Hold the Line After-Action Report

A Virtual Huzzah! Held 21-23 May, 2021


Hold the Line was a virtual historical miniatures wargaming convention held by the Maine Historical Wargaming Association in place of the usual face-to-face one, as a result of the difficulties around the pandemic. It featured more than 30 virtual games, terrain and figure-painting workshops, some presentations on historical topics, and various other activities. We had games from places as far away as New Zealand!

This report is a brief compilation of e-mails received by the game organizer from some of the game masters. Huge thanks to all the GMs, organizers, and participants! All told, it was an enjoyable event, and we got lots of good feedback.

We are looking forward to seeing you all (in person) at the next Huzzah!

Here is a list of the games for which we got pictures and/or write-ups from the GMs:

    Swordplay: The Three Musketeers (Kurt Braunsroth)

    Relief of Fort Stanjevic, 1869 (Arofan Gregory)

    Battle of Neumarkt-Sankt Veit, 24 April 1809 (Todd Pressley)

    Novara 1513 (Alex MacDonald)

    Terrain-Building Workshop: Russian Log Cabin (Dave Shuster)

    Sharp Practice - The Crossroads (Mitch Berdinka)

    A Beef with the Neighbors (Michael P. Bailey)

    The Battle of Harville-Moulotte, 16 August, 1870 (Arofan Gregory)

    Frolic at Falaise: Battle of Chambois (John Covello)

    Black Seas - Age of Sail (Adam Carriere)

    Countess Interruptus - The Story of a Kidnapping (Arofan Gregory)

    Ross Macfarlane's Toy Soldier Games

Game Reports

^ Swordplay: The Three Musketeers (Kurt Braunsroth)

This is a new game Kurt designed to do cinematic sword-fighting skirmishes. He even did a how to play video. Kurt writes:

    After playing a practice game, both players were looking for good defensive ground and building solid defensive formations.

    Alex's Musketeers jumped out to a big lead, guessing correctly again and again. It looked like it was going to be another walkover when Rochefort was surrounded by Aramis and Athos. One of the guards had already been disarmed by d'Artagnan and surrendered. Two other guards lay still on the pavement.

    But then Rochefort unleashed his Panache cards. He taunted Aramis, ("After today, you will never trouble me again!") and Aramis guessed wrong - twice, so with the taunt Rochefort rolled two dice instead of one and both hit! Aramis was knocked out. Rochefort's attacks on Aramis gave Athos the chance to attack him from behind. But again Rochefort outguessed his attacker and counterattacked with a deadly combination that gave Athos a wound and laid him stunned at the feet of two other guards who finished him off.

    It suddenly looked like the Cardinal's Guards would win. Porthos, in desperation, threw himself at Rochefort and miraculously outguessed and wounded him. This allowed d'Artagnan to attack Rochefort from behind and finish him off. With their leader gone, the rest of the Cardinal's Guards slunk off or surrendered. But it had been a very close affair.

    The whole game took about an hour and that was playing it remotely. I think it would have been just over a half-hour if played face-to-face.

Some pictures of the game:

Rochefort in a bind

Aramis falls

Rochefort drives Athos back

Rochefort falls

^ Relief of Fort Stanjevic, 1869 (Arofan Gregory)

This was an Austro-Hungarian colonials game - a period which many people have never heard of. The "colony" in question is the Kingdom of Dalmatia, on the Adriatic coast of the Balkans. The Imperial forces are attempting to impose conscription on the unwilling warrior-tribesmen of the Krivosije (and although the Austrians won the game, historically they lost the war, even though they outnumbered their opponents almost 10-to-1!)

The GM writes:

    Thanks for playing last night - I hope everyone enjoyed it. Technically, that might have been an Austro-Hungarian victory, but any victory purchased at that price is a rough one! Well played by both sides.

