How Men of Quality Resolve Differences

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

Sunday, August 11, 2019

"A Gentleman's War" with "One-Hour Wargames" Scenario #28, P2

With a first attempt upon the Union redoubt a statistical failure, the last post ended at a "tactical pause" upon the battlefield due to the Second Joker mechanic in the activation card deck. Hood had just completed a Brigade Activation of his key units on a red Queen, firing them all upon the "Damn Yankees" [his words, not mine] with no effect. The second Joker was then drawn...

...and both activation sequences end. All units count as not yet activated, all Hold cards are discarded and new one's are drawn resulting in four black and two red. To me, this means that Hancock has gathered up his staff and is making a plan, while Hood is losing some control of the battle and his units.

Big question...Will Hooker get a second chance and redeem the Rebel assault attempt? Let's find out!

First card draw is a black queen, allowing the Union to activate both of the units embroiled in combat upon the objective, an infantry and a field gun. They roll some hits and Hood's supporting infantry save some but must check morale - they get a carry on Disordered results. The other unit attacking the redoubt takes two casualties from the gun and checks morale, resulting in a Fall Back of 5".

Overview of the area doesn't look good for the Rebs. They have three battered units facing two Union that are in good terrain and virtually unscathed.

Next card is a black number, so Union activates their last unit, the much-neglected reinforcing Unit, which fires to no effect. This ends the Union activation sequence, so they can activate anyone they want upon their next card.

And it is a black ace, so the Union re-activates the infantry at close range to Fire for 2 Hits, but both are saved.

Finally, a red card is drawn, it is a face card and Hood can now activate all of his units. The two infantry  on the left both fire, one missing and the other getting one unsaved hit, the first on the Union infantry at the breastwork. The two infantry that assaulted the redoubt are both disordered - the nearer from a failed morale and Fall Back of 5", the other from a failed morale and FB of 8". Hood reorganizes both.

Next, a black ace is drawn, so the Union shoot again getting one unsaved casualty on the Rebels.

Next, a red card draw allows Hood to make a desperate attack on the redoubt, but the dice again fail them - they drop 5 dice v. 3 for the Union but get no hits! The Union also misses but they are sitting on the objective already so a tie is just fine with them. Both Units are Disordered, but I again failed to mark the gunners as such, while I angle the Reb figs a bit to make them look "disorderly" so to speak.

Black card draw and the gun fires for one unsaved hit but the fierce Rebs Carry On just underneath the gun's muzzle!

Another black draw and a saved Hit from infantry fire.

A third black card, and the reinforcing Union unit fires upon their opponents, who save all but one hit.

Finally, a red card! I want a support unit for the charge, so I activate the infantry at the breastworks, fire them to no effect, then move them within 3" of the unit by the redoubt.

Another number card and I fire the last Reb unit, getting one unsaved hit [2 more and they'll have to check morale].

The Rebel Activation Cycle has ended, and the next card draw is red so the Rebs charge in but are devastated by the gun's fire off their Hold card, and Run Away from the gun with only two survivors. At this point, I call the game for the Union.

This was an exciting game. To summarize it in real life terms, the mechanics played out thusly:
Hood plans a dawn surprise attack upon an exposed Union gun emplacement - there are several Union units camped nearby that are fatigued from a long march and not ready for combat. Hood plans carefully and his initial assault is perfectly timed and takes few casualties, but are unable to break into the redoubt and fall back. 

This loses the initiative for Hood, and awakens some Union infantry. The supporting Rebel infantry engage and keep these units busy while another, more desperate, assault is made. Unfortunately, this also is thrown back, and as casualties mount upon all the Units near the objective, Hood withdraws from the field with substantial losses.

Some tactical choices I'd make this time around...
1) I'd pull all the Rebel infantry a bit to the right, so that three units could assault the redoubt, and get one completely on the flank of the redoubt itself.
2) I'd commit Hood himself to the attack on the redoubt.
3) I'd prioritize Hancock and the reinforcing Union infantry to get into the battle quicker.
If I had done 1 & 2, the Rebels would have won the initial attack on the redoubt, and probably have won the game.

Only rules change I need has to do with AIP units being packaged in groups of 5-10. With Units of this size, casualty draws at 30% and 50% instead of 33% and 50% for 6/12 fig units.

Rules questions from the "A Gentleman's War" Fb page resulted in the following answers:
1) Measure range by figure
2) If both sides choose to Hold Position on a tie, "the fight will continue on the next card designated for either unit involved. This will occur after the end of the cycle for at least one of those sides (since both [units] have now acted) BUT (immediate rules revision) the usual rule that the end of the cycle removes disorder markers shouldn’t apply, since the unit has had no time to reform.

