Friday, 24 February 2017

Dwarves and Romans

My new Dwarf HOTT army made its club debut last night, fighting Geoff's Retro Romans who apparently hadn't been out of the box since about 1990.

Both armies had a solid core of blades. Geoff added warband, riders and a hero to his; I added a behemoth, knights and some shooters.


A rapid advance in the centre saw the blades actually fight each other in the obligatory long slog.



Action on the flanks would decide who got the edge. But a shoving match developed on the one flank where both armies had their mounted.


My shooters took their flank, whilst in the bad going Geoff gained the advantage. We both set about turning each other's line.


The mounted fight went against me, though, as my impetuous troops were split up by feigned retreats. First the behemoth fell.


Then one of the knights. It was a close game 12AP to 10AP, but Geoff clinched the victory.


The second game was shorter. Geoff went for a later, more eastern army, with cataphracts and more warband. I dropped the knights and behemoth and added artillery, a lurker and a hero. Geoff attacked through a big patch of bad going, and I hit him as he emerged. Unable to use the full strength of his blades or the second rank of his warband, the result was inevitable.


So two good close games for the dwarves, and a victory as well. A good night.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Army Showcase - Mother Of Dragons

A number of people have produced HOTT lists for 'A Song of Ice and Fire' or the 'Game of Thrones' TV series over the years, and why not? It's a very HOTT-friendly setting. One army which grabbed my attention was the one Daenerys Targaryen assembles over time featuring, as it does, mercenary slave-soldiers, steppe horsemen, loyal heroes and, of course, dragons. But it's not an easy army to put together in any scale, needing an eclectic mix of different figures, including specific characters. I'd resigned myself to building it slowly over time, as I found appropriate figures to use, but the other week it clicked - I could print it.

So I wet into Thingiverse and trawled Dutch Mogul's collection of models, looking for appropriate figures, since I knew he did an extensive range of 18mm troops. I downloaded anything I though might be suitable, ran some test prints, rescaled figures where necessary and, after a few days, found I had almost everything I needed. A couple of evenings' printing later, I had the army ready to prep and paint. Yesterday I finished it.

And here it is:


The army is 15mm, of course. The basic list consists of:

1 x Dragon - Daenerys with her three dragons
1 x Hero general - Ser Jorah Mormont or Ser Barristan Selmy
4 x Spears - The Unsullied
2 x Riders - Dothraki
3 x Hordes - Freed saves and pit-fighters
1 x Lurker - More freed slaves

The army I have produced is a kind of middle-ground between the TV series and the books. This list was especially helpful. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the figures with regard to either source; I went with what was available, because I'd rather have something I can play with on the table, than an idea dancing around in my head waiting for the right miniatures to come along.

Here are The Unsullied. My wife thought that they looked good, but could do with more oil on the naked chests.



The Dothraki. I'm not sure really how accurate they are at all, but cavalry figures are hard to come by on Thingiverse and I went with what was available. I added shields to make them more interesting. I haven't painted any designs on them yet, so you're not allowed to see that side of them.


The slaves. I originally went with four hordes, but switched one to a lurker when I realised that the army had no rough terrain capability. The list linked to above has some of the pit-fighters as an optional warband, but I'd have had to have lost another horde for that. I decided that slaves in ambush would give the army some ability in bad terrain. There's a real mix of figures here; it was quite fun assembling the collection and painting them.


The hero element - Ser Jorah Mormont on the right and  Ser Barristan Selmy on the left (or, as they are known in our house, 'Ser Friendzone' and 'The Old Bloke'). Again, I went with what figures were available, and was quite drawn to the heavily armoured knight with the book anyway. I rather like the idea in the Fanaticus list of running one of them as a paladin, if they operate as individual elements, but this element could be a paladin if one of the optional alternative generals is used (see below)


An optional alternative general - Daenerys herself, with Grey Worm and a Dothraki guard. This would be a rider general, and would replace one of the ordinary Dothraki elements. The hero could still remain as such, or could become a paladin.


Not all of the figures were printed. I'd found the ones required for this element at a wargames show last year. The dragons are from the Reaper Bones collection; I needed three small dragons and was thrilled to find that hey did a pack with three small dragons.

You'll notice that Daenerys appears again on this element. If the rider general is not used, then this would be her place. But if the rider general is used, then she can be detached from the base; I drilled a pin into the figure's base which slots into a hole in the rock on which she is standing.



