This is the second in the series of getting a game into a small space using a 6x6 grid. This time, we are doing a historical action using my own ACW hex based rules (Two Flags - One Nation).
The scenario would be quite suitable for a conversion to the Neil Thomas 'One Hour Wargames' rulebook, by converting each hex to 6", though perhaps reduce the cavalry staying power down to say 9 hits for those rules.
Please use the 'read more' tab for the rest of this post.
Firstly, I would just like to thank fellow blogger Jonathan Freitag, who took enough interest in these rules to have a go and to post a series of comments concerning Q&A. Jonathan is possibly the most supportive poster of other peoples blogs out there and many must be grateful to his continuous motivation with regards to their posting. The resource section (below) gives links to his blog and also to my rules blog post that he has added numerous comments to. Thank you.
This slice of action represents part of the opening manoeuvres at the Battle of Gettysburg and is in fact a reduced version of the one of the scenarios included with my hex based ruleset (which are a free download). Archer's Confederate Brigade is advancing toward McPherson Ridge. The first obstacle being Willoughby Run, a shallow waterway that is defended on the far side by Gamble's dismounted Union Cavalry Brigade. The cavalry are buying time for Union reinforcements to move up and strengthen the position.
Here is a graphic of the full scenario layout as given in the rulebook, I have marked out the 6x6 segment that we will be using today.
1000 yards behind the Confederate front line, is an artillery battery (Pegram) in a supporting position, which historically engaged the Union artillery that were located on the forward wooded slopes of McPherson Ridge. The off board Confederate artillery will be represented in the game and will take casualties from any effective fire by the union artillery battery as though it is actually on the table.
To win, the Confederates must push aside the Union cavalry and move beyond to occupy at least two hexes on McPherson Ridge by the end of the game. Any other result is a Union victory.
EDIT Please Note - as a result of this replay, the rules relating to cover have been amended, so that 'remainder HITs' are carried over - this is discussed in the comments to this post.
To deal with Gamble's dismounted cavalry, who were in ambush positions, their at start hexes count as giving cover, but only to dismounted cavalry and only until they vacate the hex, after which time the hex no longer affords cover to any unit. Temporary cover terrain can be put into those hexes as a reminder and removed once vacated.
Artillery can set up in difficult terrain (i.e. the wooded ridge) and is assumed to be at the edge of the wood looking out (so can shoot but it does not claim cover). During play, limbered artillery cannot enter any hex that is described as being difficult terrain, unless using a road, so if this artillery battery is ever dislodged (retreats) it will not be able to return to a wooded hex.
The off-board Confederate artillery behaves as though it is deployed in an open hex. If it suffers a retreat result, it will limber up and go disordered for 15 minutes, just as it would if present on the table. It will obviously need to be unlimbered again before it is available for firing.
For the first 40 minutes (my rules use an ‘in game’ Game Clock, but if using other rules just apply this paragraph to the first 3 turns), the artillery of each side must fire on each other if the enemy battery is still a presentable target, otherwise they can target freely. Artillery for both sides conduct counter-battery fire at long range.
Events - use the Event Table provided with the McPherson Ridge scenario in the rule book.
Admin - The battle starts at 0815 hours and ends as soon as 1100 hours has passed (say around 11 turns in other systems).
The Confederates setup first.
The Union is the 1st Player.
TERRAIN - McPherson Farm is represented by two hexes and can be a combination of building and fields, each hex counting as cover. The rail track is aesthetic and need not be represented.
Archers Brigade - Leader Archer
13th / 15th Alabama Infantry regiment - rifled musket - Seasoned
1st Tennessee infantry regiment - rifled musket - Seasoned
7th Tennessee infantry regiment - rifled musket - Seasoned
14th Tennessee infantry regiment - rifled musket - Seasoned
Artillery Battery (off - board) Pegram - rifled 12pdr - - Seasoned
Cavalry Brigade - Leader Gamble
8th New York cavalry regiment - carbine - Seasoned
8th Illinois cavalry regiment - carbine - seasoned
12th Illinois / 3rd Indiana cavalry regiment (combined) - carbine - seasoned
Artillery - Calef's A Battery - rifled 12pdr - - Seasoned
Union reinforcements from Meredith's Iron Brigade (enter immediately after 0915 hours).
