Monday, January 26, 2015

The Beaver Wars, Turn 2 Report

The second turn of our Beaver Wars campaign once again saw angry weather strike Columbus, causing the Seneca player to wisely choose not to drive in from Springfield, 45 minutes away. Another player was unable to make it, but both who could not attend sent in their card plays and tribe's actions by email.

The Seneca player went last in Turn 1, so played the first card. He chose to play a 6 of Spades, thinking to go late in the turn order. The Ojibwa player played a 3 of Diamonds. Both players had sets of one card of each suit, and were planning visits to the trading post. They did not want to declare early in the turn, and thus invite an ambush (as happened to the Miami player last turn). The Potawatomi player chose a 3 of Diamonds, and the low-balling continued! The Ottawa player was thinking on a different tack, and wanted to go early, so he played a Queen of Diamonds. The Wyandot player wanted to declare late, as well (as he also had a set). He played a 4 of Hearts. The Miami closed it out with a 7 of Spades. This established the following order for declaring actions:
  1. Ottawa - Held a Pow-wow (which unfortunately for him, no other player attended)
  2. Miami - Invaded the non-player Illinois territory, seeking to take control of a town)
  3. Seneca - Visit Trading post
  4. Wyandot - Visit Trading post
  5. Potawatomi - Trap & Hunt
  6. Ojibwa - Visit Trading post
Turn 2's campaign map
 There was a brisk business at Fort Miami and Fort Detroit this turn, as three tribes turned in bundles of beaver pelts. This improves their Firearms ratio from 3:1 to 2:1, making their forces more effective. No one chose to ambush them this turn, although that was an option to several players. With each tribe starting with 3 cards, and then receiving 2 cards on turn one, then 2 more on turn two, chances are most tribes will have a set of one of each suit by this point. However, after this point, trading post visits should be more spread out. Players must also play one of their cards each turn to establish turn order.

The Ottawa were hoping more players were in the same boat as him, needing one more suit to finish their set. However, that was not the case. The rules allow a player holding a Pow-wow that no other players attend to draw the top card in the deck and trade for it, if they desire. This reflects minor tribes attending the pow-wow. The Ottawa player was one of those who could not attend that evening, so I looked at the card and made the decision for him that he did want that card. Although it wasn't exactly what he was looking for, it would give him greater flexibility on having high and low cards for the turn order.

In a similar situation, the Potawatomi chose to Trap & Hunt, after returning home from last turn's Pow-wow empty-handed. They drew the top two cards in the deck and chose to trade for one of them, returning the unwanted two cards to the discard pile.
A Miami force invades Illinois territory, seeking to take control of one of its towns
The final action -- the Miami invasion of Illinois territory -- resulted in this turn's tabletop battle. Allen (Wyandot player) volunteered to play the role of the non-player Illinois defender. The Miami player rolled a "3" on the Invasion chart to generate the scenario. This reflects the defenders receiving a last-minute warning of the threat. They decide to scrape together a force and fight the invaders inside the town itself. I set up the battlefield while the players created their troop lists. In this battle, the palisaded Indian town takes up half of the board. The defenders start inside the town within a Long move of the board edge, while the invaders start anywhere outside the town, not within 6" of the walls. This keeps it from being an assault on a defended palisade, which is not the type of action these rule try to represent. The sharp skirmish that would develop around the entrance to the town is exactly the engagement that Song of Drums and Tomahawks is meant for!

It was interesting that both players created identical troop lists with their 20 army points. Both chose a Leader (4 points) 6 Warriors (2 points each), 4 Youths (1 point each). Because the Miami had visited the trading post last turn and improved to a 2:1 Firearm ratio, they received 3 muskets to distribute amongst their 11 warriors (bow, bow, musket, bow, bow, musket, etc.) Meanwhile, the Illinois still had a 3:1 Musket ratio, which means that they received a total of only 2 muskets. Surprisingly, the Miami did not give their leader a musket, arming him with a bow. Humorously, he said that leader from last turn's defeat been demoted to a warrior, and that he was driven to redeem the name of Slow Turtle!
The Illinois defenders split into two groups. The far force of four warriors would have a difficult time getting into the battle
My other players declined my offer of a board game to entertain them while Allen and Keith fought the battle. Instead, we all gathered around the table to watch them fight it out. The rules give 3 sizes of forces for battles. I intend to recommend that in situations like these, players utilize a "Medium" force and split each army into two commands. That will allow 4 players to get a game in instead of just two. However, everyone else was happy to watch, this evening...and of course offer their sage opinions on what each should do...!