I also made the dragon base in two parts, with Daenerys and the one dragon on one base and the other two dragons on the second. This came after I realised that an aerial hero or a flier is on a base exactly half the dept of that required for a dragon. And two fliers cost the same one dragon. This allows them to be fielded at their smaller, less dangerous, stage. It also allows for a flier general or, if you drop other droops, for Daenerys to ride her dragon as an aerial hero general.


So, I haven't quite achieved my aim of a HOTT army that is entirely 3D-printed, but this is the closest I've come. To tel the truth the resolution of the figures isn't brilliant; think low-quality 1970s stuff, and you'd be close. That's no slur on the designs; they look great as they 18mm figures they are supposed to be. The loss of resolution comes from scaling them down by 3mm and from using a cheap printer. But I was able to produce an unusual army that I wanted in my collection quickly and easily, and that's good enough for me.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

More Dice-Based Initiative for 'Clobberin' Time'

When I posted the rules for switching Clobberin' Time to dice-based initiative the other day, I left out the necessary changes to abilities. I did it deliberately because, frankly, the whole post was already a bit long, and I didn't want to overload you.

So here are my very brief notes on the necessary changes and, as a bonus, a couple of extra abilities.

Ability Changes and Updates for Dice-Based Initiative

Existing Abilities

Adapt - Assign marker to opposing character whenever the character with Adapt is set to ready.

Boost - Only gives the extra dice if the character was activated on a 4 or 5.

Mind Control - If the character has a control marker on them, then the player with the marker can activate them as if they were one of their own characters

Outwit - If you are currently ready, you may declare your activation when an opposing character in range and line of sight declares theirs. You act on their roll instead of them. You may not take the activation of another character with Outwit unless you are a higher level than they are - R

Slow - If the character has been activated, then they may only be returned to ready at the end of a turn.

Quick - If this character is activated, they may be returned to ready on an initiative score of 5 or 6.

Tactics - If the initiative roll is not a double 1 or a double 6, then the side with the character with the highest level in Tactics may choose reroll their initiative die.

Loner - If you win initiative with a 2 or 3, then you must activate a ready character with this trait if one is available. If you have more than one Loner, then determine which one activates at random.

New Abilities

Egotistical - There may only be one Egotistical character on a team. If this side wins initiative with a 6, and has a character with this ability that has been activated, then the roll must be used to return the Egotistical character to ready.

Unlucky - The character is the source of more sub-plots than usual. They are affected by doubles which are less than, equal to or one greater than their level. If one greater, however, the level of the sub-plot is only equal to their level.

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I have played no proper games this weekend so far, but have moved a few figures around just to test out the ideas, and essentially the system works. Nate has tried them out a little more comprehensively, and has posted some reports on his blog. He seems to think the initiative itself work, but that the sub-plots don't. This is OK; the sub-plots were an afterthought anyway, and the system doesn't require them, although I do like the idea of building his extra scenario wrinkles into the game via some mechanism, rather than just as part of the scenario design. Mostly because I'm a lazy scenario designer, and prefer the game to do the work if it can.

In other news, I've been busy painting a new HOTT army this weekend, one I printed a couple of weeks ago. There will be pictures of the completed army in due course, but here's some teasers of it on the printer.




And finally some pictures of figures straight off the printer, some of which have made it into the army, and some of which haven't.


Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Dice-Base Initiative for 'Clobberin' Time'

You know that sometimes you get ideas in your head and they won't go away until you let them run their course? Well, this is one of those times. After having read Nate's reports of his Clobberin' Time games for the Six By Six Challenge I was reminded that I wanted to find a way to change the game so that it didn't use playing cards for initiative. It's not that I have anything against cards, and I think the current system is excellent in many way. But dropping them removes a component from the game, with the only other solution being to switch the whole game to using playing cards (which is worth a thought too).

Anyway I suddenly had an idea to use something based on the initiative system that Peter used in his grid-based 40K games that I tried out last year, with each activation being determined by an opposed D6 roll. Clobberin' Time has a low unit density, so it wouldn't be too arduous or slow the game down any more than the card system does. And I was reminded that during discussion of that system last year I;d considered the idea of using doubles (which are rerolled in the 40K variant) to trigger random events. In Nate's reports I rather enjoyed the way he'd built side-plots into the game, and I thought that there may be a way of building that into Clobberin' Times mechanisms, instead of just making it part of the scenario design.

