Wednesday, September 21, 2011

ACW game

Given that DG had come down for the Colours show [click here for review] it seemed churlish not to also take the opportunity to slip in a quick game, so I contacted him a few days before he came down to see what he fancied playing...  I was thinking along the lines of some War of the Spanish Succession action, or perhaps even a return to the sands of the desert in either the 19th or 20th Centuries, but in the end we decided we wanted to play some real, as opposed to virtual, American Civil War; this would be an excellent opportunity for me also to lead the Tigers to almost certain ruin (it is an indelible wargaming truth that the unit you have most recently painted and lavished so much attention on will disgrace itself on it's first outing!!)

So period was agreed and I went away to work on the scenario... this would be easy, I wanted to use all my troops so an encounter battle would be fairest - there'll be time for unequal encounters, and fascinating tactical challenges later in the project... Free Happy Smileys

So - first off the order of battle.. these are organised as per Regimental Fire and Fury (RF&F hereafter)..

Click on any of the following pictures to embiggen (as a certain Conrad Kinch would say Free Happy Smileys)


...and then the other guys...


In addition we also deployed an ammunition supply wagon per side to allow for recovery from "low on ammunition" results..

The Deployment:

As above the scenario was an encounter so a simple set up - whoever "beats up on" the other guy more wins - the table was set up as much as possible with equal terrain and scenery .. as is usual with RF&F the buildings only block line of sight, they count as broken ground, but can't be occupied - in effect they represent a built up area of non-specific buildings, in this case a small village somewhere in the Shenandoah Valley in summer 1862..

We then diced for sides - DG chose the Union, and we then diced for table edge, and in the pictures following DG chose the far side...

Without further ado we deployed (within 6" of the edge) and kicked off... the following shows my troops nearest

I deployed the cavalry in the centre as the ground was most open there, the artillery was easy - both DG and I had a useful hill that gave a good view of the battlefield and we both deployed on these. I had the majority of my infantry on the left flank with only one regiment on the right flank (not visible but to the right of the artillery) as I had a vague plan of a great sweeping outflanking manoeuvre..... the wagon is my ammunition re-supply.

DG's set-up - funnily enough, it almost mirrored mine except that he had his cavalry on the far left (opposite my infantry), and an infantry regiment opposite my cavalry...  clearly the bridge and town has turned out to be the usual wargame magnet!

The Game:

The dice finally landed in my favour and I move first...

I push my infantry forward aggressively towards the barn/village - I intend (and did) have the Tigers move behind the barn as an outflanking force..  DG in his turn came forward in fine style - he has one of his regiments in column to cross the bridge - they've clearly taken musket fire as they are disordered (blue pin), but the river was passable throughout... (as an aside doesn't that picture just sum up all the vital food groups for a wargamer?? Free Happy Smileys)

Next picture (below): the level in the glass is going down and in the village things are getting bloody - can they be related?? I can honestly say this was a fantastic tussle as it went both ways more than once - first I would come on, then DG would come back - it was a real see-saw battle, but as you can see the Tigers have now transited the back of the village, crossed the stream and have wheeled and charged.... blimey, a plan that survived the first contact!

In the village however, the 2nd Virginia (light grey Confederate regiment in the centre) have clearly taken a hammering - they're down to 50% strength (2 bases representing 4 stands as I base my troops in two stand blocks), and are shaken to boot...  happily both DG's regiments are also shaken and I have a fresh regiment coming up...

...and so the tussle continued until in the end I managed to force all of DG troops back across the river. In one case by rout (that ended mere millimetres from the table edge!)


In the centre DG's artillery had seen off my cavalry who were subsequently reduced to dismounting and merely maintaining the centre of my deployment from incursion...  I would say that my artillery fire in the game was largely, and spectacularly, ineffective - poor dice throws, though along with the cavalry I did manage to keep DG's Zouave's in check - they spent most of the battle up to their knee's in the stream!

After his initial success DG's artillery did then seem to spend a lot of time switching targets slowly (poor command rolls) but when he did fire it was effective....

On my right flank, other than a first burst of activity by my infantry, it soon slowed down - my infantry cleared away DG's cavalry pretty quickly (short sharp melee), but by the time they had wheeled to take the Zouave's on in the flank in the centre, DG's artillery were finally on target and slowed them down significantly...

In the end, DG hit the "heavy casualty" threshold (army breakpoint) one stand before I did....   so we agreed a draw since it really had been that close.... Free Happy Smileys

Post Match Analysis:

  • I must learn not to use cavalry in an American Civil war game like I would in a Napoleonic or Spanish Succession game - they are just too fragile, almost akin to using them in WWI or WWII with the weapon ranges - DG had the right idea - he'd dismounted them straight away while my guys were sitting there in the open with sabres drawn looking for a target to charge!
  • I'll confess to beginning to find the continual working out of plus and minus modifiers in RF&F somewhat irksome - I will be casting around in the near future for ways and means of speeding up this aspect of the game - I've mentioned this before (probably the last time we played), but with weapon type, troop class, morale state, and terrain to feature in each shooting calculation the activity is reptitive, and any more units than we had tonight would seem to bog down exponentially. When I browse the web however, other people happily use twice as many units - I need to find their secrets... any other RF&F players, feel free to leave comments...
  • Did I mention that my dice throwing was rubbish?
  • Did I also mention that the Tigers excelled themselves, and on their first outing as well - unheard of...!!
  • The beer was Hall and Woodhouse "Hopping Hare" - described in the tasting notes as "Light and crisp with a wonderful hoppy aroma and bite.... uses Super Styrian hops (added twice to the Copper) and Styrian Goldings Dry Hop added to cask for extra aroma". Spot on I would say - just lovely as it was a humid old evening in the loft and this was refreshing...
Work now switches to the to secret project kicked off at Colours...   more anon....


  1. Huzzah for the Tigers! A lovely report of an attractive game. I used to find the melee + and - in original F&F irksome. Esp when someone would be convinced they had missed one and start again.

    Could you add a note to the unit roster that includes the known components such as weapons & class & morale ( Maybe +x/y/z for fresh/worn/spent factors for that unit? The you would just have to consider terrain.


  2. Hurrah for the tigers! I've found that modifiers unless very simple tend to go by the wayside as the night wears on.

  3. Echoing the comments of CK with the added observation that the use of modifiers becomes even more problematic as the consumption of, ahem, essentials increases - toilet seat covers notwithstanding.....;-)

    All the best,


  4. Cheers chaps - appreciated...

    Ross Mac - are thoughts are coming together - I was thinking of a small sympathetically coloured D6 - one of the mini ones as that could travel with the unit, but yes a roster update is also possible...

    DC.. ;o)) As an aside I have the Hague book as well - a classic in the wargaming literary world if ever there was one!

  5. "it is an indelible wargaming truth that the unit you have most recently painted and lavished so much attention on will disgrace itself on it's first outing!!"

    I can only heartily concur!

    Lovely table and great report. Good to see refreshing beverages are a key part of your gaming culture too!

  6. Good read. Very nice photos.