Friday, February 11, 2022

Richmond is a hard road to travel - Seven Pines

 Two blog posts in a week! Hopefully signalling a change in our posting frequency. 

This past week, myself, Chris, Ed and Mark got together to re-fight Seven Pines/Fair Oaks from the Peninsular Campaign. We used Altar of Freedom, a brigade-level ruleset intended to be used for big battles, we've been using this recently and it is definitely rewarding to play an entire battle in a 3-4 hour span. In the case of Seven Pines we got through both days, May 31st and June 1st of fighting. 

Mark took the reins as the Union commander, Brig. Gen. Heintzelman with myself acting as Brig. Gen. Sumner, arriving to support his Corps. 

The Confederates were run by Ed as Gen. Joe Johnston and Chris handling Maj. Gen. Longstreets corps that started on table leading the attack.

Although Altar of Freedom always for ahisotrical deployments, we kept to a general historical deployment of forces to see how it would play out.

Beginning of May 31st, 1862

Heintzleman and Keyes' Corps deployed on table to begin with Casey and Couch's Division forming the front rank of defenses and Kearney's division beginning in reserve, quickly deploying to the Union left in anticipation of a Confederate attack. 

In Altar of Freedom Generals have traits tied to their historical performance, in Longstreet's case he risked not activating on any given turn with a Roll of '1', when the battle stepped off at 1 PM, Longstreet blinked and failed to advance. This allowed the Union forces to begin to dig in and adjust their line. 

Anderson's division advances on the Union right 

Throughout the first day of fighting the Confederates focused their attack on the Union left, guarded by a Couch's division of Keye's command, stationed near Fair Oaks station. Numbering three brigades and a battery of guns, the Confederate division under Anderson had six brigades and a battery operating against them.

Anderson smashes through Couch's line

While the Union left remained relatively quiet in the opening hours, Anderson decisively smashed through Couch's division, routing one brigade and throwing back two more.

Sedgwick's Division arrives

By 4 PM on the 31st, Sedgwick's divsion had arrived on the Union right and began to deploy in support, this forced the Confederates to pause their assault. Meanwhile, Johnston arrived on table alongside Gustavus Smith's Corps.

D.H. Hills' Division comes to life

Knowing their time is running out on the first day, Longstreet decides to finally send D.H. Hill's division forward against Casey's division around Seven Pines. A brutal fight for the Union breastworks follows with the Rebs being able to push the Union back before nightfall.

Evening falls on May 31st

During the night phase, the Union shore up their line, and Hooker's division arrives in support of Heintzelman while Richardson's division along with Bullhead Sumner arrive on the Union right. Confederate reinforcements during the night is Huger's division under Longstreet, who followed his historical failure to arrive on the first day. They deploy on the Union left, ready to attack at dawn.

Confederates renew the assault on June 1st
Sumner gallantly leads a charge...and is grievously wounded!

As dawn breaks on June 1st, the Confederate forces launch an all-out assault against the Union left, pushing back Heintzelman's division and almost killing Heintzleman multiple times! Mark rolls well and manages to keep his General alive in two back to back combats. 

Meanwhile, Sumner attempts to pressure the Confederate left near Fair Oak's station while they are preoccupied with Seven Pines. His progress is limited and manages to break one Confederate brigade, but a swift counterattack by Chris' forces stops the advance and wounds Sumner causing him to be removed from play.

Dispositions at the end June 1st

Into the afternoon of June 1st, both forces remain locked around Seven Pines and Fair Oaks station. The result of the battle is a Confederate tactical victory, three Union brigades and one artillery battery were broken at a loss of only one Confederate brigade from D.H. Hill's division. Johnston avoided being wounded in our refight, meaning Lee will not be taking command of the Army of Northern Virginia for the time being...

Seeing Little Wars TV tease their Peninsular Campaign series inspired me to put on Seven Pines, and I am hopeful I can get the forces together by this Summer to refight the Seven Days Battles for their 160th Anniversary as well.

Saturday, February 5, 2022

Fistful of Lead - Horse & Musket

It's been a while since we've posted something up, so time to fix that!

Mark, Dan and I got together last night to try out a new game (for us).  I've been an inveterate rules collector for ages and ages, and the advent of Wargames Vault has only made it worse.  One of the series that I've picked up along the way is Fistful of Lead (FFoL) by Jaye Wiley of Wiley Games.  It started as a wild west cowboy game, but as of recent years, he's been expanding the reach of his game system by creating what are essentially versions dedicated to specific eras.  I think his first release after the original cowboy version was Horse & Musket.  Since then, he revamped and released the core rules and has been rereleasing some of his early works so they all align with his core rules.  H&M was re-released in 2021.

