Sunday, October 19, 2014

Battle of Bunker Hill - BatRep

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
On game day, Kevin, Scott, and Jake participated, and I would say, eager to give the rules a go.  Scott fielded all but one of the American units and I fielded the majority of the British units.  Kevin provided the redoubt and fleches.

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
Almost from the beginning the game began to veer from the historical engagement.  The British were allowed to draw up their own battle plan.  Not being held to the historical initial attacks that went in against the stone wall, rail fence, and redoubt simultaneously, Howe opted for a concentrated attack against the redoubt.

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
Despite heavy casualties from a combination of artillery and musketry, Pigot was able to weaken the defenses forcing one militia to abandon its position.  Luckily for the Americans, another militia was eager to take its place.  Unfortunately, Prescott went down during the heated musketry exchanges.  
Militia driven from ramparts
(Many different stats markers needed for LofF)
but quickly replaced
With fresh troops manning the redoubt, Pigot's brigade was stopped short of the earthworks and rendered combat ineffective.  Having little ability to rally his troops, Pigot would play no more role in the fight this day.

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.
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
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.
Grenadiers take the redoubt
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. 

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. 


  1. Great looking game and wonderful report! Lots of very nice looking figures. I've fought this engagement a few times with about 50% win to each side. I'm curious to read your review of the rules.


    1. Thank you, Christopher!

      I think the group would enjoy refighting Bunker hill again and see tactics develop as we become more familiar with the game. I games Bunker Hill in 15mm a long time ago and I vaguely recall the British persevering in that one too. I will have to check.

      I will post the review here when ready for public consumption but writing a review is a hard slog.

  2. What a wonderful collaboration for a trial game of new rules, Jonathan. Great looking figures and terrain. The rules sound very good too. Congrats to all of you for playing this out! Best, Dean

    1. Thank you, Dean!

      Speaking for the four of us who attended yesterday's game, I claim we had a good time. Win or lose, it is always the fellowship that is most important. Don't you agree?

  3. Beautiful troops and handsome battlefield. If you play more of these rules, you're gonna need you some "chickens" to replace all those chits!

    I grew up (mostly) in Greenwich, CT, where Israel Putnam made his famous escape from the British. he was evidently spending the night at Knapp's Tavern (thereafter locally know as Putnam's Cottage), when the British launched a surprise attack and he had to make a hasty if dramatic escape. Known for his almost reckless courage, he ride his horse down a very steep slope, henceforth known locally as Putnam Hill. The British, having rather more common sense, dared not attempt to replicate his feat. This ridge stands across the playing fields at the (then) new Greenwich High School, which I attended, and this part of the slope is so steep that it has stone stairs carved into the hillside. I assure you I would not have run down that slope, to say nothing of riding down it on a horse!

    The section of the Boston Post Road running though Greenwich (aka US Route 1) is named Putnam Avenue in his honor, and both the seal and flag of the Town of Greenwich bear the image of him making his famous escape!

    He was evidently at his best as a tactical commander, rather than being gifted in the broader strategic sense. Putnam Memorial Park in Redding, CT, which I drive past often and camped in as a Scout, is named in his honor, being "Connecticut's Valley Forge", where Putnam's Division encamped for the winter of 1778 -1179. It frequently hosts re-enactors and other exhibitions related to the Revolutionary era. It is also the site of a bronze equestrian statue commemorating "Put's Ride".

    1. Fascinating Putnam history, Peter! I really appreciate the time taken to document these anecdotes.

      Scott (one of the players in the game yesterday) will be very interested in much of this material. Scott, only yesterday, was recounting his lineage back to Putnam, himself!

    2. Israel Putnam, Nathan Hale, and Roger Sherman are the three most famous Revolutionary War figures from Connecticut. There are statues of all three of them at the state Capitol in Hartford. If Scoot can race his lineage back that far, his family goes back a long way in the US - much farther than mine!

  4. Once again, great looking painted figures and terrain Jonathan! excellent text writing as well!.... I'm also looking forward to reading your review of the rules... cheers

    1. Phil! Thank you for your kind comments.

      Hopefully, a review will provide a better sense of the flow of the game. I purposefully left rule mechanism details out of the BatRep so as not to further confuse the reader.

  5. Excellent job, love the beautiful minis, the write-up ans the table, every thing sounds great Jonathan!

  6. Hello!
    really nice this table battle.
    I would also like to replay the battle of Bunker Hill, and your photos will be of inspiration to me, thank you.

    1. Hi Simmy! Pleased that the game provides some inspiration for your own game.

      That is great!

  7. A real classic of a Scenario, and what beauties those minis are! Looking forward to more AWI games here in the future.

    1. Thank you, Soren! Bunker Hill certainly is a classic encounter.

  8. I read the review of the rules by saltflats on TMP. I was left with the feeling that these rules would be more suitable for head-to-head games than for multiplayer, because there might be quite long gaps where some of the players would be unoccupied. What's your feeling on this?

    1. Hi Butler!

      Having only gamed the rules once in two quick games thus far, I am not likely qualified to render a comprehensive judgment.

      The Bunker Hill game was multi-player having two British commanders and one American. In that sense, multi-player capability worked well. No one was standing around with nothing to do for long periods. Had the inactive player utilized Stored Orders more frequently, interactions would have been increased.

      From those two, limited playings, multi-player games should work successfully as long as the number of commands is not too large and each Group Commander maintains a modest number of elements.

      In our games, there were no "long gaps" where players were unoccupied. Besides, even when the player is inactive, there is a number of decisions to consider and you may NEED some extra time to either formulate a plan or figure out how to best counter your opponent's actions!

  9. Wonderful table, and AAR!. Once I saw the Grenadiers queued up, I guessed they'd go over the top.

    This is an era I've never gamed and now I'd like to get in on the action too!

  10. Thanks, Monty! Glad you enjoyed it! The grenadiers were not to be stopped, for sure.

    Are you serious about adding the AWI to your project list? Great!


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