FoG:R Wars in North America & Caribbean 1622-1700 in Campaign 2013
Buccaneer vs Colonial French and Huron
Well well well, Me Hearties! Milton Keynes. A Shopping Centre. Saturday morning. Not a combination which I'd usually consider as a positiveÖ. Add into it a start at 830am and it starts to get almost totally unpalatable.
But this was Campaign, a hard core team competition which I'd avoided entering for many years. This time however I'd cracked open like a bottle'o rum smashed on the floor of the bar of the Sypglass tavern, and the reason was because of the themeÖ. FoGR is much better with tight theming anyway, but Campaign had a mini theme in which Buccaneers were one of the options - Arrrrgggghh, the Scallywags!
Of course, I didn't have an army of Pirates hanging around in a drawer waiting for exactly such an occasion, however I did have a keen interest in buying lots of Blue Moon and Peter Pig figures, having lurked and flirted with the Swashbuckling boards on TMP for many years whilst browsing the Renaissance section. Arrr! So, once the theme was announced the project was off and running - a big purchase of Pirates at Salute 2012, the inevitable additional purchases once I'd actually worked out the list several months later, and then a slow, painful slide towards finally buying a rather pricey Blue Moon/Old Glory Pirate Ship after a couple of months of fruitless eBay browsing for a childs toy Pirate Ship worthy of conversion. Me band o'Pirates were born!
Pictures of Pirates from my Photo Directory
Well, tie me to the mizzenmast! Only one practice game and a bit of online discussions with Mr Lurkio who had used the same army a year or so before and I rocked up early on a Saturday and started to deploy for the very second timeÖ
Hoist the anchor, as my first opponent was Chris, with a Colonial French army with some North American Indian allies. Campaign is run in mini leagues of 6 teams, so you play all the other teams over the course of the weekend - Chris was actually a clubmate and my only practice game had been against him the preceding Monday evening, a game in which I'd handed him a right pasting after his best units had proved unusually vulnerable to artillery fire from my 2 guns. With this background I knew the dice gods would be against me, and I also knew that he would have learnt more from defeat that I had from a triumph engineered by 2 shooting dice who had rolled a lot of 5's and 6's.
Review of the Colonial French army on Madaxeman TV
A Madaxeman.com TV first - three characters in the same review!THs
Yo ho, yo ho! The most important thing however, above victory, above being complemented by passers by for the quality of figures and painting, was to get The Ship onto the table. This needed a good initial dice roll to win the initiative, and I had selected an army with a Great Commander to help.
FoGR Rules Hint - Opponents dice off for initiative at the beginning of the game. Having more horse, or having better CinC's both help you win this dice off, with the winner having the choice of terrain, and also some terrain options that the other player cannot chooseÖ including taking a river or a waterway.
Shivver Me Timbers! The dice roll was successful! The Ship took to the hastily borrowed waterway from Miniature Worldmaker and Magister Militum! I could now go home happy in the knowledge that my significant (erm, maybe 50 pieces of eight once all the crew and paints and other stuff are added into it) investment in The Ship was not entirely wasted.
My deployment was one which I suspected I would repeat in almost all of the games - me band o'Pirates anchored on the waterway, Mad Impact Foot and Superior Old Pirates interspersed in the middle supported by Boring Average Pirates with a couple of other units racing along the waters edge under cover of naval gunfire in an attempt to try and turn the 6' table into a more manageable 3' or 4' wide line of battle. However, as we all know, every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats and so this deployment would also allow my Great Commander, with his 12' command radius to encourage almost all of my troops and make sure no unfortunate incidents happened before they got into combat.
FoGR Hint - with rear support and a Great Commander your troops are taking morale tests for enemy shooting on a +3, offset by a -1 for the most potent enemy shooting (or -2 if the shooting is from artillery). GC + Rear Support should therefore mean you rarely fail a test, as it would need a roll of 4 or less on two D6 to fail.
