Friday, December 1, 2017


     This is my title for a campaign scenario I am creating for my game Dark and Bloody Ground. It is based upon the Battle of Blue Licks, 1782, which pits a group of Kentucky militia against an ambushing gang of British-allied Indians (from which tribe I don't recall just now). (I envision this becoming a multi-battle campaign, but I only have the historical battle done so far.) The title comes from a quote I came across in a book by Bennett H. Young entitled History of the Battle of Blue Licks. (It's a digital freebie -- or close to it -- from Amazon. I heartily recommend it!)
     In speaking of the bravery of the men who comprised the militia, Young says:
"In those days, cowards did not come to Kentucky. Men who faced the dangers and difficulties of pioneer life were not only heroic, but they were fearless..."

     The following pictorial chronicles my first attempt at play-testing this battle using my new and improved rules.
     1. The first shot shows the militia, divided into 3 groups, 130-men strong, preceded by a 25-man advance guard. (The advance guard should be mounted, but I don't have the figures yet. Hey, Blue Moon! I'm waiting....)

     2. The first hidden Indians show themselves. Fire erupts from the treeline and half the advance guard turns tail an flees. (My visual for routing troops is a "dust tail" of white cotton. It works better in drier climes, like the high plains of Montana. But it suits me okay.) The other advance guard base is disrupted (shown by the placement of a casualty marker.)

     3. A closer look at the action.

     4. More Indians pour out of the woods. Brandishing tomahawks. Some stop and fire their muskets. Colonel Trigg high-tails it!

     5. Another close up. You can hear the war whoops! (Maybe that's just me, though...)

     6. More Indians descend on the Kentuckians' right. Here you can see that one Indian base has been pinned. But the militia's right and center is in dire trouble. At the bottom is a hand-to-hand melee.

     7. From the Indians' perspective.

     8. The Indian base prevails in the tomahawk duel (the militia, though keen marksmen, have no bayonets). More Indians come to grips with the militiamen.

     9. The Kentuckians' right has totally collapsed. During their turn, the whites attempt to form a solid line facing the savage onslaught. Some fire but other hold out for Reaction Fire during the inevitable Indian charge to come.

     Not too bad, overall. At this point, I ended the affair and took the rules in for a tuneup. At issue was the fire/reload relationship. I was forcing rifle-equipped and untrained bases to reload after each shot (one of my new rules). It might have been more realistic, but it took away a lot of the hard decision-making from my original fire-reload rules. In the original, you only had to reload after 2 shots (on the assumption that a smart group would not discharge all their muskets at once, more or less). This created a conundrum during reaction fire as you don't want to find yourself unloaded within striking range of a strong melee opponent. So the 2-shots rule is back.
     About the scenario itself, in order to avoid a completely historical result, I think I'll eliminate 1/3 of the 300 Indians. The Kentuckians stood a fighting chance as it was -- but just barely. If I had used the third group of injuns, it would have been a pretty short and uninteresting affair (at least for the militia player).
     So with these changes in place, I think Dark and Bloody Ground is pretty well finished. It works well for irregular troops, white and red. Next I will test it using some regulars, like these guys I spent the past couple weeks painting:

1st Massachusetts Provincial Infantry Regiment gearing up for duty in the coming Lake George Campaign, 1755.
     Hasta luego, muchachos! Don't take any wooden nickels!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017


Or Close Up the Wall with our English Lead (See what I did there?)

Here's a few pics of  my most recent try at Polemos's Chosen Men, Well Disposed game for my collection of Baccus 6mm Marlburians. And, once again, the opening moments of the Battle of Oudenarde, 1708.

Next up: Daniel Boone and a couple hundred of his closest friends are about to larn the Shawnees a little lesson in neighborliness using my own ever-evolving rules "A Dark and Bloody Ground". Also known as "Cowards Don't Come to Kentucky". (They're drinkin' bourbon by the batch....)

