Sunday, January 6, 2013


Blood was first spilled at Lundy's Lane by canonballs from the mouth of the British guns, and our game begins with the British side attempting to do the same (and generally succeeding). The batteries in the graveyard could have been represented with a section of six-pounders, a congreve rocket team, and a ridiculously-large 24lb gun; however, a 5.5inch howitzer was present in the British OB, and we chose to give the British player this toy to play with instead of a boring old six-pound gun.

Drummond's gunners take aim . . .
The three different types of ordinance present the players with a lot of rules to manage, and we wrote up an alternate cheat sheet that added a table of artillery rules (how many dice at what range with what to-hit number for which gun). We used the rules for artillery chapter and verse from the Black Powder rulebook, with the exception of giving the 24lb gun a couple of advantages. The heavy gun's fire dice are 2-3-4 (long-med-close). Additionally, there is no -1 penalty for long-range fire.

Glengarry light infantry advances. This unit was divided into two small units; we have found a normal-sized unit of skirmishers to be too powerful. These troops are considered Marauders in Black Powder.
Inevitably, Glengarry light infantry is pushed out on the American left flank by any British player with the slightest grasp of the Art of War, and anyone not in possession of a good set of loaded dice fails the command roll necessary to get the York and Lincoln militias to follow suit. A player given Rialls's command  who is impulsive, recklessly brave, drunk, or suffering some kind of fit will break ranks with the Incorporated Militia and march them forward, a mistake that becomes apparent at the beginning of US turn 2 (as you shall soon see).

In a year-and-a-half of running this game, the first round of British artillery fire has not caused an American unit to break entirely, however Scott's Brigade is routinely rendered a disordered mess incapable of mounting a general advance on the hill. Some players have managed to push one or two units raggedly toward the British line, but most will hunker down and refuse their left flank to fend off the green coats worrying them from the fence line.

Towson's US artillery; the gun is by Elite, which I have found too large for my figures; I plan on replacing them with either Front Rank or Perry. The figures are Knuckleduster late-war artillery.
During this first turn, the American artillery will try to place fire on the hill, however a -1 penalty is assessed due to the elevation; not in the rulebook, but necessary to portray the difficulty with which Towson had trying to get roundshot to do anything but bury itself in the dirt.

At the beginning of Turn 2, the British have the opportunity to be patient, continue pounding the hapless grey coats, and perhaps run some skirmishers into the orchard to their immediate front. Most players will trust to the strength of their position and wait for the Americans to come on, however a few will lose their heads and turn loose the Royal Scots or, God Forbid, the 89th from their snug spot supporting the guns.

The American "surge." Ripley's division arrives.
In the distance can be seen Porter's militia brigade, equal in every way to the US regulars.
An aggressive move by the British early in the game, before the Americans have shown their hand, is punished during the beginning of the US turn 2 when the American reinforcements arrive. Brown arrives with Ripley's brigade on the road in the US rear. It's wise to give them one free move on the board in order to them into action as soon as possible, but we've also required command rolls to bring them on the table; your choice. Simultaneously, Jessup's 25th, supported by the skirmishers of Ketchum's company (a tiny unit)  enters in any formation  they wish astride the road on the British left flank, just inside the deep dark woods. 

The British response to this action can be quite amusing, especially if the Incorporated Militia has been pushed forward, bringing the Americans on the board behind them. We are very generous with units that must extricate themselves from trouble, knowing that well trained troops with good discipline can execute any number of maneuvers to reorient themselves. We employ a house-rule, apparently a popular one among Black Powder players, giving a disordered unit the chance to make one move backward in lieu of rallying in order to extricate itself from peril. We instituted this fairly early in our experience with the rules after watching a French dragoon unit trapped and annihilated by rifles; an entire regiment completely unable to run away and save themselves being nibbled into oblivion by a handful of skirmishers.

Glengarrys pelt the American left. They always prove a distraction to the
Americans far  beyond what their numbers justify.
The middle-game consists of firefights on the British left, Scott's brigade totally consumed with rallying units and fighting off the threat to their left, and American and British reinforcements filtering forward into action. Here the key to the battle becomes apparent; the Americans must get Ripley's brigade to the hill as quickly as possible and must charge the guns with alacrity before the British can reinforce the graveyard. 

Marching up and down the square. British reinforcements arrive . . . 
All of this time, visibility is reducing. Turn two it falls to 24 inches, turn three 12 inches, and turn four a mere six inches. By this time, both armies are heavily engaged and a long painful night has begun  . . . 


1 comment:

  1. FANTASTIC to see some movement on the old blog again! I've been a huge fan of your blog for a while now as I'm just starting to buy up your figures and get painting them.

    Keep the pictures coming, everyone is a valuable painting reference for those of us not in the know.

    Thanks again for the update!