Unbridled Savagery Part Two

This follows on from Unbridled Savagery Part One.

After a small, and unwanted, post-midnight adventure involving key safes, I managed to get into my lodgings and sleep. Next morning I got up, had an unexpected and rather unwelcome cold shower, wandered into town, ate a decent breakfast and then headed into the sunshine towards B.I.G. I had another small and unwanted adventure, this time smart-phone inspired, on the way, which prolonged the walk by about half an hour. But it was a nice morning and I ended up at the venue in good enough order. On a side note, Bristol is peculiarly American-feeling with lots of social venues like the Bocabar bar (and indeed B.I.G) having taken over units in industrial sites. So this wasn’t as surreal as it might otherwise have been:

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Not Surreal At All

The first game of the day was A Walk in the Woods. The British had to escort Mynheer Sterngange to safety, which would mean crossing the length of the table. This was a tall enough order but as they had been badly mauled the day before, the table was set to be very unfavourable for them, though I think that it was not immediately obvious to the players that this was so.

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The Right Of The Table.

The left hand side of the table (from the British perspective) was unattractive – woods, swamp and a tributary stream to cross from their Deployment Point. The right hand side of the stream, by contrast, offered easier deployment and rapid passage towards the farm.

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French Scouts

Ian, commanding the French, played a very cagey game, refusing to deploy anything but a single unit of Milice for many turns, much to the frustration of his co-player, Dee, who was eager to get stuck in. It was fascinating to me that Ian, playing only his third game, had grasped so quickly the sense in making the enemy commit before himself committing. Of course the danger was he might delay too long, but he remained quietly confident behind his beard.

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The British Advance

Lieutenant Mill seemed to have got lost in the woods but Murray pressed on with his half of the highlanders and led by the rangers. Captain Cutlass and his Mohawks chose to move across to the other flank, but were first delayed by an unexpectedly deep river, and shortly afterwards, and ironically, by becoming parched by thirst.

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Opening Shots
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Mill Arrives
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Save Us!

The rangers’ shooting temporarily chased the Milice from the hill above the cabin, from which two women emerged, begging piteously to be saved from the lecherous and garlic-reeking French. Sergeant Warner was not immediately inclined to offer succour, but after some discussion, more piteous begging and some shots from the returning Milice, he sent them back to Murray so he could decide what must be done.

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The Milice Return Fire
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The Highlanders Press On

The highlanders deploy into line and the Huron appear from the woods to fire into Mill’s men.

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Ambuscade!

Rob and Ben, commanding the British in their first ever games had done pretty well to this point, coming up with probably the best plan available. Now, however, they became painfully aware of how the terrain was going to constrict their options – there simply was not enough room for the highland lines to maintain formation and advance.

Veteran Lardy, Matt Slade of Glenbrook Games, who offers a top-quality painting service (and whose wife, Debs, runs Saddle-Goose Designs, making the world’s best chip/dice bags) had turned up shortly before this. I’d met him at the WorLard Gaming Day earlier this year, and availed myself of his services, getting some rather nice Peninsula riflemen painted by him. He was able to offer some sage advice regarding wheeling of lines.

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Mill Wheels

Mill wheeled to engage the Huron, the rangers drove the Milice from the hill and occupied it, and Murray attempted an advance, but his line foundered trying to cross the fence into the pumpkin field and got seriously bogged down. More Milice arrived to reinforce the French left, but the British were still looking to be doing fairly well.

 

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Captain Cutlass, Somewhat Thirsty, Runs To Engage
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Overbold Rangers
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Murray Struggles Through The Pumpkins
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The Compagnies Franches Volley

A devastatingly effective volley from Clouzeau’s Compagnies Franches de la Marine scythes down a swathe of Mill’s highlanders.

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Mohawk Hunt Huron In The Woods
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On The Brink

With enemies all around, the highlanders hold grimly on until a shot from Capitaine Terieur, who has wiped out the rangers with superior numbers, brings down Mynheer Sterngange. This shot ends the game, rendering a somewhat unlikely British victory impossible.

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Sterngange Killed

Ian’s tactic of delaying his deployment until the highlanders were in the worst position, constrained between river and farm, paid off in spades.

The final game of the weekend was Full Frontal, a straightforward meeting engagement, although again down the length of the table, played between Rob (French) and Alex.

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The British Deploy
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Milice And Huron Forge Up The Flank
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Enter The Compagnie Franches
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Piper M’Intyre Is Shot!
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French and Huron In Action
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Fighting Across The River
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Close Range Volley
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Highland Charge!

