Monday, March 8, 2010

the second game...

We played our second game of 'Victory Without Quarter' on Saturday. Lots of fun! We had to tweak things a little bit to account for a larger scale and different mounting systems. My 54mm figures are mounted two figures to a stand so each regiment was composed of four stands of musketeers and two stands of pikemen.

Since the rules are written for three-stand units (two of musketeers and one of pike), for game purposes we considered each two figure stand as a half-game-stand. Instead of using casualty markers we removed a half-stand. We used white, yellow and red poker chips to represent hits, shaken and routed statuses respectively. Cotton puffs placed in front of a unit represented reload status. Since VWQ is written for 25mm figures we simply doubled the move distances and ranges to account for our 54mm figures. I had concerns on how this would affect playability but it worked out well. Luckily we had a six by eighteen foot game table. It was plenty of room. We had eight players who handled four brigade commanders and a commander-in-chief on each side. We were probably over-officered but I wanted to ensure that each player would have something to do each turn. The King's artillery was placed in one of the fortified position. The parliamentarian field artillery was allowed to move six inches per turn, but once it fired it became immobile for the rest of the game (like the royal artillery).

The Loyalist side consisted of six regiments of foot (three of them veteran), two regiments of cuirassiers gallopers and a single battery of artillery. The fictional scenario was that the King's force was digging in to protect two river fords. They had built two earthworks in which to place artillery to command the fords but had only emplaced one battery. The fortified sconces were separated by a small patch of woods and the positions were unable to provided mutual support.

The Royalists placed their regiments on the table and the Roundheads were allowed to observe before deciding how to deploy on their side of the table. The Royalists placed two regiments with the fortified battery on their left flank. Next to this were three more foot regiments occupying the open area between the fort and the woods. The last regiment and the two cuirassier units were placed in the light woods. By contracting their defensive line the Royal commander had abandoned one of the forts and left the second ford open. The river itself was a major obstacle. Troops crossing at a ford had to advance to the center of the river and then stop. When their next card was drawn they could continue moving. Crossing the river elsewhere required the troops to stop at the closest edge of the river, then at the center and finally at the far bank thus taking three movements to make it across. It was a tidal river and there was a chance that crossing the river would become more difficult if the event card called for it. It was the goal of the Parliamentarians to dislodge the Royalists.

The Parliamentarians had six foot regiments (three of them raw), four regiments of trotter cavalry and three artillery batteries. They decided on the 'ol hammer and anvil strategy sending three cavalry and two infantry regiments against the undefended ford on their left, intending to swing to their right once they were across the river and attack the units in the woods. One of the Parliamentarian batteries anchored the right flank and provided counter-battery fire against the Royalist battery in the sconce. The other two Roundhead batteries were placed in the center of their line.

While the Roundhead commander made his way to the far ford, the right-flank brigade raced down the road towards the defended crossing. The Royalist artillery was prepared and unleashed death. The leading Parliamentarian regiment took the brunt and broke towards the rear. This snarled the advance on the road as the remaining units took what cover they could behind a hedgerow. Since the defense of the ford appeared to be well in hand the Royalist center advanced to the river to discourage the Roundheads from making a more difficult (though perhaps safer) crossing further downstream. This prompted the Parliamentarians to place their center batteries and signaled a change in Roundhead strategy. From this point on the Puritan anvil would consist of artillery fire against the Royalist center.

Meanwhile, the Roundhead hammer probed the undefended ford and double checked to make sure there were no Royalist troops hiding in the apparently undefended fort. Once that was established the two Puritan regiments headed towards the woods to engage the troops there. The two accompanying infantry regiments started crossing the river. This prompted one of the Royalist horse units to charge the invading cavalry. The target of the charge cleverly evaded and drew the cuirassiers away from the rest of the Royalist troops. The second Parliamentarian horse unit maneuvered behind the cuirassiers and fired into them causing a casualty. The Royalist horse managed to discipline themselves enough to stop pursuing the evading horse, turned around and attempted a charge against the second Roundhead unit. Against all odds, however, the trotter horse managed to get off a second devastating shot destroying the impetuous Royalist horse regiment. However, the evading horse were gone for good.

The Royalist center was also in trouble. While the Parliamentarians showed a distinct disinclination to charge the defended ford again, the King's infantry in the center had advanced to the edge of the river... too far from the fortified troops and artillery to be supported by them. The Puritans concentrated two of their batteries against these troops. The infantry withstood it for a while, but eventually both regiments broke leaving a gaping hole. The Puritan counter-artillery battery proved ineffective against the fort. But the protected Royalist gun slowly whittled away at the center of the Parliamentarian line. The original force coming down the road remained beyond reach of the Royalist gun and awaited the opportunity to charge the ford again.


With the Royalist center gone and the right wing weakened, the Parliamentarian forces now had the advantage against the troops in the woods. Fortune favored the Roundheads and before long more Royalists were streaming towards the rear. Rather than withstand a siege the King's troops remaining in the fort requested terms for surrender.

The players enjoyed the game and I enjoyed running it. Perhaps I over-empowered the artillery by allowing it a 45 degree arc of fire. Next time I think I will enforce the rule that the artillery target must be straight ahead and it takes a separate move to pivot the gun. In this game I did allow commanders to move the guns since the rules really don't allow (and probably correctly so) for field guns to be moved during the game. Yet I wanted Parliament to face the quandary of when and where to place their batteries. Perhaps in future games I will allow commanders to move or pivot a gun but it only fires—straight ahead--when an artillery card is drawn.  Well, maybe by then I'll have some small guns which will add a further dimension. And some commanded shot, and some dragoons, and some sharpshooters, and some club-men and some....

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