Thursday 20 February 2020

The Battle of New Market 1864

This week's game saw us play the another scenario from the 'Glory Hallelujah!' supplement, namely the Battle of New Market. It seemed a nice size for a mid-week game and without too many units per side. The map in the book was a tad on the spare size, so a bit of research online came up with the following excellent map;

Although not too easy to read, it did give enough information to add in fence lines, fields etc to populate the games table. It also showed a ford on Smith's Creek, with Imboden's Bde on both sides of it, so it must have been fordable during the battle. However without a detailed read of the battle I can't be sure.

Again for our purposes, we merged some of the Tiny and Small units together to make game play easier and faster. Afterall a Tiny unit with one hit is going to become Shaken pretty damned easily, so combining them gave a bit more durability.

Well this was pretty much as per the scenario in the book. I debated as to whether to have Imboden's Bde with the main force or across the Creek, but decided upon the former. Only time would tell as to whether this was a good decision or not.

An overview of the table, with the Union troops on the left, the Confederates on the right.

Wharton's Bde on the left, with the artillery attached and Echol's Bde in the centre. The small unit of 'Jocks' represent the famous VMI Cadets.

Imboden's Bde on the right flank with their artillery.

The Union troops with Wyncoop Bde in the sweetcorn and Moor's Bde in and around the farm.
Turn 1
The Confederates got off to a poor start as Echol's Bde failed to move, despite General Breckenridge being close by. Needing to close with the enemy before re-inforcements arrived forced Wharton's Bde to push forward as fast as they could, leaving some of the troops in the open. Imboden's Bde pushed well forward on the right flank and dismounted and deployed the artillery. There was not shooting as all units had moved too far.

Tibbet's 1st Cavalry Bde failed their command to arrive, but being in march column, they got a free move and moved towards the fences near to Imboden's Bde to try and engage them, but their shots failed to find their mark. Wyncoop's Bde advanced into the wheatfield and managed to Disorder the leading Confederate unit. Moor's Bde dressed their lines to bring more troops into line and then combined shooting saw a Confederate unit becoming 'Whipped!'

The end of Turn 1.

Wharton's Bde is on the receiving end of some fine Union shooting.

Part of Tippet's Bde dismount and engage Imboden's Bde across the fences.

A Confederate unit that is well and truly 'Whipped!'

Turn 2
Still needing to bring their numbers to bear before Union re-inforcements arrive, Echol's Bde advances forward across the snake rail fences to get as close to the Union troops as they can, but this means they are unable to shoot. Wharton's Bde manages passage-of-lines to bring a fresh unit forward in the wheatfield, but only manages to hit and Disorder Wyncoop's cavalry. The other units fail to inflict any serious damage on Moor's Bde, leaving them in a good position to return fire with added interest. Imboden's Bde seeing Tibbet's units arriving, moves towards the fence line to engage them, but only manages one hit. So overall not a good turn of shooting for the Confederacy.

Tibbet's 1st Cavalry Bde makes initiative and command moves to bring their artillery into the line and their numbers to bear against Imboden's Bde, who they hit and Disorder. As Thoburn's 2nd Bde arrives on the table, bringing more Union forces, Moor's Bde blunders, with one unit advancing right in front on Echol's unit by the snake rail fence line. Combined shooting from Moor's and Wyncoops' Bde's sees two units of Wharton's Bde again become 'Whipped!', causing the whole Bde to become 'Broken'.

The end of Turn 2.

Wharton's broken Bde on the left leaving Echol's Bde rather unsupported.

Wharton's 'Whipped!' units.

Echols' Bde strung out and unable to effctively engage the enemy.

Imboden's Bde is isolated and outnumbered.

Thoburn's Bde arrives in line of march.

The view from the Union lines.