Unfortunately this game ran a bit short of time, but it was enjoyable nonetheless as Murray’s highlanders, enraged by Milice sharpshooters picking off not only their piper but the highly regarded Sergeant Watson, launched a classic highland charge with a sharp volley followed by a wild rush into the woods with broadswords swinging, against which the Milice could not stand.

I really enjoyed running these games. Some of my thoughts on the game were confirmed:

New players get the idea quickly and readily buy into the spirit of the game. However certain mechanics are hard to immediately grasp, especially the distinction between a leader activating and having a certain number of Command Initiatives and a unit activating (via CIs or otherwise) and having two Actions (plus possibly a bonus movement). Most players seem to take a full game at least to get the differences straight.

Three and a half hours seems to be a good timespan for an introductory game involving more than one new payer. Three hours is certainly possible but requires briskness and less chatting.

Everyone who plays the game really likes it.

Umpired games are enhanced by introducing special random events and encounters, allowing the players to interact with ‘NPCs’ as if in a role-playing game (at least to a degree).

The game probably begins to ‘break’ with more than 16 leaders in total and more than four command cards per side has some undesirable consequences. 10-14 leaders in total would seem to be ‘optimal’ in terms of promoting player involvement and enjoyment.

There is a huge appetite for this kind of game outside the usual club/event circuit. Open gaming venues are not just about fantasy and science fiction games.

As I said in part one, Bristol Independent Gaming is a fantastic venue and offers a great gaming experience. If you are in the Bristol area, it’s well worth a look, with Peninsular War Sharp Practice now set to be a staple for many of the regulars.

 

 

 

 

A Scalping Party

Which it was a French and Indian War Extravaganza using the absolutely superb Sharp Practice 2 rules from TooFATLardies at the Sanctuary Gaming Centre in Sutton-in-Ashfield, a great venue with plenty of space and a really laid back, unobtrusive but very helpful owner. A day’s gaming is dirt cheap – even a Yorkshireman could not quibble with the price – and Richard will even open up early if you ask him.

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Sanctuary Gaming Centre

Because this was the first Sharp Practice day of any size that I’d run, I decided to run it as an invitational event rather than throwing the doors open to all and sundry. This had the advantage that I knew everyone attending and they would be forgiving of any dreadful cock-ups, but the downside that only two of them had any substantial experience (i.e. more than three games . . .) of Sharp Practice, and three had never played it at all. However the enthusiasm of a certain Jim from Glasgow for the concept, and the fact he was prepared not only to bring a full force but also livestock, civilians, rabbits (I kid ye not), buildings and an amazing objective/Deployment Point, led me to extend an invite to him upon request. And I was very happy that I did because it provided another experienced player. And this . . .

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Lieut. Kennedy, Captured

Clearly anyone prepared to make something like that had to be included.

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Inside Sanctuary And Underway

My original plan was for three games but my experience at the WorLard Gaming Day 2017 and the impromtu  Sharp Practice day at Grange-over-Sands (covered by Lardy Rich in this post, which also covers the Durham day)  convinced me that two games would allow a more enjoyable day with less pressure on time. I’m glad to say that this decision was more than vindicated. Three and a half hours per game allows a comfortable amount of time to either get a definite result, or so close to one that who’s got the upper hand is obvious, and allows some chat amongst the players.

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Old Man Rivers’ Farm – The Setting For Little Beaver Hunt

With nine players, three of whom had never played a game and only three with any real experience of the system, I decided to have the first games as 3 vs 2 and 2 vs 2, then the second games as 2 vs 1. This seemed to work fine, and allowed me to place at least one experienced player in every game. Sharp Practice, being a game that really is narrative-driven, and (at least partly) a character-driven focus also – which very few other wargames do, whatever their pretensions – the social nature of such a game makes 2-3 players per side something that probably enhances the overall experience to an unusual degree. It also allowed me to give players on the same ‘team’ different objectives to accomplish, some of which would  not necessarily be for the good of everyone on their side.

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The Fort At Number Four – Sing Tow-Row-Row!

My initial player pack underwent fairly significant revision with respect to victory conditions for each player and who would command what. This was my master document from which I compiled a player sheet like this example for each player. That way everyone knew what missions they’d be playing, how to win, and what leaders and units they’d be commanding. Players could say what they liked about their victory conditions but weren’t allowed to let anyone else look at their sheet.

