I’d picked up a copy of these rules at the Penarth show, intending to play test at home before putting on a club game. But when I noticed the number of planned games for March’s meet was looking low, I thought I better take the plunge and pull something together! I’d read through the rules a fair few times but hadn’t actually had troops on the table.
Rebels & Patriots (R & P) is the new Osprey set from Micheal Leck & Dan Mersey, and covers rules
for North America, during the period from the French & Indian War (FIW) 1754-63, to the Fenian
Raids, 1866-71. There’s also the opportunity to look at a British intervention in North America (1860’s) as a ‘what if’.
Being I have quite a large FIW collection now, this was my ‘go to’ period. I’ve played a fair bit of FIW using Donnybrook, Muskets & Tomahawks & Sharp Practice, so was interested to see how these
The rulebook follows the standard Osprey format in its 64 page content, 36 pages of introduction and rules, followed by 17 pages covering scenarios (12 scenarios in total), 9 pages of 24 point starter armies covering all the suggested periods and 2 roster sheets.
There is no quick reference sheet, which is a bit of a bind.
I thought I would have to provide a game for multiple players, so adopted the approach of combining 2 of the scenarios from the book, and fighting it on one 6 x 4 table, with 2 players a side. I chose ‘First clash at Lament ridge’, which is a fairly straightforward ‘seize and hold’ an objective in the middle of the table, and ‘Defend Mendenhall’s battery’, which as the name suggests, is about defending a battery of guns! Hopefully the pictures show the table set up.
As mentioned above, a starter army consists of 24 points. This can be made up of line infantry, light
infantry, shock infantry, skirmishers, natives, light, medium & heavy artillery, light and shock cavalry.
|The French form up ready to attack|
Each unit has a standard points value (4 points for line infantry as an example), and a starting list of
factors for; Unit size (12), Firing factor & firing range ( 5+/18’’), Fighting factor (6), Discipline (0),
movement (6’’) and special rules (First fire or fighting which gives +1, may form close order. These
and others will become clearer further on). Some of the factors can then be modified to represent
various categories of troops. So Green troops become ‘Discipline -1’ and this costs -1 point per unit,
Veteran becomes ‘Discipline +1’ and cost +2 points per unit. Firing, Fighting and unit sizes can also be changed using a similar process.
For my game I took 2 forces from the book for the ‘Lament’ scenario and made up a company using
the points value suggested for the ‘Mendenall’s’ scenario.
So for the ‘Lament’ scenario, the French company consisted of;
2 Light infantry @ 6 points each (Compagnies Franches de la Marine). May form close order, if in
open order always they count open ground as cover, may try to evade, may use ‘skirmish’ action.
1 Skirmishers that are Sharpshooters @ 6 points (skirmishers are usually 2 points, but the ‘Sharpshooter’ upgrade costs 4 points and makes the firing 4+/24’’). Not slowed by difficult terrain,
count open ground as cover, may try to evade, always fight with only have their dice, may use ‘skirmish’ action.
1 Large unit of aggressive natives @ 6 points (usually 4 points for 12 figures, upgrade to ‘Large’,
increase to 18 figures for 1 point and ‘Aggressive’ Fighting, usually 5+ becomes 4+ for 1 point). Not
slowed by difficult terrain, may try to counter attack if attacked by infantry, may follow up if winning
in fighting against infantry, may use ‘skirmish’ action, may not use ‘fire’ action.
British Company (Colonial Militia)
4 Green line infantry @3 points each (-1 Discipline on each unit).
3 Skirmishers that are ‘Good shooters’ @ 4 points each (‘Good shooters’ gives a firing factor of 4+/12’’) Unfortunately, I only fielded 2 units for some reason!
The other force was, 22 point (I ‘short changed them for some reason’!)
|The French Indians emerge from the tree line full of aggression|
2 Line infantry @ 4 points each
2 Green Canadian militia @ 3 points each
2 Skirmishers, Good shots @ 4 points each
3 Line infantry @ 4 points each
2 Medium guns @ 6 points each
|British-American militia form up|
As it was, other people had similar thoughts about the number of games, so there were plenty to go
round and JJ and I decided to give this a go ‘one on one’.
I took the British and deployed the guns on the left. One unit could deploy with the guns, the other two started from the table edge. This naturally made the French the attacker. On the British right, the
attacker deploys and moves first, so we diced for this and the French were attacking. In the scenario
briefing is says to take it in turn to deploy units, but to save time we went all on at once.
|British guns and regular infantry open up on the French regulars and militia in the open ground opposite|
Units move by passing their activation. This is 6+ on two dice, modified by things such as the discipline rating (so -1 for green troops), having your leader within 12 ‘’ (+1), being in close order (+1), ( –) any disorder markers (accrued when failing morale or failing to Rally – 2 separate things).
If you fail your roll you don’t move, but DO move on to the next unit. Line units get slowed to half speed when in difficult terrain (woods), and have to stop at obstacles, then cross next turn.
