Sunday, 10 July 2016

BP. ACW. OK?



This past Saturday, the Hamilton Road Games Group saw a game of Warlord's Black Powder for the American Civil War, using the ACW addendum, Glory Hallelujah! I volunteered to set this all up, since I have both armies and the proper buildings in 15mm. The game is more impressive in 28mm, I'll give you that. However, playing in 15mm allows the players to see a wider scope in the game. It also is more compact. The final advantage is simple: I already have plenty of figures painted, based and ready to go! I also have some place/period buildings ready.

Here is a thumbnail sketch of the sides:
     Confederate States:  
          Ralph - Texas Brigade and C-in-C (command ratings 8 & 9)
          Bear -   Virginia Brigade and a "Multi-state" brigade (Command ratings 8 & 8)
          Matt -   Alabama-Georgia Brigade, Cavalry Brigade, and Artillery reserve
                      (3 Batteries) (Command ratings 8, 7, & 7)
    Federal States:
          Kevin - Iron Brigade and a brigade of Regulars (Command ratings 7 & 8)
          Rich -   Zouave Brigade and Irish Brigade (Command ratings 8 & 8)
          Derek - Pennsylvania Brigade and Cavalry Brigade (Command ratings 7 & 6)
          John -   Artillery Reserve (4 batteries) and C-in-C  (command ratings 6 & 9)
Andy sidelined himself and provided both rule assessment and Kibbitzing. I did some games-mastering stuff, but it wasn't easy since I was playing as well. Brian came in late and replaced Bear on the Confederate side when Bear had to leave for a medical appointment.

The South won the initiative roll and got the first move. (Our strategy was to refuse the left, leaving Derek to demonstrate with his troops and keep Bear occupied. He had a line of heavy woods in front of his cavalry brigade (one large regiment and a horse battery) and his Pennsylvania brigade, a reluctant force who had "seen the elephant", occupied the open space between the far end of the woods and the table edge. Rich held the centre and saw the bulk of the fighting in the game, Kevin was on the right flank and was to attempt a "right hook." My commanding general and the artillery reserve of 4 batteries - 2 of 12 pounder smooth bores and 2 3" rifles - were going to move to the hill at the centre of the Union line and pound anything that came into range. Since we used inches rather than centimeters, movement was pretty fast. We've discovered that ranges and movement in inches makes for a quicker game. The faster movement is balance by the longer ranges for firing.

The Greycoats advanced straight on, although Matt's garbage-y command rolls held him back a bit. He had a two regiment cavalry brigade (the large 6th Virginia and a combined unit of detachments and guerrillas) that took a while to get untracked. Kevin's Union brigades were slow to move as well. Rich advanced as Ralph's Texans advanced and they soon met with Texans fighting Zouaves. Rich's brigade had a battery attached (each brigade did) and it held off Wheat's Special Battalion ("the Louisiana Tigers") for two turns to everyone's amazement. The battery was finally destroyed but it cut the Tigers up so badly they had to fall back. Bear came straight on with his brigades and Derek met them with apathy... as he was told to do. His cavalry failed command roll after command roll, until they finally dismounted (a free move) and advanced into the woods as skirmishers.

Some of Bear's troops. Matt added a third artillery battery from the reserve and Bear brigaded them all together.
What we all failed to do was nominate a commander for this new brigade until late in the game. 
Ralph's Texans

Matt's Alabama and Georgia troops and the cavalry.
The artillery reserve sits on the end of the hill.

Ralph's Louisiana Tigers backed by a Texas regiment sporting the "Bonnie Blue Flag."

Rich's Zouave Brigade mixes it up with Ralph's Texans.
The artillery reserve awaits it's turn to rain miniature death and destruction on the Secessionists.
The Signal Corps tower is just for show.

Faugh a ballagh! Kevin's Irish Brigade advances.
Between my artillery reserve and Rich's Zouaves, Ralph's brigade broke and had to retire. Luckily Rich had a brigade of Regular Union army troops (which included the Garabaldi regiment from New York and the Pennsylvania Bucktails) there to shore up the line when his Zouaves took so much damage and had to retire as well. One of Ralph's Texan regiments charged one of Rich's but it passed in front of another of Rich's outfits which got "transiting fire" as the Texans went by. The unit they charged was armed with smoothbore muskets and so got an extra die for shooting in closing fire. This resulted in the breaking of the Texans. When Brian took over Bear's command, he brought up the 2nd Maryland, a large unit, and a North Carolina regiment. These shattered the rest of the Zouave Brigade and caused it to fall back. Rich and I were not happy, but we were not worried. The artillery reserve was waiting to cover whatever they might do.