End of Game
With Wharton's Bde broken and Union re-inforcements arriving in strength, it was obvious that the battle was a lost cause for the Confederate troops. The battle was over before it had really begun, yet it felt like we had played more than two turns.
Post Game Thoughts
So at the end we sat there rather stunned that it had all ended so quickly and with such a convincing win for the Union troops. In the end we spent more time chatting than actually playing the game, which is enjoyable in its own right. As always some of our thoughts on the game are as follows:
  • The Confederate troops need to get going straight away and to bring their numbers to bear before the Union re-inforcements begin to arrive. In my eagerness to close with the enemy, I advanced Wharton's Bde too far and without the ability to then shoot. Frankly not a good move and it most likely cost me the game. 
  • Echol's Bde failing to move in the first Turn forced the above. If they had advanced, maybe the Union shooting would have been more spread out or maybe I would have sensibly advanced both Bde's, thereby allowing my to shoot in the first Turn.
  • This game the Die Gods abandoned me and put all their favours with Dave. In fact he was rather embarassed when his artillery delivered their devastating shooting in Turn 2, helping to two Confederate units becoming 'Whipped!'
  • I didn't read the Confederate OOB carefully enough as I could have spread out the two artillery units between Wharton's and Echol's Bde. Having them with the former meant that when that Bde became 'Broken', The Confederate troops only had one artillery unit left and that was with Imboden's Bde.
  • We both felt post game that there was too much artillery on the Union side. Whilst this may be historically accurate, we felt that one unit per Bde would be better for game play. Artillery when it hits (out shooting was at 'Effective' range) makes saving hits very hard due to the -2 to the Morale Save. 
  • Post-game reading I realised that we had been allowing our artillery units to move and have a free limber/unlimber move at the end; this only applies to horse artillery units. something to remember for the future.
  • The open terrain by the wheatfield, became a killing zone very quickly. Going forward we both agreed that sometimes more terrain may be required to allow the game to develop rather than finishing all too quickly due to some good die rolls. Having had recent games finish in two or three Turns, games that last longer would be nicer.
  • For our next game I will look at my scenario books or other historical actions for something that will hopefully give both sides a nice challenge and a longish game.

The next game won't be for a couple of weeks as I will be finishing work, having recently taken voluntary redundancy. I'm looking forward to having more time to do what I want, when I want as well as spending time on wargaming and my other hobbies. Hopefully this will lead to an increased output on the painting front, but only time will tell. So until next time...

Friday 14 February 2020

The Battle of Wilson's Creek, 1861

Witha pretty good handle of the core mechanics of BPII, it was time to move on from our mini-campaign and try some historical actions. The first scenario in the 'Glory Hallelujah!' book looked to be good, so we thought we'd give this a go.
Scenario Amendments
To keep things simple for a mid-week game, we tweaked things a bit, which were as follows:
  • The Union troops were all armed with Rifled Muskets. On the Confederate side, only the 3rd Brigade were armed this way, the rest having Smoothbore Muskets.
  • Only the Union and Confederate 3rd Brigades had 4 units per Brigade, the rest having 3. This was dictated by the number of bases we had to play the game.
  • The Cavalry Brigades were armed with Rifled Carbines. 
  • Both Generals were given a Command Rating of '9'.
All other scenario rules were as per the 'Glory Hallelujah!' supplement.
With both of us having the option to have troops come on as flanking forces, it was interesting the we both went for them to be on the table at the start and both over Wilson's Creek protecting the flanks of our respective forces.

The Union troops were deployed as follows, with the 1st Brigade on the right flank, moving through the 2nd and 3rd with the 4th Brigade on the left flank over Wilson's Creek.

For the Confederates, their left flank was covered by the 1st Brigade, with the 2nd and 4th in the centre and the 3rd Brigade on the left flank by Wilson's Creek. The 5th Brigade was held in reserve on the hill and the 6th Cavalry Brigade provided the flanking force over Wilson's Creek and parallel with the 3rd Brigade.
An overview of the table and the deployment.

The Confederate left and centre, with the reserves on and around the hill.

The 3rd Brigade on the left flank by Wilson's Creek.

The 6th Cavalry Brigade as the flank protection.

The Confederate battle line in all its glory.

Turn 1
The Union troops moved first, with the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Brigades all advancing and their guns unlimbering ready to shoot at the Confederate troops. The 4th Brigade failed to move, so the General moved over to the flank to give them some encouragment.

As the firing erupted along the line, the 1st and 2nd Bde's caused hits and Disorder on their opposite numbers, with the 3rd Bde diving their fire across the Confederate 3rd and 4th Bde's, again causing hits and Disorder. A good opening salvo from the Union troops.

