Sunday, 8 February 2015

The Devil To Pay... and a much needed revival!

Last week I missed the gaming at the Hamilton Road Games Group due to the remnants of the "flu." I had taken the flu shot but it appears that the vaccine was unable to do the job, because the wrong strain of the flu showed up! Such is life!

This week, I was able to be there. Martin, Kevin, Derrik, Bear, and Brian all showed up and a friend of Bear's stopped by for a time. Andy was "under the weather" and couldn't make it. We played our American Civil War variant of Iron Ivan's This Very Ground. Andy has more figures for this period than I do and has a large green ground cloth. Since I didn't know he was not coming, we scrounged up a green PVC sheet that Kevin had squirrelled away at the library for just such a situation. Martin and Bear brought their ACW figures which, added to mine, made a respectable force for each side.
We decided to do a small version of the first day at Gettysburg with Buford's dismounted Federal cavalry attempting to hold off the Confederate advance down the Chambersburg Pike. Derrik and Martin pushed Federal lead while Kevin and Bear captained the Confederate side. (No surprise there for Bear.) I served as referee and Brian kibitzed or served as war correspondent for Harper's Weekly.
The Federal cavalry (2 units of 15 troopers each with a cannon in support) set up to start the game. Each full turn, the Federals rolled for reinforcements. (a 7+ on a d10 was what was needed.) All of the Confederates were on the board at the start. 

Martin's company of dismounted Union cavalry

Derrik's company with the cannon and the colonel commanding

A ground level view of Martin's horse soldiers

Two of the Rebel artillery pieces

Kevin's troops with the Texas state flag.
Yes, the gun crew in the foreground is in Federal uniform.
Let's call it a "loan."

Some of Bear's force - some rather idiosyncratic Rebs here.

Bear wanted a different outfit so I painted these up as a Virginia company.

The Stonewall Brigade? Why not?
The Rebs advanced quickly - at a dead run, actually - and the dismounted cavalry, armed with carbines and revolvers could do very little to slow them up since their weapons were very short ranged. The Union artillery piece did some damage but the crew took fire from on of Kevin's companies, lost a man, failed morale and fell back to the cover of the backside of the small hill the gun was set on. I remember reminding Derrik and Martin that standing on the top of the hill made them the proverbial sitting ducks. They took my advice and dropped back to the hidden side of the crest.

May as well take cover while you can!

Some of Kevin's troops in the railroad cut which served as heavy cover
since it actually is a locomotive-sized trench.

The original gun in support of the cavalry in their fall-back position.

Derrik's dismounted cavalry behind the crest of the hill with a small wood to their left.
(I'm rather embarrassed to say that I forgot all my trees.)
One of the most interesting moves of the game came shortly after all this. (More will be said about this soon, but the incident needs to be reported BEFORE any judgement is given.) One of Bear's companies moved up to the crest of the hill and faced Martin's dismounted cavalry. Martin declared that he was going to fire a volley at the Rebs... with his pistols (rate of fire = 2 per turn) As referee, I allowed the volley but only one shot for each; I felt that the two shots would be devastating. The cap-and-ball pistol does have a rate of fire of twice per turn, with a rather short range and a reduced hitting power which means it's harder to wound a figure that's been hit. (Example: an infantry man with a rifled musket, like a Springfield or and Enfield, must roll a 5 or less to hit and wounds on an 8 or less on a d10. A pistol hits on a 5 or less but wounds on a 6 or less.)
Kevin proclaimed that Martin has broken the game and we all roared with laughter. I gave Martin a much-deserved award... which I'll say more about later. It made for a wild few minutes.
By this time, the union had received reinforcements - over three turns, two infantry companies and a cannon had arrived. One company reinforced Derrik's troops and hunkered down behind the hill along-side of the cavalry. The other company, from the 42nd Pennsylvania Reserves - the "Bucktails"- came up fast to help Martin and took up a position in the small woods on the hill that had been Martin's original set-up. The reserve cannon set up on the edge of the board and began to bombard Kevin's troop in the railroad cut.
Bear charged the Bucktails with his Virginians and a serious and desperate hand-to-hand battle started in the woods.