At it's heart, FFoL is a skirmish game.  You create detachments of around 5 or so figures for each player.  Each figure is equipped with weapons and assigned one or more traits, which generally upgrade or enhance the figure in some manner.  There are in excess of 75 different traits, although most are very simple in application.

Gameplay is via a standard deck of 52 cards.  At the start of a turn, you give each player one card for each figure they have on the table.  Order of figure activation is determined by the cards, starting with Kings, then Queens, then Jacks and so on.  Whomever has a King puts it down, and order of figure activation is further determined by suit, starting with the Spades, Hearts, Diamonds and finally Clubs.  So if one player has the King of Hearts and another the King of Clubs, the player with the King of Hearts would pick one of his un-activated figures and perform two actions from those available.  Once that figure resolved its actions, the player with the King of Clubs would pick an un-activated figure and do the same.

There is one twist which makes the card activation more interesting.  There are some cards that give special traits or abilities on the figure played.  For example, the Queen of Hearts used to activate a figure also removes one wound for free.  Playing a 7 on a figure allows it a re-roll on a single die during its activation.  And finally, an Ace allows the player to use it as any card!  It makes you really think about what you need to accomplish!  Actions are your standard skirmish fair with Moving, Shooting, Aiming, Reloading, Switching Weapons, etc. So much for the background, onto the game.

Retrieve the Letter!

There would be three detachments, each playing for themselves.  There were two Cossack, and one Polish Haiduk detachments.  Each detachment had a leader, a second and three regulars.  There were a variety of weapons, mostly swords, pistols and muskets based on what the figures were actually equipped with.  The picture below was the starting positions.  This is facing North (for future reference).  My Cossack detachment started in the South, and included the only mounted figure.  Dan and the Haiduks were in the East, and Mark and his Cossacks were in the North West.

Each building (including the shed at the top left, and the chicken coop at the top right) had something to be found.  In order to find whatever was in the building, you had to perform a "hard task".  Which meant spend one of your actions in the building and roll an 8+.  There were 6 different things that could be found based on drawing from a set of 6 cards that were faced down:
ace - Peasant treasure worth 1 point
2 - Peasant treasure worth 1 point
3 - Peasant treasure worth 1 point
4 - Village treasure worth 3 points
5 - Church silver worth 4 points
6 - Letter!!!!  worth 6 points

If you drew an ace through 5, you called for a treasure chest.  To claim your loot, you had to carry it off the board in the chest.  If you drew the 6, no chest. So everyone knew when the Letter was found.

If you rolled a "1" while searching, some bad happened and you would be immediately attacked!  Roll a D6 and refer to the chart:
1 - Dog attack.  1 wound, D8 attack.
2 - Angry villager w/Rock. 1 wound, D8 attack.
3 - Angry drunk revelers. 1 wound each, D8 attack armed with beer steins (as Club)
4 - 2 Dogs attack.  1 wound each.  D8 attack.
5 - Angry villager w/Rock. 1 wound. D10 attack.
6 - Angry Cossack w/Sword. 1 wound.   D10 attack.

Sadly, we never rolled a 1 during searching (or at least didn't notice while playing).

Each detachment pushed up towards its nearest buildings, taking an occasional pot-shot at each other but doing no damage.  Early on you can see the Haiduks facing down Mark's Cossacks and plinking back and forth between the buildings and cart.  Chests were found rather quickly in this area, but no Letter.

While that was going on, I pushed my leader up towards Mark and his Cossacks.  That ultimately ended rather poorly for me as my leader got knocked off his horse, and finally cut down as he got mobbed.  Luckily all was not lost as my Second found the Letter!  I like to think that my Leader was buying time for him to run with the letter!!!

Maybe a coward, but I took the letter and ran for the safety of the board edge.  Mark chased, but the Bluderbuss (Orange guy) didn't have the range to reach, and his other figure wasn't loaded.  Score 6 points for the good guys!!!

Unfortunately things were starting to look grim for me.  Mark and Dan were both flooding south.  You can see Mark's Cossacks in the foreground and Dan in the background.  I already had 2 figures taken out (you can see one next to the building) and another off-board.  The Blunderbuss of doom had taken out the guy behind the building, as well as wounding Dan's leader.  By this time he had already crawled around the other side of the building.  Mark had 2 chests, and had already killed 3 or 4 figures so my 6 points from the Letter weren't looking quite so good anymore.