    I did not take a lot of pictures, but here are a few of the end of the battle:

The stand-off in the middle of the table

Here is the gunboat Drache, operating in (crucial) support of the Imperialists

The high-water moment for the Krivosije tribesmen

And the real reason why it failed: naval gunfire!

^ Battle of Neumarkt-Sankt Veit, 24 April 1809 (Todd Pressley)

This was a Napoleonic game played on Tabletop Simulator using the Et Sans Resultat! rules (the publisher, The Wargaming Company, offered a deal specially for Hold the Line).

Todd writes:

    Bessieres deployed his formations on the south side of the Rott River. Taking up positions on either side of the town of Newumarkt-Sankt Veit. The Bavarians explored the abby at Sankt Veit but determined to make their stand well forward of its strong walls.

    Starting point for the scenario, the Bavarians are deployed in the center and the Austrian 1st column is approaching from the south via two roads

    Feldmarschal-Leutnant Johann Karl Freiherr Von Hiller decided to pin the Bavarians in place and then maneuver to hit them in the flank. His 2 to 1 superiority in guns should have the telling factor in deciding the campaign. His first step was to quickly get the first column into the battle and hit the French hard. While they reel from the attacks, the columns from the west will destroy the French and Bavarian allies that remain.

    By 10 am, the fixing force was in place, the turning forces were arriving

    The cannonades opened at about 10:20 am. Bessieres advanced Wrede's 2nd Division of Bavarians to engage the guns of the Austrians as they came out of the woods. Wrede's men engaged the Austrian gunners with musket fire. By 10:40 am, the Austrians continued their advance. Bessieres sent all the reserve French light cavalry to the west, screening the flanks of the Wrede’s division. Molitor's 3rd Division hurried from the north and arrived just as the Austrians opened up the duel with the Bavarianian Lights in the wood.

    Von Hiller could see that his plan was working perfectly. The battle developed entirely according to his plan. And then it did not. The advance from the south stalled, the second and third columns failed to continue their advance. Each of the columns stopped to deploy from column. Then the order was lost, the objective for the formation never reached the second column. If only the first column ran into similar delays, but they did not. The attack of the first column under Reuss-Plauen went right after the Bavarian infantry. The cannons had barely started firing when the infantry and cavalry streamed past them.

    The Austrians close with the Bavarians

    The resulting melee destroyed the Austrian 1st column. There were minor victories, which the Austrians closing and capturing two batteries. Unfortunately, the Bavarian infantry stood their ground. As the Austrians stepped back from the infantry rebuff, the cavalry from both armies charged to chase the infantry off of the field. The French light brigades met their Austrian counterparts and lost badly. Unfortunately, the Austrian cavalry was so exhausted from their charge that they ceased to be an effective formation. The Austrian column was beaten.

    The aftermath, the Austrian 1st Column

    An overview of the battle, the top of the image is south, where the beaten column is retreating

    The advancing columns to the west, can be seen forming up on the right. While the Bavarians are tired, they should be able to recover within about two hours. A fresh French division has arrived and may be able to stem the tide long enough for the Bavarians to recover.

^ Novara 1513 (Alex MacDonald)

Alex writes:

    We played Novara using El Gran Capitán, a new set of computer assisted game rules by Arofan Gregory. This scenario was based on the decisive battle between France and the Duchy of Milan in the spring of 1513. The French army under Marshall Trémoille took Milan, and besieged the remaining Milanese troops and their Swiss mercenaries in the city of Novara. A large relief column of Swiss came to their aid, causing Trémoille to lift his siege and prepare for a field battle. The game begins the following morning at dawn. The relief column had been 10 miles away at dusk the evening before, so Trémoille did not expect battle. The Swiss marched all night and attacked at daybreak.

    The French troops are mostly in their large camp at the start, with their contingent of Landsknecht mercenaries guarding the south flank. Some light cavalry were posted at the northwest corner to give warning of the approach of the relief column. Nearly all of the French and Landsknechts are disordered at the start of the game because they are just waking up when the first of the Swiss attack. The French deployed, then the Swiss got to choose where the relief troops would enter. They decided to bring the main battle of the army in on the west side (back of table), and the left battle on the north side (right of table). Duke Massimilliano Sforza’s right battle side (back of table), and the left battle on the north side (right of table). Duke Massimilliano Sforza’s right battle approached from the south (left of table).

