Saturday, December 3, 2022

AWI: Battle of Trenton, 1776

Tis the season for some treason!  Ah yes, the American revolution hangs by a thread in the winter of 1776.  With a full understanding of the dire situation in which the continental army is in, General Washington undertakes a bold action to save the revolution!  The battle of Trenton is the most one-sided engagement of the revolution.

I hosted this game at my place with the crew - our official "Christmas season" game (Roy Scaife, Dan Kerrick, Matt Hilzendrager, Thomas Foss - with John Lantz being out sick).  In addition to dice, miniatures, terrain - there was eggnog, Santa hats, and ugly Christmas sweaters!  This is my favorite time of the year.  Are you ready to barf out some Christmas joy?!  Well, let's go!

Alright, the battle of Trenton - a most one-sided engagement you say - why would you wargame the battle if that is the case?  A good question dear reader!

I was inspired by Little Wars TV for this game.  I was specifically on the hunt for a game that I could run that would be winter/Christmas themed and I ended up watching the YouTube battle report for Trenton by Little Wars TV (watch it here).  A great battle report and history surrounding the battle.

I decided to use the Little Wars TV rules for this game - Live Free of Die (available as a PDF download).  The rules are very straight forward being only 4 pages in total.  Additionally, the rulebook itself comes with some excellent scenarios.  But wait, there's more!  They also have an outstanding scenario book for AWI that I also picked up that is packed with 10 more scenarios (including Trenton).

While the rules are written for 15mm (and LWTV play it with 10mm), I'm using it for 28mm since that is the collection I have and it is large enough to do the battles they have detailed out in the scenario book.  I did have to update the ranges/distances.  Effectively any distance that is 3" in the rules as written I changed to 5" - along with some of the ranges.  

The 28mm version of their quick reference sheet you can download from here:

The scenario for this adds some very creative options into the mix for the players.  The folks at Little Wars TV drew on some of the factors around the battle that almost did or where likely to have happened but did not in order to provide a great set of random events that occur during the battle.  I don't want to give it all away here, I highly recommend purchasing the PDF scenario book, even if you already have a set of AWI rules you like.


Col. Johann Rall
  • Grenadier Regt. Rall
  • Grenadier Regt. Rall II
  • Regt. Von Lossberg
  • Regt. Von Knyphausen
  • Jagers
  • 3-lber Light Gun
  • 16th Queens Dragoons
Depending on random events determined at the start of the game, and based on both sides choosing their battle strategies, additional Hessian and potentially even British reinforcements are possible.


General George Washington

Major General Nathanael Greene

Stephen's Brigade
  • 4th VA
  • 5th/6th VA
Stirling's Brigade
  • 1st/3rd VA
  • 1st PA Rifles (Skirmishers)
Mercer's Brigade
  • 20th CT
  • 1st MD
  • 5th MA/CT Militia
Fermoy's Brigade
  • German Regiment
  • 1st PA
Attached Artillery
  • 3-lber Light Gun
  • 6-lber Field Gun
Major General John Sullivan

St. Clair's Brigade
  • 5th Continentals
  • 2nd/8th Continentals
Depending on random events determined at the start of the game, and based on both sides choosing their battle strategies, additional American units may arrive to help OR some units from the above OOB may have a delayed arrival or not arrive at all.

American pre-battle decision was to "delay the vanguard for one hour - two at most - to allow time for the rest of the army to catch up, avoiding the risk of a piecemeal engagement."  The Hessian pre-battle decision was that "fortifications are unnecessary and would weaken the morale of the men.  Double our patrols outside of town and keep the pickets on high alert."

American random event resulted in the artillery not making the crossing - being removed from the American OOB.  Additionally, they rolled the result for Sargent's brigade to arrive at entry point V on turn 5. The Hessian random events resulted in no effect and Von Donop sends aid from Bordentown - on turn 4, one regiment from his brigade arrives at entry point Z.

The game lasted for 8 turns.  The American objective was to seize the "three" sections of the town of Trenton (divided by the road).