The last few turns ended up in an orgy of destruction with three more of Dan's detachment and two more of Mark's biting the dust in a swirling melee of death.  At that point we called the game.  It was going to be a near run result between Mark and I, but we didn't bother tallying things up.  

We agreed the game was a complete success.  FFoL H&M gave a very fun and engaging game.  It gave a really nice feel for the period, with having to consider what to fire, when to swap between loaded weapons and when to swap to sword and charge with a weapon advantage.  We did all this in just over 2 hours without having previously played the game.  This is definitely a keeper and I'll be bringing it out again, and possibly running something at a convention.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Culloden, 1746

Last Friday we got together to do a recreation of the Battle of Culloden to mark the 275th Anniversary. We used Sharp Practice, which took some time for us to remember how to play since we have not done much black powder gaming recently. 

Bonnie Prince Charlie surveys his troops

Government forces prepare for the Jacobite charge

Ed took the reins as Bonnie Prince Charlie, controlling the center and left of the Jacobite line. While I was commanding Lochiel's regiment on the right as Donald Cameron. 

Mark took the role of infamous "Butcher" Cumberland and Myles his lieutenant,  the Earl of Albemarle.

The battle opened with the Prince taking the initiative, Jacobites on the left began pushing forward with supporting cannon fire accompanying them.

Garde Écossaise advances on the left


The opening turns favored the Jacobites with initiative draws keeping their advance going. Consistent fire from the Garde Écossaise and artillery pushed back one Government regiment allowing the Jacobite cavalry to advance. Government cavalry pushed into the gap and a melee ensued, the Jacobite cavalry was able to scatter the Government horse, a duel ensued between Lt. Col John Mordaunt and Capt. O'Shea over the King's colors! In the our first ever duel, duel Lt. Col. Mordaunt was able to wound the Jacobite commander and return to his lines with the colors.

The Duel begins

Mordaunt regroups with his survivors, and the colors

Meanwhile on the right, Lochiel's regiment push forward along Culloden Park towards the Government left, fighting off a charge of light cavalry successfully. At this point on the right, fortune began to favor Government forces, with consecutive Government turns allowing the Earl of Ablemare to pour fire in the Lochiel's. Much like the real battle, many losses were suffered by the Jacobites along the wall.

Lochiel's men fend off a charge

But are quickly cut to pieces...

With much action on the flanks, the Jacobite center finally began to move, surging into the breach as the Government forces were scrambling to secure their flanks. Farquarson and McIntosh managed to get stuck in with two Foot regiments and send them fleeing from the field, but this would be the "High water mark of the Jacobite cause" as more Government forces were able to stop the Jacobites in their tracks and due to losses force them to flee the field. 

Both forces had started with 11 morale in order to see if we could go the distance of the scenario, we finished with the Government forces at 4 and the Jacobites at 0. Which would be classified as a Pyrrhic victory for the Government, with the Jacobites coming close at times, just needing an extra line to follow up on their gains. 

Farquarson and McIntosh make the great Highland Charge!

Butcher Cumberland throws himself into the Government line to stop the Jacobite advance

Bonnie Prince Charlie laments his forces fleeing the field...and plans his escape to France

The Jacobites raise a toast to their glorious failure

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Battle of Perryville, 1862

This Friday we got together for some more small-group gaming and played the Battle of Perryville using Pickett's Charge by David CR Brown. This battle was the largest fought in Kentucky during the American Civil War and was coordinated alongside the Lee's invasion of Maryland in the East. Perryville was fought on October 8th, 1862, under a month after Antietam. 

For the past year or so our group has been enjoying the Pickett's Charge rules for regimental scale battles, but we decided to upscale this scenario to try and play an entire battle at once while allowing for flank maneuvers. At 10'x6' the table represented just under 3 miles wide of terrain and each unit was representing an entire brigade (with activation being done at the Divisional level).

Initial positions of Union and Rebel forces

In the historical battle the Union army outnumbered the Confederates by 55,000 men to 16,000 at the end of day. While initially it was an even fight, with around 20,000 Union engaged it is still a very difficult scenario for the Confederacy to win as the attackers. The objective was for the Confederates to try and break one of the Union divisions starting on table as it would force Maj Gen. Buell to reconsider his position.

Ed and I took command of the Confederate forces, Ed as Maj Gen. Leonidas Polk commanding Maj. Gen Cheatem's crack division on the right flank, while I was Gen. Braxton Bragg overseeing Maj Gen. Hardee's Corps of two divisions commanded by Brig. Gen. Anderson and Maj. Gen. Buckner in the center and left flank.

