Saturday, 15 January 2022

Mohawk Campaign Game - Scouting Mission Playtest


Just before the Xmas break I was busy getting my Jaegers finished off for my Mohawk collection 

JJ's Wargames - Mohawk Valley Collection, Jaegers & Militia

and in the process of pondering all things AWI Mohawk Valley ideas, as I am want to do, I came across a video review on YouTube illustrating a playthrough of the Mini-Game, Roger's Rangers by Decision Games and written by Joseph Miranda, which after a little bit more research on Boardgame Geek, I picked up a couple of copies, one for me and the other for my FIW enthusiast and mate Steve M.

Boardgame Geek - Rogers Rangers

The video link can be followed below with Centurion's Review showing a playthrough of the Scouting Scenario.


Of course I immediately spotted the problem with the game in that it is focussed on the right theatre in North America and with a similar theme but very much on Roger's Rangers and their role in the French Indian War, but, I thought might, with a little tweaking, work just as well recreating the adventures of Butler's Rangers and the King's Royal Yorkers in the American War of Independence.

Readily adapted artwork from the Perfect Captain AWI game served for my new counters to represent the two forces engaged in this theatre

Thus I sat down to play with this little project, to make the necessary tweaks with the map, units and cards to put the game into Cyberboard where I could playtest it to see if the idea would work or not and I thought you might like to see the results and how I got on.

When I say tweaks, that included a redesigned map, new counters to represent the different troop types and some changes to the Mission and Operations cards to change the descriptions to being more appropriate for this theatre in the AWI together with artwork to compliment the theme. The rules of play are however as written so once those aspects were done the game was ready to test.

My redesigned game map to represent the AWI frontier

So with the module finished over the Xmas break I decided I would start playtesting in January and for those unfamiliar with it, I should explain if you haven't followed the links above, that this is a solitaire game with the player running the Rangers force or in this case Crown forces and the system generating any opposition that you might bump into as you strive to complete one of four missions, which if playing the full campaign can be linked one after the other, Scout, Rescue, Frontier Raiding and the Big Campaign.

An example of one of my theatre-themed
Mission Cards and the subject of the first play test

The Mission Cards drive the set up and objectives for each game and in the example above, the game I am reporting here, my loyalist force under the command of Sir John Johnson are tasked with moving into enemy territory from one of the staging posts, either Fort Oswego or Fort St John, to recover the 'Intel' represented by one of seven objective counters randomly placed on the map and hidden from view until revealed when my force enters the area.

Of course some of those other objectives can aid or hinder my march to find the Intel counter and so every time one is turned over adds a little moment of anticipation in the game, in addition Ops (Operations Cards) can also help or hinder this process.

Two examples of Operations Cards that can get revealed each turn of the mission and in this case alerts the player to the possibility of contact with the enemy. Note the Alert Level being higher makes this more likely.

To achieve each mission, Operations Cards are required to allow it to continue, and this mission starts with six, which are used up each turn of the game mission, and can be lost because of events or equally gained in the same way. If you run out of ops before returning to base with the objective, the mission fails.

In addition I also need to build my force with the 8 RP (Recruit Points) allotted and take necessary gear to help my men achieve success, and these all cost RP and I am limited to 3 units represented by the Command factor, although my leader, Johnson is a free addition to the force.

Gear, in the form of boats and the green objects help to overcome likely obstacles during the mission
and the objective counters give each mission its purpose.

The numbers on each unit counter refer to combat factor (left) and movement (right), with the former requiring a die roll equal to or less than to defeat an enemy unit and the latter determining how many spaces on the map can potentially be moved to on the march, determined by the slowest marching unit in the column and special terrain such as Rebel Forts or Mountains that force the column to stop despite their move allowance.

Rebel units are simply deployed to the map when generated so don't require a movement rate but just have a combat factor, and commanders are counted as elite units giving a plus factor to the Tactical Superiority die roll which determines who shoots first and also have a Combat Factor of 1 (Crown) or 2 (Rebel) to simulate their small ability to influence the battle at that level should it become required.

