Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Saratoga Campaign Little Wars 2016

This past weekend I attended HMGS Midwest Little Wars in Lombard, IL along with Phil Cook.  We signed up to run/judge three games of Black Powder.  The First two were American War of Independence (AWI) focused on the Saratoga campaign battles of Freeman's farm and Bemis Heights.

We have been planing for months for this event and I am pleased to report that the convention and our games were a huge success.

Our first battle was Freeman's Farm on Friday evening straight out of the main Black Powder rule book by Warlord games.  We ended up with 8 players which worked out well with 4 on each side with one player assuming the role of overall Commander.

Freeman's Farm is an excellent scenario for a convention as it is very evenly matched and a great scenario to learn Black Powder if one has not played before.  That certainly proved to be the case at Little Wars as all had a great time when a knock down drag out fight ensued.

Set up a display to show case Black Powder

Freeman's Farm Overall view
Hamilton's Brigade deployed in column
British did well on early command roles advancing across the field
Fraser deploying on the right
Hamilton quickly deploys into line only opposed by Morgan's command
Americans had a hard time getting on the field, but eventually made it in force
Hamilton and Learned squared off in a evenly matched brawl
Poor came on in force to challenge Fraser and Breyman
Canadians caught in the flank by Poor's lead elements
Quickly dispatched in hand to hand
British Marksman succumb to galling fire
Americans take advantage of a British unit caught in skirmish formation
Hessians soon found the Americans out of position driving a regiment from the field
Americans were able to reform to face the onslaught
Two American commands were broke with one British command broke
The Americans had a chance to break Fraser's command, but came up one short resulting in a minor British victory as the Americans could not rally disordered units and the turn ended with two of the three American brigades broken and 1 of three British Brigades broken with a second only a unit away.

On to Bemis Heights:

The second game, Bemis Heights, was played Saturday morning.  This battle was the follow-up to Freeman's Farm from the Black Powder "Rebellion" supplement.

At this point the British are reduced and more fragile with a reduced stamina, but can still pack a punch.  The Americans have greater numbers, but the British and Hessian forces hold two key redoubts which can prove difficult to take.

Fraser's command deployed forward
Hessian command holds the center of the advance force
Phillips small command holds the left
Phillips redoubt
Breyman's redoubt commanding the field
Phil orientates the players to Bemis Heights
British commanders
American Commanders
Learned advances onto the field
Poor challenges Reisdel
Fraser wisely withdraws to the fence line to oppose Morgan's advance
A crucial set back when Phillips Grenadiers charge American Arty and break with one hit
Hessian's cannot withdraw due to disorder and soon break under fire
Jaegers fair no better 
Arnold takes direct command on New Yorkers and Connecticut troops 
Fraser finds himself now pressed by two brigades
Dearborn's light infantry pours it into the Brits
By this point in the battle the Americans had technically secured a victory by breaking two of the British commands.  With plenty of time left we decided to let the battle rage to see if the Americans could capitalize and take a redoubt.

Fraser's command continues to crumble under strain of pressure
Arnold presses home and attack on Phillips redoubt
Desperate melee ensues  
The British behind fortification proves to much as the 4th NY breaks and the rest fall back
Now caught in the open the Americans begin to falter under a deadly cross fire
Realizing the taking a redoubt was not going to happen anytime soon the Americans decide to count their blessings of a victory and leave the redoubts in British hands.

While Freeman's Farm is a great convention scenario Bemis Heights is probably not as ideal.  In order for the Crown to have a chance they must fall back early and take advantage of the redoubts.  Only an experienced commander will immediately recognize this and  begin to execute before it s to late.  Despite the British disadvantage both sides had a great time and the British were able to claim a moral victory by not giving up the redoubts.

Both games were very well received by the players and the convention staff.  In fact, we were recognized for third best for all the games run on Friday.

Phil and I really enjoy the AWI period and how well Black Powder represents this period.  We look forward to running more AWI event sin the future and showing others how simple and fun Black Powder can be for this period.

Thanks to all the players who joined us for these two battles.  We hope to see you on the field of combat again.

Until next time.........


  1. I am really enjoying your blog and The Northern Front Podcast
    Could you please go over your basing for the units
    I was torn between 3x2 (60x40mm) like most of the images in the book
    Or go more like yours 2x2
    How are you basing light troops and skirmishes
    What basing material
    I was going to order a bulk amount from litko
    Thanks again for all the coverage and hard work

    1. Steve,

      Glad you are enjoying it. We discuss basing in episode 3 or 4 of the podcast. I also did a previous post.


      The bases are metal so they work with the magnetic trays and storage. I get them as well as casualty caps here:




    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Got it
      Thanks you so much