How Men of Quality Resolve Differences

How Men of Quality Resolve Differences
Poodle attacks - an ugly but inevitable part of any 17th C. British Civil War, "Oh! The Shame of it All!"

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Wargaming: An Introduction - ACW Rules AAR #2

Well, at this point, the oversight is reaching culpable proportions to outright negligence and dereliction of duty! How many times and in how many periods can someone neglect to guard a flanking ford?? Well, with a few plays of this in 25mm Feudal Knights HERE and one in the ACW previously HERE, perhaps this should be titled "The Return of the Son of 'An Unfortunate Oversight' Rides Again"?

OK, a reminder for new readers that this is a playtest of the W:AI ACW rules [here a bit modified] using a scenario from the excellent "One-Hour Wargames" book, #12, an unfortunate Oversight, which features an attacker discovering a flanking ford to avoid a bloody contested crossing at a town/bridge - classic stuff! Follow the above links for the previous ACW game and some plays of it with my Feudal Rules, themselves a spin on NT's Medieval OHW rules.

Of course, this outing originated in my excitement and pleasure with the "Wargaming: An Introduction" ACW rules combined with no interest in switching up the terrain. Also, I've found that re-playing scenarios while testing rules gives a better and faster evaluation of them. The rules themselves provided a great first game but had a couple of things I didn't like.  So after much serious consideration of Neil Thomas' approach and ideas, and a couple of aborted starts, I've now played this test and have very few complaints. Game was lots of fun, great historical feel and played in a reasonable amount of time [especially considering that I was taking pics and making some notes] around 90 minutes. 

So here you can see some of my tweaks to these enjoyable and quite realistic set of ACW rules - just a little bit really, and many stolen from the Napoleonic rules in the same book - and my retaining both the core design and spirit of the rules, I Hope. Also, I wanted to test the full set of rules, so diced for two half-armies for 1862-3. I did a previous outing and rolled well for the Union and poorly for the Confederates, so had 2 x Militia and 2 x Average fighting 2 Elite, 2 Average and a Militia. That ended in a pretty quick rout, but I had some problems with my rule modifications, too. 

One thing to note is that I put in some simple rules for Infantry formations, shown below. I have a simple, full line made up of two 3x1.5" bases. This represents most of the regiment up front, firing, and fires a full four dice, one for each stand in the game terms, but mine count as two stands for each base. The other formation is a double-rank line. This represents some companies kept back either as additional reserves or to fit into a space, or to represent a maneuvering column of divisions - my reading has showed this was a common formation for regiments in reserve. This fires with only 2 dice as it represents only two bases up front with the other two bases in a second rank - they can't fire altho they count for melee.

Also shown below is the 3x3" base I use for guns. I figure in scale they always occupy less width and more depth due to the caissons, limbers, etc.

It should also be noted that I've changed the names of Unit quality: I've classed them as Eager, Steady, and Reluctant [rather than Elite, Average and Militia] which I feel more accurately describes the period soldiers.

Below, the CSA force as I rolled it; two Steady Infantry left, a 6lb Gun [same as 12lb Napoleon but hits on 5+ instead of 4+], two Eager Infantry [with flags], and an Eager General [gives +1 morale modifier, has 12" move, killed if he's used and a natural '1' is rolled - he's then replaced on a 4+ during the Rally Phase, but counts as a loss for victory conditions].

Below, the USA force as I rolled it; a Reluctant Infantry left [no flag], two sections of Guns behind [black 3" Rifles left, brass 12lb Napoleons right], four Steady Infantry with flags, and the General also rolled Eager, so both sides have good leadership today!

CSA Setup below. One Steady infantry in town, everyone else dashing to hold the hill [which is after all the victory condition]. Plan is to hold the hill with two Eager Infantry backed up by a Steady, and the 6lb Gun. I figure the lighter gun will be more effective defending the objective as it gets two dice at 8" for canister instead of the one dice for ball.

USA setup below. The four Steady Infantry are going to cross at the ford, flank the defenders and take the hill. The Reluctant Infantry will make a nuisance of itself by the town. If the CSA pull out of the town, they can cross. If they don't, they're still keeping a superior Infantry Unit busy - not bad for a worn-out regiment!

Progress by Turn 5.The USA has crossed the ford and are well on their way to attack the hill. The CSA has finished occupying the hill. Their Gun can fire on the advancing Bluebellies, and two Eager Infantry are up front who I hope will blunt the attack. Behind is a Steady Infantry in column, which leaves space for Units to retreat around it. With my extending the Gun ranges, the odd Hit is being inflicted upon the CSA infantry. 
This has been made more difficult now that I made a rule saying that Foot who neither move nor fire get a 4+ save for cover v. Guns firing ball - they are prone or otherwise hiding. This makes for some interesting choices - under fire, you pick your time to move carefully since you lose that 4+ save - I like it!