It all seemed to click together very logically, and what follows is something that I pretty much threw together in a spare hour the other day. I ran a few, very basic, test games just to check that it wasn't too broken, and it seemed OK, but it still needs some work. But I present it for your consideration.

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Dice-Based Initiative for 'Clobberin' Time'

Basics

Characters are either Ready or Activated. (Strictly this is the case under the card-based system, but it's important here, as you will see).

Both sides roll a D6. The player with the highest score has initiative and must activate a ready figure if one is available. The players then make another opposed D6 roll.

If, before rolling for initiative, all characters in play are Activated, then the turn ends and all characters are automatically returned to Ready.

If you win initiative with a ‘6’ then instead of activating a figure you may return a single Activated character to being Ready.

Doubles

On a Double 1, the turn ends immediately, all characters become Ready, and the players test for initiative again.

On a Double 6, the player who didn’t win the previous initiative roll decides who wins.

On any other double:

If both players have characters who are ready, then the player with the lowest total levels of Sub-Plots (see below) decides who wins, with the player who didn’t win the previous initiative roll breaking a tie. 

Otherwise the only side with Ready characters wins the initiative.

A score of Double 1 will trigger, and other doubles may trigger, a Sub-Plot against the last character activated.

The first initiative roll of the game cannot be a double. If it is, then reroll it.

Sub-Plots

These represent events and complications that crop up in the story to distract the characters.

If the initiative score is a double, and the dice score is equal to or less than the level of the last character to activate or be returned to ready, then that character acquires a Sub-Plot.

Sub-Plots remain active until they are resolved. A character may only have one unresolved Sub-Plot; until it is resolved they ignore new ones, unless they are currently affected by a Dark Secret, in which case the new Sub-Plot replaces that one.

Except in the case of a Dark Secret, the level of the Sub-Plot is equal to the dice score. Eg a Level 3 character is activated. The next initiative roll is a Double 2. That character acquires a Level 2 sub-plot.

Roll a D6 to see what the sub-plot is:

1 - Puzzle - Roll 2D6 and add 6. The other player places a puzzle equal to the level of the sub-plot at that distance from the affected character, in any direction. The sub-plot is resolved when the character solves the puzzle. Other characters on the same side cannot attempt to solve the puzzle. Roll a dice to determine the type of puzzle: 1 - Clue, 2 - Science, 3 - Magical, 4-5 - No specific type, 6 - Affected character chooses.

2 - Arch-Enemy - Select an opposing character at random. The level of the Sub-Plot is the number of attacks the affected character must make against that enemy. Attacks must be those that can potentially score damage, and can include those made by other characters if the affected character is either mind-controlling them, or has activated those character via the Leader ability. The sub-plot is resolved when the requisite number of attacks have been made, or if one of the attacks defeats the character. If the arch-enemy is defeated by someone other than the affected character, then remaining attacks are converted to a Puzzle Sub-Plot, placed where the arch-enemy fell.

3 - Great Responsibility - Randomly place the Sub-Plot on a friendly character. Each time the affected character activates, reduce the Sub-Plot level by one. The Sub-Plot is resolved when its level reaches zero. If the friendly character is defeated before the sub-plot is resolved, then it is immediately resolved, but the remaining levels are converted to Self-Doubt on the affected character.

4 - Self-Doubt - This sub-plot is immediately resolved. Place a number of hinder markers on the character equal to the level of the sub-plot.

5 - Loss of Powers - This sub-plot is immediately resolved. Randomly select one of the affected character’s abilities. That ability cannot be used for a number of activations of that character equal to the level of the Sub-Plot.

6 - Dark Secret - The character is marked with a sub-plot equal to their level (not the dice roll). It is not removed or reduced in level, but if the character becomes affected by another sub-plot, then it replaces the Dark Secret. The new sub-plot cannot be lower in level than the Dark Secret. If it is, then its level is increased to that of the Dark Secret it replaces. If the new Sub-Plot is also a Dark Secret, then the level of the Dark Secret is increased by one, and it remains undetermined. Note that this is the only case where a character that has an active sub-plot becomes subject to another.

As descibed above, on an initiative roll that is a Double 2, 3, 4 or 5, total up the remaining unresolved sub-plot levels for both sides. If one side has fewer unresolved sub-plots than the other, then that side automatically chooses who wins the initiative.