I'll summarize the action after the pictures below.  For now, enjoy these pre-game pictures I took on the eve of battle using my nice camera ...

The American's advanced to volley range and opened up on the Hessians who were holding at the edge of town.  The engage of shooting lasted several turns.  On turn 5 the Americans realized they need to start charging to push out the Hessians who had stood in place against the American shooting.  Successive charges by American units and counter charges from Hessian units saw one section of the town fall to the Americans.  The main section (in the shape of a pie slice) was being held just barely by the Hessians when the game ended.  The result was a minor Hessian victory - but honestly had there been even just 1 more turn I think the Americans would have carried two town sections and won.  Washington was wounded during the battle and carried from the field in turn 8 after supporting a main American charge that secured a section of town.  We all had a blast and enjoyed all the variability of the scenario that allowed us to see a different outcome from the historical outcome.

Pictures below of the battle in progress throughout the turns.

Mobile phone pictures taken throughout the battle below ...

I was a bit busy during the game so didn't get that many good in progress pictures.  One of our crew was sick so I ended up playing 1/2 of the Hessian force.  I had originally just planned to be the GM and take pictures ... oh well, I really enjoyed playing and hosting.

A fun little game.  Happy holidays folks!


  1. I enjoyed the report. The snowy scene is a good lead up to Christmas. The Hessian infantry look very smart.

  2. Superb battle, Jay. Your table and photos evoke a cold winter day.

    1. Thanks! Sprinkled a ton of Woodland Scenics snow on the table ... going to be some cleanup work :-)

  3. Very nice, lovely table and good to see your translation in scale for these rules.

    1. Thanks! I highly recommend the scenario book :-)

  4. After you clean the board of snow, store it somewhere, and forget about it, I'll report you to California's version of DEA re your hidden cocaine stash for April Fool's day...

    1. Lol, there is a lot of white powder on that table! :-)

  5. Howdy Jay,

    Merry Christmas! The board and minis are lovely as always. Loved the write up, and I saw that episode of Little wars TV awhile back. I am sure I can get a few friends together to play this, minus the Christmas hats, no way they would go for that😉


    1. Merry Christmas Kevin! Christmas hats worked out great :-) Fun scenario to play.

  6. Fine looking game and an overturn of history, just. Have a great festive season.

  7. Lovely looking game, we have played but at a slightly smaller scale, it certainly looks like winter in the photos !

    1. Thanks Matt - I certainly dumped enough snow on it :-)

  8. Great looking table Jay, nice to see one of my favourite battles on the tabletop. Cheers Stu

  9. Nice work - by the Hessians! Seems like a close replay of what I remember from watching the LWTV guys version a few weeks ago - although I think your Rebels did better than theirs - the Hessians possibly had a MAJOR victory in the Little Wars version of the game!

    1. Thanks! Yeah, the rebels didn't get anything done in the LWTV game - lots of charging in and bouncing back. Ironically they also had the Von Donop grenadiers show up in their game as well.

  10. Jay, I've been following your website for many years. Mostly interested in your FIW AAR's. I recently was introduced to the Live Free or Die rules & purchased both the rules & scenario book. Highly recommended. I was therefore most pleased to see your Trenton AAR. Outstanding table & figs! I'm inspired to set up a winter scape table & run the scenario for our gaming group. Many thanks! Jerry

    1. Hi Jerry! I shifted my FIW collection into an AWI collection :-) I enjoyed the game. I've implemented some minor changes to the rules and OOB. Giving those updates a run through tomorrow to see how it all works out. Enjoying the system. Winter tables are lots of fun :-)

  11. Jay, Hopefully we'll see your rules changes in a future offering. Given any worthwhile set of rules that are only 4 pages, some additions and/or clarifications are inevitable. Our gaming group has certainly made them to LFOD.

    1. I will certainly share my revisions. Will feel better about them after tomorrow's game ... if that works out I'll post my changes and the minor modifications I made to the OOB for Trenton.