Table for One: End of Empire (Compass Games) After-Action Report Part One

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End of Empire (Compass Games, 2014)
American Revolutionary War Campaign Report (1775 Start; no optionals)
Part One: Turns One through Six (Spring 1775 to Winter II 1776)

Overview

The full American Revolutionary War campaign in Compass GamesEnd of Empire stretches some 41 turns at two months to the turn. Both maps (68″ x 22″) are in play, stretching from Nova Scotia to New Orleans and the Atlantic seaboard to the Great Lakes.

To win, the Americans have a seemingly simple victory condition: eliminate at least 35 steps of British Regular units from the map; two-step units that have flipped do not count until they are completely eliminated. Failing that, simply surviving to the last turn having secured 20 eliminated steps without suffering economic collapse will also see victory.

The British, conversely, seem to have the harder row to hoe, needing either to reclaim all thirteen colonies (plus Vermont and Maine) by securing all supply locations within each simultaneously; or to control and/or raid enough port locations to collapse the American economy via die roll, the number of ports raided/controlled acting as modifier. Rolls close to the needed number will withdraw a large number of American troops.

The French enter play on the American side once the Americans have eliminated 20 British Regular steps, as counted above, and the Spanish enter nine turns after that, also opposed to the British.

If the Americans secure fewer than 20 eliminated British Regular steps but keep the British from their victory conditions, then the game ends in a draw.

Initial Siege of Boston in End of Empire

Siege of Boston, Turn 1

Initial Thoughts

For the Americans, the initial strategy focuses entirely on inflicting enough losses per combat that the British must fulfill them using Regular steps. As the defender picks the first step lost, the presence of any Loyalist or Provincial units will ensure a buffer for the Regulars, so when they’ve been removed, the Americans must continue to strike before they’re reconstituted. British troops hunkered down behind walls, afraid of step losses, are almost as good as eliminated in terms of keeping friendly control of American ports and supply locations.

The British, on the other hand, need to begin to mop up the locations whence the American reinforcements and replacements surge forth—as long as the Americans know they can replace all their losses, they will not hesitate to make poor odds attacks in hopes of picking off a Regular step. The longer term goal of controlling/raiding port locations to trigger economic collapse follows from this initial objective. Force preservation remains paramount, but a death by a thousand cuts awaits if the American manpower advantage cannot be tamed.

(Leader ratings given as combat modifier/rank/initiative. Combat results are attacker losses/defender losses. Phases with no significant actions are omitted.)


Turn 1 (Spring, 1775)

Reinforcements:

The lone British reinforcement, the Second Marine Regiment, only has four real options: Nova Scotia, Quebec, Boston, or St. Augustine. Spring Break in Florida sounds lovely, so down they go to Prevost’s command, where the plan is to march up the coast towards Savannah, Georgia, rolling up the rebellious subjects of King George as they go.

For the Americans, the Catawba rally to the cause of the fledgling nation, appearing near Augusta, Georgia. Ward, west of Boston, preemptively calls out the Massachusetts militia.

British Phase:

Prevost [0/17/3] thinks about how long the walk to Savannah will be and delays it for the time being [Initiative dr=5 fails].

Meanwhile, in Boston, Gage [0/2/3] contemplates the forces arrayed against him: potentially 25 regiments in two stacks that could react, plus rumors of a significant rabble of armed peasantry. No, the “Americans” will need to come to him.

American Phase:

Ward [0/2/3], his forces bolstered by the addition of the militia, marches boldly into Boston [Initiative dr=3 succeeds]. The British remain behind the fortifications, unwilling to come out, so he orders the attack. 14 regiments plus the militia against 12 British regiments. [41 attack strength against 35 defense strength for 1:1 odds, mods are -1 US reforms, -1 powder shortage, -1 no artillery, -1 fort for net -4. Combat dr=3, final dr=-1 for 3AR/0.] The attack, though high in enthusiasm, breaks against the walls, with unpleasant results. The militia scatters, realizing they’re little match for the Redcoats on this day.

Thomas [0/6/3], to the south-east of Boston, delegates a handful of regiments to stiffen Ward’s forces, but, perhaps having received word of the initial skirmish, they are not inclined to march this day [Initiative dr=5 fails].

Turn 2 (Summer I, 1775)

Reinforcements:

Clinton [1/6/4] and Howe [1/5/4] show up with a strong force of Regulars. Clinton takes a few to Boston, while Howe sets up shop with the rest in Halifax, Nova Scotia, preparing a seaborne surprise for the Americans once the fleet shows up in earnest.

