Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Merry Christmas von Rall! 54mm Battle of Trenton

I've always wanted to play the battle of Trenton. The movie "The Crossing" got under my skin, I found a great set of figures from All the King's Men and the battle finally came together after several years of collecting and playing other battles with the great rules "All the King's Men".
 A small plug for Ken Cliffe...if you've not had the pleasure of working with Ken, he is a master of customer service and supports the 54mm community with very little fanfare.  Yes, full disclosure, I am a fanboy!

I borrowed heavily from two other Battle of Trenton scenarios and cobbled together this rendition.  Thanks to Alte Fritz and to Pijlie for inspiration, great game insights, and a photo record of their respective terrain set ups.  My terrain was very simple. I usually play games on 2'x2' fully 3D terrained squares. I did not have a "snow table". Went to Joann's Fabrics in Dallas and picked up some old fashioned white felt for a table cover. The table was 8'x6' with the game played the lengthwise of the 8'.  I'm thinking a larger table is in order if I do this again in 54s. a 12'x6' would have given the Patriots more maneuver room and the Hessians a bit of a breather.  All in all, this table size worked just fine.  I picked up a load of trees, ground cover and so forth from an estate sale. I finally found a use for the winter trees that were part of the set.  Am thinking the trees and white felt table cloth will work great for winter games of Bolt Action, Chain of Command and haha...Team Yankee (subtle announcement to my gamin' buds).

I put in a visibility rule as I wanted the Patriots to be able to move quickly toward town without raising a call and give the Hessian piquets a free shot. Hessian players rolled 3D6 for the first 2 turns. The Hessians rolled an 8" visibility. This was pretty critical in the beginning. The Patriots got virtually two turns of free movement until the Jaeger's card was turned and they opened fire upon the Patriot skirmish screen.

I tried to simulate the post Christmas party atmosphere and the spread out nature of the Hessian forces in town. I used the Alte Fritz rule about waking von Rall up to start the ball rolling in town. The Hessians got lucky and he was rousted, put on his wig, kicked his mistress out of the sack and began to move after the first two turns. I forced the Hessians to use an action card turn to move out of their barracks houses, form up then go to the sounds of the guns. The Hessian artillery was limited to four shots. The Patriot artillery was delayed crossing due to the inadequate number of heavier boats to move the artillery across the river with the infantry.

The game started historically with the Hessians establishing two small groups of Jaeger piquets on the outskirts of town, evading back toward the center of town while the Patriot forces converged upon Trenton.  I wanted the game to have a sense of "hope" for the Hessians and put a 3 battalion, 1 gun force available on a 1D6 roll ala Alte Fritz' scenario.  Again, the Hessians got lucky with the relief force starting to move toward Trenton on turn 2.  This also kept the pressure on the Patriot players to finish the Hessians off quickly before the numbers became a bit more equal.

The battle was a typical All the King's Men battle with momentum going back and forth. Each turn was a critical turn.  I've not ever played a All The King's Men game that has played the same way twice.   This game was no exception.  The Hessians held the center of town but my ersatz Anhalt-Zerbst battalion (playing the part of Knyphausen Musketeers this battle), broke from pressure and retired to the center of town.  The Knyphausen Fusiliers rallied and held the outer ring of the town.

The game ended with the failure of the Patriots to "capture the powder and shot located in the barn in the center of town".  The game was fast and furious. Time was called when the participants had to leave due to darkness.

Lessons learned?
1. Less drama for the Hessians. Clean up the activation of units barracked inside
2. Make up better rules for units in buildings. This game should not allow the
    Patriots to occupy buildings. They should be cleaning out the Hessians and
    forcing surrenders or destruction of units in Trenton
3. Three batallions for a relief force is too much in All the King's Men.  One is
    sufficient to get the Patriot's attention and enough to keep the battle
    interesting for Hessian commanders.
4. Two green beads for grenadier resolve works just fine. I will do that again.
5. Forcing militia units to fire, fight and defend on yellow resolve does not work
    I will not do that again.
Here's a small gallery with comments:

Hessian reinforcements arrive and
are promptly shot up by Patriots

General Washington ponders his future after
his army's failure to capture Trenton from the
hung over Hessians.

Hessians pour out of barracks and begin
to organize. I need Ken to make me some Hessian
Dismounted Dragoons. Probably could use his
Hessian artillery gets a shot

General Washington and Hessian co-commander
argue a vis a vis...guess who won? LOL

Patriots repulsed by Knyphausen Fusiliers

Washington and St. Clair keep the pressure
on the Hessians

Patriots in the center of Trenton while
Anhalt-Zerbst cowers in mob

Jagers and Skirmishers

Patriot Traffic Jam on the outskirts of Trenton

Patriots fail to take the center of Trenton
and the barn containing shot and powder

von Rall's Grenadiers actually have a yellow resolve bead? 

Jeff Key is getting sneaky with the Grenadiers

Stealthy Grenadiers with a red resolve marker
sneak up on some of Knox's artillery. 

1 comment:

  1. One thing I would like to add is the Patriot forces should not deploy off board unless you move the time of day back some. By deploying from off board onto the table it effectively made turn 1 I give me to the Hessians.

    I really liked the Brittish having to fight the children and then discussing that historical fact during the game! It gave me goosebumps then, and thinking about it now, I get the same feeling.

    I think the Christmas atmosphere was well represented you might have A session or two "civilian" (a couple of shlobs too drunk to do anything, randoml stagering around town singing. The Hessiams are rolling for visibility,The patriots roll for sound. If the patriots hearing roll beats the darkness roll then the patriots can "see" farther than the Hessians and can shoot at -2 dice if in range (which would be set be visibility plus a little for the sound).. just a thougyt. I simply imagine myself creeping up towards the city knowing there to relieve dark if you a couple of torches and then I hear the singing and I see something move and I fire.

    Has always Steve, you put on a phenomenal game and everyone had a great time! Now you know why Kerri loves playing in any 54 millimeter game, because she always beats me!

    And lastly always remember the rule at the bottom of page 3 every rule book, "If you're playing against Karl, expect to win"

    See you at the next gaming table.

    From the front, Kal signing off......