Wednesday, April 22, 2020

A Lonely Walk in the Woods - Muskets & Tomahawks AAR

With the SJGA and other local opportunities for gaming shut down, I decided to run myself a small game of the new edition of Muskets & Tomahawks. 

Since my gaming space at home is limited, I decided to play a simple 300 point game on a 3'x3' table.

The French attackers had a Canadian Officer, two units of Canadian Militia upgraded to Coureur des Bois, an Indian Sachem, and a unit of Indian Warriors.

The British Defenders had a British Officer, two units of British Regulars, a Ranger Officer, and a unit of Rangers.

Since this was a solo game, I decided to add a little uncertainty to the unit activations. Normally, each player in M&T draws three cards. For this solo game, each side had three cards placed face down. I rolled a d3 to determine which card would be used. I could, however, supersede this with Command Points if it would be beneficial to a combatant.

Both sides were using the Battle scenario, which meant that had to reduce their opponent's model count by half to win. The British had 26 models, and the French had 24.

The game started with the Canadians and Rangers creeping through cover, hoping to spot the enemy first.

Thanks to the random draw, it was the Rangers that managed to fire first. They caused three casualties, and the Canadians were forced to take a Reaction test.

I ended up rolling a 0, and thanks to the relevant modifiers, the Canadians immediately routed! This already placed them at 2/3 of the way to losing the game.

It wasn't going much better for the allied Indians on the other side of the settlement, as a blistering hail of lead from the Regulars (and another bad die roll!) saw them flee back into the woods.

Luckily, their Sachem managed to turn the fleeing warriors back around before they could go any further.

The Canadians had their chance to finally answer the Ranger's fire with a volley of their own. Two rangers were killed, but a result of a 0 on the reaction test (I will never use these dice against an actual person!) saw the rangers take flight further in the trees. Like the Sachem, the Ranger Officer put a stop to that.

Speaking of the Natives, a lucky couple draws and some Command Points placed the natives directly in front of one of the British Regular units, after having shot one down. With a lucky flip of the cards, the tomahawk-wielding Indians would be able to splash a little red on the nearby building.

However, a couple card flips saw all three of the clock cards finally drawn, ending the first turn.

And the first flip of the new turn was a British Regulars card! This gave me the oppurtunity to try out the new Volley Fire rules, which uses a designated area directly in front of a unit in Close Order to see who's hit. On a roll of 0 (or 0s and 1s if the firing unit is in two ranks) any model hit immediately becomes a casualty!

Two Indians fell under the volley, which was enough to hit the 50% mark and end the game with a solid British victory. 

Here's three of my major takeaways from this solo game:
  1. Overall, this still feels like Muskets & Tomahawks. The flow of the game and the base mechanics haven't changed so radically that it will mess with players of the original version. The first few games may go slow to get some of the detailed changes down, but it should pick up from there. 
  2. Command points are great. In this game I only used them to activate units, but this still made for some critical turning points, letting me fire, move, or reload the guns of a certain unit. It will be interesting to see them expanded upon in larger games against actual opponents. 
  3. Volley Fire is one of those changes that does need reconsideration. In the previous version, it just meant a bonus to shooting and a negative modifier to a unit being shot at. In the new version of M&T, it's essentially a template than can be anywhere from about 3"x16" to 8"x16" with a 1/5 chance of killing a model, and a guaranteed Reaction test against any units in the line of fire. That's huge! While larger units of Regulars in Close Order will be more resilient against the shock of a volley, units of Irregulars, Militia and Indians will need to be mindful of just how big that template can be.
    There are, however, two drawbacks to Volley Fire. First, any models under the template are hit, so make sure there's no friendly unit just beyond the enemy if you're going to use it! And units using Volley Fire will receive two Fire tokens, meaning they'll have to reload twice before being able to fire again. 

I'm sure I'm missing nuances, and like most games not directly supported with solo rules, the experience did ring a little hollow, but I still enjoyed the experience and I look forward to when I game with other people again.

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