American troops, meanwhile, sign up by the score, apparently unfazed by Ward’s initial encounter with British firepower. The Virginia militia turns out in Norfolk, hearing rumors of an enemy force gathering there soon. Citizens of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Georgia, and South Carolina also heed the call to arms.

Agents bring the Cherokee into play for the British, while many promises are made to other local tribes from the British agent now working out of Montreal, in hopes of securing their assistance.

British Phase:

Prevost again tarries in St. Augustine [Initiative dr=5 fails]. Gage, happy for reinforcements, declines to leave Boston for the time being. The walls held once, after all…

Clinton is sent by sea from Boston to St. Augustine to take over Prevost’s slothful command—that’s what you get for letting a provincial try to run things.

American Phase:

Fresh leaders in Philadelphia, fresh units in the field, but the twain have not yet met. Washington [1/1/5] reaches New York, while Lee [0/3/3] heads for Norwalk, Connecticut. Schuyler [0/4/3], meanwhile, makes the long trek to Charleston, South Carolina, where the militia is waiting for direction.

American Mid-Atlantic Reinforcements, Turn 2

Putnam [0/5/3], in Norwich, Connecticut, tries to gather some local forces but everyone is still getting the hang of all this drilling and marching [Initiative dr=5 fails]. Thomas, meanwhile, rallies his forces [Initiative dr=1 succeeds] and heads to Ward’s position, but a detour to New Hampshire to pick up a new regiment there leads to a delay [subsequent Initiative dr=6 fails]. Several regiments attempt to move themselves, and quite a few do so, moving towards Boston.

Turn 3 (Summer II, 1775)

Reinforcements:

British Provincial loyalists muster in Norfolk to find the Virginia folk waiting for them. Clinton requisitions one of the newly arrived Irish regiments down in Florida; the rest head for Howe’s base in Nova Scotia. Loyal Bostonians join ranks with the Regulars behind the walls, surprised to find themselves in the front ranks of the defense.

Dunmore attacked at Norfolk

Lord Dunmore vs. Virginia Militia, Turn 3

More troops are raised for the Americans, including a pair of local regiments for Schuyler in South Carolina and additional forces in New York.

The Huron and Seneca join forces with the British, while the Americans finally put someone in place in Albany to speak with the local Native American forces.

British Phase:

Canada thus far remains quiet. An American push towards supplied winter quarters in the direction of Montreal, to enable a Spring offensive, should be expected soon as they continue to accumulate a surprising number of troops. Howe will have his regiments, though, and with luck the Native American tribes thus far recruited will help slow down and harry any American advance towards Canada.

Clinton shows Prevost how the professionals conduct a march [Initiative dr=1 succeeds] and heads straight to Savannah. The Georgia militia there cannot believe how quickly he arrived [boxed movement factor prevents reaction] but his troops cannot force the city quite yet after their long journey.

Clinton on the outskirts of Savannah.

Clinton on the outskirts of Savannah, Turn 3

Cherokee forces head towards Salisbury, North Carolina, but the militia appears to give them second thoughts.

In Virginia, the gathered Provincial loyalists must fight the militia that opposes, and outnumbers, them. [3 attack strength against 11 defense strength, for less than 1:3 odds. Automatic 2AR/0.] Not an auspicious beginning for the Provincials.

American Phase:

Schuyler needs to reach Savannah and exhorts his forces, but to no avail [Initiative dr=4 fails]. The nearby Catawba have no hope of winning an open fight, so they bide their time in the forests [Initiative dr=3 fails], threatening to cut off supply lines should Clinton not manage to take the jewel of Georgia.

Ward, bolstered with artillery outside Boston, tries again to take the city [Initiative dr=1 succeeds]. Alas, the new British forces more than make up for the American guns [54 attack strength against 53 defense strength for 1:1 odds. Mods are -1 US reforms, -1 powder shortage, -1 fort; net -3. Combat dr=2, final dr=-1 for 3AR/0.] Again, Ward calls a halt to the combat after the initial, bloody encounter.

Perhaps there is some merit in a less well fortified target, and American commanders begin considering Montreal. The ambitious Mongtomery [1/8/5] gathers and leads troops towards Canada [Initiative dr=4 succeeds]. He ends in Fort Ticonderoga with a significant force. He’ll need to carefully consider either wintering there or using the remaining months to press on towards Canada.

Montgomery marching to Montreal

Montgomery marching to Montreal, Turn 3

Washington pushes forth [Initiative dr=4 succeeds] and gathers troops from far and wide, linking with Ward’s forces—which are now his forces. The glory—and potential ignominy—will now be his in the battle for Boston. Thomas fails [Initiative dr=6 fails] to bring his forces from their New Hampshire garrison.