The game test set up with six operation cards ready to drive the game and my loyalist force starting in Oswego

The screen shot above shows the module set up ready to go with the Scouting Mission, with seven objective markers placed on the map from Unadilla to Castle Town and up to Crown Point.

The Alert Level, indicates how ready the Rebels are for an incursion by Crown Troops and indicates how many troops might oppose me if I bump any on my route

My RP level is at zero as I have purchased my force of Kings Royal Yorkers, Butlers Rangers and Mohawk Indians and am taking the Long Rifle and Hatchet as my gear, attaching them to the latter two units, intending to start my march from Fort Oswego to Unadilla before moving into the Mohawk Valley.

Turn One - Arrival at Unadilla

So armed and ready my little force made its way south from Oswego via Lysander and stopped at Unadilla, having moved two areas, the furthest the force can march with the slower moving King's Yorkers in company


On arrival, the first Op Card was turned and it was not a good start, revealing my march had been spotted by Oneida Indians allied to the rebels, thus raising the Alert Level to two and reducing my remaining op cards to just four and barely into enemy territory.

On the positive side my arrival allowed the release of loyalist prisoners held in the area and adding an RP to the pot and the potential to raise more men and gain more equipment if needed.

The force then marched on to Fort Hunter, with the added threat of Rebel strongpoints in the area which causes Crown troops to halt the march immediately on entering the area.

Turn Two - Arrival at Fort Hunter

The subsequent Ops card was a rebel attack on my Ranger Camp which as I hadn't built one had no effect, and the turned objective marker revealed farms and homesteads which were burnt and destroyed, gaining me a further RP, which I forgot to record but will include in the next mission, as the march continued to Fultonville offering the opportunity to return to Oswego, should I fail to gain or, worse still, loose further Ops Cards.

Turn Three - Arrival at Fultonville and Rebel Ambush

Fultonville revealed the Butler's Rangers Op Card, which I at first put to one side in anticipation of using it later if required, only to find the revealed objective counter heralded a Rebel Ambush, now with the Alert Level at 2, setting up two randomly picked Rebel units, revealing Riflemen and Militia waiting on my march route.

Rebel Riflemen and Militia attempt to ambush my force, but the Butlers Rangers Ops Card helps to ensure victory for the Crown.

Thus I decided to play the Butler's Rangers card immediately giving my troops the automatic gain of the Tactical Superiority, meaning my chaps got to fire first with my KRRNY and Butlers hitting on 4's or less on a d6 routing the enemy before they knew what hit them, whilst also gaining me one Ops Card for winning the skirmish. 

Emboldened by my victory I decided to press on with the mission and head back up the valley to Fort Hunter ready to face events in Turn Four with my two remaining ops cards.

Turn Four - Return to Fort Hunter and the Battle of Fort Hunter

Needless to say my bold move to go back along the Mohawk Valley deep into Rebel territory was a risk with only one op card left and too far away to get back into Canada, and indeed the Rebels were waiting for me with a column sent out to hunt my force down now that they were aware of its presence.

The Rebel Army Ops Card immediately moved the Alert Level up further to 3 and required a die roll to see how many Rebel Units would oppose me revealing the three seen above, with a tough force of State Levies, Rebel artillery and militia in support.

Fortunately Sir John Johnson and the Long Rifle capability of my Rangers gave me +2 to the Tactical 
Superiority die roll which I easily won and all my units defeated the Rebels in quick succession to award me a battle victory and two additional and highly valuable Ops Cards to continue the mission.


It seemed as if fortune was favouring the brave and so Johnson's little army moved on to Ballstown, where the next Ops Card announced the Mohawks thirst for revenge and the possibility of further Indian allies joining the column, but sadly a die roll of 4 revealed that this Indian warband was busy elsewhere.

Turn Five - Ballstown and Success! Loyalist supporters meet the column to pass on the vital intel.

However Johnson's luck continued as the objective counter was turned to reveal the sought after Intel and the force could now focus on the challenge of getting back to Oswego and completing the mission.

