tenacity.

Next session, we are going to refight the same battle with a different set of rules, to provide a side by side comparison.

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