#Wargame #GameNight with #TheFiresofMidway (Clash of Arms, 2010)

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Courtesy BoardGameGeek

This week’s Game Night saw the RockyMountainNavy Boys and myself playing a 3-player scenarios of The Fires of Midway (Clash of Arms, 2010). The Fires of Midway (TFoM) is a card game of carrier battles in the Pacific during 1942. Although the featured game is the Battle of Midway, we played the Battle of Santa Cruz scenario.

 

Little RMN took the two American carriers, Enterprise and Hornet. The Japanese fleet command was divided with Middle RMN sailing carriers Shokaku and Zuikaku while I sailed light carriers Zuiho and Junyo.

TFoM starts with a both sides searching for the other. This is how the initial hand of Combat Cards is built and determines advantage – the first to find the third carrier gets the first VP. Advantage in turn drives the use of doctrine; the Confident side (leading VP) has to follow their Admiral’s Doctrine while the Desperate side (behind in VP) gets more Combat Cards and doesn’t have to follow doctrine.

At the end of the search phase the Japanese were Confident and the Americans Desperate. This means the US player could have 9 Combat Cards in his hand but the Japanese were limited to 7 – divided between the two players. This in turn meant Middle RMN had 4 cards while I only had three.

With the fleets located the battle switched into launching airstrikes. TFoM uses Action Cards to help determine the order with each carrier being dealt an Action Card. One turned face-up, the Confident player can “steal” one of the opponents cards and switch them. Each Action Card allows for one of three actions – launch full airstrike, launch a partial airstrike and make repairs, or repairs only. Cards earlier in the action order go first but don’t have as many actin points as later cards. This means earlier cards allow for the “first strike” but later cards might create “the heavy blow.” As luck would have it, my carriers drew Action slots 1 & 2, the Americans got 4 & 5, and Middle RMN with the heavy Japanese carriers drew 5 & 6.

Zuiho and Junyo both launches strikes. The American carriers tried to hide in an area of Low Clouds which adds range to strike movement. Even with the challenge, both strikes arrived over the American carriers in a Fueled status. In the resulting battles, the American CAP and Anti-Aircraft fire proved mostly effective and only a lone hit on Hornet resulted. The American airstrikes focused on the light carriers and damaged Junyo. The later Japanese strikes from the heavy carriers succeeded in hitting Hornet once more.

In the second turn, the carriers generally held range, but this time the Japanese heavies and the Americans had the top 4 slots of the Action Order. By the time the round was over, Junyo and Hornet were sunk. With that, the Americans withdrew and the Japanese side was the winner. Close to the historical result, but a bit of a let-down to play.

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A Kate torpedo plane seen dropping a torpedo (Courtesy maritimequest.com)

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

TFoM is a very formulaic game. Each carrier in the Action Order follows a strict turn sequence. In a two-player game this works just fine but in a three-player (or maybe four-player?) scenario there is lots of downtime for the third player. On the plus side, combat is very easy; first compare a pool of combat dice (highest SINGLE die wins) then roll for damage against a damage track found on different cards.

Our gameplay experience was a bit blah. I generally knew the rules but had not played in a while making the first round a bit slow as it was necessary to reference the rulebook several times. Play was faster on the second round, but the formulaic sequence of play made the game feel more like a checklist then a narrative experience. We finished the game but the RMN Boys are not anxious for a replay.

When I first started wargaming nearly 40 years ago I was in it for the simulation. I was unabashedly a simulationist – the more “real” the game was the more I liked it! Looking back, I now realize that the best games I ever played (i.e. the ones of remember) featured great narrative moments (like the one time in Star Fleet Battles I spectacularly lost the battle when I failed my High Energy Turn and tumbled my ship). These days, I seek a more narrative experience in the battle. I have really discovered this with the start of our family game nights; the RMN Boys and I connect better when a game builds a narrative and is not simply a simulation. This may be why games like Conflict of Heroes or Scythe or 1775 – Rebellion are landing on the game night table repeatedly; the gameplay itself builds an enjoyable narrative experience.