Thar she blows! The terrain had fallen well, with a low hill in my deployment zone allowing my 2 artillery to fire over the heads of me band o'Pirates, and through my skirmishing light foote Indians - when the Woodland Indians got closer to the enemy the combination of skirmishers and artillery could end up hurling 5 dice at the unit in front of them. Tasty!
Where there is a sea there are pirates, and so the Ship sailed stately along the impressive waterway as the French stayed out of range. But my lord, it looked cool !
The naval gunners had created a no-fly zone within shooting range of the shore (6" in from the 8" wide waterway) and the French had no intention of going into it. Even pirates, before they attack another ship, hoist a black flag. This allowed the rather vulnerable unit of 4 LF with hand hurled bombs total impunity to scamper along the water's edge and race towards the enemy baseline - quite what they would do when they got there I wasn't sure, but it did represent a unit in my count of 12 which was cheap, and which seemed unlikely to ever come under real threat never mind risk being lost.
Ahoy there Jim Lad! Me band o'Pirates started to lurch forward out of its starting position, forming a series of columns as they shifted to the right, all seeking to draw the French and their Huron allies ever closer towards the waterway and the waiting Ship's Gunnes. The Warrior Huron units were harder to manoeuvre with only one allied general commanding them and unable to form Divisions, meaning the French struggled somewhat to respond to the lightening redeployment of me band o'Pirates foote.
Seeing how slowly the French and Indians were responding, me band o'Pirates initiated yet more manoeuvres to allow themselves to shrink the line of battle still further
Whats actually happening now?
The French Huron allies are unmaneuverable, and in the middle so the Pirates are trying to maneuver out of their way whilst pushing up on the right flank by the waterway.
The French are deep, as they have deployed wider than the Pirates and are struggling to get all of their units into action
The first clash was Indian on Indian, with bow skirmishing French allies against the "Gone Native" light infantry in me band o'Pirates army. The result of the sharp firefight was mixed with the Huron losing a base, but me band o'Pirates skirmishers losing cohesion, marking the first appearance on table of the to act as Pirate Cohesion markers!
Here me band o'Pirates have pushed forward on the right, and refused the flank on the left as the large blunt instrument of the 3 Huron units move cumbersomely towards the rather thinned out centre. Cannae in the Caribbean beckons for the FrenchÖ.?
Me band o'Pirates were starting to wonder if their fancy dancing around would have any effect - the Huron were a big red line of Indian Steamroller inching towards them seemingly uncaring as to what was in front of them..
Near the waterway the French were finding it difficult to resist the temptation to move into the zone of naval gunnery - especially as several units of normal Pirates were dancing around and teeing themselves up for some 2 units on 1 shooting action. Still no real engagement, but lots of preparation. The clash when it came would surely be an almighty oneÖ
In the middle life was much more simple. Both armies best troops had formed opposing solid lines and waited for contact as the skirmishers withdrew on both sides
The combination of guns and light foote had DISR one of the Huron units, but that was not especially impressive given the sheer numbers of Indian warriors now homing in on the Pirate lines. At least me band o'Pirates had managed to consolidate their formation so many of the French and Huron units on the right of their attack were bereft of opposition. Concentration of force is always a good plan, and is even better when you hardly have any force to start with.
Seeking to cut another Huron warband out of the game, a unit of Mad Pirates on me band o'Pirates left make a bee-line for a smaller isolated French unit, hoping the Huron cannot respond in time.
Me band o'Pirates contract and lurch forwardÖ suddenly close combat with cutlasses and blunderbusses is imminent! Aaaarrrgghhhh!!
Whats actually happening now?
The French Huron allies are teed up for a big unsubtle charge against the well prepared Pirate centre. Both flanks are more even than the Pirates might like, as the superior numbers of French units allow them to negate the maneuvering of the Pirates.
In the middle combat is also imminent - however rather more dice may be required than on the flank! And ominously, the Huron are still intact as the two lines close to musket range.