Martin's troopers facing the Southern onslaught just before hitting the back-slope. 

Bear's right flank unit is about to get the Remington treatment from the cavalry.

The Virginians advance toward the Bucktails.

More of Bear's troops with their colonel move toward the cavalry held hill.

Well, the Bucktails got the worst part of the melee - the Pennsylvania boys were wiped out!
Kevin's cannons actually took out the two Union guns on the board while his troops in the railroad cut pinned down both the cavalry and their reinforcement infantry company. Bear dispatched a half-company and set it under the command of a steady NCO to take the first Union gun on the small hillock. The remaining crewman and the Federal colonel retreated to a safe distance.

The Rebels capture the Union gun and make faces at the gunner and the colonel.

The rest of Bear's right flank and centre companies slug it out with the cavalry.

Kevin's companies hold the railroad cut.

A close-up of Bear's colours.

The colonel and his adjutant... who actually is holding a Bible.
Isn't there a line in a movie: "We Southerners like our men polite, religious, and a little crazy."
Finally in the last turn, after two fruitless rolls to bring in reinforcements, Martin and Derrik received a large boost with the 146th New York, a Zouave unit, arriving. They marched on, volleyed, and eviscerated one of Bear's companies. Since we had reached curfew (which I imposed since I had a wedding anniversary dinner planned with my wife. She still puts up with me nicely after 27 years!), we declared the game a "winning draw" for the Confederate side. Kevin had tied up Derrik's troops for the entire game while they were well protected in the railroad cut. Bear aggressively attacked Martin's positions, but paid the price, especially when the 146th arrived. Had the Zouaves not come on the board, the result would have been more of a real Confederate victory.

The 146th New York Volunteer Infantry, just after the volley.
The four blue bingo chips represent the smoke and the necessity of reloading.

The Virginians watch the Zouaves' advance from their hill vantage point,
This game allowed us to iron out some small wrinkles in the rule variant we play. It also helped us stay familiar with the flow of the Iron Ivan rules;.

Now, the most important part of the day. With Martin's "pistol volley" (something more appropriate for Thirty Years War trotting cavalry. Can you spell "caracole", Martin?), he was immediately inducted into the ranks of the holders of the coveted "Golden Mentula Mustalae" award. In my previous wargames group, we often awarded this geegaw to the player who pulled the most overtly-legal-but-of-dubious-morality-and-ethics move of the game. A small statue/figure of a badger in Highland kit (in either gold or silver depending on the seriousness/originality of the move) was awarded to that player. It is a high honour, accompanied with gales of laughter, awarded especially to the guy who can take a joke.

Imagine this in gold or silver.

So as of 7 February 2015, Martin is the FIRST (but surely not the last) Canadian recipient of the revived
What does the Latin gobbledygook mean, I hear you say.  Well, "mustala" is the Latin word for ferret, marten, or... weasel. "Mentula" is an old Latin profanity for male genitalia.

"Mentula Mustalae" could be translated roughly as...
Oh, dare I write it?
... "weasel dick."

Luckily Martin can take a joke better than many.

Our plan for next week is Napoleonics! We're considering French vs. Ottoman Turks using the Shako rules. Should be quite a mess.


  1. Would that I had been there instead of chained to a hot thesis. :(

    1. Like I said... there's the devil to pay. Hope the thesis is going well.

  2. The Bucktails were from my neck of the woods. You probably knew that already. Herman

    1. I thought they were from a bit north of you, Like McKean County and up that way. Good troops; every man a marksman. They had to wait but eventually they all got the Sharpes rifle.

  3. Sure c-a-r-a-c-o-l-e

    Besides, I think I could have won in Platinum if I had used my Cavalrymen as 40k Imperial Guard and charge Bear on the last turn, with preperory fire and attacking with sword and lazpistol ;-)

    1. The mere fact that you could concieve of such a move convicts you of ThoughtCrime! The Thought Police are waiting around the corner. No use running, comrade citizen. They know who you are and they've faked evidence of what you are supposed to have done.