Thursday, January 5, 2017

Horizon Wars- Battle Report- Battle of Lachute, Quebec

As Operation: Plantagenet roiled Europe, the French had not bit sitting idly by and watching the British build-up.  They had been preparing for an indirect response to British aggression.  They had not anticipated the ferocity and direct action that Operation: Plantagenet unleashed.  Instead, the French had been stoking anti-British resentment across the commonwealth to try and spread the British forces into a worldwide war instead of a regional European conflict. 

As the British opened their offensive, the French launched their own plan.  For the past several years they had been arming and supporting Quebecois separatists in Canada.  At the outbreak of war between Britain and France, the Quebecois rose up and overthrew the local government and declared independence.        

Naturally, the Canadian government was not amused.  Immediately, the 1st Canada armored brigade was activated and moved to attack Quebec from Ontario.  Their offensive was spearheaded by the Lord Strathcona’s Horse, an armored forced with a long military history.  They were met near the border by the 4th Regiment of Quebec Liberte, a newly revealed force raised by the Quebecois separatists.  The initial engagement of the war took place on the outskirts of the town of Lachute at the Ontario/Quebec border. 

I purchased and read the rules for Horizon Wars as soon as they came out.  However, I wanted to give them a play before I wrote my review.  They seemed a bit more nuanced than other Osprey titles, and I felt a play through was needed before I could give it a real review.  I remember when Robey Jenkins (Precinct Omega) first started working on these rules as part of his 5Lbs. Wargaming series.  At the time, I was working on Jugs-The Game of Big, Stompy RobotsThey felt like they had similarities in our initial design goals.  However, we ended up with two very different game systems.  I think I could convincingly argue that Mr. Jenkins’ rules are more innovative than what I came up with.  I also think they handle tanks and infantry better in the game play. 

In Horizon Wars, each unit uses a “Presence” rating to determine their value in the game.  This allows you to try to build relatively even force lists.  However, the lists could be modified by the scenario being played and the Command Headquarters you choose for your list.  According to the book, an engagement of this size should take about an hour to play.     

Lord Strathcona’s Horse- Presence 15
CHQ- Heavy Cavalry
2 Units- Heavy Cavalry
4 Units-Light Cavalry
1 Unit- Recon


4th Regiment du Quebec Liberte- Presence 14
CHQ- Heavy Infantry
2 Units- Heavy Infantry
2 Units- Light Infantry
1 Unit- Heavy Cavalry
1 Unit- Light Artillery


I tried to use a mixed set of forces for this battle report to see how they work out.  I purposely left out aircraft and Mechs in order to streamline the gameplay and not bog it down.  This game will be played out using templates I made in PowerPoint for proxies.   

Set-up
The forces meet coming down the 327 from Brownsburg and towards Lachute.  The board is bi-sected by the main roadway.  Fields and scattered copses of trees are along each side.  The board is approximately 4x4.    

The Quebecois have dug in quick defensive works running perpendicular to the 327.  The Light infantry and positioned there along with some Heavy Infantry units to stiffen them.  Up the 327 waits the Heavy Cavalry and Artillery to act as a reserve force. 

Lord Strathcona’s Horse is approaching down the 327 in column with the Light Cavalry leading the way.  Upon seeing the enemy forces, the commander decides to engage. 

The Mission
The Canadians are trying to smash aside the defender’s and reduce them to two elements or  less.  The defenders are trying to do the same.  The player with the most Presence on the board wins after 6 turns will win.

Turn 1
The Canadians have the initiative. 

Lord Strathcona’s Horse have a heavy task.  The Quebecois rebel infantry dig in along the ridgeline and pour fire into the advancing units.  Light Cavalry 1 and 2 both absorb a few hits, but Heavy Cavalry 1 takes the brunt of it taking 4 hits. 

The Canadians race down the 327 and return fire.  They need to close the distance rapidly, and try to get behind the fortification line as fast as possible.  IN this case, the most direct way is the fastest way.  The return Canadian fire is relatively ineffective, but they have forced the Quebec heavy units out of reserve and into the battle.  In addition, the hits that did strike home were against the Quebec CHQ.      


Turn 2
The Quebecois seize the initiative.