Both Kevin and Matt finally got their troops to wake up and Matt brought his cavalry forward. ACW cavalry cannot charge infantry or artillery if the unit to be charged is in good order. Musketry would tear them apart and canister provides at least 4 dice at a +1 for closing fire which would do no one's health any good. Matt took his cavalry on a "left hook" passing in front of the Iron Brigade, the Irish and the 1st US Sharpshooters detachment added to the Iron Brigade. Transit fire ensued again and the guerrillas were destroyed, leaving the 6th Virginia alone.

The Virginia Brigade on the Confederate right advances to menace the Union left.

The Pennsylvanians have taken some casualties from artillery but are standing firm.
The band of the 54th Pennsylvania Volunteers plays inspirational music.

The field was seeded with some odd figures.
Yes, a Martian Metals Traveller Vargr with an assault rifle is facing the business end of a 12# Napoleon.
He's just a figment of your imagination... or you've been drinking too much... or not enough.

Matt brings up some of his Alabama troops.

The 113th PA, a Zouave unit, battles a Texas regiment no the central hill, the 11th Indiana
(Wallace's Zouaves already having been destroyed as a unit.)

For your wives! For your sweethearts! FOR OLD VIRGINIA!
The Center Hill, the Zouaves, the Texans and Louisianans, the Vargr, and the Artillery Reserve.
Busy place, eh?

Alabama and Georgia enters the fray!

The Pennsylvanians hold their ground.
The Union left stared at the Confederate right. The Union right had damaged the Rebel cavalry and the Rebel infantry had only just begun to move. The centre of both armies was a mess, with a brigade on each side broken, but the Union had a fresh brigade of Regulars waiting. Ralph said that going further would make no sense and we all agreed. We declared it a Union victory although all agreed that the Rebs put up a great fight and had nothing to be ashamed of.

Matt's cavalry and a lone Alabama regiment that had trouble moving because it has been deployed too far from the brigadier.

The Central Hill from Ralph's perspective

Bear/Brian's other brigade, led by the large 2nd Maryland.

Another view of the Irish brigade with the skirmishers from the 1st USSS (Berdan's).

The Confederate cavalry on their brave ride.
When the Marylanders, North Carolinians, and Mississippians got loose, they came out and threatened the Union centre.
A case of too little, too late.
We used just about all the special rule found in the Glory Hallelujah! supplement. That book give a real ACW feel to the game, in my opinion. Units cannot charge on initiative for the most part. Artillery canister has the potention to be horrendous and artillery ranges are huge. (48" for the 12# Napoleon; 60" for rifled cannon) There are even special rules for disorientation of units travelling through heavy woods and high standing grain. I think I've finally found a set of rules that are both playable and really reflective of the period.

Two things: During this game, we had a "house rule" in force. If you roll a 12/"Boxcars" for your command roll, the ordered unit "blunders." We decided that any blunder roll for generals with a command rating of 7+ immediately re-rolls this and that is the result. If you get a blunder again, you blunder. This does not apply to generals with a command rating of 6 or less. These idiots/political appointees/puffed up business magnates who have just reached their level of incompetence (cf. "The Peter Principle") get what they get. I think we all know that there were enough less-than-competent generals in the ACW. Second, I made it clear that any BP games I set up from now on with have another house rule: If you give an order to a unit and the roll fails, it fails. If you give the same unit the same order next turn, you apply a -1 to the roll, indicating that the unit receiving the order was able to comprehend it and do it. The more often the order is repeated, the better chance of it going through. If you CHANGE the order... whole new ballgame. You roll with no modifiers, unless the rules give you one for being "reliable" or some such.

As you can see. I like Black Powder as a rule set. It is not a simulation, but a very, very playable game. I've played games that saw themselves as a simulation... like Empire II. That pretension made it almost unplayable. If I'm going to drag my toy soldiers out of where they stay. I want to play a game, not wait while the simulation runs itself into the ground. That's my opinion; no one has to agree with me.

No gaming for the next few weeks for me -  reenacting and a first aid course take precedence. Enjoy yourselves, my friends.

... or so the signal says.

2 comments:

  1. must....resist...buying....supplement....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't even try... and I'm glad I have the book.

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