A first look, twenty years late!
Fields of Honor - The American War of Independence (FoH-AWI) was published back in 2000 by Pinnacle Entertainment Group. The American War of Independence version of the rules is a descendant of the 1994 Fields of Honor (FoH) rules covering warfare in the 19th Century. Since the original FoH's publication 25 years ago, I have continued to hold the rules with much fondness. Even though I have not played them in many, many years, FoH still represents a comprehensive and well developed ruleset. Given this provenance, I was quick to buy FoH-AWI when it was published twenty years ago.
FoH-AWI was unique in that it not only included rules and playing pieces for a traditional hex and counter game but also rules for use with miniatures. While I tried the hex and counter version upon publication, putting the miniatures' rules into play did not occur. Until now, that is.
As a brief overview, FoH-AWI has a simple turn sequence using an IGO-UGO mechanism. The Turn Sequence has four phases. Attacker movement, Attacker combat, Defender movement, and Defender combat. For combat, a unit may either fire or melee but not both.
Each unit has a Quality Rating for each of Fire/Melee/Morale. This rating has five values (A,B,C,D,E) and is independent for each of the three attributes. Quality Rating acts as a die roll modifier for each of the Fire/Melee/Morale attributes. The die roll modifiers range from +2 (A) to -2 (E). With five possible values for each of three distinct attributes, each unit's characteristic can be fine tuned to suit the scenario or situation.
With only four phases in a turn and a limited number of modifiers to consider for each of the Fire/Melee/Morale play is fast since the few modifiers are easily remembered after a few turns. Attached leaders may add bonuses for Fire/Melee/Morale but may become casualties if the unit is destroyed.
One interesting twist to the rules is the inclusion of random FORTUNE and CALAMITY tables. At the beginning of each turn, each player rolls 1D10. On a '1' the player receives a Calamity such as Out of Ammo, Demoralization, or eight other events. On a '0' the player receives a Fortune Event such as Captured Orders, Inspiration, or eight other events. The inclusion of events keeps scenario replayability high. None of the events are game stopping.
How does the game play? Well, wanting a small scenario as an initial test, I reached for a scenario played several times from Norm's Two Flags - One Nation ACW ruleset. The scenario chosen was Action at Mill Creek (see Action at Mill Creek) and transported back in time to the AWI.
The British win this contest if they can place two regiments onto the hill and be the last to hold the bridge. The Americans have positioned their medium gun and two militia regiments onto the heights. Two Continentals foot regiments are covering the bridge and three regiments will be arriving as reinforcements.
|British troops begin the advance upon|
the American positions
|The Lights lead the way to the bridge|
|The Long Red Line|
|General advance as British take fire from artillery|
|The Lights splash into the creek|
|The Americans opt for HOLD orders (OP FIRE) |
to wait to see the whites of their eyes
|British right reinforces the attack |
upon the militia on the heights
|Colonial militia take heavy casualties as one regiment|
scatters and a second withdraws from the heights
|British take the right most hillock|
|Continentals reinforce the hill|
|but perhaps not for long as the position is outflanked|
|Colonial guns deliver pain but the Redcoats stand firm.|
|Not able to stall the assault on the guns, |
the guns are destroyed
|Colonial reinforcements arrive pouring murderous|
fire into the British but success is short-lived.
With the American force reduced to 50% strength, I put an end to the bloodshed. The bridge was firmly in British hands and the heights held two British regiments. Given one or two more turns, the remaining Rebels would have been driven from the heights and likely the field. Tactical victory to the British.
|With pressure mounting against the hill, a |
third infantry regiment is scattered on the Colonial right.
In six turns, the British were able to march up and blast the Americans from their positions. The British dished out more than they took with only light casualties inflicted against the King's troops. The militia got off a couple of volleys but the British line infantry were not shaken. When pressed by regulars, the colonial militia buckled. This battlefield trial seemed one-sided but was that pre-destined? The battle deserves another go, at least.
The Events did not come into play in this battle. It would have been interesting to see some of these enter into the game. Perhaps, an event could have pushed the British onto a back foot to allow just a little time for the Americans to regroup. One thing I discovered too late was the power of placing the Americans on HOLD orders until the British came up into range. A HOLD would allow an American unit to interrupt the British move/attack sequence and get off the first volley. Also to consider is placing Continentals on the hill and militia in the woods. Perhaps allow the colonial reinforcements to enter earlier too?