A mixed amount of movement from the Confederate troops as the 1st, 5th and 6th Bde's all failed their orders to advance, with the 4th Bde failing their passage of lines roll. Despite this, the shooting was effective, with the 1st and 2nd Bde's combining their fire and cuasing hits and Disorder on the Union 1st Bde. The 3rd and 4th Bde's fire caused hits and Disorder on the Union 2nd and 3rd Bde's. So a good response from the Confederate boys.

The end of Turn 1.

Hits and Disorder across both lines of troops.

The same is true over by Wlison's Creek.

Turn 2
Once again the Union 4th Bde failed to move, even with the General in attendance, which was not good news as their presence was needed to help offset the Confederate advantage in numbers. The 1st Bde failed their passage of lines, but the 2nd and 3rd Bde's all succeeded. However their shooting was less effective, but the 2nd Bde did cause one of the Confederate 2nd Bde's units to become 'Whipped'.

The Confederate 6th Cavalry Bde again failed to move, but at least the 5th Bde did start to move towards Wilson's Creek, but only one move. The 1st Bde crossed Skegg's Branch to put pressure on the Union right, but the 2nd and 3rd Bde's failed to move. However the 4th Bde  moved a unit over to cover the hole left by the 'Whipped' 2nd Bde unit.

The Confederate 2nd and 4th Bde's shooting left Union units with hits and Disorder, whilst the 1st and 3rd Bde's left units Shaken and Disordered. Definitely this round went the Confederate way on the shooting front.

The end of Turn 2.

The Union line has lots of troops Disordered and Shaken.

The 2nd Bde's 'Whipped' unit as denoted by the yellow die.

The Union 1st Brigade.

The Union 2nd and 3rd Brigade's.

Turn 3
Finally the Union 4th Bde moved forward to help cover the left flank and their supporting gun caused some hits and Disorder on the Confederate 3rd Bde. With the rest of the Union troops Shaken and or Disordered, some units made a voluntary Disordered Retreat to the rear, to try and give them chance to rally of hits etc. The 3rd Bde failed to cause any hits from its shooting, but at least the 1st and 2nd Bde's did manage to cause some hits and Disorder.

The Confederate 6th Cavalry Bde recovered from its stupor and advanced towards the Union 4th Bde to engage them whilst dismounted. The Confederate 1st and 3rd Bde's advanced to keep up pressure on the Union 1st and 3rd Bde's, whils the 2nd and 4th Bde's held their positions. As fire erupted across the line, the Union 3rd Bde became Broken as did the 1st Bde when a unit became 'Whipped'. 

With 2 Broken Bde's, the Union army was now itself Broken and, with no way of offering any meaningful resistance, it quit the field of battle.

The end of Turn 3 and the game.

A rash of red and yellow marks the Shaken and Disordered units.

The Confederate left flank has destroyed the Union right flank.
The view from the Confederate 4th Bde.

The 3rd Bde pushes forth as the Union left flank collapses.

End of Game
The end came far more quickly than either of us thought possible, with the Union army collapsing in short order in Turn 3. If only the Union 4th Bde had moved forward more quickly iy might have been a different ball game.
Post-Game Thoughts
Well a short and action packed game that led to a very quick and emphatic victory for the Confederacy. At the end of Turn 2 the Union were not in a bad position, so it was a surprise at how things turned out in the following Turn. Still a fun game which we enjoyed and gave up lenty of time for a post-game chat, which is always nice. So as always so thoughts on the game etc:
  • When I lost the first unit of the 2nd Bde 'Whipped', I thought " Oh no, here we go again!". But for once the Confederate line held and this time the Die Gods were definitely on their side. It could have easily gone the other way, if the Union shooting die rolls had been better at the start of Turn 2.
  • This scenario would make a good multi-player game, due to the large number of units on each side, with 2 per side working well and maybe 3-a-side a possibility. To do this you would need to field all the units as per the scenario, which means a lot of units.
  • I think our tweaks worked well and certainly we had more than enought units per Bde to make for an entertaining evenings gaming. Any more and I think we would have struggled.  That nominal 12 units per side has a lot going for it for mid-week games that can be played to a conlcusion in an evening.
  • Once again I think the 'Whipped' ruls works reall well. As we had few this game we started to call it 'Mr Whippy' after that favourite childhood ice cream and reminisced about the 99p Flake! (Apologies to friends 'over the pond' who have no idea what I'm on about!). 
  • Black Powder II does provide for a fast and furious game. The more I play it the more I'm tempted to add in things from Honours of War, such as choosing whether to move first or second, movement penalties when moving the the flank or rear etc. I'm wary to do this yet as I may end of playing a hybrid of the two that is neither one nor the other. Still it keeps crossing my mind.
  • You need lots of trees and scrub for many of these ACW games. I can make more of both in the future, but I want to concentrate on my Spring Objectives first and not get distracted. Maybe this will happen later in the year.
  • Dave's 6mm ACW collection really does give the feel of a big battle, rather than a skirmish. I'm too far down the 10mm route to change now, but if I was to start again, I think 6mm would be my chosen route. Whether my eyes would be good enough to paint them is another matter entirely.

