Saturday, October 21, 2017

Action at Fox's Gap 1000-1100

Situation from prior episode
When the retelling of the Action at Fox's Gap broke off, the Game Clock had just advanced to 10:04 with both combatants suffering from blows like championship prize fighters.  Who will go down first?

To refresh memory of the action thus far, please see,
1004. Cox joins the 30 OHa to help rally the regiment.  The 30th OH suffered at the hands of the 12 NC and had fallen back to J. Beachley Farm in disorder.  Cox successfully rallies the Ohioans although with five Heavy Casualties, the 30th may not have much offensive punch remaining.  Covering the 30 OHa, the WV cavalry rains fire onto the 12 NC causing one hit.  The North Carolinians stand firm.  Despite much firepower, the 30 OHb does no visible damage to the 23 NC as it hunkers behind the stone wall bordering the Ridge Road.  In the close range firefight, the 30 OH comes out for the worse in the exchange suffering one hit.

In a display of the power of well-handled rifled artillery, the OH Lt Artillery chews up the 13 NC at Wise Farm.  Now, that is good shooting; three hits out of three attempts!
Good shooting!
Garland moves to join the 23 NC as the wavering 5 NCb continues it retrograde away from the battle as its resolve deteriorates.
The raw 5 NC falls back
1021. Continuing to hop-scotch from one trouble spot to the next, Cox moves to join the 23 OHa while the Ohio Lt Artillery keeps the 13 NC at Wise's Farm under fire.  The Tar Heels absorb another heavy casualty but remain the anchor of the Confederate left.  While holding up to the pressure thus far, the raw 5 NCa takes more fire from the 23rd OH and has had enough.  It falls back off the ridge in disorder.
Battle lines are drawn
In the continuing close range firefight between the 30 OHb and the 23 NC, each suffer one casualty in the exchange.  Both stand their ground.  Still deployed in the fields and unable to take the high ground, Federal forces absorb rolling volleys from the Rebels perched on the ridge.  Seeing the Federals are not backing down from this fight, the 5 NCb has seen enough and disintegrates. 
Close range fire fights
1035.  Cox continues his rounds between regiments in an attempt to have his presence felt everywhere at once.  The bottom of the hour finds him attached to the 23 OHb.  Not letting up, the Ohio Lt Artillery pounds the 13 NC.  Aided by the protection offered by the farmstead, the North Carolinians hold the farm.
Federals attack all along the front
With losses mounting on both sides, Scammon attempts one more offensive push while his brigade can still muster an attack.  Federal cavalry in the fields find themselves in a flanking position to the 23 NC and pour fire into the Tar Heels.  The 23rd takes casualties and then are immediately attacked by the 30 OHb.  Garland goes down in a hail of bullets.  Oh no!  Unable to get off a musket volley before the Federals close, the 23rd suffers two hits to one.  The Tar Heels hold their ground in disorder while the Federals are sent reeling back down the slopes of the hill.
30 OH repulsed!
On the Federal left, the Rebel cavalry fall back from fire of the 23 OHa while the 23 OHb charges the 5 NCb.  While the Federals execute damage against the 5th, the North Carolinians cannot be dislodged from their defenses.  Both sides are approaching exhaustion from their efforts.
Attacks by the Federal left
While the 12 and 30 OH have reached 5+ casualties each, both remain on the firing line despite the losses.  The Confederates, now without Garland, are not as stalwart.  Having suffered very heavy casualties, both the raw 5 NCb and the veteran 13 NC fall back as stragglers peel off.
Tar Heels head towards the rear!
1052.  Cox now scurries over to join the 30 OHb while Gibson's artillery finally comes into play against the 12 NC.  The Federal artillerymen cannot find the proper range and the Tar Heels avoid damage.  With the abandonment of the Ridge Road on the Confederate right, the 23rd OH climbs the slope to take the position.
23 OH takes the ridge
Continuing its fire upon the 23 NC, the WV cavalry convinces the 23rd to relinquish its position.  The 23 NC falls back from the Ridge Road in disorder.  Despite Scammon's presence, the 12 OH, having suffered greatly, breaks for the rear.
Federal cavalry drive off the 23 NC
With its right flank crumbling, the Rebel cavalry covers the retreating 5 NC.  In the exchange, the 23 OHa takes casualties and it has had enough.  The Ohioans fall back in disorder.  

The Rebels have had enough too.  The 5 NCb disintegrates to the wind while both the 13 NC and 23 NC lose heart and retire.
Collapse of the Confederate left
1107.  As the game clock advances past 1100, the game comes to a close.  

