Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Action at Fox’s Gap 0900-1000

After researching a few accounts of the morning action at Fox's Gap between Garland and Cox and devising a scenario, time to see if the scenario survives first contact.  For scenario specifics including map, deployments, OB, and special rules, see Fox Gap Scenario for TF-ON.
Initial Deployments
Note that a few mistakes were made during play primarily with respect to allowing out of command (OOC) units to initiate Close Combat.  Once discovered, I justified these irregularities based on the fact the brigade commander could have been properly deployed to allow such an action since he was typically otherwise unengaged.

The other two changes from the Rules As Written (RAW) address the tracking of disorder status and duration.

First, rather than track disorder via time chits, I simplified the process to a mathematical equivalency.  Since Disorder is typically dished out in increments of 15 minutes and the Game Clock advances at a rate or 8 + 2D6 minutes, a unit will be disordered only until the next advancement of the Game Clock if the Game Clock Advancement Roll is 8+ (16 minutes or more).  If this variable portion of the dice roll is less than 8, a unit will remain disordered after the next advancement of the Game Clock.  It will remain in a Disordered state until the second advancement of the Game Clock.  In simple terms, a Disorder Roll is introduced whereby a unit rolls 2D6 upon becoming disordered.  If this result is an 8+ on the Disorder Roll, the unit is disordered one turn.  Roll less than 8 and the unit is disordered for two turns.

Second, under RAW, a unit that passes its Capability Test (CT) in the Post Close Combat Capability Test maintains its position and remains in good order but cannot charge again for 15 minutes.  Rather than track the 15 minutes on a time chit, a unit now becomes disordered and follows the rule given above.  No longer is there a mandated, time moratorium on charging.  A disordered unit may now charge at its own peril.  My rationale is that even a victorious unit following close combat would likely suffer some effects of disorder and this change both addresses this inherent disorder and makes the effect easy to track.  Heresy perhaps but it works for me and fits in with my sense of a likely post-combat disorder.  Note that I implemented this change early in the game.

In the Battle Report photos, disorder is shown as either red 1 or yellow 2 markers denoting the number of "turns" of disorder.  Heavy casualties are depicted by white casualty counters.

With those clarifications noted, time to proceed to the solo replay.
Early minutes of battle
0900.  At the start of the battle, both players roll a D6 to determine First Player.  Commanding Scammon's Brigade and the West Virginia cavalry, Cox takes the initiative and will be the First Player throughout the game.

Cox attaches himself to the 23 OHa and prepares to attack the 5 NCa on the Confederate right flank.  In the center, the 30 OHa opens fire onto Bondurrant's guns causing one heavy casualty.  Bondurrant's guns stand firm partially sheltered by the stone walls and fences bifurcating the fields.

With Cox leading the charge, the 23 OHa attacks the Tar Heels.  Being raw, the 5 NC fires off an ineffective volley and then braces for the attack.  At close range, the Ohioans best the Tar Heels.  The 5 NCa takes two heavy casualties in the close combat, fails its Capability Test (CT), and then falls back in disorder suffering one additional heavy casualty.  For their effort, the Ohioans become disordered suffering two heavy casualties.
Ohioans attack the Confederate right
Garland moves to join the now disordered and shaken 5 NCa.  The other half of the regiment, the 5 NCb fires into the 23 OHb causing one heavy casualty.  Bondurrant's artillery returns the favor dished out by the 30 OHa.  Despite having protection from walls and fences suffers, the 30th suffers two heavy casualties.  Cover is not much help against artillery fire.  The 30 OHa's cohesion fails and it falls back from the guns in disorder.
Bondurrant's guns precariously positioned
0918. As the Game Clock advances to 0918, all units lose one level (turn) of disorder.

Cox leaves the 23 OHa and joins the 23 OHb at J. Beachley Farm. With Cox at the fore, the 23 OHb fires into the 5 NCb on the Ridge Road and then advances out from the woods to cover the 23 OHa's right flank.

