Heretical Gaming is my blog about my gaming life, featuring small skirmishes and big battles from many historical periods (and some in the mythic past or the far future too). The focus is on battle reports using a wide variety of rules, with the occasional rules review, book review and odd musing about the gaming and history. Most of the battles use 6mm-sized figures and vehicles, but occasionally 15mm and 28mm figures appear too.

Saturday, 7 September 2019

Battle of Lundy's Lane - A Polemos Ruse de Guerre AAR

The Battle of Lundy's Lane was another action from the War of 1812.  It was another particularly bloody action!  And it also feature many of the same commanders and units which had fought at the Battle of Chippawa, the previous battle in this series of refights.

The scenario is again taken from one in the Polemos Ruse de Guerre rulebook, and again is modified to be roughly half its size in number of bases used.  Basically the scenario as written proposes an infantry base for every 100 men engaged, I used a base for every 200.  This usually has relatively little effect on the gameplay as far as I can tell but this was emphatically not true of this scenario.  But more of which later...

Orders of Battle:

United States Army:
11 bases of Infantry
1 base of Militia
1 base of Skirmishers
5 bases of Guns
1 base of Cavalry

British Army:
12 bases of Infantry
3 bases of  Poor Native Americans
2 bases of Well-Trained Light Infantry
4 bases of Guns
1 base of Cavalry

(I think I have made an error in my notes on the British order of battle. I will check and amend when I can.  The sides are approximately accurate however).

About half of each side's units are present initially, with reinforcements arriving for both sides at regular intervals during the battle.

Again, both sides are simply looking to defeat the other.  In the real action, the Americans took the initiative and attacked first. 

The Set-Up:
The US forces are below the road (bottom) and towards the right (they are the ones that look vaguely blue!); the British Army is roughly parallel to the top left-right road

Another view.  Scott's US infantry are shielded from cannon fire unless they advance or the British artillery moves closer

A closer look at the British who have massed their artillery forward

The position on the American Right around the woods
The Battle:
The Americans remain passive and under cover in the centre initially, instead advancing to threaten the British left flank hanging on the woods (right)

During these preliminary movements, reinforcements arrive: these are British Foot moving down the road

The Americans are pushing up against the British left (right) which has given ground rather than seriously contest the advance; however, on the other flank British light infantry companies are threatening Scott's flank (bottom-left); the US artillery has now arrived en masse (bottom-right road).  Also note that the British foot and guns have advanced in the centre to bring Scott's troops under fire (bottom-centre)

A closer look at the US artillery advancing

The really serious fighting begins!  The British attack the left flank of Scott's central position...

But Scott orders a very short withdrawal - he want to get into a musketry firefight, especially since Brown has now managed to get the US artillery in positin to enfilade the road...(centre-right)

With fairly disastrous results for the British! One battalion is broken and  the others are taking heavy casualties, although the US infantry is also suffering from British musketry and particularly artillery, and one of Scott's battalions has also broken and run..

The gap in the US line is more obvious in this shot (bottom-centre)

The British resume their attack on the US left (bottom-left), but again Scott withdraws his men into a more compact formation and hopes to get succor quickly - note the arrival of US infantry reinforcements on the right-hand road...

British fire routs another US battalion (left) although reinforcements immediately step-in to restore the position on the flank...

A wider shot of the same

Some good British musketry on the US right flank starts to cause significant casualties on the US cavalry (note the shaken marker)

Seeing an opportunity, Lisle orders his Light Dragoons into the charge (centre)!

However the Americans deftly ignore this charge and quickly bring up their infantry instead (centre)...

...although the pressure on the American left is unrelenting (another battalion has broken) (bottom-centre)...

And another one, although note that some of the British light infantrymen have also run from the intense American reciprocal musketry too (extreme left)

The battle gets bloodier and bloodier - the British cavalry is sent fleeing down the road after a short but sanguine experience at the hands of the US infantrymen

The musketry duel on the American right rages on...

The American left flank is starting to cave and the remaining British light infantry are attacking the American guns in the flank...(bottom-centre); note also that the British infantry reinforcements are piling towards this flank too (left)

More American infantrymen arrive, but they are struggling to deploy into any kind of defensive line!

More British infantry reinforcements arrive!

But suddenly, the US cavalry rout! And this in turn leads to the entire US army losing heart and men begin to start running to the rear...

The position at the end of the battle
Game Notes: Another fun game, which could have gone either way, although the British did seem to gain a slight advantage early on which they never quite related.  The game ended in quite unexpected fashion though: Polemos Ruse de Guerre uses rally rules in which a unit attempting to remove a level of shaken have a 10% chance of routing instead.  And this happened just at the wrong time for the Americans, who then suffered a high morale loss level which tipped the whole army over the edge...a nice touch really, although both Polemos Ruse de Guerre and Napoleonic sets have morale systems which are simple, slightly quirky and occasionally really vicious!
Not the fault of the scenario as designed but as a result of my changes, the game did end up being a bit cramped.  The reduced size scenarios are very small indeed: the playing area is typically only 79cm x 39cm.  The rules don't advise that the ranges or move distances are changed to compensate, which normally doesn't matter but did in this game, because it meant that the Americans felt pressured and constructed right from the get go which wouldn't have been the case otherwise.  The rules themselves however continued to give a really good game and with a bit of luck, the Americans might have reversed the fortunes of the day...
As ever, figures by Baccus 6mm, buildings here mainly by Leven.

And this concludes my playthroughs of the majority of the scenarios from the Polemos Ruse de Guerre rulebook.  Both the rules and the scenarios have proved very satisfactory and I don't think I want to change my opinion too much from my first impressions.  Mechanically they are probably the soundest of the Polemos family considered as a game.  They have the most involved Tempo/PIP phase but all the other bits are the simplest to follow and the play.    Apart from a couple of very minor issues, the only disagreement I have with them remains that I think the mechanics seem more historically appropriate for battalion-sized bases rather than company or platoon sized bases.  I would at least personally want to modify the effective ranges somewhat to reflect the different levels of play.  But overall, I have been very happy with these games and am looking forward to returning to them in the near future.


  1. Very interesting thoughts post game. Bathtubbing a scenario is a tricky thing, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn't. Also with smaller actions rules that are aimed at Battalion levels and higher often seem to fall down in their mechanics. I had this recently with BKCII, were I was trying to do stuff with them that they weren't designed for. Lesson learnt.

    1. Thanks Steve. It was an interesting one. It wasn't bathtubbed in the sense of a Charles Grant scenario in which one regiment represents a historical brigade or suchlike, but it has approximately the same effect because the rules themselves allow different base:man ratios but don't change the ground scale to match. I know why the designer did it this way but it creates some odd effects in some battles (like this one). Artillery can easily be halved or doubled in relative effectiveness for example, simply because troops will spend more or less time under fire whilst advancing.