Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Hurrying to the Battlefield

There's nothing like the first fine Spring days  to replace hobby time with yardwork in the sunshine.

Fresh off the painting desk.

But fear not, the final battle is near!

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Mini-Campaign Game 2b (Solo Miniature Wargaming Part 7)

The odds looked pretty intimidating as I set out the 2 Reb divisions to hold back nearly twice their numbers but they had a good position to hold and General Taleri's Division was marching hard to the field.  (They started dicing on turn 4 needing a 6. +1 each turn. Once arrived they diced again: 1,2,3.4=the closest road which comes in on the Yankee flank,  5, 6= the longer march to reinforce the centre and the main Victory Point .  All based on my after the fact description of the first battle and what seemed to make for an interesting scenario ).

I thought about dicing for the Rebel deployment but I find that rational random deployments and battle plans are too rare and making a battleplan is one of my favourite bits. I decided to prepare for a head on assault while lightly holding the left figuring that it would take a while for the Yanks to come around that way and they might get hit in the rear if they tried it.

The field didn't look quite as favourable to the Federal army and there was that nagging worry about the missing Reb Division hitting the right flank just as the attack got stuck in. In the end I (as Federal commander, there enough random bits already ) decided to deploy half the artillery for a brief preparatory bombard followed by long range support and use the rest for close support of the attacking divisions.  I then put two divisions in the front line with two more in close support. I placed the cavalry on the right to keep an eye on the enemy and protect the flank, especially if Talieri's missing division should show up.

If the first Division could clear the Rebs out of the woods in the center of the battlefield, they could push through under cover while protecting the left wing's attack on the main Reb position astride the road. 

The main assault was actually going to come up the left, hoping to drive the Confederate forces off the road before their reinforcements could arrive. This would leave me an infantry division in reserve to handle developments.

Everything went well until the first line hit the Reb force in the wood, stalled then started breaking under a heavy fire from the stubborn defenders. Several units routed, disordering the reserves who refused to be rallied. The attack was renewed and eventually took the Eastern edge of the wood but Gray's Division was too worn to do more than hold their side of the wood unless his 3rd Brigade could be got in hand and brought forward (How many 1's can a unit throw in a row for activation??)

The main assault hit the Reb line, much of it hunkered down behind stone walls, and stalled. A close range firefight raged for 2 hours before the boys in Blue couldn't take it anymore. The 4th Division deployed, ready to renew the assault but now Taleri's Red Division was on the field. They had marched around and were now deploying behind the main Confederate position.

The day was only a little more than half done but the Federal army had taken heavy losses and was out of place. Much of the afternoon would be spent getting the army reorganized and set up for a either a renewed assault on the stone wall or else a flanking attack around and through the woods supported by massed artillery fire. With luck the victory could be won by nightfall but luck had not been on the Federal side so far this day.

The General discussed it with his staff. (5,6 renew the attack, probably leading to either a victory ending the campaign or else a loss leading to a draw and another battle and the possibility of the campaign being deemed a failure if the 3rd battle was lost, 1,2,3,4  pull back and invite the Rebs to attack and almost certainly leading to a draw.  If the Federal army could win or draw the last battle, they would win the campaign but if they lost it would end in a draw. The die came up 3. The Rebs didn't even bother rolling to risk a 2:3 dusk assault against all that artillery)

The next decision to be made was whether the armies would hold their ground and fight again in the morning (1,2,3)  or manoeuvre in hopes of gaining an advantage in the next battle. (4,5,6). Manoeuvre it was and so the table will be cleared and a meeting engagement will be selected for a Yankee win or draw in the mini-campaign.. 

Friday, April 3, 2020

Changing The Rules Of The Game

One of my tenets is that each of my various toy soldier collections should provide a different sort of game.  That could be a different time period, a different level of game or a different setting. For the last few years I have had a conflict with my 54mm Toy Soldier and 1/72 ACW collections were covering the same historical era and sometimes at the same level with Battalion level units.

I've been trying to push the 54's lower since they are largely used for a fictional setting based on historical campaigns with low level actions but I have also been making periodic efforts to change my ACW games to slightly larger battles. This current campaign is another try at that but the rules for the first fight were merely OK and not quite where I wanted to be.  So, I have taken another shot at it and so far it is encouraging.

Here is a copy of the initial version. (and yes they owe quite a bit to Fire & Fury but are much simpler and capable of being played 'heads up' without constant referral to charts and long lists of factors/modifiers.) 


THE PLASTIC ARMY OF THE POTOMAC (Brigade Units Quick Ref: 3 April 2020)

Brigades: Groups of 2 to 8 infantry or cavalry stands. A General + 2-4 brigades form a Division Engaged: A unit within 3” of enemy may only shoot, move towards enemy that is engaging them or retreat. 
Hits: Infantry and cavalry lose a stand for every 2 hits. Artillery are removed when they have taken 4 hits. 
Shaken: Infantry and cavalry brigades are shaken when they have lost over 1/2 of their stands. 
Fresh: Unit has not lost any stands. 

