Sunday, 6 October 2019

Post Battle analysis of an ACW game

The short scenario for Stonewall’s Sword concludes, with a Moderate Victory for the Confederates.

By the end of the game, the Union had lost all attack capability right across their battlefront and needed to reorganise to recover some strength and fall back onto better defensive positions.
Furthest part of Confederate advance 

The Confederates still had some attack capability, notably on the far right, where Pender was about to turn the Union left and 38th North Carolina were just one hex away from Robert Hudson House, a Victory location that would yield 10 VP’s and if taken, would have raised the level of Confederate victory to ‘Major Victory’ had they captured it.

In the end, a few of the chits drawn mattered. Fatigue was played against Pender, which was enough to dampen his final attack and if only there had been a Rebel Yell chit remaining in the Confederate arsenal, perhaps 38th NC could have taken Robert Hudson House. I love the way this system makes these small things matter.

I think the victory level scores and result accord well with what I am seeing on the map and interestingly the victory outcome was totally casualty based, rather than coming from location VP’s.

I like the way in this system that in the last turn, rather than units flinging themselves into dubious attacks that they might not normally do if another turn existed or if loss was likely, they instead either hold back to prevent loss or look to the ‘Available box’ on the Broken Track to see whether they can recover any units back to the board, so that they don’t contribute to the enemy VP total.

In this game, Garnett (Confederate) was able to recover 1 unit, while Prince (Union) failed to recover their 3 regiments that were in that box and that ultimately really mattered.

This is not a game term, but for the purposes of this report, I have judged brigades to be ‘spent’ that have the majority of their units flipped and under Shaken / Disrupt counters.

The Following brigades were so spent;

Union, Crawford and Prince.

Confederate, Garnett, Taliaferro, Early, Thomas and Branch.

An interesting moment in the game was when the hard to activate Taliaferro got a full activation and went over onto the attack. They went into a relatively vulnerable part of the Union line, but managed to smash themselves in the process at no gain. Another saw Pender activate to Manoeuvre with the Quick March chit added and then Jackson activated them again for Manoeuvre, allowing this formation to really make progress against the Union left flank, while the Union didn’t really have anything (other than the two artillery batteries) to counter this.

I am really taken by this system and want to play much, much more of it.

To offer some statistic on this game, at the close of play;

Union - Robinson LOST, Knap and Roemer BATTLE WORN
Confederate - Dement (b) BATTLE WORN

General activity
DISRUPTED - Union none, Confederate 1
SHAKEN - Union 5, Confederate 5
BATTLE WORN - Union 6, Confederate 18
TOTAL STILL IN PLAY - Union 22, Confederate 40

The statistics reflect that the larger Confederate army had worked hard to get their victory as half their army was Battle worn, while only around a quarter of the Union force was Battle worn


  1. Sounds like a really good game Norm and I like the level of detail contained therein. Look forward to seeing you play more of this/these games.

    1. Thanks Steve, rather like your own conclusions part of a blog entry, I thought I would concentrate the view on the post battle analysis.

  2. Nice report as always, Norm. Do you think these rules (or at least the key elements) could be used with miniatures?

    1. Thanks Chris, Yes I think key elements could be borrowed, certainly the activation, event chits and orders system. Plus the split combat results table is a very interesting way to go.

      Converting the hex movements to your system movement allowances would need to be done and then house ruling how you would like what me might think of as 'proximity' to work, as units that retreat past units or disengage are subject to half strength fire by those units able to bring fire.

      But overall, I think the rules are worth it to at least scavenge ideas.

  3. "want to play much, much more" For me, that is the mark of a good game.

    1. Ross, this is a system that once the back has been broken, repeat play benefits from a depth that no longer seems to have a complexity.

  4. I look forward to giving this game a try!

  5. Jonathan, I think you will like it from both a game and a study perspective, especially as you are already a fan of the split results table. I do think more than 1 play brings the greater dividends.

  6. I see this game has really captured your attention. Speaks highly of it mechanics and game play. Nice post analysis. Spent is a good term for a unit that lost it fight. 😀

  7. Thanks Stew, and your favourite flavour of wargaming .... ACW, this just has to tempt you to the chit and map side of things :-)

    1. I’ve certainly been tempted.
      Actually I’m expecting my first kickstarter to arrive in the next couple of weeks, which IS an ACW chit and map type game. 😀

  8. Norm, thanks for another informative report.

  9. Thanks Norm, sounds like a good game.

  10. Hi Aaron, Yes, very enjoyable and while the rules are so fresh in my mind, we are doing Kernstown 1862 this week.

  11. Sounds like you had fun with the game and really like the system, result!
    Best Iain

  12. Iain, I do like it very much, we played Kernstown last night, but only got through 3 turns, which is the downside for our face-to-face game, but the play itself was very enjoyable and Mike said he would pick the game up today and carry it on solo for a few turns, just until it gets to the point that one side looks like its on the ropes.



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