sunnuntai 7. helmikuuta 2016

Play testing: Great Northern War a la Muskets & Tomahaws

Hostilities started between Sweden & Russia!

Today we finally got the change to playtest the rule variant and army lists I've been working on - based on Muskets & Tomahawks by Studio Tomahawk. Read on to find out how they worked!
I've been working on my Great Northern War -project; acquiring miniatures, painting them, researching information on the era it's battles and main characters. As ranks of my miniature armirs for Swedish Karolins and their Russian adversaries started to swell it was time to work on the rules for the game. Knowing that our minis wouldn't be enough for Black Powder yet I chose to adapt the Musket & Tomahawk rules for our needs. I've been playing with the rules before and my Danish gaming friend Kaspar had shown a great example modifying the rules for Napoleon's retreat from Moscow 1812. See previous blog posts and the project page for further information on this. I had also succeeded in recruiting few of gaming friends from our Nopat-club to join in on the GNW-campaign.

So the army lists needed play testing before the campaign would be launched. We had set the date with Aito for last Friday, but he fell for the influenza, fortunately Marko, my long time (gaming) friend had just recovered from it and could join me this morning.

Game set up

Since the main ambition was to see how the army lists and the few rules modifications worked, we simply set the gaming table (48" X 48") and deployed our forces simultaneously without any further ado. Objective was just to kill your opponent's troops - I wanted to see if the flavor I had worked on lists would work: Russians had superior fire power, but Swedes would more lethal in melee...
 
 Marko finalizing his deployment. Some proxies were still needed and not so
historically some British had joined Russian ranks and some French were seen amidst the Swedish lines. 

Game on!


Cards started turning - in Muskets & Tomahawks activation of troops is base on cards drawn, for example when "Swedish Regulars" -card is drawn all Swedish Regular -units are activated.


  Marko got the first activation but soon my Karolins also moved forward and fist of them (Kronoberg Regiment) opened fire on the Russian cavalry on the Russian right flank.
On my other flank my regulars marched forward lead by their proud colors! It truly felt good to see the lovingly painted miniatures finally in action!
 First moves completed:

After initial activations it seemed like the deck had mostly Russian cards in it... de facto it had 15 activation cards for Russians and 11 for Swedes, since both had grenadiers, regulars and irregulars and in addition to this Marko had cossacks, which have 4 activation cards. BUT the cards are in random order. So in a streak of Russian cards saw Marko's cossacks and irregulars (including also non-cossack cavalry) taking several activations. This was balanced by the Swedish special card "Gå På" which allows all non-militia Swedish troops to move once (charging where possible). This saw  my Kronoberg Regulars leaving their light cover on the hill. As Russian cards continued to be revealed from the deck, they were soon charged by Russian cavalry. Now the swedes gave their storm warning: attackers were soundly beaten back - Swedish pikes and excellent saving throws played a key role here - and routed (and were removed from the table).
Russian cavalry is no more. Swedish grenadiers take positions on the hill.

On the other flank Cossack cavalry maneuvered into postition behind a typical Ukranian rural house.



Which was countered by my Regulars from the Jönköping Regiment. Troops from Västerbotten had taken quite serious casualties from the fire from Cossack infantry hiding in the woods.

 And not to anyone's surprise more Cossack cards came up and the Jönköping Regiment faced the brutal onslaught from their cavalry, whom have the Savage -trait giving them rerolls in melee attack rolls
 Again the Swedes triumphed and wiped the cossacks out, with just their officers galloping away.
(We first forgot to use the rules allowing free strikes against enemies recoiling or fleeing from melee)

Attacks from the enemy cavalry had been beaten back, but the Swedes had also taking heavy casualties doing this.

Russian firepower

Now I crucially needed to see more Swedish cards popping up from the deck to make my push forward... Well of course this was not to be; Russian "Volley" -special card was soon drawn and all Russian non-militia units within 6" of an officer got a free shoot / reload action - dozens of musket bullets coming my way...


Now Repnin's Grenadiers want to show how bad guys they are and after some shooting they stormed forward into remaining Västerbotten regulars. Grenadiers have aggressiveness 3+ and soon only one man of my unit remained and he decided wisely to retreat.


My elite cavalry moved in around the house and tried to revenge their comrades, but the grenadiers once again proved too hard to to beat.

As my right flank started to crumble, I pushed forward on the left. My Kronobergare pushed forward but were soon annihilated by concentrared fire from the Russian lines...

My cavalry heading for their final gambit on the right flank, infantry is practically hindered to few men...

Beginning of an end

We were still playing the first round of the game! In M&T a round ends when all 3 Event cards have been drawn. In our game it happened that the third event card was the very last card in the deck.

 Final moments of the first round saw two more units in my left flank destroyed, while their officers are watching helplessly and my cavalry moving in from the right scared away by a heavy musket fire.

Second round starting:

Getting ready for the final GÅ PÅ! Unit of Regulars and a unit of grenadiers.

Russian canon shot taking out three regulars and my commander, whom might have had
some resemlance to Charles XII, but was definitely not him! 

Remains of my right flank shot to shreds

Final GÅ PÅ! 

My last regular unit stood their ground in the cannon fire and as the smoke cleared Russian Garrison infantry saw them charging towards them! Stout Russians fell where they stood and my unit pushed forward towards the cannon placements!


Finally my sole cannon also managed to hit something and caused severe 
casualties in the Russian lines, but unfortunately they still refused to budge!

In this final push my heroic regular infantry unit continued to defeat an artillery crew and reached the enemy lines, as was my goal. Unfortunately now they were alone and surrounded by angry Russians..


After few more shots  Swedish Morale -card was drawn and the few remains of my army broke, even the grenadiers saw fit to retire. Well who can blame them - the battle was clearly lost. Popeda to Russians. Skit.


Conclusions

  • What a blast it was to play GNW, I really enjoyed it, even if I lost. It's always pleasant to play with Marko, he is such nice opponent.
  • I'm quite happy with the lists, should the first round have ended sooner (bringing my key cards back into deck, it could have gone the other way. Marko also got several cards in a row, which saw my numbers dwindling from musket fire and melee.
  • I'm going to do following changes to rules:
    • All Officers have 2 attacks in melee
    • Cavalry will get a D6" bonus to charge distance, instead of D3
    • All cavalry will have sabres
    • Cavalry (except Cossacks) will move either in line or column
    • Spears: infantry models with spears negate cavalry's defense bonus  
    • Pike rules will be simplified to this:
      • They still generate and extra attack in melee
      • Cavalry unit charging / fighting units with pikes will lose an amount equal to pike models their combat bonuses - for both attacking and defending 

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