Clash at Cleland’s Cabin, 1816

.

.

September, 1816 and a clan of the Bidjigal tribe is stirring up trouble with the whitefellas! Since March raids on farms in the Nepean River region has forced Governor Macquarie to act. His proclamation in May directed that the local garrison at Parramatta assist settlers when needed, relieving something of the boredom they have endured in the past months. Hostilities increased in June through to August, with several deaths being reported of both settlers and local tribesmen as tensions increased.

Following the floods of 1816 the harvest for the year was looking good on the back of a terrible summer drought. Carrick Cleland, an irishmen known in the district as something of a hermit, has been one of several farm owners who has been sustaining weekly attacks on his property on the outskirts of Parramatta. The past week alone has seen several cows and a handful of sheep stolen from his pens.

Cleland, appealing to the local authorities, has been told by the local magistrate that the men of the 46th regiment will be marching to his aid within the week.

…as dawn breaks on a cool September morn’, Lieutenant Septimus Shrivers leads out his detachment of 20 men to clear the Parramatta road and give good cheer to ‘ol Carrrick who accompanies the column…

An overview of (Mac’s lovely) table top. Cleland’s cabin in the centre table with Parramatta road being the main cart track running from bottom right to top left. All dark green areas are light woods, the open patches and dirt areas being open ground. (Terrain mat by LAFer Mac)…terrain by moi.

.

Forces

In the engagement to follow the following forces are involved.

British

  • x 1 Officers (Lieutenant Septimus Shrivers)
  • x 1 NCO (Sergeant Parr)
  • x1 Bugler
  • x17 Soldiers (equipped with smoothbore musket and bayonet)
  • x1 unarmed settler ( ‘ol Carrick)

Aboriginal

  • x1 War Chief, Gurumarra (Officer)
  • x2 Leaders (Jarrah, Colebee)
  • x10 warriors, all with spear plus woomeras
  • x10 warriors all with spear plus boomerangs
  • x10 warriors all with spear plus boomerangs

Total points equated to close on 350pts using the AFW Smooth & Rifled lists.

.

Scenario

The scenario required the British forces to hold open Parramatta road and drive off any native forces on-table. This would keep them off  ‘ol Carrick’s property and fulfil the objectives assigned to Lt. Shrivers. Any other outcome would be considered a loss…perhaps a ‘temporary setback’ in the British scheme of things!

.

Cleland’s cabin. A very typical looking building for this time period…Perry miniatures building and fencing. The sheep pen is the home of Eureka Miniatures sheep and wool bales.

.

.

.

A peaceful day dawns around Cleland Cabin. As you can see the heavy winter rains has left the countryside quite green…

.

A wider view that nicely shows the combination of terrain mat, gumtrees, livestock and a lone old clapboard building…a very Australian setting…

.

.

.

In this overhead shot you can see some small green markers on the table (lower left being an indication of what they look like). The native forces have three markers showing actual locations and three dummy markers. They stay hidden until spotted (as an action) by the British patrol.

What the British can’t possibly know is that the tribal war chief Gurramarra is leading a party of Bidjigal warriors to ambush the clumsy redcoats as he is some pert at doing. Gurramarra, known to local authorities, derives his name because he would strike like ‘lightning with no thunder’, as his prey seldom saw his attack coming. Today, he would seek to do the same…

.

.

.

A small detachment led by Sergeant Parr is sent out as flankers to scout out the woods along the line of march. All men (unusually) are in full kit today, expecting a brisk action before marching on a good way further up the track.

.

.

.

Private Smith is sent out as a lone picket to scout our the woods to the right…(note the ambush marker right if picture).

.

.

.

There is sergeant Parr, barking out orders from behind as usual!..his men, however move pensively into the scrub…

.

.

.

An overhead shot. There are native ambush markers in the sheep pen and near the rocky outcrop…and one (bottom picture) near the rocky clearing under skippy (the kangaroo)…

.

.

.

…and there he is!…

.

.

.

.

.

.

…toward the clearing Parr and his men advance…

.

.

.

…meanwhile Private Smith got more than he bargained for…in a blink of an eye a mob of warriors leaps forth and prepares to rain down a shower of spears…

.

.

.

After the initial volley of spears fails to hit the mark….a lone warrior advances, hurls his spear and pierces Smith through the neck sending him crashing to the ground…Gurumarra, the commander with red hair, keeps a tight grip on the men around him by holding back.