We're due to have another game this week and I'm going to suggest we try the New Market,
1864 scenario from the 'Glory Hallelujah!' supplement, as the terrain is more open and there is a nice mix of forces to play with. So until next time...

Sunday 9 February 2020

The Shenandoah Valley 1862 - The Battle for Kayephcee

Our ACW campaign reached its conclusion with the final battle played out a few days ago. As the Confederates had taken a bit of a kicking so far ( a slight understatement) I was hoping Lady Luck and the Die Gods would be on my side...
Colonel Sanders of Kentucky had set up his defensive positions in and around the town of Kayephcee (place of good eating in the local tongue), with the aim of halting the Yankee advance and thus preventing a break out into the Shenandoah Valley and the threat of cutting off Jackson's lines of communication. He had less troops than he would have liked due to recent losses further up the valley and was particularly worried about his deficiency in cavalry. After all the Union Colonel Shirley Wayne had been acting like old Jeb Stuart in his brave and daring exploits.
Rebs OOB
Colonel Sanders - C-in-C

Colonel Ulysses Everett 'Dapper Dan' McGill
2nd Kentucky - Skirmishers
3rd Kentucky
1 Artillery Battery

Colonel Menelaus 'Pappy' O'Daniel
1st Mississippi
2nd Mississippi
1 Artillery Battery

1 Cavalry Unit - Marauders

Yankees OOB
As they hadn't suffered any losses so far, the Union OOB was the same as at the start of the campaign.

For the Union ,simply to breakthrough the Confederate positions at Kayephcee. Unsurprisingly for the Confederates their task was to halt the Union advance.


The Confederates deployed their artillery on the hill, trying to cover as much of the Union attack as they could. The 2nd & 3rd Kentucky were to the North of the town on the right flank, whilst the troops from Mississippi to the South on the left, with the cavalry mounted and ready to meet the Union cavalry threat.

The Union stuck with their successful 'Buffalo Horn' attack, with the infantry in the centre and the cavalry and skirmishers on the flanks. Sly T'Lone's Brigade was in the centre and was tasked with advancing up the road, with Gump's Brigade to the left by the wheatfield.

An overview of the battlefield.

The 1st Mississippi in the ploughed field and the 2nd Mississippi on the edge of town.

The Union Impis troops ready to advance.

The Reb's artillery covering the left flank.
The Reb's artillery on the right flank with the troops from Kentucky.

Turn 1
Shirely Wayne and his troops sounded the bugle call and set off at a fair old trot, moving past the woods and dismounting. Sly T'Lone's Brigade failed to move off, but Gump's troops set off through the wheatfields to try and close with the enemy as quickly as possible.

In reply 'Pappy' O'Daniel moved the cavalry to the snake rail fence, where they dismounted and opened fire on Wayne's troops, but only caused one hit. Only the the right flank had a target, but the artillery failed to hit Gump's troops in line in the wheatfield.

The end of Turn 1.

Wayne's troops come under fire.

Despite a wealth of targets, the Confederate artillery fails to hit anything.

