Playing alone better than not playing at all

Yesterday I said I’d give a quick shot to Jim Purky’s Fife and Drum rules for the American Revolution.  Just to be clear, I am a Fire and Fury Regimental guy.  But I don’t play them often, and if I take them off to a convention they can be a little overwhelming.  Jim sent these to me when I ordered from his excellent range of figures a few years back, and they’ve mostly sat out in my painting room staring at me. I’m sure I’ve heard them whispering, “Well?”

Since I’m home alone this week, I thought I’d drag them out and give them a try. I set my dining room table up for “Action at Lizzard’s Farm.” It was great.  I dragged out all kinds of stuff and littered my 76″ by 40″ table with it. I even used one of my 4Ground buildings.

The scenario was simple. Lizzard’s Farm was defended by a brigade commanded by Otho Williams including a battalion of North Carolina militia, the 5th Virginia, the 5th Maryland and a section of artillery.  They were reinforced by Lee’s Legion dragoons and foot.

The British had two brigades including loyalist battalions Volunteers of Ireland and the New York Volunteers, a battalion of the 71st regiment (highland), the 21st regiment, and converged battalion of light infantry.  They kept Coffin’s South Carolina Dragoons in reserve and also had a section of artillery.

I’ll review the game with some photos, but right now I’d just like to focus on the rules.  Let me just say I like ’em.  They are easy without being ridiculous, they are logical and they work pretty well.  As with any one page set of rules, however, there are a few items that aren’t clear to me, and because I wasn’t playing with the author I didn’t have one of those a-ha moments.  So there are a couple of things I’d clarify

  • Units have to charge to initiate melee
    • Units who charge would receive an advantage in melee
    • Units who charge can’t shoot
    • Units who “lose” a melee after two rounds become shaken.

It’s possible that’s what Jim meant, but it isn’t clear to me. There is the right amount of death, but not so much as to be silly.

Big Set up

The set up extends across both sides down the table.  I wasn’t trying to be subtle.  In the British center right, they are trying to carry the American position by main force while the British light infantry and the 21st Regt. try to sweep up a thinly held American left flank. The Americans stuck riflemen in the cornfield, hoping to slow the Highlanders’ advance, while screening their right, holding a Continental regiment in reserve.

The British advanced briskly.  The Highlanders quickly emerged from the woods with the Irish and New Yorkers moving quickly with them. The American line units were out range, but the Brits came under fire from the artillery and the riflemen, andsuffered no casualties.

The following turn, however the 71st had to decide whether to engage the riflemen who shot so poorly or advance directly on the 5th Virginia.  A die roll of 5 meant huzzah! Damn the riflemen and charge the Virginians.  The two loyalist units followed suit.  An exchange of musketry found the Brits receiving decided the worst of the firefight.  With the aid of artillery fire, a bit of luck from the militia, and flank fire from the bypassed riflemen, the English line was staggered, but continued their advance.

On the British left, the 21st Regt. marched smartly around the pond as the light infantry prepared to engage Lee’s Legion light corps.  Outnumbered two to one and likely to be outflanked, the infantry began looking for friends.

The Charge

Hightlanders, New York Loyalists and The Volunteers of Ireland advance against Williams’ thin line. The Highlanders also take flank fire from the cornfield.

Turn four was the climactic turn.  The British decided on attack, and that’s where I was unclear about the rules.  The Americans gave them another dose of fire, causing the Highlanders and VOI to become shaken  Though the New Yorkers drove off the artillery crew, they were alone as their flank supports melted away.


Repulsed!! The Highlanders and Volunteers of Ireland were simply shattered by fire and unable to effectively charge the defenders. The New York Loyalists had more success, capturing the American artillery.

On the British left, the Lee’s Legion infantry corps withdrew from British reach, and the dragoons fell back to support them.  Williams committed the 5th Maryland to face the 21st Regiment.

At that point it was clear the main British assault failed and I called it good.  It was much fun and I’m glad I gave it a try. It was super to pull the figures out of the box again. Would I play a solo game again–maybe if the cards aligned correctly.

Look, I’m Painting Stuff: Hessian Grenadiers

Hessian Grenadiers 001

School is back in session, and having a much different course load than in years past is taking its toll on me.  I passed on last weekend’s Fix Bayonets, an excellent little game gathering at Old Fort Steilacoom in west Pierce County.  I hope it went well, and to all my friends I’m sorry I missed you.  Next game on the docket is Fire and Fury at the same Old Fort Steilacoom.

My games have been fairly few and far between.  I haven’t reported on my Labor Day Weekend gaming in Astoria, which I will do in the next day or so, but aside from that I’ve been pretty unavailable. But I have been painting.

