In this third installment of the Bandits and Villains Flashing Steel mini-campaign, the stakes have never been higher. After the second game, the bandits took the initiative, and being on the defensive in the previous encounter, they began a small offensive against the weakened loyalist border troops.
Bandits: (1) capture the intelligence from the chest (2) lose no men, leave no wounded behind
Loyalists: (1) prevent the capture of the intelligence (2) take at least one wounded bandit prisoner.
The death of Colonel Ricco Furfante took a huge toll on the loyalists, and the bandits now made sport of hunting other officers down: the choice to lead the loyalist Cacciatori fell on a promising young officer named Major Alessandro Tutti. He was a company commander in the north-western county militia before this assignment.
After the main rebel army managed to cross the fortified bridges, General di Gallo, the de facto commander of all Northern provincial militias and the small regular force present, has assembled a large amount of notes and instructions, and trusted Major Tutti to carry them through the narrow mountain roads to the west, where, at least on paper, loyalist rule was uncontested, and deliver them to the central government. The bandits, gaining fame after their victory against Furfante, by then operated a vast network of spies in the northern loyalist towns, and thus learned of Tutti's mission. A small task force was assembled and went after the Major's trail.
They gained on them after three days of restless chase. Some of Tutti's men became so fatigued that they left the force and had to hide in the mountains. In the end, a group of six bandits faced Tutti and his eight men, three mounted and five foot Cacciatori. The rebel group consisted of three marksmen, the veteran leader Giuseppe Calda, and a pair of mercenaries: the Spanish swordsman Mucius Laventador and the American sharpshooter Jerome Franklin of Virginia.
The battlefield was rather uneven, with a multitude of foothills and low vegetation. The small Lionsgoat Inn, situated on the main northern highway, offered a good night's sleep to the tired loyalists, but instead of a more risky night attack, Calda chose an early hour, planning to strike at first light. Just as the bandits deployed, a screen of mounted troopers was sent out to check back on the highway behind them for possible pursuers.
The rebel marksmen did not hesitate, and shot one of the riders down.
The Spaniard rushed the second one and Jerome Franklin shot the third. The battle has begun.
The remaining trooper shot his carbine at Laventador, but he dodged under the head of the horse, avoiding the bullet.
Outnumbered, the mounted Cacciatore fell back and alerted his comrades.
The loyalist foot soldiers manned the thick hedge, but the bandits had the initiative, and maneuvered easily across the broken terrain.
The Spaniard ran after the horseman, but a loyalist soldier shot at him. He ducked, barely avoiding the second musket shot.
The rebel marksmen began to envelop the rigid loyalist line. From the hilltop they had a clear view of the inn's yard, and the protection offered by the hedge went for naught.
The luckiest man of the day, Jerome Franklin of Virginia reloaded his heavy rifle, took careful aim and shot Major Tutti down.
Still hoping for Fortune's favor, the loyalist soldiers fought on. The hedge was not tall enough to hide the mounted soldier from enemy fire, and a bandit took advantage of that. This second loss shook the remaining troops even more, and they continued their retreat.
The chest with the loyalist plans was now unguarded, and under strong covering fire, Mucius Laventador could reach it: their goal complete, the battle was over in less than fifteen minutes, and won by the bandits without a doubt.. They, however, let the remaining Cacciatori retreat.
Notes: the bandit task force was much better in quality, although the point values did not differ @ roughly 430 points for both sides. My understanding is that a specialized crew with better activation and combat score has a huge advantage over more numerous, generic troopers at the same point value, which allows us to play theatric games where Good always triumphs, however I would not use FS for any sort of competitive play for the exact same reason.
Final results: Bandits 2VP, Loyalists 0. With only two scenarios remaining, the bandits are at a huge advantage, 4VP in total against the 1VP of the loyalists. This means that even if the Loyalists win by a landslide in the next game, the bandits will still set up the fifth scenario.
Force morale: the loyalists lose 2 morale points and are at a tie of 5-5 with the bandits: if they manage to win the next one, they can still chase the bandits off their lands.
And what exactly was in the captured letters? Some very grave news for the Count of Calvacasa.