7th Wisconsin infantry regiment plus leader (Meredith) - rifled musket - Veteran
2nd Wisconsin infantry regiment - rifled musket - Veteran
Confederates - they start off board. The four infantry regiments must all enter on turn 1 by entering Willoughby Run itself, with 1 unit per hex (if using other systems, my brigade leaders have a command radius of two hexes). The artillery is available to fire from turn one, but throughout play will be kept off the table to represent its position in the distant rear.
Union - the three cavalry regiments start play dismounted on their side of Willoughby run in any hexes adjacent to the waterway (row 5). The artillery starts on any wooded hill hex.
The 7th and 2nd Wisconsin Regiments stay off board until after 0915 hours and arrive on the far left corner hex of the Union baseline (i.e. not the railway end). They will arrive with a leader (Meredith).
Optional, before play, all leaders may use the optional rule to see whether any of their commanders have special characteristics. I would suggest not using the optional Brigade Cohesion rule, due to the Confederates only having a single brigade in play.
At the start of play, each leader tests for special characteristics. Meredith (nicely) gets Superb Tactician, which essentially increases his command radius to 3. The two other commanders remain ‘ordinary’!
Union artillery opens with counter-battery fire, causing 2 heavy casualties. The Confederate artillery reply, also causing two heavy casualties. Both sides nervously test their Capability following the casualties as for either to have to limber up and retreat at this stage would immediately hand the other a chance to redirect their artillery onto the regiments. Both pass.
The Confederates enter the board, splashing into Willoughby Run.
Union artillery inflict a further 2 heavy casualties on the Confederate guns, so with 4 heavy casualties, the Confederate Capability Test now gets a +2 and the test is failed. They limber up and go disordered for 15 minutes. They will not be ordered again (so will lose a fire dice) until after 0843 hours. They will need to unlimber before being useful again.
The dismounted cavalry fire their carbines at the exposed men in Willoughby Run. Their fire is abysmal. This is when I make an amendment to the scenario (which I later regretted and so have withdrawn it from the scenario info) - but basically, once the Confederates enter the Run, they cannot leave the next turn, so in effect they spend the next turn firing from the Run and can then leave in the turn after that.
The return fire is generally poor, except that in the centre, 8th Illinois Cavalry are forced to re-mount and retreat 1 hex. They go disordered for 15 minutes and by abandoning an ambush hex, the temporary cover terrain is removed. See below photo.
0844 hours. Special event number 5. Due to actions elsewhere, Reynolds, the Union Army Commander (off map) is shot in the head and dies, every union unit including reinforcements yet to arrive have to test to see if they suffer a Heavy Casualty. Good rolls mean that it only affects the Union artillery - perhaps they saw the incident form their vantage point on the ridge!
The Confederate artillery is suffering terribly and is now at 5 Heavy Casualties. They again fail their Capability test following casualties received and have their disorder extended until 0859 hours.
Cavalry fire is sloppy. The retreating 8th Illinois Cavalry Regiment dismount in front of the ridge, ready to cover the other cavalry regiments that must surely be about to fall back!
13th / 15th Alabama (Confederate left flank) and 7th Tennessee (centre right) charge out of the Run, while the other two regiments give covering fire. It becomes a fiasco. The fire is not effective and the left charge gets ‘half hearted’ status, while the 7th Tennessee actually receiving 3 Heavy Casualties (by rolling 1’s), while inflicting none! But their tenacity must have unnerved their foe, who (in the post Close Combat Capability Tests) fall back and disorder for 15 minutes. The 7th Tennessee follow up and push forward, but Archer (leader) was with them and his enthusiasm for the attack will put him out of command contact with his left wing.
Confederate artillery remains disordered, but they are able to unlimber and be ready for firing in the next turn. Union artillery would have loved to fire at the ‘now getting closer’ 7th Tennessee, but Union troops are in the way. So they continue with counter-battery fire and extend the Confederate disorder status out to 0909 hours.