The Fires of Midway is not a bad game. Given the level of abstraction represented by the cards and simple map it can hardly be called simulatonist. But the formulaic gameplay makes finding the narrative experience difficult. Maybe if we play it with only two-players and are fully familiar with the rules we might find that narrative experience. Until then there are other games to play.

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#Wargame #FirstImpressions – #SouthChinaSea (@compassgamesllc)

South China Sea: Modern Naval Conflict in the South Pacific (Compass Games, 2017) is a conflicted game. Conflicted in that it can’t quite decide just what game it wants to be. In turn, this makes my feelings for the game just as conflicted.

Let me be clear up front – I generally like South China Sea but wish it was better. I honestly have little room to complain as I was a marginal participant in the open playtest designer John Gorkowski ran. I did a pass through the original rules draft and provided comments to John. Unfortunately, I was unable to stay involved. So in a sense I had my chance to influence the game before publication and failed. I should be happy with what the product is; and like I said I generally am. That said, I still have conflicts!

South China Sea (hereafter SCS) is a combination of two games played out in Political Turns and Military Turns. Political Turns represent 3-7 weeks of international action. If (when?) conflict erupts, the game transitions to Military Turns representing several hours of combat operations.

This is SCS‘s first conflict; is it a political or military game? Political Turns are played using a deck of cards. Some cards are playable only by Global Powers (US and China) while others can only be played by the Regional Powers (Malaysia, Vietnam, The Philippines). Card play moves the Victory Point Track which starts at 10VP. Moving down the track (minus VP) is good for the US, while moving up the track (positive VP) is good for China. So for the US to win they have to have less VP. [Forgive me for being an American, but having less VP seems counterintuitive to me.]

My second conflict with SCS is Armed Conflict, specifically how it happens. Certain cards call for a Roll for Armed Conflict which, if failed, moves the game to Military Turns. Now, I guess I can see how (few) cards affect the initial set-up, but it is few. I am not sure the balance between the Political Turns and Military Turns in really there; the Roll for Armed Conflict seems to be a rush to get the “forces to sea” and start the fight.

My third conflict with SCS is the Military Turns themselves. I am conflicted here because I actually really like the Military Turn Sequence and how it uses rules for Situational Awareness. Although units on the map are “spotted,” they must be Illuminated to be targeted. Evasion is how units escape Illumination, and Hiding is avoiding Illumination. These rules are a simple way to portray the battle to locate the other side. Combined with a very simple Strike mechanic (2d6 + Weapon System Score +/- Modifiers vs Defense Score or Missile Defense) combat is resolved quickly. The Air/Sea Engagement Sequence captures the order of Strikes with Stealth Rating vitally important as most Strikes are resolved in descending order of Stealth Rating. Thus, the Stealth Rating (3) F-35 fires first against the Stealth Rating (2) J-31. Simple mechanics makes for simple combat resolution while maintaining the feel of modern naval combat.

My fourth conflict in SCS are the game components, specifically the map and counters. The counters feel a bit “thin” for my taste and are graphically very crowded. Having all the information needed to play on the counter face is very helpful but I and not sure you want to risk any corner clippers with these! The map is more problematic. Look below:

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SCS Map

Although hard to see there are actually two map sheets. They do not butt against each other, but actually overlap by 5 hexes. Why? None of the scenarios are single mappers…so why the large overlap? Note also the littoral and sea hexes to the west of Myanmar. Why? Bangkok is not used in any scenario (Thailand is not a playable country) so is this for a future expansion? Another part that bothers me is the placement of the Guam and Okinawa Transit Tracks…on the northwest part of the map or away from where the US player is likely to sit (for it seems to me the logical seating would be PRC to the north, US to the south, Vietnam west, The Philippines to the northeast, and Malaysia to the southeast). Thus the Transit Tracks are about as far away from the US player as they could be. To my untrained eye it seems to me that west edge of the map could be five hexes closer and added to the east edge giving space to move the Transit Tracks to the same side of the map as the entry hexes.

