Sunday, 24 January 2010

The New Morschauserland-Fezian Border Dispute: Play-test 1 – The relief mission to Fort de Gre

This short skirmish was fought to test the latest draft of my adaptation of Joseph Morschauser’s ‘Modern’ Period Rules for the 19th century era, particularly the recent changes that have been made to the turn sequence.

Because the basic mechanisms have remained the same, this play-test will not be as detailed as previous ones that I have written about my adaptation of Joseph Morschauser’s ‘Modern’ Period Rules.

Scenario

Like so many countries Morschauserland sought its ‘place in the sun’, and during the latter part of the 19th century it acquired a small colony in Africa which it named – somewhat unoriginally – New Morschauserland. This colony lay in an area that was claimed by Fezia (another of the colonial powers) and from the very earliest arrival of Morschauserland troops there were a series of minor border skirmishes. This is the story of one of those skirmishes.

Fort de Gre – a large native-style hut surrounded by a wall of sun-baked bricks – marked the edge of New Morschauserland. It was garrisoned by an Infantry Unit of locally-recruited troops who were relieved every couple of months by a supply column. This column usually included a locally-recruited MCC (Morschauserland Colonial Corps) Infantry Unit (which was the new garrison), an MCC Infantry Unit, an Artillery Unit of the MCC, and a Machine Gun Unit of the MCC.

The order of march adopted by the column was:
  • The locally-recruited MCC Infantry Unit
  • The MCC Artillery Unit
  • The MCC Infantry Unit
  • The MCC Machine Gun Unit
The fort was regarded by the Fezians as both an affront to their country and a potential base for their control of the disputed border area. The local commander – Whali Pasha – decided that the fort had to be captured and the Morschauserlanders taught a lesson. He therefore sent a punitive force to capture the fort. The force included two Infantry Units of the Fezian Army (a regular Fezian Infantry Unit and an infantry Unit from the Fezian Zouaves of the Guard), an Infantry Unit of locally-recruited Fezian Militia, a Fezian Artillery Unit, and a Fezian Machine Gun Unit.

The order of advance adopted by the Fezian double-width column was:
  • The Infantry Unit of locally-recruited Fezian Militia on the left and the regular Fezian Infantry Unit on the right
  • The Fezian Artillery Unit on the left and the Infantry Unit of Fezian Zouaves of the Guard on the right
  • The Fezian Machine Gun Unit on the right
Unfortunately he chose to mount his assault on the fort on the same day that the Morschauserland relief column was due to reach Fort de Gre.

A map of the disputed area.
Turn 1

The playing cards were shuffled and dealt as follows:

Morschauserlanders
  • The locally-recruited MCC Infantry Unit in Fort de Gre: Queen of Hearts (QH)
  • The locally-recruited MCC Infantry Unit with the column: 5 of Hearts (5H)
  • The MCC Artillery Unit: 4 of Hearts (4H)
  • The MCC Infantry Unit: 4 of Spades (4S)
  • The MCC Machine Gun Unit: 5 of Clubs (5C)
Fezians
  • The Infantry Unit of locally-recruited Fezian Militia: Ace of Spades (1S)
  • The regular Fezian Infantry Unit: 5 of Diamonds (5D)
  • The Fezian Artillery Unit: King of Spades (KS)
  • The Infantry Unit of Fezian Zouaves of the Guard: 3 of Spades (3S)
  • The Fezian Machine Gun Unit: Jack of Diamonds (JD)
The order in which Units were activated was, therefore:
  • The Infantry Unit of locally-recruited Fezian Militia: Ace of Spades (1S)
  • The Infantry Unit of Fezian Zouaves of the Guard: 3 of Spades (3S)
  • The MCC Artillery Unit: 4 of Hearts (4H)
  • The MCC Infantry Unit: 4 of Spades (4S)
  • The locally-recruited MCC Infantry Unit with the column: 5 of Hearts (5H)
  • The MCC Machine Gun Unit: 5 of Clubs (5C)
  • The regular Fezian Infantry Unit: 5 of Diamonds (5D)
  • The Fezian Machine Gun Unit: Jack of Diamonds (JD)
  • The locally-recruited MCC Infantry Unit in Fort de Gre: Queen of Hearts (QH)
  • The Fezian Artillery Unit: King of Spades (KS)
Other than the locally-recruited MCC Infantry Unit, all the Units were activated and moved towards their various objectives. As none of the Units were within range of each other, there was no combat.

