May 26, 2018

Chaplin Heights or what to do when you hope for a bang and get a whimper instead

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.


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.


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


…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

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