My blog about my wargaming activities. I collect a lot of 15mm miniatures for the American War of Independence and so collect a lot of rules for this period. I started miniatures with Napoleonics, so I have a number of armies in 6mm and 15mm figures for skirmishing. I have15mm WW II figures that I use for Flames of War, Memoir '44, and someday, Poor Bloody Infantry. Finally there is my on-again, off-again relationship with paper soldiers that I sometimes write about.

Friday, December 05, 2008

DBAWI Game #2

So, now that I have set some new firing factors and developed a new firing results table, it is time to see how badly I have screwed up the game!


Before I even start, I get some feedback from Jim Wright that he thinks the factors for Rifles might be too high. A valid concern. However, here is how I see it:

1. The Rifles, in relation to line infantry, are better at shooting. To me, this is right. Those classified as "rifle" are generally better shots and take time to aim. (AWI units that consist of a mix of rifles, muskets, and fowling pieces are not classified as "rifle" in my games.)

2. The Rifles are vulnerable to the bayonet.

3. The Rifles are skittish around enemy cavalry.

4. The Rifles are less effective at long range (i.e. outside of musket range).

This last point may not seem as obvious, as it dawned on me as I was playing the first game. I am pretty specific about the wording on the Firing Factors table. In most cases, the factor only comes into play only if the unit is being fired upon. So, a musket unit in close or loose order that cannot return fire, as the range is greater than 200 paces, does not trigger the fire factor of "-1 If OO infantry and being fired upon, unless by other OO infantry" as the second condition ...and being fired upon... is not met.

There are some other ramifications to writing factors in this style; maybe I will address them in another entry. Also, realizing this before the beginning of the battle I changed the following:

Factor WasFactor Became
+1 Firing at CO Infantry-1 If CO Infantry and being fired upon
-1 Firing at OO Infantry, unless being fired upon by OO infantry+1 If OO Infantry and being fired upon by other than OO infantry

This change reversed who gets the modifier (the target, not the firer), thus changing conditions for long range rifle fire and increasing the chance for the attacker to double the defender.

The Game
The British Army

The American (Patriot) Army

The first thing you can note about the two armies is that I am now using a 12-point purchase system, counting militia as a 1/2 point, line as 1 point, and elite as 1 1/2 point.

Game Setup

The British (on the left) are attacking. They are arrayed in two lines moving up the center through the pass. The Light Infantry is posted on their left flank to move over the pair of hills and the cavalry is on their right flank to cover the infantry from being attacked by enemy cavalry or to threaten riflemen.

The Americans have a less conventional setup, mostly because I haven't mounted up enough Patriot militia line. A single militia line unit is in the front line defending the pass, backed up by three Continental units. On their left flank are two militia rifle units in the woods, ready to flank the British attack as it moves through the pass. Continental Light Dragoons are farther out to the left with the hope of outflanking the attack when the opportunity arises. On their right flank the VA and NC state line are arrayed into two lines to flank the attack and to stave off the British light infantry attack. An additional Continental Light Dragoon unit is out on the far right flank available to threaten the British light infantry.

Turn 1 - British: The main attack moves up the center while Butler's Rangers (non-elite light infantry unit) crests the hill and covers the flank of the attack.

American: With few pips, all the Americans can do is move the militia rifles along the edge of the woods to start the envelopment of the anticipated attack up the center.

Turn 2 - British: The main attack continues up the center while a 2nd light infantry unit (this one Elite) joins Butler's Rangers on the hill.

The only problem is, the Highlanders are just barely within range of one of the rifle units.

The Highlanders recoil; the first line is now disrupted. (In DBA, what this means in real terms is that an additional pip is required to move the unit - because it is not part of a group - and the front line has to slow by the distance of the recoil.)

American: The state line troops on the right wheel left to try and complete the envelopment while troops from the 2nd line move to block the British light infantry. The Continental cavalry on the right moves forward on the right to start flanking the lights.

Turn 3 - British: The main attack up the center continues on, but the second line is starting to catch up with the first line due to the Highlanders slowing them down (caused by the rifle fire). The British light infantry crests the second hill, threatening the flank of the VA state line.

The rifle fire on the Highlanders again causes it to retreat, but the British fire causes both the militia unit and the NC state line covering the American right flank to flee! The VA state line recoils from the fire from Butler's Rangers.

American: The American commander comes to life (6 pips!) and there are lots of opportunities for maneuver. To start, the Continentals advance forward now that the militia line has fired their volley and are apparently retiring from the field. The VA state line on the right shuffles farther to the right to try and hold off the British light infantry. The NC state line splits up, both moving forward to shore up the two combats. Meanwhile, the Continental Light Dragoons on the left continue their ride around the left of the woods to attempt to be in position when an opportunity charge presents itself.

