The scenario, which I picked as a nod to the origin of the turn sequence which came from one of the sample games in Don Featherstone's Battles with Model Soldiers, was, as identified by Cesar Paz in a comment, "Action in the Plattville Valley" from Don Featherstone's Wargames.
My brigades were each made up of 4 units plus a Brigadier, giving a total of 18 units per side with an army break point of 9 units lost. Once again it was just right. I got interrupted twice but the game took somewhere between 1.5 about 2 hours to play.
|The firefight across the river raged for several turns but with Ross's Brigade down to half strength he felt compelled to order the remnants of his brigade to retreat behind the cover of the ridge.|
The near abandonment of almost all unit tactical detail was harder, I don't think I'd have gotten there without having played Volley & Bayonet in the late '90's followed not long after by Morschauser and then by all sorts of new designs especially the various gridded games from Bob Cordery's The Portable Wargame to Battlecry and its descendants and having recognized the possibility of including some simple rules to allow the effect or feel of such tactics without showing them or taking up too much time and attention away from the army commander.
The orders, of course, are essentially a variation of the original DBA command system which I plucked out of a pre-publication article in Slingshot in the early '80's and have used on and off since!
Basically I'm not sure there are any original ideas in here but it feels like a different blend to me and more important, so far, it seems to be providing the kind of game I've been looking for for most of the last two decades although my Morschauser Meets MacDuff/ later renamed Hearts of Tin set of rules was close, at least until I started upping the detail!
|Never say die! As next senior officer, General Byrd took command, pulled back his battered cavalry to hold the center and be prepared to cover a retreat (ie don't get shot up worse and break army morale). This left the Highlanders in possession of half the village but they'd lost heavily while doing so and were in no shape to finish the job. Both armies were on the edge of breaking but Byrd wasn't one to settle for a draw if victory was even a remote possibility. He led his brigade forward to finish their attack.|
Suddenly I noticed that Red's cavalry was within 2 moves of the flank of Blue's artillery and Blue's supports had moved away, some to pursue Red's retreating left, some to help defend the town. Blue could probably get some supports back or withdraw his guns but at least it would ease the pressure. Blue went first and a rolled a 1 for command! ARGHH. None of his infantry was able to come up and enemy way their fire helped by the artillery had almost silenced Red's batteries. Most of the cavalry was too far away to mount up and get back but he had one mounted unit in reserve. He ordered it to move to support the guns and turned one gun towards the open flank. Red moved his cavalry forward. Next turn, Red got first go. What!? Yup, ample orders, it was a long shot for the cavalry to wipe out the fresh batteries but better than nothing.
The trumpets sounded and the Gentlemen Pensioners in their cuirasses and plumed helmets trotted forward. The gun decided to hold fire while the other gun finished silencing one enemy gun. The cavalry picked up speed and the cannon fired........getting 1 hit on 4 dice.....the cavalry rolled, 4 hits! The gun was over run and the cavalry pursued into the flank of the second gun and over rode it as well. Then I noticed that Red's cavalry had had to ride over Blue's general during the pursuit. My rule there is that both sides' dice off and the commander escapes if he rolls a tie or higher. He rolled 1, they rolled 6! The "old fellers" were having a good day!
Oh dear. Who said you can't surprise yourself? I didn't think the charge would work that well but if I had noticed the General there on the previous turn when I was trying to prepare for the charge, I would have moved him anyway, just to be safe! So suddenly Blue was down 3 army morale points and had a -1 to his orders dice for the rest of the game. That was to became a problem for him.
Well, balance in all things. Red's less than all out attack on the town led to near equal losses and ended with both sides hiding in 1/2 the town, sniping at the other side. The focus switched back where Blue's best chance was to pursue and break Red's worn brigades. Unfortunately for Blue, low command rolls with a minus 1 on top and the need to manage the fight in the village meant that the pursuit was slow, the more so since the Blue units were battered so took advantage of a slightly more circuitous route to avoid artillery fire on their approach. In the meantime Red's hospital finally started getting some of the early casualties back into the fight and by the time the firefight resumed, the sides were equal. Red's men were firing more steadily now though and had artillery support. Eventually Blue's units started nearing their break point and he pulled back, going for the draw. Red pursued at first but didn't dare risk a charge with his battered units. He kept getting hits but was taking them too. Soon both armies were down to 1 hit and 2 hits respectively from their Army Morale point. There was momentary jubilation in Red's ranks when they got that last hit but the brigadier rode in and risked a rally roll: 5,6 = cancel 1 hit, 1=Commander dies. Hit saved, next turn Blue took another hit and again rallied it while Red lost a unit (Apparently Brigadier Ross is less charismtic!). That was it! A Bloody draw.
So, work has begun on the four or five page version of the rules, adding explanations as well as more unit types, irregulars, boats, trains, engineers, etc etc. All the usual. It will need more testing as well but so far I'm pretty happy with how closely they resemble in play the vision that has been trying to get out of my brain for years. Time and playing will tell.