"When your recruits start to whine and bellyache, you tell them… that a hundred and eighty-five of their friends… neighbors… fellow Texicans, are hold up in a crumbling adobe church down on the Rio Bravo , buying them this precious time. I hope they remember. I hope Texas remembers…" - The Alamo, (film 1960)
With that kind of legend to live up to, a ruleset really needs to be something special....and "Bloody Dawn" is that special ruleset. I was able to play test this miniatures ruleset in 18mm at Cold Wars 2014 and I quite enjoyed it.
The trouble with gaming historical events such as the Alamo, Isandlwana, or other lopsided victories is that they tend to be formulaic: " I will stand here and shoot the crap out of you until you are overwhelmed.” "Bloody Dawn" BEGINS with the understanding that the Texans will lose the Alamo, but the questions is, how much damage can they do to Santa Anna's army? How much 'precious time' can they buy? This mechanic forces both sides to use their heads to figure out how to inflict losses (Texans) or avoid them (Mexicans).
The other mechanic that keeps this ruleset interesting is the use of a double blind to set up the game. The Mexican's are attacking out of the darkness and the Texans aren't quite sure where they are coming from. The Texans have to plan accordingly. In my sector, I decided not to defend a crumbling wall and choose to shoot down on the assaulting forces from the roof of the Convento and Granary. The Texan commanders debated whether to create a ‘flying column’ to deal with breakthroughs or put everyone on the ramparts and which artillery pieces would be a priority to man. These are the kinds of tactical decisions the Texan players must make. Even the placement of ladders can impact the defense of the Mission once the actual battle starts.
The Mexicans have their tactical decisions as well such as where to assault the walls and when the columns begin their assault…..all of which could result in a sudden victory, or littering the battlefield with the bodies of brave Mexican soldiers.
Additionally, there are assets such and axe-men and sharpshooters to allocate.
The Mexican columns advance or retreat based on their morale and the ability of the column commanders to rally them. “Bloody Dawn” tracks losses to the Mexican column using markers (provided with the rules or you can model them yourself) which keeps the number of figures on the table impressive.
The rule set provides a quick start guide, expanded rules and various scenarios for gaming the battle.
The rules are written by a gentleman who states his passion for the subject and gives some insight into the myths behind the Alamo, and our current understanding about the battle. To that end, John McBride discussed the best books, websites and even which movies to look to when studying the battle.
This ruleset inspired me to BEGIN my Alamo collection and should be a welcome addition to the collection of any gamer interested in this period.