The Forests of North Gondal, 1870. A stranded wagon, its wheel off and axle broken. Awaiting rescue and surrounded, the small group of defenders listen to their Captain.
Captain Snortt of the Yestershires is busy briefing his Redcoats, drawing lines in the surface of the Forest Road with his swordpoint.
The Forest Road is a glorified name for a track to the Forest Fort and old Trading Post Fort MacGuffin to the North. Its edges were cleared of timber to make the Fort itself and also make it easier to spot an ambush.
Invading and clearing their sacred forests and hunting grounds had caused tension with the usually peaceful Forest Indians who over the years had traded and stolen many Redcoat muskets and rifles.
Snortt: “We can expect reinforcements to march from the Fort to the North here, unless Ambushed en route. Forest Indians may well appear from here and here to the East, as well as travelling in from the West. We will keep a sentry posted in cover at each point of the compass.”
Snortt: “On first sight of the enemy, fire when you sight them. Whilst it will reveal your location, we need to keep them at a distance and away from accurately counting our numbers. We need to keep them at long range and stop them from closing in too quickly. They will be sounding us out. We need to give them an idea that we have troops all around the perimeter.”
“Only when they are too close and you are likely to be surrounded, may you fall back towards the wagon using what cover you can.”
Snortt: “Meanwhile, Private Fuller and you Miss MacGuffin will remain with the wagon and try to fix the axle and wheel whilst we wait for the repair team and reinforcements from the fort. Miss MacGuffin has also volunteered along with myself to make sure you have enough ammunition.”
“We also have taken off the Wagon two small barrels of gunpowder supplied for the Fort’s cannons that we can explode if we need.”
“Good luck, Men. To your posts. You too, Miss MacGuffin.”
Snortt saluted Major MacGuffin’s daughter and hurried off to post his few men at compass points around the Wagon.
Thus began the desperate situation of the Yestershire Regiment’s daily supply column to Fort MacGuffin, broken down with a damaged wheel and axle, stranded at the plank bridge. The Forest Indian Drums have been heard and glimpses of movement amongst the trees.
Addressing his Braves and Hunting Parties – Forest Indian Chief Old Wooden Legs
A big 54mm game in a small space.
Post 2: The Skirmish
Forest Indian Chief Old Wooden Legs spoke to his assembled braves, now arriving in the grove, from hunting parties across their forest.
Translation of Old Wooden Legs’ words: “I will split you into three groups, one to travel north and circle round to delay any reinforcements and appear to the North and the West side.
“The other two hunting parties will split up and approach through the trees and stream valley to their East.”
“We will raid their supplies, take civilian hostages to barter with the Redcoats and make the Forest Fort Warriors fearful of their supply wagons being attacked again.”
“They rely too much on their slow beast of two wheels, rather than hunting the swift beasts on four legs. The Redcoats are foolish and have not learned to live off the land as we can without destroying it.”
“When they see we can strike without warning and melt away again into the trees like spirits of the mist, maybe then they will become fearful and wise enough to leave our Forests in peace and return to their own places.”
“To your places and may the hunting go well with you!”
The Forest Indians disappeared back into the forest.
Pre-dice roll depositions
2xD6 thrown to decide when the Forest Fort reinforcements will arrive from the North forest road. On Turn 6, Snortt’s reinforcements will arrive on foot at the northern baseline at 4A.
The Forest Indians do not know how many soldiers there are with the wagon or how many will be sent to rescue them.
Snortt did not send the Major’s daughter back to the safety of the Fort on horseback as he did not know if his rider will got through with the message until he hears two of the Forest Fort guns fired in recognition. The Forest Indians will also have heard this sound echoing down the valley.
The Relief Party is setting out on foot. There is a shortage of horses and pack animals in general in Gondal in 1870 due to the ‘Tropical Yorkshire’ North Pacific climate and the horse sickness, horses not being native to the island or the four kingdoms of Gondal. The Forest Indians have become adept at stealing and hiding those horses that are imported and bred.
D6 are thrown for letter and number coordinates on the map
Forest Indian Hunting Party 1 starts out from map point D1 on Turn 1.
Hunting Party 2 from map point D4, starting out on Turn 6.
Hunting Party 3 from map point 4C starting out on Turn 10.