With just three Ops cards left Johnson decided to avoid the Mohawk Valley on the return march, with the two Rebel Fort areas only slowing the march and increasing the risk of interception, and instead head back down the Schoharie Valley at Fort Hunter and try to get back via Unadilla.

Turn Six - Return to Fort Hunter and avoidance of Rebel Army

Fort Hunter proved yet again a dangerous place to march past as the third visit saw the turning of the Rebel Attack Operations Card that required me to roll a D6 higher than the Alert Level of 3 to avoid a battle, which was ideally what I was looking for and needles to say 'lady-luck Fortuna' duly obliged.


Surely now with just Unadilla between my troops and sanctuary at Oswego there would be nothing to prevent Sir John returning with the valuable Intelligence reports.


Just when you think this game is easy it seems to throw in a few more surprises as the next Ops Card turned on arrival at Unadilla announced a possible Rebel Ambush and similarly to avoid it the D6 roll needed to be higher than the Alert Level 3.


Yes, get in there! 

What a conclusion to this first mission and successfully achieved allowing progress on to the next Mission, 'Rescue', following the Intel revealing that Loyalists were being targeted to join the local militias at the risk of imprisonment and confiscation of property on their failure to enrol.

Turn Eight and Sir John's little force makes it safely back to Oswego with the Intel following quite an adventure along the Mohawk to Ballstown.

The end of the mission was completed with one Ops Card remaining and a Recruit Point in the bank both of which are carried over to the next mission.


This first mission was great fun to play and suggests lots of possibilities for using with the Mohawk Valley Collection of figures going forward and I look forward to showing how I get on in the next one entitled;


In addition the simplicity of the basic game invites further tweaks to the set up to perhaps vary the threat posed by the Rebels and raise the anticipation levels a bit more  - more anon.

Tuesday, 11 January 2022

Battle of Cape Finisterre/ Ferrol or 'Calder's Action' - 22nd July 1805

A brand new year started at the Devon Wargames Group this weekend and with a lot of optimism that slowly but surely things are and will get better, with at least the hope this year of getting a full calendar of events completed at club this year when compared with our late start last year

Keen to carry on playing games with my own lockdown project, the 1:700th collection of Napoleonic ships, I ran a Kiss Me Hardy (KMH) Scenario from the Too Fat Lardies Summer Special of 2006, entitled 'An Opportunity Mist' recalling the difficult visibility conditions that accompanied the somewhat indecisive Battle of Cape Ferrol or perhaps more commonly referred to as the Battle of Cape Finisterre or 'Calder's Action' fought in the summer of 1805 

If you would like to see how this game turned out then you can follow the link below to the club blog to see an AAR of our game.

Devon Wargames Group - An Opportunity Mist, Battle of Cape Ferrol

This post is designed to throw some light on to what led up to this battle and its aftermath.

The complex manoeuvring that ensued in the summer of 1805 is well illustrated by Mark Adkin's map of what would become known as the Trafalgar Campaign with the Battle of Cape Finisterre or Ferrol or Calder's Action, depending on your preference, shown occurring on the 22nd July.

On the 7th July 1805, HM Brig Curieux arrived in Plymouth, having been sent by Admiral Nelson from the West Indies after his fruitless pursuit of French Admiral Villeneuve's, Combined Fleet, there from the Mediterranean, carrying the latest news of the whereabouts of the enemy fleet, updated by Captain Bettesworth, commander of the Curieux, who had seen Villeneuve's fleet standing to the northward, some 900 miles north-north-east of Antigua on his voyage home and thus indicated they were heading towards the Bay of Biscay area rather than back to the Mediterranean, as Nelson had suspected. 

The confused indecisive skirmish that was the Battle of Cape Finisterre 22nd July 1805 comes to life on our table at the Devon Wargames Group for our first meeting in 2022
Devon Wargames Group - An Opportunity Mist, Battle of Cape Ferrol

Bettesworth hastened to the Admiralty in London, arriving late on the 8th July, to find Lord Barham, the First Lord had retired to bed and no one dared wake him, leaving his Lordship furious the next morning to find that seven to eight precious hours had been lost.

