May 27, 2018

Chaplin’s Heights Redux–solo edition

Upplagd av Minondas

So last Saturday, after the guys left for home, I took the stock of things. I could pack everything in and continue to feel seriously disappointed about the entire affair… or I could give it another try, this time all on my own. The choice wasn’t that hard.

Some decisions to make

My approach in a solo games is always to act more as an observer than a player – decide upon initial plan for both sides and then just ‘sit back’ and see how things will develop. With this mindset, I came to following conclusions:

  • As Confederate commander, I needed to show some patience. Before the real ‘push’, I would let Steward’s brigade get out of the woods. Hopefully, by that time, Field’s brigade (which failed to appear on the field in initial game) would show up on my right flank and put additional pressure on Union line.

    I also made a different judgement of situation on my left flank. Jones’ brigade, consisting of only two regiments and some skirmishers, was a pretty weak force. It seemed overly risky to charge against Harris, it seemed much more sensible to let the Confederates on my right to remain where they were, at least to begin with.

  • From Union perspective, things were what they were. The blue-clad boys were on defensive pretty much everywhere but on their right flank. So the question was – should Harris’ brigade immediately attack rebels on Hill 5 or should they wait? Since both options made equal sense, I let chance decide. A D6 was rolled and Harris’ brigade was issued orders to assault Hill 5.

The game

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Maney’s and Donelson’s brigades advance toward Union positions. Their job is to engage and pin the enemy in place.

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At the same time, Harris gathers together his somewhat spread out regiments and forms up in line for the assault against Hill 5. Jones observes the movemen to his front and sends forward his skirmishers of 34th Mississipi.

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Starkwater reacts to Confederate advance and establishes his line along the stone wall and the road. Rebels will have to work for it now.

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33rd Mississipi gets into contact with Union troops and is promptly sent packing with a well-aimed volley from 38th Indiana.

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Field’s brigade appears on the field without any delay on turn 3 of the game.  Union position on Hill 2 is now in serious peril.

At same time, rebels in Steward’s brigade appear out of the woods and halt at the stonewall, as ordered. The brigade is now ready to proceed with their advance toward enemy.

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33rd Mississipi gets their act together and starts to seriously molest Harris’ right flank with accurate sniping. 38th Indiana is hit especially hard! Still, the Union advance toward rebel line continues steadily.

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Union skirmishers on Hil 7 and Starwater’s regiments along the stone wall are doing pretty good job and casualties in Donelson’s regiments start to pile up at alarming rate.

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Harris’ brigade ready to assault rebels on Hill 5. If only those skirmishers stopped hitting everything they aimed at!

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Field’s brigade charges Hill 2. Union artillery beats hasty retreat as 1st Tennessee flanks their position.  Meanwhile, green 105th Ohio rattles 3rd Tennessee with a well-aimed volley and stops them cold.

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Steward’s brigade gets over the stone wall and into the open field. 4th/5th Tennessee is immediately hammered with accurate artillery fire from battery deployed to the rear of Union line, on Hill 1. The ‘double-six’ throws their assault column into confusion and stops further advance. Steward himself is hit by a shrapnel… which is stopped by the Bible in his chest pocket!

Same ‘double-six’ gives Union CinC ‘Aim low’ chit, allowing him at any time an option to add +2 modifier to a fire or melee roll of a unit up to 15cm from him.

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On Union left, 105th Ohio cooly retreats to the crest of Hill 2. Intensive action along entire line.

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Harris’ gives orders to charge Hill 5 and things go to hell in a handbasket! Skirmishers from 33rd Mississipi take their final revenge against 38th Indiana for that painfull volley couple of rounds ago. They roll a ‘double-six’ at critical moment - Harris is wounded and put out of action for the rest of the round, while 38th Indiana’s casualties reach above 50 percent. Obliged to test their morale, they fail badly and disperse!  10th Wisconsin is blasted by rebel artillery and retreats in confusion. 2nd Ohio does manage to throw their opponents from the hill but it’s too little and too late, as entire brigade breaks and falls back toward their own lines.

