Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Ben Franklin's War
With Historicon 2012 rapidly approaching, I thought I would look back at the games I ran at the HMGS Conventions in 2011 called "Ben Franklin's War." It was Weird American Revolution. The underlying concept was that the British technology was based on steam while the Americans, relying on Dr. Franklin's ideas, used electricity and harmonics as the basis for their technology. The French provided not-so-covert aid to the rebels from their Mongolfier balloon corps.
The game itself was basically the Battle(s) of Freeman's Farm but with weird science elements and, in the case of the British Indian Allies, some supernatural elements like Wendigos.
I called it the Battle of Dudgeon's Farm or the Battle of Websterbridge, taken from Shaw's delightful play about Burgoyne, The Devil's Disciple. I highly recommend the movie version with Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas with Laurence Olivier as Burgoyne.
I ran the game at both Cold Wars and Historicon. At Cold Wars, I ran it using Battles by GASLIGHT while at Historicon I used Astouding Tales/All God's Children Got Guns. The reason for the change in rules was simply because it was a large game and as a lone GM, it was easier to run as a convention game. I thought both rules sets provided a good game with the main difference being that the vehicles were a bit more resilient in GASLIGHT.
In both instances, the game played out similarly and ended in American victories. The initiative was primarily with the British who had to break through a line of fortified American positions to win. The British left flank, composed of Hessians supported by a RN landship was most successful.
The British right flank, made up of grenadiers, Tories, and Indians had to deal with a flank attack by American riflemen and light troops led by the foreign volunteer, Prince Leopold of Ruritania ("Weopowd for Wibewty!") supported by the Royal Ruritanian Philharmonic Harmonic Gun. In both games, the rebels had the better of this fight. At Cold Wars, Leopold even managed to wipe out two artillery batteries single-handed.
Interstingly, in both games, the player controlling the British center proved very cautious and the bulk of British regulars barely got into action other than repelling suicidal charges led by Benedict Arnold, who went down in history as a great American hero and martyr.
Here's some additional special vehicles/weapons
British Steam Wagon
The Omni-directional Lightening Rod
The Orchestra Pit of the Harmonic Gun
There's some additional pictures, taken by a much better photographer, to be found at: