Monday, March 10, 2014

Cold Wars: Muskets & Tomahawks Tournament

I played in a small Muskets & Tomahawks tournament at Cold Wars this past weekend. M&T is a set of skirmish rules focusing on the French & Indian War that was fought in North America in the 1750s and 60s. The game has fairly standard combat and movement mechanics, but uses a card draw mechanic to determine order of activation. Units get four activations per turn, but regulars always do two activations at once while irregulars and indians get a single activation per card. The missions are reminiscent of the era, such as scouting and raiding, but also include a bit of a role playing element with each side having a sub-plot independent of the main victory conditions.

I went with a force of Canadian Militia and Indians, thinking that skirmishing troops would be more useful than formed troops. It was mostly correct, although I might have been better off with some formed troops in the last scenario. The tournament was split into a British team and a French team, so with the Canadians I was part of the French team.

Here is my army list:
  • Canadian Officer
  • a unit of six Canadian Militia
  • a unit of six Coureurs de Bois (fur traders)
  • two units of five Huron Indians

Game 1: Scouting Mission

The first mission was a scouting mission, which requires you to move units into the four quarters of the board and then withdraw. My sub-plot was called "Negotiations" which required my officer to escort a civilian throughout the game and roll a die at the end of each turn to see if the negotiations were successful.

My opponent had a force that consisted entirely of indians! That meant that both forces were "scouts", which allowed them to move through the woods without penalty. In addition, his entire force and most of my force (minus the militia) had the "natives" ability, which gave them extra cover in the woods.

My plan was to have the militia guard the house and snipe while the other three groups would swing around and occupy the other three quarters.
Situation after my first two activations.

The trappers and indians move through an orchard.
My opponent decided to sneak through the woods on the left side of the board. The militia was waiting for them...
Wait for it...
When my opponent came out of the woods, the militia and trappers let them have it. We killed three indians, forcing a morale check. The indians fled, running back to the edge of the woods.
Its safe back here.
The game mostly consisted of moving, not shooting. I'm pretty sure that was a side effect of the force composition. In the end, neither side was able to accomplish its primary scouting mission, but we were both able to complete the sub-plot.

Game 2: Raid

The second mission was a raid. As the attacker, I had to set the two buildings on fire. This time, I faced off against some British light troops, some indians, and a group of British regulars.
Sneaking through the woods.
I made my way through the woods, and the light troops poured from the closest building. It turns out that they were sharpshooters! They blasted my militia, killing several guys and forcing them to rout off of the board. My indians and trappers returned fire, killing several of the sharpshooters and forcing them to rout.
The woods are clear!
At the same time, the British regulars came out of their building and set up in the field near the second building. I sent my trappers to keep them busy while the indians set fire to building number one. We exchanged some fire, and while there were light casualties, everyone kept their nerve.

Some of my indians snuck into a good spot behind some trees, exchanging shots with the British indians. We got the better of them, and they fled behind the building. Then the regulars switched targets from the trappers to the indians, unloading a massive volley that killed them all! Ouch!

I decided to take a chance, and ran my second group up to the second building out of sight of the regulars. At that point, the turn ended. My indians were ready to burn the building. His indians were ready to shoot mine. The regulars and the trappers faced each other in the field, both loaded an ready to go. The fate of the game would be determined by which group got the first activation...

An then the game ended! Part of the mission is that it has a chance to end early, which forces the raiding player to be aggressive. In this case, that's what happened. Neither of us completed our main objectives, but I was able to complete my sub-plot. My sub-plot as "romance", so my officer was busy hooking up in the woods while we were trying to raid the village! Rank has its privileges...
Everyone has a bead on everyone else!

Game 3: Encounter

This mission was basically a straight up fight. The goal was to destroy or rout 2/3 of your opponent's force. In this mission, my opponent had two large groups. One group consisted of provincial militia and one group of light troops.
Board layout, pre-setup.
I decided to put the indians in the woods on my left, the militia into the huts in the middle, and swing the trappers into the woods at the top of the map. If everything worked, my opponent would be stuck in a small area and I'd be able to fire on him from three sides.

Things mostly worked as planned, although my guys couldn't hit the broadside of a barn. He worked his way over a snowbank to take pot shots at the indians.
The British leader taunts us!
The indians forced them back through shooting, then charged over the snowbank to fight them in hand to hand combat! We got the better of them, killing four or five guys and forcing them to retreat. The provincials got the next two activations, however, so they were able to move up and shoot. One indian group was totally destroyed while the other miraculously survived. The hunters peppered the now exposed militia, but wasn't able to do anything. The game ended at that point, resulting in another draw.

Overall, I had a ton of fun. The game is pretty faced paced, and both sides wait to see who will activate next. There seemed to be a lot of draws, but everyone was learning the system, so we tended to take a bit longer than usual. By the end of the event, we were actually moving pretty well. If only my guys could shoot strait!

Thanks a lot to Tom Keegan for running the event and Architects of War and Loyalhanna Outpost for sponsoring it. I can't wait to play again!


Unknown said...

Nice...a break from Panzergrenediers and dues with nasty machine guns...I like the lots of movement going on and uncertainty in activation...Mondo

Kevin Serafini said...

Yes. The activation system makes the game really exciting. Do you take a chance and run your guys across the open area? Or do you try to shoot and force the opponent to fall back? Very interesting decisions.

Anonymous said...

Notice that Bold British Officer standing on top of the snowbank!!!. It was a well played game, and the British weren't very good shots either.

Looking forward to a rematch.


Kevin Serafini said...

Haha, right! At the time, I wasn't quite sure why he was there. Now he has the photographic evidence to prove his boldness! :)

Tom Keegan said...

I nominated your blog for the Liebster Award. You can check it out on my blog.