Wednesday, 21 June 2017

AWI Playtest British Grenadier

So I had a great game at wargaming chum Dave's just over a week ago. Apologies for the delay in my report, laptop issues!

For the most part we have used Black Powder fro the American War of Independence, I like the flexibility and speed of the games and they do feel like they suit AWI. However we have used them for a number of periods and Dave was keen to try British Grenadier which he had played before with varying degrees of success.

So Dave invited Howard and I to try a game using his fantastic collection. Howard and I would command a British Brigade each trying to catch a retreating Patriot/Rebel army. Dave would play the American forces who had turned to fight a delaying action.

We played on a  12 by 5 feet table forces were:


Howards Brigade
4 battalions of foot (Including one of guards and one of loyalists
1 company of Jaegers
2 field guns

My Brigade
4 battalions of foot including one of Hessians
1 company of light infantry skirmishers
1 lights gun
2 troops of loyalist cavalry


Defending the road:
One Brigade of four Continental Regiments
2 Field Guns

Hiding in the woods to the left:
Brigade of 4 Militia regiments
Light gun
Company of Rifle skirmishers

Hiding in the wood to the left
Brigade of 4 Continental regiments
Company of Rifle skirmishers

So 12 regiments of Americans essentially ambushing 8 battalions British.

 The British were designated in loose order and moved on the roll of 2 average dice. Picking up a disruption point on the roll of a 2. Hessians moved on 2 d6 as close order troops picking up disruptions on a 1 or a 2. So average movement of about 8 inches a turn. Musketry range is 12 inches.

The first thing I found was that moving in column did not seem to have any benefits at all So I quickly stopped.
Units can take up to 3 disruption points. In terms of casualties the first three can be taken as disruption points before figures are essentially removed. This means keeping DP's down is really important. You can remove a DP by doing nothing for a move. You can remove two if you do nothing and attach a General. This all feels very realistic, dressing ranks and filling gaps. It does however also have the effect of slowing down an already quite slow game as players try to keep DP's to a minimum before they get into musketry range.

The British spent about 45 minutes advancing steadily and taking small amounts of DP's from movement and the American artillery before the American ambush revealed itself and advanced from the woods. From my brigade the fusiliers got a good roll and advanced to musketry range. Unfortunately DP's from firing and movement meant they failed to go in on their charge and the closing volley from the continentals in front of them forced a retirement blocking the Hessians behind them from any movement.

The skirmishers on both sides moved into a long musketry duel which lasted the whole game as both sides forces were whittled down. The rest of the foot and the cavalry manoeuvred to get into strike range where cold steel could potentially carry the day.

The British foot were taking heavy casualties on the left from Dave's militia , with the guards being forced to retreat due to mounting casualties and a morale test, heavy casualties also in the centre from his guns. On the right the first troop of cavalry managed to charge the flank of a continental regiment and our first melee ensued. We were now about 2 hours in.

The continentals were able to perform an emergency manoeuvre to turn and face the cavalry charge but could not get a volley off in time. The melee resulted in a  retreat for the continentals and the cavalry pursued, however with three DP's they would not be allowed to charge again and finished their compulsory pursuit 3 inches in front of the continentals who would be able to fire at them next turn. Oh dear.

Mean while int he centre a musketry duel saw both sides start to take heavy casualties. The British Highlanders charged a continental battalion and forced it to retreat, whilst the second battalion of highlanders charged the guns with predictably bloody results. I wont do that again!

 The second troop of cavalry charged the flank of a second regiment of continentals with almost exactly the same result except the cavalry were able to avoid a disastrous pursuit. We were in amongst the rebels but making heavy weather of doing anything meaningful to them.
At this point after about 4 1/2 hours of gaming we called a halt and took stock.

It had taken a long time to come to grips and despite 4 melees and numerous bloody firefights every single unit was still on table. The Americans had 3 units retire and the British 2, but all were still on the edge of the fighting and available to be rallied and rejoin.

This left us in a quandary. The game had played well, felt fun and realistic, but took far too long to get to grips and simply did not give us a result. All Dave's previous games had the same outcome. Our experience of Black Powder had been pretty much the opposite, less period flavour but quick movement and a result in 2-3 hours for big games, so what to do?

We have decided that another game is in order and we want to consider some alterations. Start closer, increase movement, increase firing ranges. Nothing dramatic, just 2-3 inches on each and maybe starting a foot closer. This perhaps being the best way to see if we can bring the British Grenadier system to a point where we can achieve a result in an evenings gaming.

We intend another game soon and I will share the results, In the meantime the basing department has been for a visit and I have some goodies to share so watch this space.


  1. British Grenadier are our go to set of rules for AWI, they do get a while to get used to and managing the DPs is an integral part of the game. It does however slow things down a bit as each casualty isn't always a casualty, a well handled Guards unit is really hard to get rid of.
    They probably aren't for an evening game, especially with the size of forces you had, I would probably set aside a couple or three full evenings for the battle you did.
    I love the way BG works and for me gives a really good AWI feel, Black Powder is just a bit too bang your dead for me.
    Nice report as always.

    1. I agree with a lot of this Ken, that said I think 5 hours is the max we will ever get in a game at Daves so we need to consider that when choosing our rules. I have not given up on BG yet though.

    2. Keep an eye out our annual game due in the Autumn.

    3. Mesopotamia is the Xmas game ! AWI is on the wait list and due in the Autumn, too many things to have a go at, most things only manage one game a year.

  2. A good post for a great looking game. I think you've hit one of the eternal conundrums for wargames - realism v playability. For the games played I liked the feel of BG but too slow for an evenings play. Equally BP doesn't feel right unless you spend time balancing the characteristics. Net result was I gave up the AWI. Tempted to revisit though - especially when games look as good as this.

    1. All very fair points Paul, we will be revisiting so lets see what it brings.

  3. Great looking game, just getting the figures together to do Sharp Practice in the AWI myself.
    Not sure what rules our club uses for AWI think they may be a local amalgamation of several sets, they play well though and give a good period feel and usually a result.

    1. Best of luck, Sharpe Practice are great for smaller games, tempted to use them for some retreat from Moscow scenarios myself.

  4. Great AAR Roger.Its nice to see the other comments. Dont want to offend anyone but don't think I would want to spend 3 nights on this size game, and of course my mate Dave would class this as a small game. Regards to all. Howard

    1. No offence taken Howard 😉

      The thing is for AWI this is a fairly big game, I am fortunate to have a permanent set up at home so I never rush anything, we also have some pretty major Captain Tangent conversations which eat the game clock up.

      I don't see the appeal of Black Powder at all, they give a quick game, but for me all the periods play exactly the same with no historical flavour, but I am quite happy being in the minority on that one !

      Regards Ken
      The Yarkshire Gamer

    2. Thats the point Howard, the rules need to reflect what you want from the game. I think if we are to play British Grenadier we may have to consider smaller forces on a smaller table even with the proposed increase in movement and ranges. Lets see what the enxt game brings though.

  5. I have BG but have ever used it as I don't like book keeping ie tracking DPs. Have you considered doing away with DPs? This will definitely speed up the game. I wonder if it would complicate the issue?

    BTW Excellent figures and terrain!

    1. Thanks Rod, we found the DP's added flavour and actually work, as you say it would speed things up to do away with them though.

  6. Thanks Roger, I really enjoyed the post.

    For those who have used Black Powder for AWI, did anyone feel that the REBELLION supplement took BP to a better level of AWI flavour?

    1. For us Norm we had already made a number of amends and not applied those from REBELLION. We moved to fire then move which made a huge difference and added Brigade morale rules rather than them just breaking. REBELLION does give great scenarios and army lists. It also gives the changing stats for units as the war progressed so I found it really useful.

  7. Nice figures .
    It's mad that a game should take 3 evenings to complete.BP gives a great fun game and with amendments ,
    can capture the feel you want without all the fuss.
    Loads of charts; bookkeeping, is like being back in the dark ages .