Continental marines take advantage of the lack of a British fleet and raid Nova Scotia [Rule 14.4 auto-raid]. Their departure leaves Gloucester undefended, but if that entices any British forces to leave Boston, all the better.

Putnam transfers to Salisbury, as the southern colonies begin to raise their forces.

Turn 4 (Fall, 1775)

Reinforcements:

Two regiments debark in St. Augustine, while a lone regiment is earmarked for Quebec to help bolster defenses up north. The Mohawk and Ottawa heed the British call after repeated entreaties from the agent in Montreal.

The militiamen of Massachusetts line up again, this time under Washington’s command, while a young go-getter by the name of Arnold brings a brigade to the field.

British Phase:

Prevost attempts to send the new regiments onwards to Savannah, but his exhortations fall on deaf ears [Initiative dr=5 fails]. Clinton, however, will not be deterred [Initiative dr=1 succeeds] and he marches with confidence into Savannah. [14 attack strength against 3 defense strength for 4:1 odds; mods are +1 US reforms, +1 no defender artillery. Combat dr=5, final dr=7 for a 1/DE result.] The Royal Americans at the head of the attack suffer the first British losses of the conflict, and Clinton fortifies Savannah in the aftermath, restoring Georgia to Crown control. [1 Colony restored.]

The new arrivals in Quebec aren’t quite organized after their journey [Initiative dr=4 fails], so Montreal will have to make do with what defense it has. Pigot [0/19/3] draws the short straw in Boston and is dispatched to Quebec to take charge of the ramshackle forces there.

American Phase:

In Beantown, once more, with feeling! Washington [Initiative dr=1 succeeds] rallies the considerable troops at his disposal and again tries to force the Bostonian walls. (72 attack strength against 53 defense for 1:1. Mods are +1 Washington, -1 US reforms, -1 fort, -1 powder shortage for net -2. Combat dr=6, final dr=4 for 0/1.) The Tory loyalists fall from the first line of defense. Washington presses the attack [auto-initiative success for second activation for Washington due to Initiative 5) and makes the Redcoats take note of his arrival (Same 1:1 odds, same -2 drm. Combat dr=4, final dr=2 for 1AR/1. 1 British Regular step lost.]

Though still wanting to push on, Washington notes with dismay that the Connecticut and Massachusetts militias have dispersed after the rough fighting. Lacking their numbers, he begrudgingly calls a halt to further combat.

In the South, Putnam [Initiative dr=6 fails] and Schuyler [Initiative dr=5 fails] ponder their Savannah problem. With winter beckoning, the poor infrastructure in the area would prevent a successful (or supplied) siege, so staying put seems wisest.

Montgomery decides to push onwards from Ticonderoga [Initiative dr=1 succeeds], using Lake Champlain to head towards the Richelieu River. The Caughnawaga forces at the northern tip of the lake do not flinch at their approach and attempt to ambush his forces, even though outnumbered. (Ambush odds 1:3, no mods. Ambush dr=2 for No Effect.) As members of the Iroquois Confederation, they stand and fight afterwards, valiantly but in vain. [16 attack strength against 1 defense strength; mods are -1 US reforms, +1 Montgomery for net +0. Combat dr=1 for 0/1.] Montgomery’s men make it all the way to an American supply source just outside Montreal, the defenders of that lovely city not willing to come out from the barricades to stop them.

Montgomery's approach to Montreal

Montgomery’s approach to Montreal, Turn 4

Thomas finally [Initiative dr=3 succeeds] moves his troops to Washington’s command, with the commander in chief wondering what might have been had they arrived a turn earlier.

Withdrawals:

Gage is removed from command (and probably glad to be gone from the tumult in Boston), with Clinton in Savannah taking on overall British control in the colonies.

Turn 5 (Winter I, 1775)

Reinforcements:

Alarmed by the danger to Montreal, two fresh British regiments arrive in Quebec to join Pigot’s force, hoping to make the trip up the St. Lawrence to relieve pressure there. A force of militiamen also gather in Montreal to await the expected onslaught. Loyalists in Savannah come out of hiding to join Clinton’s force, which must decide whether to hold on for the winter or push to Charleston.

A few American forces take the field, including several regiments in and near Philadelphia. The Massachusetts and South Carolina militias reappear after bringing in the harvest. Hearing tell of a loyalist force massing along the Cape Fear river, the North Carolina militia musters to meet them.