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Round later it’s time for Confederates to charge the enemy. Union CinC (McCook) has his heroic moment as he rides forward and holds the fire of 24th Illinois until very last moment (remember that ‘Aim low’ chit?). 31st/33rd Tennessee suffers grevious losses, but led personally by Steward, still reaches the stonewall. Perhaps infuriated by that well-aimed volley, they show no mercy in subsequent melee and rout their opponents. A hole is punched in Union line!

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Aftermath of two charges, at the end of round 6. Harris’ brigade falls back in disarray. 24th Illiois simply runs away. Union right flank is wide open, at least for the moment.

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With pressure mounting on both flanks, Union center slowly gives ground. Last ditch defence will be mounted along the road and the stone wall. Confederates in Donelson’s brigade, having already suffered surprisingly heavy losses, aren’t too keen to follow up and stay put.

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Harris tries to re-establish control over his brigade…

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…and McCook tries to do the same with battered brigades still in reach of his command. Artillery batteries on the left should be able to stop any further rebel advance. 79th Pensylvania pulls back in an attempt to form a defensive line on the right.

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Steward’s brigade tries to sort itself out after the charge, but 3rd/4th Tennessee is yet again raked by acurate artillery fire from Hill 1 and breaks. Remaining two regiments reform (24th Tennessee still in attack column!) and prepare to continue their advance along the stone wall.

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Round 8 – 105th Ohio continues with its obstinate retreat and seems to be living a charmed life. Their casualties mount slowly and their position makes them focus of rebel attention, but they refuse to fold! Field’s Tennesseans try to charge them yet again and yet again are stopped by combined fire of Ohioans and Union artillery deployed along the stone wall.

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Steward’s regiments in the woods are ready to continue their assault and 3rd/4th Tennessee returns into fray.

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Round 10 and final collapse of Union position finally takes place. Steward’s entire brigade rushes 79th Pensylvania from three sides at once. It’s too much, the Union regiments crumbles and runs away. McCook’s right flank is shattered.

2018_Blog_183At the same time, 105th Ohio finally has enough. Just as they reach the road, they’re hit with accurate fire from rebel skirmishers and artillery. Reduced to below half strength, they fail their mandatory morale check and disperse. Their collapse panics the rest of their brigade and it retreats in disorder. Union left is no more.

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Round 11 and it’s all over but the crying! Steward’s rebels slam into flank of 21st Wisconsin by sheer impetus of the charge that begun in previous round. Inexperienced Union unit (raised only month before and hardly even trained) breaks instantly and, unable to run away, simply surrenders.

Musings after the battle

Phew… in simple terms, what cracker of a battle!

Guys, by now I’ve been having American Civil War as special interest for over two decades and have been playing it for almost as long. During that time I have never experienced a game events of which corresponded so closely to the narratives of Shelby, Sears or Cozzens! And the ‘cinematic’ heroics which I imagined in my head as I rolled the dice and moved tin soldiers around… 105th Ohio’s stubborn refusal to break agains overwhealming odds, that disastrous salvo Tennesseans took as soon as they went over the wall, McCook being at exactly right place as the rebels rushed against his line, rebel sniper hitting Harris at worst possible moment… I honestly can’t recall when, or maybe even if ever, I had such great fun with a wargame as I did with this one!

This game did take 12 hours to complete, spread over course of four days. Let me assure you, it was a time well-spent! It was also a great learning experience. Playing slowly and without stress, I was able to check and double-check rules for all those quirky events that always take place in a wargame. This allowed me to really understand how this ruleset works, how different parts are linked together. As it turns out, “Guns at Gettysburg” is a damn clever little ruleset!

Allright, that’s the last post about Chaplin Hills scenario, I promise!

Last weekend it was finally upon us – a first, long overdue, game of 2018. As you can perhaps judge from the previous posts I was quite chuffed with the terrain, while the scenario looked (on paper at least) as the most interesting of the bunch in “Heartland” booklet… in other words I was really looking forward to it. For the game itself I decided to step back into GM role and let L. and H. duke it out while I took care of the rules and book-keeping.

While Chaplin Heights scenario gives the initial impression of being quite complex, if you study the setup it’s really pretty simple. Whoever controls majority of the seven heighs at the end of the game is the winner. Union side (that would be L.’s command) controls four of them at the start of the game, but the federal troops are pretty green. Their initial deployment is also somewhat disconcerning. Rebels on the other hand are poised for assault and get a reinforcement on Union right flank sometime after turn 3, so they have all the incentive in the world to be the agressive party at least at the outset of the game.