I am kind of in a mood in which I’m painting whatever I damn well please.  First on the docket here is the Hessian Grenadier Regiment von Rall.  It was the only grenadier unit stationed in the south during the later years of the American Revolution.  The regiment changed names at least twice during the war.  The unit was sent to Savannah, where it fought French and American forces and took heavy losses. Von Rall was also at the siege and capture of Charleston and was rotated back to New York in 1780.  Unfortunately the grenadiers were not present at the big battles of the southern campaign, but for a one off game who knows.

The figures are by Foundry.  They were easy to paint.  I was short a couple of grenadiers so leavened them with an extra officer or two.  I found them fun and easy to paint, nothing difficult. They are the first Hessians I’ve painted for my somewhat dormant AWI project. But they certainly aren’t the last.  I have the Old Glory figures to paint the von Bose regiment, present at Guilford Courthouse. I also have some stray Front Rank Hessians I may fill out to 24 figures each for another musketeer and fusilier regiment.

The big “new thing” I tried out with this unit is the addition of GMB flags.  I’ve always been a flag cheapskate, downloading flags from free sites and taking what I could get. With this unit I decided to change.  Giles Allison uses GMB flags on his magnificent units. I have friends that use them.  Heck, what’s wrong with me.  I ordered on-line, which was easy enough. But I did catch them on vacation.  It probably took 2+ weeks to get them from the U.K. They aren’t cheap at three quid 45 pence, but they are beautiful and the color and detail is amazing.

A little closer up of the GMB flags. Very nice. Worth their cost.

A little closer look at the GMB flags. Very nice. Worth their cost.

Last night based the figures and added the flags.  I carefully cut them out and and wondered what to do with them next.  It would be helpful if GMB included suggestions or directions or at least posted some on their site.  Thankfully you can find anything on the internet, and was able to find some forum posts that were helpful.  I didn’t feel too adventurous first time out so the flags look pretty straight, but it does show the detail off nicely.

The year’s big project

Enfilade made it official last week and announced the theme for the 2015 convention.  It will be Raids.  Not really much of a raids person, though I could imagine a few raids that might be worth gaming.  I’ve painted some figures for raiding the frontier during the American Revolution.  Maybe, we’ll see.

Actually I’m fibbing.  Daveshoe and I have long discussed the possibility of gaming the St. Nazaire Raid of 1942. This raid was carried out against the Normandie docks, the only one on the Atlantic coast capable of hosting the German battleship Tirpitz.  In a daring land/sea expedition elements of the Royal Commandoes and Royal Navy destroyed the docks and important infrastructure in St. Nazaire’s maritime/industrial region. Unlike lots of games, there aren’t a couple hundred 28mm figures that will need to be painted.  Instead, we’ll be modeling the game table for a 1/600 scale coastal action.  I have many of the British gunboats already built and painted, but I have eight more to go.  There will buildings galore to paint, felt game space to construct and etc., etc., I’ll keep you posted on the project as we proceed.

I’m currently painting my Fife and Drum British Guards from the American Revolution.  These are exquisite 28mm figures, with just the right amount of detail.  They were sculpted to model troops for the 1777 campaign.  Though their coats are a bit long, they’ll do for Guilford Courthouse as well.  They are very nice, but a little on the small side. Smaller than Perry’s 28mm AWI, and even a little smaller than Old Glory figures.  I’m working on a 24 figure unit and making steady progress.  I hope to have them finished by the end of the week.

What then?  I have fourteen singly mounted militia and civilians I want to paint for the AWI frontier scenarios I mentioned earlier. These are all Perry figures that I expect to paint up very quickly.  They’re nice figures, a good variety of men, women and children.

I proposed to do some role playing with my son and friend David, and promised to take on the role of game master.  I asked Casey what kind of role playing he would most be interested in, and he thought it would be fun to do some swashbuckling along the lines of the Three Musketeers.  I thought that was a great idea because it gives me an excuse to pull out my Eureka 40mm And All For One figures.  They are unpainted, but I think they’ll take the next place in the painting queue.  I’ve been re-watching my copy of the Richard Lester stories (The Three Musketeers (1973) and The Four Musketeers (1974) are by far the best versions of the Dumas story; don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.) I’ve also checked out the BBCAmerica The Musketeers series for story ideas and I’m anxious to get started.  I’m likely to use Fudge as the rules set but am consulting the ancient GDW EnGarde rules as well as Ganesha Games Flashing Blades for ideas as well.  I have the original nine figure set Eureka issued a while back, and I’ve ordered a couple more of the assassin type figures, and I’m looking out for where I might be able to pick up a few more additional figure types for the era.

Finally, there’s been an increasing amount of talk about the SAGA rules for some quickly small action gaming.  I have 25 painted Vikings and was pawing through my piles of unpainted lead hoping to find a few more.  Indeed I discovered another 20+ miniatures which I want to paint.  That way I can join the cool crowd too.  I would guess I’ll work on these while I’m painting my Musketeers.

In any case I’ve got lots on my plate to keep me busy.  I can assure you I’ll do my very best to make it a good time.