Monday, April 23, 2007

Clash for a Continent

Last Wednesday, I was happy to get out of the house, as my wife was holding a meeting with the women's club she is a part of - unfortunately, Eric was having a difficult day as well (with a sick child), but we did manage to get in two different scenarios of Worthington Games Clash for a Continent. This is a game set in the American Revolutionary War, and we played two scenarios, Camden and Saratoga. In both scenarios, Eric took the Colonial forces while I played the British red-coats (red-blocks in this game).

This game is similar in spirit and weight to the Command & Colors line (Battle Cry, Memoir '44, C&C: Ancients and BattleLore), although rather than using cards to determine what a commander can do, each player rolls a single die and adds it to a scenario-defined value, and gets that many action points. Most things (moving, fire combat) cost a single action point, but close combat (which is quite deadly, and can be used to force units out of strong positions) requires two. Victory is similar to the C&C games, in that a player who gains a certain number of VP wins the game, although in both scenarios we had there was also the added element of a time component - if the British weren't able to win before a certain number of turns, they lost. After a quick review of the basics, we dived right in, starting with Camden.

The first scenario, Camden, has a force of British Regulars attacking a larger but less well trained force of Colonial Militia. The terrain for this battle was largely a flat plain - there was some impassable swamp land on either side of the map, but other wise there were no real terrain effects on this battle. Both sides start with two artillery pieces, and in this playing both Eric and I focused on an artillery duel, which didn't last long as relatively quickly I managed to silence both of the Colonial batteries with well placed shots from the British cannon. After this, other than a reckless charge by the British Dragoons (which came to an unfortunate end), both sides settled down into formation and fired volley after volley at the enemy lines - and, as one might expect, the better trained British forces came out victorious, although it was certainly not a crushing defeat. IIRC, the final result was 6 units to 4 (or possibly 5), so it was a tight match, even with the Colonial artillery out ofcommission early.

The entire playing of the Camden scenario took about 15 minutes - after which both Eric and I looked across the table at each other with the same questions. "Is that it?". The Camden scenario didn't seem to give a lot of opportunity for clevermaneuver - and largely seemed to come down to who rolled the better dice (both on getting actions, and on combat rolls). Figuring that it couldn't be that simple, and wanting to get in at least another 45 minutes or so of gaming, we opted to try another scenario with more terrain, in the hopes that this made for a more interesting game. Scanning the scenario book, Eric suggested we try Saratoga, which has a lot of woods and some hills between the forces initial positions, as well as each side having VP units which count as a unit defeated if the opposing side is able to get a unit into the same space.

Thankfully, the more complex geography did have the result of making the Saratoga scenario significantly more interesting. Units situated in the woods are very difficult to attack (woods make it more difficult to score a hit - if a unit normally hits on a 5 or 6, against a unit in the woods it would need a 6). We also added the rule making artillery fire into woods even worse (a +2 modifier), which made clearing the woods very difficult. Also, each side had a pair of VP units in the lower left corner - so both sides were going for disjoint victory objectives.

I made the mistake of advancing my forces on the side of the map opposite the VP counters - my thought was to occupy some high ground between myself and the Colonial units, and make it more difficult for them to infiltrate my lines and score the VP units. In retrospect, I should have left the defensive units there alone (or perhaps moved them into the woods, but not worried about the hill), and focused on moving my units on the other side of the map forward en-masse. My failure to do this, and a prolonged duel between one of my artillery units and two of the Colonial militia (I got both down to one hit left, but had a hell of a time landing the killing blow), led to a Colonial victory outright, through defeating my Redcoats.

The second scenario, Saratoga, definitely made the game more interesting - Camden seemed to lack many difficult decisions, while the Saratoga scenario presented them frequently. On the whole, though, I was a bit disappointed with Clash for a Continent - the terrain effects made the game more interesting, certainly, but I'm not sure that it was enough to bring this into the list of games I'd be clamoring to play. While I won't refuse a game, I doubt that I'll be using any of my choices to play this one again.

I've not yet made my choice for this week - I'll post a short note later today or tomorrow once I've done so, but until next week, happy gaming!

1 comment:

Eric said...

I am patiently awaiting your decision for the week...

[tap, tap, tap, tap...]