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Burning Passion – Kennedy’s Mohawk Blood Brothers Attempt Rescue

The five games were:

  1. Going Down in the Woods/Little Beaver Hunt – while the British hasten to defend an outlying farm, the Huron search for the missing son of their chief.
  2. Exposing Young Fanny/Grab Fanny – the French attempt to secure a British ammunition convoy, which also contains the lovely daughters of their commander, Colonel Flower.
  3. The Fort at Number Four – The Regiment Languedoc assault the fort. Will relief come in time?
  4. Big Bottom Girls/Raiding Big Bottom – The Virginia Regiment must defend Big Bottom, where the daughters of Colonel Flower have sought refuge, while a mixed force of Compagnie Franches de la Marine and Milice Canadienne look to burn the settlers out.
  5. Sweet Release/Burning Passion – Kennedy of the 44th has been kidnapped. A mixed force of men from the 44th Foot, Dank’s Rangers and Mohawk try to free him from  the clutches of the Huron.
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British and French Fight To A Bloody Standstill – Exposing Young Fanny

I’d an image of each table lurking in my head. I knew the key features and terrain that each needed to have. The fort, provided by Bob Emmerson of Mad Bob Miniatures, proved a little larger than I’d envisaged but fitted just about reasonably into the middle of the table.

The missions were modifications of the ones in the rules and sometimes, like in Game One, the two sides were playing different missions (which in that particular game allowed both to emerge with a Small Victory). In general they seemed to work pretty well, although I made a big mistake in Game Five in not allowing the 44th a Moveable Deployment Point, which left poor Jim very much up against it, and also in Game Four in not delaying British reinforcements for a turn at least.

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Bear Attack!

I had some special random events and also events that had certain triggers – mainly inspired by Lary Rich’s mad potter monk. These included a bear attack, a wandering Huron (who might have grabbed Fanny had be not tripped over a branch), a boy who rescued his horses from a burning barn (but sadly he and his horses met a rather excruciating death impaled on bits of broken fence). I told players on the relevant tables to call me over when they drew a random event, or at Tiffin for the triggered events and then, depending on where the unit that triggered the event was, the special event might be triggered, or a normal random event rolled. Again, this seemed to work pretty well, with players I think unsure whether some thing were inflicted upon them by my malevolence (acting as Fate) or by pre-planned design. I at least found most of them rather amusing.

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The Boy Fell From The Burning Cart

At Old Man Rivers’ farm, the Huron escaped with significant losses but with a captive and , importantly, having rescued Little Beaver. The British could not save the farm from burning, but at least dowsed the flames before it was utterly destroyed and rescued Old Man River and his fair daughter from the clutches of the Huron.

The French and 40th Foot battered each other in a bloody stalemate. The British failing to get the convoy through but the French failing to secure any of the ammunition (or accompanying females).

In the second games, the Virginia Regiment failed to prevent most of Big Bottom being razed, but inflicted some fairly heavy losses on the attacking Milice and Compagnie Franches. However Fanny and Phemie were saved, as were most of the settlers.

Lieutenant Kennedy, 44th Foot seems doomed to meet a fiery end after his comrades were foiled in their attempted rescue by their savage foe.

The Fort at Number Four did not fall to the French. Sing tow-row-row for the British Grenadiers!

Lots of pictures follow, in no special order, I’m afraid. The better ones are by Jim and Sam.

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I had a great day and was really pleased things went as well as they did.

Thanks to:

Bob for bringing the fort and driving all the way from Dorset! Dee for making the trip from Bristol and bringing his usual unbridled enthusiasm. James for bringing his grenadier force, which is very nicely done indeed. Jim for making the trip from Glasgow, for bringing terrain and models and, especially, for the Kennedy diorama. Rich for the nice custom markers and providing some much needed experience in the player-base. Richard, ditto on the experience and for basically running Grab Fanny for me whilst also playing. Roger for bringing Huron and affording me the opportunity of the bear attack. Sam for putting me up, providing more Huron and terrain. Stuart for terrain and a nice snow mat and the Regiment Languedoc. Lastly to Rich from the Sanctuary Gaming Centre for providing such a great venue for so little cost.

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The Grenadiers Secure a British Victory! Huzzah!

On the Edge of Perdition

Can Lieutenant Launderville avenge his recent defeat and save the settlers of Perdition?

After a chastening defeat at the hands of French native allies, Lieut. Launderville, commanding Bland’s company of the Virginia Regiment has managed to get his surviving men to the settlement of Perdition, just in time to see the fort fall to a force of French Milice under the intrepid Capitaine Terieur. Launderville determines to stand and fight on the edge of Perdition. The captured Ensign Bumgardner has been replaced by his brother, a gentleman volunteer in the regiment now temporarily promoted ‘in room of’ his brother.

While his Indian allies skulk deep in the woods, the intrepid Terieur and his band strike out towards the Widow Marrow’s house. The Virginians begin to move forward to the edge of the fields.

