Friday, December 26, 2014

The Siege of Grayrock City - A One-Hour Wargames Scenario

A while ago I posted about the upcoming Neil Thomas book, One-Hour Wargames. I picked it up on my nook a few weeks ago, and have been thinking about trying out the rules. Well, Kaptain Kobold over at the Stronghold Rebuilt beat me to the punch. His post inspired me to give them a whirl. I decided to run a horse and musket scenario, so naturally I set it in Francesia. It offered a perfect opportunity to (perhaps) finish the Grayrock Revolution.

I randomly rolled 2 armies from the table Thomas provides. This random army generator is one of the neat features of his book that I will probably use frequently. Anyway, one army had 3 infantry units, 2 artillery units, and 1 cavalry unit. I decided it would be the Bluderians who are besieging Grayrock City. The other army (the Grayrock rebels) had 3 infantry, 1 artillery, and 2 skirmishers. I then randomly rolled a scenario and got #22 - ambush. Ironically, this scenario calls for an ambush of an army attacking a town. Perfect! I had to reduce the ambushing army so the rebels lost an infantry unit and skirmisher.

The Battle
In the last significant action of the Grayrock Revolution, a popular uprising seized the capital city from their Bluderian overlords, keeping the governor trapped in Grayrock Castle, Black Bart managed to escape the city and warn the Bluderian field army, which hurried back and put the city under siege. Esquire Giovanni decides to spring a trap on the besiegers.

The citizens of Grayrock City manned the city's guns and began firing on the Bluederians. Meanwhile, Giovanni moved his ambushing force through the woods near the city.

Note - I used Thomas's rules as written (except using centimeters instead of inches for measurements). This entailed free movement so I did not use my grid. Each infantry unit is comprised of 2 stands. Artillery and cavalry don't have stands so I placed them on the field spaced out with approximately the specified frontage.
Starting positions.
 Giovanni's skirmishers (white coats) remained in the woods while the infantry moved out and began firing on the Bluderian infantry on the left flank. The shocked Bluderians reacted slowly, but soon were sending help to the flank. By then, however, the leftmost infantry succumbed to the combined rebel fire.

The Bluderian's left flank crumbles
 But the Bluderians recovered, and reinforcements entered the fray. Cavalry moved to the flank, preparing to charge.

 Note - I had a slight issue because my board is narrower than Thomas's recommendation (even after converting to centimeters, my board is about 6cm too small). To compensate, I allowed the Bluderian cavalry to swing off the board slightly.

The Bluderians reposition
 Sustained fire from the city and from the rebel infantry wiped out one of the Bluderian artillery units, but the cavalry charged the redcoat infantry (on loan to the rebels from Redgrave).

Bluderia's central artillery is destroyed but the cavalry charges.
 After repeated charges, the Bluderian cavalry routed the redcoats while the Grayrock infantry advanced to aid the town's guns.

Cavalry rides over the redcoats
 The combination of firepower from the town and infantry blasted another Bluderian regiment to pieces. Yet the cavalry prepared for another charge.
Another Bluderian infantry unit is shot to pieces.
 Accurate fire from the Bluderian right managed to disperse the townsfolk plying the city's guns. The Grayrock infantry found itself threatened by the victorious Bluderians and then was struck by a cavalry charge. The Grayrockians did not stand a chance.

The Grayrock infantry succumbs to a cavalry charge.
 All that remains is Giovanni's skirmishers in the woods. The Bluderians pull out of musketry range and then began to pound away with artillery. Giovanni decided that discretion was the better part of valor and retreated through the woods. 

Final position.
Unlikely to survive, the white coated skirmishers will withdraw.
How do I feel about One-Hour Wargames?

  • They gave a quick (I forgot to keep track but it was less than an hour. I only made it through about 10 of the allotted 15 turns when I threw in the towel) and exciting game.
  • Movement was very interesting. Because units cannot pass through each other, it was a challenge to maneuver units without blocking or interfering with other units.
  • Nevertheless, I really like using grids (it simplifies things so much) so I was not too keen on having to measure movement or firing ranges.
  • I like the simplicity of the combat rules. With minimal modifiers, they gave an interesting feel for the strengths and weaknesses of the various troop types.
  • I also like that I did not have to remember a bunch of different ranges. All foot troops fired 12 cm while artillery fired 48 cm.
  • Each unit can take 15 hits, which requires keeping track. I did so on a piece of paper. Because there were only 10 units on the board, it was not onerous. Nevertheless, I prefer systems without record-keeping (markers are OK as long as they are minimal).
  • There is no command and control rules. I rather like some kind of C&C because it throws in some more variability that makes things more interesting for solo games.
  • It includes 30 scenarios, along with a random army generator. I expect to make extensive use of these.
Overall, I don't think that I will be adopting these rules (I am too attached to grids and to markers rather than written records). Still, I am very glad that I picked up this book - the scenarios and army generator will be invaluable to me. I am intrigued by the 4 troop types per era and the simple combat rules; I am pondering how I can adapt them for my use.


  1. As you've probably seen I have abandoned the rules in the book for now, in favour of my own square-grid rules (inspired by yours, of course). But the army generation process make the book very worthwhile. I have probably played over half of the scenarios with either ACW or Great Northern War armies, and they all seem to give an interesting game.

  2. I was fascinated in reading your report because I plan to use these scenarios for a campaign too. Though I think I prefer to use some extra random terrain.

  3. Glad you enjoyed it. This was my first attempt at OHW so I played it straight. For scenarios I played later I did what you are thinking and added random terrain.