Monday, 11 June 2012

Butternut and Blue

     Last Saturday saw a small group at the Hamilton Road Games Group, probably because of the nice weather and because of the group meeting in the "small" room at the library, 'cause they had "learnin' stuff" in the big room. No matter! We had a great game, using a variant of Iron Ivan's "This Very Ground" and gaming the American Civil War. This game saw the use of many, many new Zouave figures from both Andy and me.
     Andy, Damien, and Martin piloted the Federal side while Bear, Derrick, and I ran the Confederate. It was an interesting scenario: a Federal assault on a forified Rebel position on a low hill. Each player had about 6 'activations' including the 3 cannon on each side. The Union units were 16-20 figures each, including command while the Rebel units were 12 a piece with command.
     Here's a good overview of the table early in the game, taken by Martin with his I-pad or some such thinking appliance:
Here the Union forces are crossing the small stream after marching over the plowed fields. Most of the Rebel forces
are in fortification on the crest of the low hill, although the flanks have advanced to meet the Union advance.
Derrick's troops on the photo's right fought bravely but eventually lost to the advancing Bluecoats. My troops
went into the woods on the photo's extreme left to deny the cover to the Federals... with moderate success.
Martin on the Federal right pushed quickly to the grain fields and the rail fence on the Confederate side, where Derrick resisted the advance as long as he could, but he was eventually driven back. Damian had loads of freshly painted Zouaves and pushed up the center cautiously. He's a young play and isn't used to the idea that one of the best ways to get out of the enemy's fire is to run up fast and punch him in the mouth. Andy advanced quickly, but all the Union commanders discovered that the Rebel side of the creek was the effective range of the rifled musket. It got messy quickly.

Andy's brigade advances to the creek and to the forest.

Derrick's troops move to make sure the grain field is contested.


My Texans moved to the edge of the forest to stop Andy's Bluecoats.

Federal artillery adding support to the assault. Even without Shrapnel or
Spherical Case or lasers, the artillery made things tough for both sides.

Bear's position with artillery is on the left and mine to the right. Undaunted,
the Yankee line advances.

Things are about to get tough for Derrick in the grain fields.

I crossed the creek in loose order and met Andy's troops in loose order.
Eventually I had no one left to retreat with. Lots of hand-to-hand in the woods.

As things went on, Martin chased Derrick's command far back - mainly by destroying units. Damian's batteries took out two of Bear's and the Zouaves penetrated the fortifications. Andy and I struggled in the forest, but the larger size units and shear numbers told the tale. Some amazing things happened... which I'll show in the photos shortly.

The Zouave unit kept on advancing...

... although some were less enthusiastic and hid behind a hill for a while.

The view from the Confederate fortification on the hill crest.

The same place from a more arial vantage point. The Yanks in the
cornfield were hard to target but they had a tough time shooting as well.

The Zouaves finally broke through and the Southerners made an orderly withdrawal.

Here are the promised "Amazing Things." It'll never be a series on the History Channel, but it made for good conversation at the table.
Amazing thing #1 -  One of Andy's units balked and lost its nerve in an open
field. The next time they could move, the went prone. (The blue Bingo chip
represents that.) Prone makes you harder to hit, but you are at a great disadvantage
in melee. This was the first time a unit went prone in our ACW games.

Amazing thing #2 - In our variant of the original rules, if a unit in melee is
outnumbered by 3 to 1, that unit is captured. Here the reminent of the unit
with the Texas flag is marched off to captivity by a drummer and a bluecoat
private. This is the first time the "capture" rule came into play. (I doubt my
Texan wife will ever forgive me.)

Amazing thing #3 - although this photo doesn't show it, officer casualties were
high. If a unit takes casualties from fire or melee, one of the players rolls a d10.
If the result is equal to or less than the number of casualties, the unit's officer
or command figure is a casualty. The game's casualty rate for brass hats?
Just under 50%! Officers were dropping like flies! Seem right for ACW, doesn't it?

The view just before the Zouaves broke through. All in all, a winning draw
for the North. Bear remains inconsolable, y'all.

Our home brewed variant of "This Very Ground" continues to entertain and make a good game. The action is bloody and fast. Officers are in trouble. The addition of sharpshooters (which we left out this time) would usually make it worse. I think we'll see the Blue and Gray again before long.


  1. I was curious about using This Very ground for civil war. How did you come up with rules for the cannons? what changes did you make? Any help and advice would be amazing!

    1. Well, our cannon rules are not complete and we use them right from the written rules. We added rifled muskets, sharpshooter rifles, "skidaddle", and rules for prone and prisoners. If you'd like, I'll e-mail what we have in rules. Drop a line to me at the address at the very top of this blog page. By the way, where are you living/gaming?

    2. that would be great. email is

      I live in Louisiana.

    3. I'll send the stuff out to you ASAP. Louisana... I just wondered. I'm up in Ontario. I have family in Shreveport and Baton Rouge, however.

  2. Oh wow! I am in Natchitoches, just an hour from Shreveport. I also went to LSU undergrad and law so have been in B.R. for the past decade, roughly.

    Have you sent it over yet? I have received it. Looking forward to checking it out.