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Commands & Colors Tricorne: The American Revolution» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Bulletswept Cowpens rss

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Andy Daglish
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Dr. Ellis came over and we played both ways round, with me trying to reverse history from the off.

In both games the 3lbers lost a block in the opening cannonade/fusillade, and this may be mildly significant due to the loss of the full-strength die. Retiring the Revolutionary rifles afterwards is fairly obvious as this allows their whole command to form a multi-limb line of sorts, whereas the light cannon may as well stay where they start.

The scenario's main problem is crossing open ground in the face of a lot of dice. The enemy get a flag every time they play a Scout card, so the British have to move forward as fast as they can. Unfortunately for the British they only move one hex a card, which isn't fast enough. Thus the rebels will attempt to place leaders with all three rifle units for that extra die, out to four hexes, which probably makes the the most powerful units in the whole system. The British lights on the right can move two hexes, and as such they represent their side's best chance, along with the nearby cavalry. The Highlanders represent the British reserve, and these have to attach to the forward line so they can move with it. Perhaps the regulars on the British left can run sideways for the forest hexes, and use their cover to get forward along the mapedge.

I decided to use the road to move the central units toward the defenders, but this split up the British as their foes were assembling a line. They finally volleyed en masse from the hill hexline. After this Tarleton's command had sustained too many hits, and it was fairly clear they could not prevail, despite a few provincials and militia running away.

The second game saw the British lights move forward quickly whilst the rest tried to form a line with bullets whistling past their ears. My rebel line formed just forward of the hill hexes, so the regulars at least could retreat onto it. British regulars on the road and the lights used their speed to converge on militia commander Colonel Pickens, and here both sides lost units, which included a rifle. The Continental line joined the melee, and they eventually overwhelmed the few attackers. Meanwhile the surviving rifles had started to edge forward to keep the distant British line under heavier fire. Multi-hex retreats then broke up both lines, and again it was clear that after six losses the British had no chance at all.

This scenario seems so unbalanced one must question the playtesting, or the designer if the testers were ignored. A very powerful balancing measure would be to disallow leaders attaching to rifle units. This would make them more vulnerable as well as reducing their extreme lethality, here unimpeded by terrain. Also the Highlanders might start connected to their front line, otherwise I think it unlikely they will see action. In our games the cavalry played a role literally peripheral, made more so by their retreating two spaces off each flag, which is all the more likely as they will rarely if ever have support.

Perhaps this was a good first scenario as the result is predictable, and playing both ways round allows overall victory to be decided by whomsoever loses worst.
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Barry Kendall
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Rough day for the Royal side.

I like your suggestion re no leaders with Rifles, though I'd be inclined to simply limit them in dice rolled, Leader or no. The lower rate of fire for rifles vs muskets would seem to mitigate against such a fire bonus just because there's a Leader with guys who are used to choosing their targets already.

I do think Richard is quite careful about having all scenarios playtested (though the "Battle Cry" `New Hope Church' scenario might argue otherwise-- from the very first game we've called that one "No Hope Church").

I just wish there were more scenarios in the starter box. I know that at one time upwards of twenty were contemplated. They'll likely appear in the supplement featuring the French, heavier artillery, etc.

I hope that same supplement also provides the SYWNA scenarios.
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David Groves
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Very good battle report, Andy. I've been playing the scenarios in order and have got as far as part 1 of Long Island. So far all scenarios seem to give both side a chance to win even though the odds may lay in favour of one side or another. Cowpens seems to be an exception.

All the best
Dave
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Jim Dauphinais
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Barry Kendall wrote:
I do think Richard is quite careful about having all scenarios playtested (though the "Battle Cry" `New Hope Church' scenario might argue otherwise-- from the very first game we've called that one "No Hope Church").