    One of Sforza's Swiss pike blocks engaged one of the Landsknecht pike blocks on the first move, menacing another Landsknecht pike block with his other Swiss pikes. The Swiss crossbowmen fired on the Landsknecht artillery, while the Milanese gendarmes waited for further developments. After a few turns, the artillery was broken, and the gendarmes rushed through the gap, flanking the engaged Landsknecht pike block. While other Landsknechts held, they were completely pinned by a smaller force, providing opportunities for the main Swiss attack from the east.

    The Swiss main battle attacked on a broad from from the east. In the woods, a forlorn hope of halberdiers were sent to attack the Landsknecht artillery, but seemed to get lost in the woods, breaking out into the open ground just as the artillery ran away from other attacks. Three pike blocks advanced abreast, one engaging French light cavalry, while the other two went straight towards the French camp. The left battle’s pike block attacked the other French light horse, and after a few turns of running battle, broke them. Artillery and arquebusiers fired in support, then approached the French camp.

    French crossbow units and gendarmes in camp took a long time to get organized, but finally started forward to meet the advancing Swiss. With two light cavalry and two Landsknecht artillery units broken, and one Landsknecht pike block in trouble, things were looking very bad for the French. Then the crossbowmen formed a line, that surprisingly withstood a charge by Swiss pikes. One unit of gendarmes ran to the aid of the Landsknechts by flanking the Milanese gendarmes, while the other defended against a Swiss pike block and fought it to a standstill. After an extended melee, the crossbowmen broke the pike block they faced, greatly diminishing the threat to the camp.

    Swiss victory depended on breaking at least 14 points of French units. Any other result was a French victory. In the end, the Swiss broke 10 points worth of French, with a couple of other units (worth more than enough to make the difference) in bad shape. It was a close run game, with the French victorious after a rough start.

    Thanks to Mark T. who ran the Milanese/Swiss army, and Patrick O'Toole and Robert Newis for the French. Everyone seemed to have a good time, and I certainly enjoyed putting on this game.

^ Terrain-Building Workshop: Russian Log Cabin (Dave Shuster)

The workshop took a bare kit and worked it into a finished product in 4 hours and 20 minutes (which is a lot faster than most of us paint!). Pictures below show the fresh out-of-the-package kit and the finished product:

The kit

The finished cabin

Nice work, Dave! (What's the rent gonna be? I'm looking for some new digs...)

^ Sharp Practice - The Crossroads (Mitch Berdinka)

This was a TooFatLardies game set in the Peninsula, played over Tabletop Simulator. The GM writes:

    I've attached a screen shot of the game where we were at after 4 hours of play. The players had a little trouble with the tabletop Simulator Controls which slowed things down quite a bit. We got through 5 full turns however and I think we all enjoyed it. The French were firmly in control of the crossroads, but had lower Force Morale. Very much still a contested battlefield by the time we ended.

    Even though I sent the players instructions on how to load the game, one of them had trouble but I was able to step him through the process. Even I had trouble trying to invite them to the DISCORD server room we were supposed to be in. Some better directions on how to do that would be helpful if you do more of these.

    Hope the rest of your Virtual game convention goes well. I made some new gaming friends and had fun.

[Comments noted - and it may be we will do more remote gaming in future, even with things opening up. I heard several participants say they would be intersted. (Game Coordinator)]

^ A Beef with the Neighbors (Michael P. Bailey)

This was a Dark Ages game, but - sadly - there were no pictures (The GM was busy running the game!)

Michael writes:

    Saturday morning found two Anglo-Dane warlords (Robert and Mark) rolling into a Viking village with the intention of making off with as much livestock as possible. The two Viking warlords living in the Village (Pat and Bill) took exception to the Anglo-Dane shopping expedition and did what they could to stop them.