British Phase:

Pigot prepares four regiments in Quebec to march but underestimates the Canadian winter [Initiative dr=6 fails], leaving Montreal to its fate but also reminding the Americans that taking Montreal will not be the end of fighting in Canada.

Percy [0/18/3] in Boston, now in charge there after Gage’s departure, hunkers down, deigning to leave the walls. Clinton, meanwhile, will have Charleston, secure in the knowledge that the British fleet can drop off supplies on the coast as needed. As long as Putnam [0/5/3] doesn’t march, Savannah will be safe in the hands of its loyal militia, so off he trudges [Initiative dr=2 succeeds].

Upon seeing Clinton’s forces, Schuyler in Charleston attempts to bring his forces inside the walls, but his men are itching for a fight [Initiative dr=4 fails]. Combat is joined on the outskirts of the city proper. [11 attack strength versus 14 defense strength, for 1:2 odds; mods are +1 Clinton, +1 no defender artillery, +1 US reforms for net +3. Combat dr=5; final dr=8 resulting in 0/2.] Though quantitatively outmatched, Clinton’s skill and the lack of training on the part of the Americans tells, leading to the destruction of the South Carolina First Regiment. While loathe to give up Charleston, Schuyler knows he must retain as much of his now-meagre force as possible and retreats. Clinton fortifies the port and reclaims South Carolina for the crown. [Two Colonies restored.]

The Battle of Charleston in End of Empire

The Battle of Charleston, Turn 5

Prevost in St. Augustine finally finishes reading Introduction to Generalship [Initiative dr=3 succeeds] and sends a stack of troops towards Savannah to fill in behind Clinton.

American Phase:

Schuyler, still shaken by the loss of Charleston, tries to bring the remaining South Carolinian troops with him to Georgetown, South Carolina, but they won’t budge [Initiative dr=6 fails], refusing to leave their homes.
The Catawba push towards a spot of uncivilized wilderness on the East Florida coast [Initiative dr=2 succeeds], setting up a barrier that the British will have a difficult time dislodging. Possibly a turn too late, though, because troops bound for Clinton’s southern campaign can now land in any number of ports down there.

Putnam, to the far west in North Carolina, finally urges a regiment forth [Initiative dr=1 succeeds] to garrison Wilmington, NC, but he doesn’t accompany it; Salisbury remains an important supply source for the Americans.

Montgomery has no problems preparing his troops for battle in the cold [Initiative dr=1 succeeds] and they march on Montreal. Carleton [1/4/5], the finest of all Provincial generals, steels his troops for the battle to come. [18 attack strength against 5 defense strength for 3:1 odds; mods are +1 Montgomery, -1 Carleton, -1 US reforms, -1 no artillery, -1 fort for net -3. Combat dr=4; final dr=1 for 1/0.] Bravery does not suffice against parapets and fixed positions.

Desperate to draw British attention away from Boston and the vulnerable coast, Montgomery recommits his forces to another round of combat [Subsequent Initiative dr=3 succeeds] and the attack goes in once more. [3:1 odds again, still -3 drm. Combat dr=5; final dr=2, good for 0/1.] Not expecting to be attacked again, the Canadian militia flees while the British regulars succumb to their attackers. [1 British Regular step lost; 2 total.] Montreal is taken, and Carleton suffers the ignominy of becoming the first officer captured.

Back in Boston, Washington isn’t about to let Montgomery hog all the glory [Initiative dr=3 succeeds], and knowing that the enlistments of many of his forces are due to expire, he hammers the city again. [85 attack strength against 49 defense strength for 1:1 odds. Mods are +1 Washington, -1 US reforms, -1 fort, -1 powder shortage for a net -2. Combat dr=2; final dr=0 for a 2AR/1.] Not the most graceful attack, but the attritional trade-off is begrudgingly acceptable to the American commanders. [1 British Regular step lost; 3 total.]

Washington’s forces are cold and tired and not well pleased being used as cannon fodder against the still-strong Boston defense; they lack the momentum to return to Boston to try again after being pushed back.

Thomas and Ward, second fiddles in the Siege of Boston now that Washington is firmly in charge, are dispatched to Philadelphia and Yorktown, respectively, to command forces there.

Withdrawals:

Large numbers of American regiments are disbanded, draining the forces gathered around Boston plus some parts of the Canadian force. (Enlistments ended and the Continental Army took up its second establishment.) The spring promises fresh enlistments, but there are still winter months to get through with a suddenly denuded army.

Winter Attrition Phase:

General Winter claims no victims this turn.