Mark commanding Maj. Gen McCook's I Corps with Brig. Gen Rousseau and Brig. Gen Jackson's divisions on the Union left, while Myles was acting as Gen. Buell while controlling Maj Gen. Gilbert's Corps of Brig. Gen Sheridan's division on table as well as the Union reserve of Brig. Gen. Schoepf's division moving in to aid the Union lines.

The Confederate plan was to smash into Mark's green Union division on the right with Cheatem and Anderson's divisions while Buckner held off any Union flanking maneuvers.

Buckner's Division deploys

Cheatem's boys ready for a fight

Jackson's division prepares for the onslaught

As the Confederates stepped off things immediately fell apart, Myles' accurate artillery fire (and amazing die rolls all night) put pressure on Buckner's division right away. Breaking the Rebel artillery and inflicting casualties on the infantry as they advanced in the open. My rolling was dreadful all game and I repeatedly failed to activate Anderson and Buckner to push in to support Ed's assault with Cheatem's division. 

Hesitant brigades...the downfall of any attack

Buckner advances under sustained fire

Ed's attack on the right managed to get stuck in with several exchanges of fire and charges going back and forth. With the green Union forces of Jackson's division slowly giving ground effectively without breaking. Meanwhile, as my divisions advanced in the center repeated Union artillery barrages and a counterattack by Sheridan's division broke Buckner's men and sent Confederates streaming back to their initial positions. All the while Anderson's division was frozen in the woods after failing in subsequent turns to advance, only able to exchange fire with Union skirmishers, they left all the heavy lifting to Cheatem.

Cheatem's division charges into the Union left

Green Union brigades stand fast!

Buckner's division falls apart in the face of difficult opposition

At this point we decided to call the game, Gen. Buell had arrived on board along with the Union reserve. With one of my divisions fleeing and another bogged down, there was little prospect for a Confederate victory.

Overall, we enjoyed the larger scale for the scenario and we are already thinking of doing the same with Seven Years War forces in the future. Being able to maneuver more easily at what is essential 15mm scale adds a different dynamic you do not get in regimental fights.

Now excuse me while I find some new dice!

Gen. Bragg pours himself a stiff one as his men flee the field

Positions at the end of the battle. Buckner is flight, Anderson frozen, Cheatem pushing up. All the while Union counterattack in the center.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Battle for Brihuega, March 10th, 1937

Six months into COVID lockdown the Chitown Wargamers have been gaming occasionally and I have been neglecting the blog!

This past Friday Myles, Mark, Ed and I got together to game a scenario from my Chain of Command: España "tapas-sized" campaign, Guadalajara no es Abisinia, that covers the Guadalajara campaign from March 8th to 23rd 1937. I started working on this at the beginning of June and have been tweaking it over the Summer. 
This scenario covers the third day of the Nationalist offensive where the CTV is pushing into the town of Brihuega. Historically they overran the town with support from Flame-throwing CV33s. For the game tonight we have three Nationalist platoons; CTV Tank platoon of three CV33s, CTV Infantry and Falangist Militia. For the Republicans there were two platoons consisting of the Garibaldi Battalion and a regular Ejército Popular de la República platoon (EPR).

Setup of Brihuega

The Nationalist plan was to attack in a pincer from both sides of town with the CTV armor supporting the Falangists on the left while the CTV infantry came from right to pin the Garibaldis. Early on Ed was able to run the Falangists up to the Republican flank with his infantry and cavalry to contest one of the Republican jump off points preventing any more support to come up.

Mark revealed his Soviet aid early, dropping a 45mm Anti-tank gun inside the town to start shooting towards the CV33s. Unfortunately for him, all his shots missed over the tops of the Italian tankettes.

CV33s reluctantly advance

Ed's Falangist flanking maneuver paid off as Mark was unable to deploy anything in response. Which left the anti-tank gun by itself to be overrun by some aggressive Nationalist cavalry. Knocking his force morale down greatly leaving Myles' Garibaldis with a lot of work to do to hold the town.

Falangist cavalry charge the flank!

The aftermath of the anti-tank gun being overrun

Meanwhile on the other flank the CTV infantry were taking their time slowly coming up while being suppressed by the Garibaldis. The Nationalists managed to end the turn using a Chain dice and dropped the EPR platoon's morale down to 1 through loss of a jump-off point. At this point we called the game a decisive Nationalist victory as the Garibaldis decided to withdraw from Brihuega before the CV33s could catch up with the Nationalist infantry.

The CTV arrive and begin to put fire into Brihuega

Final positions of Republicans before withdrawing

Overall it was a fun game and nice to break out our Spanish Civil War forces for the first time in a while. Ed's aggressive cavalry charge paid off as Mark had purchased several entrenchments that if he had gotten down on his right would have bogged down our entire attack on the flank.