The 12 OH charges out from the woods towards Bondurrant's guns.  As the 12 OH closes, Bondurrant's guns belch out canister.  The 12 OH suffers one heavy casualty but presses on.  Possibly benefiting from the closed nature of the fields on the approach to the guns, the Ohioans losses are minimal while Bondurrant suffers three heavy casualties.  Both combatants hold their ground.  Not in an EZOC and taking no other action, the 23 OHa attempts to rally from its disorder.  It succeeds.
Fight for Bondurrant's guns!
As the 23 OHb advances into the fields, the Tar Heels let out a volley from the woods.  The Ohioans take one heavy casualty but stand firm.  The 12 NC fires into the 12 OH causing one heavy casualty while the guns remain silent.  Garland attempts to rally the disordered 5 NCa to no avail.
Situation at 0932.
0932.  Unable to bring the Federal guns into a firing position, muskets continue to face off against Confederate artillery.   The 12 OH causes one more heavy casualty to Bondurrant but even with 5 heavy casualties, the guns stand firm.  Seeing opportunity at hand, Scammon attaches himself to the 30 OHa and orders a charge upon the Confederate guns. As the Ohioans hop fences and walls to come to grips with the guns, they suffer one heavy casualty but do not waver.
Attack on the guns!
In the close combat, the Ohioans suffer one heavy casualty while the guns take two more.  Both pass their Capability Tests.  Despite being the center of Federal aggressions and no concern for his own safety, Bondurrant coolly continues to keep his advanced guns in action.
Fight for Bondurrant's guns continues as casualties mount
On the Federal left, 23 OHa attempts to turn the Confederate right by flanking the 5 NCb.  The Ohioans close through the woods and the North Carolinians are caught off guard by the sudden threat to their flank.  The Tar Heels fail to bring their muskets to bear.  The Ohioans deliver a punishing attack but due to the cover only two heavy casualties are suffered by the Tar Heels.  Both combatants hold their ground in the close confines of the woods but become disordered in the entanglements of friend, foe, and underbrush.
Tar Heels of 5 NC flanked!
In flanking the 5 NC, the 23 OHa, themselves, offer up their own, exposed flank to Rosser's dismounted Confederate cavalry.  The Rebel cavalry fire into the Ohioans causing another heavy casualty.
Hot time for Confederate guns
To offer some support for Bondurrant's beleaguered guns, the 12 NC fires into the 12 OH fro the relative safety of the Ridge Road.  The 12 OH suffers one heavy casualty, becomes disordered, and falls back through its own guns.  The Federal guns watch as the Ohioans pass back through their position. 
12 Ohio repulsed!
Having 5+ heavy casualties, Bondurrant's battery must test its resolve during the Retreat Phase.  With 7 Heavy Casualties, Bondurrant fails and the guns are eliminated having taken their eighth and final heavy casualty.  While the loss of a battery is a tough pill to swallow, Bondurrant bought time for the Confederates while causing significant injury to the Federals in the process.
Bondurrant's guns scatter to the winds
0945.  Cox joins the 23 OHa.  Gibson's artillery, having the disordered 12 OH pass through its position, opens fire upon the 12 NC.  With the commotion of friendly troops falling back through their guns, the ensuing fire upon the Rebels is ineffective.  The OH Lt Artillery, having unlimbered within range of the Wise Farm, fires on the 13 NC with similar little effect.

With Federal musketry having no noticeable effect upon the sheltered Confederate line along the Ridge Road, the 23 OHb fixes bayonets and charges the 5 NCb.  The Federal attack goes in without having to endure any defensive fire.  In the close combat, the Ohioans dish out two heavy casualties while suffering one in return. While the Tar Heels maintain their ground, the Ohioans are bloodily repulsed suffering another heavy casualty as they retreat back into the cover, disordered.   The 30 OHa advances to the base of the Ridge Road with the West Virginian cavalry following closely.  The 30 OHb advances to maintain contact with the 30 OHa.
Federal left falls back as the center advances
Still in an outflanking position, Rosser's cavalry continues pouring fire into the Ohioans.  Succumbing to the harassing fire, the 30 OHa falls back disordered.

With the Federals at close range, both the 12 NC and 20 NC open up on their attackers.  The 30 OHa suffers one heavy casualty, becomes disordered and falls back.  The 30 OHb takes one heavy casualty but holds its ground.  Garland joins the 5 NCb to bolster its resolve.  Even with Garland's presence, the 5 NCb has had enough and breaks for the rear suffering one more heavy casualty as stragglers fall from the ranks.
Both sides have regiments breaking for the rear!
1004. To be continued...