(Rules Note – S&R allows players to act with figures individually or in groups. Leaders, such as Gurumarra above, can exert a zone of influence around them to aid in group actions. Aboriginal warriors (like most tribesmen in S&R) may not ‘group fire’ they must take actions as individuals, befitting their individualism. In this case the remaining activation points the tribal player had only allowed him to activate one warrior, which he did to move into close range and hurl a spear..which hit, causing poor old private Smith to be finished off. Ordinarily a 4-5-6 causes a target to be killed but for aboriginal tribesmen we reflect a lower weapon lethality by only applying kills on a 5-6, unless at close range. In this case the warrior leapt forward into close range scoring a kill on a roll of 5…nice shot!)

.

.

.

…get…off…my…land!…

.

.

.

Cautiously the column presses forward having heard the scream from the woods just ahead. You can see Ol’ Carrick just behind the column watching on…

.

.

.

..as dark figures emerge from the bush the column sees the enemy before them…

.

.

.

Once more the ambushing warriors hurl a shower of spears, two shots dispatching two soldiers and another is shaken…deadly accurate fire.

(Rules Note – the rules use an initiative system whereby the player with the highest activation points  goes first. In this case the tribal player won the initiative and with a high initiative score of 16 on his 3D6 die roll. Each warrior then was activated to fire by using 2 initiative points. In this case upwards of 8 shots were fired resulting in two ‘kills’ on the British column – ouch! The ‘kills’ could, and probably would, in fact represent series wounds which effectively in the game means the figure is horse de combat).

.

.

.

…rattled by the loss of two men Lt. Shrivers barks out the order to shake into line. with the aid of the bugler toot-tooting, the column starts to shake out…

.

.

.

..line deployed the order is given “…make ready!…Fire!!”

.

.

.

..into the scrub goes a crashing volley…

.

.

.

“…kaboom!…”

.

.

.

…and as the smoke clears…

.

.

.

…the volley is way to high!…every ‘to kill’ roll of 4-5-6 missed! Of the nine ‘hits’ they all resulted in shaken fire results (1-2-3)…quite a sensible reaction to a close range volley really!

(Player Note – this poor die roll no doubt reflects the warriors hearing the order to fire being given and finding some suitable cover to duck behind…it could’ve been ugly though!)

.

.

.

…then…no sooner had the aboriginal tribesmen appeared than they disappeared back into the bush…Gurumarra, waving his spear, calls of his spirited attack and melts back into the scrub with his band of men…except two who are still shaken and cowering from the musket fire…

(Rule Note – once again our lucky warriors gained the initiative and removed all their shaken markers and then group moved back into the scrub beyond musketry range…nice play!).

.

.

.

…meanwhile, Sergeant Parr’s probing in the bush…reveals some unwelcome attention…not the first time this has happened to him according to Lt. Shrivers. The attention is in the form of Jarrah leading his spear and boomerang armed warriors out of hiding and into firing range.

.

.

.

…hoping to gain the initiative he is trumped by the more nimble and dexterous warriors to his front. The Tribal player once more gains the benefit of activating first on the initiative roll and proceeds to throw a bunch of boomerangs, just on the range of visibility in the scrub…

.

.

.

An overview of the action – about 8 turns in. Top left you can see Sergeant Parr and his detachment as they stumble into Jarrah and his warriors in the woods. Bottom centre Gurumarra has fallen back except for his two warriors still shaken.  The British, still confident their disciplined firepower will win the day prepare to advance…

.

.

.

Jarrah, an old and experienced warriors, leads his men forward toward the small British detachment…

.

.

.

.

.

.

…not wanting to lose an opportunity to overwhelm his enemy Jarrah orders his men forward to close range to ensure their spears are as lethal as can be if they hit…

(Rule note – Parr’s men did not act this turn because the British player’s activation pool points were used by Shrivers’ detachment in an attempt to reload their muskets – the choices we make!. This unfortunately left Parr without any points to activate…maybe a poor tactical choice by the British player?).

.

.

.

…surrounded, things look grim for Sergeant Parr and his men….they fix bayonets, prepared to deal the warriors a lesson in cold steel…

.

.

.

…not before they got a lesson themselves…Jarrah’s men hurl their spears and bring two of Parr’s men to the ground. The remaining men fire of their muskets but score no hits!…”there’s something wrong with our guns today!”

(Rule note – some hot dice rolling by the Tribal player…kill rolls of 5 and 6 were scored to inflict mortal strikes with each hit!).

