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.

Monday, May 31, 2010

American War of Independence Wargaming

Today Don and I played a game using the American War of Independence Wargaming (AWIW) rules, which are a variant of Neil Thomas' Napoleonic Wargaming (NW) rules. I posted a blog entry about these rules a couple of days ago. You can also download the rules using the link in my Links section.

Sorry, no pictures. I was using unpainted figures temporarily glued to bases as, to be honest, I wasn't really sure I would like the rules. So I did not want to commit to basing. As it turns out, these rules use DBx-compatible basing, so I can probably use them for most rules (other than British Grenadier).

The Armies

The British army was composed of the following eight units:

  • British Grenadiers (Infantry (Musket), Elite)
  • British Lights (Skirmisher (Musket), Elite)
  • Germans Jagers (Skirmisher (German Rifle, No Bayonets), Average)
  • British Foot (Infantry (Musket), Average) x 5
The Patriot army was composed of the following eight units:

  • Delaware Continentals (Infantry (Musket), Elite)
  • Patriot Rifles (Skirmisher (Long Rifle, No Bayonets), Green)
  • Continental Light Dragoons (Cavalry (Carbine), Average)
  • Patriot Militia (Infantry (Musket, No Bayonets), Green) x 2
  • State Line (Infantry (Musket), Average) x 3
As you can see, there is a significant quality difference between the British and the Patriots. I wasn't really sure whether having even sides was going to work, but I really just wanted to exercise the troops and the rules. Don was the British (he loves being the attacker - always - even when he is the defender).

The Terrain

I would to show you a map, but to be honest I had a kid throwing terrain out, so I could not replicate it even if I tried. Suffice it to say that there was a LOT of terrain out there, but not so much that units could not maneuver. Mostly there were crops blocking line of sight (visibility restricted to 2" through, unless the firer or target is at the edge). This really only came into play by restricting some stands from firing; usually only one stand per unit could not fire.

There was a road from the right half of the British baseline leading off to the right corner of the opposite board edge. On the British left half of the board there was a steep, narrow hill that ran parallel to the line of march. This counted as rough ground (1/2 movement rate) and gave you an uphill advantage in hand-to-hand combat. All other terrain was not particularly significant.

The Deployment

As the Patriots were defending, they setup first. I deployed in two lines with the first line composed of all the militia and one State Line unit, with the rifles on the far left (British right). The other two State Line and the sole Continental unit were in column poised at gaps between the front-line units. The Continental Light Dragoons were on the far right flank, hoping to draw off a unit from the battle line. The Patriots had four units on each half.

The British opted to place five units on the right half of the board, three of which were in column on the road, ready to take advantage of the faster movement (+1 BW per turn). The German Jagers were on the far right (opposite the Patriot rifles) and the Grenadiers were at the head of the road column. In the center were the British Lights (skirmishers) and on the left were two British Footin column.

The Early Game

The British started off by pushing the columns to both flanks, making for a double envelopment. However, the only unit holding their center was the British Lights (skirmishers). The Patriots pushed their units to the flanks, but not as far out. This allowed the Patriots to form a exterior line on their left, allowing me to pit my four units against three of the five British units (they started become entangled on one another). Given the longer range of the American Long Rifle and that the Grenadiers charged in full bore against one of the militia units, it was shot to pieces very quickly.

On the opposite flank the Continental Light Dragoons took a circuitous route and quickly threatened the rear of the two British Foot units, forcing them out of column prematurely.

The Middle Game

The British Grenadiers were the first to go, but not before forcing a militia unit to retreat. Unfortunately, the militia passed their morale, so no real harm was done. That allowed the Patriots to focus two units on the British Lights in the center, while two took on the front British on the right (the Continental cavalry having drawn off the other British foot unit). On the Patriot left, the British still could not extend their lines, so they were firing with two units while being fired upon by three. Eventually this volume of fire told and another British unit cracked.

With the Continental Light Dragoons successfully drawing off 1/2 of the British left flank, I decided to test the cavalry melee rules. (No really, I intentionally made a stupid move. Really.) The cavalry charged into a fresh infantry unit frontally and the rules gave the result they should have: the cavalry were shot to pieces and the resulting hand-to-hand had them bouncing off in retreat. As the cavalry ended up with a single stand remaining (I lost one stand to fire and melee, one to the morale of losing a stand, and one to retreating from hand-to-hand, AND has three hits on it to boot!), the British smelled blood and pursued the cavalry to shoot it down. They headed for the woods, leaving the infantry in their dust.

All of this left the British distracted enough that the other British Foot on that flank started falling to the fire from the Patriot State Line unit. As it was occupied, the Delaware Continentals pushed through a corn field and flanked the British. Just as the State Line was finished off, the Delawares let out a mighty Whoop and charged into the flank of the British, wiping them to the last.

The End Game

The Patriot left flank saw the rifles slowly pulling back so they could put fire on the remaining close order infantry units (the skirmishing fire between the two rifle units had drawn very little blood), allowing them to break the charge of the British. (The Patriots only won two hand-to-hand combats in the whole game and one of those was a flank attack with 2:1 odds.) With the destruction of the British Lights in the center (it was enveloped by two units) and the last of the British Foot on the Patriot left, the battle was over. Many of the Patriot units were mauled, but only one militia unit had been lost.


This was the first time I played any of Neil Thomas' rules and I was not disappointed. I liked the speed of the game. Cavalry have an appropriately long move (although I boosted it for column, so that may be an aberration). The game is definitely decisive within two hours, which to me is good. Longer than DBA, but not too long that you can't get two games in if you plan.

Here were some of the noted items:

  • A skirmisher saving roll of 5-6 worked well. Infantry in loose order still out shoot skirmishers, so I am not sure that I should not simply state skirmishers are always considered in cover and thus always gets a 4-6 saving roll.
  • Fire has an attrition effect. Morale is what kills you. I guess Napoleon said it best with Morale is to physical as three is to one. (Or something like that.) These rules definitely reflect that. You might put 2-3 hits on a unit in a turn of fire, but morale can drop a unit by a stand (four hits) with a single die roll. That is what makes this game decisive. It will also make it hard to play the Patriots and win given that they almost universally have worse morale, yet NW does not allow for quantity to come into play.
  • Hand-to-hand is not always more decisive. With a hit on 4-6, this is only as good as close order infantry and is worse than loose order infantry. So, where is the advantage? Mainly when the British close up and charge. They will get two dice per base while the Patriots in loose order will only get one.
  • One possible British game tactic to simulate the real Fire and Charge tactic the British used is to have the British move up quickly in loose order to within 1 BW, then change formation to close order and charge. This would give them speed coming in and the closing of order giving them extra dice in melee would represent firing at short range then going in with the bayonet. I need to add a rule for allowing that. Now, whether it should be a general rule or a special British rule...
  • Terrain seems like it needs to have more effect on the game.
Now that I have some excess painted figures to base, I can start basing them for these rules. I like them. I may morph them into some unrecognizable state, but this looks like the direction to take. I can model the effects that I read about in With Zeal and With Bayonets Only.

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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").