Thursday, April 6, 2017

Seven Years War Association Convention Games

Cowpeas Game at this year's SYWA convention (click all pix to enlarge the view)
The 34th annual Seven Years War Association Convention was held in South Bend, Indiana from Thursday evening of March 30th, opening on Friday March 31st and running through Saturday April 1st. As usual, I plan to arrive on Thursday afternoon or early evening so that I can unload the van of Fife & Drum inventory for my dealer booth and set up the table for the Friday morning wargame. This year, I chose to go with all American Revolution games given that I had not shown these off at the convention for several years. Also, Dannie Fogleman and Richard Goetel were hosting a large Dettingen game that featured lots and lots of Minden figures, so I figured that the Dettingen game would be a notable bit of marketing for the Minden SYW figures.

This year I had the assistance of my nephew Alex, who had driven up from Cincinnati to help me with the dealer booth and the running of my games. Alex brought a large box of Tim Horton donuts, so he could do no wrong as far as I was concerned. He was a big help to me in getting through a busy convention full of non-stop gaming -- we played Cowpens three times on Friday and then did a larger set piece AWI game on Saturday. While I ran the games, Alex manned the booth and set me up to accept credit cards via Paypal. 

New Units Added for Cowpens
Prior to the Cowpens game, I had to paint a number of new units and vignettes to use in the game or to enhance the eye candy quotient of the games. I will let the picture captions tell the story.

Command vignettes, shown in front of the regiment, were made for both armies. I also painted some casualty figures to use whenever a unit routed or when it had to remove a stand of figures due to casualties.
Close up view of some of the command vignettes for the British battalions.
Some of the American riflemen skirmisher bases, prior to being finished off with static grass and tufts.

Galloper gun, a  pair of 3-pounders, required some head swaps to give the British artillery crewmen round hats.

The 17th Light Dragoons had a contingent of 50 to 60 troopers at Cowpens, so I painted a small squadron or troop of them for the game.
The notorious British Legion, or Tarleton's Legion, light dragoons were added to my AWI collection. These are the Fife & Drum BL figures. I painted 28 figures for the game.

Colonel Andrew Pickens of the South Carolina militia. I used the Francis Marion personality figure but gave him a khaki colored jacket.

South Carolina mounted militia. These were largely conversions of existing Fife and Drum or Minden figures, primarily using head swaps or adding swords, pistols, muskets and blanket rolls to the figures.

The Cowpens Wargames
Let the games begin! Cowpens is a small battle and even played at a 1 to 10 figure ratio, I could only create four viable player commands, so this limited the number of players that I could have in the game. Consequently, I decided to run the game all day so that more people could play in the game. I ended up running Cowpens three times, morning-afternoon-evening.

The results were as interesting as they were varied. The British won a crushing victory in the first game of the day as nearly all of the Americans were routing by game's end. In game 2, the Americans returned the favor and ran Tarleton's army off the table. In the third and deciding match of the day, the victory hinged on the winner of a large melee that took place on the last turn of the game, it was that close. The Americans won the melee in dramatic fashion and thus the game as well. Final score in the match was Americans 2 and British 1.

The British push back the first line of American skirmishers and encounter a second line of formed militia, commanded by Andrew Pickens.

Behind Pickens, atop of Morgan Hill, were the converged Continental regiment of Maryland and Delaware men, the survivors of the American disaster at Camden. The Green hunting shirt battalion were Virginia State troops. You can see Daniel Morgan sitting on his horse to the right, wearing a hunting shirt instead of a regulation Continental officers' coat.

The opening moves of the game, as seen from the American perspective.

The same game turn, as seen from the British perspective. Three battalions of infantry advance towards the American skirmishers, with cavalry support on each flank.
Same turn as the previous picture, showing a close up of the troop of British Legion cavalry.

Later in the game, the South Carolina mounted militia attempt a charge into the 71st Highlanders, without much success, as they were driven back.
 Some Observations about the Game and the Rules

I found that the players in my games gave the rules a good test and a couple of loop holes were discovered, and rendered out of the play book in the final game. One big rule was the addition of American riflemen skirmishers on round 1.5-inch discs, two figures per stand. I created a special rule for the riflemen: they could fire and retire up to 24-inches on any turn. This was meant to simulate the fire and retire tactics that were used in the actual battle. Each skirmisher got to roll a D10 die and needed a score of 4 or less to get a hit. 

This proved to be very deadly in all three games, so I dialed down the hit number to 3 in the second game and to 2 in the third game. It was actually in the third game that the riflemen were deemed to be too powerful. There were nine stands of them, two per stand, or 18 riflemen. They were virtually impossible to stop and they were roaming all over the battlefield, over hill and dale and there was little that the British could do to stop them. At the same time, the British casualties from rifle fire were way out of proportion to what they should have been.

I fixed this for the Saturday game by breaking the skirmishers up into smaller units of 6 figures and made a rule that they had to remain within 18-inches of other formed American units. The smaller groups of figures limited their damage while the command radius rule prevented them from roaming amok all over the battlefield. Trust wargamers to find the loopholes and to give the rules a good work out. By Saturday, I felt that I had a reasonable handle on the use and operation of skirmishers within the bounds of my rules. 

What's Next?
Tomorrow, I will post some pictures of the Saturday game and then a couple of days after that, I will post pictures of some of the other games at the convention. It is all too much content to serve up in one post.


  1. Jim,
    Thanks for running those games, I had a great time.

    Lind Pratt

    1. Thank you for playing in my game, I always look forward to your participation each year. I must be doing something right.😄

  2. Thanks for hosting all of the games Jim - wonderful fun as always.

    Brad Clark

    1. Brad: see above response to Lind. Same applie to you too.😀

  3. Sounds great, wonderful figures and lines of battle!

    1. Thank you Phil. It was fun to get the AWI collection out on the table again. I also enjoyed adding new units in preparation for this game.😎

  4. Fine looking figures and fine looking games there!

  5. Sounds like a terrific event and some exciting games. Well done.

  6. Sounds like a terrific event and some exciting games. Well done.