Thursday, March 15, 2012

Cold Wars - The Battle of Apaula Heights... with Gnomes

I know Jim is still working up a final post to the Gnome Wars megagame, and most of my pics from Friday afternoon's game is from a very narrow player's perspective, so I figured I would put together the AAR for the Battle of Apaula Heights, the first ever Samoan Civil War game at an HMGS con, with or without gnomes.

I had conceived the game to be very similar to the AAR here. As the megagame evolved, and I perseverated on the lack of a radio tower, I decided to use the materials available to fight a battle more akin to 1st Vaiele in the Second Samoan Civil War.
I got a nice balance of players for the game, ranging from kids to "experienced" fellows named Carl and Neil. Both gentleman openly admitted that they saw the era and the region in the event description, but both ignored the last two words of it: with gnomes. Both were caught a bit off guard when they saw this on the table.

Gingerbread Men Working the Sugar Cane Fields

I assured them that we were simply playing a what-if historical game with the Brigade Games Gnome Wars line of figures and a "less-cheesey" version of said rules.

The game is based on the the premise that after the capture of Guam during the Spanish-American War, the USS Charleston and the three troop transports it was escorting were diverted from their destination in the Phillipines to Samoa, where they decided to tip the Civil War and full influence in America's favor. American and Samoan Royalist forces would surprised a motley force of Samoan rebels, the German (pro-rebel) garrison, and an even smaller garrison of British marines stationed in Apia who believed any crazed land grab by the Yanks was worth allying themselves with the other side of a diplomatic disaster. For game purposes, the Americans have pushed everyone out of Apia and are pursuing them into a plantation in the Apaula highlands.

Order of Battle:
1 unit of British Marines
1 unit of German Infantry, with heavy mortar team and limited ammo
2 units of Samoan Rebels

Objective: (main) prevent the capture of the plantation buildings (minor) prevent the capture of the Apaula Heights town

2 units of American Infantry
2 units of Samoan Royalists

A naval artillery barrage of four shots that must be pre-plotted prior to deployment. These shots would appear randomly (a result of cumulative die rolls reaching different target numbers).

Objective: (main) drive the enemy forces off the board (minor) capture the town of Apaula Heights

For American Infantry, we used the American Cav figs, considering them dismounted. For the Samoans, we used Mike Lungs awesome Cannibal gnomes with some specific rules:

Samoans; Max move 12. Archers and Rifles starting to-hit under a foot was 4+ and advanced as normal. Archers could ignore cover modifiers for walls and trenches. All units roll one die higher against non-Samoans. (example Spearmen are listed as a d6 in melee, they roll d8 vs. non-Samoans). Spearmen may throw one spear going into melee, on a 6 the unit is knocked over, no modifiers. The Witch Doctor is a combination NCO and Doctor, and the Hula Girl is a nurse. Yes, not entirely accurate to the Samoan culture, so consider them generic civilized Polynesians.

To continue to playtest the Samoan's effectiveness, we allowed all the figures Mike had made, including the witch doctor and hula girl. The Samoans had all the medics on the board, save a lone German Bier Doktor hiding in the mansion.

Deployment: The British decided to defend the town and build up some barricades in the town square. The Samoan rebels deployed just on edge of the plantation fields, possibly inches the enemy. The Germans sat patiently in the plantation buildings, the few mortar rounds available ready to extract a heavy toll on the aggressors.

The Americans deployed in column starting at the water's edge to represent the units marching up the hills. Both Samoan Royalist units were placed just outside of town, much to the consternation of the British player, Neil.

The opening rounds saw a concentrated attack on the town. Royalist archers laid down effective fire to whittle away the British, and when the marine's volley fire was ineffective, Neil was forced to move some forces back, and other holed up on the second floor of one of the buildings.

The Americans went into a more open formation and started to trade shots at a distance with the rebels. One of the rebel units fell back to a more defensive position behind a broken-down tractor.

As the remaining British marines at ground level were killed in melee, the British Officer recruited the Gingerbread men workers into a fighting force. The British marines stuck in the building exacted a heavy toll on the Royalist charging up the stairs, but the Samoans eventually overwhelmed them.

Once within a comfortable range, the American began shooting the fish in a barrel known as the Samoan rebels.

Samoan Blood Stains the Ground

Worse yet, the medics had a horrible healing rolls and the Americans quickly dispersed them, although they "captured" the hula girl medics. As the smoke from the gunfire rose over the trees, the remaining rebels dove into the trees for cover and the German mortar awoke to horrible accuracy, but frightening the American nevertheless.

The British officer and his Gingerbread conscripts stormed the church where the Royalists had secured to rest a moment. Despite only having a d6 for melee, they managed to rout the one unit, and have just enough time to prepare for a counterattack by the second.

Brave, outnumbered men defending a church... they were killed to the man. For these Gingerbread Men, we will always remember their A la Mode *rimshot*.

Even Against Overwhelming Odds, the Gingerbread Men Did Not Crumble

The Royalist did not have complete victory in the town, as a band of formally trained rebels (repesented by Swiss rifles) advanced towards the town and prevented their advance towards the plantation buildings. Given the allowance of multiple medics for the Samoans vs none for the British, coupled by the young man Robert rolling phenomenally for healing, an extra attachment of historically accurate German trained rebels were only fair.

The Americans advanced up the road, peppered by the hidden rebels and pummelled by the improving German mortar. To offset this, the American naval barrage was finally initiated, the first shot destroying the front of the mansion, however the remainder of the firing either missed its target, or no units remained in the area targetted.

The lead American unit was routed by continued assault by the rebels and mortar, but the advantaged quickly faded as the mortar failed its ammo check, completely running out.

With ten minutes left in the time slot, I called the game. The Germans still tenuously held the plantation. With the American forces retiring to the town to regroup, the Germans and rebels could withdraw to a better fighting position, which is what occurred historically.

Everyone said they had an absolute blast, even though I forced them learn even more useless historical knowledge. The Samoans were extremely effective, although I had anticipated fewer bows and more spears from Mike. The archers' ability to avoid cover decimated the British before they could establish themselves, and in future games I will allow the witch doctor as a joint medic/nco, and remove the hula girls from the "realistic" gnome games.

The terrain (both Jim's and my small additions) worked great, and my new customs house got used less than 24 hours after purchase. The price is steep, but I will get my money's worth out of it!

The success of this game means a number of things. First, we'll continue to work on the German-American War concept for Gnome Wars. Once more American infantry and support figs are painted up, it should be an even fight with a Colonial German army. Second, I will try to run more of the Samoan scenarios using Gnome Wars in the future. Third, and I don't believe I'm typing this, but I'm interested in running a straight historical version of the Second Samoan Civl War. Pulp Figures has a range of 25mm figs that could resemble Samoans and they come with both traditional and modern weapons. Add a few Old Glory Americans and it might be a party.

Next: Hopefully more Samoa pics once my camera issues are resolved.

1 comment:

  1. What a fantastic looking game. Thanks Eric for the report and photos.

    Everyone is to be congratulated in facilitating a novel game that looked like fun to game.