That was a vicious fight!  Casualties everywhere were heavy.  Both sides near exhaustion as the Confederates still hold onto one of the objectives on the Ridge Road.  I call this a very bloody draw.  With the only Confederate regiment still on the ridge being the small, raw 12 NC, Scammon's boys, though battered, may be able to see it off given one more shove.  If the battle was to continue, 1100 is about the time both combatants received reinforcements, historically.  Cox's second brigade under Crook would arrive as would two North Carolinian regiments.  While Garland and Scammon's brigades are spent, the addition of Crook's three Ohio regiments ought to be sufficient to duplicate the historical outcome.   
Situation at close of action
A tense and exciting battle to the end!  A scenario worthy of a replay and, perhaps, with a change of tactics for the Federals.  Cox suffered early on with a single brigade spread out over an area much larger than possible to keep in command.  Perhaps a more concentrated attack against the Ridge Road would yield dividends?  Regardless of the outcome, a challenge for both players.

An added bonus for the scenario as written is that Fox's Gap lends itself well to solo play.  With the active player taking the role of Cox and the Confederates already in good defensive ground, the Rebels under Garland can fight a pre-programmed approach to the battle.

The game is reset and another attempt is in mind.  Many thoughts on Fox's Gap and impressions of TF-ON are swirling around in my head.  These thoughts ought to be committed to paper before they are forgotten.  

Great fun and a near perfect solo challenge!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Action at Fox’s Gap 0900-1000

After researching a few accounts of the morning action at Fox's Gap between Garland and Cox and devising a scenario, time to see if the scenario survives first contact.  For scenario specifics including map, deployments, OB, and special rules, see Fox Gap Scenario for TF-ON.
Initial Deployments
Note that a few mistakes were made during play primarily with respect to allowing out of command (OOC) units to initiate Close Combat.  Once discovered, I justified these irregularities based on the fact the brigade commander could have been properly deployed to allow such an action since he was typically otherwise unengaged.

The other two changes from the Rules As Written (RAW) address the tracking of disorder status and duration.

First, rather than track disorder via time chits, I simplified the process to a mathematical equivalency.  Since Disorder is typically dished out in increments of 15 minutes and the Game Clock advances at a rate or 8 + 2D6 minutes, a unit will be disordered only until the next advancement of the Game Clock if the Game Clock Advancement Roll is 8+ (16 minutes or more).  If this variable portion of the dice roll is less than 8, a unit will remain disordered after the next advancement of the Game Clock.  It will remain in a Disordered state until the second advancement of the Game Clock.  In simple terms, a Disorder Roll is introduced whereby a unit rolls 2D6 upon becoming disordered.  If this result is an 8+ on the Disorder Roll, the unit is disordered one turn.  Roll less than 8 and the unit is disordered for two turns.

Second, under RAW, a unit that passes its Capability Test (CT) in the Post Close Combat Capability Test maintains its position and remains in good order but cannot charge again for 15 minutes.  Rather than track the 15 minutes on a time chit, a unit now becomes disordered and follows the rule given above.  No longer is there a mandated, time moratorium on charging.  A disordered unit may now charge at its own peril.  My rationale is that even a victorious unit following close combat would likely suffer some effects of disorder and this change both addresses this inherent disorder and makes the effect easy to track.  Heresy perhaps but it works for me and fits in with my sense of a likely post-combat disorder.  Note that I implemented this change early in the game.

In the Battle Report photos, disorder is shown as either red 1 or yellow 2 markers denoting the number of "turns" of disorder.  Heavy casualties are depicted by white casualty counters.

With those clarifications noted, time to proceed to the solo replay.
Early minutes of battle
0900.  At the start of the battle, both players roll a D6 to determine First Player.  Commanding Scammon's Brigade and the West Virginia cavalry, Cox takes the initiative and will be the First Player throughout the game.

Cox attaches himself to the 23 OHa and prepares to attack the 5 NCa on the Confederate right flank.  In the center, the 30 OHa opens fire onto Bondurrant's guns causing one heavy casualty.  Bondurrant's guns stand firm partially sheltered by the stone walls and fences bifurcating the fields.

