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, May 7, 2017

Long Ridge, Short Report

My apologies to anyone expecting a thorough battle report. The game was as much about exploring rules for what is a relatively new style of wargaming for me as anything else and once the game was done my blogging time was mostly spent editing rules. Tomorrow I am off to Halifax for a visit and game with Ron so a hasty report it is!
Featherstone's Division of Rebs hits the weak Yankee left flank.

The main ideas behind this game and set of rules were:
a) to give me an ACW game that was different from everything else I was doing rather than being a variation,
b) to allow me to fight all or part of various historical actions as well as fictional battles of similar size in an afternoon,
c) to allow me to use my existing collection on my current table with a minimum of work and reorganization
d) to give me another non-gridded game for balance. (and, I am embarrassed to admit, to avoid appearing trendy as much as possible!)

Mid game. The Zouaves have arrived in the nick of time to shore up the centre but the Reb left wing has flanked the Yankee right and is pressing hard while the Yankee left is crumbling. 
Having sorted through the painted and based figures I arranged a very slight numerical advantage for the Confederates. General Kinch's corp consisted of 3 divisions each of 3 brigades and 2 batteries. (More like 12 gun artillery battalions probably). The Federals defended a line of hills with 3 Divisions, 2 with 3 Brigades and a battery, 1 with 2 Brigades and a battery and a Corps artillery battery. Some units on both sides started off table by a random process.  The basic flow of the battle is summarized in the pictures.

The view from the other flank.
I stopped once or twice to make changes to details or to the play sequence, partly to improve the flow and simplify/speed the game and partly to enforce letting go of inappropriately low detail. For example, the player is supposed to be the corps commander so limbering batteries should be someone else's concern and need not be shown, only the result.

One of the advantages of going off grid was that I could fall back on an old, simple and highly effect method of introducing the effect of "friction", which is to say dice based movement. In this case a simple 2d6 roll read in inches for infantry and artillery with Commanders having the ability to join one unit per turn to boost it by adding another die. Nothing like riding madly to spur on a Brigade that rolled 3 on 2 dice only to roll a 1 for your boot. Oops perhaps more cool analysis next time and less yelling!

At the moment the rules, which are available free here: Plastic Army of the Potomac,  are a brief basic summary and by the time I flush them out and add in the extras, engineering, amphibious ops, supplies and hospitals and so on they'll probably end up about twice as long. They are in effect though its not necessarily obviousl, an re-imagining of Hearts of Tin at a higher level and borrowing many ideas from past versions.     

The end. The Federal left division routed two turns ago and now the centre has followed. The right is still holding but must retreat before it is surrounded and crushed. General Kinch has won the day. 

Time for bed. The ACW in 1/72nd will return.


  1. As you know, I am a huge grid fan, but in truth this game visually does benefit from longer lines and a more natural flow of those lines and positioning of artillery etc.

    I quite like the randomising of movement, though I think a fixed rate plus a lower value dice gives a more acceptable range of results, so for example with infantry, they might move say three or four inches plus one average dice.

    Anyway, I liked the look on your table.

    1. I think I could get a decent flow tovlong lines on a hex grid but despite attempts to make something work using diagonal on a square grid, I can't manage it.

      20 years ago I used a combination of fixed base+die die moves in a tactical game but I had to add a Command Control mechanism. Having a base of 2 dice normally gives an average result but with the chance of an occasional extraordinary exercise of initiative by a Brigade Commander or an unexpected delay without needing complex additional rules.

  2. Nice (and bloody!) looking game Ross!

    1. It was bloody looking. I started with a system which requires more complex tracking and resulted in Brigades taking the same number of hits but losing fewer stands. This system was faster and more fun and meant that the reduction in combat value was slower at first and can be recovered if left alone until the tipping point was reached. The easier and more fun was the decisive bit though.

  3. Ross, super looking ACW game - thought the Union would hold on to the ridge. Cheers. KEV.

  4. I agree with Norm above, I like the more fluid, natural look of the battlelines, as opposed to a gridded game which looks rather chess like in my poor opinion. I do quite like the spectacle of your ACW figures all on the table, huzzah.
    As for |Gen. Kinch, I hear that he is a sot who got his command due to an uncle in Richmond. Wouldn't trust that feller.
    I am now off to download your Army of the Potomac rules.

    1. Well, they aren't all on the table...
      The rules are in an early and incomplete state but any comments etc welcome. Similar level as Original Fire and Fury but quicker with heads up combat.

  5. It is a great looking game, as usual. I was wondering the make of the Zouaves that came up in the center. I thought they were Airfix at attention, but zooming in they look like a different manufacturer.

    1. The Zouaves were a gift, a home casting of a severe conversion. More about them here:

  6. Thank you for the info. I also found Cesar Paz's Flickr page with some of his creations. I wish I had seen these before.

  7. Ross, what a great set-up and game. Very distinctive and original.