Well, that was a lot of action in the first hour of battle and a cracking game.  Well suited to solo play.  To allow the combatants and the chronicler a chance to catch their breath, the retelling of the action will be broken into two parts.  The second and final hour of battle will be resumed next time.

While the Ridge Road is still firmly in Confederate hands, the loss of Bondurrant's guns significantly weakens Garland's position.  The game is producing great drama as both sides fight tooth and nail to hold the heavily enclosed, Beachley fields.  The raw North Carolinians on the Confederate right could not stand up to the attacks by the 23rd.  Fortunately for the Rebels, the timely appearance by Rosser's dismounted cavalry put an end to that Federal flanking threat.  For now, that is!

Casualties inflicted have been heavy.  Many of the Federal regiments are already reduced to 50% effective.  Is there enough fighting "punch" left in Scammon's Brigade to wrest control of the high ground from the North Carolinians?  We will see next time when we pick up the action once again.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A Gaming Potpourri

Americans advance in CoC
The gaming table has seen better than average activity over the last three weeks.  In addition to my continued solo work with Two Flags - One Nation, four FtF games have made appearances.  A BatRep for Fox Gap is still in the works from my last solo game.  In work?  I need to begin!   2017 has seen much more gaming activity than past years.  To date, I have exceeded two dozen games.  Most years, I am lucky to participate in a half-dozen; some years fewer than that!  Two more games are on the slate for next weekend.  Seems like either feast or famine at the gaming table.

Since no notes were taken for each of these actions, a brief recounting from memory is provided in chronological order of playing.  This approach allows a summary of each action without dragging the events out over a number of posts. Four birds with one stone, so to speak.  I am attempting to clear out the backlog since more Assyrians are in the parade queue!  

Canvas Eagles:
After the introduction of Scott and Kevin to Canvas Eagles a few weeks before, Jake got his initial outing with CE.  Played two games each of which Jake was the victor.  In Game 1, I recall getting shot down.  Curses!  In Game 2, Jake made his scheduled observation run as I attempted to line up a narrow field of fire onto his Whalfisch.  I had forgotten how difficult it can be to bring fixed guns to bear in a one-on-one engagement.
New Brigade Fire & Fury
My first outing with the recently released New Brigade Fire and Fury rules saw Terry's 12mm Scruby ACW collection out on the table..  The Battle tackled was the Second Battle of Ream's Station in 1864 during the Petersburg Campaign where Hancock faced off against A.P. Hill.
Battle of Ream's Station
The Confederate objective was to throw the Federal defenders out from their breastworks.  Drawing the command of Wilcox, I was assigned the task of leading the Confederate attack.  Note, Wilcox's Division is unsupported in his mission until later in the battle.  A tough task to take-on, for sure!
Federals lining the defenses with abatis discouraging attack
Wilcox advanced slowly towards enemy lines waiting for support to appear before pitching into the Federals.  Once Heth's Division appeared on his right, Wilcox attacked.  Notice the abatis protecting the Federal emplacements.  Nasty ground to cross.  This looks like suicide!
Wilcox prepares for assault
Harassed all the way in by artillery fire, Wilcox closed with the enemy.  Casualties were heavy but most of Wilcox's Division remained intact covering the Confederate left and effectively pinned the Federals in their place.  Heth, then made his attack after neutralizing a Federal battery or two.  Still, when I left, Hancock looked firmly in control of the position.  
Wilcox attacks the abatis
As for the new BFF, it sure seemed to be a direct port from Regimental Fire and Fury with little distinction between the two games. 

