Monday, 25 August 2014

The West Rises Midst Battle's Din

Almost two years on, I reprised my The West Rises campaign on a bank holiday afternoon – this time with my newly released Midst Battle's Din rules instead of Sharp Practice or Muskets & Tomahawks.

Setting the Scene
The crossroad hamlet of Kirk's Cross is a quiet one, but one which hides a secret – hiding in the ruined tower just outside the settlement are a group of Jacobites! But that is no longer a secret. Now the vicious Captain Castagne and his men have come to bring fire and sword to Kirk's Cross in the name of the king, and the villagers will have to decide whether to swear fealty to far-off King George or the hidden Prince Charlie. Of course really, it's no choice at all...

Govt. coming from the bottom, Jacobites hiding & top.

The Hanoverians: 35 men, Inspiration 3
Captain Castagne: Toughness 3, Fight +1, Regular, Inspiration 0, Luck 7, sword & pistol, mounted
Sergeant Frost: Toughness 3, Fight +1, Regular, Inspiration +2, Luck 6, halberd & pistol
Captain Macguire: Toughness 2, Fight +2, Regular, Inspiration +1, Luck 8, sword & pistol
16 British Infantry: Toughness 2, Great Aim, Fight 0, Regular, muskets & bayonets
16 Black Watch: Toughness 2, Good Aim, Fight +1, Regular, muskets & bayonets

Victory Conditions: 4pts for each house burned or Jacobite character killed (max 40pts)

The Jacobites: 46 men, Inspiration 3
Laird Micawber: Toughness 2, Fight +1, Irregular, Inspiration +1, Luck 9, sword & pistol, mounted
Father McCruil: Toughness 2, Fight -1, Irregular, Inspiration +2, Luck 6, musket
The Micawber Twins: Toughness 3, Fight +1, Irregular, Inspiration 0, Luck 7, sword & pistol
26 Highlanders: Toughness 2, Good Aim, Fight +1, Irregular, mix of weapons
16 Jacobite Milita: Toughness 2, Good Aim, Fight 0, Militia, muskets & bayonets

Victory Conditions: 1pt per dead king's man or house unburned (max 41pts).

The Start of the Game
The British set up with a three-pronged approach, coming on from three lanes of the crossroads. Castagne & Frost led the King's Own Royal Borderers in the centre, and Macguire's Black Watch took a flank each.

The Jacobites mostly set up Hidden, except for Laird Micawber, who was leading the militia on from the other board edge. Having won the initiative, they were unwilling to do much with it. One house opened fire on the group led by Macguire, killing a man. Micawber's militia advanced a little, and then the Hanoverians reacted.
Macguire's men receive the first volley of the game.

Macguire rallied his men and led them forward to let off a volley in fine style against the smoke-wreathed house. The Black Watch on the other flank tried and failed to set the first house alight – clearly they had not lit their torches for fear of alerting the highlanders to their arrival. Castagne and his men had clearly had no such qualms, and their target hovel whooshed into flame as they hurled torches through the windows and the holes they beat in its wattle walls. Frost was rather more circumspect, and led his men into the bushes to observe the village in case a reserve was needed.
The first house goes up in flames.

Macguire's men were cruelly served on the second volley from the house – two more men were blown away by heavy homemade musket balls. The village filled with warcries as highlanders and militiamen moved to stop Castagne's arson.

Ignoring the inflammable house for now, the Black Watch charged their recidivist brethren with drawn bayonets. Men screamed and died on both sides, a pyrrhic victory for the government men. The highland survivors were shot down almost to a man by Castagne's firing line, and the last man fled into the hills. Sickened by his men's deaths, Macguire led his group in setting fire to the house with the Jacobites still inside. Shocked, Frost led his men forward to remonstrate with him.
Fighting breaks out in the streets.

