Having received the new set of rules, Land of the Free (LotF), in the post about one week ago, I sent an invitation out to give the rules their initial trial. Without even giving the rules a solo play test beforehand, this game really would be our trial by fire.
While we had several options for period and scale (I know, 15mm, 25mm, 28mm really are not scales), American War of Independence in 28mm was the popular choice. Battle chosen was Bunker Hill.
|American militia manning the ramparts|
For force composition, each of the adversaries fielded two Groups. The British under nominal command of Howe, (Gates remained in Boston on the day of battle), commanded both his Group and acted as overall Force Commander while Pigot commanded the second British Group. For the Americans, Putnam, as Force Commander, fielded Groups under the commands of Prescott and Stark.
Initial deployments began historically. That is, Stark deployed along the stone wall and rail fence while Prescott deployed his militia in the redoubt. Putnam oversaw the defenses of the earthworks. For the British, Pigot's columns disembarked opposite the redoubt. Howe deployed on Pigot's right opposite the stone wall and rail fence. British guns were placed on Morton's Hill and near the kiln.
|Initial dispositions from birds' eye view|
Breed's Hill redoubt in background
Stark in foreground
|Stark's militia manning the stone wall|
|Stark and his militia drawn up behind the rail fence.|
|Prescott manning the redoubt|
|Pigot and his brigade|
|Howe and his brigade march to battle|
To begin, the British guns opened fire and began pounding the redoubt. Even behind the safety of the earthworks casualties among the militia began to rise. First to go in against the redoubt was Pigot. Being incompetent, Pigot could not offer much in leadership but his men marched in towards the fortifications despite their commander's shortcomings.
|Elements of Pigot's command caught with muskets empty|
|Militia driven from ramparts|
(Many different stats markers needed for LofF)
|but quickly replaced|
Having repulsed the first attack, the Americans grew in confidence. Watching the battle unfold while standing idly by, Stark ordered his men out from behind the relative safety of the barricades. If Howe would not bring the battle to us, we will bring it to him! Also influencing Stark's decision was the continued pounding of the earthworks from the guns on Morton's Hill. Ranks of the defenders within the redoubt were thinning as British artillery continued its unrelenting shelling. Those guns needed to be silenced.
With artillery support continuing from Morton's Hill, the grenadiers stopped to deliver devastating volleys into the earthworks. Putnam, having attached himself to the militia to increase their resolve, went down in the hail of lead. The pressure on the militia was too much. The Americans broke and ran! The grenadiers entered the breastworks as the remaining American militia skedaddled.
As in history, the British took the redoubt on Breed's Hill on the third assault after having suffered significant casualties. Like his counterpart Howe, Kevin won a Pyrrhic victory.
|Stark advances from stone wall|
Having expended Pigot in the initial assault, Howe sent in his second assault upon the defenses. Hatmen along with the combined light infantry closed on the redoubt. American guns and musketry opened holed in many of the files as the British approached. First the line regiment was ground down and stalled followed soon afterwards by the turning back of the light infantry. The second assault failed.
In the third assault, Howe sent his combined grenadiers in the lead. Taking casualties on the approach up the heights, the grenadiers coolly stepped over their fallen comrades as the assault progressed.
|Grenadiers assault the redoubt|
|Grenadiers take the redoubt|
Congratulations to the British players!
As moderator, I enjoyed watching the battle unfold. I hope the players enjoyed themselves as well.
A very brief note on the LotF rules:
A lot (and I mean a LOT) of action takes place in any one turn. Each unit can move and fire multiple times with each activation. Casualties can mount very quickly. Today's battle saw four turns completed in about 1-1/2 hours. After the first half of Turn 1, players were maneuvering through the rules' mechanisms with ease; helped only with the QRS and an occasional look-up in the text.
Details on the rules, themselves, with respect to play mechanisms, play examples, and thoughts will follow in a more formal, rules' review.