Note that New Hope Church (as modified in the 150th Edition of the game) was the 1st Heat scenario for this year's WBC Tournament for Battle Cry. Moreover, as Joe Harrison demonstrated to me at said tournament, an exceptional Union player can win that scenario (by being very patient and moving on the Confederate left flank). So, I would caution that sometimes a particular scenario needs to be played very carefully in a particular way to be won and it may not be obvious at first. Cowpens may be seriously unbalanced, but it would likely take several playings to conclusively know that is really the case.
 
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Bill Massey
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I think you overrate the rifles and the scout cards.
There are only 3 scout cards in the deck of 60, and the game is to 7 banners. There are 6 command cards that allow units to move more than 1 hex (2 bayonet attack, 1 steal a march, and 3 at the quickstep). There are 2 British combat cards that allow extra movement. (1 British bayonet attack, 1 call forward reinforcements)
The rifles only have one more hex range than other units, and do not hit on sabers. It takes two turns to get a leader to the rifles, and lone leaders are more important (to me) in allowing units adjacent to ignore a flag. As soon as the British advance, they are on equal terms with the rifles firing, and hit on sabers in melee. In addition, moving a unit adjacent to the rifles suppresses their fire as they must melee, with only 2 dice, and without sabers. Your guns can target any of the rifles in the opening cannonade, and only the center rifles are supported, so there is a good chance to flag them back.
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Andy Daglish
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billmassey wrote:
I think you overrate the rifles and the scout cards.
The rifles have very large overlapping fields-of-fire across the battlefront.

Quote:
There are only 3 scout cards in the deck of 60, and the game is to 7 banners.
Its nice to start with a Scout card in hand, indeed its hard to deal a poor 6 & 4 Revolutionary hand.

Quote:
There are 6 command cards that allow units to move more than 1 hex (2 bayonet attack, 1 steal a march, and 3 at the quickstep). There are 2 British combat cards that allow extra movement. (1 British bayonet attack, 1 call forward reinforcements)
The few who move forward must wave bye-bye to their comrades, for it will be adios not au revoir.

Quote:
The rifles only have one more hex range than other units, and do not hit on sabers.
Note how Opening cannonade retire followed by a one-hex advance puts a few unsupported British at four hexes range.

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It takes two turns to get a leader to the rifles,
I did it in one [all centre section], but I've been doing this sort of thing for half a century.

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and lone leaders are more important (to me) in allowing units adjacent to ignore a flag.
but they can be easy flags.

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As soon as the British advance, they are on equal terms with the rifles firing, and hit on sabers in melee.
How many dice will they have sustained by this time? They will be unsupported, so some will be going back and forth in the kill zone for a while. If you start with a few targets and subtract one, you can concentrate on the others. Putting a rifle in the left-hand woods is fun, and it will split the British nicely if they try to go after him.

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In addition, moving a unit adjacent to the rifles suppresses their fire as they must melee, with only 2 dice, and without sabers.
Yes, but its hard to get there with both kneecaps shot off. If they do, Retire & Rally will push the rifles back onto the hill and forest hexes.

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Your guns can target any of the rifles in the opening cannonade, and only the center rifles are supported, so there is a good chance to flag them back.
In the first game, the first rifle took block off the artillery, which then scored a flag on the middle rifle, which allowed it to retreat onto Pickens before it fired, giving three dice at four hexes, though I don't recall this doing anything.

Once the leaders are on the rifles, its not unlikely for all three to get five dice on each of three British units to venture forward, say off a Line Volley. They can vary their range to their best advantage before they fire.
 
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Barry Kendall wrote:
Rough day for the Royal side.

I like your suggestion re no leaders with Rifles, though I'd be inclined to simply limit them in dice rolled, Leader or no. The lower rate of fire for rifles vs muskets would seem to mitigate against such a fire bonus just because there's a Leader with guys who are used to choosing their targets already.

I do think Richard is quite careful about having all scenarios playtested (though the "Battle Cry" `New Hope Church' scenario might argue otherwise-- from the very first game we've called that one "No Hope Church").

