Tyler here, writing to you one last time. You may remember from my last couple posts that your regular author, Floppy, heroically pioneered a new Field Hockey goal defence technique. It involves stopping the ball with your face. It didn’t go well, which is why I’ve been writing to you.
For the last couple weeks I’ve written a lot about the 18th century skirmish wargame Muskets and Tomahawks, and why I love it so much. Today, I’m doing something a bit different. Yesterday at the League of Ancients, a Melbourne wargames club, I played a couple games of M&T. I also snapped a bunch of photos, and thought I would post a lot of those as a kind of pictorial battle report. So, with just a little bit of writing from me to explain the action, here it is.
Oh, and apologies that I’m uploading this a day later than intended. I had it ready to go and saved as a draft, but when I tried to post it I got a series of timeout errors. I’m not sure exactly why, but Floppy tells me that it seems the host came under attack from someone in Belorussia? I guess someone over there is still unhappy about how the French Indian War turned out, and doesn’t want me bringing it up.
Anyway, on to the game!
We played the first game on a double wide table, with four players. Richard and Andrew, below, played the dastardly French. They had a mix of French Regulars, French-Canadian Irregulars, Indian allies, and a crowd of Civilians to defend. Richard’s random sideplot was to have his Indian officer avoid ever killing anyone. Andrew’s sideplot was a need to capture a prisoner alive, by defeating an enemy in close combat.
On our side of the table was Mark (below) and myself. Mark ran a mixed force of British Regulars and Indian allies. I ran a purely Indian force, with a couple normal units, one elite unit with rifles, and two leaders. Mark and I’s mission was to scout every sector of the board.
Mark’s sideplot was that his Regular officer had, up until recently, been a spy in the French village! In order to win his sideplot, Mark had to keep his officer from ever being seen by the enemy, and thus blowing his cover. We decided that the French must have heard rumours about a possible spy, which is why Andrew’s side objective was to capture a prisoner for interrogation!
Mark’s British officer spent the entire game scouting out sectors on the isolated left flank, and managed to flee from the French-allied Indians that Richard sent to hunt him. It was quite a smart tactic from Mark; his officer contributed quite a bit to our main objective, without losing a sideplot that would have usually been fairly difficult to win.
The sideplot I rolled up was simply to prevent my opponents from succeeding on theirs.
The first started out very well for us. The French Regulars (my own miniatures, lent to Andrew for the day) marched boldly forward. But my elite Indians emerged from hidden positions and brought deadly accurate rifle fire to bear. French return volleys couldn’t hit the stealthy warriors.
Things only got worse for the French Regulars when British line troops marched onto the table and added an effective volley of their own. That fence provided light cover, but it wasn’t enough to stop the French being cut down to just two survivors, and quickly retreating.
As the French Regulars pulled back, their French-Canadian Irregular troops were turning a nearby patch of fruit trees into an impromptu fortress. You can see them in the hedge-lined area on the top right of the picture below. My Indians are moving up through the woods to face the Irregulars. The two sides would sit opposite one another firing for the next couple turns.
Mark’s British Regulars, bottom left, marched around that field, through the village, and poured fire into the Irregulars from the side.
With casualties mounting for the French skirmishers, and the British Regulars getting closer, I was getting ready to take the plunge and cross the open ground for a bit of scalping action. If it worked and I cut my way through the French-Canadians, my warriors would do terrible things to the crowd of civilians hiding at the back of the forest.
Andrew and Richard had reserves arriving from their table edge, but it wouldn’t be enough. I was willing to accept any amount of casualties, in order to kill those civilians. We had already completed our scouting objective, and Mark had enough troops to control the battlefield even if all of mine died. My braves were ready to sacrifice their lives to drive the French-Canadian invaders off their ancestral lands!
But alas, at that point Richard rolled the dice to see if the game would come to an early end. As the defender in a civilian protection mission, he could roll every turn to see if the battle ended early. It was actually pretty unlikely that the game end at this stage, but the dice decided that night began to fall, and a heavy rainstorm came with it. That was enough to soak everyone’s powder, as well as allowing the civilians to slip away to safety under cover of darkness. Our warriors and their British allies gave up the chase and returned home.
In game terms, the result was a dead draw. Both sides completed their main objectives; us to scout the whole table, and the French to protect their settlers. Side plots usually break ties in M&T, but this time both sides completed one sideplot, but failed the other. Richard’s pacifist Indian leader killed no one, and Mark’s spy kept out of sight. But Andrew couldn’t capture a prisoner, and I couldn’t stop Richard completing his sideplot. So a perfect tie! And a very fun game, with a great group of players. I look forward to seeing you guys across a tabletop again sometime soon!
That brings my guest tenure here on Floppy’s blog to a close. Thanks to you for reading. I hope that this series of articles has sparked an interest in Muskets and Tomahawks, if you weren’t already a player. And I hope to see some of you readers painting some of the colourful and varied forces available for this game, and playing out some of the dramatic skirmishes of 18th Century North America.