I am looking forward to continuing to work on the campaign guide to try and get it completed before the end of the year. Hopefully we'll be play-testing some more scenarios that may pop up here on the blog in the next few weeks.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Didn't Know I Needed This

First the disclaimer.  I purchased these myself.  There are no affiliate links nor do any of us receive anything as a result of you reading this or clicking on links.

So what the heck are these?  They're Citadel painting handles!  They're designed to allow you to more easily hold your miniatures while you paint them.  Instead of using glue, super glue or fun-tack you attach your figures to these instead.  Here is a picture of how a variety of figures / bases attach.

I picked these up last year in December on a whim and I've been using them for a few months now.  I have to say that I'm a believer.  My hands are on the bigger side, so holding figures during painting was always a bit of a problem.  These make it much easier.  Also as they're spring loaded, no having to wait for glue to dry, nor monkeying around with fun-tack.  Above is a 25mm round MDF base, a 30mm lipped plastic base as well as a 25mm x 50mm pill-shaped MDF base.  No issues with any of them.  I understand they'll handle up to 40mm, but that seems a stretch to me.  It seems to be physically possible, but I'm not sure how the springs or plastic will stand up to that much pressure.

There are a couple of minor down-sides to them.  There isn't really an easy way to deal with detached riders, unless you glue them onto a round base.  So these doesn't really address that problem if you like painting riders and horses separately.  They seem to be well constructed, but they are light.  That means it's easy to tip them over while you have figures on top.  If you're clumsy, this will be something on-going for you.  But you're probably already used to that problem.  Other than those two issues, I've had no reason to complain.  They're not the best thing since sliced bread, but they do making painting just a little bit easier.

There are lots of reviews out there if you want to learn more before you take the plunge.  I paid a bit under $35 for a box of 5 delivered through our favorite delivery service, so the price in multiples of 5 isn't really that much.  I give them a solid recommendation if you're looking to spend some of your disposable income on gaming supplies.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

With No Conventions in Sight...

These were some new miniatures / terrain that I had planned on using for my Moby Dux! game I was running at Little Wars.  Since Little Wars is now canceled, I figured I would share some of what I had prepared.  The goal of the game was for each of the five players to pick up the most "loot" using the Dux Britanniarum rules from Too Fat Lardies.  There were numerous flocks of sheep and goats, several buildings as well as the dead whale on this picture that could all be used as loot.  Each time you "looted" a flock, it would run off in a random direction.  Our play test was a hoot and I'm really disappointed the convention had to be canceled, but I plan on putting it on once we get on the other side of this.

The field is an old Architects of War resin terrain piece I finished painting a few weeks ago.  I picked it up a couple of months ago "new in the box" at an estate sale they held at Games Plus.  It's a beautiful piece of terrain and makes you appreciate the wonderful work you can do in resin.  It's a pity their business blew up, but unfortunately just because you make a great product, it doesn't guarantee a successful business.  That field is heavy enough to break your foot if you happened to drop the field on top of it.

If you're wondering why there would be an estate sale at a gaming store, there is a good reason.  It turns out that you really can't take it with you when you die.  And unfortunately for most of us, it means a massive collection of miniatures and gaming paraphernalia needs a home when a gamer passes away.  So Games Plus worked with 3 different estates of gamers who passed away in the last few years and put on a massive "estate sale" filled with these three different collections.  If your spouse or significant other complains about your collection, just show them this!  Seriously, this isn't even all the things that were on sale - this is only what I could fit in my field of view.

The dead whale was purchased from Majestic Miniatures, and was 3-D printed.  There are a couple of 28mm figures added to the picture for scale.  It's about 10" long, so impressively large.  I purchased a few miniatures including the whale, all 3-D printed from this vendor.  The prices were reasonable and the service was fast.  You can find the whale here if you're interested in one of your own.  This was my second foray into 3-D printed miniatures, and my overall complaint is the same.  Namely, the ridges that get left on surfaces that should be smooth.  This whale is considerably better than some old ruins I purchased last year and probably isn't even noticeable in this picture.  But I was annoyed as I was painting.  A couple of the other pieces I bought from Majestic didn't exhibit the "ridging", but they also didn't have the large amount of gently curving surfaces either so I think it comes mainly down to the specific figure.  And to be clear, I'm very happy with the price, service and overall figure.  Next time I'll take some very fine sandpaper if I run into a figure with a little ridging.  Live and learn.

Until we can game again!!!