Part II of the extensive AAR provided by Mark Miklos of the battle for supremacy at the Battles of the American Revolution (BoAR) Series tournament at the World Boardgaming Championships!
If you missed Part I of the AAR, you can read that at the following link: https://wordpress.com/post/theplayersaid.com/84207
As we were setting up for the Final on Saturday morning and deploying the Big Board Games, Inc.® map and counters for the Battle of Newport, Rhode Island (BoAR Volume IX) we were visited by Alexander & Grant from The Players Aid. They dropped by to shoot a video interview during which we discussed the tournament and upcoming BoAR projects.
Alexander and Grant are terrific and their repartee in person is every bit as effective and entertaining as it is on YouTube. They previously played Brandywine and have a high opinion of the BoAR Series. Rumor has it that at next year’s WBC they will join me for a friendly 3-player game of Savannah, which is Savannah at its best! Be watching for this and other designer interviews from this year’s WBC on The Players Aid YouTube channel in the coming weeks.
Here is a look at our video review for Brandywine posted on our YouTube Channel in 2021:
After the interview and the setup we were finally ready to play. We secretly selected sides and since I wanted the British and Dave the Americans, no bidding was needed. It was 9:15 AM.
If you are accustomed to reading BoAR After Action Reports you will quickly notice that this will be more of a general summary rather than a turn by turn description. That’s because we lost our scribe at the outset. Cappy had to take his family home to Delaware soon after our game began. Dave and I must be forgiven for being so engrossed in our play that neither of us could capture the granular detail such as calling out regiments and commanders by name for deeds both heroic and tragic. I was, however, able to capture a few significant themes.
As Dave’s forces approached to open the game I sortied my Hessians from the zone between the Tomini Hill Redoubt and Irish’s Redoubt on the British left. My objective in coming forward out of my works was to compel the approaching French to shift from column into line of battle in order to trade space for time. In my view the best chance for a Franco-American victory occurs on Day 1 which is only an eight turn affair. With time on my side I gambled on this delaying tactic. The trick, however, is not to get caught in the open by an American back-to-back turn. As soon as I formed my line I had to begin withdrawing it because the British kept winning the initiative for the next several turns leaving the Americans poised for that potential back-to-back move.
Dave meanwhile was maneuvering his American units toward the center to link up in force with the French. There did not appear to be any direct threat developing against the British right flank at Card’s Redoubt. In fact, his bog-check appeared to be an afterthought and no American troops ever approached Card’s Redoubt via the bog even after it proved to be passable. So as the Americans glided toward the center, the British shifted toward their center in response. For the first four game turns we stayed out of one another’s artillery range with the exception of the American siege artillery on Honeyman Hill which was unsuccessful in several attempts to breach the earthen ramparts of Card’s Redoubt.
The first American attack occurred on turn 5 pictured here:
During my defensive artillery fire I took eight shots and they all missed. Thus began a saga of errant British artillery fire; eventually eighteen total shots, three hits with no damage. Twenty eight total shots, six hits, no damage. And so it continued. At one point I had taken thirty nine shots and while the number of hits improved to eleven or nearly one-third, only two of those hits caused damage.
I elaborate on this point because the British player can win decisively by eliminating eighteen SP’s of non-militia French and American infantry. The Allies must attack to win and they risk approaching thirty SP’s of British and Hessian artillery (60-guns) to do so. As it turned out, my poor artillery fire was a foreshadowing of things to come.
To win on Day 1 Dave had to control three of the five redoubts along the outer defensive line. He eventually captured one, Irish’s Redoubt, but was repulsed everywhere else along the line. He ignored the extreme flanks and concentrated in the center where three of the five British redoubts are located. Doing so also avoided the two largest British batteries, each of 4 SP located on Tomini Hill and near Card’s Redoubt. Each side was getting bloodied in the hotly contested close combats against the redoubts in the center.
When night fell we entered a structured administration phase and I began pulling my front line units back using a reduced movement table for night marching. Opposing units must disengage from each other at night and so Dave was unable to maintain adjacency as I withdrew. After some calculations and army morale adjustments that occur at night I emerged in the morning with a one point army morale advantage and the right to go first on turn 9. Now with full movement available I pulled back farther and faster toward the British inner line trenches surrounding Newport. While doing so I had to spike three batteries of heavy artillery who simply could not keep up.
As we entered the first turn of the 2nd Day the SP Lost Track for Franco-American infantry casualties sat at 13 out of 18. I had every confidence that with a second fortified line to fall back upon and still with ample artillery, I would be assured of the five additional step losses I needed to win. Dave later admitted that about this time he was on the verge of failing his personal morale check. Nevertheless surrender is not in his vocabulary particularly because, as a veteran BoAR player, he knows that games in this series can turn on a dime no matter how dire a situation may appear.
It was turn twelve when the Allies hit the British inner line in force from front and flank. In retrospect, I recognize that I maneuvered poorly during my retreat from the outer to the inner British lines. As I think back on the game I am reminded of what Aunt Pittypat said in Gone with The Wind. “Yankees in Georgia. How did they get it?”