The battle around the 327 breach explodes this turn as Lord Starthcona’s Horse tries to force the gap, but their way is blocked by an enemy tank.  An opening duel takes out the Canadian Heavy Cavalry 1 with the help of some Heavy Infantry and the Quebecois cheer.  However, the pressure continues to mount as Light Cavalry units move forward and open fire cutting down the Heavy Infantry screening the Quebecois Heavy cavalry from assault. 

With the way forward cleared, the Lord Strathcona Horse CHQ tries to smash his way past the blocking Quebec tank, but things to do not work out as intended.  Stranded in front of the Quebec firing lines, the CHQ is blasted apart by short range fire. 

The close range fire of the Quebecois infantry units leaves the Canadian Light Cavalry units 1 and 2 in tough shape.  However, combine follow-on fire from the Canadian Heavy Cav-3 and Light Cav-3 and 4 manages to blast the Quebecois Tank force into oblivion.  This leaves the way potentially open to bypass the Quebecois defense emplacements. 



Turn 3
The Canadians regain the Initiative.

The armored units try to force the gap, which is a challenge when they are defended by Infantry units.  Light Cavalry-3 rumbles through and opens fire on the artillery piece, causing some damage.  Light infantry- 1 of the Quebecois counters with a barrage of shooting and then charging in.  However, the Canadian light cavalry fights tenaciously and small-arms fire drives them away. 

Infantry firepower destroys Light Cavalry- 1 before it can storm the gap as well.  Firepower from Canadian Light Cavalry-2 immobilized the Quebecois-CHQ.    

The larger armored units plow in as well.  The Quebecois CHQ is unable to respond with an assault as they are immobilized by gunfire.  However, the rebel Heavy Infantry-2 storms the 327 breach and blasts the Canadian light cavalry apart in close combat and fires on the Heavy armor. 

Light Cavalry-4 of the Canadians blasts the artillery away as they move into the breach.  The Quebecois CHQ is unable to destroy Canadian units with shooting.  Finally, Canadian recon unit bushwack the Quebecois light infantry in the trenches, accurate shooting with a critical and the Quebec rebel unit is destroyed. 



Conclusion
The Canadian Recon unit’s successful shooting reduced the Quebec rebels to only two units, and their CHQ called for a withdrawal.  It was a costly victory for the Canadian Lord Strathcona’s Horse but the way was now open to push into Quebec proper.  With the 327 secured, follow-on Canadian forces were able to set-up a F.O.B for the push into Montreal to attempt to unseat the rebellious Quebecois government.  The Quebecois rebels fell back to the suburbs and began to fortify the city and cul-de-sacs to repel the Canadian assault. 

This was a fun little game.  I have a feeling that Horizon Wars could be a very mobile game with lots of possibilities for maneuver and jockeying for position.  As the ranges shorten, the combat becomes fierce and the firepower begins to tell. Close engagements can be very decisive between infantry and vehicles.  Even between vehicles they all paid a heavy price.  In ordinary games where the objective wasn’t a breach the deadly combinations of assaults and short range firepower would make me wants to stay at range and maneuver for a decisive application of firepower.  

This scenario did not really allow such a tactic as the “Dug-in” infantry was very resistant to long range firepower.  The armor had to close to get quality shooting chances and use their superior firepower dice, but as you get closer the risk of an infantry assault increases.  Infantry assaults on vehicles tend to end badly for the vehicles unless you are really lucky.     

Heavy Cavalry could take a pounding, especially against Move and Shoot attacks.  Such attacks reduce the firepower of the shooter.  Infantry get a lot of defense dice, but a single critical can ruin their day with Armor/Agility of 1.  Heavy infantry was surprisingly fierce as well, especially when dug-in.  I didn’t feel like any of the units in the game were “worthless” as even the Recon unit played a key part in swinging the game, even though I didn’t have indirect fire artillery. 

The book was also pretty accurate for the length of the game.  Set-up, and take down extended the time somewhat. However, if I hadn't been documenting the game and double checking rules it would have been shorter still.  As a player gets better at the rules, I think they could have a relatively quick, enjoyable game.

So, the big question for this game is whether I would play again.  I would.  In fact, it made me want to accelerate some of my plans to get some “Not Epic” units that I could use in conjunction with Aeronautica Imperialis.  For the short term, templates will work fine while I get a few more 6mm units banged together.  The prices seem about right.

                      

   

2 comments: