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"Refighting Guilford Courthouse" Topic


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18th Century

984 hits since 1 Mar 2019
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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historygamer Supporting Member of TMP01 Mar 2019 9:15 a.m. PST

So we are getting ready to put on two games of GCH at Cold Wars.

We did a play test, and along with previous tests, sometimes find that the first line of Americans (militia/levies) make too much of a fight of it. Green's orders to were to fire two shots and fall back, not make a stand at the fence fighting veteran regulars.

The woods behind the fence were scrub, late winter/early fall – meaning no leaves on the trees. It had to be a very depressing looking place to fight over.

The fight on the Crown right was hard fought and drew off two regiments – von Bose and the 1st Guards. This fight involved Lee and his command (cavalry in skirmish order, Lights, riflemen and some Continental regulars – Lee's Legion foot troops). A significant command, with perhaps remnants of the retreating first line of militia mixed in as well. Von Bose and the 1st Guards were relieved by an attack of Tarleton and the BL – also apparently in a loose formation as they were riding through woods – no easy thing for cavalry to do.

Curious to hear about others who have put on this game and their results/special rules, etc.

Winston Smith01 Mar 2019 10:22 a.m. PST

I used to run Guilford Courthouse every time I wanted to try out a new set of rules. This was mainly to see how the varied quality and unit size is handled.

The problem is, like you say, that sometimes the front line puts up too good a fight.
I remember one game where the front line actually routed the Highlanders and von Bose. Age of Reason rules, I think.
If the first line doesn't collapse as planned, the second and third lines start getting ideas of moving up to join in on the fun. Then it's not GCH anymore. grin That is, if you want to reenact the exact battle, rather than run a game.

bruntonboy01 Mar 2019 12:27 p.m. PST

GCH is our game at Albannich 2019 in Dumfries next Saturday (9th) if anyone fancies taking a look. Using Black Powder v.2 we ran a trial last weekend with the British winning eventually after a hard fight- agree with the first line defenders. ours put up far more of a fight than their historical forbears did, OTOH some of the second and third line made up for it by doing very little.

historygamer Supporting Member of TMP01 Mar 2019 12:41 p.m. PST

Some of the heaviest fighting took place between Lee's command on the American left flank, and von Bose and the 1st Guards. You have to get a good OOB to see what all Lee had fighting on that flank and why it tied up two Crown units, eventually kind of drawing them off out of the main fight. I haven't seen that much in recreated games as they tend to give short shrift to the commands of Lee and Washington (not that one) on the far flanks.

FlyXwire01 Mar 2019 1:15 p.m. PST

HG, it sounds like you've taken care to get things as close as can be arrange for the game so just let the results fall where they may.

If you're wanting to put on a demonstration game, then fix the results to get the outcome you desire.

As the Americans could have won Guilford along the main line, and had drawn the Royalist into unproductive flank fighting, even consider the initial militia results which might/have occurred (why "fix" this), and therefore, require the British players [or Americans] to adapt to the battle as it unfolds on the table.

That's wargaming, eh? (you're sounding like a re-enactor) ;) :)))

23rdFusilier Supporting Member of TMP01 Mar 2019 2:02 p.m. PST

You bring up some excellent points about the Battle. I have never seen any gamer move Lee's forces off like happened during the battle. Possibly due to table size restrictions. That said Greene was not going to sacrifice his continental line. Once the 2nd Maryland routed he ordered the withdrawal of the rest of the third line. Few gamers would do that.

My last refights, due to table size and wanting to represent the British not knowing what was out there was a little different. I set up the first line only on the table. Once the British routed it I had everyone take a 10 minutebreak. During that time I took away the first line and set up the second line. To say the British were surprised is an understatement. Once the broke the second line I called for another break. All the British players said was , "no not again. "

FlyXwire01 Mar 2019 2:54 p.m. PST

What a great way to set up some psychological battle friction!

Frankly, I can't push my game group that heavily anymore. You would think with time and experience we get tougher but very often the stress just brings on premonitions of dread! :)))

historygamer Supporting Member of TMP01 Mar 2019 5:35 p.m. PST

No, I'm not looking to force a historic outcome. I just don't want to see the first line of militia become the Grenadier Guards. Greene was clear about firing two shots before retreating.

Just curious as to other's experience with this oft played game.