Commands & Colors Tricorne: The American Revolution:
Got my first game of the recently released CC: Tricorne.  The Battle of Bunker Hill was chosen and I took command of the Rebels.  When we called the game on account of time, the Rebels led two flags to none although the British had just taken the earthworks on Breed's Hill.  Several interesting twists are present in this latest CC offering adding a bit of nuance to long established tactics.  After the game, I read the rules and noticed we made a few errors.  Not unusual when playing a game for the first time. 
Battle of Bunker Hill
Chain of Command:
The Layout
Capping off this gaming summary is the most recent event from last Friday's Friday Night at the Fights.  That is, an impromptu game of Chain of Command pitting Jake's newly recruited Americans (see Dog Faces Part II) against my Germans.  Looking back at game notes, the last time CoC saw action on the gaming table was more than two years ago.  My, how time flies!  Given that two-year hiatus, we were quite rusty with the rules but the game flowed well once we got underway.  I consider myself quite lucky to game with fellows that not only absorb a new rule set quickly but can remember them after long periods of inactivity.  Something for which I sometimes struggle. 
Americans advance on farm
The objective of this action was to clear enemy forces from the vicinity of a small farm.  After the Patrol Phase, the Germans held the farm while the Americans were in position to assault along more than one avenue of approach.
Americans laying down fire on the farm
As the Americans approached the forward building, fire erupted from the house.  Several Americans went down in the initial hail of lead but quickly counterattacked taking a number of Germans out of action.
Jake's Kickstarter Americans
While two of the three American squads made their advance on the farmstead, the German squad on the left laid down a punishing fire and drove off the third US squad.  Seizing the opportunity, the Germans dashed out of their cover in an attempt to outflank the Americans and distract the US from their main objective.
Germans bust a move
 Having thrown the Germans out of the farm, the Americans advanced.
Americans envelop the farm
But, the Germans, having flanked the American line of advance, began attacking along an unexpected axis.
German flanking fire
Again, due to time constraints, the game was called and victory assessed.  Casualties were very heavy and both sides lost Jump Off Points.  After the final tally, a bloody draw was the outcome.  "Bloody" draw, indeed!  At least two-thirds of the combatants had been rendered out of action and both sides would be hard pressed to claim a victory.

With such heavy casualties and no catastrophic break in morale, we wondered if we had missed something in the rules.  Possibly.  This requires more investigation.  Of course, it would be helpful if the game was trotted out onto the gaming table more than once every two years.  I await a dispatch assessing our play within the rules. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Assyrian Heavy Archers

Well, it seems I cannot let go of painting Assyrians.  Off the painting table today is a nine figure unit of Assyrian Heavy Foot Archers.  Like most of this collection, figures are from Wargames Foundry.  This is the third such heavy archer unit fielded thus far in the project so I am quite familiar with the figues.  Very easy to paint and field.
Despite having sufficient numbers to field a good sized army, the Assyrians keep finding their way into the painting queue.  Quite alright with me.  I enjoy painting them!
Another two units of Assyrians are in the painting queue awaiting their turn at the brush.  Just like Lays potato chips, I can't paint just one.  At some point, though, I really must move on to another project.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Mid-19th Century Russians

The first test of battle for my mid-19th Century Great Game project is on the docket in a little over one week.  Given that boost of motivation, I wanted to muster one more Russian infantry battalion before the game, if possible.
Today's posting shows that fielding one more battalion was possible.  Off the painting desk is a 23 figure battalion of Russian line infantry in greatcoat.  Figures are from Empress Great War Miniatures and this is the first time Great War figures have crossed the painting desk.  The mounted officer is a Wargames Foundry figure.
Figures are well sculpted and robustly cast in a soft metal.  An issue with Foundry's Russian infantry in march attack is that a few figures almost always arrive sans bayonets.  No broken bayonets with these lads.  Some bayonets were bent and twisted but the soft metal allowed me to put them back into their proper attitude.  Really nice figures.  Marching in rolled greatcoat is a nice touch.
In The Lead Pile, only a few odds and ends remain from my Great Game project.  Nothing in sufficient numbers to field another unit whether it be foot, horse, or gun.
For now, I guess I will call the project "game ready" with nothing pressing to field.  Of course, a game on the schedule is often enough incentive to order a few more figures and strike while the motivational iron is hot.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Celtic Chariot Upgrade

The two Celtic/Gallic chariots in the Punic Wars project get an upgrade.  Gone is the half-width cavalry stand holding one chariot as before.  Now, a regular sized cavalry base holding one chariot and infantry support musters from the workbench.  Like the Assyrian chariots before, this makes a more compelling vignette to my eyes.  I like the presentation and this effort doubles the number of chariots available for battle.  That is a Win-Win!
With the chariots rebased, that may be all the incentive needed to field the collection in a game.  If not a game, I ought to at least take stock of the state of the project.  

