July 25, 2009

Review of "Heartland - the battles of Kentucky and the Tennessee" scenario book

Some time ago, Partizan Press released their ruleset for American Civil War, called “Guns at Gettysburg”. Shortly thereafter came the first scenario book for the system, called “Heartland – The Battles for Kentucky and Tennessee”. Since I am something of a compulsive collector in regard of scenario books, I couldn’t resist the temptation and ordered it almost immediately after it became available.

As it is implied by the title, focus of this book is put on the struggle for control of Kentucky and Tennessee during the early stages of the war. Engagements in the book take place between November 7th 1861 to October 8th. Each scenario consists of a short description of general situation before the battle, scenario objectives, detailed orders of battle on regimental level (including number of figures per regiment and classification of the leaders/units according to “Guns of Gettysburg”), a map and several paragraphs describing the events during the real battle and its aftermatch.

Following scenarios are included:

Belmont (7th November 1861) - small scenario with six infantry regiments and a single artillery battery on the Union side and ten infantry regiments and single battery on the Confederate side. Some fortifications are required for the terrain setup.

This one strikes me as perfect beginner scenario for two players that are just starting with the period or a ruleset. I plan to use it in my next game with ‘They Couldn’t Hit an Elephant’.

Logan’s Cross Roads (19th January 1862) – medium size scenario. Union side includes ten regiments of infantry and four small batteries. They are opposed by equal number of Confederate regiments and artillery, but the Rebels also have three small regiments of cavalry.

Breakout at Fort Donelson (15th February 1862)
- medium size scenario, where a green force of eight infantry regiments supported by three batteries tries to stop a frontal assault by twelve Confederate infantry regiments, supported by two batteries. To add to the misery of the Union side, Forrest is also present on the field with some cavalry.

This one looks to me like a foregone conclusion, but I’m the sucker for last stands and will be setting it up as soon as I make some field fortifications for the fort.

Assault on Fort Donelson (15th February 1862) – small, but interesting scenario where eight Union regiments supported by skirmishers and two batteries try to breach the fort. They are opposed by nine Confederate regiments and two batteries.

Interesting scenario, but one which will put some demands on my terrain supplies. Lot of field fortifications is needed to play this one.

Shiloh Church (6th April 1862) – large scenario, in which twelve Union regiments take the brunt of initial Confederate assault during first day of Shiloh. Confederates field whooping twenty infantry regiments and six batteries.

Fortunately the terrain isn’t very complicated. If you have enough miniatures, this one could be a great weekend game.

Hornet’s Nest (6th April 1862) – second scenario based on Shiloh and largest scenario in the book. Twelve Union regiments supported by three batteries stand up to twenty-one Confederate regiments supported by whooping ten batteries of artillery.

Richmond (30th August 1862) – medium sized scenario with eight infantry regiments, two batteries and two cavalry regiments on Union side and twelve Confederate infantry regiments, two batteries and two cavalry regiments.

This one seems really easy to set up for a quick afternoon game.

Munfordville (14th September 1862) – small scenario where three Union regiments aided by some skirmishers, token force of cavalry and a single battery try to hold strong fortified position. On the opposing side are six infantry regiments, two cavalry regiments and two batteries of artillery.

Another scenario requiring a lot of fortification terrain pieces, including a blockhouse.

Iuka (19th September 1862) – medium size scenario and first scenario in the book with characteristics of a meeting engagement. Union force consisting of thirteen infantry regiments, one cavalry regiment and two artillery batteries are on a collision course with Rebel force consisting of nine regiments and two batteries.

Hilly terrain and lots of woods should make this scenario very interesting and re-playable.

Battery Robinett (4th October 1862)
– medium size scenario dealing with one of main events during battle of Corinth. Union is on the defense here with eight infantry regiments supporting six entrenched batteries of artillery. Confederates field equal number of infantry regiments and are supported by two batteries.

Another scenario where one side is entrenched, making special demands on terrain setup.

Hatchie Bridge (5th October 1862) – a meeting engagement scenario dealing with the aftermath of the clash at Corinth. Ten Union infantry regiments, supported by a cavalry regiment and three batteries duke it out with six infantry regiments, some skirmishers, cavalry and six batteries on the rebel side.

Setup for this scenario is quite original and I think it may have a lot of replayability.

Peter’s Hill (8th October 1862) – a true meeting engagement, with both sides more or less blundering into each other in an attempt to occupy high ground position. Eight regiments, two cavalry regiments and three batteries are fielded by the Union. Confederates have seven infantry regiments, two cavalry regiments and two batteries at their disposal.

This scenario definitely caught my interest because of relatively uncomplicated terrain setup and variable entry times for most of the units. I think there is a lot of potential for total chaos in this one and that’s my favorite type of scenarios.

Chaplin’s Hill (8th October 1862) – here we have a straightforward ‘bash and mangle’ affair with twelve Union regiments and two artillery batteries confronting fifteen Rebel regiments and four artillery batteries.

In contrast to two previous scenarios, this is a classic set-piece assault on formed infantry line. However, terrain layout produces some interesting problems for both sides.

Invasion - a theoretical scenario with chess-like qualities. Both sides command equal forces of six infantry regiments, two cavalry regimens, and two batteries of artillery and have to achieve similar objectives. Terrain is a mirror image of itself along a diagonal line. This one seems to be a perfect choice for a tournament scenario, if such were ever played within ACW setting.

In addition to the scenarios, Partizan Press took the opportunity to include couple of pages of extra rules for ‘Guns of Gettysburg’. This fact alone should make this scenario book a must buy for players that use that ruleset. At the same time I must add that “Heartland” can be used without any problems with any regimental ACW ruleset, since figure ratios are provided in the book. Additionally, conversion table for Johnny Reb 2 should make it particularly easy to use “Heartland” for players that still play this classic ruleset.

What about scenarios then? I hope that my short synopsis gives a pretty clear view of the content – most scenarios have OOB’s hoovering around eight infantry units per side, which means that they are playable during an afternoon. Also, there is a lot of variety in the character of the scenarios and I do believe that everyone will be able to find at least a couple of scenarios that will catch their interest. At the same time I need to point out that five of the scenarios require fortifications of one sort or another, so you better have those walls and abatis pieces ready.

Two minor negative remarks: as far as I could see, there are no instruction in regard of the table size. While I assume that the scenarios are to be played on a 4’ by 3’ table, it would be nice if it was clearly stated somewhere in the text. Also, there are some typesetting errors in several of the OOB tables – misaligned rows that can cause a little consternation.

Regardless of that, I think that “Heartland” is an excellent scenario book and can recommend it to anyone interested in the period. Considering moderate size of most of the scenarios, I also think that it is a rather good starting point for people that are just beginning to assemble their ACW armies.


  1. An excellent synopsis of the scenarios!

    One minor point however (which addresses one of your two negative remarks). On page 4 there is a heading "Table Size" which states that all maps are 6' x 4' for 15mm miniatures. If using 28mm miniatures, the maps should be 9' x 5'.

  2. Glad you liked it, SeattleRed and thanks for bringing the information about board sizes to my attention. :-)