Old Contemptibles Supporting Member of TMP01 Mar 2019 6:58 p.m. PST

Here is my GC. I did it once at a convention. I had to shrink the battlefield for the convention. I don't know if I did it right but everyone had a good time. Please excuse the British head gear and the Betsy Ross flags. Yes I know the British didn't have flags but mine do. Flicker links:

link

link

Old Contemptibles Supporting Member of TMP01 Mar 2019 7:04 p.m. PST

I had someone who was not playing in my convention complain that I shouldn't have the last line of Americans hidden until the British see them. I think they stay hidden, players get surprised. Which is surprising to me. I also do it so the British players don't lose heart and give up.

So here is my question for everyone.

How do you or would do for your GC game, hidden or not?

Old Contemptibles Supporting Member of TMP01 Mar 2019 7:10 p.m. PST

First time I ran game for my club I ran the Americans myself so i did retire whether I needed to or not. At the convention surprisingly the Americans fell back on their own.

Personal logo Der Alte Fritz Sponsoring Member of TMP01 Mar 2019 8:22 p.m. PST

Perhaps you should force the first militia line to fall back after 2 to 3 turns of fire

(of course, if you were using my Fife & Drum rules, then the British, with bayonets, would see a clump of militia without bayonets and charge them)

mikec260 Supporting Member of TMP01 Mar 2019 8:42 p.m. PST

I have run it several times in 28mm. First time the first line fires their morale drops (militia realizing bayonets coming closer). At the second shot they only fire at 75% and then their morale tanks for one turn. Then they need a miracle to stand. Once in the woods and near second line it improves a little so they can fire, but they stay at 75% at best to fire. This all represents the numbers of men falling back to the rear or separated from leaders. They can improve with Lee's troops support, etc.

historygamer Supporting Member of TMP02 Mar 2019 7:08 a.m. PST

Apologies if you don't have FB:

link

This was our test game.

DisasterWargamer Supporting Member of TMP02 Mar 2019 7:28 a.m. PST

I use a victory condition that if they stay longer than ordered they lose points

Do out any other restrictions on

Glenn Pearce02 Mar 2019 9:32 a.m. PST

Scripted games (this happens at such and such time etc.) don't seem to be very popular in my circle anymore. The vast majority seem to enjoy games where they can control as much as possible. That often entails having their own "council of war" that can include army deployment etc. It seems to embellish that feeling that they can do better then what happened historically. It also seems to raise the enjoyment bar significantly.

So the rules I wrote "Ruse de Guerre" includes the battle of GC, but only gives a brief outline of the battle. Players/Scenario designers are free to do whatever they want to make the game even more exciting.

Our group has played the game/battle of GC a number of times. Most times the results were reasonably historical. The games that were the most fun, laughs, etc., however, were those games where the results were unhistorical.

So if your intention is to strictly replay GC then you need to tighten up your rules to properly reflect the historical timeline. If your intention is to maximize the enjoyment of the players then I think you need to loosen up the rules/timeline to let the players do their own thing.

Bill N02 Mar 2019 9:39 a.m. PST

Perhaps you should force the first militia line to fall back after 2 to 3 turns of fire

That is one option. However it ignores the possibility that the militia's indiscipline might result in them fighting longer as well as fighting shorter than intended. It also fails to take into consideration what the British are doing. If the British pull up and engage in a fire fight, why should the militia withdraw?

(of course, if you were using my Fife & Drum rules, then the British, with bayonets, would see a clump of militia without bayonets and charge them) <q/>

That tactic had resulted in British and Loyalist units getting their noses bloodied at times. Sometimes an unsupported charge is what the militia was banking on. Sometimes the troops charged were not the raw militia the British commander thought they were.

Winston Smith02 Mar 2019 11:29 a.m. PST

Perhaps it's best not to tell the Lads, "Hey! We're doing Guilford Courthouse tonight!"
Anyone familiar with the AWI knows all about this battle (well, maybe not…) and the British player would be prepared for the 2nd and 3rd lines.
Of course, he looks at his OOB and sees von Bose, Highlanders, 2 battalions of Guards, he can put 2+2=3.1415
I've gotten away from doing EXACTLY the battle due to table limitations etc.
Except when I don't.
I like it better when I can wing things a little bit when I don't know all I need to know about a battle and can improvise.
If you're going to do Camden or Cowpens, they're too well known. But I had a blast with Moore's Creek Bridge. 50% guesswork, 50% improvisation, 75% faithful to what might have happened… I could make up scenario specific rules to my heart's content.

historygamer Supporting Member of TMP02 Mar 2019 1:19 p.m. PST

So if it's a convention game, you have to register it as something. In fact, you might want people to know the game by name. Even better if people can walk to it and know what battle it is right away. At least in my book. :-)

But there are hazards of running refights of historical battles, to be sure.