Admiral Charles Middleton, Lord Barham, First Lord of the Admiralty in 1805 - Isaac Pocock (Royal Museums Greenwich)
Similar to Lord Dowding's handling of the victory that was the Battle of Britain, perhaps Lord Barham is the unsung hero of the Trafalgar Campaign having the wit, even at the grand age of 80 together with a superior understanding of commanding naval forces over vast distances to undo all the machinations of Napoleon Bonaparte, unable to grasp the differences and difficulties in manoeuvring Naval Squadrons to that of Army Corps.

Without waiting to dress, he jotted down a note of what he considered should be done, stating;

'My idea is to send the intelligence direct to Admiral Cornwallis (Commander Channel Fleet) who may be directed to strengthen Sir Robert Calder's squadron with the Rochefort squadron and as many ships of his own as will make them up to 15, to cruise of Cape Finisterre from 10 to 50 leagues to the west. To stand to the southward and westward with his own ships, at the same distance for 10 days. Cadiz to be left to Lord Nelson.'

Barham had decided to strengthen his forces at the likely decisive point designed to unhinge French plans to dominate the English Channel by decisively defeating and destroying one of their key squadrons, that of Villeneuve, at the expense of abandoning the blockade of Rochefort. However he failed to clearly reveal this intent to Cornwallis who clearly failed to recognise the importance of Calder's mission by informing Stirling and thus Calder on his arrival.

Calder's Action living up to its billing recreating the confused action in the fog that were the key characteristics of the battle.
Devon Wargames Group - An Opportunity Mist, Battle of Cape Ferrol

On receipt of this new information, Cornwallis immediately ordered Stirling to join Calder which he did on the 15th July and as soon as the French in Rochefort realised that Stirling was no longer blockading the port, Captain Zacharie Allemand led his squadron to sea bound for Ireland in compliance with his orders to create a diversion. Napoleon had changed these orders, wanting Allemand to rendezvous with Villeneuve off Ferrol, but his new orders arrived after the French squadron had left port and thus Allemand would not take part in any of the upcoming actions.

Barham's planned interception took place almost on the exact position predicted on the 22nd July with the advance squadron of Calder's fleet consisting of the frigates Egyptienne, Sirius and the 74's Defiance and Ajax out ahead of the fleet in two columns, when, towards noon, the mists parted to allow men in the crosstrees of HMS Defiance to spot strange sails far to the south-west.

Captain Richard Durham and his officers excitedly scanned the horizon with their telescopes, identifying the strangers as the enemy and signalling first twenty-four, then later twenty-seven ships of the line and frigates in sight, and Calder ordered his fleet to bear to the south-west and clear for action.

With sixteen miles separating the two fleets it would take a further five hours sailing at about three knots in the slight breeze before the closest ships would be near enough to open fire.


It was not until 13.00 that Villeneuve's lookouts on his leading frigates reported the approach of the British fleet of twenty-one sail at which the French admiral hoisted the signal for his three columns to form a close hauled line of battle on the Spanish leeward squadron led by Admiral Gravina in the Argonauta 80-guns.

Map adapted from Naval Warfare in the Age of Sail - Tunstall & Tracy

The decks were cleared for action and the ships closed up to half a cable (100 yards), riding a heavy swell and passing through thick patches of fog, that only parted sufficiently at 15.30 to allow both commanders to get a longer and more informative look at each other.

At about 16.30 Calder appreciated that if he maintained his current course, with the two fleets only about eight miles apart and with the Combined Fleet heading north, the enemy might escape and so he signalled the fleet to tack in succession and come round onto a northerly course, surprisingly he did not consider tacking together and thus speeding up the whole progress to the north.