Turn 6 (Winter II, 1776)

Reinforcements:

Only a few units enter play, most notably the 2nd Canadian Regiment of the Continental Army, appearing outside Montreal after the conquest of that city. MacLeod’s Highlanders appear on the Cape Fear River, met by the North Carolina militia. Washington calls out the Massachusetts militia again, while Clinton exhorts the loyal subjects in Charleston to take arms. And even though South Carolina has fallen back into British control, a group of rebels have formed up their own militia, the Marion militia, which rallies behind Schuyler.

The Oneida join with the Americans but find themselves in the midst of several Native American groups allied to the British; and the Abenaki enter for the British as well.

British Phase:

An easy target presents itself to Clinton just outside Charleston [Initiative dr=2 succeeds], and Schyuler [Initiative dr=6 fails] cannot roust his forces to retreat. [11 attack strength against 9 defense strength for 1:1 odds. Mods are +1 Clinton, +1 no defender artillery, +1 US reforms for net +3. Combat dr=4; final dr=7 for 0/2.] Schuyler falls captive as the last of his forces are eliminated. Clinton pushes on [Subsequent Initiative dr=2 succeeds] to Georgetown, where he will stay for the rest of the winter, supplied by sea.

Pigot in Quebec could easily reach the supply dump at Trois-Rivières to threaten the nearby American supply dump supporting Montreal, and he chooses to do so [Initiative dr=1 succeeds]. Until reinforcements arrive, though, he holds off on attacking the lone regiment holding the cache—an American reaction from nearby Montreal could result in a much different fight.

MacLeod’s Highlanders fight with the gathered North Carolina militia. [3 attack strength against 5 defense strength for 1:2 odds; mods are +1 US reforms, with neither side having artillery. Combat dr=1; final dr=2 for 2/0.] The Highlanders scatter, and the militia stands triumphant on the field.

American Phase:

Seeing the vulnerability of their supply line being outside of Montreal, Montgomery sends some regiments out to join the 2nd Canadians holding the cache [Initiative dr=2 succeeds].

Standoff at Trois-Rivières in End of Empire

Standoff at Trois-Rivières, Turn 6

Ward in Yorktown tries to encourages the Virginians under his command to march to the defense of the Carolinas, but there’s not much enthusiasm for the idea [Initiative dr=4 fails].

Washington exhorts his troops yet again to attack Boston [Initiative dr=2 succeeds], even at their lessened numbers. (60 attack strength against 46 defense strength yields 1:1 odds. Mods are +1 Washington, -1 fort, -1 US Reforms, -1 powder shortage for a net -2. Combat dr=4; final dr=2 for 1AR/1.] Though a cynical strategy by the Americans, they are willing to take whatever losses are needed to whittle down the Redcoat Regulars. How much longer will the British allow this slow, and permanent, leak of strength from Boston? [1 British regular step lost; 4 total.]

Winter Attrition Phase:

Again, the supply lines hold for both sides.


Turns 1-6 Overview

Setup for the game took a bit of time, with 41 turns’ worth of arrivals needing to be sorted out into a Plano. Once the actual gameplay began, turns averaged forty-five minutes each. Counting the factors for the big fights, with their constantly changing cast of characters, ate up more time than I anticipated it would, an issue that will only continue as the stacks get larger and more unwieldy.

From the British perspective, a fairly successful opening few turns. Clinton seems unstoppable in the southern colonies, accomplishing much with a relatively small force. The British fleet comes into play next turn, unleashing Howe upon the long and undefended coast. A strike in New England could coordinate with the units penned in Boston; further south along the coast, Howe could play anvil to Clinton’s hammer.

Southern Front after Turn 6

Southern Front after Turn 6

Montreal remains worrisome, but its loss will only stretch the American forces. The British just need to make sure that they don’t hemorrhage too many units from Beantown before pulling out of there.

On the American side, the conquest of Montreal garnered a step for the VP pile and helps relieve the threat of a British strike from inland. Washington commands a formidable force, even after the winter withdrawals; spring promises more where they came from and then some. But there are so many places he and his troops need to be, and only one big stack with which to be there.

New England Front after Turn 6 (Washington's Army off-map due to size)

New England Front after Turn 6 (Washington’s Army off-map due to size)

The prospect of bleeding a few more regular steps out of Boston at no huge cost to the Continental Army remains a tempting thought. Right now, the British can play with abandon; get them to ten or so steps lost and their every move becomes fraught with dilemma. And once freed from guarding Boston, the Continental Army, under Washington, cannot be underestimated. Ol’ George would welcome a stand-up fight right about now.

(To be continued…)

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