Initiative: My usual card system or roll a die to see who goes first this turn. 
Movement: First player activates and moves units. 
Defensive Fire: Inactive player units may shoot or, if engaged, mounted cavalry, may charge. Offensive Fire: Active player units may shoot or, if engaged mounted cavalry, may charge. 
Activation. First player activates units one at a time by rolling a die, checking the chart and then moving. Disordered units must test, others only need to test if the player wishes to move them.  Roll 1d6 +/- mods: +1 Gen within 6”, +1 Fresh or Vet/Elite unit, -1 Shaken, -1 Disordered.
 5,6+=Steady: Full move. Rally from disorder. 
 3,4= Cautious: 1/2 move. No charge. Rally from disorder. 
 1,2= Hesitant: No advance, No rally 
 0 or less = Broken. Retreat a full move in disorder, take 1d6 hits from straggling. 

Movement. Infantry: 12”, Cavalry: 18” Mtd, 9” dismtd., Arty: 12” 
Manoeuvres. A unit which is within 6” of the front of an enemy unit may only advance directly towards it or retreat directly away. O/W units may face/move in any direction. It takes 1/2 move to change formation or pass through friends unless retreating in disorder but up to 2 stands may be refused or dropped back to pass through a defile without penalty. 
Charge! A charge is a move to within 3” of enemy. 
Terrain. Infantry moves 1/2 speed in difficult terrain, Cavalry and artillery move 1/2 speed in broken terrain only. Road +6” in column 1 wide. Ignore off road terrain. 

Combat. Target must be visible, in range and in frontal arc reaching out 45 degrees either side or ahead. Count front rank only, Disordered units roll 1/2 the normal number of dice. 
  Rifles: 5,6 hits 3” 1d/stand 6” 1d/2 stands 
  Carbine or Musket: 5,6 hits 3” 1d/stand 6” 1d/3 stands 
  Artillery: 4,5,6 hits 6” 3d/gun 24” 2d/gun 
  Attached General in charge combat: 1d 5,6=inflict 1 hit or cancel 1, 1=General wounded 
 Superior firepower: +1 superior firepower eg breechloaders, sharpshooters, heavy guns 
 Terrain: 1/2 effect vs cover or if charging over an obstacle or if mtd cav in woods. 
 Charge Resolution (within 3”) Charge Resolution (within 3”) Roll 1 die for each unit that fought in a charge. +1 for each hit inflicted on enemy. +1 if Elite/Veteran -1 if Shaken or Poor. Compare to opposing units. If lower retreat a half move in disorder, If less than 1/2  rout a full move and lose 1d6 stragglers. * Charge resolution reworded.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Coming Soon

To a screen near you!

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Mini-Campaign Game 2a (Solo Miniature Wargaming Part 6)

The minicampaign is off to a good start. There was a clear victor in the first battle but neither army was wrecked.

My initial intent for the second game was to make a list of  six attack/defense scenarios including flank attack options but looking at the situation, one Confederate Divisions driven back down one road with the other two, with the Army Commander, retreating along a different road with a Union division in between them, I decided to just roll up a defensive position (dividing the table into sectors and rolling to see how many, if any, hills, woods etc were in each, adjusted to looj natrual to my eye) with the two roads which were available to the Union merging into one road  defended by the main confederate army.

I then added a cross road to allow the third division to rejoin from the flank. Both sides are aware that the other division is out there, marching to rejoin, but not when and not where it will reach the field. Will it appear down the road from the flank or has it marched to join from the Confederate rear?

Ideally I should have recorded precise losses before clearing the table and have had a rule for determining what percentage of losses could be recovered in between battles. However, one joy of solo gaming is that you can change and fudge things in between games if you want so I used a rough count of lost stands and careful perusal of battle photographs to get a good idea of how each division fared and went from there.

Ready to Receive the Enemy Assault
The goal for the Yankees is to drive back the Rebs and be in a position to pursue straight down the main road. This will lead to a rear guard action to allow the Rebs to try to save their train and army.

If the Confederates can hold with their army intact, and force the Federals to withdraw, they will win and a Federal rearguard action will follow.

Any other result will be a draw. In this case, there will either be a renewal of the fight in the morning or else the armies will break contact to regroup, followed by a meeting engagement to decide the campaign.  That decision will probably be diced for. 

The Calm Before the Storm.

While it is ideal to use one set of tabletop rules rules for a campaign, I was in the midst of planning a change for my ACW collection, a shift from an Old School approach with Regiments as units to using Brigades as units but I hadn't settled between several choices of rules and organization. My plan had been to stay off grid but with the smaller table and new 5" squares I couldn't resist trying them. It was ok but there were a number of minor issues and my three stand units had to be broken up. I decided to try the other leading alternative so this game will be fought with brigades composed of 6 stands when at full strength but without the grid.