After the exertions of Salute it was nice that Philip was putting one of his Plains War games, they are always fun and nice and straightforward, just what knackered wargaming types need!
The scenario was a unit of Cavalry with an Infantry company attached was tasked with escorting three wagons across the table. Unfortunately for them an Indian village was present near the ford and they would not look kindly to the transit of said wagons. Myself and Terry took the side of the US whilst Dan and Stephen took the Sioux (Dan had to apparently as they are ‘Red’ Indians and I think he was still smarting from our defeat in the Salute game). Philip also told Terry and I that if we wanted to steal the pony herd near the village and burn the village down ‘in the best traditions of the service’ then that would be ok too. In between us and the creek though were a number of places where the pesky Indians could spring ambushes so we had to be somewhat careful.
A simple plan was hatched. Terry would take the more experienced troops, the Crow scouts and the infantry with the wagons and head straight for the ford. I’d take the 3 greener troops and aim for the village to the right of Terry’s troops hoping to spring attacks from the potential ambush positions there and hence reduce the numbers attacking him. This didn’t really work as we wanted to. It quickly became apparent that there were a lot of Sioux across the creek and they started moving towards us in a fantastic looking wave of horses and feathers. Pretty soon Terry seemed in trouble with the bulk of the Indians taking on his forces which were slowly being whittled down, helped a lot by the very faulty cartridges that his lads were using that meant nearly every time he fired he caused no casualties (he rolled a quite incredible 5 1’s on the trot using different dice too!).
I seemed to be doing better on my side of the field, although I didn’t have as many bands to face so managed to outnumber one to soundly beat it eventually. However after seeing off the Crow Scouts and one of the Cavalry troops the Indians transferred a couple of bands over to take my lads on, pretty soon one had been routed off and another wiped out. With Terry’s column also virtually wiped out or skedaddling too the game ended in an overwhelming victory for the Sioux.
Many thanks to Philip for putting the game on, it was tons of fun and even with Terry’s awful shooting the game wasn’t a complete walkover for the Indians – the rules worked really well and the game felt right.
Last night I had the pleasure in playing another of Philip’s ‘Crazy Horse’s Fury’ Plains War games where my brave Hunkpapa Sioux took on the 2nd Cavalry to prevent them moving a wagon over a creek and off the table – no doubt for various nefarious reasons.
The US force was of 4 companies of cavalry, 2 Veterans and 2 new recruits, with a Crow Scout troop and a wagon containing something or other (either the payroll or working cartridges, we couldn’t decide which!). They were controlled by Philip and Darren.
I controlled 4 bands of Sioux, 2 were Warriors and 2 were ‘Boys’ – not great at shooting as they had yet to obtain rifles but very game and eager to get stuck in!
I was allowed to set up each warband either in cover or behind a hill so that they were not visible to the yellow-legs until they got close enough to try and see me (needed to get 4-6 if the Crow’s, and 5 or 6 if ‘regular’ troopers I think). I duly marked the map and hoped my cunning plan was cunning enough – the two older Warbands were placed in the ‘rough’ ground (brighter green patches) to the left and the furthest right of the table with one of the Boys bands hidden in the copse by the creek, the last band was behind the right hand hill on ‘my’ side of the creek either to be used as a reserve or as a last gasp ambush attempt on the wagon if everyone else got mullered earlier!
These rules are a good deal of fun and whilst being simple have enough subtleties to make them really interesting. Each unit has to draw a commander chit which has a characteristic on it that will either bring a benefit or hindrance to their units’ performance. For example my old mate ‘Talkheaps’ was drawn for one of my Warbands which meant that instead of automatic activation I had to roll a d6, get a 1 and the unit was inactive that go (the Cavalry drew their own version of this: ‘West Pointer’). The Cavalry are quite lethal once they get dismounted and start firing plus they have longer range than the Indians but the Indians can move further each go and can Move, Fire and Move in a turn (instead of just Move and Fire) which gives them more fluidity, plus they are a bit more lethal in melee so both sides have their pluses and minuses.
I won’t be able to do a blow-by-blow account of the battle as it was really fluid all the way through, (again one of the great things about this game) but here’s the basic outline. After the Crow’s nearly spotted my left hand band I decided to break cover with them and leg it over the creek, planning to either draw a unit after them so that the waiting Boys in the copse for could spring an ambush or if that didn’t happen to go into reserve to be used where needed. Over on the right Darren’s troops were getting mighty close to spotting my braves so I sprang an ambush which managed to hit home but I started an unbelievably inept sequence of rolls in melee, so the attack was quite ineffectual. The Crow scouts and a Company then started probing towards the woods and I unleashed the Boys from there in another surprise attack – again they charged home on Blue-bellies but again not with the desired effect.
From this moment on the battle ended up as a series of moves to contact from the Indians with which I failed to do much damage from the melee; or the Cavalry would move into range to unleash a volley at me and roll a 1 or 2 (honestly they rolled about ten 1’s all night!) hence causing no casualties; or I would move into range, fire, get a 5 or 6 forcing the Cavalry unit back, then retire myself to keep out of range. I therefore managed to hold the line of the Creek whilst forcing the Wagon to withdraw to prevent it from being captured.
I did manage to rout away one Cavalry unit with a successful charge by the boys, this Company being wiped out by fire when it returned but the boys came a cropper themselves when they tried to evict the Crows from the Copse and nearly got cleaned out themselves. Over on the other flank the other boys band had a terribly ineffectual in the rocks with some veteran cavalry and retired back behind the creek. By the end the Cavalry had started to unjam their rifles and cause losses on the braves so I started to fall back further and further, now not being strong enough to cause much damage myself. As time was getting on we called the game and I believe a morale victory was gained by the Indians as the Cavalry failed to get the wagon off the table but I had suffered quite a lot of casualties in the process.
A great game again, and I’m looking forward to play another one in the future.
Here’s a few pictures of Des and Ian’s game of 6mm Napoleonics (General de Brigade – Prussians v French) that was going on behind us – game looked great so had to take some photos!