Friday, October 6, 2017

Morning Action at Fox's Gap - Scenario for TFON

Early on the morning of September 14, 1862, Pleasonton's Federal cavalry division began probing Fox's Gap.  The only Confederate resistance was offered by Rosser's 5th VA cavalry and Pelham's two gun section.  Had Pleasonton pressed on, the Gap may have been his.  Instead, his troopers dismounted along the Old Sharpsburg Road and sent for help.
Federal help arrived in the form of Scammon's Brigade of Cox's Division. In an attempt to outflank the small Rebel force, Scammon sent forward the 23 OH along the mountain road to get onto the ridge. As the 23rd neared the crest line, it found that the Confederates had begun bringing up reinforcements.  Blocking his way to the Ridge Road was Garland's brigade as it filed into the sunken Ridge Road to seize the heights and thwart Federal attempts to pass through Fox's Gap.  Thus opened the early stages of the Battle of Fox's Gap. 

Rules: Norm Smith's Two Flags - One Nation.
Initial Deployment:
With the exception of USA Division Commander, Cox, all units begin deployed on table as shown in the game map above.  Cox is used as per standard rules governing divisional commanders.  There are no reinforcements. 

Game Length: Begins 0900 and ends at 1100.

First Player: Since both combatants were under attack orders, each rolls 1D6 before game begins.  High roll gets choice.

Victory Conditions:
  • Union Victory: Control the three Ridge Road hexes (where 5NCb, 12NC, 23NC are initially deployed) adjacent to Beachley fields and Wise's Farm (Fox Gap).
  • Confederate Victory:  Control the three Ridge Road hexes (where 5NCb, 12NC, 23NC are initially deployed) adjacent to Beachley fields and Wise's Farm (Fox Gap).
  • Otherwise, call it a draw.
  • Woods are heavy woodland and provide Cover for both small arms fire and close combat.
  • Ridge Road is lined with a stone wall providing Cover for both small arms and close combat.  Moving uphill onto the Ridge Road is considered Difficult for movement.
  • Artillery may only traverse woods along roads (trails).  Since most of these roads are no more than farm trails, no bonus for road movement.
  • The farm land in the clearing surrounding Beachley farms is heavily walled and fenced.  Classified as Difficult terrain for movement; Cover for Close Combat. 
Special Rules:
The CSA has no Division commander in this battle.  Garland acts as both division and brigade commander until he becomes a casualty.  Unlike a typical division commander, Garland remains on the field after each divisional commander action.  If Garland becomes a casualty, only a replacement brigade commander is available.
Pelham's artillery and 5 VA Cavalry are independent of Garland and operate as their own independent brigade.  The Federal West Virginia Cavalry is likewise considered an independent unit.      

Fox Gap Order of Battle
Unit Set Up Capability Size Weapon Type
CSA Garland BDE

5NC a see map Raw Standard Rifled Musket
5NC b see map Raw Standard Rifled Musket
12 NC see map Raw Small Rifled Musket
13 NC see map Veteran Standard Rifled Musket
20 NC see map Seasoned Standard Rifled Musket
23 NC see map Veteran Standard Rifled Musket
5 VA Cav see map Veteran Standard Carbine
Pelham Artillery see map Veteran 2 guns Napoleons
Bondurrant’s Battery see map Veteran Standard 3” Rifles

USA Cox DIV off map

Scammon BDE see map

WV Cavalry see map Seasoned Standard Carbine
12 OH see map Seasoned Standard Rifled Musket
23 OH a see map Seasoned Standard Rifled Musket
23 OH b see map Seasoned Standard Rifled Musket
30 OH a see map Seasoned Standard Rifled Musket
30 OH b see map Seasoned Standard Rifled Musket
Gibson’s Batt C&G, 3US see map Veteran Standard 3” Rifles
1 Batt OH Light Artillery see map Veteran Standard 10lb Parrott

