How Men of Quality Resolve Differences

How Men of Quality Resolve Differences
Pudel and Peper attacks - an ugly but inevitable part of any 17th C. British Civil War, "Oh! The Shame of it All!"

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Patriots and Loyalists: Visiting a classic design, P1

 PaL - It's your pal for AmRev!

Am I biased towards these rules just because I have an *ahem* autographed copy??

Nah, they are a nicely done advance to old school wargaming, and have some very cool mechanisms that bring regimental linear warfare to life. I have to admit - I streamlined them a bit, simply tossing out 2-3 of the mechanisms like supporting a melee that are pretty complicated and not worth the energy [IMHO]. Aside from that, straight from the book!

First playtest had a few problems with me entering the British along the entire board edge by mistake [they are supposed to enter at the road], which significantly speeds up their attack which already has 2-1 odds minimum. British plan is to attack hard on their left with the elite Highlanders, use the large German unit as a base of fire, while the Tories and gun make the road and valley an unhealthy place.  The Lights will move forward quickly to seize the woods and flank any advance down the road.

British main effort looking at the hill...doesn't look tooo tough!  Irish and Tories are second-rate line, so are being used as morale support and some shooting, respectively.

In an unbelievable event, the highlanders - ELITE - take some tough long-range shooting, and fall back off the board!  The Irish fan out and begin their unexpected advance.

Another playtest, and this time I switched the British lineup around a bit. Fire from the gun and Highlanders had the Americans vacating the hill on turn 2 or so.  Eventually I realized I had the setup wrong, and it should take a couple of turns for the British just to enter the board at the road, deploy into lines, and then start shooting!  Still, the familiarization with the rules is good, haven't played them in ages... Also getting a feel for how I want to attack with the Brits.

Along the way, I played a few of the PaL rules incorrectly, but it was OK as a first effort. A few more false starts and then things went better for a blog post.

One-Hour Wargames Scenario #4 "Take the High Ground" once again. It can be helpful to play the same scenario multiple times and even switching the rule sets - makes for great comparisons. Again, some 2nd rate line infantry on the hill, holding on while the Continental types race to the rescue from the main army.

This time the 105th Irish have a gun to support them to the left. Next the Argyll Highlanders and the Loyalists, then a large German Unit - Anhalt Zerbst?  Have to be, I just love that name for some reason...and last on the right the Lights. Gen. Howe's cunning plan is for the Lights to seize and secure the woods, while the Germans outflank the hill, anchoring their right on the woods., The Scots will smash through closely supported by the Loyalists and Irish, and the light 6lb gun peppers anyone who isn't ready to bow to King George III!

The Brits enter the table and start executing their simple plan. It immediately goes awry as the Rebels on the hill dominate the Fire fight, causing the 105th to fall back...

...and the Scots lose a leader [they needed to beat a '20' and rolled a '15']! Both Units now have a Permanent Marker [PM], at 5 PM they are done and headed off to the pub! In PaL, if you get PM=No. of Bases the Unit is destroyed.  As PaL bases are 3 figs, I've made my 16 fig units = 5 base units.  The 16th man is collecting mess dues!
Pal uses a % fire system, but unusually there are no casualties and no figures removed - all shooting [as in ALL shooting] provokes a Morale Check, and the % the Firing unit accumulates is subtracted from your morale roll. So, if you Fire at all, you force a morale check upon your opponent. 

For example, if my unit Fires at you with 10% [might be 5 Bases at 2% per Base at that Range] and your morale is an 80% to pass then you check morale at 70%.  You may then commit the battalion's leaders up to 20%, and add them to your Morale, so it would be 90%. You roll and pass with an 89% [whew!]. However, you now need to roll again to see if you "lose a Leader" [resulting in a PM] by beating the % you used a leader for [here 20%] and the Scots rolled a 15 but needed a 21 or higher.  Calculating these shots involves constant mathematics, which is pretty Old School, in my book, and a bit fatiguing!

The reason to use the leaders is that if you fail your Morale roll you retreat 12" and become disordered. This will take a couple of turns to fix, so it is usually better to up your % chance to pass and take the increased risk of taking a PM due to "leader casualties'.  There is no limit on leaders, it is abstracted.  