With Cox leading the charge, the 23 OHa attacks the Tar Heels.  Being raw, the 5 NC fires off an ineffective volley and then braces for the attack.  At close range, the Ohioans best the Tar Heels.  The 5 NCa takes two heavy casualties in the close combat, fails its Capability Test (CT), and then falls back in disorder suffering one additional heavy casualty.  For their effort, the Ohioans become disordered suffering two heavy casualties.
Ohioans attack the Confederate right
Garland moves to join the now disordered and shaken 5 NCa.  The other half of the regiment, the 5 NCb fires into the 23 OHb causing one heavy casualty.  Bondurrant's artillery returns the favor dished out by the 30 OHa.  Despite having protection from walls and fences suffers, the 30th suffers two heavy casualties.  Cover is not much help against artillery fire.  The 30 OHa's cohesion fails and it falls back from the guns in disorder.
Bondurrant's guns precariously positioned
0918. As the Game Clock advances to 0918, all units lose one level (turn) of disorder.

Cox leaves the 23 OHa and joins the 23 OHb at J. Beachley Farm. With Cox at the fore, the 23 OHb fires into the 5 NCb on the Ridge Road and then advances out from the woods to cover the 23 OHa's right flank.

The 12 OH charges out from the woods towards Bondurrant's guns.  As the 12 OH closes, Bondurrant's guns belch out canister.  The 12 OH suffers one heavy casualty but presses on.  Possibly benefiting from the closed nature of the fields on the approach to the guns, the Ohioans losses are minimal while Bondurrant suffers three heavy casualties.  Both combatants hold their ground.  Not in an EZOC and taking no other action, the 23 OHa attempts to rally from its disorder.  It succeeds.
Fight for Bondurrant's guns!
As the 23 OHb advances into the fields, the Tar Heels let out a volley from the woods.  The Ohioans take one heavy casualty but stand firm.  The 12 NC fires into the 12 OH causing one heavy casualty while the guns remain silent.  Garland attempts to rally the disordered 5 NCa to no avail.
Situation at 0932.
0932.  Unable to bring the Federal guns into a firing position, muskets continue to face off against Confederate artillery.   The 12 OH causes one more heavy casualty to Bondurrant but even with 5 heavy casualties, the guns stand firm.  Seeing opportunity at hand, Scammon attaches himself to the 30 OHa and orders a charge upon the Confederate guns. As the Ohioans hop fences and walls to come to grips with the guns, they suffer one heavy casualty but do not waver.
Attack on the guns!
In the close combat, the Ohioans suffer one heavy casualty while the guns take two more.  Both pass their Capability Tests.  Despite being the center of Federal aggressions and no concern for his own safety, Bondurrant coolly continues to keep his advanced guns in action.
Fight for Bondurrant's guns continues as casualties mount
On the Federal left, 23 OHa attempts to turn the Confederate right by flanking the 5 NCb.  The Ohioans close through the woods and the North Carolinians are caught off guard by the sudden threat to their flank.  The Tar Heels fail to bring their muskets to bear.  The Ohioans deliver a punishing attack but due to the cover only two heavy casualties are suffered by the Tar Heels.  Both combatants hold their ground in the close confines of the woods but become disordered in the entanglements of friend, foe, and underbrush.
Tar Heels of 5 NC flanked!
In flanking the 5 NC, the 23 OHa, themselves, offer up their own, exposed flank to Rosser's dismounted Confederate cavalry.  The Rebel cavalry fire into the Ohioans causing another heavy casualty.
Hot time for Confederate guns
To offer some support for Bondurrant's beleaguered guns, the 12 NC fires into the 12 OH fro the relative safety of the Ridge Road.  The 12 OH suffers one heavy casualty, becomes disordered, and falls back through its own guns.  The Federal guns watch as the Ohioans pass back through their position. 
12 Ohio repulsed!
Having 5+ heavy casualties, Bondurrant's battery must test its resolve during the Retreat Phase.  With 7 Heavy Casualties, Bondurrant fails and the guns are eliminated having taken their eighth and final heavy casualty.  While the loss of a battery is a tough pill to swallow, Bondurrant bought time for the Confederates while causing significant injury to the Federals in the process.
Bondurrant's guns scatter to the winds
0945.  Cox joins the 23 OHa.  Gibson's artillery, having the disordered 12 OH pass through its position, opens fire upon the 12 NC.  With the commotion of friendly troops falling back through their guns, the ensuing fire upon the Rebels is ineffective.  The OH Lt Artillery, having unlimbered within range of the Wise Farm, fires on the 13 NC with similar little effect.

