Monday, November 8, 2021

Brandywine: Knyphausen Attacks!

As mentioned in Saturday's post, the Battle of Brandywine was set out on the table in preparation for a Saturday remote game.  A refresher of the battlefield topography is illustrated below:
Brandywine layout

Terrain for the battle uses a roughly 5 foot by 5 foot section of game table marked off in four inch hexes. Brandywine Creek runs generally in a north/south direction with Washington's colonials on the east bank and Knyphausen on the west bank of the creek. Sullivan defends Brinton's Ford while Greene defends Chadd's Ford.

Brandywine Creek is only crossable at the two marked fords and is considered ROUGH in melee. Units must stop when entering a ford hex and move no farther that turn. Brandywine Creek, fences, buildings, woods provide soft cover.  American redoubts provide hard cover.

Victory points are awarded for holding key terrain objectives, destroying enemy units, or exiting units off the table.  Largest point total wins a tactical victory. 

Four players participated in Saturday's game with two British/German players (Darren and Ivan) and two Americans players (Steve and Ken).  This game would be Ken's first remote game.  The other three players have at least one of my remote games under their belt.

Without further adieu, let's get to the battle to see how the action unfolded.
Anglo-Germans make their approach march
toward Brandywine Creek.
The Americans lay in wait.
Vaughn's Brigade leads the British column as contact
 is made with Maxwell's light infantry.
Vaughn's infantry deploys into line astride road to
Chadd's Ford.
Stirn's Germans march quickly toward Brinton's Ford. 
 The lead regiment deploys into line.
Vaughn and Maxwell skirmish in front of Chadd's Ford.
Greene orders his command to stiffen the defenses
 at the ford.
Mirbach takes fire from the ford
and the artillery on the hill.
Vaughn attempts to outflank Maxwell.
In the distance, Greene crosses the ford in strength.
Battlefield overview
Greene chooses to take the fight to the enemy
on the west bank of Brandywine Creek.
Is he trying to defeat the British before
they can form up or buy time?
As British regiments arrive, they are deployed
to the left and right of the road in
an attempt to turn Greene's flank.
Casualties are beginning to climb.
The British are working around both flanks
 of the Americans in front of Chadd's Ford.
16th Lt Dragoons swing around to attack from the south. 
 Their attack is repulsed with casualties.
The Americans still control the approaches to the ford
 as more American regiments pass over to the west bank. 
Back at Brinton's Ford, the Germans charge
 into the defenders at the ford and take fire
from the artillery in the redoubt.
They are repulsed with casualties.
The Germans attack!
A second effort sees the Germans gain control of the ford.
The grenadiers are moving up quickly in support as heavy
 artillery unlimbers on the hills overlooking the fords.
In a vicious counterattack,
 the Germans are repelled from the ford.
One German regiment is destroyed and Stirn is down.
Stirn orders a third attack into the ford.
This attack meets success as the 71st enters the fray.
Sullivan's defenders are driven back as British guns take
 chunks out of the American defenders.
In front of Chadd's Ford, the lines are extending as each
 tries to outflank the other.
The American bridgehead is under pressure.
And in a blink of an eye, the American bridgehead at
Chadd's Ford collapses.
Rebels are scrambling to reach safety on the
 east bank of the creek.
Many American regiments are cut down in
their attempt to escape.
Few survive.
Both Maxwell and Greene's Brigades are broken.
Muhlenberg and Greene are hors de combat.
With Greene's Division broken and in retreat,
 the British pick up the chase. 
At Brinton's Ford, the Highlanders push on.
The battle is over.
The Anglo-German forces under Knyphausen claim a convincing victory on the banks of the Brandywine.  In the Butcher's Bill below, the Americans suffered mightily but many of the British regiments still on the field were in a sorry state.  Still plenty of energy left to celebrate this great victory, though.
Anglo-German losses
American losses
Well!  After about four hours of play (maybe four and a half?), battle was won by Knyphausen.  The battle was on the large side with 20+ units per side.  Plenty of troops to command for four players.  Play moved along at a good pace but still allowed time for some hilarious banter among the players.  Rules continue to provide a satisfying and well-paced game.  Of course, a further modification or two may creep in before the next outing. 

Really good fun for me too.  I wish I would have taken a screenshot of Ivan in his ten-gallon pirate tricorn.  The Scottish and German accents were gut-bustingly funny.  From my vantage point watching the big screen TV across the room, I could see all laughing as the comedy routine unfolded. 

What about a battle analysis of commander performance and strategies employed?  I may save that for another time.  

Thanks to the players for volunteering for this gaming session.  For me, this really was great fun.

For Darren's perspective of the battle, please visit Brandywine Online.
OK. Back to the painting desk.


  1. Well done Jon for putting the effort in, over four hours is a long virtual game ! Sounds though that people enjoyed themselves 👍 clearly the battle went well but I wonder if the river crossing scenario gives fairly limited tactical options ?

