Thursday, 1 April 2021

12mm McPherson’s Ridge 1863

As I continue to convert my Hex based rules, 'Two Flags - One Nation', back to an open table set, I am using the McPherson’s Ridge scenario as a benchmark for testing.

Typically, as with the battle, we would expect under these rules to see the Confederates attack across Willoughby Run and tangle with the Union cavalry who are in ambush positions. Eventually the Confederates will push the cavalry away and make it onto the ridge ....... just as the Union's Iron Brigade are running up the other side of the hill.

The see-saw clash will often give a close game. Will the Confederates hold on to their tasked objectives, or will they be thrown back by the Union wave of reinforcements?

Anyway, in today’s playing, there was quite a one sided surprise. I don’t think I like those!

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The game is played on a 4’ x 3’ 8” table and the figures are 12mm Kallistra. The post may interest those painting up their Warlord Games Epic ACW figures.

Above - the new map for inclusion with the rules.

Some basic special rules;

The Union have an artillery battery (Calef) amongst the trees on McPherson’s Ridge. If they are forced to withdraw, they will not be able to re-enter the woodland (classed difficult terrain).

The Confederates have off board artillery (Pegram) that can fire onto the table at long range and typically the game will open with the two artillery batteries duelling!

The Confederates start off table and will advance onto Willoughby Run. When a unit enters the waterway, it must halt and test for Disorder. Any charge into or out from the Run will cause the attacker to lose an attack die. 

The cavalry set up anywhere in front of the ridge and wherever they start, the unit is counted as being in cover. This is their ambush position. Once they move or otherwise abandon the position, that cover is removed from play.

Objectives for the Confederates are (1) to get a regiment onto the ridge at the end of the game (2) to get a regiment into the railway cutting (3) to get a regiment into McPherson’s Farm. They need only to have units in two of the three location at the game’s end to win.

Above - the view from the Union side. Willoughby Run is in the far distance. The cavalry are in place, as is Calef’s artillery.

The game opens with a long range artillery duel. Pegram's battery takes a hit, but passes it’s Capability Test. The return fire hits Calef, who fail the test and they are forced to hook up and withdraw out of the woods and over the ridge. In this instant, the Union have for the moment at least, lost their artillery support and the dismounted cavalrymen must face the onslaught of Archer’s brigade alone.

Above - Archer attacks along the length of Willoughby Run, with their centre strengthened by being two regiments deep. The cavalry fire from the dismounted troopers is (unusually) very effective, causing casualties along the Confederate front and pushing their left wing (7th Tennessee) back across the far bank.

Even so, the rest of the Confederate line is determined to clear the cavalry at bayonet point rather than getting into a firing match. But, the Confederate centre fall back under weight of defending fire, though on their right they do manage to make contact with the cavalrymen (8th Illinois), it is however a short lived affair, before they too are forced back to the water.

The Confederate brigade is in a bit of a mess. It is disordered, back in the water and 1st Tennessee in the centre is so badly shot up, that 13th / 15th Alabama to their rear, move on up through them to take up the front line position.

Above - as we enter turn 3, Davis' Brigade enters the map along the rail works on Archer's left. Usually in the game, this now gives the Confederates 7 regiments to press on and start taking objectives, but Archer is so badly mauled at Willoughby Run, that it is as much as Archer can do to manage to hold his position.

Above - turn 4. The first Union reinforcements start to arrive on Chambersburg Pike. We have Hall’s artillery leading, followed by Cutler’s 5 regiments.

Archer makes a last effort in the centre. He throws the fresh 13th / 15th Alabama forwards, but they fail their Capability Test, so only put in a Half Hearted assault. It turns into a fiasco and they fall back to the water. Archer has pretty much lost his offensive capability.

Above - to salvage the situation, Davis personally leads 2nd Mississippi towards the cavalry at the farm, while his other two regiments press on towards to rail cutting (the gap between to the two bits of high ground).

In response, Gamble’s cavalry, knowing that they have held up the enemy long enough and that help is now immediately at hand, start to retire, while Calef’s artillery re-appears on the Union far left to take up position to cover the waterway.

Above - Turn 5 - Now the Union’s Iron Brigade (left) under Meredith arrive and together with Cutler (right), the Union now have 10 fresh regiments marching towards the ridge.

With Archer effectively no longer in any fit shape to advance, the Union forces would simply and quickly overwhelm Davis and with this stark reality, the Confederates break contact and retire beyond Willoughby Run.