Map - The Trafalgar Companion, Mark Adkins

At about the same time as Calder ordered his fleet to head north the British frigate Sirius 36-guns, operating well ahead of the fleet, found herself at the rear of the Combined fleet heading towards the French frigate Sirene, herself towing a captured treasure galleon, reportedly valued at 15 million francs; a tempting prize for Captain William Prouse who on closing with the Sirene came under fire that so alarmed Villeneuve that his rear was under attack caused the French admiral to order a change of course by wearing south, back towards his rear, thus causing both fleets to return to approaching each other from opposite directions.

The change of course had a sobering effect on Captain Prouse aboard the Sirius as his attempt to seize the treasure ship was abruptly halted with the looming shape of the 80-gun Argonauta suddenly bearing down from out of the fog and causing the British frigate to make a hasty retreat, with the Spanish honouring the code by not firing a single shot at the much smaller British ship.

However the Argonuata soon found herself otherwise engaged as at around 17.30 the 74-gun Hero under Captain Alan Gardner complying with Calder's signal to 'engage the enemy more closely' yelled to his ship's master to tack immediately to larboard, thus bringing his starboard battery to bear and followed by the following ships in the British Van Squadron and from which position our game progressed, as seen below.

The rather confused and certainly indecisive battle that followed would last about three and a half hours with the firing ceasing at about 21.00 with the failing light and gloom together with Calder's signal to break off combining to bring the fighting to a close; with the Spanish squadron having taken the brunt of the action, with Villeneuve's own flagship Bucentaure only suffering six casualties and the eight ships behind her taking no real part in the fighting.

The Spanish would see two of their ships captured, and 1,200 of their men taken prisoner whilst most of the 480 casualties were among their surviving ships a fact that would lead to much recriminations between the allies afterwards and see Villeneuve make a dramatic reorganisation of his squadrons to include both French and Spanish ships when they next met the British under Nelson off Cape Trafalgar in October.

Both admirals claimed success, and indeed Calder had captured two enemy ships with light casualties of under 200 men, with Calder's dispatch the next day declaring that it was;

'A very decisive action which lasted upwards of four hours, when I found it necessary to bring up the squadron to cover the captured ships.'

But with Villeneuve rather 'gilding the lily' by reporting;

'The enemy then made off. He had several vessels crippled aloft, and the field of battle remained ours. Cries of joy and victory were heard from all our ships.'

Calder would face a court martial, not for what he did, but rather for what he failed to do, allowing difficulties to persuade him not to resume the action in the following days, with both admirals sailing away from the area on the 25th having let each other move out of sight of each other and with Calder heading north to rejoin Cornwallis whilst Villeneuve sailed south-east for Vigo to replenish supplies and carry out repairs before heading south to Cadiz and the decisive Battle of Trafalgar nearly three months later.

Admiral Sir Robert Calder

Calder's trial lasted three days between 23rd to the 26th December 1805 held aboard the 98-gun three decker Prince of Wales and presided over by the Commander in Chief, Admiral George Montague delivering its condemning verdict after a rather lengthy and laborious preamble;

'the court is of the opinion, that the charge of not having done his utmost to renew the said engagement, and to take or destroy every ship of the enemy, has been proved against the said Vice-Admiral Calder; that it appears that his conduct has not been actuated by cowardice or disaffection, but has arisen solely from error in judgement, and is highly censurable, and doth adjudge him to be severely reprimanded, and the said Vice-Admiral Sir Robert Calder is hereby severely reprimanded accordingly.'

Sir Robert Calder never received another active command but was promoted to full admiral by seniority in 1810 and later appointed Commander in Chief at Portsmouth in 1815, dying in 1818 at the age of seventy-three.

Sources consulted for this post:
Far Distant Ships - Quintin Barry
The Trafalgar Companion - Mark Adkin
Naval Warfare in the Age of Sail - Brian Tunstall
The Battle of Trafalgar - Geoffrey Bennett


Sunday, 2 January 2022

Ruthless at Tombstone - New Year's Eve Game


Regular followers of the blog will know I very often like to squeeze in the odd game or two over the Xmas-New Year break and very often the theme can be quite a variance to the normal fare encountered here on JJ's, with friends who like to deep-dive into the less often encountered areas of the hobby, but no-less historical or fun to explore and play.

I can't say that the exploits of characters in the nineteenth century American 'wild-west' have ever grabbed me to the extent of collecting and painting miniatures to refight some of the historical encounters, with the exception of a brief romance with an idea to build a 28mm Plains Indian-7th Cavalry collection, that now seems a distant memory.

The scene is set and our initial cast of characters are introduced as we played a series of games or 'Acts' following the start game with Gunfight at the OK Corral (Act I), Ambush at Tuscon Station (Act II), Logging Camp at the Spence Ranch (Act III), Tombstone (Act IV) and ends in the shoot out at Iron Springs (Act V)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gunfight_at_the_O.K._Corral

However, any excuse to spend time rolling bones with friends in between Xmas and New Year, playing 28mm cowboys over at my mate Vince's purpose created wargames room, and engaging in some historical play as well, was too good an opportunity to have some final 2021 fun and so myself, Steve M and Chas joined Vince just prior to New Year's Eve; exploring the adventures and exploits of the Earp brothers and their climactic clash with the Clanton and McLaury brothers together with 'Doc' Holliday and Billy Claiborne throwing in their lot with the respective feuding sides, that reached a climax at 3.00pm on Wednesday October 26th, 1881 at what became known as the gunfight at the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona Territory.

Vince had prepared all the handy character record cards showing character traits and skills together with a wipe clean pen marker for recording ammo used and wounds received, that kept the game flowing seamlessly.

Any game with an unfamiliar theme is enhanced and opened up by the passion for the subject by the game host and organiser and Vince's enthusiasm for our series of historical scenes, or as they are referred to 'Acts', keeping the Hollywood movie trope alive, and linked together to form a mini-campaign with the effects of one act carrying over to the next, was infectious and I found myself immersed in it and the characters involved.

Now this looks like a fun way to spend the day, with a cast of characters ready to stand in for the line up at Tombstone in 1881.

The whole day was also enhanced with Vince's collection of terrain, figures, with some great horse and rider conversions from some civil war cavalry sculpts and the rules 'Ruthless' which are free to download from Mark Fastoso's Web page see below, with an interesting twist in that the rules are free but you pay to purchase the historical scenarios to recreate these kind of actions, which appeals to my sense of history rather that just playing through a fictitious Cowboy style shootout made so familiar by the movies.

Ruthless - The Fastest Rules in the West

On arrival after teas and coffee, Vince briefed our respective line ups with me taking on the role of the Clanton and McLaury brothers ably supported by Vince bringing in other associated characters and with Chas and Steve taking the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday.

These are the kind of rules I like, one page, back to back, with playing cards (keeping that cowboy theme going) laid by the respective players deciding activation sequence, and a simple but not simplistic set of rules covering movement, shooting and reactions, with a few short paragraphs for each section, that quickly became easily memorised with little need for the QRS.

The Scenario set up from our briefing notes sets the structure for our five linked games as recounted below in a summarised version;

Act I - Gunfight at the OK Corral 26th October 1881


Scene Setter -
This is a game in a number of Acts. Your decisions affect your resources and circumstances in later Acts.

You also are judged on Victory points earned for achieving your objectives and winning each Act.
As well as this you must consider the law and the court of public opinion. The loser in this category will go down in history and have a posse on their tails !

To win the overall game, you must have the most Victory Points, as well as Legal Standing Points. Any other result is a draw.

The town Sheriff is Johnny Behan. He is an elected official and has much support amongst those who earn their money from farming. Before the Earps arrived, he was the main man in town. He also reneged on a promise to make Wyatt his deputy if he won the election, something the Earps have not forgotten.

Virgil Earp is a Federal Marshal for Cochise County. His brothers Morgan and Wyatt, are his deputies, although he is not adverse to deputising others, as the occasion demands.

A City Ordinance now prohibits any firearm, dirk or bowie knife being carried within the city limits. Weapons must be checked at livery stables or saloons.

