In memory of the late Stuart Asquith I decided to bring out the toy soldiers for a replay of the 'Hook's Farm' scenario from HG Wells' book Little Wars. This was a scenario that Stuart apparently played many times, and in accordance with his love of simple rules and 54mm glossy toys, I set it up for a Great War game.
|The assault on Hoogh's Farm.|
Unfortunately I only have two units a side painted, so there is one unpainted British unit in this game. I also played with the set-up a little. A German HMG was hunkered down in Hoogh's Farm, while to the east a small force of 5 Germans held Faerphlaae Church. Two German units of 8 figures each were placed on the table edge to help counterattack against the British assault.
The British force consisted of 3 units, each of 10 infantry.
|The battlefield. Hoogh's farm to the left, Faerphlaae Church to the right. Notice I'm using what kid's blocks I could find for the ruined buildings.|
Each turn a British shell would fall on a unit to represent creeping barrage.
|Faerphlaae Church seen from the British trencehs.|
|The German garrison awaits the attack.|
The British started by getting out of their trenches and advancing. Immediately they came under fire from the garrisons in the buildings.
|The British on the left leave their trenches.|
|The maxim gun opens up|
|Casualties are suffered - but morale stays strong!|
|The exact same story on the right.|
The Germans had begun to move up for the counterattack as well.
|Using move and fire, the Tommies advance. Luckily the German counterattack is pinned by the barrage.|
|Around Hoogh's Farm the Germans are moving up|
|Surging forward the British infantry take a toll of the Germans, but they are unable to assault the Church.|
|The German HMG is pinned and the middle unit starts hitting the counterattacking German infantry in the flank.|
|Carnage around the Church - The German counterattackers are pinned, but the Brits stay strong.|
|The German HMG is unable to rally and is knocked out in the next turn.|
|The Faerphlaae Church garrison have defeated the attack, but at huge cost.|
|Only 3 men are left standing, and they are pinned - unable to move or fire.|
|Leaving the centre force free to flank the Germans around the farm and wipe them out.|
|The battle ends with the triumphant occupation of Hoogh's Farm. |
The simple one page of rules I have stood up extremely well - except for one problem. I hadn't thought about how to deal with the HMG. The morale rules as written don't really work, and to have it wiped out by 2 hits would make it of very limited value indeed. So I devised rules for crewed weapons. Not just HMGs but mortas and field guns for when (if) I get them. Essentially no matter how many times an crewed weapon is hit in a turn, it will only ever count one hit and become pinned. All crewed weapons rally on a 3+ on a d6, which means that they are 66% likely to get back to business in the next turn. A second pin means the weapon and the crew are destroyed.
The whole game took an hour. Short, sweet and fun. With more luck the Germans could have done better, but even so they retained one objective while losing the other, so it was a draw. This bodes well for these rules, which, I must say, are extremely simple. I think they capture the flavour of the Great War well though - the high body count would certainly attest to that.