Our Second Playtest

 Martinique Island, Southern Shore, May 1774

[See sidebar for full details of the Scenario]

[For More pics of the map and set up scroll to the bottom of the blog]

The sun was just cresting a nearby low lying hill as Captain Talbot led his Grenadiers ashore. The small British fleet that had just disembarked his landing force lay offshore about 200 yards in a cove that opened up onto a pristine sandy beach. Sending his Platoon of Grenadiers ahead in skirmish order, Talbot supervised the unloading of his two companies of troops and the 6 pound cannon that he had decided to bring along. He knew that the artillery piece would slow him down, but it was comforting to know he had the extra firepower, especially in an unknown land.

 

His force moved ahead quietly, or at least as quietly as a 100 man landing force could march. After a few minutes, his force reached an open grassy plain which was dotted by a few Caribbean palm trees. He knew that his force was close to the Governor’s Plantation. His skirmishers reported an “All Clear” ahead and they continued on their march. He could just make out the hill in the distance where he figured, correctly, that the 24 pounder emplacement was located. To the right or West of the hill was the Governor’s house and barn. He had orders to fire the structures and also to destroy the 24 pound cannon on the nearby hill. Before debarking from the fleet, the Admiral had called Talbot aside and given him his orders for the mission and sketched out the known forces in the area. A French Garrison lay to the North East at some distance and the Governor maintained a personal guard of about a half dozen soldiers, which were posted about his plantation (or so was thought). The 24 pounder was thought to be unserviceable. All of this effort was in reprisal for the French meddling in the affairs of the Colonies. The British had recently discovered a French Vessel laden with muskets, gunpowder and munitions bound for Boston.

 

Talbot continued to move his men along, silencing the occasional curse word when a soldier stumbled along the rough path or when one cut himself on the sharp leaf of some exotic plant. He could make out the main house now, and also the barn. Good, he thought. The quicker his men fired the structures, the sooner they could make for their ships and leave this forsaken place.

 

Suddenly the Captain caught a glimpse of gleaming metal near the emplacement. He took out his telescope and gazed at the hill top. Nothing…no, wait…coming down and around behind the hill he was sure he caught sight of a white uniform. He continued to look…yes, definitely…another white form in the hazy distance. Then another…and still another…The French Garrison! They had somehow been alerted, perhaps by one of the fishing boats Talbot had seen during the pre-dawn hours as the fleet approached. In any case, his presence was known and his force was in for a fight…

 

Talbot's troops draw up to fire the Governor's House

British Line troops form up to fire the house.

And so begins our next playtest of “For King, Country and Sugar,” using Sharp Practice rules and 25mm AWI era figures. Talbot’s force of 2 companies consisted of 8 groups of about 12 figures each with 6 big men, supported by a group of Privateers from the “Black Fin,” the Duchess Luisa with her 5 man escort, a detachment of light infantry and the 6# gun. To oppose him, Captain Reynard had a similar sized force, of lower quality, dispatched from the Fort with 5 big men. Both sides had a few extra characters with side missions (The Duchess for example). The board was set up with the emplacement on the West side (French Right), Governors main house in the middle and the barn and bridge on the Eastern side. Complete TO&E, scenario background and map can be found on the side bar. Interesting to note also that the French had a wagon filled with contraband advancing up the road (near the emplacement) and both sides had a number of special (side) missions via their respective special characters present. The aforementioned were all worth extra victory tokens (points).

 

 

 

 

Duchess Luisa's Escort

Duchess Luisa's Escort

The British advanced mainly on the east side of the board and the center with most of the cards being drawn for big men operating in these areas. Almost all of the game action was centered around the barn and the main house as the British desperately tried to fulfill their primary mission to fire the structures. The Grenadiers and Highlanders (all elite troops) came very close to dislodging the stubborn French defenders taking cover behind a stone wall. But one (of 2) of the Grenadier groups failed morale after loosing 7 of 12 men killed (or severely wounded) and receiving 18 points of shock. A second highlander unit was pushed back under similar circumstances. The line company (4 groups of 12) had better success pushing up the center and ultimately set fire to the Governor’s Mansion. However, at least half of these troops were basically deprived of “inspiring command” (lack of cards) and simply blazed away at the Frenchies. Talbot’s 6 pounder, that he had so meticulously unloaded at the beach, was largely ineffectual (cards & unlucky dice).

 

 

 

 

British Grenadiers March towards the Barn

British Grenadiers March towards the Barn

Meanwhile, Capitan Reynard had trouble moving his troops into a tactically advantages position (again, due to the card draw and also the inferior French Command Structure) but did manage to hold the Governors Courtyard with a light unit and also had a group under heavy cover (the wall) at the Barn and another line unit near the bridge. These three key units issued withering fire to the advancing British and made them pay dearly for closing with the structures. The 24 pounder made it’s presence known (being serviceable after all) by bringing shock and confusion down upon the British left as they paused under heavy fire.

 

Reynard's French Line troops at the ready

Reynard's Line Troops at the ready.

Other Game events/side actions of note were: (1) The Governor taking personal charge of a section of troops (not necessarily a good thing!) (2) The French Priest Buschardae evangelizing the Privateers and converting 2 of these to the Faith (worth a token) (3) British Grenadier Sgt. Major Clowes attempting (unsuccessfully) to “fell” Buschardae due to a long standing vendetta with him over his wife being excommunicated (4) French Sgt. Champney attempting to flag down the supply wagon to take a little “nip” from the bottle before getting back to the battle. (5) Duchess Luisa nearing the bridge, only to see her lost love make his way off board before she could join him (6) The French managing to wet down both the barn & main house which made it more difficult to set afire.

 

Governor Marques Dubois

Governor Marques Dubois

In the end, the British managed to fire the house but only scored 2 victory tokens vs. French 5. The British left was almost totally shut down during the game due to the luck of the card draw and most of the turns were short with Tiffin being drawn after 3 or 4 big men had moved. This made for a really interesting game and several of the units endured heavy causalities and shock while they simply blazed away at each other for much of the battle, either unable or unwilling to advance. Still, the British had opportunities to dislodge the French that were not exploited, so a mix of tactics and luck spoiled poor Talbot’s chance at victory and glory during his chance at independent action. He would have some explaining to do when he returned to the fleet

 

British Caprain Talbot

British Captain Talbot

We have truly enjoyed this rule set and feel that they really capture the flavor of the era. I could almost hear the Big Men (NCO’s & Officers) yell; “Front rank, ready….fire…reload…second rank, advance…ready…fire…”. This is to say that the game mechanics seem to yield the flavor of the period, albeit with a bit of Hollywood flare!

 

Talbot's 6# Gun & Crew

Talbot's 6# Gun

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