In essence, you can risk additional % of a PM [which takes your unit out of the fight completely] by pushing your men to "hold the line".  Easy concept...hard to explain?

British return Fire but the State Line holds.

View from the British right. The Lights and the Rifles are about to face off in the woods, while two Continental Line and a 6lb light gun head for their positions. The Yankee plan is to angle back a continental line unit from the left of the hill to the road, putting the gun in the hinge for devastating close-range firepower.

View from the left. The disorderly Irish [but, *ahem* I repeat myself, *snicker*] and their gun, facing off against the Pennsylvanians, who are doing well for a bunch of Quakers. Must've eaten their oats!

North Carolinians blaze away.

But...when the 6 pounder opens up, the Pennsylvanians realize that it "ain't no Quaker gun"!  They fail morale and take a permanent marker despite using their leaders to help, and fall back 12". 

The Scots and Tories repeat the same performance against the North Carolinians. They have cleared the hill on Turn 2!  

The Germans are positioning themselves in the road valley as planned. Protecting their right are the lights, who are preparing to run off the riflemen.

That's a lot of schnitzel-breath right there!

But on Turn 3, the Heroic Colonists roll high ['9'!] and get 4 Actions per unit. 
In PaL, you roll a d10 and if you roll average, you get the usual 3 actions per unit. If you roll high you get 4, sort of a bonus Action. It mostly makes you more maneuverable, and can certainly help change formations, etc. If you roll low, you get only 2 Actions, which is pretty serious - it halves the number of volleys you can Fire and makes it hard to change formation. Also, enemy units have a chance to sneak in a free volley. It's a mechanism that works but one can lose track of who has done what.

The 4 Actions allow them to move the gun, unlimber and fire it once. The Germans clearly left their courage in last nights pilsner, and fail both the morale and leader checks, taking 2 permanent markers [as a large unit, they can take 6 markers]. Fortunately for the Limey Oppressors, I forgot to retreat the Germans 12". This is a dubious event as...

The continentals form line and fire, inflicting yet another permanent marker! Meanwhile, the Rifles start to push into the woods and fire upon the Lights, who are Singularly Unimpressed.

The 4 Actions enable both State Line Units to spend all 4 Actions on rallying, which they succeed in, as the large continental line unit forms up from column and passes them, heading for the hill.

Overview on the left.

All goes well until the British gun strikes again, routing the PA Line [who rolled a '2' on a d100] and fall back _another_ 12". They may as well go back to Tun's Tavern at this point. The North Carolinans want no grape with their PB&J, and reposition themselves in a column hidden behind the hill. Speaking of the hill, the Loyalists are now atop it with the Scots not far behind. The Revolutionaries really need to reform a line to oppose them, but space and the gun are cramping their style.

The Lights blast the Rifles, who role quite poorly and take two PM...
...and scuttle back to the glade from whence they came.

Overview at the end of the British turn - the continentals are holding on in the center, but both their flanks are looking weak: the left has Running Rifles, the Right has Fresh Air, and not much else!

And let's not forget the Irish, who are even now returning.
While on the right, well, the Lights are doing well. I think I know where the Irish have to go!

Americans may be solving their problem - they roll 4 Actions again on Turn 5!

Emboldened, the Continental Line move up the hill and blast the Loyalists with two close range Volleys!
Unfortunately, the Tories are highly motivated - they pass both the Morale and Leader Risk checks! Perhaps some of their land and goods were stolen by the Patriots?? "Death to Tom Brady!" they shout.

The Patriot Firing puts  another PM on the Germans. They're up to 6...
...and they are OUTTA here!

Whew!  A pretty intense first half to this game, I'd say. The Limeys had an initial setback with the Irish falling back, but quickly made up for it by driving all the Rebels off the hill and getting a foothold on it, not to mention driving off the Rifles. The American line is somewhat angled still, but with the Germans departing the table only the Loyalists are threatening the hinge. But with both flanks shaky and the center not so great, I'm uncertain the Patriots can pull this one off. 

The problem with the gun on the wide left flank instead of a battalion is that it doesn't have much capability to seize ground. The lights on the right are much more useful as they could exit the woods, form line and charge something.

So at's a toss-up.  Part 2 coming soon!