Both L. and H. quickly recognized those facts after inspection of the field and their lines. L. was warned in general terms about possible threat to his left flank and would be initially preoccupied with the challenge of sorting out the somewhat awkward lineup of his troops. Therefore it was hardly surprising that he assumed defensive posture to begin with. H. on the other hand decided to keep things simple – “There is the enemy, now go and kill ‘em!” seemed to be the inderlying spirit of the orders he issued at the start of the game.

Initial positions of the troops are shown in previous post, so I won’t be covering that again.

The game lasted all of three rounds. In that time, the rebels moved against enemy line, all Confederate units that were able to, did try to charge in second round… and all of them failed to get into contact. In third (and as it turned out final) round the Union line tried its damdest to shoot the rebels in front of them into pieces. L. had pretty decent return on his dice rolls, H. didn’t. All things added together, it was pretty clear that the game stalled and it would take time for H. to recover from this sharp rebuff. By that time we’ve been at it for more than three hours and I’ve made an executive decision to call it a day.

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Situation at end of round three. The assault on southern right flank never got any momentum, with all regiments failing to get into contact. 6th Tennessee is in serious trouble – “Falter” status makes it unable to move, while 105th Ohio in front of it pours led into it. 6th Tennessee’s sister regiment, 9th Tennessee is in full retreat. The inexperienced 41st Georgia stands still and exchanges salvos with 123rd Illionis.  On the other side of stone wall, things don’t look much better for Donelson’s brigade. 16th Tennessee, is receiving a sharp lesson about the consequences of getting in effective range of rifled muskets even though you’re deployed in skirmish line.

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Meanwhile, Steward’s brigade is trying to get out of the woods…

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…and Jones’ troops are on their way toward a meeting with destiny (or at least Union brigade under colonel Harris’ command) that will never take place.

Musings after the battle

Perhaps not much of a battle, but a lot of musings nevertheless. First of all – why did I decide to call it quits when I did? After all, nothing was decided by that moment and who knows, maybe the rebels would recover? The answer is simple – time! Three rounds plus a quick and dirty rules walkthrough still required three and a half hours to complete. “Knowing my customers”, I knew that we had maximum of one more hour of playtime before the guys would leave for home and we would not achieve anything in that time. So, chances were that that final hour would be much more enjoyable if we spend it on a chat about the game and the rules… which we did!

In more general terms, let me put it bluntly – “Guns at Gettysburg” is not a quick ruleset to play, especially with players who are unfamiliar with it. And the fact that those 6mm minis can be quite fiddly to handle doesn’t help speeding things up. Those two statements bring me neatly to a conclusion I have arrived to while observing last Saturday’s game – with somewhat heavy heart I think I will have to accept the fact that large set piece battles are, at least under current conditions, not feasable as multi-player games for me. At least not with “Guns at Gettysburg”.

Please note however that I say ‘multi-player games’. So stay tuned, because we are not done with Chaplin Heights and “Guns at Gettysburg” just yet! Smile

May 19, 2018

Chaplin Hills scenario–lull before the battle

Upplagd av Minondas

Two days ago I was so proud of myself – ready with everything, all I needed to do was to deploy the troops on the table on the day of the battle. How hard could it be, right?

Well… Murphy was listening to my thoughts and decided to laugh in my face until morning of the battle. That would some two hours ago.

As soon as I deployed Confederate battery on their right flank, I realized that something was off with terrain setup. The battery was totally out of range, or more precisely, the hill it was deployed on was some 20cm too far back in relation with remaining terrain features. It was actually easy to explain and I had a feeling this would be an issue; my tiles are 30 x 30 cm, but the terrain map in this particular scenario is somewhat wierdly compressed in ‘depth’. Alright, time emergency adjustment – make necessary adjustments by moving some stuff forward. Problem – my tiles are still 30 x 30 cm, I needed to move stuff forward only 20 cm. Solution – demark Confederate map border with piece of red thread. Sometimes you really need to keep it simple. Smile

Next issue appeared while deploying Union troops. As it turns out, I misread orders of battles and 4th Kentucky mixed battery turned into an infantry regiment! Problem – somewhat to my surprise, I didn’t have enough Union artillery bases for deployment of yet another 3 gun battery. Solution – scavenge couple of guns from other batteries, H. and L. will have to keep number of pieces in each battery in their heads!