I can't think of an example where militia (I'd rate the minutemen higher than militia, and the Brits troops were pretty trained, but green) stood up to formed regulars during the war, at least without being covered by works.

I think Greene was specific – two rounds and then you can go.

Old Contemptibles Supporting Member of TMP02 Mar 2019 3:49 p.m. PST

So if your intention is to strictly replay GC then you need to tighten up your rules to properly reflect the historical timeline. If your intention is to maximize the enjoyment of the players then I think you need to loosen up the rules/timeline to let the players do their own thing.

Why do you assume if the game follows what happen in the actual battle, then you are not maximizing the enjoyment of the players? They are not mutually exclusive.

GC is one of those battles that the GM has to be careful when planning it. It may take a few games to get the balance right. Then again the human factor is difficult to plan for. But overall when someone signs up for my GC game I want to make sure that is what they get. This stills leaves plenty of space for players to try out their own strategy within the context of the original battle.

The problem I run into doing this battle is the last line of Continentals. Those players have to stand around waiting for the British. This is especially problematic at conventions. I have a few ways of dealing with it.

In order to avoid this you can give each American player two commands. One in the early lines and one in the last American line. The GM could run the last line (problematic in a convention game) or you can just allow the Americans if they want to bring the last line forward and let them join the fight. Then are you still doing GC? Does it matter? I tend to go with the two command solution.

In most of my games, I present the historical setup and have a briefing and then let them go at it. Maybe they have a better approach to the battle than the commanders in the actual battle.

But GC is one of those rare games that can go south quickly. If you don't have some control as to what is happening. Maybe it is the Historian in me to want to do that. I want to maximize their enjoyment and at the same time teach a little history.

Old Contemptibles Supporting Member of TMP02 Mar 2019 4:24 p.m. PST

I used to worry about players being too familiar with the battle. But it has been my experience that most convention players know nothing of the battle or just in general how it went.

I think if someone took the time to read up on the battle, then whatever advantage that gives that player or side, good for them. If they took the time to do that, then they should get that advantage. Everyone had the same opportunity.

Virginia Tory02 Mar 2019 9:06 p.m. PST

Re: the fight with von Bose and the Guards, Tarleton had to lead the British Legion cavalry to their assistance as they were being chipped to pieces by all those lights and riflemen. Lee's cavalry withdrew at some point--makes sense as they weren't too effective in the woods, but might have given Tarleton some trouble had they stayed there.

We really don't want the game to bog down on GT1 or 2--that's a sure way to see the players lose interest.

Glenn Pearce04 Mar 2019 6:44 a.m. PST

Hello Rallynow!

"Why do you assume if the game follows what happen in the actual battle, then you are not maximizing the enjoyment of the players?"

Great question. It's not so much an assumption. It's more an observation and experience. I'm also not intending to suggest that if the game follows what actually happened that it's any less enjoyable then if it does not.

"GC is one of those battles that the GM has to be careful when planning it. It may take a few games to get the balance right."

If your rules are appropriate, your O/B's, terrain and deployment are reasonable, then any game should be reasonably balanced out of the gate. If, however, you are trying to force players into certain actions or behaviours this can be difficult to achieve, and from my experience can slightly reduce the "fun factor" for some players, while others thrive at the challenges of restraint.

"Then again the human factor is difficult to plan for."

Exactly, if not impossible. Players come into a game with all kinds of different expectations and will react differently to different situations. I have noticed that players simply seem to enjoy games more that have fewer restrictions and simpler rules. Less debates, disputes, controversy and overall more freedom to do their own thing. Most players simply want to have an enjoyable experience. Those that want to experience a blow by blow account to reach the same historical conclusion seem to be rare these days.

"In most of my games, I present the historical setup and have a briefing and then let them go at it. Maybe they have a better approach to the battle than the commanders in the actual battle."

That's exactly how we play most of our games. To add some spice we sometimes let the players deploy their own forces.

"But GC is one of those rare games that can go south quickly. If you don't have some control as to what is happening."

Well that seems to conflict with your "let them go at it". Sounds like you really want to force them to act it out historically and if things aren't going your way you want to be able to reel them in.

"Maybe it is the Historian in me to want to do that."

I think so.

"I want to maximize their enjoyment and at the same time teach a little history. "

I think that's a common goal for a lot of GMs. Your briefing at the start of the game should cover the teaching. To maximize their enjoyment, however, might require a little loosening of your desire to reel them in.