Saturday, September 2, 2017


     This represents my first real test of what I'm calling "Scalp Dance." Scalp Dance is my highly modified version of Chris Peers' "Too Few to Fight, Too Many to Die" game. The game scale is set at 1"=20 yds and each base represents about 15 men. I'm keeping most of the combat from "Too Few," throwing out its morale rules and adding a bunch of my own stuff. This includes: Pre-Close Combat Morale Checks, Hero Creation, Pinning, Skirmish Fire, Counting Coup, Wounded bases, Low Ammo, and a system of unit Initiative and Activation that fully integrates move-fire-assault for each unit's turn. The net result is a lot of unpredictability, an even greater importance for the role of leaders and toned-down eagerness for Indians to take much in the way of casualties. For the scenario, I added some Random Events taken from the historical battle and an orders system, the rules for which will require a fair amount of testing to get right.
     This battle saw a little bit of everything, except Hero creation which is meant to be rare -- even though this battle in history saw three Medal of Honor winners. It also saw three Courts Martial, which is the reason for my orders rules.
     Anyway, let's get this party started.

     Historically, "Egan's Grays" were the only unit with revolvers so they were selected to charge the village. Though not reflected by my terrain, the temperatures were hovering around -20F on the day of the battle. Most men thought they would have little use for their revolvers in their heavy mittens and buffalo robes, so decided they would do all their fighting with carbines. In my rules, mounted cavalry cannot fire, but can only attack in close combat, but only if they're armed with revolvers or sabers. So Egan's company of 47 men lead the way.

     The view from the high ground above the sleeping village.

    Egan launches his attack. Indians appear randomly. Two units and He-Dog, a chief, appear almost immediately. The Sioux contingent gets off a lucky shot and Egan's in trouble almost immediately.

     Egan takes some Disruption. The river is frozen.

     The terrain within the village is "difficult." Egan's at a disadvantage mounted.

     One of his bases is also pinned by Indian fire. A poor beginning.

     Once the Indians realize there are only 47 men in the attack, they close in. Egan's expecting support, but it ain't coming.

     Thaddeus Stanton, the "fighting paymaster," leads another officer and 5 sharpshooters to Egan's aid. Stanton will level charges against certain of his comrades who failed to act.

     Egan is the first to change orders. He dismounts and assumes a defensive posture. The conditions at the time make this the right course of action. Low on ammo, the Indians move in with tomahawks and war clubs for a close assault.

     But Egan's having none of it. Eat lead!

     Mills' company arrives!

     Egan still under extreme pressure. A group of Indians creep around his right flank. Looks like he's about to be charged again.

     As Mills races down the hill toward the village, Capt Noyes arrives right on his tail. Noyes was tasked with capturing the pony herd. That job apparently accomplished, he now arrives as a reinforcement.

     Stanton's little detachment is almost there.

     On the north side of the village, Indians begin to head for the safety of the hills. Capt. Moore is supposed to be there to cut them off. But Moore is nowhere to be seen.

     Mills rushes in, carbines blazing.

     And sends the Indians fleeing again, this time right towards Stanton!

     Egan survives by the skin of his teeth. With Indians in front and on flank, one Indian group unaccountably lost its nerve and retreated (rolled a "20" on a 1d20 during a Rally attempt) and then the same happens to Egan himself and he is fortuitously forced to retreat out of the village! His pinned unit rallies and rejoins the company. Now, they attack their tormentors.

     And the Indians retreat onto the ice of the Powder River.

     Skating Away on the Thin Ice of the New Day...

     Stanton fires...and a base goes down wounded.

     Random Event! One US Cavalry unit must change its order. Random Selection chooses Noyes. His order is to Support a unit under fire. Random Selection chooses a Defend order for him. Oh, my! Noyes is dismounting! (A Court Martial offense. Almost unbelievably, Noyes really was Court Martialed for unsaddling his horses during the battle while other units of the command were under fire. Art imitates life!)

     Indians are now in headlong flight out of the village.

     The soldiers take control of the village.

     One of Little Coyote's bands attempts one last ditch attack but a MC roll of 20 (again!) forces it to retreat. It now finds itself caught between Egan and Mills. The Indians surrender.

Overall, things went pretty well. It's hard to know what lessons can be taken away from this. Egan got so unbelievably lucky, with two 20 rolls at crucial times. Without those, I don't think he could have survived. Once the US command came together, though, they made pretty short work of the Indians. Next time, I think I'll try to make a stand on the west side of the village, giving them an avenue of quick escape.