One more quick burst of fire came from the house, and then from the door burst a flood of bellowing clansmen, attacking Englishman and Scotsman alike. Any redcoat was to be stained crimson today. Met by a hedge of bayonet points, they were backed back toward the burning building. From behind them, at the call of a Micawber twin, a new pack of highlanders burst out of hiding and fired a volley at Macguire and his men that left him and another Black Watchman dead on the ground. On the other side of the village, two other Watchmen died to Jacobite bullets too.
The end of the beginning, with fire & Disorder markers.

The Midpoint: British Inspiration 2, 8VPs | Jacobite Inspiration 3, 14VPs
Aware of Micawber's militia advancing towards him, Castagne bellowed to his men. Ree-load! Wheeel-right! Aim... Fire! Fully half the Scots before them fell, and the rest thrown into disarray. Frost and his men countercharged the highlanders who had fled the burning building, cutting most of them down. On the other flank, the survivors of the Black Watch shamefully fled the board. Smirking, the Jacobites repositioned themselves, advancing toward the ever-weaker British lines.
Reinforcements in the distance as Jacobites round the house.

Macguire's survivors recovered their nerve and gallantly charged the foe. It did not go well for them. Nor did Frost and his men succeed in their own charges against the kilted men before them. Only Castagne's masterful move-and-fire gave a glimmer of hope to the government men, smashing as it did the Jacobite centre.
The lone survivor of the Black Watch's charge.
Two clansmen beat four soldiers - and kill one!
Firing lines face off in the centre of the village.

Seeing his men fall all around him, Laird Micawber began shuffling to safety on his old nag, abandoning the grey-coated survivor to his fate. Rushing past him in the other direction came Father McCruil and the other men from the tower, desperate to join the fight before it was over. On one flank, a Micawber roused his men to finish off the Black Watch, and on the other flank the other twin directed a volley into Castagne's men that left five dead.

The Endgame: British Inspiration 2, 12VPs | Jacobite Inspiration 3, 24VPs
Desperate to salvage some shred of success from the expedition, Castagne led the ruins of his firing line to burn another house. On the other side of the village, Frost's men kept the highlanders at bay with disciplined fire.
The highlanders circle the survivors warily.

Castagne's punishment was swift. Another Scottish volley rang out, and he fell dying beneath his horse, the last of his men falling around him. His last moments on earth were spent laughing at the burning thatch above him, which says more honest words about his character than he ever would. Highlanders charged home all across the rest of the village, slaying with every stroke. Jacobite victory was at hand.

Seeing a Micawber gesturing his men on, Frost signalled to his two companions and fired with them. They were rewarded with a gout of arterial blood beneath the burning eaves. They quickly moved away, recognising that the battle was lost. Hacking down most of his retinue, the rest of his platoon followed, eager to get away from the mayhem and bloodshed.

The battle was over. Long Live Bonnie Prince Charlie.

Butcher's Bill
25 Hanoverians (4 routed), 23 Jacobites (1 routed).

Victory Conditions
16VPs to the Hanoverians, 28VPs to the Jacobites – Jacobite Victory

A fun and fast game, exactly what I wanted of an afternoon. The whole thing took about an hour with almost eighty figures starting on the table - not bad for a skirmish game! I meant to take more photos, but I got distracted playing the game...

The scenario was perhaps a little unbalanced – I should have made the highlanders poor shots to stop them standing off and shooting quite so much. Overall though, it seemed to begin with like anyone's game – some damn fine rolls by the Jacobites saw them take an early lead though. Needing to burn the buildings meant that the government men could never quite co-ordinate their killing potential to the same degree.

So Castagne is finally dead. Frost retreats in ignominy, and Father McCruil has something to crow about. I wonder what will happen next in Western Scotland, 1745..?

Midst Battle's Din is available exclusively here.

N.B. The flames stay on the roof because they are just cotton wool on 20mm bases (and therefore light), and the roofs have not been brushed with PVA, so they have a little grip, especially if you manage to get a little friction going between them and the wool.