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Opening Moves
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Lieut. Nutter’s Men Skirmishing
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Virginian Line

As Terieur’s men begin to close, first blood goes to the Virginians. A scattered volley of shots from the skirmishers sees a Canadian brought down.

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Nutter’s Men

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The Younger Bumgardner Moves Up

Some of the Virginian skirmishers move up to the fence, to be startled by shots from the woods overlooking the farmland.

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The Action Begins

Terieur comes up to add more musket fire against the skirmishers on the fence line, who fall back badly shaken leaving one of their number behind dead. A heavy pall of smoke lingers, shrouding the Canadians in the woods.

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Virginians Fall Back

Lieutenant Launderville arrives to the west of the Widow West’s two-storey cabin. He leads his tight packed column down to Paddle Creek; his intent is to turn the Canadian flank. His arrival sees young Bumgardner take his men over the fence.

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Launderville Arrives

The unspeakable Garennajenhaga, lurking in the woods on the appropriately named Shooter’s Hill, has his warriors begin to shoot at the advancing Virginian line but to little immediate effect.

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Huron Firing

Is history repeating itself? Young Bungardner, thirsting to avenge his brother has urged his men to press on fast. Launderville has once again been slowed more than he expected while crossing a creek and Nutter’s skirmishers are getting the worst of their musket duel.

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The Bigger Picture
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A Closer View

While Launderville exhorts his men to wade faster, Bumgardner turns his men out of line and closes them up, preparing to sweep the woods clear of the Canadians. His men are thrown into some disorder by Huron fire from Shooter’s Hill, but Bumgardner brings them back into line with a precision that would do credit to regular troops. Their volley creates some confusion amongst the Canadians holding Woody Hill (an imaginative lot, the folk of Perdition), but no real harm.

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Bumgardner Forms Column
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Back Into Line

The Canadian shooting drops more of Nutter’s skirmishers and wounding that officer whose men are becoming ineffective, a situation not helped by the incapacitation of Sergeant Fear. When Nutter is hit a second time, only the newly promoted Sergeant Knott is holding the skirmishers together.

Launderville is across the creek now and forging on towards the Huron on Shooter’s hill, whose fire is proving thus far a mere irritation to his men who he brings into line just as smartly as Bumgardner.

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Column
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Line

Seeing his men begin to falter under fire from the Canadians to the front and Huron to their rear on Shooter’s Hill, Bumgardner asks for three cheers for good King George, God bless him. His men respond lustily, and their next volley is shatteringly effective, killing five of the dozen or so Canadians with Terieur and Enseigne Laroux on Woody Hill. Laroux draws his men deeper into the woods, away from the galling fire.

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Bumgardner Attacks!
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Huzzah, Boys!

But Bumgardner’s men are unwilling to press on; the fire from Shooter’s Hill is still unsettling them and they fall into confusion. Neither Bumgardner nor the stalwart Sergeant O’Rear can restore order. Terieur takes advantage of their irresolution to send his own men forwards to administer the coup de grace to Nutter’s rapidly fading skirmish line. Only the faithful Sergeant Fear stands his ground over the badly wounded Nutter’s prostrate form, everyone else dead or fled except Sergeant Knott who is retiring with his two remaining men.

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Finish
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Facing Defeat

Once again, Launderville has been defeated by inferior numbers and Perdition will be plundered and burnt by the French and their native allies.

 

 

Soldats à la Sauvage

Native sons of New France prepare to fight for hearth and home.

From the Milice du district de Trois-Rivières. The Canadian militia supplied a good deal of the relatively small amount of men available to the French in America.

The company is led by the intrepid Capitaine de Milice, Alain Terieur, a man of vast wilderness experience. Not always the steadiest, and unsuited to going toe to toe with regular troops, if fighting in their preferred style, which mimicked that of the natives, they could be formidable opponents.

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The Intrepid Capitaine Alain Terieur

Terieur is assisted by Lieutenant Felix Lechat, a whiskery fellow with cat-like reflexes, and the remarkably clean-shaven Enseigne Daniel Laroux, whose vanity of appearance is matched only by his modesty concerning his toilet arrangements.

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Lieutenant Lechat and Enseigne Laroux

The dour Sergent Grincheaux is the last of the company’s official complement of leaders.

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Sergent Grincheaux

Three young scions of the nobility from the Compagnie Franches de la Marine are along to prove their mettle, the agile De Grenouille, d’Inse (who is often slow on the uptake) and Bonnet (easily identified by his red hat).

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De Grenouille, Bonnet And D’Inse

The rifle-armed Boniface Tournage is widely regarded as the best shot in the Trois-Rivières.

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And Another One Bites The Leaf-Mulch

The men are all Canadian born and first-class woodsmen.

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Wild Men Of The Woods
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Even Wilder Men Of The Woods
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Yet Wilder Men Still Of The Woods
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Still Wild Men Of The Woods
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More Wild Men Of The Woods
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The Chap In The Hood Is Especially Wild
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And You Won’t Get Much Wilder Than These

In Sharp Practice terms the force comprises 94 points:

  • Leader Status III (Capitaine Terieur)
  • Leader Status II (Lieutenant Lechat)
  • Leader Status II (Enseigne Laroux)
  • Leader Status II (Élève Officier de Grenouille)
  • Leader Status I (Élève Officier d’Inse)
  • Leader Status I (Élève Officier Bonnet)
  • Leader Status I (Sergent Grincheaux)
  • Marksman Boniface Tournage
  • Seven Groups of 6 Milice Canadienne

It is unlikely that the entire company will be fielded at once. Terieur’s men often act as scouts and skirmishers for other French forces, or fight alongside the natives.

Figures from the ever-excellent Galloping Major and the rather nice North Star Military Figures, with a handful from Redoubt Enterprises.

Two Sodom Nights, Part I: Damp Squibs

The Sodom Vale was, as the reader will doubtless recall, rather coarsely described by General Braddock as ‘the arse end of Saindoux’. In fact it is a pretty enough bottom to have attracted a number of bolder settlers to the region, that lies within the wider tract of land known as The Devil’s Kitchen. Following his reverse at the hands of the 42nd Foot, Capitaine de Givenchy of the Régiment de Languedoc attempts to force his way to safety through Sodom Rising, a piece of land noted for fast-flowing streams, rather salty marshes and, naturally, many trees. De Givenchy has been reinforced by men of the Milice du Trois Rivieres, having been abandoned by his fickle and possibly treacherous native allies. It is these natural born sons of New France who he trusts to guide him out of danger. Will de Givenchy force a passage, or will his fancy French tactics unravel again? Read on . . .

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Between A Stream and a Boggy Place

Monsieurs Daniel Leroux and Felix Lechat lead the small group of Milice Canadienne who are guiding de Givenchy. They have, however, badly misjudged just how slow the regular troops are across rough-country and de Givenchy’s column has become badly scrunched up on their approach to more open ground across the Brimstone Stream.

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Quelles Grand Moustaches Les Granadiers Ont

The men stumble through the dark forest, urged on by the increasingly worried Lechat and Laroux.

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Water, Water, All Around

As dawn draws nearer, the French look for good crossing spots.

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The Brimstone Stream and Sodom Rising Beyond

The Widow Bumgardener’s cabin is the sole building on Sodom Rising. As her sons have joined the Virginia Regiment, she has wisely decamped to the relative safety of Canaan, where she hopes to find an able-bodied protector.

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Lechat Fords The Stream

With the white-coated regulars still crashing through the woods, the Milice Canadienne scout ahead.

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Traverser Ici

Will the French luck hold?

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The 42nd Arrive

Captain Murray brings forward his men with amazing speed, the highlanders proving as nimble through the trees as across their native heather. Dawn breaks just as Murray reaches the borders of the woods looking out onto the Widow Bumgardener’s land.

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A Maginficent Seven?

Suddenly, Lechat feels rather exposed.

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How Many?

Fortunately for Lechat, Murray’s men are not immediately concerned with his small band.

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Allez!

Meanwhile de Givency urges his men forward through the woods.

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Milice Canadienne

Laroux has identified the best crossing point for de Givenchy’s men. The Widow Bumgardener’s cabin will shelter men from the enemy while they regroup after fording the stream.

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The Situation

Captain Cutlass, Murray’s chief Mohawk scout exchanges fire with Lechat’s milice.

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Captain Cutlass And His Braves

Lechat loses a man and decides to fall back.

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A Poor Exchange Rate

Laroux gets his boys across the Brimstone and finally de Givenchy has his men on the banks.

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Preparing To Cross

Lechat gets back behind the Widow Bumgardener’s fence, which provides at least the illusion of protection, without further loss. The whoops of the Mohawk ring in French ears.

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Tirez!

The first of the Regulars cross the Brimstone.

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En Avant!

Murray leads his men over the boundary Fence. His line now covers the route the French must take to safety.

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Highland Line

Faced with running a gauntlet of fire, and with little prospect of being able to form a decent firing line himself without his men being severely mauled in the process, de Givenchy orders his men to retire. An almost bloodless battle with very little powder expended. But as Maurice de Saxe was fond of telling the young de Givenchy, ‘La discrétion est parfois la meilleure partie de la valeur.’

De Givenchy will find a better time and place.