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Some of the Sub-Plots are simply designed to designed to hamper or annoy a character. Others can, seemingly, be ignored - Puzzle, for example. However unresolved Sub-Plots put your side at a disadvantage when it comes to resolving initiative ties, so it may not always be to your advantage to ignore that problem. This is a side of things I need to test properly, in order to see if the penalty for ignoring Sub-Plots is pitched at about the right level.

Obviously switching to a dice-based initiative system affects a whole range of abilities which rely on the card-based activation, and I am working through redoing them to fit in with it. One new ability worth mentioning, however is one I have called Quick. This allows a character from be returned to Ready from Activated on a roll or 5 or 6, instead of just 6. What this allows is a practical way of pitting one powerful character against a group of slightly less powerful ones - a master villain vs a team, for example. At present a master-villain is rather hampered by the fact that they can be overwhelmed by the number of actions a group of heroes can throw against them. The Quick ability allows the villain to activate more than once per turn on a more frequent basis than their opponents do. This is the theory, anyway; I've yet to properly test it.

I welcome comments and suggestions.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

One Hour With The Scum Of The Earth

One of the nice things about 'Scum of the Earth' is that it's pitched at around the six unit mark, which seems to make it a perfect set of rules to use for the scenarios in One Hour Wargames. I decided to put that to the test this evening, and played the Control The River scenario using two South American Wars of Liberation forces.

I generated random forces, with a slight fiddle to the tables to limit artillery to one piece maximum. The Royalists got an artillery piece, along with four infantry and some skirmishers. The Patriots had four infantry and four cavalry. I decided I wanted to try out characters and traits as well. The Patriot Llanero cavalry was rated as Fierce, giving them a bonus in close combat, but to offset this, two of their infantry units were classed as Rabble. In addition I gave each side a musician, standard-bearer and sergeant to assign to three different units, allowed two random units on each side to be Steady, allowing them to resist fire better, and made one unit on each side Impetuous, which meant that they advanced towards the enemy if under ineffective fire.

I didn't keep detailed notes; keeping track of the game was work enough. The patriots put their cavalry and a particularly steady infantry unit on once flank, relying on their less useful infantry to take, or contest, the other ford as best they could. The Royalists put the gun and skirmishers on one flank, and massed their infantry on the other. I randomly scattered some additional rough ground around the board, as this style of game really needs more rough than the scenarios usually provide.


On the one flank there was a fierce firefight across the river (impassable except at the fords). The Royalists got the better of it, driving the Patriots back into the woods, and advancing to take the objective. The Patriots made a bold try at a counter-attack, but it never really came off.


On the other flank the cavalry swept over the river, and easily overwhelmed the Royalist gun. But both units came unstuck against a stolid infantry unit that saw both of them off, one by rout and the other by elimination. Cavalry is useful under these rules, but with only three actual figures per unit they are somewhat brittle if things go against them.

The lone Patriot infantry unit on that flank was left fighting alone, which it did with some skill, holding firm against both Royalist musketry and bayonets, and inflicting more hits than it took.


However eventually reinforcements arrived from the other flank, where the Patriots had finally scattered, and the brave soldiers of what you can see was The British Legion, were forced to withdraw.


So, another Royalist victory.

I tried a few rule changes which are under consideration: clarified movement, and a more logical effect for rough terrain, as well as a 6" rout move which kept units in play for a lot longer, and allowed both sides a chance to regroup and reorganise. I didn't feel there were any problems with any of the changes. Keeping track of the abilities wasn't too bad, but I'm not sure I'd want any more in play than I used. I never really got a feel for how artillery worked in the game; the Royalist gun fired one shot before its crew were put to the lance. 

The game played out in eleven turns, which seems to be par for the course in the OHW scenarios. They did seem to be a suitable set of rules for trying the scenarios with; I shall give them another go at some point.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Scum Of The Earth

Nordic Weasel have been around for a while, producing interesting-looking skirmish and small-unit games which I have read, read about and somehow never managed to play. However I read a review of his latest offering the other day - Scum of the Earth - and decided that it was time I stopped reading and started playing.

Scum of the Earth is available HERE in (at the time of writing) a beta test version. The plus side of this is that you pay what you want for it; nothing if you truly are the scum of the earth and lots if you are true Lady or Gentleman of Honour.