The VA state line cannot hold in the face of two light infantry units (one being elite) with an uphill advantage, so they recoil. Meanwhile, the Highlanders finally give up the ghost and flee (another 6-1 die roll combination).

At this point the reader might question the fire results table not destroying a unit when it is doubled. After long consideration I really felt like I wanted fire combat - in this era - to produce disruptive effects, and that close combat would be required to destroy the enemy (and thus win).

One of the side effects that destroying units produces is that it frees the commander from having to spend pips to bring forces back into play. Of course, a commander can't spend pips on destroyed units, but it seems that units that have recoiled or fled create a certain level of chaos and opportunity for further destruction of good units. So not removing the chaos can have some positive effects on play. Anything that increases the tactical choices of the player without greatly increasing the complexity of gameplay is fine with me.

Turn 4 - British: The light infantry continue to press their advantage as they lower bayonets and charge down the hill at the VA state line. As the British have a fair number of pips this turn, the first line slides towards their left flank while the grenadiers in the second line move up (almost in line with the first line).

The grenadiers shrug off the fire coming from the rifles in the woods, but the Hessian fusiliers on the opposite end of the line recoils from the close range fire of the VA state line. The charge of the light infantry only yields a recoil from the other VA state line unit, giving the Americans another turn to shore up the flank and recover before it is too late.

American: The Americans continue to shore up their line and apply firepower to the British. One of the Hessian Fusiliers units flees.

Turn 5 - British: The British have a goodly number of pips and shore up the line, but with the British Grenadiers fleeing from the fire of the Continentals and the Hessian Fusiliers recoiling, the British right flank is starting to crumble. The American right flank again recoils from the lights on the hill.

American: With 6 pips, the Americans decide to make the big push. The entire British line is pressed. The picture below shows you the American attack.

All that effort and the Americans retreat on the right flank! Arrrgh! The basic close combat factors of close order infantry is better than loose order infantry and that extra -1 is hard to overcome.

Turn 6 - British: With a renewed vigor, the British spring forward on the counter-attack and press the American line along the entire front.

American disaster! Three units are destroyed and two (along with the general) forced to recoil!

British 3, Americans 0

American: The Americans make a desperate gamble and attack on the right and center. (What the picture below does not show clearly is that the skirmishing Continental Light Dragoons on the right flank the elite British light infantry.)

The American counter largely succeeds! On the right flank the British elite light infantry are destroyed by the flanking cavalry and Butler's Rangers are forced back. On the left flank the British Legion cavalry is also forced back.

British 3, Americans 1

Turn 7 - British: The British get fancy on their right flank. The Grenadiers march into contact with the Continentals, allowing the British Legion cavalry to provide support from the flank. On the British left flank, Butler's Rangers, supported by Hessian Fusiliers, attack the VA state line, supported by the NC state line.

It is over! The Grenadiers, both British and Hessian, wipe out the Continentals and the American General.

British 6, Americans 1


The main mistake I have made to date is giving an advantage to the firer on a hill, when it should have the disadvantage. That will be reversed on my next version of the rules. Units will still have an uphill advantage in close combat, of course.

The argument has been made before that although the technical aspects of firing a musket makes the person shooting downhill less effective, the doctrine of the day indicated infantry would still attempt to gain the heights, therefore some material advantage should be given infantry that is uphill. I know longer subscribe to that school of thought. Given that the scale of DBAWI is much smaller than say, DBN, the use of terrain should be viewed in terms of that smaller scale. In grand tactical terms, gaining the heights might be of great advantage, but in tactical terms, shooting downhill should be disadvantaged. See the battle of King's Mountain for commentary of the effects of hills on musket and rifle fire.


This game used militia Rifle units. That dropped their firing value from +4 to +3 (if it was being shot at). Maybe I need a LO militia rifle unit and drop the OO factors by -1. I think I need another battle first, however. Right now I just don't see them dominating.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11:54 AM


    Please send me your email address. I have a word document with tables in it to send to you.

    It is more comments on the DBAWI rules.

    I'm at


    Jim Wright.


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Huachuca City, Arizona, United States
I am 50 yrs old now. I bought a house in Huachuca City, AZ (although I have a townhouse in Houston, TX and a small home in Tucson, AZ) working on a contract for "the next two years" that is going on five years now. To while away the hours I like to wargame -- with wooden, lead, and sometimes paper miniatures -- usually solo. Although I am a 'rules junkie', I almost always use rules of my own (I like to build upon others' ideas, but it seems like there is always something "missing" or "wrong").