Actions available to units are;
Attack (any unit except artillery)
Fire (except natives and light cavalry)
Skirmish (move half and fire at half effect)
Form close order
Volley fire (infantry in close order only)
On the British left, the French made slow progress through the woods, with the exception of their
skirmishers, who quickly closed the range and started taking pot shots at the Artillery, initially with
no effect. One unit of militia and one of the regulars struggled to find a route through (they failed their activation roll!).
|The French forces on the right struggle to advance following confusing orders (well two double 1's actually) and accurate British fire.|
To fire, units usually roll twelve dice, unless using the ‘skirmish’ action, or if disordered (then six dice are rolled). At the start we thought that twelve dice per gun was a bit much, so reduced it to six. As it happens it should have been twelve. To hit you have to equal or beat your ‘fire factor’. At short range (up to 12’’) two hits = one model removed, at long range (over 12’’) three hits = one model removed. If the target is in cover, one more hit is required to remove a model (so becomes three at short range, four at long). This is the advantage of Light infantry etc, who always count open ground as cover from firing (when in open order).
When hits are taken, units then roll for morale, Discipline rating, Close order, officer within 12’’ and
disorder markers are calculated as usual, then -1 for each casualty. If units are fired on twice, then two separate rolls are made if casualties are inflicted. 6+ is required to pass on 2 D6.
|However on the French left the advance was brisk moving into the cover of the slight hill, with the Indians itching to close.|
If passed, no additional markers are placed, but unit retains any markers it already has.
If failed, but total is above two, unit adds one additional disorder marker. If already disordered (one
marker), it becomes ‘Broken’ and must retreat half a move and attempt to rally on its next activation. If Broken the unit automatically routs from the table.
If failed and the total is less than two, the unit gains two additional markers and must immediately retreat half a move and rally on its next activation. If already Disordered or Broken the unit routs.
Being Disordered or Broken inflicts additional limitations which, to save space, I won’t go into detail
To Rally, the process is similar to the above, with some of the outcomes being slightly different.
In our game, the skirmishers started to inflict casualties on the gunners, forcing them to retreat.
Return fire from the supporting British unit proved to be ineffective, One of the French line units
advanced in isolation, to be met by a good volley from the British support units coming up.
|The French left, topped the hill and opened up some telling fire along the line|
While one of the militia units finally got out of the woods, the other regular and militia units were
struggling! On the activation rolls, there are additional effects for rolling a double 1 or double 6.
With 1’s being bad. When rolled, you then roll another D6 to see what happens. JJ managed to roll two double 1’s on the trot, meaning his regular unit with his officer (the officer is part of the 12 figure
unit and never leaves it) got a result that meant his unit got a disorder marker, for the officer giving
confusing orders! The militia unit had to make a double retreat move away from the closet enemy!
So although the artillery had been driven off, the French didn’t have units close enough to exploit.
On the British right, units on both sides advanced towards the ridge, although some of the British
were a bit hesitant! Some sporadic skirmisher fire took place, but casualties were minimal. Then
suddenly, due to a covered advance, the Indians appeared in front of the British and charged the
nearest militia unit. This did not look good, and so it proved! The ‘Attack’ action, if passed, means
the unit moves the distance of the 2 D6. Contact needs to be made for combat to occur. If not, you
stop short! The Indians, being Aggressive, were on 4+ to hit, with ‘charging’ making that a 3+! The
Militia hit on a 6. Combat is simultaneous, but needless to say the militia lost, but survived and had
|The Indians close on the Militia and demonstrate their handiness with a tomahawk|
On the next British move, shooting at the Indians proved ineffective, enabling them to charge again
on their next move. This killed off the militia unit, causing all units within 12’’ to test, with various
disorder markers being spread around. At the same time, a British skirmisher unit, having taken
numerous casualties, failed its Rally and also routed. The British fire eventually caused the Indians to
retreat, but by this time other French units were on the objective, with none of the British being
close. At this stage it was a clear French victory.
Needless to say, not all the rules have been covered in detail. In particular this is a ‘campaign’ style
game, where the first part of the game is rolling for officer ‘traits’, with the aim being for your officer
to gain ‘honour points’ during the games and get promoted, get additional traits etc. This is not how
I like to game, but hopefully as you can see, it still gives a good ‘standalone’ game.
|On the French right the regulars struggled to press their success in driving off the British gunners and silencing the battery|
Did we like the rules? ‘Yes’. Would we play then again? ‘Yes’. Are they the perfect set? ‘No’ (is there
such a thing???)
- In comparison with the other rules mentioned above, I would put them above Donnybrook for complexity, but below Muskets & Tomahawks.
- One observation is that a force who all have the ‘count open ground as cover’ as the force with the Indians in did, can be very hard to kill!
- We didn’t get to try out the ‘close order’ or ‘volley fire’ actions.
- Movement trays could probably come in handy.
There’s probably things we didn’t play properly, there are some questions that require answers, but
all in all we both agreed it was an enjoyable game, which played quickly, and by the end we were
calculating the various factors without reference to the rules.
As I said, the lack of a QRS is a pain, but I did knock up a quick one beforehand.
Thanks to JJ for giving it a go, and his patience why I looked up the rules! He liked it so much he’s
already talking about putting together some small forces……AWI maybe????
Figures are a mixture of Galloping Major, North Star, 1st Corps, Perry and the artillery are Foundry.
This was a Steve M game