    The game was played with the Saga rules, with a scenario adapted from the Mass Battles section of the Saga Book of Battles that allowed a two versus two battle.

    With four cows in an enclosure on the Viking left and six sheep on a hill on the right, the goal for both sides was to move the livestock toward their own table edge and to eliminate as many of the enemy as possible. The game started with Bill on the Viking right opposite Mark and Pat on the Viking left opposite Robert. At first it looked like Mark was after the sheep and Robert was going for the Beef, but it appeared that the Anglo-Danes decided that they preferred beef over mutton, and Mark joined Robert in attacking Pat while leaving two of his units as a flank guard on the left.

    Pat decided that the best defense was a vigorous offense, even committing his warlord to the fray, and managed to deny control of two of the four cows to the Anglo-Danes. This proved costly, as Pat lost two of his four units while the other two were badly mauled, and even lost his warlord to a unit of heavy weapon armed hearth guards after being exhausted while driving off another unit of Robert's. To his credit, he took the Hearth Guard unit to Valhalla with him.

    Bill left his warriors to herd the sheep to safety (for a certain definition of safety, as they were, after all, destined for the dinner table) while sending the rest of his warband to Pat’s assistance.

    Mark and Robert both showed that they knew where the Viking threat came from, however, using their sling-armed units to eliminate their Beserkers before they could close into melee (much to the game master’s dismay - Beserkers in melee are a lot of fun) and otherwise managed to fend off Bill’'s counter attack.

    In the end, a small change in any one of a number of results could have swung the game to the other side, as the Anglo-Danes managed to win by a single point, which, in Saga, represents a single Hearth Guard or two Warriors or three Levy (a warlord is worth two points).

    I hope that the game was as much fun to play as it was to run, and I look forward to the next opportunity to run another game like it.

^ The Battle of Harville-Moulotte, 16 August, 1870 (Arofan Gregory)

This was a "what-if" scenario in which the French manage to leave Metz on their intended schedule, leading to a version of Mars-La-Tour as the Prussians expected it to be, instead of how it was. The game was run using La Guerre à Outrance.

The GM writes:

    Thanks again for playing - that was great fun, and both sides were well-handled. I still think with a slightly better fall of dice that Dave could have gotten around the flank for a Prussian win, but dice fall where they may.

    Here are a few pictures at the end of the game:

    The Prussians pushing the French back, but not fast enough...

    What's left of the French dragoons after they successfully defeated the Prussian end-run

    Prussian push at the southern end of the line

    The impenetrable French defensive line to the north

    And the Prussians trying to get through the center after eliminating all the opposition there: too little, too late!

    I look forward to gaming with you guys again!

^ Frolic at Falaise: Battle of Chambois (John Covello)

This was a 15mm Flames of War game (one of the few 15mm games at the event).

John writes:

    August 19, 1944. The Americans made it two-pronged assault on the Germans entrenched in Chambois, trying to hold open the southern part of the Falaise gap to let the rest of the German army escape. Two platoons of infantry and one armored formation came up from the southwest on route D113. On the eastern side to other US Armored formations and one infantry platoon came up route D16.

    Americans began the first turn attacking German units in Chambois. There was some ineffectual shelling on German mortar units in the church courtyard. A team of Sherman 75mm tanks opened up on the mortar units as well. All of this fire was ineffective. American mortar units on the western side of the battlefield shelled the main intersection in town. They had a bit more luck killing infantry stand and pinning that unit.

    The German first turn was hard on the Americans. Some of the German reserves showed up right away. The team of panther tanks attacks in American units on the western flank, shelling the American infantry. However more devastating was some anti-tank fire and machine gun fire on the eastern US assault. German heavy machine guns opened up on an American platoon waiting across the Dives river. Additionally, the German motors rained down on this unit as well. It did not go well for the infantry as they lost some stands to this fire and became pinned. Three Sherman tanks succumbed to the antitank gun fire.

