You die, he dies, everybody dies: the America Rampant playtest

As promised, today Dave Schueler and I dropped in at Meeples to try out the America Rampant adaptation of The Men Who Would Be King. I knew we’d be playing on a pretty small table, probably 5′ X 3′.  So I couldn’t have too many units out there. Thursday and Friday I took every minute I could to remount enough figures to play the game.

I settled on a simple scenario idea, the search for cannon captured and hidden by the Miamis at the Battle of the Wabash in 1791.  It was a good idea, but the scenario played poorly in execution. But it did give us a good look at my basic ideas and I’ve got to say they were two thumbs up.

TMWWBK plays like a super cleaned up version of Lion Rampant, and why anyone wouldn’t create house rules to adopt those changes is beyond me. Free actions.  An activation failure just means move on to the next unit. It all made for a good flowing game.

America Rampant changes the game from a rifle dominated game to one in which melee in close terrain is more likely.  In our little game, casualties through muskets and close combat played a part in the game.

i hoped to learn two things from our little playtest:

  1. Did my remount make sense from a game context?
  2.  Did the rules adaptation work from a mechanical and historical standpoint?

The Remount

The remount was not easy. Lots of steps.

  1. Figures were pried from their bases.
  2. Glued to their new bases.
  3. Modeling paste applied to bases
  4. Bases painted with Burnt Umber
  5. Bases dry brushed with Trail Tan
  6. Apply Woodland Scenics turf
  7. Glue in clump foliage
  8. Final touch up and Dullcote

It was time-consuming, and it took every spare minute I could summon Thursday, Friday and even a half-hour this morning to finish seven Indian and five American units. I don’t have any more painted natives, but I have tons of American militia and regular units, and a lot of Spanish.  I’ll need to acquire more bases to finish them all, but it’s on the docket to finish all of them this summer.

That said, it seems completely worth it. They don’t rattle around in their cases.  It took much less time to set up a game.  Movement was easy.  Pick up went really fast.  All the objectives were achieved.  They look pretty good too. The remount was a success.

The Rules Adaptation

I chose to take the Americans and Dave took the indians.

Dave had:

  • Two tribal infantry without modifiers
  • Two tribal infantry with veteran +1 to discipline
  • two tribal infantry with veteran +1 to discipline, and fierce.

I had

  • One veteran regular infantry, +1 to discipline
  • Two plain ol’ veteran infantry
  • One unit of irregular infantry, militia
  • One unit of veteran militia, +1 to discipline, armed with rifles.  This was a rule change allowing greater range (18″ vs 12″ for smoothbore muskets,) but allowing only half the figures to fire each turn due to slower loading and shooting.

The two sides were divided by a fordable stream, and Dave set up his units in covering terrain.  Another change to the rules is the Indians have only an 8″ shooting range and always fire at long range (this requires all hits to be halved.) Deciding he was too far away and unlikely to coax me into crossing the stream, Dave launched all six of his units at me.

Because shooting is a free move for regular and irregular infantry, it didn’t make much sense to do a lot of moving around.  The first turn of fire was made at long and short range, depending on the unit. My troops did little damage, and successful pin rolls were made all around.

In the second turn, as some units moved close enough to consider attacking at the double-quick, the Indian units mostly failed their activations. But one of the fierce units did not, and hit a regular infantry units.  Dave rolled 24 dice and hit on eight of them.  I rolled ten dice and hit on two.  Bad news. The unit failed its pin roll. I was not shocked.

But my second turn of fire went much better. All my remaining units hit at a greater than 50% rate, and pinned their targets, rendering them unable to move in turn three.

But our fierce friend struck another unit, inflicting another eight casualties against only three losses. Two of the five units in my command were now shattered, and by a single unit. My center was simply remnants, my left was holding and gradually reducing their attackers, and my veteran rifle unit was isolated, pouring fire at two potential attackers, but firing at half strength was not going to cut it forever.

In turn four, the fierce unit dispatched one of its badly wounded prey, while the two left flank units ended the resistance by their opponents. Three Indian units were eliminated.  But on the right flank, one of the units was across the stream, and the other was finally moving into the stream.  Trouble was coming.

In turn five, the fierce unit was fired on as it advanced toward the last remaining regular unit, and reduced to five figures. One of the Indian units in the right flank attack struck the collection of figures assigned to finding the hidden cannon, driving them back, but suffering loss. More losses came with fire from the rifle unit, and they were pinned. But the fresh unit on the far right was lining up the rifles for destruction.

Turn six was the final turn. The fierce unit attacked the American regulars and were finally worn down to nubs.  But the unit on the right hit the rifles and killed half of them at minimal loss. They were driven back and pinned, but failed their pin recovery.  The two American left flank units advanced toward the carnage in the center as the game end. By the end of the game, far more stands were removed than were still in the game.

Our verdict was the game played as intended.  The rules were simple.  Lots of bases were removed.  No real snags in the flow of play.  We didn’t use the officer characteristics rules. One other rule change, was the addition of a leader to each command.  The leader could give a +1 to activation or pin rolls to one unit per turn. This played a minor role int he game.

I’m pronouncing these a success, but I want to play them again soon.

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Playtest: Quetzcoatl Rampant

Today was the day, long awaited. David Sullivan, Dave Schueler, Dave Demick and I met at Meeples in West Seattle to try David’s adaptation of the Lion Rampant rules to the Conquest of Mexico. Last night I sat down and made some quick play sheets for the Quetzacoatl Rampant adaptation. . This morning I laminated them.I reorganized Aztecs according to the rules. I have thirteen units instead of eleven.

This morning I piled by prized collection into the car, and   I picked up Dave D. in Tacoma at 9:00, grabbed Brother Schueler in West Seattle, and we actually made it to Meeples before the store opened at 10:00

I knew the table space would be fair small, and I was okay with that for our first run through.  I love playing games-miniatures or boardgames-in the Meeples cafe.  It is terribly comfortable, if small.  The food and beer is tasty and cheap.  And because what we do isn’t typically what is played at the store, there are always folks interested in what we are playing.

I set up the table with the Spanish advancing on an Aztec village. The Spanish had a unit of horse, five of sword and buckler men, two arquebusiers, a dog pack, and a unit of Tlaxcallan allies. The Aztecs had four units of skirmishers, a unit of Eagle knights, three units of veteran warriors and two units of peasant warriors.

I didn’t have any expectations.  The Aztecs were pretty outclassed, but didn’t know by how much.  Let’s just put it this way, the Spanish won in a walkover. There were Spanish figure losses, but the Aztecs, though they pointed out about the same as the Spanish, were not able to do much to them.

We went over some simple changes that would balance out the rules: reducing the Spanish armor value by a point, improving the Aztec’s move, shoot and attack values, reduce the accuracy of Spanish arquebusiers.

Like I said, simple changes, and all we need is the opportunity to try it again. Would like to give the game a whirl on a larger table so we can cram all the Aztecs into the game. Can’t wait to give it a try.