Both sides are effectively locked in melee. The [unit] that is [next given a card] counts as the attacker, if it makes a difference (gallant? Stalwart?)."

[EDIT] probably new direction here from the Fb commentary would be to not holdover melee but rather discard ties altogether - Attacker loses a tie. Will have to try this.

Probably biggest rule error I made was the above, and especially that at the end of their cycle Units automatically lose Disorder.

Final verdict: BUY THESE RULES!

For all its pretense at being a light-hearted set of brigade-level rules for Europe circa 1850-1910, this set is actually of moderate complexity and realism with enough granularity to satisfy most wargamers. It can easily morphed into earlier periods and distant locales. 

It feels a lot like a platoon or company level game and it's nearest relative is probably "The Sword and the Flame" by the late-great Larry Brom. It is however, much cleaner, easier and smoother than the RAW fully updated anniversary release of TSATF and therefore, with all respect to Mr. Brom, I would also say these rules are the clear heir to TSATF throne in the 21st C.

Personally, I am considering using it for War of 1812 and early WWI, as well as Franco-Prussian War and American Civil War. I think it should be a go-to set for any wargamer with a variety of period interests.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

"A Gentleman's War" with "One-Hour Wargames" Scenario #28, P1

With the retro-hullabaloo surrounding the release of Howard Whitehouse's latest set of rules, and the ongoing popularity of "One-Hour Wargames", what better way to jump on the band wagon [in 54mm] than make the first outing one that combines them both?

I played a bunch of scenario #28 "Botched Relief" some time ago with my 25mm medievals, using a Byzantine v. Goth theme [CLICK]. It was quite interesting, the biggest challenge being how to handle the reinforcing units from the hill. The trick for the attacker is to not destroy each one quickly, since they activate sequentially after the destruction of the preceding unit. The defender wants the biggest bang possible so that the next unit can activate after its predecessor is destroyed. Meanwhile, the attacker is trying to take a "fortified position" of some sort, be it town, whatever. Pretty tense, tightly balanced scenario.

Simple map below. The usual 3x3' has to be spread out a bit wider for AGW, so more like 4x3' for me.

And this is what it looks like on my dining table:

Above, the classic toy Soldier pile of books for a long hill, with a bastion protecting a field gun, and an earthwork with an Infantry Unit. Initially, they will be outnumbered 2-1, and artillery are a bit frail when assaulted, 4 figs v. 10 for my Infantry Units. The second Unit - if used - would be a unit of Sharpshooters with rifle-muskets. I was then just going to repeat the same reinforcing units again.

Below, the Confederates in butternut, four Infantry Units of 10 figs each, all armed with muskets as this is an early war battle. The only rifles are the sharpshooter reinforcing unit.
I didn't bother with the everyone is in range of the gun, no one is moving in column on a road, anyway! Victory goes to whomever holds the redoubt with the gun in it at the end of the battle.

Initial Hold Cards. Heavily favor the Confederates [in red]! This works well for the scenario design, showing the "surprise attack at dawn" aspect of the Rebel attack. The wealth of Hold cards shows that Hood made his plans thoroughly, and has lots of staff resources on hand.

The question is...will the other Union units awaken and form up in time to affect the battle?

Winfield Scott Hancock v. John Bell Hood...what's not to like?? Figures are by Chintoys, a bit pricey but nice poses.
WSH: "He won't be hood-winking me today!"
JBH: "Ask not for whom the cock crows - it crows for thee!"

Interestingly, Hancock [CLICK] is from the Montgomeryville area, not too far from here. I believe his family farm is now a combination bypass and strip mall, unfortunately.

First draw - red king goes to the confederacy. It allows all four Units to move together. The two on the right, tasked with taking the redoubt, push out skirmish companies to screen their advance. The other two advance in line, one wheeling to face the reinforcement from the hill.

A black king allows the Union gun to fire, and then an Ace allows it to act a second time [normally units are one and done]. At medium range, the gun hits on a 5+, and the skirmishers save on a 4+ in the open. Two go down, an ominous start.

Next card is a red 8, and a new cycle of activity for the Confederacy [once all your units have activated, you start over regardless of how much activating the other side has had]. I decide to push on as fast as possible with my attack, as standing  around will only result in more losses. I push the skirmishers up and they fire a weak volley that gets no hits.

They are swiftly followed by their center companies.

Next, a red Ace! I activate the same Rebel unit, roll a '12' and close in on the gun and preparing to charge it. Another volley from the skirmishers results in two Hits but both are saved.

I'm thinking we'll be taking this redoubt in the next activation or two, no doubt about it - Yeeeeehawww!

Another red card, and I move up Hood's supporting attacker.