Sample Game

I played a solo game to experiment with the rules and learn the game system. Although the Political Turns are not really soloable, in my effort to experiment with the system I played through a sample game assuming that:

  • China’s overarching goal was to assert sovereignty in the SCS
  • The US opposed China and wanted Freedom of Navigation
  • Malaysia generally supported the Chinese
  • Vietnam generally supported the US
  • The Philippines was focused inward (but leaned to the US)

After the cards were dealt I “played” out the first round. The Chinese led by publishing a negative Human Rights Report on the US but it didn’t shift world opinion. US companies in the meanwhile made a major Gas/Oil Find in the SCS and gained 2VP while avoiding armed conflict. Embassy Demonstrations in Malaysia were ignored, and a Humanitarian Disaster in Vietnam allowed the US to place one Arleigh Burke DDG near Cam Rahn Bay. The Philippines tried appeal for ASEAN Solidarity and when supported by Vietnam pushed the VP further to the US side. Of note, the VP Track starts at 10 VP with less VP good for the US and more VP favoring China. At the end of the first Political Turn the VP had moved 4VP towards the US (6VP on the track). In the Political Negotiation Phase, I simulated the give-n-take by trading cards since the Global Powers had cards they could not play and vice-versa for the Regional Powers.

In the second Political Turn the Chinese led off with a High Level Visit to Malaysia but again failed to move the Victory Track. The US played Economic Sanctions and, with the support of Vietnam and The Philippines, shifted the VP again (now at 5VP). Malaysia invited China for a Combined Military Exercise but it backfired and shifted world opinion further towards the US (VP track now at 4VP!). Not wanting to risk a conflict while things were going well for their patron, both Vietnam and The Philippines passed (discard). In the Political Negotiation Phase a few more cards were traded.

Trying to get something back, the Chinese declared a major Gas/Oil Find and shifted 2VP in their favor while avoiding armed conflict. The US played a High Level Visit that fizzled (no change in VP) and Malaysia passed (discard) while trying to avoid igniting a conflict. The Vietnamese instigated a Embassy Demonstration outside the of the PRC consulate but again the world ignored. The Philippines then tried to buy arms (Arms Sales) from the US, which agreed, and moved the VP marker to 2VP. However, the roll for armed conflict failed and the game moved to Military Turns.

Of note, playing strictly by the RAW and with 5-players and factoring in Analysis Paralysis, this card play portion of the game might of been 45 minutes or more. That’s assuming 2-minutes per card play and the 10-minute Negotiation Phase at the end of each 5-card round. All this interaction placed exactly one unit on the map in my game.

The scenario being played was Scenario 1: Clash of the Flattops. This pits a US Carrier Strike Group (CVN with F-35s escorted by DDG and a Virginia SSN in loose company) versus two Chinese CV with J-31 and J-15 navalized fighters and escorts supported by a Song/Yuan SS. The scenario calls for six Military Turns.

Combat was…quick. By the end of the third Military Turn the Chinese strike against the US carrier group had failed and the Americans refused to enter the range of SSMs on Hainan. One Chinese CV and both naval fighter squadrons were destroyed at the cost of one Vietnamese fighter squadron. Seeing no way to win, I declared a cease-fire in the Military Negotiation Phase at the end of the third Military Turn. The total play time for the Military Turns was maybe 30 minutes.

Afterthoughts

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Courtesy BoardGameGeek

As a longtime fan, collector, and player of Victory Games’ Fleet Series, it is inevitable that I compare SCS to the Fleet Series. SCS, with its simple Strike resolution mechanic and superior Air/Sea Engagement Sequence is a faster playing, more streamlined game than the Fleet Series that also seemingly better captures the feel of modern naval combat. But SCS – at least this first iteration – seems to lack the some of the depth that the Fleet Series has. I admit that more depth may mean more “chrome” on the game and more rules overhead and time to play. I think it may be worth it as the “bones” of SCS (Situational Awareness, Strike, and the Air/Sea Engagement Sequence) are strong.