Note to self – paint more Union artillery!

And so, here we are, now ready for battle for real! In case you wonder why only the Union army gets some close up attention in the pictures, the explanation is simple – see where the soffa is located. Smile with tongue out

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May 17, 2018

Chaplin Hills – preview

Upplagd av Minondas

Continuing the attempt to bump up post count for 2018!

This time around, preview of terrain for quickly approaching Chaplin Hills game. Still, troops done, terrain done… and 36 hours before actual start of the game! Must be doing something right. Open-mouthed smile

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May 13, 2018

Bumping up post count

Upplagd av Minondas

After spending last couple of days on preparation for next weekend’s game, I feel I deserve to bump up the post count with this “short and sweet” troop review. Smile

On a slightly serious note though… I’ve been experimenting for a couple of years now with how to best identify individual untis on the battlefield. Another issue I’ve been playing around with is how much information to press into those identification markers. This is my conclusion so far:

  • Unit name is pretty much the only information players use during the game. Initial number of figures, unit quality and such… I get the impression that it’s either not noticed or ‘discarded’ by players while the game goes on.
  • It seems to be of help to enable both sides to easily identify all units, also those of the opponent.
  • Being a staunch believer in color coding, this time around I added differently colored frames to the labels. Frames identify individual brigades.
  • Labels are somewhat labour-intensive, but they have an added bonus of easy identification of units in after action reports.

Pictures below show “troop review” of forces that will participate in next week’s game. It will be yet another scenario from the book that keeps on giving – “Heartland” scenario booklet from Caliver Books.

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Seems like every single post I make here starts with “It’s been a while since the last post…”, but this time around it’s really been a while since the last post! Funnily enough not because stuff isn’t moving forward on wargaming front, mind you! The fact is that April, which didn’t even earn a single post here, was quite busy and fruitfull, thank you very much. But “real life” made it impossible for me to make any pictures and let’s face it, what’s the point posting something without pictures, right?

And so, here are finally some pictures, this time around from the finished Najewitz buildings that figured prominently and ‘in natura’ in my previous post. By now, they’re finished, painted and ready for featuring in those Chain of Command games I keep planning for.

Since those buildings are no longer available on the market, I will limit myself to saying that they’re very nice, but also very labour-intensive – couple of hours at the minimum needs to be spent on cleaning them up, glueing, sanding and filling. “Ready for deployment out of the box’ they’re not. But… once finished, they do look quite presentable and I look forward to putting them on the gaming table!

As for their preparation, they’re certainly a learning experience. I’ve cut some corners this time around and, after priming them in grey, I dealt with the interior quickly and efficiently with help of light cream paint in a spray can from Montana’s Gold product line. I’ve recently remembered about the existence of Montana and their spray cans and now I absolutely adore them. For those unfamiliar with the company, they produce spray cans for grafitti paintings. Wide range of colors, matte finish and very durable. Two coats were more than enough to paint the inside of my buildings. If you can find them, give them a try!

Exterior of the houses was painted with more traditional paints and techniques. Humbrol enamels were used on the stone barn. I tried to vary the shades of brown and do some wet-blending, but as usual I’ve chickened out in regard of palette and the end result is pretty uniform and boring. Oh well, maybe next time… The farm house was painted with… acrylic wall paint bought at local DIY shop. Perfect coverage and a whole lot cheaper than stuff from GW, Vallejo and such! I finished everything off with some Vallejo washes, just to dirt things up a bit.

Here are the promised pics, hope you’ll like them!

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It’s middle of March, Saturday noon and outside it’s just friggin’ cold! Makes you wonder when this global warming thing arrives to Sweden! Oh well, this yet another cold snap gave me the opportunity to give some attention to another set of Najewitz 20mm buildings.

I’ve put together a the small farm building and stone barn couple of weeks ago. Now, I’ve spent almost three hours on making them presentable with help of “buckets” of filler and sanding sticks. I have to be honest, I am not a very happy bunny right now. Sure, they look quite spiffy, but the fit of individual components leaves a lot to wish for.

Anyway, here they are, ready for primer.

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