Wheel takes 1xd6 turns to repair once the Engineer arrives, in this case six turns.
D6 to decide if the Redcoat Relief Party appearing at Turn 6 is in one or two groups and how many turns apart. D6 1,3, 5 Apart or d6 2,4,6 Together. Dice roll says – They will arrive together.
Close Little Wars Rules tweak 1
Playing on a small corner table 2 foot by 4 foot meant that the generous Wells and Featherstone movement rates of 9 to 12 inches were too big and the game would come to blows too fast. This is stealthy forest movement in cluttered terrain of logs and hills, marsh and swamp. I simply cut movement rates and terrain modifiers in half but kept all weapons ranges the same. The effect is of halving each turn into two turns to reflect short skirmish times.
Going up hills, across streams and marshes really does cut into rapid movement.
Firing from cover or sometimes blindly at cover in confined spaces and cluttered terrain of Bold Frontiers trees, hills and streams requires the dice modifiers of casualty savings throws and extras for cover or no cover. Bullets and arrows get blocked by trees and rocks.
If firer is undercover and target in open, 5 or 6 scores a hit.
Casualty Savings Throws if hit
4, 5,6 – slightly / not wounded, carries on
3, 4, 5, 6 – If target undercover, slightly / not wounded, carries on.
Turn 1 and Turn 2
Close Wars rules. IGOYUGO. Dice thrown for A who moves first, sort out melee, B who moves second, sort out melee, A shoots first, B shoots second. End of Turn.
Redcoats assume their compass positions in cover around the wagon as centre. Sentries at N, NW, E, SE, S, SW and W.
Forest Indian Hunting Party move off from D1 towards wooded hill at B1 /C1.
No shooting – none within range.
First firing by Redcoat sentries to East of wagon – several hits on Forest Indians along the stream bed B3/C3. One killed, others saved by casualty savings throws.
Further exchanges of fire between both sides sees another Forest Indian killed by the stream.
Both parts of Hunting Party 1 are now moving in from the stream bed and downhill from the wooded hill, firing on the Redcoat sentries at E and SE positions. The Redcoat sentry at East by the stream is killed. Third Indian in the stream bed area is killed by Redcoat fire.
However three Forest Indians are closing in on the wagon, close to sentry posts around the E and SE positions.
Aware of the risk, Captain Snortt and Miss MacGuffin draw rifles from the wagon and stand behind it, ready to see off any marauding Forest Indians from raiding the supplies and taking Miss MacGuffin hostage.
Relief party of the Yestershires sighted in the distance on the road coming up the hill.
However the immediate threat remains the three Forest Indians getting close to the wagon. Two Indians engage the Redcoat sentry at SE (the Redcoat with the turban) in Melee.
Point markers for duelling from the old Heroscape Game.
Redcoat sentries to the southeast engage in hand to hand duelling with rifles and bayonets. Three life points given to each, attacker is the Indian. Card each detailing at random which blows and blocking blows are dealt are hit points removed. The Redcoat Sentry at SE sees off first one Indian, then the second Indian closes in.
Melee Duel 2 – cards reset, melee begins and one of the random cards sees the second Forest Indian retreat, his weapon broken.
Over the next few turns, the retreating Indian heads back up the wooded hill for safety to join Chief Old Wooden Legs, where he looks to pick up a spare musket or rifle from one of his fallen comrades.
The sentry due south on the road rushes over to cover the fallen E. sentry and is brought down by the Indian archer.
However Captain Snortt and Miss MacGuffin steady their rifles from behind the wagon and aim at the archer. He is brought down by Captain Snortt’s first shot, removing the nearest threat to the wagon and its defenders.
The Redcoat Relief Party of the Yestershires passes the Fallen Tree across the road. The black helmeted section spread out into the trees, whilst the white helmeted section head up the road to surround the wagon. Amongst them you can glimpse the Fort Engineer in his bush hat, ready to fix the wagon axle and wheel over the next six turns.
The Forest Indian Hunting Party 2, who set off at Turn 6, continue up the stream valley closer into range. They are now outnumbered by the Relief Party.
The Forest Indian Hunting Party 2 in the stream bed fire at the Redcoat sentries at long range but fail to kill one. Fire is returned and two further Indians are brought down.