Best regards,

Glenn

Bill N04 Mar 2019 12:48 p.m. PST

Why do you assume if the game follows what happen in the actual battle, then you are not maximizing the enjoyment of the players?

Are they choosing to follow what happens in the actual battle or are they forced to? I understand why some GMs want the game to "follow the script". However if I am required to use my troops the same way as my historical predecessor did, then the GM has removed me from the game.

Whirlwind05 Mar 2019 9:05 a.m. PST

I have actually just had a go at Guildford Court House for the first time: link

I knew the outlines, but it was very interesting having a closer look and then having a go as a game.

Glenn Pearce07 Mar 2019 12:05 p.m. PST

Hello Whirlwind!

Very timely posting and of course game report. It's very rewarding to see how much fun your having playing the scenarios from Ruse de Guerre. It's also great to see how your managing to fit the scenarios to match your collection. As you mentioned it's intended in the design of the rules. Grow or shrink the scenarios to match your collection. I know there is a least one fellow whos group has gone the opposite way. They have a large collection of AWI figures and have blown the games up in size. They are also having a blast playing the rules.

Thanks again for sharing your feedback.

Best regards,

Glenn

23rdFusilier Supporting Member of TMP08 Mar 2019 5:24 a.m. PST

Historygamer, when are you putting on your game at Cold Wars? If you do not mind I would like to stop by to see it.

historygamer Supporting Member of TMP08 Mar 2019 7:13 a.m. PST

7pm Friday and Saturday nights. My guess is in the Distlefink.

I always feel rushed setting up. It took me two hours to set up the Germantown games. It's like my nightmare not getting set up on time and everyone is waiting. I actually have had that nightmare about re-enactments. I'm getting dressed and the army is standing and waiting for me.

A year ago the troops were forming and as I was putting on my boots and somehow I managed to slice open my arm with my knee buckle. I told my 2-i-C to move them out as I had to get it bandaged and I'd meet them out on the field. Ah, the anxiety. I wonder if Howe ever had that feeling? LoL

23rdFusilier Supporting Member of TMP08 Mar 2019 8:42 a.m. PST

I am looking forward to seeing it. Based on your thoughtful and intelligent posts here it should be brilliant.

And yes, I always had those feelings setting up a game or before a reenactment (although those were too many years ago).

And get the feeling Howe was always a little distracted :)

Winston Smith08 Mar 2019 8:45 a.m. PST

Howe wasn't delayed by a belt buckle.
He was delayed by Mrs Loring. evil grin

historygamer Supporting Member of TMP08 Mar 2019 9:06 a.m. PST

I haven't seen her at events lately. LoL

Brilliant? Yikes. Set expectations low, then hope to exceed them.

For me, the "stars" of this game are the trees and forest. They are the terrain pieces that stand out. I just got in some new pine trees I'll have to try and mount over the next couple of days. I was not happy with the pines I had as they were too light green for my taste.

I'll also be sprinkling a good bit of ground clutter that I did not do at the test tame. Got some bags of stuff for dead leaves. Forest floors are covered by the darned things.

Virginia Tory08 Mar 2019 10:15 p.m. PST

Sounds like fun!

23rdFusilier Supporting Member of TMP09 Mar 2019 5:21 a.m. PST

That is one of the things that spiked my interest in your game. It sounds like the details you are putting into your terrain are brilliant. It should look like Guilford Courthouse.

historygamer Supporting Member of TMP09 Mar 2019 2:20 p.m. PST

I hope so. That's my goal.

I also made fields to the shape of the period maps too.

Virginia Tory09 Mar 2019 8:17 p.m. PST

Needless to say there were many readings and re-readings of various parts of Long, Obstinate and Bloody (among others).

historygamer Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2019 12:42 p.m. PST

Linking to some pix that 23rd took of my Friday night game.

https://bravefusiliers.blogspot.com

FlyXwire18 Mar 2019 4:56 p.m. PST

HG, is this it? (if so, looks good!)

historygamer Supporting Member of TMP18 Mar 2019 5:46 p.m. PST

Yes, that is it. :-)

That was the Friday night game – first line.

Old Contemptibles Supporting Member of TMP19 Mar 2019 3:22 p.m. PST

Nice looking game. Learned something new. Camden wasn't the largest battle in the Southern Campaign. Bigger than Eutaw Springs.

historygamer Supporting Member of TMP20 Mar 2019 5:44 a.m. PST

? Do you mean "was" the biggest battle?

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