Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Annual SYW Light Infantry Game

The Gilderhaven Terrain Table (click to enlarge the view)

Every December our gaming group gathers together in Brown Deer, Wisconsin to play the annual SYW Light Troop Game. Gone are the heavy cannon, the iron cuirassiers and the Guards and Grenadiers from our rosters, leaving only the light troops. It serves as a nice change of pace.

This years game reduced everyone's command down to about two units of infantry and/or cavalry and changed the scale from 1 to 10 to 1 to 1. Each player had their own mission/agenda to accomplish and none of us knew who the other forces were that were on the table. Were they friends or foes?

Each player was also given one dollar in change, each penny representing one Mark. You could use your money to bribe other players or pay toll fees and harbor fees etc. One way to win the game was to collect the money.

It was perhaps the oddest game that I have ever played because there was hardly any combat on the table top, except towards the end of the game. Each player seemed to be focused on his mission and did not want to be the one to fire the first shot as this might unleash all kinds of fire and fury on the tabletop.

As usual, I controlled the forces of Lady De Winter and her Black Legion (45 infantry and 13 Bosniak Lancers). My wingman, Earl, commanded most of the Black Legion light cavalry consisting of 36 Black Hussars and 24 Blue (Zieten) Hussars.

Our mission was to escort Lady De Winter to the harbor of Gilderhaven and secure passage for her on a boat so that she could escape. This was easily accomplished; however, the mission kept my eyes from looking around the table and seeing that little ditzy Lady Pettygree and her couterie of Valley Girls riding right across the front of my cavalry! The chase was on, but Pettygree and her escort were too far away for either of Earl's hussar units to reach in time. In a last desperate act, I offered a bribe to the leader of the Cossacks, Mikhail, and he turned his band of riders away from the town and off in pursuit of Lady Diana Pettygree. The bribe also accomplished the removal of the Cossacks from the town without any of my men having to raise a weapon. Killed two birds with one stone, so to speak.

The harbormaster deploys his forces at the port of Gilderhaven.
Without further ado, here are some pictures from the game. Be sure to click on each picture to enlarge the view.

Lady Pettygree and her escort of French (Gallian) hussars and lancers ride past the Inn at the far left end of the table.

The border guard house at the far right end of the table. Pettygree and her little band of strumpets had to pass through here and cross the bridge into Gallia and safety.

The Gallian light cavalry,  with Lady Pettygree hidden in the center of the horsemen, ride right past Lady De Winter's Blue Hussars. Look at that inviting open flank, just asking to be charged. Doh!

An aeriel view from one of the Montgolphier brothers hot air balloons shows Pettygree's band as it rides past the front of the unknowing Blue Hussars. They were more focused on getting Lady De Winter into the port safely.

Lady De Winter's black coach arrives at the harbor quay. The coach is a red herring as Milady is actually riding her horse next to the Black Duke.
The Cossacks being closer to the Pettygree band than the Blue Hussars, they accept the bribe to join the Black Legion and they dutifully attack Lady Pettygree's rear guard of Bercheny Hussars. The hussars are wiped out to the man by the Cossacks.

Arrgh! Pettygree escapes again right under the noses of the Germanian border guards who ushered her party through.. You can see Pettygree's rear guard getting ready to engage the pursuing Cossacks.
I think that everyone had a good time playing the game, even though there was very little in the way of combat on the table. It never occured to me that Lady Pettygree would be somewhere on the table. To think that I watched her ride across my front without stirring up any suspicion. It was only after she had moved on down the road that I even noticed her. By then, it was too late.


  1. Thanks Jim for your very important part in the game and for this splendid write up! As I watched Curt move the Gallian Contingent down the table. I confess to some nervousness about dear cheerful Diana as she got closer and closer to unknown danger. Then he cantered and galloped by.
    Captain Briege, supernumerary in the Lanciers de Saxe, may have had a memory stirred about the burning of his ship in a harbor in Tradgardland some years ago. I wonder if he noticed a similar black and red coach on that occasion and in Gildershaven. Will he become suspicious? A coincidence or nothing?
    Very good report,
    Bill P.

  2. That is a lovely looking game and has given me an idea for a scenario here in GHQ! Thanks!

  3. Sounds like a "fun" game - thanks for the entertaining report, Jim. No love lost then between Milady de Winter & Lady Pettygree? Are you able to detail/describe some instances of how the "monetary system" of the game worked ? Sounds like an intriguing option. I gather Bill Protz is one of the hosts - I thought I recognised the room setup? Cheers, Rohan.

  4. Rohan,
    Money matters are described in my blog post here:
    Everyone started with 100 Marks. These were represented by using real USA coins. $.01 = one mark.
    Example: The Harbormaster had a set fee to charge Lady d'Winter to board the ship in which she departed Gildershaven. 1/2 Mark per person as I recall. He could have lined his pockets and charged more. Both parties could have negotiated. When the deal was struck, d'Winter really paid the fee in USA coins, boarded the ship and departed.
    Bill P.

  5. The local Duke came strolling into town just as Lady de Winter had entered to board the ship. She sent some minions to the Duke, who presented him with a letter of transit signed by Frederick the Great with ten cents offered as a sweetener so that the Duke would not create any trouble.

    On a later turn, the Duke offered me 10 cents if I would drive the Cossacks out of town. I then offered the same amount to the Cossacks if they would attack Pettygree's convoy, which they did.

  6. What a great setup!

  7. Thanks, Bill & Jim. Great ideas & a wonderful yarn. I bet you all had great fun.

  8. thanks guys, some ideas for our clubs Christmas game.


  9. A beautiful game to look at, and I'm sure one that was even more fun to play. Brilliant stuff.
    I'm curious about the big barrel on the wagon in some of those pictures. The army rum supply, perhaps? Definitely an objective worth seizing