    1. Thanks, Matt! I hope the players enjoyed themselves. All I can say is that response was positive.

      You raise an interesting point on limited tactical options. Sure there are two choke points on the table and the Anglo-Germans need to figure out a way to breach one or both and within a limited time. The Americans need to hold these same choke points with inferior troops for as long as possible.

      Overall, the battle focus may be on these two fords but how does each implement a plan to accomplish this goal?

      Do the British concentrate on attacking only one? Do the Americans concentrate on holding only one? Do the Americans put out a forward defense to slow the Allied progress? How do the Americans defend the fords? Line the banks and try to blast the Allies out or keep a reserve out of harms' way and counterattack vigorously when the Allies take the ford?

      This may look like a static game but I see many possibilities for action. Is this situation any more limited in tactical options than having two battle lines deploy from table edge to table edge facing each other and simply advancing all straight ahead into contact?

      Given a historical situation, it is up to the commanders to solve the puzzle of accomplishing the goal presented by the scenario. Is the task more difficult for one than the other? Possibly, but battles are often not fair.

    2. Certainly sounds like everybody enjoyed the battle which is a good start point. Battles often not fair….tell me about it 😀 did you consider creating some fog of war, not easy with a live virtual game of course ?

    3. Matt, for fog of war, unless the players kept very good notes or asked for clarification, they often did not know the precise status of their own troops or that of their opponent. Most times, players did not know exactly which unit(s) they faced.

  2. A splendid looking game and a good victory for the British commanders fighting across water is always a challenge. Four hours, four players, phew! I salute you Sir.

    1. Thank you, Phil! Yes, fighting across water is not so easy. The British were given a bit of help from Greene's aggressiveness. Under different circumstances, Greene's bold move may have paid off.

  3. That is a battle and great to see all involved having fun as they played! The battle across the ford appeared to be an epic, with the Germans not giving up, which was great to see. The butcher's bill for the Rebels looks painful!

    1. Steve, there were a lot of troops and a lot of action packed into a relatively small footprint. We saw somewhat of a traffic jam on the Allied right as they deployed against Chadd's Ford.

      Butcher's Bill for the Americans was high. Very high. The superior quality of British infantry made its mark on today's battle.

  4. A grand spectacle, great view from that overhead cam. The two fords on an uncrossable waterway provides an interesting dynamic with the inevitable choke points. The disparity in losses - do you see that as a natural outcome of the situation and troops quality or where the dice playing their part in some of that?

    1. Hi Norm. The overhead view of the table layout offers a sense of tranquility. While some may not like the appearance of a hex grid for miniatures' gaming, I find them quite aesthetically pleasing. Perhaps that is due to my long history with hex-and-counter wargaming?

      Yes, the disparity in losses...

      A number of factors contributed that result. Greene crossing the creek was a perilous undertaking. Differentials in troop quality was also a factor. Finally, Darren seemed to pass most of his morale checks so his redcoated juggernaut was quite powerful.

      Looking at the table after the game, the British had four regiments that were only clinging to life at one hit remaining each. The British could have easily been down another four units on the right and one more on the left. Yes, the dice played a part.

    2. With the other British units teetering, it seems nicely balanced.

    3. Good! I want the Americans to believe that Washington has a fair shot at victory. Limited number of game turns requires the Anglo-German to stick to a schedule and the two choke points at the fords offer plenty of opportunities to disrupt that timetable.

      Would you choose to play either side equally?

  5. Very fun battle to follow along with!

    Interesting how tactics differed amongst the American generals early on. Crossing the ford to meet the Brits head-on was ballsy to say the least.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Dai! Hope I did not spoil it by revealing the likely outcome in the prior post.

      I agree that Greene's move across the creek in a spoiling attack was ballsy indeed.

  6. Its mostly been said but an excellent presentation of a game that looks good and reads like it was fun for all.

    Ps Is a 4 hour game long??

    1. Ross, I enjoyed the game very much. Getting around a gaming table with like-minded gamers, if only remotely, is a terrific way to spend 3-5 hours.

      As for game length, my experience suggests attendees in remote meetings have lower bounds on meeting duration than in person gatherings.

      Being stage and production manager, IT SME, figure-mover, and combat adjudicator for remote games, I find three to four hours is a reasonable goal to set. Hosting a four hour game can be exhausting. Rewarding, but exhausting. That does not include the prep and post work. How long were your Huzzah remote gaming sessions? Was the one I attended three or four hours? Have you hosted any more remote games since Huzzah back in May?

  7. What a great game and a bold move bty Greene

    1. Thank you, Neil! Yes, very bold move by Greene. Had he pulled it off, he would have been a National Hero.

  8. Forward with the Germans! Brandywine surely is not the most easy battle to refight. The game by LW TV is very impressive. But your style of writing about the battle and the game is very exciting in my point of view.

    1. I appreciate your kind comment, Andrè! I should look up the LWTV version of the battle.

    2. Four and a half hours of battle are very similar like my own large games. It would be really nice if you could come along for gaming, when you would visit Germany/Europe again even if I would have to built up the table for 12 hours.