Turn 2
Having come under fire, Shirley Waynes decided to split his command, with one unit heading to the cover of the woods whilst the other crossed over the fence and move into the ploughed field from where it could should at the Rebel cavalry. Union skirmishers moved up in support and their combined fire saw one hit on the cavalry and 1st Mississippi, both of which were also Disordered.

Sly T'Lone's Brigade moved forward, with the gun unlimbering. In advance of these the Union skirmishers moved forward and occupied the wooden hut at the road junction. Gump's Brigade failed, but as they were in March Column were allowed a free move and so deployed into line. On the left flank the cavalry managed to move but one failed its command roll.

The Confederate left flank had many units Disordered, so was limited in what it could do, but its shooting saw Wayne's cavalry and skirmishers in the woods Disordered. On the right flank the 2nd Kentucky moved forward to the snake rail fence by the cornfields, ready to meet the expected Union cavalry attack.

End of Turn 2.

The Confederate cavalry in a rather exposed postion, but at least they are putting up a good fight.

The view from 'Pappy' O'Daniel's command on the left flank.

The Confederate right flank is not under threat just yet but does look open to a flanking attack.

Turn 3
A mixed Turn for the Union boys as Sly T'Lone once again fails his command roll and Gump Blunders, leading to his Brigade moving one move to the right. Things went better for Wayne's troops and the skirmishers in the woods, who managed to cause the 1st Mississippi to move back Shaken and Disordered. On the left flank the cavalry moved up ready to engage the 2nd Kentucky.

The 2nd Kentucky duly oblige and cause one hit on the Union cavalry. On the confederate left flank, the cavalry cause two hits on Wayne's troops who duly save them! Not a good outcome for the Rebs. At least the 2nd Mississippi cause the Union skirmishers to go Disordered.

The end of Turn 3.

The 1st Mississippi in retreat, Shaken and Disordered. Not a good state to be in.

The 2nd Mississippi and 3rd Kentucky move forward to make a better defensive line.

The 2nd Kentucky engage the Union cavalry on the right flank.

Turn 4
Numbers eventually tell and shooting from Wayne's troops leaves the Confederate cavalry Shaken and Disordered. As Sly T'Lone's Brigade moved forward to the edge of the wheat field, the Union skirmishers who've moved forward to the snake rail fence put more hits on the 1st Mississippi who once agan have to retreat Shaken and Disordered. The 2nd Mississippi also take hits and become Disordered, leaving the Confederate left flank distinctly vulnerable.

Gump seemed determined to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by once again Blundering, this time leading to his whole Brigade retreating off the table! Might this be the turning point of the battle? Not yet as the Union cavalry on the left flank Disordered the 2nd Kentucky.

With so many units with Disorder, the Rebs options were limited. The 3rd Kentucky were moved up to the sawmill to threaten Sly T'Lone's flank now that Gump's Brigade had disappeared. The Confederate shooting could have been better, managing only to Disorder some of Wayne's troops and the Skirmishers in the log cabin. What they need was troops going Shaken to even things up a bit.

The end of Turn 4.

Wayne's troops shoot it out with the Confederate cavalry.

A view of Sly T'Lone's Brigade advancing through the wheat field.

The 1st Mississippi seek the shelter of Kayephcee.

The 2nd Kentucky are doing their level best to hold back the Union cavalry.

Gump's Brigade can be seen off table on the top right of the 'photo.

Dave's 'photo of Gump and his Brigade off table.

Turn 5 
The time was perfect for Wayne to lead his troops in a charge to dislodge the Confederate cavalry, but he failed his command roll. So instead the did an old fashioned shoot out, that led to the Rebs becoming 'Whipped'. Sly T'Lone moved some units towards the Sawmill whilst his next command Blundered, leading to the other units moving off to the right, which was not quite what he had hoped for. Gump and his Brigade reappeared at the edge of the table. With all the moving completed it was a case off shooting all across the line, which was rather effective. As the smoke cleared the 2nd and 3rd Kentucky as well as the 2nd Mississippi all took 2 hits and were Disordered.

Again the Confederate troops could do little other than shoot back which was desultory to say the least, only managing to Disorder one unit of Sly T'Lone's Brigade.