The chief Old Wooden Legs notices that his forces are now down close to half strength, even with the third Hunting Party due to appear at Turn 10. Should he call them and recall them to fight another day?
A further exchange of fire between the remaining Indians on the Stream valley, including a Redcoat grenade being thrown. There was one further Indian dead, with no further Redcoat casualties, once casualty savings throws and being undercover taken into consideration.
The Redcoat Relief Party and Fort Engineer cross the bridge and begin work on repairing the wheel.
The Indian Chief calls to the Hunting Party 2 and 3 to retreat as they are now past 50% casualties and outnumbered.
The Redcoats fire upon these retreating Indians in the stream valley and bring down these three Indian. The battle is over – for now.
The shadowy stream valley of death …
Whilst the wagon is repaired, the Redcoat reinforcements keep watch on the trees, quickly bury the native dead and recover the native rifles.
Turn 11 onwards.
The Forest Indians regroup further in the woods. Snortt keeps his sentries posted watching for further attacks.
Will there be another attack from different directions?
Snortt keeps his troops quiet and watchful. It’s not over yet until they reach the Fort.
He thinks – There are no signal drums.
The forest sounds of trees and birdsong return amongst the sound of the wheel and axle being fixed.
They know we are still stranded. The Forest Indians will be watching and listening. The Forest is always full of eyes and ears.
Will they face further ambush and sniping on the road ahead?
The Chief recalls his remaining Warriors. They will return to retrieve their dead warriors after dark.
Later that evening
Back at Fort MacGuffin as he writes his report by oil lamp for Headquarters, Snortt reflects on the day and how things went.
From this – the stranded wagon and brave cool Miss MacGuffin …
Captain Snortt and the Major’s daughter Miss MacGuffin as ASC Private Fuller helps the Fort Engineer mend the wheel
To this – Relief or Rescue – and the wagon fixed, his young passenger safe with only two privates dead. Things could have been very different.
Miss Macguffin’s secret weapon … whilst her Guard dog Patch hopes Snortt has biscuits or a ball.
A Captain may dream of promotion – and other things …
I have a feeling we have not heard the end of Captain Snortt of the Yestershires, Miss MacGuffin and the aggrieved Forest Indians of Gondal led by Chief Old Wooden Legs.
The Forest returns to quietness and wild animals – for now.
Eagle-eyed readers may have spotted that I have painted in the top of the shorter flat tree markers with green and white Acrylic paint, as they show when photographed from above.
Close Little Wars Scenario Post-mortem – initial thoughts
Playing solo, I had to work hard not to have favourites. I wanted both sides to succeed in their aims. If in doubt, a dice decided.
The opening turns for the Redcoats were those of stand and wait in cover until first contact and melee, but playing as solo player and umpire, I had to assume for the storyline that the Redcoats could be attacked from any angle and Snortt could not weaken any one side.
The presence of the delayed third Hunting Party who could loopin at the top North and attack from the NW or NE or engage the Relief column had to be borne in mind by Snortt.
Had the outcome of the dice throw for the arrival of the Relief Party been different, say for example Turn 6 plus 1d6, the game could have had a very different outcome.
Firing through cover and related savings throws had a big influence on the events. Strength of numbers and some lucky dice throws (or excellent shooting) made things easier for the Redcoats.
Melee – Duelling by cards – made it feel in places like a skirmish game.
I wish I had taken time to name the initial Redcoats and Forest Indian Hunting Parties, instead of talking about the SE or NW Sentry.
The lumps and bumps of the cluttered terrain of Bold Frontiers trees, book hills and felt streams (with attendant movement modifiers) works well for me. It slows down movement as it would in real life and provides a longer lasting target for concealed riflemen.
Judging Line of Sight (LOS) from the character’s eyeline in cluttered forest was tricky. I used a small mirror from a Christmas cracker to help me see what they could see.
Using a 12 inch ruler in cluttered forest terrain was tricky at times. A ruler half that size would help.
50% loss of strength as part of the Victory Conditions governed the retreat by Forest Indians.
An enjoyable and fulfilling solo skirmish game ImagiNations scenario of which I feel we have not heard the end.
I hope you have enjoyed the game, the terrain and the build up. I look forward to hearing reader’s thoughts and reflections.