Wednesday, 24 October 2012

The Pay Chest - A tale of muskets, greed and treachery

The scene was set. Deep in the woods of the Canadian Frontier lies the small trading post of Fork Point. Its nestled on the banks of the George River and the smaller tributary of the River May. This settlement has over the last few seasons flourished with trading with both sides of the conflict and has somehow maintained its neutrality in the gathering storm. Hardened settlers, trappers and huntsmen bearing no allegiance to either European King.

All this was about to change with the War of the Americas being fought right on its doorstep.

How did this come to pass? Three days ago a certain Major Dumas of the Canadian Militia ambushed a wagon train heading for the British held Fort Martin William. What was going to be straight issue of plunder turned into something far more serious. The wagon train held the British Armies pay chest for North America, a fortune in gold and silver coins.

Major Dumas realising the enormity of this capture took the treasure to Fork Point the closest and safest haven in the wilderness. Before reaching the settlement he sent a runner to French command with a request for support and further orders.

Loose tongues have informed the British of the whereabouts of the money and incensed by this theft they want their money back. Under the command of Major Dunlop have sent a strong force to Fork Point. (3 units of British Regulars, 2 units of Rangers, 1 unit of native Indians)

The French equally want control of the chest so they have sent a large force of Regulars under the command of Colonel Orly to support Major Dumas. (3 large units of French Regulars, 1 unit of allied Indians)

And what of this Monsieur Dumas, well money does a strange thing to man and over the past 24 hours he along with the village leaders have decided that they wish to keep it to themselves. (1 unit of Canadian Militia, 1 unit Militia, 2 units of Indians)

A French spy in Fork Point, known as Jean Christophe has overheard Dumas’s plans of treachery and has fled into the woods outside the village seeking refuge. He is waiting in the Loggers cabin.

Our game starts...

At this point neither the British nor the French forces arriving in the Fork Point area are aware of the double cross.

As the forces entered the table each player was passed an additional note.

The British are informed that a spy lurks in the woods and has valuable information. They must capture and interrogate him.

The French are told of the spy and must rescue him. Whoever recovers him first will learn of Major Dumas’s duplicity.

Meanwhile Major Dumas is holed up in the village with his small band of men and some local militia. Some braves lured by the treasure have been recruited and lie in ambush on the village outskirts. Dumas is awaiting a boat to take him and the treasure away from Fork Point.

The boat manned by 6 swarthy irregular mercenaries will support Dumas on their arrival.

In our first few turns the British and French forces split their troops with groups headed for the location of the spy in the old loggers cabin, whilst others head for the village. Whereas the British regulars had to deal with dense woodland the French marched in columns rapidly up the road into Fork Point.

The French natives seconded to Colonel Orly reached the cabin first. Jean Christophe, not knowing whether these were friendlies or not, decided to open fire, missing. The natives quickly overcame the French spy and bundled him out of the door. The documentation on his body could not be read by these savages and as such they had to drag him and the notes to a uniformed French soldier. The reports on him informed the French of Major Dumas’s treachery but the delay in getting this to the French Colonel would cost them dear.

Sporadic fire between the rangers and Indians in the woods rang out for the rest of the game but had little effect.

Meanwhile the boat to take Major Dumas and his ill gotten gains has appeared and is making steady progress up the river towards the jetty. Major Dumas has decided that until the boat arrives he will keep his forces hidden around the settlement.

The British forces have started to press forward into the village, a unit of rangers is ambushed by hidden braves on the outskirts, taking casualties the unit withdraws and licks its wounds. The successful Indians skulk back into the village to reload their muskets and await a new target.

British Allied Indians charge into the village only to be driven back by some of Dumas’s militias shooting from windows of the log cabins. Hidden behind stout wooden walls the village men are safe from returning fire.

Colonel Orly, still without news of the Major’s treachery has now marched with two regular units into the village square, a third column marches past the cornfield. Major Dumas has now decided with the boat tied up on the jetty he must play his hand.

Recognising that something is afoot, Dumas is moving the chest ! Colonel Orly quickly mustered his troops into firing lines and opens fire on the mercenaries accompanying the boats. In the flash of an eye a the mercenary unit was destroyed.

However, the ambush has started, unaware of the traitors mission the French columns soon come under withering fire from across the village. A succession of fire from Militia, Braves and Canadians at close range rip apart the neat regular lines. This happened twice and before the regulars could react the French relief forces are decimated.

The third column marching past the cornfield are ambushed by hidden braves – musket fire, followed by a tomahawk charge slaughter the brave men in white jackets.

In less than the turn of one deck of cards all the French regulars lie dying or routed around the village. We have been wargaming for several years and on occasions we have seen some interesting ambushes but this was devastating. Given the damage was inflicted by perceived friendly troops and the victim had no idea of this possibility (great argument for Umpires) we all stood in a state of shock. The British commander was furious that there were no French left to kill.

With the British forces hampered by difficult ground there was no way they were going to re-capture the chest, so Major Dumas with his remaining men were allowed to flee the scene victorious.


1.   Regular troops in difficult terrain are virtually impossible to move, next time the British forces will be given easier terrain to traverse.
2.   Umpiring scenarios such as these adds to the tension, confusion and excitement.
3.   Firing lines are devastating but so are well planned ambushes with the ambushers in hard cover and in sufficient numbers
4.   Next time we will use some artillery.

Thanks for reading


(all events, places and names are entirely fictitious)


  1. Oh man! I might not be a massive fan of the "football pitch" gaming mat... but MAN! I have a lot of work to do on my own SYW/FIW terrain to have a complete look like what you have. I'm a HUGE fan of those rivers. Right well, another thing to add to my terrain work-list.

    1. Hi Phil

      Like you I just cannot understand why folks want to play their games on open terrain. What you see on the table has been the culmination of about 9 months hard graft. Where possible I always buy cheap, I look to cut corners in the build process (eg build 6 of something at a time - much faster), and I keep the family sweet by doing this in the unsociable hours of the day - very early mornings or late at night.

      It also helps that I can leave all the projects lying out in the shed during construction.

      Cheers Eric

  2. Lovely table! I really enjoyed the report as well!


  3. Great looking game and enjoyable battle report.

  4. Thanks! Beautiful layout and figures.

  5. Love your work ol'boy, great read and layout.

  6. What a beautiful looking game!!

  7. Excellant write up, and a novel game idea. Treachery and counter-treachery make for a great story. Add in beautiful terrain and well painted minis and you have a winner. Again! Nice work. can't wait to get some FIW minis painted, some terrain together and get a game of M&T in myself.

  8. Greate ! one more stunning looking game !

    The timber house out in the wood, have you built it your self or is it manufactured?

    Best regards Michael

    1. Hi Michael

      I picked up this cabin from Ainsty Castings at Colours (Show) earlier in the year. I think he mentioned that it was a test run on a new range yet to be launched..I quite like it with the static grass roof..

      Thanks for the comments