This phase of the Gettysburg battle goes to the Union, though their victory is more than just about checking the Confederate advance, they have likely put Archer out of action for the rest of the day.


Well I played just 5 out of the 12 turns, such was the extent of Archer’s defeat! I am going to have to take that as a bit of a scenario blip, which was down to the amount of damage that Archer took on the first turn from the dismounted cavalry and then failures and more damage suffered on the second turn and with units spending so much time disordered, they each lost an attack die too often, plus the cavalrymen count as being in cover for all return fire.

The Union reinforcement is substantial and the 7 Confederate regiments have much to do in the early part of the game. Typically they will often be in a position to claim all three objectives, then go onto the defence, with the Union having to fight to get two of them back.

The early displacement of Calef’s artillery gave a nice element to the narrative and as it happened, at the time, I thought as a consequence the cavalry were about to be overwhelmed early ..... what do I know!

It took Calef another 4 turns to get his artillery into a suitable firing position after they were expelled from the woods and the left flank may well have not been the best place for them to end up in anyway.

Anyway, an enjoyable exercise, as one never knows where these things can go, as proven by today. Those gamers building up their Epic forces could have a go at this while they are at the early stage of painting as it doesn't require too many bases (in fact just use the blue and grey raw plastic if you are itching for a game). I would suggest just using 2 bases per a regiment to give a frontage of 120mm and of course using ordinary infantry figures to represent the dismounted cavalry.

It should convert over to Black Powder rather easily. Keep the rule about Willoughby Run stopping movement when units enter it, just so that it holds them in place while the cavalry get a chance to have a round of fire before they are contacted.

Edit - I have just realised that the scenario booklet that comes with Epic, has a scenario for this battlefield that follows immediately after our action i.e. Archer and Davis have just fought off Gambles cavalry.

Resource Section.

My sister webspace COMMANDERS has a small collection of shorter AAR’s. Link.


  1. A nice scenario to test your rules Norm and unexpectedly one sided as you say. It's not often a game turns on one unit's actions, but I had the same in my last game with the cavalry winning the game single handedly.

    When I first looked I thought the figures were 28mm as they look great, but then I read the text and was pleasantly surprised to see they were 12mm.

  2. Thanks Steve, I have played the scenario several times before and the Confederates have never had such a problem at the Run, so it just goes to show how dice and replayability go hand-in-hand for variance in story telling.

    It should really go the 12 turns and have a lot of tight action. I will of course have to replay it to see whether any changes have influenced game tempo.

  3. Your tabletop setup and troops look really good, and the photos give the impression of a larger tabletop. The 12mm models really work well for wargaming in a smaller area.

  4. Thanks Peter. the lens effect is a little awkward in the way it skews the table. I remember reading somewhere that the eye works like a 50mm lens, so I will try setting the camera to that and seeing if that gives a better representation of what the eye sees.

    The 12mm is a handy scale.

  5. Outstanding action, Norm! Watching this with interest and cant wait to see where you take the TF-ON system!

    1. Thanks Steve, I know this is an area of interest for you. More to come :-)

    2. Interestingly enough i was going to ask you about REWINDING the system 100 years to the SYW and what your thoughts were about that, but TFON remains my favorite ACW game "on the market" :)

    3. AWI ... hopefully, SYW .... goodness overload :-)

    4. A "well known" blogger recently completed a series of tests for AWI and the results were good!

  6. Norm, your game look super. The Rebels seemed have a rough go of it, no doubt. I have not played TFON for quite a long time but I wonder how you treat interpenetration on the non-grid between 1 TENN and 13/15 ALA. In the original, swapping was only allowed if not adjacent to the enemy. How is "adjacency" defined for non-grid play?

    1. Thanks Jonathan. Archer struggled no doubt, but really not much has changed in the conversion to make such an untypical swing happen, it is within the range of outcomes, however, I might need to do some thinking around the balance of cavlry being small units and their carbines putting out higher rates of fire.

      as for interpenetration - good spot. Here is the new rule;

      Interpenetration: - Units cannot freely advance through each other, but two friendly units that start the movement one behind the other and their centres within 2 inches of the other unit’s centre, can simply be lifted and swap places, keeping exactly the same facing. This is in lieu of their general movement. If either or both units are artillery, then they must start and end this movement limbered up. This can be a useful way to get fresh units into the front line.

      Adjacency and the 1 hex has had to change because as you know adjacency was 1 hex and 1 hex equals four inches, which in turn becomes a range.