      Let me just hope that the day will come. :-) You're very welcome.

      Reading your report I'm feeling very inspired to play again myself. It's too long ago, when we played Rocoux. I hope that I will manage to organize such a game again like Bassignana when you expertly won against the Austrian and Piedmont armies.

    3. Andrè, that is a very generous offer! If we make it to your part of Germany, we will left you know.

      Rocoux and Bassignana were both excellent games that I enjoyed greatly. It has been nearly a year and I have yet to write up a battle report. Your version of the battle is much better than I could construct.

    4. Thank you! It would be very nice if you could do such a report. Even such a long time ago I'm sure that you would be able to write such a report better than I could.

  9. An interesting game and excellent setup as ever. How did the joint commanders for one side or the other confer during the game in a virtual setting? Perhaps there was some email or couriers happening?

    1. Much appreciated, Peter! The commanders relied on that old, tried and tested method of 18th Century communication known today as “Zoom Chat!”

    2. A very enjoyable game to read about - and I confess my latent patriotic tendencies did mean I was rooting for the Germans - I mean British, so I took pleasure in their victory too. ;-) Good to see that a Zoom game can work so well. Thanks.



    3. Hi David! Glad you enjoyed the brief pictorial of the recent battle. Gaming via Zoom has ushered in a paradigm shift in my gaming habits. All for the good too!

  10. Sorry - that comment ended up in the wrong place! Should have been a new comment; logging in to Google to comment does often seem to screw things up...

    David. (And that should be Cheers, not Chers!)

    1. No worries! I accept comments, any time and any place! Thanks for taking the extra effort to login into Google.

  11. Nice game Jonathan, and I can see that remote gaming for you has now become second nature. I'm not sure that I have the patience to sit still in front of a computer for four hours, although I suspect that it is only a matter of practice. If the game is absorbing enough then the time would probably fly by anyway.

    1. Thank you, Lawrence. Remote gaming has become something of Second Nature. Actually, perhaps First Nature since remote gaming is seen much more frequently than F2F gaming.

      Game time really does fly by. I bet it would for you too. Three, four, and even five hour sessions pass at a rapid clip. Perhaps, when hosting, I have so many tasks that I stay fully engaged and time passes quickly. It is easy to lose track of time during a remote game. Sometimes I look up at the clock and an hour has elapsed and it seems like minutes.

  12. Sounds like everyone had a good time. Well done Jon. I can see how that would be tiring for you.

    It’s inspired me to think about getting my AWI chaps on the table again. And those light dragoons are not going to paint themselves.

    1. Thanks! Happy to provide a little inspiration. No, those light dragoons will not paint themselves...

  13. Nice job Jonathan! The figures and the table look great and I’m sure you’re the host with the most for these online games. I like the scenario a lot as well. 😀

    1. Thanks, Stew! You are much too kind. My goal is to provide an enjoyable and interesting gaming diversion for a small group of our brothers in arms. Glad the scenario meets with your approval.

  14. Very impressive and inspiring gaming again, Jonathan. The table and figures look great as always, and having multiple, remote players going the distance is amazing.

    1. Much appreciated, Dean! We give the battle another run-out today.

  15. Great looking game Jon and YAY for an Anglo German victory in the AWI! Attack may be the best form of, I have to say, I think Greene was in error. With lower quality troops but a defensible obstacle, I think I would have stayed on my side of the Brandywine and let the Brits try to assault across....always a hard task. Tactically, I think the attackers have to go for both fords and the defenders attempt to hold both - otherwise a log jam of tyroops would nullify any advantage in numbers or quality for the attackers and for the defenders, ignoring one ford would simply invite the attackers to flank the defences using that terrain feature!

    1. Thank you, Keith!

      I thought the move across the ford was an error by Greene too. That is, until I saw the same tactic in Tuesday's repeat game succeed! Still, I would opt to defend the fords as you suggest but I see now how aggression can pay off if lucky.

      You have a good tactical mind and a firm grasp of tabletop possibilities. It would be fun to face you across the table one day.

  16. Lovely looking game and an interesting set up for the participants, it does sound like a lot of work for you but also a lot of fun, all round!
    Best Iain

  17. Thoroughly enjoyable AAR Jonathan! Seems to me Greene was a tad overconfident leading his troops out in the open against a superior opponent.

    1. Glad you enjoyed the AAR! I thought Greene overconfident too. Not how I would likely command the action BUT wait until you see what Greene pulls off in Game #2. I am beginning to see the possibilities of American aggressive play. These American commanders are more brash than I!

  18. Wow! Good game and lovely figures, too. I hope I can get in on a replay...

    1. Thanks, Jennifer. The table has been cleared of Brandywine to make way for another round of Biblical play testing. I plan to present another battle in December. I lean toward a return to ACW to which you are already familiar. I will send out a call for players when the time nears and I figure-out details.