Monday, July 24, 2017

Historicon 2017: Ben Franklin's War

The other game we ran at Historicon was Ben Franklin's War: The War Moves South.  This is a weird science/clockwork punk/whatever take on the American Revolution.  I had done a similar game a few years ago, based roughly on the Battle of Saratoga.  This was sort of a sequel, based even more roughly on the Siege of Yorktown.  I had a couple of reasons for this, it allowed using French forces and could be a combined land and sea battle.

This was by far the physically biggest game we've ever run, using a table about 20' b 6'.

My concept for these games is that the Scientific Revolution began with Leonardo da Vinci and Sir Isaac Newton did not reject alchemy.  Coupled with the earlier introduction of steam power in Britain, these elements led to late 18th century warfare containing a lot of weird science elements.

The British have steam-based technology refined by James Watt while the Americans use electricity and harmonics invented by Ben Franklin.  The French have a technology based on chemical/alchemical principles developed by Antoine Lavoisier.  These later included chemically induced genetic mutations as well as poison gas.  The former was represented by the impressive-looking char d'escargot and the latter by the empoisonneur mecanique, a poison gas-spewing automaton fueled by the decomposing bodies of French peasants. 

The scenario was this: in 1781, Benedict Arnold led a British-Hessian force to raid the Virginia Tidewater region.  He was corneredand besieged at fictitious Port Albemarle on the Virginia coast by a combined French and American army and fleet commanded by the vengeful George Washington himself. Lord Cornwallis leading an elite force of steam-powered gun carriages and aeromobile troops rushes from the Carolinas to save the hard-pressed Arnold.

The Franco-American assault force battered their way into the town against the British defenders with the poison gas and favorable wind doing much of the heavy-lifting, wiping out two British regiments and several gun batteries.  The last remaining British regiment, under Captain Blackadder decided that discretion was the better part of valor, especially when Hawkeye and some American riflemen appeared within the fortifications using a mechanical drilling mole to tunnel under the fortifications.  Blackadder worked out a safe passage in exchange for turning over the Munro sisters that Hawkeye was after. Seeing half his garrison destroyed or surrendered, Arnold chose to flee the town, making in a boat for the British fleet.  The Hessian commander, seeing this, promptly asked, "Who's going to pay us now?" and promptly sought honors of war for a quick withdrawal.  This was promptly granted by the rifleman who achieved complete victory without ever having fired a shot.

Popular hero and darling of Broadway, Alexander Hamilton lead the American assault forces

A British extra-heavy steam gun

Meanwhile, out on the Bay, the British Ship of the Line and Steam Ram had some early successes, quickly sinking the small American mine-layer and fending off a couple of sorties by the American wooden submersibles.  However, the French Ship of the Line L’Insouciance traded broadsides and achieved a lucky hit on the powder store of HMS Vindictive, blowing her out of the water.

By this point, the British naval commander was granted passage out of the harbor after surrendering the turncoat Arnold to French Admiral de Grasse.

On the other end of the board, Cornwallis forces pounded the defense line of American militia under Patriot Benjamin Martin and the Legion of Prince Leopold of Ruritania.  Washington and Franklin lent support from the American reserves including the great electrical discharge weapon, causing substantial British casualties particularly among the aeromobile troops.  Nonetheless, the American defenses were almost completely wiped out. However, hearing that the port had surrendered and Arnold was taken, Cornwallis concluded that there was little to be gained by continuing the attack and withdrew.  The end result was a major Franco-American victory but not the deciding battle of the war.  Cornwallis was retreating back into the Carolinas pursued by Washington and Rochambeau.  One more battle would be fought.... at another convetion

We also played in a couple of other games.  The pictures below are from Seal Team 6 vs the Giant Bugs.  A fun little game using the 7TV rules.  The players ran four fire teams of special forces troops investigating a town that had been over run by Starship Troopers giant bugs.  We did surprisingly well against an ever increasing horde of bugs and a disastrous helicopter mishap.

We also played in a introductory game of Warlords of Olympus put on by Crocodile games.  A fun set of rules with some interesting tactical choices.

Here are some other games that caught my eye.  There were some really impressive tables on display.


Der Alte Fritz said...

Wow, there were a lot of superb terrain set ups based on your pictures, showing some really creative modeling skills.

I'm particularly interested in how you made the hit air balloons and airships. This is an idea that I was considering for the SYW era.

If there was a best of show award, then your game certainly deserves it - the combination of terrain, creativity and players who are obviously getting into the game and having fun, that says it all.

Nicely done!


bogdanwaz said...

Thanks, Fritz! The balloon itself is a paper model from Fidler's Green. The gondola is a plastic kit of a Leonardo Da Vinci paddle boat by Academy. About the only thing I did was drill a hole in the hut for the dowel rod to go through it.

commissarmoody said...

Lots of Great looking games! Some day I will make it to the Con...Some day.