.

.

.

…yet more spears rain in on Parr’s detachment. Now two of his men are shaken, two dead and his position looks like i’ts about to be overrun…

.

.

.

…shaken warriors, unloaded soldiers!!!

.

.

.

“…Bring it!!!”…barks out one of Parr’s chargers…

.

.

.

…at long last Shrivers is getting his line in order after the initial shock of attack…

.

.

.

…whilst individual warriors hurl themselves at Parr’s detachment in individual displays of bravery, eager to earn the laurels as brave warriors…

.

.

.

…one by one they come in…

(Rule note – in S&R warriors cannot group charge move so must attack as individuals. Whilst outnumbering the British, the man with the musket and bayonet are better in hand to hand combat so in one-to-one combats they are more likely to win – numbers count in the number of sustained attacks that can be made).

.

.

.

.

.

.

…for equal losses, the aboriginals tribesmen exchange their life for that of a soldier and Parr himself. The loss of Parr rapidly drops the British morale.

(Rule Note – We play morale rules slightly differently than the standard smooth and rifled rules. In our variant when one-third of the morale value of your force is reached we test morale for each figure to see whether they stand. If in this test more than half of the figures, in morale value points has routed, then the entire force is broken. Leaders are worth more in a morale value point computation and thus their loss is more critical).

.

.

.

…Parr’s last stand in the woods left, whilst the right column prepares to advance and finish off Gurramarra’s men.

.

.

.

..however, despite the apparent resolve of his soldiers another two are speared by charging warriors hurling their weapons, and when combined with the screams from the woods behind them from both their comrades and whooping warriors, this detachment starts to waver…

.

.

.

..despite Shrivers admonishing his men they cannot be held…

.

.

.

…as the Bidjigal warriors now sense the moment they push forward and drive off the redcoats…

.

.

.

..down the road from whence they came…’ol Carrick not to happy he won’t be back in his cabin tonight!

…and what of the remaining warriors?…

.

.

.

…hiding in amongst the sheep pen they stood ready to attack the British but they ran before they had a chance!

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

…mmm…tonight’s feast!!

.

Postscript

So ended the clash at Cleland’s Cabin. It was just reaching a crescendo before the redcoats dropped their bundle! The loss of Parr’s detachment and he as a leader, when combined with the several losses in the main force, was enough to tip the British into rout. Leader loss is a big morale negative – make mental note.

It must also be remembered that we are representing very small forces here, literally one-to-one scale. So panic can spread across the field relatively quickly and ‘an army’ can in fact break even though there’s a fair bit of distance on table between troops.

I think for the most part the rules notes indicate how the game flows and plays and how the relevant troops interact. You can see the initiative system is very important in how many points you get at the start of th turn to act, how many you can expand to perform actions and indeed how they are allocated as Parr’s demise showed. The British ability to act in groups is significant and cannot be underestimated, it’s just they didn’t get such an opportunity in this particular action.

As it turned out the aboriginal warriors were able to continue to win the initiative with high die rolls and act quite effectively in the face of the enemy…we’ll, they are pretty nimble and regularly ran rings around the redcoats. In combat the game only allows warriors to attack one on one, which actually makes their number not a true combat advantage, but in the end numbers in total matter.

Smooth and Rifled uses a number of quite unique interlaced gameplay systems that deliver a very unique flowing and unstructured style of play. This is particularly suited to frontier wars clashes where you can have groups and individuals all needing to act on the same table using the same type of mechanisms…sometimes together, sometimes apart.

It is also particularly important that for tribal warriors they use the ambush rule. One of their great strengths in the game is their ability to remain hidden and deploy of these markers. Their weapons are effective, but not that effective, and against better armed opponents they will need to remain out of sight for as long as possible.

A final point worth bearing in mind is that for a good Smooth & Rifled game a scenario shouldn’t generally involve simple one objective tasks. It can make one force a little too easy to operate if all they have to do is lineup and blaze away, particularly if they have firearms.

That said, this is not uncommon in warfare, typical of many frontier wars clashes, desirable for the settlers and is true to low-level engagements generally…but only if the platoon seargant can organise it!!  It’s just my not make for a very good game if you do it every time you play…good scenario design will help here.

 

i hope enjoyed this close look at Smooth & Rifled for the Frontier Wars. In the next post we’l take a quick look at some source reading material….

 

..see you then 😉

.

.

.

Advertisements