USA decisions being made: I decided to attack on a straight vertical front, which will partially flank the hill, and would force the CSA to conform in their defense to avoid that. However, if they line up opposite, my USA guns will get more, longer, and easier fire upon their line. Haven't decided what is best, yet.

Turn 11 below. Well, I definitely learned the best way to handle Guns - shoot up Infantry with 2-3 Hits, but don't go for that 4th Hit and they can't rally the lost stand back! So you want to spread your Hits around and make up for the defender getting that first shot off. I ended up withdrawing one of the Eager Infantry and replacing them with the Steady, who's now hotly engaged with advancing Yankees. The bottom of the USA line held back so as not to interfere with their Guns. I realized I positioned them too far right, and the Guns will need to shift left for a turn or two in order to have the Line of Sight they need. Many Units have a couple of Hits, but no stands lost [red dice] or permanently lost [black dice]. New rule is that if a Unit loses 2-3 stands, they can't rally better than one stand lost - worked great!

Turn 11 in town. The CSA has decided they need their Infantry to threaten the bottom of the advancing Yankee line. Playing this out against the threatening Reluctant Infantry will probably be tricky.

Turn 14 below. Well, I should've taken some detailed shots between, but I've been pressed for time. I got my USA in line and advanced, with one re-positioning of the CSA to receive them. I felt like I did the best I could for both sides. As the USA closed, the CSA 6lb Gun went on an impressive missing streak, so I decided to try the charge rules, assuming the worst would happen but hey, at least I'd have tried them, right? Funny how dice work tho'...the USA passed their morale to charge thanks to the General [rolled the needed 4+] and closed to contact [no conforming here]. In Melee Phase, the CSA defensive fire was two clean misses, like a 1 and a 2! With no Morale Check forced by the ineffective canister dice, the USA take the Guns! [Steve from Sound Officer's Call will be jealous my first Charge was a success...] Advancing into the gap is the reserve Eager Infantry.

Below the Glorious Gun Charge, good dice and Gun support resulted in the USA forcing back the center CSA Steady Infantry which has two Hits. The Steady Infantry from the town are providing much-needed support, but overall the USA is gaining ground. Things don't look good on the hill with the USA having a firepower edge if not an edge in quality.

Turn 15 - debacle for the CSA. Those last couple of Hits the USA needed force morale checks that everyone fails, clearing the hill during the USA turn. In the CSA turn, they fail both Rally rolls. I forgot to kill their General I was so excited about the decisive turn of events!  The USA make all their rallies and form up, and their slight edge becomes significant. I'm uncertain the CSA can win at this point, but one never knows - with human error and hot dice...

Note that in the South end, the CSA is forced to withdraw a little as the town is being taken by the Reluctant USA Infantry, and I don't want them flanked due to the retreating hill force.

Turn 20 and end, below. Well, the luck didn't turn, and the CSA Units while rallying a bit have permanent hits and slim chance to take back the hill. They forced a retreat upon the town Infantry but will lose their center infantry. Theoretically, this game could continue but I don't see the two reasonably healthy North CSA Units able to make a difference when their right flank is going to lose an infantry and be outnumbered 2 or 3-1, plus the Guns.

Whew, a really fun and tense game! Came in a just over 90 minutes with camera work.

I felt like I had a good plan well executed by both sides. I made an error with the USA Guns deployment, but made the most of their positioning to put a few hits on most of the CSA Units, giving the advancing Feds a chance for firepower parity in their attack - seems like a perfectly useful and historical use of gun support to me.

While the CSA had a significant quality advantage, their poor Gun dice and the amazing, heroic charge of one Union regiment cracked open their position. I still thought they'd hold it, but then their dice failed the most important units on the hill. I managed both sides retreats and rallies just fine, and I don't believe either side was significantly affected by poor decisions on my part. 

This is how I believe a wargame should go - given a balanced scenario and sound play on both sides, the dice will likely decide.

My changes worked well, and i'll need to note the little adjustments made to work with the 2-base system I use [where each base represents two of NT's bases]. I may or may not keep this when I actually paint up and base the figs, but it's good to try it all out before actually gluing them down.

And speaking of bases, my lase-cut bases from VP Sales arrived today, also!

Anyway, I'll be doing another post soon about my modifications of the rules, but I'm going to do one last play where I switch the sides keeping the forces just as is, and see if the CSA can get back their sacred honor!

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