Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Beaver Wars, Turn 3 Report

After turn 3, everyone was joking I would not be allowed to host any more Beaver Wars playtests until spring. Once again the weekend saw a major winter storm batter Columbus. Sunday cleared a bit, so I had most of my players there. We also had more battles this turn than in any previous turn. The one player who was not present (Ottawa), sent in his choice of card play and action for his tribe.

The system calls for tribes to play a card, one at a time, in reverse order from the previous turn. One of my players is questioning whether that actually has any effect. He is suggesting that since we are only using one deck and that there is a tie breaker, there is no need for that step. Everyone should secretly choose their card and reveal all at once. We'll be checking to see if the extra step I have written in actually would make a difference in a turn.

So, after playing cards, the turn order was established, and actions chosen in that order:
  1. Miami chose to Invade an Illinois town
  2. Seneca chose to Invade a Miami town
  3. Ojibwe chose to Invade a Potawatomi town
  4. Ottawa chose to Trap & Hunt
  5. Wyandot chose to Trap & Hunt
  6. Potawatomi action received no choice of action because they were invaded
An important note in turn order is that actions are NOT simultaneous. They represent which tribe seized initiative and acted earlier. So, if a tribe like the Potawatomi is invaded or raided, they would cancel any plans to deal with the immediate threat. The result is they receive no action that turn. Their resources are being marshaled to deal with the enemy. However, if a tribe had already acted earlier and launches an invasion or raid -- and then is subsequently invaded or raided themselves -- they will have two battles to resolve. This is exactly what happened to the Miami player this turn. They played a Ace of Clubs (highest card in the game) to act first, wanting to seize another Illinois town. The Seneca watched them do that and then launched their own invasion of Miami territory.
The Beaver Wars map after the third turn of the campaign
 In fact, with the Ojibwe invasion of the Potawatomi, this meant we had three battles this turn -- the most, so far in the campaign. There were six of us present, so we divvied up the commands. Keith (Miami) chose to fight out the battle against Mike S (Seneca). This left Allen and I to play the role of the defending Illinois and attacking Miami, respectively. Steve (Ojibwe) fought his own invasion against the Potawatomi (Joel), who was also present. Each invader, raider, or ambusher rolls on a chart to produce the scenario that will be fought out. We ended up with two identical rolls, which made me make a further playtest only rule that we'd cross out the type of battles we'd already gamed on the tabletop and reroll duplicates. That way, we can adequately playtest all of the encounter types.

Both the Ottawa and Wyandot chose the Trap & Hunt option, and each selected a card from the deck that they preferred over one from their hand. Since Tom (Ottawa) was not present, as GM I chose the most logical card he would take to give him the best advantage. Meanwhile, all six players chose their troop lists and selected figures from our collections to represent them. My players are actively debating on whether the Youth troop type is a worthwhile choice or not. Youths cost 1 army point, while warriors cost 2. The Youths are much less effective, but often having a couple extra figures in your force makes you eligible to select another musket-armed figure instead of one armed with a Bow. This depends on your Firearms Ratio, currently at 2:1 for the Miami, Seneca, Wyandot, and Ojibwe, and 3:1 for the Ottawa and Potawatomi. The way this works is that if you have a 2:1 ratio, you select 2 bow-armed figures, then 1 musket, then 2 bow, then 1 musket, and so on. Having greater numbers can mean an extra musket in your warband that is fighting out the battle.
The Ojibwe invasion force is deployed on a wooded hill in the center of the board, while the Potawatomi defenders are split in between two clumps of woods and brush
Since I was playing the role of the Miami invasion force, I did not get to see much of the other two games. The Potawatomi took a larger percentage of Youths than the invading Ojibwe. The had one Chieftain, 5 Warriors, and 6 Youths. Their opponents had 1 Chieftain, 7 Warriors, and 2 Youths. The Potawatomi suffered numerous casualties in the exchange of musket and bow fire, and soon fled the table. The Ojibwe claimed five enemy scalps and lost no casualties themselves. The other two games were much closer affairs. Keith admitted he tried to be gamey with the deployment rules and attempted to force the Mike to deploy in the open while he was in cover in the woods. However, it did not work, and the entire battle was fought in one small quarter of the 3'x3' table. Both forces had identical compositions -- 1 Chieftain and 8 Warriors (no Youths). Both figured out the numbers game the same way. Being allowed one musket out of every three warriors (Bow, Bow, Musket), nine figures in your force is an efficient composition.
Miami force marshaling in the center of an Illinois town, getting ready to fight off a counterattack by the defenders
The Miami-Seneca battle see-sawed for awhile, but Keith's leader, Many Feathers, had difficulty controlling his troops and he rolled turnovers too many times. In the Song of Drums and Tomahawks rules, this occurs when a player rolls two or more failures to activate a single figure. The Seneca did not have the same misfortune and slowly wore down their opponents in melee. Keith ended up losing his leader and six warriors. Only two of his veterans that he had so lovingly named -- Slow Turtle and Blue Face -- survived to make it off the table. For a much more detailed battle report of the encounter, read Keith's blog on the playtest.
Some of the Miami have made it to the walls, where they face off against the counterattacking Illinois. The rest are getting ready to move around the longhouse and join the fray.
My own game with Allen was an even closer affair than the Miami-Seneca clash. Interestingly, we had also selected identical forces -- 1 Chieftain, 7 Warriors, and 2 Youths. Under the scenario rolled, the Miami had just taken the town with a surprise assault. Our forces were reorganizing in the center of town when scouts brought word that a relieving Illinois warband was nearing the walls to counterattack and retake the village. Both of us rushed for the palisades, hoping to be the first one there and set up a firing line. The battle soon flowed into the channel between two lines of palisades that is the entrance to an Indian village. After a few turns of shooting from behind the cover of the upright logs, we charged each other in melee. At the climax of the battle, both of us were at five casualties. The next one to lose a figure would have to take morale checks and see a number of their forces begin to bolt for the rear. Those that remained would likely be outnumbered and overwhelmed. Allen got the next kill on one of my men and the inevitable began. The Miami chieftain tried to knock the Illinois below half by engaging in battle himself, but was unable to score a killing blow. In a tense, hard-fought game, the Illinois retook their town and drove off the Miami invaders. My apologies for the lack of photos. I was so into the game that I neglected to take many!
Once Allen and my forces reached our respective palisades, the battle devolved for a few turns into a shooting duel. Soon, warriors left the safety of the wooden uprights and charged into the entrance way and settled the issue with hand-to-hand fighting.
I have been happy with the mechanics of the campaign, so far. Nevertheless, I am making tweaks as we go -- particularly to the scenarios. The players seem to be having fun and I look forward to the next evening of the Beaver Wars.

1 comment:

  1. Nicely done, Mike. It was frustrating in my Miami/Seneca battle that I was not able to close to HTH combat very much. I had expended my experience points to build up some special HTH advantages, and did not get to use them.