The end of turn 5.

The Confederate left flank in complete disarray.

In contrast Sly T'Lone's Brigade are in good order and ready for the assault.
Another view of the Confederate left flank.

Turn 6
As Wayne failed his command roll, Gump and his Brigade pushed smartly forward. The Union shooting was impressive once again, with the 2nd Mississippi becoming Shaken and Disordered, the 2nd Kentucky Shaken and the 3rd Kentucky 'Whipped'.

With som many units Shaken and 'Whipped', Colonel Sanders command effectively ceased to exist as the troops fled the field of battle, leaving the door wide open to the Shenandoah Valley.

The end of Turn 6.

Sly T'Lone's Brigade move in for the kill.

Another view of Sly t'Lone's Brigade with Gumps just in view on the left.

The beleagured command of 'Pappy' O'Daniel.

The 'Whipped' 3rd Kentucky.

The 2nd Kentucky, Shaken and about to be stirred.
The road open to the Shenandoah Valley.

Panoramic 'photos courtesy of Dave.

End of Game
In the end the Confederate troops were not enough to put up meaningful resistance against the Union 'hordes'. A few die rolls here or there might have made some difference, but in reality would not have affected the outcome. Still a fun game with its comedy moments which we both enjoyed.

Post Game & Campaign Thoughts
So the campaign has reached the end of its course, so time to reflect upon this and the final game. So as always some thoughts in no particular order:

  • The idea of the linked campaign based upon movement down a valley works well in principle, but in all honesty failed in practise. Why? Hard to be certain but I think the OOB for both sides would work well for Napoleonics or Seven Years War, but didn't for the ACW. As mentioned in the last post, there is too much cavalry which is 'wrong' for this conflict. Also I'm not sure what rules these scenarios would originally have been aimed at, but I imagine some of the old WRG's ones. There is no publication date in the book so I can't be certain. All of this aside, I think I will try this campaign again, but use the OOB as a guide and maybe play it set in WWII and using BKCII as the ruleset.
  • Dave made the comment that when he saw the OOB at the start and at each game, he didn't think the confederates had a chance, and he right he proved to be. As with the above, the balance needs to be tweaked to give the Defenders of the valley a fighting chance which in this campaign they didn't have.
  • After 3 games I think we pretty much had a handle on BPII. Some things we may have gotten slightly wrong, but for the most part we used common sense and what seemed right. A good set of rules and ones that I'm looking forward to playing more of soon.
  • As others have said in the past, the rules themselves could have been more condensed and so easy to read, especially when you are trying to find a specific rule. However the contents page at the front works really well and the text often refers you to another page to help you find what you are looking for. So a minor quibble to be honest.
  • When playing the game I kept thinking that Keith Flint's Honours of War alternate move and shooting sequence would work really well with these rules. I think it adds a nice level of friction and keeps the 'non-active' player more involved if that makes sense? I will keep to the BPII sequence for the time being and explore the alternate option once I've got a few more games under my belt so I can make a more informed decision.
  • In our final game we seemed to roll an inordinate number of sixes, leading to widespread Disordered units, but ones with few or no hits at all.
  • We soon learnt that once a unit is Shaken and Disordered, it is hard to recover it in the heat of battle. Maybe this is easier to do in a 'normal' linear type battle, but in this scenario it was nigh on impossible.
  • In the campaign I made the wheatfields rough terrain. With hindsight I think this is wrong as it slowed the movement of units too much, when sweetcorn fields don't slowed movement, as written in the Glory Hallelujah! supplement. Not a big deal in the scheme of things and one you could almost do on a game by game basis if needed. 
  • Well even though the campaign was rather one sided, it was great fun and we learnt a lot from it in terms of how to run one and more importantly how BPII works in relation to the ACW. As mentioned before we didn't use any of the optional rules either from BPII or the GH supplement. Going forward I will use these for my solo games but for mid-week ones keeping it simple tends to work well, as we can focus on the game rather than what unit has what 'rule' that we might need to remember.
So what next? The aim is to play some of the scenarios from the GH supplement and the BPII rulebook, as well as some of the scenarios from the Grant & Asquith books. Hopefully this will carry on next week. So until next time...