They are described as 'Black Powder' rules for people with 'dusty miniatures shelves'. That is, they are designed to cover 18th and 19th century actions, and also designed to make use of that handful of figures from that era that a hypothetical short attention-span wargamer has on his or her shelves. The scale is a bit nebulous; units consist of six infantry or three cavalry figures, but since the rules comment that, if you are using 6-10mm figures, a 'figure' can be a base of 3-5 models, we can assume that they represent more than six individuals. It's definately pitched as a skirmish-level game, though. Let's assume a unit is 30-50 infantry, or up to 25 cavalry tops, and leave it at that. The starter game suggests 3-5 units per side. There are optional rules for artillery, although it does point at that at this scale you wouldn't be using it.

Essentially this game is a ruthlessly simple game set at about the same level as Sharp Practice.

And it is ruthlessly simple. All rolls are on a single D6, with an Average die used for firing. Movement is a D6 in inches, plus or minus modifiers for formation and type. Firing and close combat are by unit, and consist of opposed rolls. Units lose figures, but mostly disappear through routing, with a loss of one or two figures making a rout more likely in close combat. Both forms of combat can be brutal. There are a couple of pages of optional rules at the end for characters to add to your units, rules for leaders and rules for different unit characteristics. These are what you would expect - the odd +/- modifier in particular circumstances, or the ability to ignore something.

Anyway, I bought a copy (paying more than $0), and set up a game. I used my 6mm South American Wars of Liberation troops, with no special abilities or leaders - three units of infantry and one of light cavalry per side. I used one Irregular Miniatures stand to represent one figure in the game.

Terrain was a series of rocky hills - I just rearranged my Chacabuco terrain from yesterday, with a farm in the centre. The two forces were foraging parties after supplies. Victory would go to whoever held the farm.

The Patriots quickly moved to occupy the farm. In fact the rules aren't clear how buildings work. I treated the farm as bad going which offered no cover unless the unit adopted skirmish formation, at which point they could spread out around the perimeter.

The Royalists formed up into columns to assault the farm. One came under fire and was shaken.


The other column got held up in the rocks.


Eventually the Royalists got their act together and attacked the farm, routing the defenders.


The two cavalry units had fought wide out on the flank, and the Royalists had eventually routed. The Patriot cavalry swung round to threaten the Royalists attacking the farm, forcing one into square. But a firefight around the farm saw the Patriot infantry driven off, so a charge by their cavalry was all that was left. The Royalists came out of square in order to shoot, and paid the price, despite the Patriot cavalry struggling through the rough terrain, but musketry from the farm drove off the horse and won the day for the Royalists.


The game was quick, brutal and surprisingly fun, given the simple mechanisms. Most of it was obvious in play, but I did have a few queries or reservations.

(i) I confess that I didn't find the bad going rules intuitive, with units sometimes not moving even if they only intend to enter terrain. However I shall persevere and see if it makes more sense in future games.

(ii) I liked the reaction rule, where the passive player gets to move a unit. However with only one minor exception, this can only be triggered by a unit failing to move in bad going.

(iii) I had units roll for movement to change formation, with a discarded dice meaning that they didn't manage it. I rather like the idea of *any* formation change rolling, with a 1 being a fail and, of course, triggering a reaction. This would mostly deal with my reaction move reservation in Point (ii).

(iv) I wasn't sure what the penalties for cavalry attacking into bad going where. I assumed that a unit attacking something in bad going had to roll as if it were entering/crossing it, so obviously a failure to move is a possibility. But cavalry don't seem to lose their +1 combat bonus, unless the target is formed up. But I shall play this unchanged for now and see how it goes.

(v) Finally, the routing rules seemed to be mostly redundant. There are rules for rallying units which rout, but since a unit routs 12" and the recommended board is only 24" square, most routs take a unit off the table and out of the game anyway. Perhaps a routing unit should stop at the table edge, or not travel so far. A routing unit that fails to rally is very vulnerable, and moves 6" if attacked, so a 6" rout would keep units in the fight whilst removing those that cocked up the rally. In addition I'd perhaps make the rally roll one point more difficult if the unit is also shaken, since shaken doesn't seem to have much of an effect otherwise.

I shall try some more games of this, and see how they go.


Dwarven Debut

One of the criteria I set for myself in my Six By Six Challenge entries was that although I had selected HOTT as a game, I could only include armies that were new, or rejigged to a reasonable degree. This is to stop me playing six games of HOTT in an afternoon, and claiming all of the plays in one go. I've got to work for it.

