Thursday, October 3, 2019

AWI at "A Bridge Too Lard"

On Saturday September 21, John Emmett of Lard America hosted a game day at Huzzah Hobbies in Ashburn Virginia.  Entitled "A Bridge Too Lard" (ABTL) it was held in recognition of the 75th anniversary of Operation Market Garden, World War II military operation fought in the Netherlands from 17 to 25 September 1944.  Though it ultimately failed to achieve its objective, the mission was immortalized in the 1977 war film, "A Bridge Too Far".

The Lard America banner proudly displayed at Huzzah Hobbies for A Bridge Too Lard
"A Bridge Too Lard" was well-attended with over 20 fans of TFL present and games run in the morning and a new batch in the afternoon.  A variety of games from TooFat Lardies were on the schedule including Chain of Command, I Ain't Been Shot Mum, What A Tanker!, Sharp Practice and Dux Britanniarum.  Given the game day title, most were World War II scenarios with the exception of the Dux game and my American War for Independence (AWI) game.  Included in the World War II games was John's splendid Arnhem game, "Whoa Mohammed", based on Grabner's assault on Arnhem Bridge.  

Photo from "Whoa Mohammed"
For other photos of the excellent games at ABTL, a Google Photos site is available at:

My AWI game was based on the skirmish at Spencer's Ordinary outside of Williamsburg in 1781.  As usual, I used my favorite set of skirmish rules, Sharp Practice by TooFat Lardies.  Now, for those who do not know (and I was one), an "ordinary" refers to a tavern, so this scenario, entitled "An Encounter at Spencer's (not so very) Ordinary" took place around a tavern, pictured below:

The Hare Tavern (Charlie Foxtrot Model) standing in for
Spencer's Ordinary
Work goes on at the tavern...Prince stands guard
As far as game mechanics go, I tried two new things in this game.  First, I created a fictional 'newspaper' to give the players a background for the game and included some advertisements from the 18th century to add flavor.  I handed this out as I was making finishing touches to the table set-up, so when the game started, they were familiar with the historical setting of the game.

Hot off the presses

The second modification was the use of leader cards.  I made a card for each leader that had the leader number, rank, unit, etc., plus a photo of the miniature for that leader.  Here is a sample:

Leader Cards - red outline for British, blue for Americans
It was my hope that this addition would make the game progress more smoothly because the players would be able to easily identify the specific leader when that number was drawn.  It seemed to work well, plus I noticed that the players were turning the cards over after that leader's number had been drawn which made it easier to identify who had yet to be activated.  (Attribution note:  I got the idea for leader cards from another member of Lard America, Michael Ovsenik.  I modified his concept a little to fit my needs, but I thought it was a great idea.  Thanks, Michael!)

This game, which I plan to run at the HMGS Fall In convention in November, was designed for a 6'x10' playing surface.  Because the table for ABTL was shorter, I modified the game map to fit the smaller playing surface.  This caused a few terrain features to be left out (the orchard and the corn field), but also meant that the two sides engaged more quickly so it was not an issue.

Game map with terrain effects.  The red dot is the British deployment point
and the blue dot is the American deployment point.
As stated above, the scenario was based on a 1781 skirmish in Virginia around a tavern, Spencer's Ordinary, and was primarily a foraging expedition by the British.  The British had already sent some supplies and livestock back to Williamsburg by the time this action took place.  However, with reports of additional cows at a nearby farm, the British decided to continue foraging.  The primary objective for the British players was to capture the cows and set them on the route to Williamsburg.  Several loyalist civilians were supplied for this task, so once the British forces captured the cows, the civilians took over. The Americans had to stop the British from capturing the cows.

I also added a couple of extra objectives to take advantage of the story-telling capability of Sharp Practice (a great feature of the game, BTW).  A supply wagon was placed on the road from the Chickahominy River with the objective of making it to the road to Williamsburg; I moved this wagon anytime a 'leader 1' card was played.  The idea behind this was that the British had captured the supplies when they raided boats along the Chickahominy and were sending them overland to Williamsburg. Again, the American's objective was to capture the supplies before they could get behind British lines.  The final twist was a beer wagon (after all action does center around a tavern), abandoned somewhere on the table.  It would be revealed to whichever troops (in my estimation), were able to see it first.  Both sides were looking for it.

