Monday, May 31, 2010

GMT's Monmouth: Our First Experience

During Memorial Day weekend, I always like getting in at least one wargame featuring an American force. Sometimes they are miniature games, sometimes computer games.

Yesterday afternoon, we tried playing our first game of GMT's Monmouth board game. Part of GMT's American Revolution Series, Monmouth recreates that famous battle of the AWI where both sides fought to a draw. This is a game Jeremy badly wanted for Christmas last year and that Santa delivered for him.

I won't bother writing a review of the game since you can read those at the game's entry on Boardgame Geek by clicking here. There is a good reason the game gets a 7.39 out of 10. It really is a nice set of rules.

First Scenario
I set up the first scenario in the rules, "Lee's Advance," where Lee and Lafayette head off Clinton while Cornwallis and reinforcements are only an hour (1 turn) behind. I snapped a photo of the set up above. I left the image large so you can enjoy the beautiful map and see the counters in action. You can also see it here at GMT's website. I played the British and Jeremy (theoretically) played the Americans. I say theoretically because he was supposed to play them but really spent his time working on the computer and his Zune across the room. (Remember how this is supposed to be his wargame? The first wargame he ever wanted to own? That's ok. I love the kid regardless!)

I discovered that the scenario took forever for me to setup, even though I had the counters pre-sorted into a counter tray. Each counter is a unique unit. (Note that the game comes with small baggies for the counters, which is a really nice touch, but I like trays. Old habits, I guess.) I also learned that a couple counters I needed were two-in-ones--the front and back were different units. Took me a while of searching for a needed counter before I figured this out, finding it on the backside of a counter. Live and learn.

Where To Deploy?
I had a tough choice for the British. They really were caught in a nice ambush situation. The Americans, due to Lee's bungling, really gave up a good opportunity to hurt the British historically. Back to the game... Should I plow down the road toward Lafayette in Monmouth to make way for Cornwallis' large force entering the next turn? That might leave me open to a flanking by Lee. Or do I deploy in the fields where I began, hoping that I don't get whooped and create a traffic jam preventing my main forces from deploying properly? Most of my units were light infantry and cavalry, typical for an advanced force but not meant for engaging a strong enemy head on. Only one unit was regular infantry, the Queen's Rangers. My choice? I deployed in the fields.

Sure enough, the Americans moved up and came toe-to-toe with Clinton. Lafayette also advanced to the north side of Monmouth. I felt the pincer beginning to pinch. Luckily my light artillery pushed back a small unit of Americans and my largest unit, the Queen's Rangers, clobbered one of the stronger units in Lee's advanced force during a massive first volley, sending it retreating across the field and flipped to its weaker side. Other fire caused some disorder among the rebels. However, the American fire did little to budge the stout Brits. The close combat was pretty much the same results due to the weakened American units. Lord Cornwallis would be happy to see his entry point cleared and Clinton holding the ground. And that was Turn 1.

Except for defensive artillery fire, all ranged and close combat in Monmouth is simultaneous. Since one needs to be contacting the enemy to fire and then to melee, it gets pretty bloody pretty fast when one unit out powers another, as had happened on Turn 1 for me. I like the combat system. Very simple yet effective, reflecting horse and musket. Add the command and control to the game, and we have a winner.

Curse These Hands!
Ok, and that is where the game ended for us. At the end of Turn 1. My hands were hurting too much to keep picking up the counters, which I could barely pick up anyway due to the psoriasis on my fingers flaring up. Rooting through the counters during set up had taken its toll on me. Made me mad, sad, and frustrated. It hurts to type right now as well, but I can work around it a bit to ease the pain. Constantly knocking over counter stacks is another matter. Sigh. This is why I like Company of Heroes--big thick counters I can easily pick up. But I will not let this latest malady stop me from enjoying my hobbies! I will not!

For More Info See...
If you'd like more info about the game, check the game's page at GMT's website. You can download the rules, map, and some sample counters. You can also check the game's page at Boardgame Geek. You can also order the game online from Cool Stuff for only $17. Folks, this game has a $50 retail! The game is on sale at GMT and Cool Stuff discounts the sale price even further. We are lucky that the nation's best online wargame discounter is 20 minutes down the street. We will play the rest of the scenario as soon as we can.

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