The Battle of Flatbrown Bridge
|The Outskirts of Flatbrown, Connecticut|
The Battle of Flatbrown Bridge is an imaginary battle of the American War of Independence, fought using my own simple rules, called Redcoats & Minutemen. As it happens, I had some cheap plastic 1/32 plastic soldiers from a visit a few years ago to Valley Forge. I had intended to make a simple game with them, and finally got around to it this past November (I got the bug again while researching a novel set during the war).
About the RulesRedcoats & Minutemen is not intended to be a realistic simulation of 18th century warfare, or the American Revolution, though I have striven to give it the appropriate “flavor” for the period. It’s meant to be a quick and easy game, playable with little effort or expense, and easily accessible to younger gamers-in-training (“the wee bairns”) while holding enough challenge for older enthusiasts. Redcoats & Minutemen can be set up in just a few minutes, and played in thirty minutes to an hour. This action report is meant to give you a feel for how the game plays.
About the BattlefieldThe battlefield is divided into 10 distinct rectangular sections. This was originally derived from an old set of foldable green-felt table protectors, two divided in thirds and one in half (further divided in the photos by wrapping a rubber band around the middle of each half, thus creating four sections). I thought this design would be a unique challenge, but it also creates a very simple battlefield to reproduce; 10 rectangles or squares arranged in an offset pattern 3/4/3. Redcoats & Minutemen is played entirely on this battlefield, and all movement and ranges are derived from this grid; you don’t need rulers to play. Terrain areas and objects are placed in the section, but a piece of terrain does not occupy the entire section but only the area covered by the terrain piece. Terrain also can’t cross section lines, except for a river. In the Battle of Flatbrown Bridge, the terrain consists of a wood on the middle left (Patriot view), the river crossing the middle, Flatbrown Bridge (living up to its name) on the middle right, and a stone fence partway across the Patriot center. Regiments can occupy as much of a section as they can fill, and can move freely around within a section, impeded only by terrain and the enemy. Enough of the details: On with the battle!
The Battle Rounds* Commence (*a turn involving both players)
The British Advance
|British Redcoats fire on militia (behind fence. Yes, they really|
are Hessian figures, but I don't have militia figures yet.)
The Hessians fired, rolling 3 dice (4 - 1 for the range). Results: 4, 4, 1— all misses!
The Redcoats fired, rolling 2 dice (4 -1 for range, -1 for the protection of the fence): 5, 5— both hits!
The Patriots Respond
|The Patriot General sends the Cavalry across the river.|
This will be a Big Deal later. (Dun, dun, dun!)
The Patriot general rolled his orders: Two dice for the cavalry regiment, one for the Field Gun, one for the Mortar, and one for the militia, producing 6, 6, 5, 5, 1. The General’s Order Dice was a 2, so he only gained 1 point to boost, which wouldn’t have any effect (he needs a minimum of 5 on an order die to issue orders to his specialized troops).
Unlike the British, the Patriot could spread his orders around as he liked, and he had enough to send orders to all his troops.
He sent the cavalry to ford the river, shielded by the woods. They had no enemy in range, so could not attack (cavalry can only engage in melee attacks against enemy in the same section).
The Field Gun, however, had a wide open line of sight to the Hessians on the bridge. “Get thee from our bridge, vile servants of the Devil!” quoth the artillery Captain (a fine preacher, if given to brimstone sermons). BOOM responded the gun: 6 dice, -1 for range: 6, 6, 6, 3, 1: The Hessians suffered horrible losses, with three/fourths of the regiment as casualties. Would they rout? The roll was a 1! Miraculously, the foul mercenaries stand!
The Militia, having only one die available, could not effectively return fire without abandoning the fence. This seemed unwise, so they held position and prepared for a certain assault.
But it was time for the mortar to speak, and most loudly it roared. Soaring over the heads of friend and foe, the shells exploded among the enemy like demons shrieking: 6, 6, 6, 5, 5, 1. An entire British regiment was wiped out!
The First Battle Round was over, and the Patriots had come out the best of it.
The Second Battle RoundThe Second Battle Round began with both sides rolling a 5 on their respective dice. The tie meant the Advantage remained with the British general.
The British Assault
|The British make an assault. They melee with the Cavalry.|
They shoot the Militia. They shoot the Field Gun.
They achieve little.
The British general ordered one Redcoat regiment forward to intercept and attack the cavalry— with bayonets! The Redcoats rolled 4 dice, for a 6, 3, 3, 4; only one hit!
As this was a melee, the cavalry fought back, rolling two dice (rather than its usual three): 5, 3. Each side gained a hit on the other, and each side lost a figure. (An attack on an enemy in the same section is a “melee.” It allows a regiment to hit with all its troops, but also gives the enemy the ability to fight back out-of-turn, though at weaker strength).
The cavalry rolled a retreat die: 3. This is only one higher than its remaining strength (2 out of 3 total), so it stands.
The British regulars, also having been hit, rolled a retreat die: 2. Not going anywhere.
The second British regiment fired on the militia again: 2 dice (penalized for range and the fence): 6, 4. The militia was hit, and having only one figure remaining, was eliminated. Weep, o ye wives and mothers!
The Hessian regiment moved forward to contact their weakened brethren, initiating a volley fire. However, the dice were not good, resulting in only two 5s from the rear regiment; volley fire requires a 6, so they missed.
The Patriot’s Brilliant Maneuver
|Who let those horsemen in here?!?|
The Patriot commander realized the British general had made a crucial blunder— he had left himself unprotected, alone in his section of the battlefield (okay, he had a staff tent, a nominal ceremonial guard, and the Loyalist mistress he acquired in Boston, but tactically he was alone).
The cavalry disengaged from the enemy and swooped down on the unsuspecting general! Alerted to the danger, he called upon the Deity to aid his escape. But the Deity smiled not upon the servant of tyranny, and the general rolled a 1 rather than the necessary 6. Caught with his pants down, the embarrassed commander could do naught but hand over his sword. The Battle of Flatbrown Bridge was over, and with cunning, skill, and the blessing of Providence, the Americans had won!
|The Patriots are Victorious! Hoorah for Liberty and the Continental Congress!|
FINAL NOTESThis battle was very brief, in part due to the carelessness of the British commander (I take full responsibility; I honestly hadn’t considered the threat the cavalry posed by being so far forward). But this battle also featured seriously understrength forces; the actual rules call for sides of 8 regiments, rather than the 5 and 4 I gave my respective armies.
Nevertheless, this battle did demonstrate some of the key elements of the game, from the Order Dice to the varied strengths and weaknesses of the different forces, and hopefully gives you a feel for what the game can do.
THE GIFTAnd the rules are free. Just send me a request via e-mail to Parzival AT aol D0T come (no spaces, and replace AT and D0T with the appropriate symbols). Tell me how you found out about the game, and I'll send you a PDF of the rules. After that, all you have to do is gather up some plastic Patriots and Redcoats, a few dice, and have fun!
And have a Merry Christmas from Parzival!
--- Howard Shirley, aka Parzival