Friday, March 06, 2009

Events of the Evening: Hill Fort

Playing Empire: Total War, a quite lovely game which I purchased on an impulse last night. (Not on Impulse, mind you. On Steam.)

George Washington, under my command, marches on a French fort in the northern Ohio Valley. The French, along with their native allies, are waiting for me - but my troops outnumber them four to three, and are of far superior quality besides. I expect nothing but victory.

As the map loads, I behold a rather impressive sight: a wooden fort, in itself unintimidating, perched on the crown of a very tall hill. Two roads wind up the hill, and there is an open clearing outside the fort and somewhat further down the hill; the rest of the map is enveloped in thick woods. The French may be cowardly scum (and in the game), but this could be tricky going.

I arrange my cannon on the top of a smaller, opposing hill, and leaving George Washington there, along with a guard. The rest of my soldiers I divide into two groups, both converging on the base of the closer road up the hill, one with lighter infantry and cavalry, the other with the bulk of my heavy infantry. There is little opposition as I first begin to move; the French seem to have huddled into their fort at the top of the hill, with the exception of their cannon, which they have left in the middle of the lower clearing, utterly unprotected. As their cannon trade volleys with mine, I advance.

The first opposition comes at the base of the road; Iroquois musketmen, lurking in ambush. They surprise the infantry column that stumbles upon them, caught in loose order, but I swiftly order them into line formation; they blast the Iroquois with volley after volley of musket-shot, pinning them in place. I order my cavalry forward from the other column, hoping to catch the Iroquois on the flank and break them; but another formation of Iroquois appears before them, felling fully a quarter of their number in a single volley. The only choice is to flee or to charge. I order the latter.

The charge stuns the Iroqouis, for cavalry strike with a strength many times that of their numbers; but it does not break them. The fight in the woods becomes a bloody stalemate, but as more Iroqouis arrive to relieve their struggling brethren, so does my second column. I order Washington's Rangers into the fray.

The fight lasts a little while longer; but the Iroqouis break, as I know they will. The cavalry, now much diminished in number, I send to hound them down - for if given any respite, they will regroup and cause more greviance to my men - and then to disable the enemy artillery that still duels with my own. (My cannon I reassign to reduce the walls of the enemy fort, so that their shot will not hit my cavalry by mistake.) The infantry marches up the hill.

The next events pass quickly. One unit of cavalry, having lost two-thirds of their number in the fighting in the woods, breaks and flees when striking the enemy artillery. (Of all things to be put to flight by - unarmed artillerymen!) The artillerymen abandon their guns regardless, and my infantry, approaching behind the cavalry, put an end to their threat. One wall of the fort falls, leaving a traversable breach in the resulting debris; then another wall tumbles. Smoke billows blackly upwards. My infantry attack.

But progress is difficult to make. My infantry are twice the number of the foe, but attacking through the narrow breach, their greater numbers cannot tell. It becomes a bloody battle of attrition; melee fighting through the breaches, French marines (finally I fight the foreign foe!) firing from the surviving battlements, my own redcoats butchering soldiers in the courtyard with musket-shot from above. (They scaled the battlements with grappling hooks.) The battle swings back and forth, back and forth; then one of my units of colonial militia, pushed beyond the breaking point, flees. The enemy pursues, following through the breach; and my waiting men, five times their number, blast them with musket-volleys from three sides. The enemy wavers. Then - at first just one unit, then two, then nearly all - they rout. Their flags flutter white in the air, and they flee.

It is nearly over - but I must go - I have delayed too long already. Regretfully, I pause the game.

It sits for an hour's time.

I return. Within two seconds of my unpausing, victory is mine.

(This causes some chagrin.)

I wait for the campaign map to load; observe statistics; consider the reshuffling of my damaged units. I combine the remainder of my cavalry, to make room for a fresh unit coming in from the south.

The game crashes to desktop. All progress is lost.

But at least it makes a good story.

1 comment:

Calvacadeofcats said...

it would be pleasureable to read this while smocking a cigreate