Today at Writtle we welcomed gamers from the Darkest Continent - well, north Essex actually !
Graham Towers brought not only his collection of figures and terrain but members of his local club too so we could have a BIG Black Powder game.
I had the British command by popular (!) demand - OK nobody else wanted it !
Against our King's men were a surly bunch - and their toy soldiers weren't much better either !
Here's the troops being set up - Americans on the left in this shot.
Two farms dominate the battlefield.
Graham chose to umpire and from the avid attention being paid, he must be explaining some point or other !
This tme he is holding court with the British commanders.
Right, with all the troops set out, the British are told to start
Mike has an usually large (for the AWI) cavalry brigade and this is ordered forward on the British right.
This is the view from this end (Mike is left of the cavalry and Steve Clarke commanding the Americans opposite them.
Speaking of who, his first roll is a double six, which is a blunder in these rules. The outcome ? A swift advance, so could have been worse.
He certainly doesn't look unhappy
Before we could gloat, I had thrown a double six too and my nicely positioned British brigade made a withdrawal back where it had come from !
Thank goodness Mike's Hessians were performing well - they advance relentlessly towards the field to their front.
Not that the Americans have been idle, they too have reached their fence line as support troops face towards the threat of enemy cavalry.
Peter Hockaday moves forwards his infantry brigade towards my men
Besides my infantry brigade, Ian's Scots brigade heads purposefully towards the farm dominating the left side of our position.
and with some good dice throws, gains the farm and starts to take the field next to it.
"North Essex" Steve has a gun battery and Indians on high ground looking down on the farm and they fire at the Scots.
as American infantry get to the fences around the farm
This is the American view
and this from the Americans facing the Hessian brigade
As Mike decides to call the cavalry back, Steve Clarke's infantry move forward supported by guns
The view along the line at this stage of the battle
Neither side has captured the farm up this end of the table.
Mike's cavalry really have legged it leaving open ground before Steve's brigade.
The Hessians lead by some Rangers attack across the field
as British infantry get a toe hold on the farm despite the presence of the Americans just the other side of the fence line.
So far, so good.
The Indians fighting for the Americans whoop and holler on the hilltop waiting for a response from the "British" Indians.
American pressure builds up against the "Scots farm"
Fire is being poured on them from both guns and infantry and it is starting to tell.
These are the guns doing the damage
All along the line the Americans are pressing
as they try to dislodge the British from the farms
Steve Clarke's American Militia stand firm as the Hessians and Rangers inch forwards
Progress is slow as this is tough ground to march across
Mike's Hessians now face the on coming threat coming from the American left
It is at this point that Mike has a change of heart and decides to send the cavalry back onto the attack
These Continentals are the target it seems
But they have plenty of guns bristling besides them
as do the Hessians to be fair.
The Continentals seem unpeturbed.
British artillery are urged to do their bit
as American cavalry appear as if from nowhere and head for the centre of the British position
Colours unfurled, these Hessians look the part.
Encouraged by their brigade commander
Steve Clarke has managed to get two artillery batteries working in concert.
Will Mike's cavalry charge them ?
American riflemen use their longer range to inflict some casualties on my brigade
and line troops are pushed forward beside the farm
The British defenders stand firm
Now Peter has swung his infantry brigade around to threaten the flank of the Scots, shielded by skirmishers
Ian's Indians emerge from the woods but have still not committed to the fight.
Ian's Scots are having to fight alone as my infantry have double sized again and moved left instead of going forward !!!
Enemy cavalry ! Peter's men charge through a gap towards our guns
They are getting close !
Get some fire on those donkey wallopers before it is too late !
A ray from heaven seems to have descended onto the table as my brigade finally gets its act together and advances against Peter's brigade.
Over on the other side, the Hessians have got across the field and a Militia unit seems to have bottled it and gone.
Mike's cavalry are watching in amazement as Steve Clarke's infantry advance on them.
Almost at the guns, Peter's dragoons receiving "closing fire" from the cannons
its lethal and the cavalry reel
and break contact
What about Mike's cavalry ? They seem mesmerised by the approaching American infantry
Infantry clash ! The Americans have charged both the farm defenders and the Elites in support
My troops have charged the American riflemen
as the Indians at last face each other across the field
The riflemen run and my British line advances again
The dazed American cavalry receives fire from guns and infantry in the churchyard
There are melees for the farm and the fields now
Still Mike's cavalry wait
Desperate struggle at the fence line
and beside the farm
The Scots have taken too much and are broken on the British left and they are breaking off from the fight. At this point, Ian goes home ! My brigade is still holding the line.
But the centre is safe as the American brigade breaks and flees
Mike has at last unleashed the cavalry and they attack Steve's guns.
At 4 o'clock, Graham declares the game is up and with both sides suffering from broken brigades, a draw is the verdict as no side has taken control of the battlefield.
With six brigades a side each supported by two battalion guns, we had around 1,000 troops deployed on the table at its peak with enough to keep four players a side busy and Graham trying to keep the peace !
All good fun.