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After Action Report on Hold the Line

Dan Pinkham, 28 February 2013

Hold the Line by Worthington Games

Scenario – Bemis Heights


Many people know that one of the most decisive battles of the American War of Independence was The Battle of Saratoga. What some people are unaware of is that this pivotal event was actually two battles fought within eighteen days of each other over the same ground south of Saratoga, New York. On September 19, 1777 the first Battle of Saratoga ended with a small but costly tactical victory for British General John Burgoyne’s Redcoats. Unable to break General Horatio Gates’ American lines and taking heavy casualties, the British were forced to withdraw and lick their wounds. Against the advice of his senior officers, General Burgoyne again launched an attack against the American lines on October 7th, 1777. General Gates launched a counterattack against the British left flank led by General Benedict Arnold making use of recently arrived reinforcements.

Hold the Line by Worthington Games takes us back to that fateful day in the fall of 1777, amid the dense trees of a plateau near Freemans Farm, south of Saratoga, called Bemis Heights. As the British line begins to crumble, Americans led by General Arnold have launched an attack on two redoubts protecting the British position. Can the Americans capture the British fortified positions or can the British Hessians hold off the advancing Americans and protect their army from complete destruction?

The Bemis Heights scenario is a 25 turn two player scenario. The Americans win if they can achieve seven victory points in 25 turns or less, and the British win if they can obtain seven victory points or avoid an American victory. Victory points are awarded for each unit or leader destroyed and the Americans can earn two additional victory points by taking the two victory point locations. I play as the Americans, who receive four Command Action (CA) points while my British opponent only receives two CA points. These CA points are modified each turn by rolling a special six-sided die with two chances of rolling a one, two, and three.



This is the Bemis Heights scenario set up.  My Americans had to force the crossing of the stream and push quickly forward to take the fortified British position on the right side of the board.



My Americans begin to cross the stream but take heavy casualties from the British which slowed our progress.  The British then pulled back and consolidated their position in the tree line. 



My Americans finally made the crossing and forced the British out of the woods, but again not before taking casualties and slowing my progress significantly.  (My opponent fought a great delaying action.)



We then isolated and destroyed several British units but not before my opponent withdrew some of their forces to try and form a defensive line around the fortified victory points. (You can see American reinforcements struggling to keep up with the battle.  With only a certain amount of CA points per turn, I was using all of them to keep up my attack’s initiative and in so doing could not bring my full force into battle.)



Next we had to cross open ground to assault the fortified British position.  My troops paid dearly in casualties at the hands of the British cannon.  (It didn't help that my opponent rolled three 6's for his cannon, totally destroying one of my units as it set foot in open ground.)



This is the situation at the end of 25 turns, the official game end. The score had my Americans winning by 1 point.  As you can see my position is tenuous at best. We decided to extend the game by several turns during which the British forces drove my Americans from the VP hex causing severe casualties on both sides and forcing us to agree to a draw. I believe in the historical setting this would have been seen as a small but pyrrhic tactical victory for the British as it would have stalled the American attack long enough to allow their other forces to withdraw from the battlefield.


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