Turn 2

The playing cards were shuffled and dealt as follows (N.B. from this point onwards the cards will be referred to by abbreviation e.g. 5 of Hearts = 5H):

Morschauserlanders
  • The locally-recruited MCC Infantry Unit in Fort de Gre: 5D
  • The locally-recruited MCC Infantry Unit with the column: KS
  • The MCC Artillery Unit: 3S
  • The MCC Infantry Unit: JD
  • The MCC Machine Gun Unit: 5H
Fezians
  • The Infantry Unit of locally-recruited Fezian Militia: 4H
  • The regular Fezian Infantry Unit: 4S
  • The Fezian Artillery Unit: 5C
  • The Infantry Unit of Fezian Zouaves of the Guard: 1S
  • The Fezian Machine Gun Unit: 2S
The order in which Units were activated was, therefore:
  • The Infantry Unit of Fezian Zouaves of the Guard: 1S
  • The Fezian Machine Gun Unit: 2S
  • The MCC Artillery Unit: 3S
  • The Infantry Unit of locally-recruited Fezian Militia: 4H
  • The regular Fezian Infantry Unit: 4S
  • The MCC Machine Gun Unit: 5H
  • The Fezian Artillery Unit: 5C
  • The locally-recruited MCC Infantry Unit in Fort de Gre: 5D
  • The MCC Infantry Unit: JD
  • The locally-recruited MCC Infantry Unit with the column: KS
The Infantry Unit of Fezian Zouaves of the Guard moved forward until it was in range of the fort and opened fire. It hit 2 of the defenders, killing 1 of them.

The Fezian Zouaves of the Guard open fire on the fort's defenders.
The Fezian Machine Gun Unit followed them forward and also fired at the fort’s defenders, hitting and killing 2 of them.

The Fezian Machine Gun Unit also inflicted casualties on the fort’s defenders.
The MCC Artillery Unit moved towards the fort, but was out of range. The Infantry Unit of locally-recruited Fezian Militia advanced and opened fire on the fort, but caused no casualties.

The Infantry Unit of locally-recruited Fezian Militia moved up and opened fire on the fort, but to no avail.
The regular Fezian Infantry Unit moved to the right flank of the Fezian Machine Gun Unit and its fire killed the fort’s last remaining defender.

The regular Fezian Infantry Unit’s fire killed the last remaining defender in the fort.
The remaining Units – the MCC Machine Gun Unit, the Fezian Artillery Unit, the MCC Infantry Unit, and the locally-recruited MCC Infantry Unit with the column – all advanced but did not engage any enemy Units.

The situation at the end of Turn 2. The Fezians were advancing on the now empty fort ...
… and the Morschauserlanders were unable to stop their advance.
Turn 3

The playing cards were shuffled and dealt as follows:

Morschauserlanders
  • The locally-recruited MCC Infantry Unit: QH
  • The MCC Artillery Unit: 7D
  • The MCC Infantry Unit: 8S
  • The MCC Machine Gun Unit: 2C
Fezians
  • The Infantry Unit of locally-recruited Fezian Militia: 2D
  • The regular Fezian Infantry Unit: 10D
  • The Fezian Artillery Unit: 5S
  • The Infantry Unit of Fezian Zouaves of the Guard: KH
  • The Fezian Machine Gun Unit: 5H
The order in which Units were activated was, therefore:
  • The MCC Machine Gun Unit: 2C
  • The Infantry Unit of locally-recruited Fezian Militia: 2D
  • The Fezian Machine Gun Unit: 5H
  • The Fezian Artillery Unit: 5S
  • The MCC Artillery Unit: 7D
  • The MCC Infantry Unit: 8S
  • The regular Fezian Infantry Unit: 10D
  • The locally-recruited MCC Infantry Unit: QH
  • The Infantry Unit of Fezian Zouaves of the Guard: KH
The MCC Machine Gun Unit, the Infantry Unit of locally-recruited Fezian Militia, the Fezian Machine Gun Unit, and the Fezian Artillery Unit all continued to advance towards the fort and the Morschauserland troops, but as none of the Morschauserland Units were in range, the Fezians did not open fire.

