Saturday, December 7, 2013

Skirmish at Jackson's Tavern: Texas Revolution Battle Report

Mexican Cavalry column flanks the town, but not without taking fire from
Crockett's Tennesseeans.
                What's the best thing a historical wargamer can hear?  "Dad, can we play that game with the soldiers and the buildings?"  The answer, "Thank you God, they want to do something that doesn't involve the Wii!"  Enter the fictitious battle of Jackson's Tavern: 1835.   Small engagements took place across the border throughout the life span of the Republic, son loves to play with his Davy Crockett figure (Probably has to do with the fact that his modifiers make him almost god-like).  This game was based off a watered down (for 7 and 11 year olds) version of a set of rules I had been writing...but actually, the watered down rules play far better. (With simple morale checks, such as if you lose 25% of a unit it must fall back by one movement (5 inches for Infantry).

Mexican standoff at Jackson's Tavern.
       The Texian forces consisted of a company of Tenneseeans under Col Crockett, Texian milita, two 6 pdr cannon and one General.  Points would be awarded for the capturing of standards, Generals and Cannon.  The Mexicans consisted of two companies of infantry, a squadron of light dragoons and one General.

Mexican advance on the hamlet of  Jackson's Tavern

        My sons each commanded a wing of the Texian army and my plan was to attack their front with my infantry, while the cavalry squadron rolled up the flank and seized the artillery.  Sadly, my 7-year old made excellent initiative rolls and I made poor troop quality rolls (roll 1d6 to determine troop reliability:  militia, regular, or veteran).

Mexican center company takes fire, but assault's Jackson's Tavern, where
Crockett's Tenneseeans are barricaded.

    The center company assaulted the tavern, where Crockett's Tenneseeans were barricaded.  Four Mexicans were dropped by rifle fire outside the tavern, but still managed to make it inside.  Having killed him a bear at the age of three, David and his comrades were able to push the Mexicans back outside and the had to hand combat resulted in the rout of my center company.

Interior of Jackson's Tavern.  The soldados enter, but only one comes out.

            Meanwhile, my right flank moved on the Texian left, avoiding any serious hits from the 6 pdr battery, for the moment.  The shifted from company into line and assaulted the Texians at the stone wall.

Mexican Company in column.

         They quickly pushed back the militia from the wall to the dog trot cabin and took up a firing position at the stone wall. 

The Mexican company looking into the muzzles of two 6 pdrs of Los Piratas.
      We traded shots between the Dog Trot and the stone wall and then my dragoons appeared on the right flank of the Texian battery.  While their ranks were thinned by acurate rifle fire, courtesy of the "Gentlemen from the Cane Break", they still posed a problem for the exposed battery.   Unfortunately, the Tavern was no longer threatened by the Mexican infantry and my eldest son had the presence of mind to pivot his gun towards the squadron and deploy his Tennesseeans on their flank.

All that remains of the Mexican Dragoons after grape shot and flanking
fire from Crockett's company.

         The dragoons disappeared in a cloud of grapeshot and rifle balls and only four emerged to charge into the guns.  This, not before the left gun belched flame into my company at the stone wall, and the Texian Militia charged from the dog trot cabin.  The result was yet another broken unit.

The broken company retreats with the colors.

           My ragged dragoons and decimated companies were forced to straggle back, having lost and infantry standard and a cavalry pennant, not to mention my general with the Mexican reserve (who was unhorsed on an abortive counter-attack.  So, simpler is better regarding the rules.  The boys get bored if there are too many morale checks or modifiers.  We kept it simple with modifiers based on troop quality and "heroic characters", like Colonel Crockett.  All in all, a great game, I like losing as long as I'm playing with my boys.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Completed: War of 1812 Ship's Company, frontier tavern

Boarding party

     My 1812/Napoleonic ships company is finally complete. These were great figures, but they've been sitting on the bench for so long that I can't remember the manufacturer.  I did get most of them from Brigade Games and a few at Historicon last summer.

        The bases are wood disks covered with yellow and blue sculpting putty, then scored to give the appearance of a ship's deck.  

Lieutenant and Midshipmen

            I do need to find a captain figure and another lieutenant to round out the wardroom.

Gun crews
          A few more gun crews would be nice as well, unless I'm only manning a two-gun sloop.

          All in all, these were fun to paint, although I don't know what I will do with them yet.  Perhaps an Aubrey-Maturin game?