    The following turn the remaining Sherman 75 in that unit decided discretion is the better part of valor and left. The infantry unit unfortunately remain pinned. The American Sherman 76s raked some of the buildings in Chambois with machine gun fire but to no effect. The American artillery had better luck. The M7 Priest battery destroyed a mortar unit. US mortar fire managed to pin some German units again at the crossroads.

    German vengeance was harsh however. Some German infantry snuck up on the remaining Sherman 76s approaching Chambois up Rt 16. They hit one tank with a Panzerschreck and forced the crew to bail out. The German anti-tank guns also destroyed two of the same 76s. On the western end of the battlefield The three Panthers on that flank sprayed American infantry with some machine gun fire inflicting a couple of stands of casualties. This proved too much for the Americans and they decided to break off. ( We had to move onto the next game.).

    So the battle ended with the same historical result. The Poles and Canadians would have swept in from the north and occupied the town waiting for the beleaguered Americans to join them.

Some shots of the action:

^ Black Seas - Age of Sail (Adam Carriere)

Adam sent some pictures, below, but you can find his full after-action at his blog, Fencing Frog. (He also describes some of the games he played in, which included, err... fencing!)

Pictures in no particular order (you'll need to read the blog!)

^ Countess Interruptus - The Story of a Kidnapping (Arofan Gregory)

This was a 54mm Sharp Practice game set in the Peninsula, depicting an attempt to kidnap a senior officer who might (or might not) be Napoleon during his rare leisure time, while he was not completely focused on work. As usual, nothing went as planned, and Alex's figure (a brand-new Scottish officer, even) was no longer conscious by the end of play - at least this time he remained among the living!

The GM writes:

    Thanks for playing - I had a lot of fun, even though Napoleon escaped (at least someone did!)

    A quick recap:

    The game got off to a roaring start, with the guerillas popping up and basically rendering the northern group of French grenadiers less-than-useful in a single blistering ambuscade, before immediately falling prey to a massive volley from the Confederation of the Rhine troops.

    The British did not fare well coming in off the beach, with their intended target - the grenadiers in the garden - being unexpectedly assisted by a sizeable group of voltigeurs. The only good news for the British landing party was that their much-despised and sternly puritanical sargeant, Hodges, was captured by the French (and there are rumors that there was a bruise shaped like the butt of a Brown Bess on the back of his head).

    And although the Portugese started onto the board in force, pinning the voltigeurs between two fires, it was simply too late. Napoleon (if it was Napoleon and it sure looked like him!) the Contessa, and their servants/body doubles managed to flee off the board, despite Captain McTavish's heroic one-man charge. Sadly, this effort was met with a second volley from the Rhinelanders, and he was rendered unconscious. (His men, after some debate, decided to bring his body with them when they retreated off the beach).

    The Napoleonic wars dragged on for five more long years! C'est la vie! (Or, perhaps, C'est la guerre!)


The guerillas breathe their heroic last

The British are surprised by the voltigeurs as the unknown officer and company emerge.

Sargeant Hodges falls afoul of the French musketry, or of something, anyway...

And a close-up (the Contessa looks really harassed, don't you think? And is that a cold one Napoleon's got in his hand?)

The unknown officer and his companion (could that be Berthier?) lead the ladies to safety (before sprinting away in cowardly fashion, sadly, the minute the Mad Scotsman charged - no gentlemen these!)

Speaking of which...McTavish's heroic charge!

And the fray comes to a close - a disaster for the Anglo-Portugese! The target escapes off the table, and Cpt. McTavish lies unconscious on the beach after taking a largish and very personal volley...

^ Ross Macfarlane's Toy Soldier Games

Ross ran two toy-soldier games with 42mm figures, just like at a regular Huzzah! You can read about them on his blog Battle Game of the Month (you may have to scroll down a bit).