The next day, Virgil decides to disarm the cowboys and deputises Doc. He takes Wyatt and Morgan with him and walks down Fremont Street, looking for the cowboys. The trouble between the Earps and the Cowboys is the talk of the town. A number of onlookers are standing around, waiting to see what happens next.

As the Earps and Doc near Fly’s boarding house, Sheriff Behan comes up to them and says something like “There is no need for you to go down there. I went down there to disarm them.” Virgil tells him to get out of the way, as he means to check. The Earps step into the alley next to Fly’s. The cowboys and one horse stand in the alley. Billy Clanton and Frank McClaury have pistols on their hips. Tom McClaury is standing behind his horse. Virgil shouts “I have come for your guns.” Everyone who is armed, moves their hands to their guns and stands ready. Virgil says “No. I don’t mean that.” Someone pulls a pistol and fires.

Actually it was Holliday who opened fire with a levelled Coach-gun fired at Frank McLaurey that missed! Then Billy Clanton grabbed a carbine from his horse as those that were armed drew their pistols. The ensuing gunfight would see Frank McLaury left dead at the rear of the building next to Fly's with multiple gunshot wounds and Doc Holliday beaten senseless by Ike Clanton as the gang made its escape.

Our first game played had enabled us to see how the rules worked and get used to the card play that drives activation and we all seemed to get up to speed quite quickly as the scenario wound through the turns to its conclusion as the Clantons and their supporting cowboys escaped off table and set up the next decision point in the campaign, as the Clantons decided to go on a bit of night stalking, taking pot shots at the Earps in town during the night with their rifles.

Sadly for them they missed on each occasion, but on the last attempt a Tombstone citizen spotted Billy Clanton with his rifle and the shout went out as to who it was that had been sniping and Billy Clanton was now a wanted man.

The game moved to Act II with the Earp's sitting on a strong lead of 7VP but still all to play for with severely wounded or killed Earps likely to reduce that lead significantly.

ACT II - AMBUSH AT TUCSON STATION 


Doc Holliday and the surviving Earps, see Morgan Earp (wounded in our game at the OK Corral) and Virgil's wife Allie, onto the train to California.

Frank Stillwell & Ike Clanton lie in wait by a goods wagon siding, with shotguns. They are waiting for the Earps to begin to leave. At that point, they have no clear shot to the wounded Earp, as Allie is partially in the way. 

This game proved to be an interesting little scenario, with the cowardly, blustering Ike Clanton leaving Frank Stillwell after the first exchanges of gunfire between the outlaw and the lightly wounded Morgan Earp, with the former missing with his first shot, but managing to hit Morgan with his second, narrowly missing Allie but leaving the latter now severely wounded and pulling some much needed victory points back to the Cowboy gang.

After Ike Clanton ran at the first exchange of gunshots Frank Stillwell showed what a dangerous character he was, severely wounding Morgan Earp on the train and wounding Wyatt and Virgil who came running back into the rail yard on hearing the gunshots, before, with the help of Doc Holliday, overwhelming and killing Stillwell in a hail of gunfire.

The avenging Earp brothers together with Doc Holliday came rushing back into the yard on hearing the exchanges of gunfire and cautiously approached the rail car from which Stillwell was taking cover only to be met by an advancing Stillwell letting fly at close range with his shotgun, wounding the other two Earp brothers before falling back into cover.

The inevitable outcome soon followed as the at bay Stillwell was surrounded at close range and fell dead to multiple gunshots, that left the Earps now fired up to go off on their vengeful Vendetta Ride against the remaining members of the Cowboy gang responsible for these last two attacks.

ACT III - LOGGING CAMP AT THE SPENCE RANCH


The Posse arrive at the ranch looking for Pete Spence and Indian Charlie Cruz. They are told that Sheriff Behan has arrested Spence and he is in Tombstone jail, but Cruz is at a logging camp a mile or so away. Sunset is in about half an hour.


The first Cowboy gang member to be on the receiving end of Earp rough justice was Indian Charlie Cruz, who seeing the strange riders approaching the logging camp and all alone quickly took cover to give himself a chance to see if the riders were friendly or not and to prepare for the worse.

The Earp posse split around the small gully to approach from different sides and with Cruz identifying the Earps, the left most group of riders came under rifle fire from the trees above, which missed causing the two groups of riders to spur towards the firing and ride down the unfortunate Cruz from both directions leaving him dead and the posse members unhurt.



ACT IV - TOMBSTONE


The Earp posse have sent Charlie Smith and Dan Tipton back to Tombstone to obtain $1000 in funds for the posse. They arrange to meet up later. 


Sheriff Behan learns of their presence in town and catches them crossing the street. He and his two deputies attempt to arrest them.


Another relatively short Act with the scenario a straight forward get in and get out affair for Tipton and Smith as the two posse members attempted to get to their horses before Behan and his marshals arrested them on the street.

I say arrested them as Behan had at least to attempt to remain within the law and attempt to detain the two men rather than simply gun them down and only opened fire after Tipton and Smith did and after they closed on one of the marshals and assaulted him, leaving him battered but upright.

Smith was killed as the two then ran for their horses leaving Tipton to escape with half the funds obtained from the Tombstone citizenry.

Honours even but still leaving the Earps ahead on points as we went into the final Act at Iron Springs.

ACT V - IRON SPRINGS


The Earp posse rides to Iron Springs (10 miles from Tombstone) to meet Smith and Tipton. As they crest the rise, they see 5 cowboys breakfasting by the stream, not far away. One of them is Curly Bill Brocious. He is on the Earp “to do” list.

William 'Curly Bill' Brocius
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Brocius

Our final little battle proved as intense as the historical encounter with Curly Bill and his boys running to the cover of the trees and rocks as Wyatt Earp was seen riding point for the posse and cresting a nearby ridge, and on spotting the Cowboy camp dismounted and likewise ran for cover.


The posse again split and approached the river gully from different routes with Wyatt Earp leading his party in long range suppressive rifle fire as Doc Holliday and others moved around to the other end of the gully to likewise dismount and cover the position in rifle fire.


With the cowboys around the camp armed in the main with pistols and shotguns, the return fire was limited and the rifle fire slowly but surely began to take a toll of cowboy members wounded or forced into cover, allowing both Holliday and Wyatt Earp to lead their respective parties across the small creek to finish off the skirmish.


At this moment I should have had my ambush party in play but I had mistaken them for the cowboys I had defending the creek and camp, and Vince was wondering when I was going to spring the trap!

Unfortunately my perceived bravado was no more than an ignorance of the extra five men that I could have used to defend against and potentially drive off the attack on the camp - oh dear, how sad, never mind!


As Wyatt Earp waded into the stream up jumped Curly Bill advancing on the lawman with shotgun levelled and let him have both barrels at short range, only managing to hit him in the leg and falling himself under a hail of return fire.

At the other end of the camp, Holliday and his men made short work of the remaining cowboys, wading across the creek to clear the position after successfully suppressing the defenders with their rifles, and with the dead and wounded cowboys causing a failed 'Skedaddle Test', brought the scenario and game to an overall end, just as the other cowboys were closing on Holliday from the rear.


An overall win for the Earps but with Frank Stillwell's audacious attack at the Tuscon Station and with a better handled defence of the Iron Springs Camp, it might have been quite different and I think speaks well of the replay value of this neat little gaming system that allowed me to delve into Wild West history in a very entertaining way and to engage with a theme that is not my usual fare.

The rules invite a very relaxed game among friends with plenty of banter and laughs and that was the way we played it, making this a very enjoyable way to spend a pre-New Year's Eve day rolling bones and having fun.

Thank you to Vince for organising our day and to Steve and Chas for running the Earp posse and especially, to Vince's better half, Joan, for keeping us fed and watered throughout the day.

A great way to end 2021 and an opportunity to wish everyone a happy and fun New Year ahead.

JJ