Saturday, 14 January 2017

ACW Black Powder Game

I had a full day of gaming on Thursday. Mark came around during the day for a ACW game, then in the evening I walked around to Ian's to try out Fighting Sail, the naval rules from Osprey. Lucky me!

The ACW games used Black Powder. I quite like BP for the ACW, I fell the rules are a better reflection of the slightly more fluid formations of the later period, like ACW or Franco-Prussian War, rather than the close ordered regimented formations of the Napoleonic or earlier wars. OK, we do use BP for the War of Spanish Succession, but that's with considerable modifications.

On to the battle. It was an Attack/Defend scenario. The Rebs were attempting a flank march around the Union positions and the lead division was tasked with taking a vital road junction that would allow the Corps easy passage around the Union army. Union scouts has spotted the manoeuvre and a Yankee division was racing to block the Rebel advance. As the Confederates arrive they find  just a single Yankee brigade in their path, but the rest of the division is marching fast to join them.

A road ran from the SW corner of the battlefield to the NE corner, with the objective being at the northern table edge. The Rebs arrived along the western half of the south edge (with a dense wood directly in front of them), the first Union brigade could be deployed anywhere up to 30cm in from the northern edge and the rest of the Union force would attempt to arrive from turns 2 and 3 (providing the made their Command rolls!).

The Rebs had 3 infantry brigades and divisional artillery of 2 rifle batteries and 2 smooth-bore. The Yanks also had 3 infantry brigades and 5 rifled batteries. The players had the option of brigading the artillery together of distributing among the infantry. Mark gave the smooth-bores to 2 of his brigades and left the rifles together. I detached 1 battery of the 1st brigade and left the rest en masse, they would attempt to arrive from turn 2 with the CinC.

To begin with everything went swimmingly for the Yanks. The Rebs only sent 1 brigade forward to attack the objective, the second moved into the middle of the field, where they created a bottleneck between the artillery and the wood. The third brigade advanced straight towards the wood (obviously their brigadier had his map upside down!). There was a bit of confusion when they reached the wood edge and Mark remembered that his attached battery couldn't actually enter the wood! The battery milled around by itself until the CinC rode over and took command. The wood was dense and gave a -1 Command penalty as well as halving movement, so the brigade spent a large part of the game tramping through the trees. this allowed the Yanks plenty of time to bring on the rest of the division and reposition the first brigade. By the time the Confederates were in a position to attack, I had a good defensive line with a brigade either side of the objective, the massed artillery covering the centre and the third brigade next to them, facing the woods.

The Reb central brigade were decimated by the massed artillery as they advanced, so vered to the west to strike the end of the Union third brigade. These were outnumbered, as their line was thinly stretch to cover the extent of the wood, but accurate musketry, combined with supporting fire from the guns, broke up the Confederate attack. Only one Rebel regiment made contact with the blue line and they were swiftly routed. Disordered units were sitting ducks for the artillery and the brigade was eventually broken.

At the same time the Confederate first brigade launched their attack and were bloodily repulsed, with one regiment routing and two being thrown back and pinned. With the third Reb brigade still lost in the woods it was looking good for the Union!

At this point I grew overconfident (big mistake!). I threw my first brigade forward to try and break another Confederate brigade. I  managed to hit a single, disordered unit with a fresh regiment and 4 supports. Then the Dice Gods started giggling and I lost the melee and the unit promptly routed. Now the Dice Gods burst out into gales of laughter as two of the supports also routed and the third retreated. A lucky volley in the next turn left them shaken, so my brigade was now broken!

At this point the Confederate third brigade finally found their way out of the trees and fell upon the end of the opposing line. These were veteran units with the Ferocious Charge ability so it was a short fight. In two turns they had broken the brigade in front of them.

We called a halt at this point, with both my flanks gone and my artillery line about to be overrun it was obviously a Confederate victory.

The Union reinforcements move into position

                                                        The Confederate attack falters

The Rebel bottleneck

Lost in the woods!

Before the Union counter attack.....

....and after!

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