By the waterside the two armies are also exchanging musketry - and also, rather surprisingly, the Bombers are throwing hand grenades into the flank of a rather surprised French colonist unit as well, and are being supported by naval gunfire. A rather fantastic 5 die pour into the French!
Suddenly the Huron morale starts to waver in the middle - one of the biggest units drops to FRAGGED, posing a huge question for the Huron commander. Does he continue with the advance with his other units, or hang back and try and fix this imminent disaster but delaying the rest of the advance to do so. Either way, me band o'Pirates are happy as for them it's a choice between a flank and more shooting.
On the water's edge, there is a problem in the world of Piracy. Despite support from naval gunnery and bombers, both Pirate units are coming off far worse in the exchange of shooting against less well armed French units - both have dropped bases and one is DISR. The French are unharmed and intactÖ and the Pirate General has a real problem on his hands.
Zooming back to the other flank, and a unit of Mad Pirates have gotten into combat with the French unit defending the far end of the French and Huron line. Cutlasses are drawn in a bloodcurdling charge drawn straight from a Hollywood Epic! The Huron unit to the right is slowly moving into a position to attack the Pirates, but the battle may not last that long - if the Mad Pirates record a swift victory they will be off and away before the slow moving Huron get into position.
In the middle the Huron General has left his Fragged unit to their own devices (an ipad, two Samsung smartphones and an Xbox 360 connected to a 42 inch Panasonic plasma TV) and the Huron are charging forwards into combat - but first, into close range massed Pirate musketry!
The French, realising that naval gunnery is actually a bit crap, lurch forwards and open up at close range against the rather disgruntled Pirates, who suddenly find that having a waterway teeming with their own navy does not count as a secure flank under FoGR rules.
The 8-strong Mad Pirate unit is chopping big chunks out of the French it is facing - but in a late flurry the French strike back and DISR the Pirates, despite the weight of numbers and better factors they enjoy! The fight is finely poised - if the Pirates can take one more base the French will break and the band of Pirates will pursue them across the tableÖ but if the French can hang on for another turn the Huron will be finally in a position to charge into the flank of the PiratesÖ
Aaarrhhh! The near-dead French find hitherto unseen reserves of fortitude and smite me small band o'Pirates manfully - killing bases and dropping them rather unexpectedly to FRAGGED! This is not going according to plan on either flankÖ
Everything remains in the balance as the Huron tee themselves up to make a decisive flank charge.
The battlefield is shaping up into a sort of crap Cannae, with both Pirate flanks now looking unfeasibly wobbly but the centre still strong. Everyone everywhere has some form of rear support but bases are being lost across the line as both sides open up in shooting
The Mad Pirates are charged by the Huron, and break and flee, bursting through the unit who had been tasked with supporting them and exposing them to a further Huron charge in the process. A winning position has been transformed into a catastrophe by the stubborn bravery of the French Colonial infantry
In the middle the skill has been squeezed out of the game as two huge lines of almost identical infantry join in toe to toe battle. Blood curdling Indian war cries mingle with historically dubious Pirate-ey yells as the two sides trade sword thrusts for axe swings in a clash of empires and cultures (and lots of dice)
The Pirate Dice, specially commissioned for the occasion (contact me if you want some as I may put in another order - they work out at around 90 pence each but if I get a load of requests that might come down a bit) decide that now is an appropriate time to show as many Pirate Skull and Crossbones symbols as possible and roll a terrifying double one on the water's edge. That is usually fatal, but for an already DISR unit with lots of negatives it's really, really fatal.
The unit breaksÖ Both flanks have been stove in against in theory weaker opposition..
Whats actually happening now?
Me band o'Pirates have lost both flanks, but the French can do little to exploit this, and they centre is close to collapsing. The game is now more about attrition and loss of units than grand tactical maneuvers
The loss of the first unit is followed in short succession by another. So much for turning the table - me band o'Pirates' battle line is now only 2 feet across, but this is down to a loss of units rather than outmanoeuvring the enemy!
