EXERT FROM APPENDIX 1 from Don Featherstone's Battles With Model Soldiers
(The book that got me started.)

"Nothing in these pages is a dictate, no word says you must or you shall do it this way. On the contrary, the book sets out from the very beginning to stimulate the reader to think for himself, and to use what he has read merely as a foundation for efforts and ideas which reflect his own temperament and character. Only in this way will he obtain maximum satisfaction from the hobby of battling with model soldiers."

-Don Featherstone 1918 - 2013

Friday, January 14, 2011

My Tin Heart's in the Highlands

I managed that 4th run through of the Wargamers Digest Dec 1974 Battle Stations this morning, and I'm really glad I did. It was still a small, short game but an interesting and engaging one. It took me about 1/2 hour to play 10 turns and it was the closest the Yankees have come to winning. Actually by turn 5 I was starting to think that there was no way the Confederates could win then the Union General made a mistake and his Confederate opponent jumped on it. (no bias other than standing behind the Rebs, in 15mm I was always a Reb but in 20mm & 54mm I am usually a Yankee).

The game started off with the same deployments and initial moves as in the previous games. I really liked the way the brigade movement worked and the move or fire  which I had copied from Don Featherstone. It really made engaging in a musketry dual a tactical choice as opposed to a "might as well while I'm here" thing. It also lends some drama due to the turn by turn initiative, it takes a strong nerve to march forward into the enemy's range if  you move first as you know you are up for one blast before you can return fire and may be up for 2 if there is a flip. On the other hand, if you can force the other guy to go first, you can march safely into range and who gets the first shot will be decided by the initiative die. A bit artificial given the turn lengths but it does add that touch of drama to the game and reflects the tension one must have felt advancing with close ranks on a waiting enemy. (Its also the way the original MacDuff rules worked although in that case it was fire before moving rather than instead of, something to think about)

The simplified fire also worked well and with the threat of a morale test removed again,  the effect was as it should be, significant if it sustained but almost never decisive. At some point you have to go in if you want the ground. That has always been the intent, used to work and does again. Hurrah!

 Back to the game. Things went fairly smoothly with the Union defenders getting in the first shot and doing more damage that they suffered thanks to their hasty entrenchment. The cavalry rode about the hill and belatedly the Union Commander realized that he forgot about reacting to this visible threat as it developed. Luckily his Confederate opponent graciously allowed him to face about even though the turn was over.
The reb cavalry, faced with a steady line of rifles up a steep hill, couldn't work up the nerve to charge, suffered a hit from long range fire then fell back to watch developments. (my decisions)

The fire fight had now extended along the whole hill with the Rebs having moved their reserve regiment out to the left to outflank the Union position. The Yankees responded by splitting their reserve in two. 1/2 the regiment blocked the cavalry while the other half moved swiftly to extend the blue line. Despite the support of 2 batteries, the Union were still dealing out more than they were taking, all along the line, an assault looked impractical. Then the Reb General saw the mistake, when the detachment moved up into line to face the Georgia infantry, they forgot about  the cavalry and left their flank in the air. With a Rebel Yell the two Confederate infantry regiments surged forward while the cavalry wheeled and galloped up the hill. The Federals turned a company to face but had to give up their defensive fire to do so. Along the line, they rolled low but so did the opposing infantry but with 7 stands against 4 (The Yankee line bent around the ridge so 2 of the defending stands were out of arc once the line had charged in.) The cavalry, elated by the opening, rolled up and the blue line gave way.

They ran through the rocks and they ran through the briars" (oops wrong war)

The cavalry surged forward in pursuit, cutting down a few more, but the enemy took cover in the rocky crags where the cavalry couldn't follow.  It occurred to me belatedly that once again I had removed the stops and the cavalry could just keep pursuing until the enemy broke unless they had supports or cover or ran fast enough to out pace the horses. This was actually having the effect I wanted. If the infantry is steady, a frontal attack by cavalry is iffy at best but if the infantry cracks, they are toast.

Another view of the turning point.

The Yankees were far from broken, however, and reformed across the hill, their line forming an L with the short arm being behind the breastworks and the long line stretching back. The Rebs shifted their extremely useful horse artillery around to the front to thicken the fire then realized that the Union line on the hill was perfectly aligned with the foot artillery, an enfilade target.  (duh)  It took two turns of effective fire before he  woke up and pulled the line back, the end regiment having to conform to avoid being flanked and of course having to forfeit a shot in order to retreat ( in his defense, the Blue general was suffering from sleep deprivation after a low blood sugar incident in the middle of the night and was trying not to think about the phone message from the Real Estate agent about an offer coming in on the house in town, so not at his best)

By now the Yankee Brigade was nearing its break point and, with over 1/2 their men in the open, were suffering badly from artillery fire. The Southern General waved his hat and galloped forward, leading a charge of the whole line. A few minutes later the remnants of the Federal force was streaming across the valley with the cavalry in hot pursuit. At the cost of 2 companies, the Rebs had cleared the road.
"Your prisoner Sir". The Federal commander is captured during the rout.

It was the nearest the Confederates came to defeat but in the end it was  the most decisive victory. (Felt like an even bigger victory for me as the rules finally feel like they were supposed to again.)



Time to break out the '40mm and go back to Oregon

4 comments:

  1. I'm glad that you are happier with your rules, Ross. . . . Now when will they be "finished"? . . . *grin*


    -- Jeff

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  2. Good one, Jeff! ha ha

    but seriously, Ross, I've enjoyed this series of posts comparing different rules sets, and your thoughts on rules.

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  3. Thanks guys. Jeff, I believe the answer to your question includes something about prying the pen from my cold dead hands :)

    -Ross

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  4. Great to see dear old Airfix figures still in action...

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