Monday, 23 February 2015

The Portable Campaign For Alto Peru

In my previous post I showed the setup I used to take a portable wargames camping with me. Using that setup I tried a mini-campaign using my South American Wars of Liberation armies, and a variant of my Liberated HOTT rules. The scenarios for the campaign would be taken from Neil Thomas's 'One-Hour Wargames'.

I decided to start of the campaign with a straight head-to-head fight - the Pitched Battle. I then selected six other scenarios, and decided to dice for which one was used in each subsequent battle. The winner of the previous scenario would choose which side they wanted to be after it was chosen, but before the armies were determined.

Each army would be rolled using the Horse and Musket tables. However I decided to set my campaign during Belgrano's expedition to Alto Peru, so I modified the tables as follows. Firstly a second Skirmisher unit must be taken as Cavalry instead. Secondly a second Artillery unit could be replaced by another Infantry unit. Skirmishers weren't often used as detached troops, and artillery was sometimes in short supply and never really a significant part of any army. Once the armies were rolled both sides had to designate two units as Militia.

As I said, I used my HOTT variant, Liberated Hordes, an updated version of which I will be posting to my Free Stuff page very soon. However the small playing area and army size, plus the unorthodox basing of the troops mean that I had to make a few changes, some of which I've mentioned before. These are:
  • Armies roll 1D3 for PIPs.
  • There is no general. All elements are always considered to be in command.
  • An element which starts a recoil or flee, but which cannot complete it is not destroyed. It just stops at the thing blocking it. However an element that is blocked from starting a recoil or flee from the very beginning is destroyed.
  • All of my troops are based on 1" square bases for ease of movement. They recoil their full base depth, except Infantry, which only recoils half a base depth.
  • Both armies start the battle with two rally tokens. If available, one, and only one, of these must be spent to improve the combat total of an element by +1 if it loses a combat and if not doing so will cause the element to be lost. If spending the token does not prevent the destruction (their score is really bad) then it is not spent. Basically you get two goes to save destroyed units in borderline cases; this prevents sudden, unlucky, kills early in the game.

On to the first battle. The Royalists fielded four infantry (one of which was militia), one artillery and some cavalry (the latter also being militia). The Patriots opposing them had three infantry (one of which was militia), one artillery and a skirmisher (also militia).

Both armies advanced. The Royalists refused their flanks, on the one side to prevent a move by the Patriot skirmishers and on the other to cover their flank from the Patriot cavalry as well as still providing support for their own outclassed cavalry.

The initial exchanges of musketry saw the Royalist flanks driven back. This encouraged a Patriot charge.

A hole opened in the Royalist line.

However the Royalists rallied, their cavalry routing their Patriot opposite numbers and some infantry driving off the skirmishers.

The Royalists consolidated their line, and attacked.

The Patriots were driven back, and their position was further compromised by the Royalist cavalry swinging in on their flank.

Their army began to disintegrate under pressure from the Royalist attack ...

... until their final infantry unit was ridden down and destroyed.

The Royalists had won.

I ran the campaign using an adjusted version of my Proclamations system. I gave both sides two political tokens, with no uncontrolled tokens being present. The winning side could attempt a proclamation from the second battle onwards, with their Political Capital being equal to their own Political Tokens, minus those of the opposition, plus the number of battles the army had won. Once again the number of unsuccessful proclamations made was also subtracted from this score. So, after this battle no proclamations were possible, but the Royalists did make one of the Patriot political tokens uncontrolled.

An additional victory boon was the ability to upgrade your army. This upgrade could be one of:

  • Reduce the number of required militia units by one
  • Upgrade one regular unit to elite. For the Royalists this must be an infantry unit (Peninsular veterans) whereas for the Patriots it must be a cavalry unit (Horse Grenadiers).
  • Have an extra rally token at the start of the battle.
The Royalists took the easy option, and opted to only have one militia unit present at the next battle.

The second battle saw a rejuvenated Patriot army advancing to bring the Royalists to battle. However the Royalists rushed to intercept them at a key river crossing. As they arrived the lead elements of the Patriot advance-guard had crossed the river. The battle would centre on control of that side of the crossing.

The Royalist army would appear in three separate groups at random points around te table. In fact the first two groups appeared at the same point, allowing them to easily co-ordinate their efforts, despite having to push through some woods and scrub.

The Patriot response was slow, which meant that they were forced to fight near the crossing, making harder to feed more troops into the battle.

Eventually the Patriots formed a line of sorts, but Royalists then appeared on their flank.

A fierce fight ensued. The Patriots turned to meet the flank threat, hoping the reinforcements from across the river could hold the main Royalist force.

However the Royalists soon controlled their side of the river crossing, leaving the Patriots with a unit of militia infantry and some artillery to contest it with. In the distance, though, their cavalry were driving off the Royalist cavalry and skirmishers.

The two sides arranged their lines.

A firefight broke out across the river, but the Patriot cavalry was now returning to the fight/

The Royalists turned to meet the threat, but it was distraction enough to allow the Patriot infantry to ford the river and contest the crossing.

Initially they drove back the Royalists ...

... but they rallied, and broke the unreliable militia.

The Patriot cavalry tried to break through the Royalist position, but as night fell the Royalists were firmly in control of that side of the crossing. The main Patriot army would have to seek another route.

Another Royalist victory saw them take the uncontrolled political token, giving them three to the Patriot's one. With two victories under their belt, this was a good time to make a proclamation, and they needed a 4 or less to pass. They did, giving them the campaign. With the province now declared for the crown, the Patriot army returned to the Rio Del Plata to regroup and attempt an invasion another day.

Although only two battles the campaign was fun. Both battles were close-fought affairs with the first looking like a Patriot victory early on, and the second shaping up for a draw which would have kept the Patriots in the fight for at least one more engagement.

The rules held up well, with troop quality adding just a little bit of extra risk, but the rally tokens proving useful to prevent the early collapse of an army, thus allowing the battle to develop sensibly. The two battle took just over 90 minutes to play.

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