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Games by Historical PeriodAge of Reason (1715-1792) → Bayonets & Tomahawks

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Bayonets & Tomahawks

Banner designs by Rachel Billingsley

SneakPeeks

Note: Unless otherwise noted, all samples below are from playtest graphics, not final game art. GMT Games claims no copyright on these images.

  • Playtest Game Map
  • Playtest Game Pieces
  • Close-Up Playtest Game Pieces
  • Game Pieces on the Map

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  • BGG Page for Bayonets & Tomahawks
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  • Bayonets & Tomahawks Interview with Marc Rodrigue from The Players' Aid
  • Articles on Bayonets & Tomahawks in InsideGMT:

    PRINT MEDIA COVERAGE

  • Olivier Revenu's Battles Magazine Focus on Bayonets & Tomahawks - November 2015 [pdf]



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    Volko Ruhnke on Bayonets & Tomahawks

    In Montreal this past May, I had the chance to go head-to- head in Bayonets & Tomahawks with designer Marc Rodrigue—a chance to compare that design’s experience to my own Wilderness War. As the Virginian provincial, I naturally took the French, and Marc the Québécois took the British. 

    Bayonets & Tomahawks took me back to the French & Indian War, but in a new way. Through clever use of a period mapmaker’s perspective and the full inclusion of the maritime campaigns, Marc’s Bayonets & Tomahawks delivers both historical focus on the Champlain corridor and the full possibilities of naval operations. Not only naval squadron units and naval combat, but also artillery and road-building give Bayonets & Tomahawks a more explicitly military-operational feel. 

    Marc’s design also provides a tense press-your- luck aspect to raiding and counter-raiding: how much as the British Crown do you dare to ignore Provincial complaints about insecure frontiers to press your conquest of New France? And his activation chits—built ground-up from his crunch of each historical F&I War raiding and offensive movement into the game system’s ops tempo—provide planning dilemmas without the fuss of card-hand management. I expect that players, regardless of whether or not Wilderness War played any role in luring them into the fascinating military asymmetries of our 18th -Century colonial frontier, will thrill in that journey with Bayonets & Tomahawks.

    -- Volko Ruhnke, Vienna, Virginia


    Overview

    Bayonets & Tomahawks is a 2-player game, with one side controlling the French and the other the British. It can be adapted for team play as well (up to 2 players per side). The board covers the area from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia ('Isle Royale'), to 'Pays des Illinois' and northern Virginia. It includes wilderness sites, Indian villages and British and French colonies with their settlements. Movement is point-to-point on land. Pieces can also be transported at sea.

    Pieces are distinctly shaped for instant recognition: square Brigades (line infantry — the pawns so to speak) and Artillery, triangular Light troops, octagonal Forts and rectangular 'Fleets' (naval squadrons). The French player starts with the most Indian allies in play. There are neutral Indians who will eventually join one side or the other. Hypothetical British and French units have also been added to reinforcement pools (some of the units sent to the West Indies from 1759 onward).

    Bayonets & Tomahawks offers scenarios that range from one year duration to the full campaign (5 years). In each, the British player can achieve victory by capturing a set number of key sites by game end (e.g. Louisbourg, Québec, Ohio Forks, etc.). The French can win by preventing this or by knocking out the British colonies with raids in any single year. Each year has eight Action rounds where movement, constructions, and battles take place; and three Logistics rounds where fleets arrive with reinforcements, colonials enlist, pieces return to colonies for winter and reserve supply is drawn.

    During play, two kinds of victory points (VPs) are recorded on distinct tracks: Raid VPs and Invasion VPs (key sites captured). Victory is checked at the beginning of each Winter logistics round.  

    Game Mechanics

    Action tokens drive the game: both players start the year with one reserve action token and draw a new one at the beginning of each Action round. They then secretly bid one of their tokens for the present round. Each supply point (SP) on a token allows one stack of pieces to perform one action: e.g. raid, muster, movement, construction, etc. With a varying number of SP per token, there’s a built in degree of uncertainty for players regarding their capacity to act during each round. They can compensate somewhat with their reserve token. Initiative is based on the token spent the previous round (the more supply a player spends, the lower his initiative value is for the next round). In a round, the player with the initiative performs all his actions first, followed by the other player. Battles normally take place after all actions, but there are some exceptions — notably raids and double SPs!

    Each gaming piece is the basic unit for battle. Likewise, each lane connecting 2 sites is the basic avenue for movement. Subtlety is in all the interactions possible. Thus players can focus entirely on strategy instead of adding up numerical values, figuring out odds, checking modifiers, etc.

    Brigades and Artillery can move two spaces along main lanes only. Brigades are the only pieces allowed to construct forts and roads. Light troops are the only pieces who can use tracks and perform raids — and they can move one bonus space (three spaces in all). Fleets can transport pieces at sea and lend fire support.