As defender in this scenario, the Illinois deployed first. Allen placed four warriors, one with a musket, on one side of the town, and the remaining seven figures in the opposite -- closest to the entrance. This force had the leader, two warriors, and four youths. He had learned from the Ottawa mistake last turn, who deployed his youths outside of his leader's command range. The Illinois youths were all next to the leader, but the other force of four warriors was outside of his range. This would handicap his ability to move his forces to defend the town.
The Miami surge forward on their first turn of movement, with two warriors making it to the entrance passage
The Miami deployed in a long line opposite the entrance. His youths were on the far right of the line, near his leader. They won the roll to move first, and quickly sprang forward. The youths began to straggle behind the warriors, though, and eventually the leader had to abandon them to catch up with the rest of this forces. The Miami split into three groups. One rushed towards the village entrance, while flanking forces set up alongside the palisade to support them with bow and musket fire. The Miami gained the entrance to the town before the Illinois defenders could block it. Indian towns often had widely spaced wooden palisades as defensive walls. The gap was narrow enough that an adult could not squeeze through them, but wider than what we think of when we imagine a French & Indian War fort. I ruled that if your figure is right up against the palisade, it receives hard cover. So, the Miami were seeking to shoot defenders as they ran through the village, while they themselves were protected by the wooden posts. An interesting feature of Indian towns with palisades of this era was that they usually did not have gates, as we think of them. Instead, there was a narrow, winding passage that was vulnerable to fire from the palisades. The Miami rushed to get through that passage before the Illinois could defend it.
The Illinois rush to defend the town entrance
The Miami drew first blood when one of its first warriors to clear the passage took a shot at a Illinois youth who was rushing up to defend it. The youth fell to the ground, dead. War whoops from both sides split the air and more Indians on both sides rushed into what would become the killing ground just inside the entrance. The Illinois leader fired his musket and the first Miami attacker fell. This game was interesting in that very few Indians failed their scalp checks. Equally, there was no time to reload, for the most part, and both sides quickly closed into hand to hand combat.
First blood! A Miami warrior shots and kills an Illinois youth who was rushing to defend his town
 The Miami steadily fed more warriors into the melee, while the Illinois began to run out of troops. The force of four warriors on the opposite of the village were struggling to circle the longhouses and join the melee. Only one musket-armed warrior got close enough, and he picked off one of the attackers. There was one golden opportunity for one of the Illinois youths. He had knocked a Miami warrior to the ground the previous turn. One of the Illinois warriors moved up to support him. As he swung his tomahawk towards the fallen Miami, the warrior twisted and avoided it. Eventually, more Miami moved up, the fallen one regained his feet, and the youth was killed.
The struggle for the entrance to the town quickly devolves into a hand-to-hand melee
 As more and more Illinois fell, their forces dropped below half and they had to check morale. The force from the other side of the town, which was just closing towards contact, began to falter and fall back. That sealed the Illinois doom. The remaining defenders were pushed back and overwhelmed. The last to fall was the village chieftain, surrounded on three sides. Even in this extremity he killed one Miami attacker before being knocked to the ground and killed. All across the village, Miami warriors held aloft bloody scalps and sang songs of victory.
The Illinois force of four warriors is still trying to join the melee, while Miami at the palisades take pot shots at them
A golden opportunity for an Illinois youth to win fame is lost when he is unable to finish off a Miami warrior at this feet!
With their reinforcements faltering and withdrawing due to morale checks, the Illinois chieftain is soon the last defender. He strikes down one of his attackers, before falling, outnumbered. His scalp will be displayed in honor at Miami victory dances...

1 comment:

  1. I've already latched on to a copy of "Song Of Drums And Tomahawks" (Thanks Amazon!), and I'm in the process of assembling 1/72nd Scale figures from various manufacturers for the several factions. I'm really enjoying the "Beaver Wars" play testing reports...when will it be released? Are there any plans in the works for "point of view" campaigns for the French, the British, and/or the Colonial Settlers? Keep up the good work!