The centre is much better - the Old and Mad Pirates are all still intact, and the Huron have lost bases and cohesion all along the line. Maybe it's a Reverse Cannae we will see today?
The Huron collapse and both central units break and flee. The French army has a huge hole in its centre, but as me band o'Pirates flood forward in jubilation their commander remembers that the big hole is still only made up of 2 unitsÖ hardly a fatal blow to such a huge army, me old salt!
Heave to! The debacle on the left flank continues to unfold as the flank-charging Huron continue their fierce charge, this time hitting the burst-through ordinary Pirate unit. Unsupported , DISR, facing better and numerically superior enemy and threatened by a French flank charge they are only marking time before destruction
As the Huron flood back in rout in the middle, the second line of French troops faces up to the unpleasant reality of being overwhelmed by thousands of bloodthirsty Pirates fresh from their victory against the native warriors. They are not amusedÖ
By the waterway the French now have total control as they pursue the pathetic remnants of the routing Pirate command back towards Davey Jonesí Locker. Being shot by The Ship is no longer the threat that it was..
Debacle becomes inevitable defeat on the left
And then I spied in me spyglass that the defeat would soon become an utter shambles as both Pirate units burst through each other in rout, creating chaos of a kind not seen in the Caribbean since the Bermuda Triangle accidentally woke up and found out that it had been reshaped into a dodecahedron after a particularly large night out on the flaming Sambuca's with the Abominable Snowman and the Loch Ness Monster
Me band o'Pirates were enjoying their success where it came, and for now it was coming straight down the middle.
I could see from the crows nest that the second line of French were proving little better than the Huron in withstanding the Pirate advance - French units were being clattered and shot to pieces as the Pirates stormed forwards on a broad front
Bu with that the game ended as time was called. The French had run out the winners, with the stoving in of both Pirate flanks recording more damage on me band o'Pirates than they had managed to inflict in turn on the bigger French forces. The Result is a reasonably large defeat for me band o'Pirates.
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition, or read on for the post match summaries from the Generals involved, as well as another episode of legendary expert analysis from Hannibal
Post Match Summary from me band o'Pirates Commander
Dolloping doubloons, what a success in the Shipping Forecast, but what a dissapointment in the cutlass-point skullduggery! The Frenchmen have left their cheese eating back in France, and these colonial types have learnt some knavish tricks for sure!
To see my flanks stove in in such fashion, and against the odds as well - dolloping dolphins, it was a terrible shame that such a clever plan came unstuck on the dice alone!
My brave hearties in the middle gave us some succour, but the coddling catfish on the wings will live long in Pirate infamy as tales will be told in inns and bars across the seven seas and five foamy oceans !
Those lolloping landlubbers of France will see my steel again before the weekend is out - and then revenge will be mine!
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
My timbers are well and truly shivered by your display of ineptitude and lack of ambition. To have a plan, and then depart from it so soon - your troops had no need to move, but your wandering fingers could not resist the chance to faff about and shiift your troops from their initial deployment. The only saving grace is that your deployment was not good enough to start with so by changing it you did little more damage than had already been done.
And I also don't remember seeing anything about burying any treasure, hoisting the Jolly Roger, or splicing any sort of brace, never mind a main one? Call yourself a Pirate? What a disgrace!
If you plan a broadside, make sure you get broadside onto the enemy fleet and give them all the barrels you've got. And if you have a plan, execute that plan to the full. Iíll watch you dance the yardarm jig before I see you learn this I fear. If you want a 3 foot table and to advance along the waterway commit more than just two of your weakest units to do so and make sure they are supported by your best generals as well. Failure by dice is not a shame, but failure by healf hearted execution of a fundamentally sound and simple plan is a cause for walking the plank.
Your army is simple. You are simple. Your plan needs to match, or you will be undone by your own hand long before anyone reaches the point of combat and somene swings a Cat o'nine tails around your ears my lad
And even I must admit that The Ship did look pretty neat though.
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition
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