Andrew Coleby and I played an early version of the Liberators HOTT version of the Alternative Chacabuco Scenario which is based on that in Fletcher (2006). Andrew was the Royalists and I was the Patriots.
Andrew is quite keen on using more-or-less standard HOTT for historical periods. He introduced me to horse and musket HOTT with a game set in the first Great Northern War of the 1650s.
This was the first time we’d tried Liberators HOTT and although both the rules and scenario need some tweaking it was jolly good fun. And we comfortably set up and finished within two hours which is a key requirement for our sessions.
Version of Liberators HOTT and Scenario played
Liberators HOTT has a bunch of rules that are more or less optional. We played these ones:
- Better artillery
- Attachable generals
- Attack column
- Good quality troops
The stands in the photos with little markers next to them where either good quality (light marker) or poor quality (brown marker).
I changed the orders of battle for the scenario after the game. Those used in the game were:
- Royalist: General, 5 x Infantry; 1 x Poor Infantry; 6 x Cavalry; 4 x Artillery
- Patriot: General, 8* x Infantry; 4 x Good Cavalry; 1 x Cavalry; 2 x Artillery
* It should have been 6 but I made a mistake in converting the numbers.
We used the map from the book but shrunk the table to 3′ x 2′ to make it compatible with HOTT. As you can see from the table the armies are very small to match the small table.
I used my 6 mm terrain for this game. The smaller roads and streams seemed more in scale with the table. In fact the 6mm farm house also looked more appropriate than a 15mm equivalent. I think I will expand my 6 mm terrain set to use for all of my small games. If you look closely I didn’t have enough roads for this scenario and I could also do with a couple of bridges.
I actually ordered some custom made ridges to fit my Liberators games at this scale. The two hills in the rear of the Royalist deployment zone are examples.
I also made the vineyard and fields specifically for this scenario.
My plan, as Patriots, was the attack with the infantry towards the farm and send the cavalry out on the open right flank. Pretty obvious really. But a succession of low PIP rolls (1 then 1 then 1) meant I pushed the infantry forward but hadn’t move much of anything else.
Table at first blood
With my infantry trudging forward slowly the Royalist artillery had opportunities to pound them. A 6-1 split scored first blood for the Royalists.
Royalist artillery starts the death toll.
Andrew counter-attacked on his right flank near the large hill. He sent two stands of infantry up the hill so I had to counter this with a stand of my own. I also rearranged my infantry in the centre to fill the gap from the dead stand and partially counter. I also finally got my reserve cavalry moving and started transferring them towards the open flank.
Royalist counter-attack on hill
I wasn’t hoping to beat the two infantry stands advancing up the hill … but I was hoping to tie them up.
Royalist Infantry advances up hill towards Argentine 7th Infantry Regiment
The trouble was Andrew was throwing well and I wasn’t so my lone stand on the hill got shot to pieces.
A 5-1 dice roll killed my stand on the big hill
While that was happening I got my infantry in the centre moving again towards the farm.
Patriot infantry advances on farm
But as they advanced my infantry came within line of sight of a Royalist gun and BOOM another Argentine infantry stand dead.
Another 5-1 dice roll and another Patriot infantry stand dies
My infantry finally made it to the hedge line. On my right flank my cavalry edged forward. And the artillery on both sides began a long, and indecisive, duel.
Patriot infantry pushes towards the farm
Actually, technically speaking, it was the Patriot infantry column moving along the road that reached the line of the hedge first and charged the Royalist gun facing them. To their left the opposing infantry began a musketry exchange.
Patriot infantry column charges the gun on the road
More low PIP rolls meant all I could do was maintain the pressure on the hedge line. Other parts of my army stalled.
Both armies pause to watch the struggle at the hedge
After some hard fighting my infantry broke into the field near the farm house. The Royalist infantry were driven back.
Patriot infantry drive Royalists back from the hedge line
One of the Royalist stands at the hedge line was destroyed. On the far flank the Patriot cavalry closed on the Royalist cavalry.
Patriots advance in centre and far flank
I had four cavalry stands (three good quality) and two guns on the far flank facing only one Royalist gun and two cavalry stands. The odds looked good but I really could coordinate my troops effectively and left my cavalry in the firing line too long.
Patriots swarm towards the Royalists beyond the long ridge
More ineffective fire from my guns but the Royalist fire took reduced the Patriot cavalry facing them.
The Patriot infantry still dominate the centre as the cavalry wing masses for attack
Royalist fire eliminated one of my cavalry stands. But still looked good for me.
Royalist artillery fire kills cavalry
Patriot fire rather ineffective
More low PIPs and relative inactivity.
Progress is slow with low PIP dice
Then the Patriot infantry wiped out some more Royalist infantry as the cavalry on the far flank managed to get within charge distance of the enemy.
Patriots continue attack in both centre and far flank
My Patriots secured the hedge line and forced Andrew to bring up some artillery to counter them.
Patriot infantry succeed in the centre
But despite the fact it looked good for me in the centre I had lost six stands in the advance. Now those sneaky Royalist infantry on the big hill came down onto the flat to take a pot shot at my covering cavalry. All they needed was a 4-1 dice roll and they killed their opponent and took the game.
Game winning shot by Royalist infantry
A good game and very enjoyable for both of us. Andrew played well and deserved the victory. And the entire process took two hours. Yay!
I think I played badly. Despite having played HOTT a lot I just couldn’t get the hang of this army. I trudged my infantry into artillery fire and took quite a lot of losses before I closed. On the far flank I had numbers – both cavalry and artillery – but couldn’t quite get my act together to utilise my advantage.
Andrew thinks the scenario is unwinnable by the Patriots. Mainly because of the defending artillery (4 stands) and copious quantities of bad going to counter the Patriot cavalry.
I loved doing the map on a small (3′ x 2′) table. It was fun making (and buying) the small features. I also think the 6mm streams, roads and building worked for the small scale. I’ll do that for all my DBA/HOTT games going forward.
We tried a variety of new rules with Liberators HOTT:
- Better artillery
- Attachable generals
- Attack column
- Good quality troops
Better artillery. It made the artillery very potent but that seems fair enough. Seemed historical.
Attachable generals. Only because of the way my generals are based. I’m now tempted to get duplicate figures on normal HOTT bases. San Martin would go on a Cavalry/Rider base. Mariscal Marco del Pont probably on a Mob/Horde base to reflect his poor attitude.
Attack column. Seemed to have right feel for the period but we’d only apply it to infantry.
Good Quality Troops. It didn’t add anything to the game but did add some complexity. Not worth the effort. Andrew suggested doing this differently, e.g. make one of the Argentine Horse Grenadier stands a Hero.
Andrew is quite keen on using more-or-less standard HOTT for historical periods and is quite creative in applying the troops types. For example his suggestion about using a Hero for the Horse Grenadiers – an idea I’ve incorporated into the updated scenario. He also suggested using HOTT Sneakers for skirmishers … not appropriate for this scenario but something to keep in mind.
One of the advantages of using HOTT is we inherited a default victory condition. You win by destroying half the enemy army. This meant, unlike my Liberators QPR games, we came to a clear conclusion.
All in all a very successful experiment.