Which it was another French and Indian War Extravaganza, using the most excellent Sharp Practice 2 rules from TooFATLardies, at Bristol Independent Gaming in Bristol. B.I.G. is undoubtedly one of Britain’s best open gaming venues, with several gaming rooms, plenty of available tables and terrain, a nice wee shop and a really friendly and helpful owner. A day’s gaming is very cheap and Jim has a facility which is very reminiscent of the old Firestorm Games in Cardiff – less polished than the current Firestorm, but with perhaps more charm.
Note that there is a boxing ring to help resolve any rules disputes, surely something that every venue should possess.
When I had run A Scalping Party, my first trial at running multi-player games based in my Saindoux Valley campaign, I had taken the precaution of inviting almost exclusively people who were known to me, and had included a few players with a fair amount of experience with the game. This had allowed quite an ambitious day with several games running in parallel, individual victory conditions for each player and other things that I feel add a lot to the day but do need some certainty as to who will turn up and when.
At Bristol, although I had met several of the people who would attend, I only really knew one of them at all well and I knew it was only Dee who would have had any experience of the game. So I decided to run just the one game at a time but to have forces that could be divided easily into three distinct commands, allowing up to six players at any one time.
Also, Unbridled Savagery was to run over both days of the weekend, so I planned for four games. In the end because of chatting, the players being almost totally inexperienced, and the general sociability, we didn’t complete the fourth.
The first game was between Ian and Dee. Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures of this game but the British had been charged with rescuing some settlers and the French with capturing the families. In the event, neither was really successful, the French got no captives but only the women and children escaped the burning cabin into British hands.
Next was was I’ll Be A Dutchman. This was fought between Ian and Jim (British) and Dee and Alex (French).
The 42nd Foot, accompanies by some of Gorham’s Rangers and Mohawk allies had to bring Mynheer Sterngange of the Dutch West India Company to a place of safety. Sterngange was standing placidly by the cabin, puffing on his pipe.
The British could enter either by canoes from the Secondary Deployment Point which, unsurprisingly, featured a canoe or marching on from their Primary Deployment Point on the right of the above photo. The French, a mix of Compagnie Franches de la Marine, Milice Canadienne and Huron warriors could deploy from their respective Deployment Points on the top, bottom and left table edges. The British got one complete turn to deploy before the French players could do anything. This helped offset the fact they had to reach Sterngange and then get him back all the way across the river to their Primary Deployment Point.
The British deployed Captain Murray, 42nd Foot with half of his highlanders and Sergeant Ichabod Warner’s rangers. With the possibility of being flanked on both sides, Murray’s plan was to send the fleet-footed rangers to fetch Sterngange while he and Reid used the steady regulars to cover the retreat.
Up to this point, the British were doing reasonably well. Sterngange had agreed to accompany the rangers, despite the language barrier and although the highlanders were suffering somewhat from the incoming fire of the French, they had taken no serious losses. Encouragingly also, Captain Cutlass, that doughy Mohawk chief, had charged across the river and driven Terieur’s men back with some loss. The prelude to this assault caused much amusement. Terieur’s men had been at the top of the small rise, firing into the highlanders. Cutlass charged using three dice for movement. The first was a 6, allowing him to cross the 4″ river and leaving two dice to travel under four inches into contact. Needless to say, the total rolled was 3, leaving the Mohawk just short of their target, their wet moccasins slithering on the slope. However next turn, their chit came up before Terieur’s and they completed the charge into the flank of the skirmishers.
This heralded the most intense series of Fisticuffs I have ever seen in a game of Sharp Practice. A conservative estimate from memory puts the total number of bouts at at more than half a dozen as the rangers were charged twice by the Huron, the Mohawk charged Terieur again and the Huron went on to assault the highlanders several times.
The rangers had fallen back from an initial bout of fisticuffs with the Huron, in which Sterngange was wounded, and had then retreated behind the highlanders. But in an audacious move, the Huron charged through the swamp, catching the rangers in the rear. Sterngange, Sergeant Warner and the sole remaining ranger managed to escape across the river but were pursued by the Huron.
An surprisingly devastating volley from the Compagnies Franches de la Marine killed several highlanders, and it was high time for Mill and his rearguard to retire.
Captain Cutlass pursued his murderous feud with the Canadians, leading his braves forward again and this time sending the two survivors, including the wounded Terieur, fleeing deep into the woods.
Lt. Mill’s men had been savaged by constant firing to their front and flanks and their line broken. Sensing victory, more Huron charged from the woods, catching a group in the flank and sending them flying back across the river. Mill’s command had ceased to be a viable fighting force but their sacrifice had allowed Sterngange to reach Murray (who as an ex-officer of the Saxon Guards could speak fluent German and so could inform the Dutchman of his mission).
At this point, British morale was broken. The French could count a victory but it was not an utter disaster for the British as there was still a fair body of men left under Captain Murray to escort Sterngange from the field, with too few French – a mere half dozen of the Milice, to prevent their quitting the field.
This had been quite a long game, taking us into the early evening, but the Bristol lads are a hospitable bunch so we went to the Bocabar bar for some much needed refreshment and a rather nice pizza (it was so nice I went back the next evening for more). It’s fair to say that the Bocabar is probably not a traditional Lardies type of venue, but I really liked it and despite its hipster appearances, it does nice beer and probably some sort of cooking lager.
To be continued . . .