Just 4 units per side on a symmetrical battlefield - it was my intention to do a Don Featherstone post next, but I am one painted unit shy away from being able to put that on ..... so I took his battlefield and had a small game using the Perry's Firepower rules instead.
|Some newly painted reinforcements arrive|
Anyway, that goal came one step closer this holiday weekend, with the Union cavalry unit painted and based and so here we are, a small game with the Perry rules.
Please use the 'read more' tab for the rest of this post.
In truth the full extent of this post was meant to be an intro battle from a Don Featherstone creation, using his starter rules and then running the same action repeatedly, comparing Firepower, Neil Thomas Introduction to Wargames and my own Two Flags-One Nation rules, which I am presently converting from being hex based to open table.
Anyway, that is for a near future post.
Each side has 2 infantry regiments, 1 artillery battery and 1 cavalry regiment, plus an officer, which enter play on the players respective edges.
The table basically has a stone wall in the middle and is flanked to either side by small woods.
In these rules, each turn, each unit can do one thing, move, fire, rally or charge. Obviously on turn 1, everything is moving to get onto the table. Movement rates are variable based around 1 or more D6.
The Confederate cavalry manage to get an excellent roll and are able to advance directly to the wall, which gives cover, so the defender of a wall gets to save against hits.
Cavalry can't dismount and immediately, that feels a bit of a limitation. They move fast, but are more brittle than infantry (eliminated on fewer hits) and have a lower attacking power both for fire and in melee.
They get off a long distance volley (well, long for carbines!) against advancing Union infantry, but miss.
The leading Union infantry regiment, heading for the wall, are with a leader, so they roll an extra die for movement and then discard 1 die that they don't want (usually the lowest), but they come up slightly short against the wall. This gives the cavalry another chance to fire, this time at close range, inflicting 5 casualties ... ouch!
The Union infantry press their attack with a charge against the wall, but their new casualties, combined with the 5 existing casualties take them off the table.
Above - Union cavalry have pushed up the right flank and as they emerge from behind a wood, the entire Confederate left flank is exposed ... it would be rude not to attack!
The slow moving Confederate artillery has managed to get itself hemmed in by friendlies, so that it does not have any clear lines of fire to the enemy, however, now behind the Confederate line, they see the cavalry threat and turn their guns to face them.
The Union cavalry fall upon the flank of a Confederate infantry regiment. I'm not so sure about this - yes they suddenly find the Confederate flank in front of them, but charging feels a bit too napoleonic, even though it is probably right for the circumstances. Had the rules allowed me to dismount and enter the woods to secure that flank position, the cavalry would have done that on the nearside of the woods and not have pressed on around the flank, which might have tactically felt better - but these are simple rules (making them comparable of course to Neil Thomas and Don Feathersone), so I am probably asking too much and in the future, it would be an easy thing to house rule.
Anyway - the charge goes in. Cavalry get less dice than the infantry. The infantry (an administrative thing) turn and match up base to base with the charging unit. Both sides fight in the melee.
To each die rolled, the cavalry will add +1 because they are charging and also an extra +1 because their attack came from a blind spot (representing the flank attack). The infantry do not modify their dice.
The cavalry score 4 hits and the infantry 2, so the cavalry win. Whenever a unit suffer casualties to fire or loses a melee, they must take a morale test. The infantry do so, break and retreat. The retreat move is a random number of inches and they are lucky not to leave the table ..... just yet!
But the cavalry are now fully exposed to the Confederate artillery, who use canister and decimate the cavalry and they are removed from play, having reached their casualty limit.
The breaking infantry fail to rally and this time they do leave the table.
In the centre, the sluggish advance of 2nd Confederate infantry regiment eventually has them reach the wall and join the Confederate cavalrymen, who look a bit strange still mounted!
|2nd regiment get to the wall, note the artillery|
protecting the rear area from those Union cavalry rascals!
These rules are probably one level up from the Neil Thomas One Hour Wargaming rules, because units take casualty based morale, while probably not quite as encompassing as the Neil Thomas 'Wargaming An Introduction' which does have morale, but also allows cavalry to dismount, which they must do to fire and places some specific limitations on movement in some types of terrain - However only the Thomas One Hour Wargames ACW rules prevent cavalry charges.
They give a fast game and the casualty rate is high enough that units will generally only be able to fight for a couple of turns before they become a spent force, either due to failed morale and retreats or excess casualties that remove them from play.
There are some nice subtleties, such as officers within command range giving an extra die to movement or morale checks and then the player can discard the weaker die.
I like that each turn, units can choose one action, allowing some interaction between those units that fire and those that move.
Considering this was just 4 units per side, the game opened up nicely and gave a fun short game and an interesting narrative and I could see exactly the same scenario opening up in different ways, if only because of the randomised movement.
The rules are very nicely presented in a full colour slim booklet and are sufficiently stable for the gamer to add in their own tweaks, to bring the game closer to their own imaginings of the period.
My understanding is that these rules are only available from the ACW Battle in a Box set. Since the rules have not been made available on the Perry website as a download, I have kept specific aspects of play values etc out of this article to protect the rules and the Perry copyright and not give them away by careless or unnecessary comment, so I respectfully ask that the information is not requested in the comment section.
EDIT - note, I didn't show much of the table or maps because I already have the fuller Featherstone blog post part written and did not want to steal it's thunder! This was just a spur of the moment post while I was tinkering with the rule sets.
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