I was invited to my friend Jeff’s house last Saturday to try out a small 28mm semi-skirmish game using the Brother Against Brother rules. We originally were planning on an ACW clash, but circumstances being what they were it turned out that we played a game set in the French and Indian War instead.
The main purpose of the game was to exercise the rules and see how they worked. Because of this, the French and British had identical forces consisting of three infantry squads at 10 figures each, two artillery pieces with crew, and an officer (the colonel). We played one of the standard scenarios out of the book: a meeting engagement where both sides marched on to the table via a country lane and then had to deploy out to meet the enemy.
BAB uses a card draw system for unit activation and movement rates are randomized by rolling 2 d10 for infantry to move minus deductions for terrain. You actually only move the squad leader figure and then get to arrange the rest of the squad around him up to 6″ away. Jeff used an optional rule adding a joker to the card deck which ended the turn immediately which added (IMO) a nice fog of war effect to the game since we were not guaranteed that every unit would get to do something.
Fire Combat can be destructive, depending on the range and terrain. As is fitting for a horse & musket skirmish game, infantry can either fire, reload or move in a turn, so choices should be made as to how many figures you choose to fire each turn. You can unleash a volley but then you’re totally unloaded for the next turn.
Artillery firing cannister is nasty and can dominate an open board. On the flip side, an average infantry squad volley can decimate an artillery crew in short order, so pushing your guns forward has both high risk and high reward. Normally there wouldn’t be two artillery pieces with just three squads of infantry, so the guns had a larger effect on the game than might otherwise be the case. Still, it was good to figure out what they can and cannot do.
Melee combat is brutal, and losing one’s squad leader can be a devastating impact on a squad. We had a situation develop in the game where I had a squad of French colonial regulars in a tree line exchanging fire with a squad of British hatmen who were behind a wooden fence. The British took a casualty, which forced a morale card pull. The result of this was their squad leader being shot (the only way to lose a CO other than melee). This meant that the British squad would not budge from behind that fence until their colonel came over and promoted a new squad leader. They would sit behind the fence and shoot without issue, which seemed like an OK thing.
Next turn my French colonists took another casualty, and the morale card pull revealed that they were forced to charge the nearest enemy, which was the aforementioned NCO-less squad of Brits behind the fence. This seemed like a suicidal move: leaving a tree line to charge a squad set up behind an obstacle. The French made it into combat, and then we figured out that having no squad leader means a -4 DRM for the Brits, which on an opposed d10 roll is critical. My French ended up bayonetting the entire squad over the course of two turns which turned the game on that flank. Lesson: keeping the colonel in a central location so he can react to things like NCO loss is critical.
Jeff posted a query about this on the BAB Yahoo group and it appears our interpretation of the rule was correct.
Overall it was a fun, if bloody game. It ended with the French having one depleted squad left and the British the same. I don’t know if these rules will become the staple small game set for this group or not. The jury appears to be out, and there are other sets to try. I have “This Very Ground” from Iron Ivan and Sharp Practice from Too Fat Lardies among others to try.