With Federal musketry having no noticeable effect upon the sheltered Confederate line along the Ridge Road, the 23 OHb fixes bayonets and charges the 5 NCb.  The Federal attack goes in without having to endure any defensive fire.  In the close combat, the Ohioans dish out two heavy casualties while suffering one in return. While the Tar Heels maintain their ground, the Ohioans are bloodily repulsed suffering another heavy casualty as they retreat back into the cover, disordered.   The 30 OHa advances to the base of the Ridge Road with the West Virginian cavalry following closely.  The 30 OHb advances to maintain contact with the 30 OHa.
Federal left falls back as the center advances
Still in an outflanking position, Rosser's cavalry continues pouring fire into the Ohioans.  Succumbing to the harassing fire, the 30 OHa falls back disordered.

With the Federals at close range, both the 12 NC and 20 NC open up on their attackers.  The 30 OHa suffers one heavy casualty, becomes disordered and falls back.  The 30 OHb takes one heavy casualty but holds its ground.  Garland joins the 5 NCb to bolster its resolve.  Even with Garland's presence, the 5 NCb has had enough and breaks for the rear suffering one more heavy casualty as stragglers fall from the ranks.
Both sides have regiments breaking for the rear!
1004. To be continued...

Well, that was a lot of action in the first hour of battle and a cracking game.  Well suited to solo play.  To allow the combatants and the chronicler a chance to catch their breath, the retelling of the action will be broken into two parts.  The second and final hour of battle will be resumed next time.

While the Ridge Road is still firmly in Confederate hands, the loss of Bondurrant's guns significantly weakens Garland's position.  The game is producing great drama as both sides fight tooth and nail to hold the heavily enclosed, Beachley fields.  The raw North Carolinians on the Confederate right could not stand up to the attacks by the 23rd.  Fortunately for the Rebels, the timely appearance by Rosser's dismounted cavalry put an end to that Federal flanking threat.  For now, that is!

Casualties inflicted have been heavy.  Many of the Federal regiments are already reduced to 50% effective.  Is there enough fighting "punch" left in Scammon's Brigade to wrest control of the high ground from the North Carolinians?  We will see next time when we pick up the action once again.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A Gaming Potpourri

Americans advance in CoC
The gaming table has seen better than average activity over the last three weeks.  In addition to my continued solo work with Two Flags - One Nation, four FtF games have made appearances.  A BatRep for Fox Gap is still in the works from my last solo game.  In work?  I need to begin!   2017 has seen much more gaming activity than past years.  To date, I have exceeded two dozen games.  Most years, I am lucky to participate in a half-dozen; some years fewer than that!  Two more games are on the slate for next weekend.  Seems like either feast or famine at the gaming table.

Since no notes were taken for each of these actions, a brief recounting from memory is provided in chronological order of playing.  This approach allows a summary of each action without dragging the events out over a number of posts. Four birds with one stone, so to speak.  I am attempting to clear out the backlog since more Assyrians are in the parade queue!  

Canvas Eagles:
After the introduction of Scott and Kevin to Canvas Eagles a few weeks before, Jake got his initial outing with CE.  Played two games each of which Jake was the victor.  In Game 1, I recall getting shot down.  Curses!  In Game 2, Jake made his scheduled observation run as I attempted to line up a narrow field of fire onto his Whalfisch.  I had forgotten how difficult it can be to bring fixed guns to bear in a one-on-one engagement.
New Brigade Fire & Fury
My first outing with the recently released New Brigade Fire and Fury rules saw Terry's 12mm Scruby ACW collection out on the table..  The Battle tackled was the Second Battle of Ream's Station in 1864 during the Petersburg Campaign where Hancock faced off against A.P. Hill.
Battle of Ream's Station
The Confederate objective was to throw the Federal defenders out from their breastworks.  Drawing the command of Wilcox, I was assigned the task of leading the Confederate attack.  Note, Wilcox's Division is unsupported in his mission until later in the battle.  A tough task to take-on, for sure!
Federals lining the defenses with abatis discouraging attack
Wilcox advanced slowly towards enemy lines waiting for support to appear before pitching into the Federals.  Once Heth's Division appeared on his right, Wilcox attacked.  Notice the abatis protecting the Federal emplacements.  Nasty ground to cross.  This looks like suicide!
Wilcox prepares for assault
Harassed all the way in by artillery fire, Wilcox closed with the enemy.  Casualties were heavy but most of Wilcox's Division remained intact covering the Confederate left and effectively pinned the Federals in their place.  Heth, then made his attack after neutralizing a Federal battery or two.  Still, when I left, Hancock looked firmly in control of the position.  
Wilcox attacks the abatis
As for the new BFF, it sure seemed to be a direct port from Regimental Fire and Fury with little distinction between the two games. 

