I've never seen Squadron Strike in action, so I was particularly looking forward to my first scheduled game of the convention:
Die Rebel Scum
Game Master: Ken Burnside * 6 Players
We strap you into an X Wing and let you fly against a horde of TIE fighters to learn Squadron Strike with very simple weapons and very simple ships.
This is your chance to learn Squadron Strike from the game's designer! Beginners strongly encouraged.
But alas! When I arrived at the spot, there was a sign explaining that Ken Burnside had canceled. (Hope you're OK, Ken!)
Dashing back to the convention desk, I scored an event ticket for:
Noailles on the Noguera
Volley And Bayonet, with Mods
Game Master: Robert Mulligan * 7 Players
It is 1711. and a French Army has crossed into Spain to help King Felipe Vth drive out the British, Dutch and Austrians and their Pretender to the Spanish throne. In the narrow valley of the Rio Noguera, Noailles unexpectedly meets the Confederate army waiting for him. Plenty of troops, plenty of dice, plenty of bloodshed, not much room to maneuver. Beginners encouraged.
I had played in a previous game of Bob Mulligan's (a Seven Years War skirmish), and knew what he was aiming for: a game of action and bloodshed, not quiet maneuvering or an intellectual ballet.
Consequently, Bob was using a "streamlined" version of Volley & Bayonet to speed up play (no exhaustion rules, for instance). There were a few special rules: the Dutch and French had battalion guns, the Dutch received a one-die bonus on first fire, and the Austrian infantry received a one-die melee bonus for having dense formations.
By luck of where I sat down, I was deemed the Austrian commander (with another player commanding my Dutch allies); three players split the French/Spanish forces.
In the photo above, the "near" forces are the Austrian/Dutch. My command comprised the units on the red and yellow cards; the left side (around the village) belonged to my Dutch partner. There was a hill to our right, an olive grove (light woods) in front of us, and the French/Spanish forces outnumbered us and were advancing.
As the situation seemed to call for a stout defense, we chose to form up our lines and await the French attack. The Dutch cavalry (in advance on the left flank) doubled back to the rear. We chose not to advance into the olive groves.
On their right flank, the French problem was too many units and not enough space to deploy them, so it took them several turns to organize their assault on the Dutch lines....
...giving my ally time to complete the relocation of his cavalry:
On the other flank, the Spanish and French cavalry swept out to take the hill which looked down on the Austrian flank. This caused me to make an unusual move...
...breaking my line (yes, I know, this is supposed to be the age of linear warfare...) to advance a unit at the end of the olive grove, thinking that its presence would make the opposing cavalry think twice about charging.
So the cavalry instead charged my exposed unit! Fortunately, despite the dire consequences of being unsupported on the flanks, my excellent dice rolling repelled the enemy. But then, before I could retire the unit to safety, the cavalry was able to recover and make a second charge - and this time my infantry fled.
(That's my fleeing infantry at bottom left, and my fleeing cavalry at bottom right.)
(I should note that we had some confusion over the Sequence of Play in the early turns of the game, which I believe led to the Austrian/Dutch side missing a few opportunities to move and fire...)
Meanwhile, the French continued to close with the Dutch:
I tried to reform my first brigade line of infantry, but the enemy infantry were too quick through the olive groves - while my cavalry continued to lose their fight...
But then my luck changed! I rallied some of my cavalry, and they won their fights and repelled the enemy cavalry!
Thinking to finish off the enemy cavalry on my side of the table, I then charged with the Austrian cavalry... and the dice gods deserted me, and my cavalry were blown apart.
Meanwhile, my infantry were in perilous straits... (mine have the yellow bases)...
But with some really lucky dice-rolling, I was able to repel the Spanish first line, and bring my second brigade line forward. Whew! (But note that ominous artillery battery at the top of the photo...)
On the other side of the table... the French have ripped a hole in the center of the Dutch line, partially due to the grand battery they have painfully advanced.
But the end is now close at hand! With my cavalry in tatters, I form up my remaining cavalry and remnants of my first brigade line to face the right flank - which the Spanish charge!
Simultaneously, the Spanish second-line troops assault my second-line troops! (Incidentally, the second-line Spanish are their best troops; my second-line Austrians are my worst troops...)
It didn't help that the Spanish player now rolled many 6s...
And the Austrians were gone!
So the game was declared a French/Spanish victory, despite the stubborn resistance of the Dutch.
I really bumbled this game, and it would have been much worse except for some stellar dice-rolling. (I suppose it all evened out - units that should have died, didn't; and units that shouldn't have died, did!)
I was determined to do better in my next game.