Wednesday, December 8, 2021

A Hill to Die On - Live Free or Die AAR

With Thursday and Friday done, I arrived once again at the Valley Forge Casino for a day's worth of gaming.

The morning game was a refight of the Battle of Brandywine, ran by the Little Wars TV crew. I'm a huge fan of their on-going, fantastically produced battle reports on Youtube, and I jumped at the opportunity to get into one of their games as soon as the convention registration opened. 

I was especially excited because it was an opportunity to play their new set of rules for the American War of Independence, Live Free or Die

Before the game began, the British Commanders (myself and Walt) were presented with a couple choices. We had the chance to rest our troops before engaging, which would cost us a couple turns but give us the ability to remove morale hits (DMZs) at the end of a turn. We could also send a flanking force to try and cut the Americans off on another table which was centered on the small town of Dilworth.

We decided to rest our troops (which gave us 10 turns to complete the objective) and send a small brigade of two Guards regiments to outflank the American position. 

Walt controlled the majority of the troops with Cornwallis' and Medow's Brigades, while I had Agnew's and von Donop's brigades. 

The American players (Zach and Ray) had loaded most of their troops on their right to block the road under Zach, while Ray's troops were positioned to block my own. 

The British advanced towards the Americans who, apart from some slight shuffling, held their ground. 

With the Americans angled on the hill, it took several turns of marching before my troops could get into firing range. 

Zach and Walt, on the other hand, clashed immediately, with Walt's troops fixing bayonets and charging up the hill. 

Ray's position on the hill meant that my regiments had to cross multiple obstacles to reach him. Doing so gave my units a DMZ per obstacle crossed. 

I planned to give Ray's troops a round of firing before charging in. 

Live Free or Die is also a shoot-then-move ruleset, and units that don't plan to move can "volley fire," doubling the amount of shots they get. 

The British got the worse of the exchange of volleys, with multiple stands lost and units forced back down the hill (which meant I would have to cross the obstacles once again!).

Meanwhile, the Americans must have gotten word that some force of British was moving on a flank march, because their entire right flank suddenly about-faced and started marching back towards Dilworth.

With his flank in the air, Ray decided against retreating his own troops and instead planted his flag and stood his ground. 

Walt, on the other hand, was chasing after the treating Americans. 

The fighting was fierce between the remaining British, Hessian, and American troops, and ownership of the hill was fluid. Both sides were gathering DMZs like they were on sale.

Walt's path was open, so he split his advancing troops into two forces; one was sent after the retreating Americans, while the other was gathering to push into Ray's flanks. 

Despite being outnumbered, Ray's soldiers stood firm in the face of the Hessian Grenadiers, and sent the whole brigade fleeing backwards when I failed multiple morale checks. 

Despite multiple pushes, I couldn't seem to get my regiments to form a cohesive attack on Ray's position. 

By this time in the game, most of the left side of the table had been completely emptied. 

And the Americans were gathering at Dilworth. 

Now flanked by Walt's troops, Ray wasn't going to do down without a fight, using his skirmishers and last, tattered regiments in a curved line.

However, a combined charge by British regiments saw the last American troops on the hill routed. 

The game ended with Walt's flanking troops advancing on the Dilworth table, but too far away to keep the Americans from consolidating their position. 

The game ended with a somewhat historical result; the British ended up taking the American positions but were unable to stop the Americans from retreating in relatively good order. It had been a much bloodier refight, though, with both sides taking far more casualties than in the original battle.

Given another chance, I probably wouldn't have bothered with letting the British troops rest for two turns in exchange for access to the "Redress Ranks" phase. The cost of losing the extra game time wasn't worth the benefit of removing DMZs, since you have to be outside of 12" of enemy units to do so. That was on me - I convinced Walt to delay the advance rather that immediately step off. A couple more turns may have made all the difference!

This was a fantastic game and one of the best convention games I've participated in. The miniatures and terrain looked fantastic, and I'm absolutely planning to use Live Free or Die as my go-to AWI rules. It looks like I'll have some orders with Pendraken in the next year.


  1. That looks amazing! And with actual hills and slopes. Very visually appealing. Is that 15 mm?
    I just moved to Philly and I'm trying to figure out how to meet other interested wargamers. Any suggestions?

    1. Yes, it was a very well made table! The miniatures themselves are 10mm, I believe all from Pendraken Miniatures.

      In Philly, you're close to the locations that HMGS East host their three conventions: Cold Wars, Historicon, and Fall In, usually either in Lancaster or Valley Forge.

      For more regular gaming, there's a club that meets on the second Saturday of each month at the Covenant United Methodist Church in Springfield. I've never been able to fgure out if they've got a Facebook group, or mailing list, or if they just meet.

      Further away, there's the South Jersey Gamers Association that I'm a member of, which meets on the second Saturday of each month in Cape May.

      For stores, you've got places like Redcaps Corner and Showcase Comics.

      Another option might be to join the Little Wars TV Discord. They've got a channel for finding other players.