      Essentially has changed to everything that is not in base-to-base contact is a range and so in effect ‘in contact’ has become a new measure / standard inserted into the game.

    2. So, two units may swap places as long as not in contact with the enemy?

    3. Yes, the idea is that it will be mutually supporting regiments within the same brigade that are doing this. As you rightly point out, the existing rule in the hex version forbade either unit to be adjacent to an enemy, that element should have been carried across to here, I will add that clarification to the new version.

      The rule in the hex version (page 14) does mention neither unit being adjacent to an enemy - that should have got ported across.

  7. Thanks Michal, I didn’t get chance this time around to bring the fight into the rail cutting or onto the slopes of the ridge, so we didn’t get to see as much ofthe table used as we would normally, but never-the-less, we play these games as challenges and for their outcomes, so every one of them is a winner one way or another.

  8. Very nice work Norm. Yes a strange outcome I think we have played this or very close to this in matter I think it will make a nice scenario and will give it a go if I can. Assuming this was solo, that is probably good as the confederate general would have gone home slightly disgruntled !

  9. Thanks Matt, it is a well played scenario which usually gives a more balanced fight, but of course it will always end with the tired Archer being 'rammed' by the excellent Iron Brigade, but there is generally enough to keep both sides involved and for history to be respected.

    It was run solo .... even so, the columns of blue reinforcements advancing towards me was demoralising :-)

    1. At least you could walk around the table and look from behind the Union line and chuckle at your success

    2. Indeed I could (did) ;-)

  10. Lovely looking game, thought the game was up for the Union after the loss of the artillery, how wrong I was!
    Best Iain

  11. Thanks Iain, my thoughts exactly, probably a good thing when a system can surprise a solo play.

  12. Great looking fight, Norm, and I'm completely with you, anything that add some friction/unexpected is welcome in a solo game.


  13. Thanks Jack - loosening the over present influence of the gamer is most definitely a plus.

  14. Excellent photos Norm, they really seem to communicate a sence of drama. And thanks as ever for the write up, I always enjoy them :)

  15. Thanks Gareth for dropping by and especially for the thumbs up.

  16. Great ACW action Norm. But only 5 turns? Are you sure that you didn’t accidentally give the cav repeating rifles? 😀

    I like this scenario. It’s a nice compact field with some fun with reinforcements. Though I am not sure about the railway cut being an objective. It was more like a trap for the CSW. Sure it gave them good cover but ended up pinning them in place and unable to fall back / maneuver causing more casualties and then surrender. If I were a CSA general with foreknowledge I wouldn’t go in there. 😀

  17. Thanks Stew, the dismounted cavalry had a charmed existence today! Even after the guns had gone!

    The scenario uses the cut as an objective to stretch Davis to make a determined advance in that direction, rather than being drawn towards the ridge. In the scenario, being in the gap can be quite punishing, so the Confederate player will want to take it and get out onto the other side.

    Since the Confederate only has to secure two out of the three objectives to win, a player could choose to ignore the cutting, but that also allows the Union response to only need to then recapture one of the remaining held objectives to deny a Confederate win.

    Not that any of it matters if I can’t get Archer out of Willoughby Run :-)

  18. A great looking game with a surprising result Norm. The new 12mmm figures look very nice too

  19. Thanks Keith, I suspect that the new EPIC range from Warlord Games, being a similar scale to 12mm Kallistra, will see a whole lot of interest in gaming at this scale.

  20. A great scenario Norm. I quite enjoy these type of blip games? Just shows you the luck of the dice or is it unluck of the dice. I may convert this scenario for a NYW game, perhaps in Ireland. I think it'd wirk quite well? Obviously no railway lines in 1689 though!

  21. Thanks Ray, I am happy for the dice to help with the story telling and I like that you can re-run a scenario with outcomes not set in stone. Yes, I think an escalating encounter engagement is ripe for transfer.

  22. This took me back to at least two encounters with you on this very battlefield. Though it may have turned out unusually one-sided this time, it still gave a good narrative and lots of glorious pictures of your terrain and figures. Still waiting for the ACW Perry box to arrive - hopefully tomorrow [along with my 2nd jab!]. Will give you a call tomorrow or Wednesday.

  23. Fingers crossed for a delivery tomorrow. I can see this scenario gracing our tables in the near future.

  24. Great scenario Norm, really drew me in as usual. It's posts like this that are fuelling my enthusiasm for the period once again.

  25. Thanks Lee ..... you will like what’s on the table now :-), watch this space!



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