Finally, a black card! I activate the supporting Union infantry to wear down the Rebel skirmishers, getting 1 casualty at long range. The screaming rebel failed his save. 

Union reinforcements wake up and move down the hill.

Next red card, the rebels who will engage the Union infantry advance into range. They can't shoot - you only shoot at the start of your move in this game [unless a skirmisher - they can shoot at the start or end of their move].

First Joker is turned! This ends both players cycles and removes Disorder markers. We start fresh, and it probably favors Hood's assault more than the Bluebelly's defense.

The coins marking activated Units are removed...but who will get the first card draw??

It's to the Rebs and a face card! This means the three Units near each other can all activate - the fourth to the left has fallen behind, and is too far away to activate with them.

I fire everyone at the Union infantry, but only get one hit and it is saved.

The supporting Reb assault unit moves up [you can use Hold cards to pull in a nearby friendly unit when you charge, so sort of a "supporting charge" rule] close to the assault unit...

...which then recalls its skirmishers. Must reform the skirmishers on the main body, so stuck in front of the gun - but I wanted all remaining 8 figs on the attack.

I then drawn another red card, so move up the last Reb Infantry; might be useful attacking or holding off the Union reinforcements, we'll have to see how it goes.

Union draws a card and knocks down a reb with the muzzle blast alone! [actually, I think this was two hits not one].

Next black card, Hancock moves up his reinforcement Unit [3-2 is one thing, 4-2 is overwhelming]. This is the main tension for the attacker in Neil Thomas' simple but brilliant scenario. The attacker must decide how much he will devote to holding off the reinforcing Unit v. supporting his attack. Per the victory conditions, the attacker can sacrifice those units as long as he takes the objective town / bunker / redoubt.

getting a bit close on the left there...

All Reb units have activated, so a new cycle starts for Hood. He draws a 6 of Hearts, and charges the gun, using a 2 of diamonds Hold Card to bring along the supporting Unit which is at 90%. Union uses their Queen of spades Hold card to blast the charger Point Blank, getting 3 Hits, of which only one is saved - two more Rebs down and a 50% check!

The roll a Fall Back result and skedaddle 8". They are also supposed to be Disordered, but I missed that.

Still, their supporting Unit is on hand and the gun has shot its load so they go straight into the charge sequence.

The Union are gunners but have one advantage, defending an obstacle, while the Rebs have none, so both sides hit the same. Unfortunately, the Rebs only get 2 hits on 9 dice, while the gunners roll well and get 2 for 4! As it is a tie, both sides may hold position, Disordered, or Fall Back. I seem to have overlooked the Disorder, however. I'm also uncertain what it means for them to "hold position" [p.44 of rules]...are they 'locked in melee" or just staying very close to one another?

They are then allowed to roll to recover losses on a 5+ as stragglers show up, etc. Each recovers a bit, one gunner and two infantry respectively. Net loss is one each and a deadlock on the objective, with both having support nearby.

Union infantry fires getting three hits, but two are saved.

Union starts new activation cycle, drawing a number card, activating the infantry at the wall, and inflict another loss on the Rebs in front of them [I forgot they may be "locked in melee" in which case they can't be fired upon I'm certain].

Rebels shoot back, firing everyone at the infantry, but the Union save all three hits. Should've shot a gunner!

Next card draw, the second Joker shows up! This not only ends both player's activation cycle, but means they lose all their Hold cards. I forgot this, and also forgot to move Hood or Hancock at all, so I give Hood a move and allow him to use one Hold Card which he spends to reposition the left - most infantry unit.

So far this has been quite enjoyable, and I like the unpredictable turn sequence that is a moderated by the Hold Card mechanic. There is plenty of gritty old-school mechanics involved, and I'm OK with that, also. 

The "feel" is pretty small-unit, mostly due to the highly integrated turn sequence. I'd say that the units feel like a single gun, or a platoon of infantry. This is accentuated by the small unit size and the large size of my Armies in Plastic figs, also. Definitely not a "brigade or two a size" feel of game, for me. Also, the little detailed rule mechanics emphasize that small Unit feel. Reminds me of The Sword and the Flame, where Larry Brom called units regiments and squadrons and batteries and such, but it really felt like a platoon, a troop and a gun, instead.

My only rules questions have been how to measure range [center to center? figure by figure?] and how does a Close Combat continue to additional activation cards on a tie.

Exciting little action, and the big question is...having blown their chance to take the position, will the Rebs get another bite at the apple? Statistically, the Rebs should've gotten 3 hits and the Union 1.3, driving the gunners out. I fully expected the Union infantry to have to try and retake the gun with the neighboring infantry.

**next post - the grand finale!