Commands & Colors Tricorne: The American Revolution:
Got my first game of the recently released CC: Tricorne.  The Battle of Bunker Hill was chosen and I took command of the Rebels.  When we called the game on account of time, the Rebels led two flags to none although the British had just taken the earthworks on Breed's Hill.  Several interesting twists are present in this latest CC offering adding a bit of nuance to long established tactics.  After the game, I read the rules and noticed we made a few errors.  Not unusual when playing a game for the first time. 
Battle of Bunker Hill
Chain of Command:
The Layout
Capping off this gaming summary is the most recent event from last Friday's Friday Night at the Fights.  That is, an impromptu game of Chain of Command pitting Jake's newly recruited Americans (see Dog Faces Part II) against my Germans.  Looking back at game notes, the last time CoC saw action on the gaming table was more than two years ago.  My, how time flies!  Given that two-year hiatus, we were quite rusty with the rules but the game flowed well once we got underway.  I consider myself quite lucky to game with fellows that not only absorb a new rule set quickly but can remember them after long periods of inactivity.  Something for which I sometimes struggle. 
Americans advance on farm
The objective of this action was to clear enemy forces from the vicinity of a small farm.  After the Patrol Phase, the Germans held the farm while the Americans were in position to assault along more than one avenue of approach.
Americans laying down fire on the farm
As the Americans approached the forward building, fire erupted from the house.  Several Americans went down in the initial hail of lead but quickly counterattacked taking a number of Germans out of action.
Jake's Kickstarter Americans
While two of the three American squads made their advance on the farmstead, the German squad on the left laid down a punishing fire and drove off the third US squad.  Seizing the opportunity, the Germans dashed out of their cover in an attempt to outflank the Americans and distract the US from their main objective.
Germans bust a move
 Having thrown the Germans out of the farm, the Americans advanced.
Americans envelop the farm
But, the Germans, having flanked the American line of advance, began attacking along an unexpected axis.
German flanking fire
Again, due to time constraints, the game was called and victory assessed.  Casualties were very heavy and both sides lost Jump Off Points.  After the final tally, a bloody draw was the outcome.  "Bloody" draw, indeed!  At least two-thirds of the combatants had been rendered out of action and both sides would be hard pressed to claim a victory.

With such heavy casualties and no catastrophic break in morale, we wondered if we had missed something in the rules.  Possibly.  This requires more investigation.  Of course, it would be helpful if the game was trotted out onto the gaming table more than once every two years.  I await a dispatch assessing our play within the rules. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Assyrian Heavy Archers

Well, it seems I cannot let go of painting Assyrians.  Off the painting table today is a nine figure unit of Assyrian Heavy Foot Archers.  Like most of this collection, figures are from Wargames Foundry.  This is the third such heavy archer unit fielded thus far in the project so I am quite familiar with the figues.  Very easy to paint and field.
Despite having sufficient numbers to field a good sized army, the Assyrians keep finding their way into the painting queue.  Quite alright with me.  I enjoy painting them!
Another two units of Assyrians are in the painting queue awaiting their turn at the brush.  Just like Lays potato chips, I can't paint just one.  At some point, though, I really must move on to another project.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Mid-19th Century Russians

The first test of battle for my mid-19th Century Great Game project is on the docket in a little over one week.  Given that boost of motivation, I wanted to muster one more Russian infantry battalion before the game, if possible.
Today's posting shows that fielding one more battalion was possible.  Off the painting desk is a 23 figure battalion of Russian line infantry in greatcoat.  Figures are from Empress Great War Miniatures and this is the first time Great War figures have crossed the painting desk.  The mounted officer is a Wargames Foundry figure.
Figures are well sculpted and robustly cast in a soft metal.  An issue with Foundry's Russian infantry in march attack is that a few figures almost always arrive sans bayonets.  No broken bayonets with these lads.  Some bayonets were bent and twisted but the soft metal allowed me to put them back into their proper attitude.  Really nice figures.  Marching in rolled greatcoat is a nice touch.
In The Lead Pile, only a few odds and ends remain from my Great Game project.  Nothing in sufficient numbers to field another unit whether it be foot, horse, or gun.
For now, I guess I will call the project "game ready" with nothing pressing to field.  Of course, a game on the schedule is often enough incentive to order a few more figures and strike while the motivational iron is hot.
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