Viewer's Choice Celebration MiniCampaign

It has now been over 20 years since I launched "With MacDuff On the Web" and nearly 10 years since I launched my 2 blogs: Gathering of Hosts and Battle game of the Month.

To celebrate the years and the friends and the million hits I've decided to run a 3 game mini-campaign in late October. By popular vot e it will be set in the mid 18th Century.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Defence of Belmont Gap

Yesterday I was pleasantly surprised by a call from my friend George who was checking to see if I would be home if he swung by to help clean out some of my 54mm lead and plastic pile. Its no easy feat for a gamer to enter my lair and escape without a game, especially since he lives an hour away, giving me time to set up the table. I went for an old favorite that I haven't played in a while, Holding Action from Scenarios for Wargamers.  Knowing George's time was limited, I went for Hearts of Tin. George does 20mm as well as 54's and has shouldered a rifled musket as an ACW reenacter so I rolled out my ACW 'boys' for their first ever non-solo outing.

Turn 2, Ginr'l George's artillery blasts the  heads of the Yankee columns.

 I knew I didn't have enough troops for an accurate translation of the scenario so I just put everything I had on the table. The Rebs had 2 brigades each of 3 Regiments, 3 batteries of foot artillery, a stand of sharpshooters and a small cavalry brigade with a horse artillery battery and 2 stands of cavalry. I fielded the Yankees as 3 brigades, 1 with 3 regiments and 1 battery, 1 with 4 regiments and 1 battery and 1 with 3 regiments and 2 batteries. I also had an independent cavalry regiment. The dice indicated that 1 brigade was entering from the west while the rest came on from the south. All brigades had to move up the road for 1 turn before deploying. My mission was to seize the gap and be in position to exit the table with a reasonable force by 3 o'clock.

Not being the wall flower type, George sent his cavalry and horse artillery forward to mess me up a bit while his main batteries opened on my infantry "with effect". (Thank goodness I had cut the artillery back to 1 die per battery after the game with Les!)  It took me a little while to shake my boys out into something like a battle line but my artillery managed to silence his horse guns before taking the rest of the day off. (at least they might as well have). My first brigade was in pretty sad shape by the time it got within rifle range of the ridge so I sent my cavalry wide in hopes of scaring George's guns off the hill or at least distracting them.

George doesn't scare easily and I had 2nd move, so I moved the cavalry up past his left hand brigade on to the flank of the guns, If  he won the initiative he was probably going to empty a lot of saddles with rifle fire while he pulled back his guns but I won it and rode the batteries down. Unfortunately, his cavalry which had mounted and pulled back when their battery was silenced, came whooping over the hill and scattered my brave troopers. A regiment of cavalry for 3 batteries,  I was happy enough with the trade.I pulled back my 1st brigade  to maintain it in being and moved up my 2nd & 3rd Brigades for an assault on the hill.

Mid game, The Federal lines are still looking a bit piecemeal but the line is slowly coming together. The rump of the 1st brigade ahead on the right, 2nd brigade beyond the woods on the left, the 4 regiments of the 3rd brigade still forming on the right. My cavalry is off screen to the left.

Ignoring his right, I converged both brigades on the hill where the massed batteries had been. There was some hard fighting and heavy casualties but eventually the Reb 1st Brigade broke and ran. 2 stands of dismounted cavalry were all that stood between me and the road exit. Unfortunately for me, that was because George's 2nd brigade wasn't hustling over to block the gap, it was counter attacking forward into my flank.

It wasn't a sweep, my 3rd brigade was battered and driven back but was still on the field, however, it was well after 3, George still held the gap and I didn't have enough troops left to win even if he had turned around and marched off. It was a fun game though.    


  1. Ross Mac,

    It sounds like you have the elements of your rules in balance. The results sound realistic and the battlefield looks right to me.

    What I find interesting about the latter is the troop density. You do not have too many figures on the table, hence the look of the whole thing seems more realistic to me. How many times have I seen wall-to-wall armies slogging it out in a linear battle? Too numerous to mention!

    In your battle there is room to manouvre ... and this makes for a much better game.

    All the best,


  2. Looks a good game - and I agree with Bob's comments about troop density.
    I also greatly admire the way you have posed George in a (not wholly successful) attempt to conceal that pile of boxes in the corner...

  3. So how did you feel that HoT worked for this encounter?

    What did George think of them (if he said)?

    A good account and photos as usual, Ross. Thank you, sir.

    -- Jeff

  4. A good looking game. Good to see an non-solo effort from time to time.

  5. Bob, yes I'm very happy with how the rules are working now.

    I think there is a place for the the Picket's Charge sort of game with wall to wall troops and no where to go but forward or back but I much prefer the smaller actions on the fringes, advance guards, petit geurre, the smaller campaigns and so on.

    I'm also getting quite attached to 20mm as a gaming scale!

  6. Tim , my dirty little secret, that table is supposed to be a work bench but being just inside the door and not much used for anything else it becomes a temporary depository for every piece of flotsom that comes along. I've always been able to crop it out of photos, noe I'll have to clean it up and take another picture!

  7. Jeff, I'm very happy with how the rules are working. I don't like to speak on behalf of others but George has always been a supporter of the rules over the years as I've developed them and is on record as having enjoyed the game.

  8. Conrad, nice to get a non-solo "at home" game in, its been over a year.

  9. Is George by any chance related to this chap
    I think we should be told.

  10. Your ability to rustle up a game ready for battle in an hour is most impressive! And of course you will get attached to 20mm - it is the one true scale after all!

  11. "I didn't have enough troops left to win"

    Well, you certainly can't be accused of writing a set of rules only you can win ;-)

    Nice looking game, and I too have a soft spot for Airfix plastic.

  12. Matt, Taking out the time spent clearing the last game off, sweeping the floor and piling junk on the back table, it took about 20 minutes to set the game up. That's the beauty of the Grant scenario books. (and simple, terrain)

  13. Lentulus, that thought occurred to me. Plastic 20mm Franco Prussian War, you could still go there....