But I now have a brand-new Dwarf army to play with, so its first game counts as a Six By Six entry.

My choice of opponents for it is limited; my Mantic Elves or the sci-fi Sororitas Puella Armatura Mobilis. I opted for the Elves. The Sisters can wait for another day.

I randomly determined the makeup of each 24AP from the available troops. The Elves got 6 x Spears (including the general), 2 x Warband, 2 x Shooters and 1 x Hero. The Dwarves got 4 x Blades (including the general), 2 x Shooters, 1 x Artillery, 1 x Lurker, 1 x Hero and 2 x Knights. The Elves defended.


The Elves.


The Dwarves - one solid centre, and a flanking move of knights and a hero.


The Elves rushed their warband forward, supported by the hero, hoping to reach the woods and outflank the Dwarven line.


One of them made it before the PIPs ran out.


The hero stood alone against the Dwarven juggernaut.


But the Elves in the wood were ambushed and destroyed.


The Dwarves rolled onwards, but the Elves used the hill to hold them. For a while.


Meanwhile the main Dwarven line had advanced, and the artillery opened fire.


The Elves moved a reserve of spears over to support their left ...


... just as their hero was crushed by a massive caber.


The spears held on a little better.


The main infantry lines were closing fast.


On the Dwarven left their firepower quickly overcame the Elven archers.


The other group of Elven warband was crushed.


In desperation the Elves charged, but it was too late.


The Elven army broke, having lost 14AP. The Dwarves didn't lose anything.


I think the Elves had it tough from the start. Their army was mostly spears, with little in the opposing army for them to oppose at any kind of advantage. I did refight the game later in the day, swapping out two spears and adding in a magician. The Elves defended again, and used more terrain. This forced the battle onto a narrower frontage, allowing the spears to double-rank. It was a much closer game, with both armies one element away from breaking before the Elves lost again.

So a good start for a new army - two games and two victories.

6x6 - Game 1.2

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Chacabuco 200

OK, so it's not quite got the same cachet as Waterloo 200, but today is the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Chacabuco, a key action in the fight for Chilean independence from Spain.

I've have played, and reported, this battle before a couple of times, which means that I already have a potted history ready to go.


The Battle of Chacabuco was fought on 12th February 1817 in Chile. Briefly, the patriot general San Martin marched an army across the Andes from Argentina with the aim of liberating Chile from Spanish rule, allying with an Army under the Chilean patriot Bernardo O'Higgins. A force of Royalist troops, under General Maroto were rushed to meet them, and blocked their advance at Chacabuco Valley.

San Martin attacked the small Royalist force, splitting his forces such that part of his army, under O'Higgins, would hold the Royalists to their front, whilst the other part, under General Soler, would march by narrow mountain paths around the Royalist left and attack them there. The plan worked up to a point. Initially O'Higgins just exchanged fire with the Royalist line, but then for reasons still not clear, he attacked. This could have been due to a certain impetuosity on his part, or it has been suggested that he saw the Royalists about to advance from their positions and was concerned that he would be trapped in the narrow valley through which he was advancing. Whatever the reason, his attack spurred San Martin to take direct control of the battle, ordering his elite Horse Grenadiers up in support. At that moment, Soler arrived on the Royalist left, and the combined attack collapsed the Royalist army. Part of it rallied at a farm in the Royalist rear. but it was soon forced to surrender.

The bulk of the Royalist forces fled Chile and O'Higgins was installed as Supreme Director. Whilst Chile's complete liberation wouldn't occur for another year or so, this was the beginning of the end for Royalist rule.

The battle is a small one. The Royalists had about 1200 men on the field, whilst the Patriots ended up with about 1500 in action, some of Soler's flank marchers not being engaged at all.



I had some vague plans last year to refight it using Black Powder, but I've never really progressed them To be honest, I can't rouse the enthusiasm when I know that my own 'Liberated Hordes' HOTT variant gives a perfectly acceptable game. So it's those rules I turned to today.

I used the following OOBs

Patriot - Five Regular Infantry and two Elite Cavalry in the main force with one Regular Infantry and one Elite Cavalry in the flanking force.

Royalists - Five Regular Infantry, one Regular Skirmisher, one regular Artillery and one Militia Cavalry.

This is based roughly on one base being equal to 200 infantry or 100-150 cavalry.

San Martin was rated as a Good commander, whilst Maroto was rated Poor.