         The tavern took me forever to complete, mostly because its a pain to chink in between the logs with wood putty.  I used Elmer's, which contains wood pulp.  Once its dry and set (1-2 days), it gets a coat of primer and is painted.  The building made its debut as part of a town, defended by Texian rebels against a Mexican force, more on that later.

The chinking completed, awaiting primer.
         The "stone" foundation and chimney are just blue 1 in. foam insulation sheeting, scored, and melted to give the impression of rough hewn stone blocks.

The competed tavern...minus a signboard.

            The roof is just mat board cut and glued.  Perhaps a bit out of scale, but it gives the impression of wood or slate depending on the paint.  At least its less expensive than an embossed styrene sheet.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Cog Wars: A short naval battle off the Flemish coast

Opening action.  The Burgundian Caravel is fast and maneuverable, but the
French Cog carries more men.  I need to keep my distance and pick them off one by one.

        Its the day after Thanksgiving and my son had finally finished painting his cog that he won at Historicon this past summer.  My caravel has been finished for a while, with the exception of the sails and rigging.  We kept it simple with square sails and a spanker for my caravel.  The sails are just linen scraps from a hunting shirt project (18th c AWI) that I whipped together on the machine and made fast to the booms and yards with some hemp cord.  Easy day.

      The engagement opened with the two vessels on opposite ends of the estuary amid some islands and rocks.  This would give us something interesting to maneuver around and, perhaps, run aground upon (1d4 roll if within 2 in. of shoals).   The rules we used were some house rules I whipped up in consultation with my resident 11 year old French knight. 
The Caravel  comes about to rake the fo'csle of the French Cog.
      The initial turn was all maneuvering around a central island, although lucky French arrow dispatched my lone musician.   This is important, since musicians impact a unit's coordination and help in ungraqppling during fighting.  The caravel's two swivels (large shot gun) were not accurate beyond 10 in, but as my agile caravel came about, it was able to pepper the French fo'csle twice in the space of two turns.  My decision to take hand gunners rather than archers was not good for a ship that relies upon long distance firepower and led to the demise of many men aboard my ship.  The handgunners, while lethal at close range, required me to allow the French cog to maneuver to closely.  This restricted my ability to maneuver to bring my swivels to bear and brought on the boarding below.  While, my maneuvering allowed me to dispatch all of the heavily armored Genoese crossbowmen on the French Cog, I was taking a beating from the French archers and did not have the men to spare on such a small ship, especially if I ran out of searoom and the Cog forced a boarding action, before I could thin his ranks.

The French grapple onto the caravel.
        Pinned against the "edge of the world", my mainsail became fouled (1d4 roll) and then the French grappled on to add insult to injury.   My hangunners and a well-timed close range blast from the port swivel gun (1d6+2 roll for all figures within the teardrop template, hits scored for a roll of 4-6, kills for all armor saves not resulting in 9,10 on 1d10) made quick work of the initial assault.

The gunners wipe out the first wave of French boarders.

 Only a knight and halberdier stood left of the original eight in the boarding party.  Unfortunately these were reinforced and crossed onto my aft deck, which was quickly a shambles with the remains of a knight, sergeant, and several halberdiers. 

Repel boarders!
        Despite the swivels and handgunners, the Burgundians were outnumbered and no match for heavily armored French men-at-arms.  After the second French boarding only four handgunners, sailors, and a man-at-arms remained.  After a valiant counter attack by the man-at-arms and the handgunners in the ship's waist, the French were pushed back onto the cog and the caravel wisely ungrappeled and sailed away.

Disengagement is the better part of valor.

       Within one turn I was well on my way out of range of the French archers.  Due to the wind direction and the ponderous handling of the cog, the French were unable to come about to give chase to the Burgundians.

The French watch as the faster and more maneuverable caravel
flees with the wind.
          While my caravel escaped, the French were clearly the victors.  They had killed a two knights and taken an infantry standard, though their losses were heavy, they could still fight their ship.  The Burgundians, on the other hand, would be sailing back to their den and licking their wounds.  It was a fun game, although we realized several changes needed to be made in the house rules.  Knights are too strong, virtually unkillable, unless by another knight.  We needed some additional rules for ship damage, the effects of grounding, and cannon-fire on hulls and rigging.  I also didn't bring my petardiers in the fighting tops into play...updated rules to follow accordingly!  I will also remember to leave the halberdiers at home for this ship and embark archers with which to pelt my son's ship at longer ranges.