The Beer Wagon in question
The American force consisted of 3 groups (24 figures), of the Maryland Continental Line, 1 group (6 figures) of Lee's Legion dragoons, 1 group of 6 light infantry, and 1 group of riflemen/skirmishers (8 figures).  The British had two groups of the Queen's Rangers (16 figures), 1 group (8 figures) of the British Legion dragoons (standing in for the Queen's Rangers Hussars), 1 group of Hessian Jaegers (8 figures), and one group of light infantry (8 figures).

Since I have been so wordy up to this point, I'll try explaining the game itself through photos taken by me and some of the other attendees.  For the start, here is an early game photos of the British deployments:

The British players quickly dispatched the British Legion to try and round
up the cows in the nearby pasture.  The legion is followed by the
Queen's Rangers and Hessian Jaegers.
The American players led off with the light infantry and the riflemen, followed by their strongest (and largest), unit, the Maryland Continental Line.  Meanwhile, Lee's Legion dragoons were milling about in the woods.

An overhead shot of the table.  Americans are deploying from the top left.
British Light Infantry gathers behind the tavern and then...
...deploy around the side of the tavern.
The Americans deployed in a wooded area behind a hill, initially sending the riflemen and light infantry to the left and the Maryland Continental Line to the right.  The Continentals were tasked with trying to stop the British from getting the cattle and possibly capturing the supply wagon and beer wagon.

As you can see, the supply wagon is well on its way to the
road to Williamsburg and will remain in British hands
The Marylanders split off a group to go after the beer wagon, while the light infantry, riflemen and Lee's Legion Dragoons engaged the British right.

Marylander's will ultimately get the beer wagon, but the Legion ensures the.
safe departure of the cattle
The cows depart escorted by loyalist drivers
The climax of the battle was a bold but ultimately ill-fated charge by Lee's Legion on the British light infantry holding down the right flank.  They came close, but not close enough!  The Light Bobs commenced a withering fire on the unfortunate horsemen who were hurled back setting in motion a series of "Bad Things Happening".

Half a league, half a league, half a league onward....
That about sums up the game which ended with a British victory.  A slightly larger version of this game, with some tweaks, will be run at Fall In this November.

In closing, I want to thank John Emmett for organizing and running this excellent gaming day.  Also, all the Lard America gamemasters who ran great games throughout the day.  I played in a great I Ain't Been Shot Mum WWII game run by Patrick Berkebile in the afternoon session and thoroughly enjoyed it.  I managed to destroy an entire British armor column....unfortunately I was the British commander.  Finally, I want to thank all the folks who took photos, some of which appear above.  As gamemaster, I forget to take a lot of photos, so these extra ones really helped in the preparation of this blog.


  1. That's a lovely looking game and the cards and newspaper are great ideas:).

  2. Great report and a lot of creative ideas to enhance the game.

  3. How many players were in the game? I'm wondering what is a good number of figures for a person to handle in the SP rules.

    1. Thanks for taking a look. This was a 4 player game. Each player had 2 units and their were 5 leader cards per side. This kept everyone involved. The player with the MD Cont Line split his command using the subordinate commander to lead one group of 8 figures. If another unit was added per side you could probably go to 6 players but I think that would be the maximum for Sharp Practice to keep everyone involved and not standing around waiting for the leader card to be drawn. 4 players and the number of units I used in this game (4 per side) are the biggest I have run, although within the 4 units per side I have had bigger units. Maybe 2 units with 3 groups of 8 per side, plus a unit of skirmishers and a unit of dragoons. I hope that helps - let me know if you have any other questions. BTW, I enjoy reading your blog and I'm working on Fife and Drum S.C continentals now.

  4. I played in one of your games at Historicon a year or so ago when Richard Clarke was there. You continue to develop outstanding games that look fantastic. As one who has put on SP games at conventions, I can tell you have pot in a lot of time in effort in developing this scenario. Very well done!

    1. Thank you for taking a look and for the comments. One of my favorite parts of the hobby is researching a scenario and adapting it for a game.

  5. Your game is anything but ordinary. What a incredibly beautiful game and fun narritive. One thing I enjoy about your games are the fun little items you pack into your terrain. The dog on the front door, the beer wagon, etc. You put an amazing amount of work in to each game. You are a true inspiration.

  6. Great looking game and nice report. I’ve been thinking of doing AWI with SP2 since forever and reading posts like these are a real inspiration. 😀

    1. AWI is a great period for SP2. There are so many smaller actions that adapt well to the game. Thanks for taking a look.


AWI at "A Bridge Too Lard"

On Saturday September 21, John Emmett of Lard America hosted a game day at Huzzah Hobbies in Ashburn Virginia.  Entitled "A Bridge Too ...