Finally, there are two other (very) small quibbles I have with SCS. The first is the subtitle and the reference to “South Pacific.” I’m sorry – when I think of the South Pacific I think of it in terms of World War II and the South China Sea is NOT part of that definition. Second, there is this section of the publisher’s blurb,

Most important, SCS allows naval units to move more than one hex in a single turn, but includes a mechanism, based on stealth, that enables the other side to “check” multi-hex moves to create a more dynamic, variable, and volatile environment.  This last adjustment allows quick moves at a distance, but prevents close-in ships from “jumping” through the beaten zone of modern anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCM), 290 nmi in some cases.

In all my time as a naval grognard and while on active duty as a naval officer I never heard the term “beaten zone” used with ASCMs. “Engagement Zone” maybe, but not beaten zone. In my mind I associate beaten zone with artillery and the Army. Maybe I’m behind the times….

#SciFiFriday – Chain of Command by Frank Chadwick (@BaenBooks)

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Courtesy Baen.com

Military science fiction is often a hit-or-miss proposition to me, even more so with space combat which is often so “fantastical” that it becomes unbearable. But I am also a longtime fan of Frank Chadwick’s games (see his BoardGameGeek Ludography) and seeing how his latest book, Chain of Command, is being published by @BaenBooks (whose military science fiction I tolerate more so than other publishers) I gave it a try. It also didn’t hurt that I listened to the Bane Free Radio Hour (Episode 2017 09 29) where Mr. Chadwick discussed his book.

What really drew me to this book was Mr. Chadwick’s inspiration. As he writes in the Historical Note at the end of Chain of Command:

The inspiration for this novel grew from James D. Hornfischer’s stirring and detailed account of the naval campaign in the Solomon Islands (including Guadalcanal) in the second half of 1942–Neptune’s Inferno, but I never intended to shift the events of that campaign wholesale into deep space. A few incidents may be familiar to students of the historical battles, but my main interest was in how officers and sailors–as well as the admirals who lead them into battle with varying degrees of success–responded to a war which took them unaware and psychologically unprepared.

Mr. Chadwick goes on to list several books that further influenced the story. I was very happy to see Herman Wouk’s The Caine Mutiny and Nicholas Monsarrat’s The Cruel Sea listed for I had thought nobody actually read these books anymore.

With all that in mind one could be forgiven for worrying that Chain of Command is just another “WW2 in space” story but I am happy to report that the book successfully overcomes that challenge. The science fiction technology tends a bit more towards the “hard science-fi” edge with just enough handwavium to explain away the science fiction. In many ways, the fantastical technology in the book traces its lineage to today’s technology which makes it all the more believable and relatable.

If military science fiction is your thing and you have even a passing interest in World War II naval combat, then Chain of Command could make a good addition to your reading list.

#WargameWednesday – Ranking my personal Top 10 #Wargames

This last year, I have have fully embraced my Wargame Revival I first talked about in December 2016. Since the beginning of the year, I have played 34 different games 57 times.

Along the way I taken a deep relook at my BoardGameGeek ratings. I have realigned many ratings, generally shifting more towards a 6.0 (OK – Will play if in the mood) than the 7+ (Good – Usually willing to play) I was at before. This time also afforded me a chance to look at my personal favorites and how they stack up on BGG (ratings/rank as of  08 October 2017):

#1 Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear (second edition) [My Rating 9.5 / BGG Rating 8.1 / BGG Wargame Rank 17]

I like this game for the simple game mechanics that still capture the feel of WWII combat. Absolutely unmatched with the Firefight Generator and Solo Missions expansion. CoH is notably my top ranked game, but also the game with a large rating disparity (my 9.5 versus a Geek Rating of 6.891 – a 2.61 overrating by me).