I just wish there were more scenarios in the starter box. I know that at one time upwards of twenty were contemplated. They'll likely appear in the supplement featuring the French, heavier artillery, etc.

I hope that same supplement also provides the SYWNA scenarios.


There is always one or two scenarios that are pretty bad, play balance-wise . . . most of the time, though, they are ones that (like New Hope Church, or Raevsky Redoubt) where it makes historical sense. Considering the lopsided historical result, this may be another example, though I would suggest a few more plays are needed before we conclude anything.

Remember, as I among others have pointed out, even in New Hope Church, there are successful strategis for a patient player on the disadvantaged side.
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Richard Borg
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I guess the question becomes, what was the historical outcome of Cowpens? Sometimes a scenario's play balance will take a backseat to a battle's actual historical result.

As the background tag line reads, "The stage is set. The battle lines are drawn and you are in command. The rest is history". History here actually refers to the results and experience of you and your gaming buddy.

Thanks for you report, enjoy!
Richard Borg
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Mark McG
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Whilst I'm all for the historical result, I think you can set the Victory Conditions in such a way as to make scenarios competitive. In essence, if a player is less compehensively beaten than the historical outcome, that could be considered a win.

Far too early for C&C Tricorne scenarios, and Ravesky Redoubt is not a bad scenario, and the French win it 33% of the time out of 39 recorded results on CC.net
https://www.commandsandcolors.net/napoleonics/maps/french-in...

The play it twice, once as each side, and combine the scores is a good method for small scenarios, or bidding for sides for larger scenarios (giving the side not bid for a starting numbr of banners equal to the bid).

 
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Andy Daglish
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richard borg wrote:
I guess the question becomes, what was the historical outcome of Cowpens?


The answer is a large melee, which is less likely to occur if one side is shot flat beforehand.

OK, the setup is the problem and it is defined by firearm range and the two hexes of Retire & Rally, whilst ostensibly maintaining three American lines.

I'd be interested to know the test results.

I'd suggest adhering more firmly to the historical origin: exchange the positions of the Rifles for the Militia. The Militia take part in the opening cannonade. For full historicity, plus a little balance, place the Highlanders in the hexes to the right of Tarleton, and move Washington from the left zone to the corresponding hexes in the right. All one can do is test it. I'm not sure the Scout rule is required here, nice though it is. And the British move first, which is in keeping with the nature of the scenario.
 
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David Groves
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I have reached the dreaded Cowpens and mainly because I'm absent minded at times forgot all about the Scout card rule.

The battle started with some lucky rolls for the Brits and some unlucky rolls for the Continentals. Initially this started to balance things up as the Continental rifles were systematically whittled down to three blocks a piece and the Brits were steadily advancing against the vulnerable rifles and militia.

And then the Continentals played the rally card. With a six card hand they earned enough flags to rally all Rifle units to full strength just as the British regulars and Highlanders were making their final approach to melee. The ensuing volley created Carnage, with a capital C, and that was that.

The Continentals threw in their cavalry (one unit with an attached leader) against the battered British right flank using a cavalry charge card and that was about it. A few turns later and it was all over. The fact that I had used at least one scout card for the Continentals would have ended things sooner but as I say, I forgot.

As a small balancing tweak players could drop the scout card rule and the odds would still be in favour of the Continentals but it would help the Brit side a tad.

Although a disaster for the Brits the battle did do one thing for me; it answered another thread of mine which asked, are the cavalry any use? It seems that provided they are at full strength and accompanied by a leader they can be pretty scary against weak units. But there again, the dice changed in favour of the Continentals this time with their cavalry rolling infantry symbols and flags instead of crossed swords and taking advantage of bonus melee and the British infantry rolling everything but cavalry hits and crossed swords. The dice can be very frustrating.





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Jon Snow
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*Since Cowpens was a small scale battle, I think the cavalry on both sides played a larger part there than it usually did.

 
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