I did make one change to the game. Both armies are quite small, so I felt that a full D6 of PIPs was a bit much, and wouldn't create sufficient command stress. So I used the following: A roll of 1 was 1 PIP, 2-3 was 2 PIPs, 4-5 was 3 PIPs and 6 was 4 PIPs. Maroto's Poor rating would still kick in on rolls of '6', but converting a second 4 PIP roll to 1 PIP. The change worked quite well, forcing both sides to make tricky choices at key moments.

I went for a mostly historical setup. This is the start of the battle from behind the Patriot lines as they enter the valley. The Royalists are formed up in the distance.


San Martin went for a bold plan - lead the elite Horse Grenadiers straight into the valley at full speed, and sweep away the Royalist left flank. If things got sticky, then the flank march would turn up and save the day. Maybe.


The Patriot infantry (under the ever wonderfully named Bernardo O'Higgins) plodded forward. Royalist skirmishers engaged them from the rocky slopes, but O'Higgins' men drove them off with a single volley.

On the day O'Higgins was ordered to just pin the Royalist forces, but ended up charging them when it started to seem that Soler's flank-march wasn't going to appear. In this setup he isn't really very impetuous. I'd be inclined to add in a future rule that requires San Martin to always have to expend 1 PIP on the infantry until at least one element has engaged in close combat.


But I digress. San Martin's horse sped down the valley.


With his own cavalry of dubious quality, and also outnumbered, Maroto wasn't going to opt for a straight fight. He redeployed the cavalry so that it was supported by the infantry on that flank, and swung his artillery around to cover the gap between the two areas of high ground.


The repositioning of the guns left San Martin unable to launch both groups of cavalry at the small hill, so in a swift change of plan he swept up the hill towards the Royalist guns. An unlucky combat here could have seen one of both cavalry lost, and there was also the danger of becoming pinned in combats which would then allow the Royalist troops on the hillock to come in from the rear.


The artillery was destroyed, but Maroto ordered his left flank into the rear of the Horse Grenadiers.


The elite Argentinian horse saw them off with ease.


With the Royalist flank exposed, San Martin personally led a charge against the main Royalist infantry line, an Maroto's command post itself.


The Royalists fought like tigers ...


... but were swept away


The Royalist army broke. The Patriot infantry had barely been engaged; the Horse Grenadiers won the battle on their own. Soler's flank-march never appeared.


I set the battle up again, and opted for the same plan; hurl the cavalry down the valley for the quick win. Maroto's artillery was positioned to cover this from the start, and this time the cavalry was moved to support it as well, on the hope that the up-slope advantage would assist them against the better quality Argentinians.


As San Martin prepared to charge, Royalist infantry moved to support the guns and cavalry. This was no longer a good place for a headlong charge.


On the other flank the Royalist skirmishers had a better time of it, driving back some of the Patriot infantry, and slowing their advance.


San Martin order the cavalry to fall back, which it did so, under fire.


Patriot musketry drove off the skirmishers.


Meanwhile Maroto formed up his infantry, and advanced against the Horse Grenadiers, hoping to drive back them onto the rough hill-slopes where they would be at a serious disadvantage.


O'Higgins brought up the infantry as rapidly as possible.


But Maroto's gambit didn't pay off; his infantry fell back, with the Patriot cavalry in pursuit.


The two infantry lines began to exchange fire.


Holes began to appear in the Royalist line, whilst their infantry continued to fall back before the Patriot horse.


A counter-attack saw one of the Horse Grenadier units routed.


But the Patriots were now pushing the Royalists hard.


And at that point, Soler's troops appeared.


At the same time, Maroto suffered a command paralysis, and was unable to exploit a chance to attack San Martin's last cavalry unit.


The Patriots didn't miss their chance, with coordinated attacks along the line destroying the Royalist left and centre, and winning them the battle.


The chaotic final position.


The second battle was a closer game, with a few moments where the Patriots could have come seriously unstuck. San Martin used his commander quality in the mid-game, allowing him to ensure his infantry advanced in support of one of his cavalry charges. Maroto's poor generalship kicked in just as the flank-march appeared, preventing him from mounting an effective response.

This is a difficult scenario for the Royalists to win, really, with their troops and commander being, on average, outclassed and, when the flank-march appears, outnumbered. If I did it again I would probably apply the PIP limit on the infantry described above, and maybe add in some kind of time-limit in order to force a bold Patriot attack and add a little uncertainty.
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