#2 Liberty or Death: The American Insurrection [My Rating 9.0 / BGG Rating 8.0 / BGG Wargame Rank 46]

An incredibly innovative game that in many ways turns the definition of “wargame” on its head. Also apparently overrated by me with against a Geek Rating of 6.492 or a 2.51 overrating.

#3 Harpoon 4 [My Rating 9.0 / BGG Rating 7.4 / BGG Wargame Rank 547]

Modern naval combat. I think this game gets a bad rap; its not really that complicated to play once you get set-up and some planning completed. Apparently I vastly overrate this game against a Geek Rating of 5.682 or a 3.32 overrating by me.

#4 Fear God & Dread Nought [My Rating 9.0 / BGG Rating 7.3 / BGG Wargame Rank 806]

World War II naval combat. Again, I think its underrated although I can see how it might only appeal to diehard grognards. The lowest BGG Wargame rank of my personal Top 10. Of my Top 10, this is the game with the greatest rating disparity against a Geek Rating of 5.626 or an overrating of 3.37 by me!

#5 Flat Top [My Rating 9.0 /BGG Rating 7.3 / BGG Wargame Rank 180]

I have the Battleline first edition from 1977. The oldest game in my Top 10. Another one with wide disparity of ratings with a Geek Rating of 6.206 (2.79 overrated).

#6 Wing Leader: Victories 1940-1942 [My Rating 9.0 / BGG Rating 8.0 /  BGG Wargame Rank 140]

Actually paired with Wing Leader: Supremacy 1943-1945 [My Rating 9.0 /  BGG Rating 8.5 / BGG Wargame Rank 286] these games both literally and figuratively changed my perspective of air combat games. Overrated – again – at a Geek Rating of 5.983 or a 2.77 overrate.

#7 Scythe [My Rating 9.0 / BGG Rating 8.3 / BGG Overall Rank 8 / BGG Strategy Rank 7]

The only “non-wargame” in my Top 10, Scythe is not without its detractors but it is a rare game that actually delivers on much of the hype surrounding it.

#8 MBT (second edition) [My Rating 9.0 /  BGG Rating 8.2 / BGG Wargame Rank 458]

Modern armored combat. Streamlined game mechanics make for easy, fun play. I overrate by 2.81 against a Geek Rating of 5.689.

#9 Panzer (second edition) [My Rating 9.0 / BGG Rating 7.8 / BGG Wargame Rank 139]

My first wargame ever was Panzer (first edition) [My Rating 8.0 / BGG Rating 7.3 / BGG Wargame Rank 629]; this is a worthy successor. I overrate by 2.49 against a Geek Rating of 6.006.

#10 Downtown: Air War Over Hanoi, 1965-1972 [My BGG Rating 9.0 /  BGG Rating 7.8 / BGG Wargame Rank 106]

As an old Navy Squadron Intel Officer, this game is strike planning like I remember it. Not everyone likes the planning nor some of the abstractions, but to me this is realism and playability combined. Of my Top 10, this one has the least ratings disparity with my rating “only” 2.40 over the Geek Rating of 6.098.

So what have I learned? I learned that BoardGameGeek ratings and rankings are virtually useless!

I like games that others don’t – apparently many games that others would say I overrate. Not sure if it really means anything because I feel that the wargamer segment of BGG is underrepresented by users. It’s OK with me; I enjoy my hobby and hope to keep gaming for many years to come!

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Courtesy BGG.com

 

Bonus #Boardgames #GameNight – #NexusOps Redux

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Courtesy BoardGameGeek

With the long holiday weekend here in the States, the RockyMountainNavy Boys asked for another game night. The Middle RMN Boy was the first to nominate a game so we went with his proposal: Nexus Ops. We had played Nexus Ops just a  few weeks back and I wrote about my reservations. Tonight, I think the Middle RMN Boy made the right choice of game; we wanted a shorter game with easier rules  – in ways a sorta “middle-length filler” experience.