My left and center were on the most direct lines of approach by the pursuing Franco-American Allies and so I made them as solid as I could. My right, however, was more extended and I left it thinly defended doing little to impede his approach in that direction. It was a longer, less direct route for him to take and although he primarily had militia stationed there, he saw that a door was left open and elected to pass through it after I abandoned the exposed Easton Redoubt on the extreme right end of my line. By doing so I voluntarily gave up one of the five inner-line victory objectives but I took the calculated risk because the move also shortened my front and, as I fell back, I also refused my right.
Once Dave got forces over my trench line, however, I lost much of my defensive benefit. Still, I had guns and he had to suffer defensive artillery fire before he could close on me. Unfortunately for the Crown my poor shooting, so evident on Day 1, continued unabated into Day 2. I NEVER blame a game on dice and in truth I got fair dice and my share of hits but could not cause any step losses down the stretch.
Dave was equally frustrated. He would mount attacks, suffer fire, and then retreat or disrupt several attacking units making his ensuing attacks too weak to break through. Up he would come and back he would go. He had senior commanders in the rear areas desperately rallying stacks of troops and once rallied, they would be replaced with freshly disrupted units streaming rearward.
We were getting tired and frustrated, Dave’s frustration manifesting itself in the discovery of two overstacked hexes of American troops. When this occurs the player must eliminate enough SP’s to conform to stacking limits and pay the VP and army morale penalties for doing so. If memory serves, Dave was able to remove some expendable American militia units in each case. This is not an indictment of Dave’s play, which is scrupulously correct at all times, but rather an illustration of how the long hours and tense play were taking their toll.
To compound things his mortar fire was ineffective all game. Rather than digging the mortar into fieldworks to extend its range, he chose instead to move it up behind his ever-advancing line. Even at slightly reduced range the siege mortar has the potential to do immense damage. Most of his shots missed. He successfully eliminated one British naval battery, had one misfire, and missed with all the other shots.
Suddenly someone noticed we had been playing steadily for over eight hours. And still we danced…
Ultimately, by causing another step or two of damage in close combat, I had him at 16 lost SP’s and needing only one more hit on a four or five SP unit to achieve the last remaining two steps of damage to win decisively. For what ended up being the final five turns of the game I was unable to cause that elusive hit.
Dave went second on turn seventeen during which he captured his third, and final, objective hex in the inner line to win a decisive Allied victory. By then my army morale was down to 1! Someone looked at their watch. It was sometime after 10:15 PM. We had been playing for over thirteen hours and never left the board except for bathroom breaks. Snacks were eaten tableside.
Our observers were as exhausted as we were. Several folks hung by the table all day and several kept checking in to see how it was unfolding. The Big Board makes a war game a true spectator sport and Dave and I were grateful for the moral support.
I can’t say this was the longest match I have ever played because I once won the Final in the game 1776 at AvalonCon; a 60-turn affair that took fourteen hours to play and began immediately after a full day of Heats. Nevertheless, given the ebb and flow in this match, the equal doses of frustration we each experienced, the balance in the scenario and in the skill sets of the two players, and in the sheer will that it took, it deserves the label, EPIC. I’m confident Dave would agree on that point. Without reservation I can add this match to those of Sinigaglio vs Easter at Pensacola (twice), Sinigaglio vs Miklos & Long at Savannah, T. Miklos vs Doane at Brandywine, Miklos vs McCracken at Pensacola, and Doane vs Miller at Germantown as truly memorable tournament Finals.
In the past Dave has won BoAR tournaments at RevCon during Prezcon and has several George Washington Awards to his credit. This was his first BoAR WBC championship, however, and a very well deserved one. His approach to my inner line and his exploitation of my weak right flank were masterful and instructive for all who observed it.
Congratulations to Dave Stiffler and thank you again to everyone who joined us for the 2022 WBC BoAR tournament.
See you next year.
Congrats to Dave Stiffler for his victory and also thanks to Mark for allowing this two part AAR to be posted on our blog. We appreciate the work he put into this tournament and for his grace in meeting with Alexander and I while we were at WBC. It was a great pleasure to meet him and hi inner circle and to hear all about the new happenings in the Battles of the American Revolution Series. Until next year, when we will get a chance to sit down and play a game with Mark!
To take a look at the various games included in the BoAR Series, please check out the following game site on the GMT Games website: https://www.gmtgames.com/c-3-battles-of-the-american-revolution.aspx#%5BPageNumber(0)|PageSize(50)|PageSort(Name)|DisplayType(Grid)]
If you are interested in purchasing any of the volumes mentioned here (and remember that several of them are out of print), you can find the Tri-Pack at least on the Noble Knight Games website at the following link: https://www.nobleknight.com/P/2147683210/American-Revolution-Tri-Pack-Guilford-Saratoga-and-Brandywine