Sunday, November 14, 2010

Veteran's Day Celebration: The Battle of Monmouth

Before our Museum of Flight get together on the 6th, Scott Murphy suggested we do some gaming on Veterans Day since many of us were public employees and had the day off anyway.  I thought that was a great idea, and chimed in to support.  When discussion on the topic fell silent, I thought maybe folks had changed their mind.  When we met at the Museum it was clear that there were guys who were interested in gaming and Bruce Meyer suggested AWI.  I was an immediate taker. 

Bruce has pushed for some simple, showy AWI games for some time.  In addition to Bruce and myself, there are several gamers in the area with collections of American Revolution figures.  Bruce initially suggested Long Island.  I said let's go and we were on. 

Bruce has a very simple set of AWI rules called With Fife and Drum that are great for large gatherings with lots of troops.  They don't require a lot of knowledge of the period and the mechanics are easy.  We've used them to play Guilford Courthouse and Freeman's Farm from the Saratoga Campaign. 

When I arrived at the Game Matrix on Thursday with my figures in tow, Bruce said he'd chosen a different battle, the closing phases of the Battle of Monmouth from 1778.  Monmouth is actually a much better game subject because the British and Americans are pretty evenly matched in quality and and quantity, while Long Island finds the Americans being flanked fighting for their lives with troops that are not yet veteran enough to give a good account for themselves. 

The game was great fun, with eventually eight players.  The Brits start with more troops on the table pressing some advanced elements of the American army back on supporting lines of militia.  As the British forward momentum builds, massive American reinforcements arrive to stabilize their line and begin their own counter-attack.  The game eventually dissolved into three separate battlefields with the Americans on the right fighting desperately to hold on on the right, but flanking reinforcements and additional infusions of troops in the center creating a hazardous situation for the King's forces.  By the end of the game, the British were being forced back on the right.
A view from the American left.  The American advance guard confronts the British advance while the militia waits.

In the center, the Americans really threatened the Brits with annihilation.  The British had plenty of troops on both flanks, but only remnants and a couple of guns connected the two British flanks.

I was on the left flank.  I had the one of the initial American advance forces, and I withdrew slowly across the table, harassed mercilessly by British light infantry.  As reinforcements arrived, including some vital artillery, the front stablilized as the guns did great execution.  Even so, some bad morale rolls, and an over-audacious counter attack left us over stretched and outnumbered as the game drew to a close.  Even so it was unlikely, given the progress of the battle, the Brits could have taken advantage of the situation. 
British columns advance on the American left behind light infantry

It was a very fun day.  Between Bruce and I we probably had close to a thousand figures on the table, and by far the majority were his.  I'd love to try this again, maybe with a little more planning.  It could be an Enfilade game.


DeanM said...


Thanks to you and Bruce for that excellent AWI game (my first!). Love the fast-play and overall feel for the game. I kept thinking if this were Napoleonic - we'd have some cavalry coming in to exploit enemy weaknesses. Regards, Dean

P.S. Yes - a large AWI game at Enfilade! would be awesome.

The Angry Lurker said...

Very good stuff.