Friday, March 17, 2017

Bemis Heights Play Test - Electronic Brigadier

May 20th I will be running this scenario at the Huzzah! convention in Portland, Maine. The game is #306 and will be during the Saturday morning 9am-1pm slot. When I run convention games I prefer to play test the scenarios at home first to insure that the scenario is well balanced so that everyone at the convention has a good time. After having to cancel this game TWICE due to having a bad chest cold, I was finally able to run the play test with the help of five friends from the Northern Conspiracy. I was fortunate that all were experienced with the rules so they were able to handle the seven commands of the scenario with ease.

Kevin and Rob were the British. Kevin was the advanced wing, Rob was the center (Hessian) wing and they split the third command, the reserve wing.
Bob, Ralph and Mike were the Americans. Mike had the American light brigade, Ralph and Bob had Learned and Patterson's brigade with all three splitting Poor's brigade, Mike getting the majority of Poor's troops with Bob and Ralph taking one regiment each.

This scenario starts after the initial British advanced guard probe has been contacted and pushed back by the American light brigade. Starting the battle any sooner would cause several players to have to wait a long time for their troops to come into play. This way all seven commands can be used on turn one. I've kept several units that didn't fight during the actual battle out of the OB to keep the game clean and for balancing purposes. The Americans have orders to drive the British from the field, and with a 4:3 advantage in brigades, my hopes are that they have the resources to make that task achievable. This photo shows the troop locations after the British have taken their first turn.

 The British plan was to defend in depth with the advance wing along a pair of woods at the north edge of the wheat field. Bob's center column would support this and use the woods to the east of his redoubt as an extension of this line.

The Americans would have Mike attack the advance wing while flanking the British redoubts to the east with a majority of their force. Mike's initial attacks pushed the Queen's Loyal Rangers skirmish line away initially but had more trouble with the British Light infantry which surprisingly held to a charge winning. Across this area for the next couple of hours (game time) Mike and Rob continued to firefight heavily. In the end Mike's NY militia headed for the rear, and after a counter-charge, the British 20th line also routed to the rear. Morgan's rifles also drove off the gunners of the British howitzers, who found themselves uncomfortably exposed as their infantry support fell back.

On the British left multiple attacks went in against the Hessian Grenadiers, who stood resolute in their woods, turning back several coordinated American attacks. Eventually the Grenadiers wore out one American regiment and bloodied at least two others, causing well over 100 casualties across the combined attackers at a loss of just over 40 to the Grenadiers. This defense earned them the honors for the battle.

On the British far right, Bob's flanking units were able to finally get around the British flank to threaten the redoubts from the rear. Rob was forced to rush his only reserves, the British Grenadiers into the gap. This attack was met harshly by Bob's flanking regiment causing significant damage to the British Grenadiers. Due to their high quality, the Grenadiers held and stopped the American attack. Elsewhere on the British left flank the Canadian loyalist militia, having fired their three volleys, was driven from the line. They later rallied and re-deployed, but were not looking like they would be very combat effective for the remainder of the battle.

As we called the game due to time, the American attack had been successfully defended by the British. In terms of the overall campaign situation, the British victory was not enough to save Burgoyne's position in New York, so this was at best a Phyrric victory for the British. The post-game statistics, which were heavily skewed in favor of the British early in the battle, were definitely shifting in favor of the Americans towards the end of the battle.

Of particular interest to me is the American army still retained an advantage in army cohesion even after having to maneuver and attack. I think this speaks to the efficiency of how the American troops were handled compared to the pressured British, who needed to use more double-time marches to react to the attacks. Here are the end of battle statistics:

British Army
  • Army cohesion: 69.3%
  • Total Casualties: 353 / 4920 (7.2%)
  • 1 unit dispersed
  • 1 routed unit

  • Honors to: 124 - Brunswick Grenadiers
American Army
  • Army cohesion: 72.4%
  • Total Casualties: 517 / 6800 (7.6%)
  • 1 routed unit
  • 2 shaken units

  • Honors to: 221 - 1st New Hampshire
I would like to thank Bob, Ralph, Mike, Rob and Kevin for helping me play test the scenario, and for giving me constructive feedback that will allow me to fine tune the scenario in preparation for Huzzah!

1 comment:

Ed M said...

Nice report. Glad that you managed to exercise the scenario in the light of the several postponements. Sounds like it's not far off from convention-ready!