Though disordered themselves, the still mounted 12th Illinois / 3rd Indiana Cavalry Regiment see the distressed state of 7th Tennessee (5 Heavy casualties) and decide to charge, but they fail their Capability Test and instead put in a ‘half hearted’ charge. They start with 6 x D6. Losing one for being disordered, and three for being half hearted, so only end up with two attack dice and neither side receives casualties. Photo below.
In the post Close Combat tests, 7th Tennessee’s high casualties start to tell and they fall back disordered and increase their casualties by one (now up to 6). The cavalry are not allowed to charge again for another 30 minutes. The retreat brings Archer back into command radius of his whole brigade, with all four regiments still stuck in the Run and 7th Tennessee now a spent force. They spend the turn firing ….. poorly, it has to be said, but a lucky shot struck Gamble and killed him, causing all elements of his brigade to go disordered until a replacement is found (automatically during the Union Rally Phase).
None of the Union are in command (no leader), so where they can, they content themselves with firing. Retreating cavalry on the wooded ridge dismount to prepare a second line of defence. Gamble is replaced with Perkins (who does not gain any attributes).
The Confederates charge again on the left and though they don’t create any heavy casualties, in the post Close Combat test, the dismounted cavalry roll cats eyes (Oh Dear!) - they must have had enough of being in the front line and isolated, while the rest of their brigade is now up safely on the ridge. The cavalry (8th New York), who have so valiantly held their ground, failed their test by ‘4 or more’ …. so rout back, picking up the road towards Gettysburg!
At last the Confederates are out of the water, on the two flanks at least and pressing towards the ridge, but even the sight of this is not enough to keep 7th Tennessee in the battle. Their exhaustion sees them leave the table in the Retreat Phase.
0930 hours. Event ….. How lucky is this, Iron Brigade (they arrive this turn) get double movement without suffering casualty penalties. This actually gets them onto the rear slopes of the ridge.
8th New York Cavalry Regiment do not recover from rout status and leave the table.
The sight of McPherson Ridge bristling with blue uniforms, including the arrival of the veteran Iron Brigade coming onto the crest, is enough for the Confederates to halt and pull back to Willoughby Run. For them, further attack is pointless, they will leave the table on the next turn.
Well, a few things came out of that for me. I enjoyed the scenario, though it obviously didn’t work as a balanced piece of work. We were just using 5 - 6 units per side in a small space, but there were enough twists to maintain interest and once again proving that you can get good gaming in small spaces.
It can be tough to simulate small light forces (dismounted cavalry) adequately delaying a larger force and in that regard, I thought the cavalry and the ambush rules did what they were meant to do …. but perhaps too effectively. I think I will increase the attack dice in close combat against skirmish type troops. A bigger problem may be that cover is just too effective. I like the way it works, but requiring two hits on a single attack to produce just one Heavy Casualty can make things too resilient. It may be an idea to retain fractions from each fire, so that single hits at least have a chance to accumulate rather than be written off.
The Union reinforcement is very strong, with both units being veteran. Usually in this scenario, the Confederates are on the ridge by the time the veterans arrive and their job is to eject the Confederates from what is now their defensive position. We were a long way off from that in this example of play, so it will need a few more games to see whether recent rule changes have caused some undesired effects. I will also keep an eye on whether one of the reinforcement regiments simply needs dropping, though gently reducing the effect of cover may be enough anyway.
The general rules follow the sequence of play, but there is still a sense of awkwardness in rule finding / application. And some of that may be due to the number of processes … which I like, but for sake of smooth play, may need culling or at least fashioning into something a bit more intuitive. I will think on that one.
Anyway - a long post, thanks for staying with it.
Blog link to the wider battle and played out with Neil Thomas based rules - LINK
The downloadable (thank you DropBox) Two Nations - One Flag rules LINK
Jonathan Freitag’s blog - LINK
The post on the rules in which Jonathan has added a range of observations in the comments section and which might provide interest to the reader in terms of the design process. LINK