Saturday, 9 March 2013

Muskets and Tomahawks and......a goat!

View from the French Indian side.
Friday night is gaming night, down in Matt's dungeon. He has been very busy making a set of modular gaming boards. Each section is 2x2 mdf 6mm thick (I think). The hills are sculpted from  styrene tiles, sealed and painted, then all covered with hanging basket liner. He got the idea from an issue of Wargames Illustrated. It gives a very nice finish to game on. I took my camera along and hoped to get a few reasonable shots in the dimly lit depths.

He's also been busy painting up figures for Muskets and Tomahawks. While not quite finished yet, they are playable so we thought we would give it a go. Having had a practice session earlier in the week to get the basic mechanics, we rolled up a scenario. M&T is very much a story-driven game, with randomly assigned traits for the leaders, different objectives for each side, and a sub-plot to affect victory conditions too.

I took control of the British troops, my objective was a seek and destroy mission, I had to find and eliminate two thirds of the enemy to achieve this objective. Matt took control of the French-American Indians, his objective was to scout enemy positions, which meant he had to advance into each quadrant of the board and  be there at the end of a turn, not in combat, free to have a good look around. We both had sub-missions, but I will get to those later.

"Don't worry lads, it's only a goaaaarghh!"
The game actions are very simple, move, shoot or reload (blackpowder weapons). The sequence of troops movement is determined by the turn of a card, so you can never be sure who will get to do something at any time. It might be evenly split, with alternating player actions, or you might get a few consecutive actions for one player. There are also random events happening on the draw of a card and the roll of dice. My troops lined up, eager to advance to find the enemy, but were immediately set upon by a crazed goat! Well, this is untamed wilderness.

After this early unfortunate incident, I got the run of the cards, meaning the British troops advanced across the board to the mid point. I reckoned I could stand and wait for the French Indians, picking them off as they appeared from the treeline. The French Indians spent a while sneaking forward, eventually an advance party took up position on a hill and the shooting began.

Pesky Indians. On a hill. In a wood.
The British shot and killed a couple of the Indians, but the remaining four then survived the whole game, in a very advantageous position on top of a hill, tucked away behind a tree line. This give them a good field of fire on my British troops, along with a good cover bonus for being hidden in cover and being Indian. These four pesky Indians pretty much held up the British lads for the whole game. The black buttons are markers to denote gunsmoke, troops are easier to spot when they fire and also have to reload before firing again. Popping down a button then removing it when reloaded makes this a simple affair, though Matt is threatening to produce something a bit more theatrical.

"Er, just nipping back to town Sarge, for a cuppa."
One final snap from the game, the British have been pushed back under persistent gunfire from the Indians. Whenever a unit suffers a casualty it takes a reaction test, which might result in it standing firm, a recoil as here, a flight from the action, or complete rout. It's all very simple stuff but plays realistically (well, as we might imagine it would). The British never did dislodge those Indians from the hill, and were pinned down for most of the game, allowing other Indian units the freedom to scout out the whole board. French victory conditions met by the Indians. The British failed to kill enough enemy to meet their objectives, so it seems that the day belongs to the natives. But, wait, remember those sub plots?

"Je t'aime".
"No chance mate".
The British leader side mission was to "kill" an enemy in melee, then capture him and lead him off the board. Very late in the game he did manage to do this and conveniently did so near a table edge, so dragged his prisoner off the board, no doubt to interrogate him at a later time. The French leader side mission was to engage in negotiations with a civilian, we used a monk figure. However, the monk continually took fright and ran away, the Indian leader spent far too long pleading with him to treaty, and the British enjoyed the spectacle before filling the hapless Indian full of musket shot. French failure. Well, would you trust this guy in a conversation? Apologies for the blurry shot, it was getting late and the enemy had plied me with wine! A good game all round that plays less like a typical battle and more like an adventure game.

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