We played the three-player version again. Little RMN got lucky and got many mines near his home base while I ended up with many fewer. Seeing my disadvantage, I jumped out early and grabbed the Monolith and started collecting Energizer Cards. Meanwhile, Middle RMN slowly built up an impressive force. Little RMN and I sparred over the Monolith, and I held on for awhile but at the cost of several Energizer Cards. Eventually, attrition took its toll and I lost the Monolith, forcing me to go totally defensive.

Little RMN was ahead of me, 7 VP to 3VP with Middle RMN at 0 VP. The Red Horde of Middle RM started its inexorable trek towards the Monolith and assured victory.

And then something incredible happened.

Litle RMN had a Rubium Dragon on the Monolith. Just as the Red Horde was going to attack the Dragon jumped…into the Middle RMN home base. Winning the battle, Little RMN laid down two Secret Mission cards for 5 VP…and the win.

I can’t be mad at his victory for he used the Dragon’s asymmetrical capability at exactly the right time and in exactly the right manner. Middle RMN was stunned. I was worried that he might explode, but after a few moments he “got it” that Little RMN had taken a high-risk chance – that worked – and got the victory.

This is the second game of Nexus Ops where the Middle RMN Boy ended up in last place. I was a bit worried that he might be getting turned off to the game. But I needn’t worry for after he accepted the loss to his brother he showed us all the Secret Mission cards he had ready. Suffice it to say that given one or no more than two more turns he probably would of swept us both away and easily secured the victory.

This game has raised my personal respect for Nexus Ops a bit for tonight we found some narrative in the gameplay. I don’t think its going to change my BGG Rating (6.0 or solidly in my average) but it will make it more likely to land on the table again given the right conditions.

 

 

To be King – #RiskEurope (@Hasbro 2015) #GameNight

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Courtesy BGG.com

I picked up Risk Europe (Hasbro, 2015) for an inexpensive $14.99 at Tuesday Morning a few weeks back. I personally steer away from too many “mainstream” game publishers as I find the games generally unimaginative. When I saw Risk Europe, I consulted BoardGameGeek.com and saw that it rated a respectable 7.7 (Good…almost Very Good) so I bought it and rolled it out for our family #gamenight.

Risk Europe is not your usual Risk fare. The game is both a resource builder (ala Classic Risk) but using card driven mechanics. Each faction has eight King’s Orders cards; each round the player picks two cards and places them facedown in front of them. The round is played out in two turns where the cards are turned over in the order placed. Battles take place at the the end of the round (two turns). Each round, each faction has two-less cards; the deck is reshuffled every fifth round. Cities are worth variable value and each has a special characteristic.

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Courtesy BGG.com

Visually, the game is very attractive; the map is nice, and the colorful DoaM (Dudes on a Map) factor is fun. But something missed for us in this game.

Risk Europe is actually four different games. The standard is the four-player version and there are 2- or 3-player versions using Mercenaries. There is also a Kingdom Missions variant. We played the 3-player version using a Mercenary fourth faction. This faction is basically “for hire” each round (a set of 2 turns).

Little RMN took Constantinople and Rome as his beginning cities. This gave him an immediate advantage because Rome is worth two crowns (8 needed to win). Middle RMN had Stockholm and Berlin. The Mercenaries were set up (randomly!) in Madrid and Paris. For myself, I was split between Kiev and London.

For two and half hours we battled fruitlessly back and forth across the board. The Mercenary army traded hands many times. When the RMN Boys controlled it they used it to batter (and eventually conquer) England while I used the Mercenaries to grab cites in front of the other kingdoms. With the eventual loss of England, my treasury was reduced and I could not pay enough for the Mercenaries. Middle RMN hired them for several rounds and backed them out of several cities allowing him to take them.