When the MCC Artillery Unit moved forward the regular Fezian Infantry Unit was in range of their gun, and they fired on the Fezian Unit and killed 1 of its soldiers.

The MCC Artillery Unit opens fire at long range ... and hits its target!
It was then the turn of the MCC Infantry Unit to advance, and they were able to fire at the Infantry Unit of locally-recruited Fezian Militia, hitting them and killing 1 of the Militiamen.

The MCC Infantry Unit open fire on the locally-recruited Fezian Militia Infantry Unit.
The Fezians responded by moving the regular Fezian Infantry Unit forward. They engaged the MCC Infantry Unit, inflicting 3 casualties, of whom 2 were fatalities.

Although they have already suffered casualties, the Fezian Infantry Unit was able to inflict serious casualties on the MCC Infantry Unit.
The locally-recruited MCC Infantry Unit advanced and fired back at the regular Fezian Infantry Unit, but although they hit the Unit they inflicted no fatal casualties.

The locally-recruited MCC Infantry Unit fired ineffectively at the regular Fezian Infantry Unit.
The final Unit to move was the Infantry Unit of Fezian Zouaves of the Guard, which was able to flank the locally-recruited MCC Infantry Unit, hitting them 3 times and killing 2 of its soldiers in the process.

The Fezian Zouaves of the Guard Infantry Unit fired into the flank of the locally-recruited MCC Infantry Unit ... and killed two of its soldiers.
At this point the Morschauserlanders realised that they were in serious danger of being overwhelmed, and began to withdraw. The Fezians, who had captured their objective with only minimal casualties, allowed them to retreat unmolested. They then set about improving the fort’s defences ready for any possible counter-attack.

The situation at the end of the battle. The Fezians are poised to occupy the Fort de Gre and the Morschauserlanders prepare to withdraw.
Conclusions

The card-driven turn sequence worked as well as I had hoped, and produced a battle that felt far more fluid and unpredictable. Neither side was able to gain ascendancy early in the battle, and this was reflected in the to-and-fro nature of the combat. Further play-tests might be necessary, but at present they rules work very well in their current state.

2 comments:

  1. Interesting little action. Did you find that knowing the sequence in adavance altered either side's tactical decisions? I often use a system where a card is assigned to each unit at the start of the game (eg Fex MG is Ace of Spades, Zouves are King of Spades, Fort garrison is 2 of Diamonds etc.) The cards in use form a deck which is shuffled and drawn 1 at a time. When a card comes up, that unit is activated as you do. That way you don't know in advance when the first unit moves which unit, friendly or enemy is about to move next. Anyway, good job on the adaptation, I am neck deep in medium sized battalions this year but by next year will be ready for some Morschauser style games again and ready to try out my hex mat and you've pretty much paved the way for me. -Ross

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  2. Ross Mac,

    It was a nice little battle to fight, although the write-up took some time to do afterwards.

    The card-driven sequence is one that I have used before, and I suppose that I have got used to it. However your point about the effect of knowing the order of activation is well made and one that I would prefer to deal with in a manner similar to the one that you describe.

    My personal preference is to have a specially-made deck of cards, each of which represents a specific unit. These can be made quite easily using blank business cards. Not only do they look nice but there can be no misunderstanding. I have used something similar before, and it proved to be very satisfactory.

    Once I have the 19th century version of the rules well and truly sorted out I intend to return to the ‘Modern’ era rules and amend them to reflect the lessons I have learned. I also hope to develop the rules for use with my Hexon II hexed terrain system.

    All the best,

    Bob

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