    The combat system is non-attritional. It is possible to be victorious without inflicting losses. And sometimes the winner of a battle will suffer higher losses than the loser — as it occasionally happened in that period. For battle resolution, each player gets 1 battle die per piece of his force and the outcome is decided by a single dice roll. Settlements give bonus Militia dice. Each piece uses a specific type of custom dice (green or white), with special icons that determine ‘hits’ (losses) and ‘breakthroughs’ (outmaneuvering, stealth). The player rolling the highest total of ‘hit’/’breakthrough’ results wins the fight. The custom dice reflect the capability of each unit type: for example ‘light’ dice (green) yield more breakthroughs, ‘regular’ dice (white) yield more hits — especially against other brigades — and so on. It takes two hits to eliminate a piece: the first hit flips the piece and the second hit eliminates it. It is removed to the losses box, from whence a portion of the lost pieces may return in subsequent logistics rounds.

    Indians alliances (or defections) can be triggered by specific Action tokens if conditions are met. Reinforcements tokens are mixed with pieces to be drawn. They can put in play special units (artillery, light troops), boost colonial reinforcements or cancel some reinforcements.

    Taken all together, these mechanics combine to immerse players in what Volko calls "the fascinating military asymmetries of our 18th-Century colonial frontier." If you enjoy this period of history, or if you just want to have fun with a diverse unit mix and interesting game mechanics,  Bayonets & Tomahawks will bring you many hours of enjoyment.



    Scenarios

    Scenario 1 (short): Vaudreuil’s ‘Petite Guerre’ 1755 (1 year)

    Description: no war is declared yet, but the British perform sneak attacks on the French at sea and in North America. The meagre forces sent there are unadequate for the over-ambitious quadruple offensive targeting forts Duquesne, Niagara, Beauséjour and Saint-Frédéric. The French could make their life difficult…

    Outcome: Historically, the main British force under Braddock was crushed in the wilderness. The offensive on Fort Saint-Frédéric was transformed in a desperate defense of Lake George's South End against a French attack. The Fort Niagara expedition stopped dead in its tracks for fear of French deployment on Lake Ontario. Only the feebly defended Fort Beauséjour fell in Acadia.


    Scenario 2 (medium): Loudoun’s Dilemna 1757 (1 year)

    Description: at last, the now fully mobilized British army has adequate forces in North America. Collaboration of colonial forces is at a low ebb, though.

    Outcome: Historically, Loudoun chose to concentrate almost all his metropolitan forces on the capture of Louisbourg. But unexpectedly, a strong combined French fleet blocked his attempt. Meanwhile, the French with almost 2,000 Indian allies devastated the defenseless British colonies. It culminated in the destruction of fort William Henry.


    Scenario 3 (long): Amherst’s Juggernaut 1758-59 (2 years)

    Description: Thanks to Pitt subsidies, the British have overwhelming support of the colonial forces. Now, begins a race against time before peace occurs in distant Europe — or their conquests might be returned to France like in the last war. They must do better than General Amherst who let the war drag uselessly in 1760 with enormous cost for the Crown...* The conquest of New France must be completed in 1759.

    * author Jonathan R. Dull about the 1760 campaign: “It resembled the end game of a poor chess player bringing every piece into action against an opponent with nothing left but a few pawns rather than moving quickly to checkmate.”


    Campaign (longest): The French & Indian War 1755-59 (5 years)

    As the FRENCH, you’ve held back the numerous British colonists for over a century with Indian alliances and raids. But it’s not enough anymore…. You must combine wilderness tactics with European-style battle imposed by your enemy. You endeavor with relentless raids to knock the British colonies out of the war. On the other hand, you must delay the British army wherever they attack. And make the best of your scarce reinforcements and navy.


    As the BRITISH, you’re on a race against the clock to conquer New France. Your conquests were handed back by treaty in the previous conflict: you don’t want that again! With your abundant resources and powerful navy you can achieve your goal by 1759 instead of letting the war drag into 1760. The American colonists are slow to mobilize and you can’t succeed without their support. You must devote some attention to protect them; otherwise they could defect. It’s a grueling balancing act between your offensive and the defense of the vulnerable colonial frontier, with nothing less than North America as the prize.

    The campaign ends in 1759 at the latest for the same reason as "Amherst's Juggernaut" scenario.

    Outcome: Historically, we are very far from "15 minutes of musketry that decided the fate of New France" - a  description that doesn't do justice to either of the combatants. The siege of Québec in itself lasted 3 months in a war that stretched for 6 years* and necessitated an unprecedented logistical effort. The campaign game allows you to experiment how different strategies could have performed over the whole conflict.  

    * from the British attacks in 1755 to New France's conquest in 1760. 


    Sample Scenario Setup Card


    Components:

    • A 22” x 34” mounted game board.
    • 40 supply tokens.
    • 149 extra thick cardboard playing pieces, various shapes.
    • 1 player aid sheet.
    • 5 scenario setup sheets
    • A sheet of markers.
    • Rulebook.
    • 2 sets of custom 6-sided dice.
    • A small fabric bag to draw pieces.

    Sample Playtest Components


     

     

    GAME DESIGN: Marc Rodrigue   
    DEVELOPMENT: Barry Setser