At the end of 2.5 hours Little RMN was ahead 5 banners to 4 for Middle RMN and the Mercenaries. I was behind at 3 banners. We called the game due to a late start and little end in sight.

One rule we didn’t use was Crown Cards. With only 15 cities on the board, and eight needed to win, one must literally conquer half the board! Crown Cards are the second most expensive item available to purchase and count as a crown for victory. Maybe it was the first play but all of use focused on purchasing units rather than Crown Cards in their spend actions. There was also admittedly a bit of Analysis Paralysis as we all learned what the limits of the King’s Orders cards were.

Am I being unfair to Risk Europe and panning the game after one flawed play? Maybe, but these days I have discovered that the games that attract me the most are games that evoke a narrative. In Risk Europe, I want to imagine being a King in the Middle Ages, building my Empire across the continent. I didn’t get that feeling. Maybe its the 3-player variant with a Mercenary Army that seems overpowered; maybe we need to really play with Crown Cards or use the secret missions in the Kingdom Builder variant. I think we will get Risk Europe to the table again – eventually – but only when we know we have a 3+ hour block of time and all players understand all the rules.

“The whites of their eyes” – @compassgamesllc #CommandandColorsTricorneTheAmericanRevolution

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Courtesy Compass Games

Friday nights are usually movie night for the RockyMountainNavy Boys. For myself, I set up Compass Games’ Command & Colors Tricorne: The American Revolution. I was planning on a simple solo rules exploration game when the youngest RMN Boy sat down next to me and asked, “Can I play?”

Who am I to say no to a wargame!

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Courtesy westpoint.edu

The scenario I set up was the Battle of Bemis Heights, October 7, 1777. I chose this battle  partially because it was the first scenario in the rulebook – with lower unit density – and partially because it was (nearly) the anniversary of the battle! I took the Americans while Little RMN took the British. The British start with light artillery supporting a line anchored at one end by heights. The Continental Regulars are forward in a line passing thru/behind trees. There is also a detachment of Light Infantry (Col Morgan) on the left flank. A strong group of American Militia are further back and can be brought forward as reserves.

The battle began with an Opening Cannonade from the British guns. Fortunately, many of the Continental Regulars were just out of range or behind trees and safe. The British pushed out a unit of elite Grenadiers on their own left flank, and in the initial engagement routed an American Militia unit and pushed back the American right flank. Morgan’s light infantry on the American left pushed out independently and threatened the heights, but the terrain advantage helped the British defenders. The British also used some line volleys as the Americans pushed forward into the tree line.

At this point, Little RMN was feeling quite confident; he was leading 3-2 and had watched   the American Militia run away after a single volley. With his elite Grenadiers and terrain advantage he felt that he was on a path to victory.

But fortune was to favor the Americans. The Command Card “Steal the March” allowed the main American line to rapidly advance across the open field and enter Melee Range. Little RMN triumphantly played another “Line Volley” fully expecting to devastate the pesky Americans.

Then the Americans played the Battle Card “The Whites of Their Eyes.” This card lets the Americans fire FIRST in Melee combat. In the exchange of fire, not one British unit was able to stand and Battle Back. Indeed, three units ROUTED and ran off.

The Americans now held the advantage with the score 5-3 after the close fire exchange. Little RMN tried to reorganize his line and pick off ANY American unit. But while he was doing so, Morgan’s light infantry on the right got a clear shot an an unattached Leader – and got the kill. Americans win 6-3.

Little RMN has played plenty of Memoir ’44 and a few games of Command & Colors: Ancients so he was not totally unfamiliar with the game system. The real difference in Tricorne is the morale rules and the potential of routing units. This bit of historical chrome becomes an essential part of the Tricorne experience and makes Tricorne thematically appropriate without a huge rules overhead.

Little RMN wants to play Tricorne again. Worrying to me, this game we had the Middle RMN Boy as an observer. He quietly watched and learned. So quiet was he I fear playing him in the future because I could see the whites of his eyes as he studied the battle and considered what he would do differently.