2Advance the Game Clock by 15 minutes
3Friendly fire – A unit (D6, 1,2,3 it is Confederate, 4,5,6 it is Union) in woods fires at an adjacent friendly unit in woods.
4Leader shot – If Garland still on field D6: 1-5 Garland; 6 Federal. Otherwise D6: 1,2,3 Confederate; 4,5,6 Federal. Randomly select the leader and remove from play using the usual rules for leader casualties.
5Up and at them boys' (D6, 1,2,3 it is Confederate, 4,5,6 it is Union) that player can modify one charge test by +2 this turn
6 No Event
7No Event
8No Event
9Adjust the line - (D6, 1,2,3 it is Confederate, 4,5,6 it is Union) that player may instantly move one unit of their choice 1 hex either sideways or backwards. This is a free move.
10A unit gets confused orders - (D6, 1,2,3 it is Confederate, 4,5,6 it is Union), the chosen player can pick any one enemy unit and move it one hex in any direction - though the move must be legitimate within the rules.
11Inspiring leadership - (D6, 1,2,3 it is Confederate, 4,5,6 it is Union), the selected player can remove 1 Heavy Casualty marker from any one unit of their choice.
12Out of ammunition - Randomly select one artillery battery currently on the table. Mark it as being out of ammunition, it will remain so for the next 30 minutes.
Historically, the opening stages of the battle represented by this scenario resulted in Federal troops of Scammon's Brigade pushing Garland's Confederates off the Ridge Road and threatening Wise's Farm.  The later arrival of two regiments from Anderson's Brigade at Fox Gap was not enough to counter the momentum of the Federals especially having been reinforced by Crook's Brigade.  Garland fell early in the action and Rutherford B. Hayes (later US President) suffered a wound.

The Fox Gap scenario represents the distilling of my thoughts on this action for play under Two Flags - One Nation.  With a scenario foundation and its constraints in place, time to playtest the scenario.  Keep in mind, Fox Gap is simply an initial draft of the scenario as I stake out a baseline from which to build and refine.  Battle will be fought using Norm's latest addenda of limiting hits when defender claims cover.  With only one brigade per side, keeping one's brigade in command will be a challenge.  The Federals, with the aid of Cox, will have less difficulty keeping their command coordinated than will Garland.  Bondurrant's battery seems deployed a bit too forward at the beginning of battle.  Perhaps up on the Ridge Road would have made a sensible choice?    

In theory, the foundation and premise of the scenario appears reasonable and follows the historical situation.  Only multiple playtests will confirm this initial assessment.  Once the early morning scenario produces the desired results, Fox Gap can be expanded to include the later reinforcements of both Crook's Federal brigade and elements of Anderson's Confederate brigade.

Feedback on the scenario is encouraged.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

An Assyrian Summer: A Pass-in-Review

While the Assyrian Army is still in the "build" stage, it has reached a logical place for holding a Pass-in-Review.  Since the beginning of summer, a number of units for this project have crossed over the painting desk.  A number of units is an understatement.  Before the summer began, only the chariots and two heavy infantry units could muster out for the project.  The two heavy infantry units only deployed in late April of this year. The nine chariots all experienced refurbishing, rebasing (twice!), and augmentation with infantry support during the summer months.  Sometimes, the project seemed to dominate my efforts to the exclusion of all else.  Looking back at the Painting Log, that was not the case but it sure seemed like it.
On display are 34 units that comprise the Assyrian Army in its current state.  By figure counts, the Army contains, 9 chariots with riders and teams, 26 horse, and 226 foot.  A good sized army in any Rules List.  Geared towards Impetvs, perhaps even two armies could be built from the collection on display.  Three manufacturers are found in the Assyrian ranks including Wargames Foundry, Newline Designs, and Black Tree Designs.
Having longed for a Biblical Army for several years, it is rewarding to see that quest realized.  The next step is to get the collection into action on the gaming table.
Arrayed out on the table, the Assyrians provide an inviting spectacle.  As mentioned in an earlier post, nearly four feet of chariots make up the battle line.  Even given the current state of the project, many figures remain in The Lead Pile from which to draw more potential units.  Yes, I likely over bought but restraint is difficult. 
While this post provides a grand overview of the units thus far in the collection, the header bar now carries a 25mm Assyrian Wars Gallery so that the individual units can be viewed.  Units will be added into the gallery as they are completed.  Perhaps a 2018 goal should be to build (up-to-date) galleries for some of my other collections?  Getting the 28mm Napoleonic Peninsular War project into a separate gallery would be a good start. 
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