Friday, 18 November 2016

Seeing the elephant

(AWI project retrospective, part 8)

The painting progress was quite satisfactory in May and June. I finished a small group of Stockbridge Indians (which were allied to the rebels) and a large group of Woodland Indians. I also managed to construct a few wooden cabins and a load of wicket fences.

This happily coincided with an occasion for all my painted units to see the elephant. In May we played a game of Land of the Free with some of the participants in the AWI project. As we were all novices to the set, Jasper gave us an introduction to the rules. That helped a lot; I now at least had a basic grasp of the mechanics.

There is ample appreciation in LotF for the problems of command and control, and I think the activation system works fine. Movement and fire are pretty standard. The charge mechanism, in combination with the morale rules, as so often seems to be the Achilles heel and it will take some effort to master. We didn’t the advanced rules at the time, so that Indians operated the same as light infantry. No need to say that I was happy to move on to advanced rules as soon as possible!

The game itself turned out in our favour, largely due good initial positioning, good use of cavalry and some lucky dice rolls. I was able to concentrate my regulars and militia before the enemy regulars could reach the battlefield. The cavalry was used a bit as a Napoleonic shock force, which seems anachronistic, but worked because it operated on the flanks. And lucky dice rolls… well, Napoleon had something to say about that.

My troops generally acquitted themselves well. The Continentals, positioned at the anchor of my line, took a serious pounding but stayed in the field and dealt out in equal measure. The militia was tentative but provided valuable support. The delicate Stockbridge group got severely punished for its small but crucial contribution, and the Indians didn’t get into the fight.

All in all a good first impression, that would need a few more test games to play smoothly in August. There was still the uniformed militia and some officers to finish before then as well, but was getting confident that these would be ready well in time. Something I hadn’t expected to say when I started out in December!

This blog was first published on the Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy blog on June 16th 2016

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