Thursday, 12 December 2019

ACW campaign map moves

As the battle progresses into the afternoon of 24th June 1863. Union forces have been able to capture the railway bridge in morning, but exhausted Rawlin's and Cope's divisions in doing so. In an aggressive move Confederate forces have swung Lyons' division across the Redmond River to threaten the Union's left flank.

Orders were written by both generals. In this solo campaign I am taking the Union side and will write one set of orders for them and two sets for their opposing Confederate general. then let the dice decide which set of Confederate orders are actioned.

Union orders:

  1. Smith's division to march north and cross the bridge
  2. Rawlin's division to hold
  3. Brown's division hold and provide support (reserves) to both Cope and Rawlin
  4. Cope's division to hold
Confederate orders to be actioned on a 1, 2 or 3:
  1. Greg's division to cross the bridge moving south east
  2. Tanner's division to advance east
  3. Lyons' division to follow the river north
  4. Cooper's division to hold

Confederate orders to be actioned on a 4, 5 or 6:
  1. Greg's division to cross the bridge moving south east
  2. Tanner's division to hold
  3. Lyons' division to follow the river north
  4. Cooper's division to move north
The dice roll was a 3 so the first set of Confederate orders were actioned. Union forces won the dice-off to make their first move, there on after each force taking turns to action one of their orders in the sequence they were written. When moving a division a D3 is rolled to determine how many squares they can move (no diagonal moves allowed).

Moving first Smith's Union division managed to get the jump on Greg's division. While Tanner's division are advancing on Cope's weakened division and Lyons pushed very slowly north.

This weekend I will hopefully be playing two games over map coordinates E1 and E3.

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

ACW Campaign - 2nd action

Following the morning action fought between Cooper's Confederate division and Cope's division the battle (mini campaign) moves on to midday and orders written. In the case of the Confederates army this means two sets of orders: 1) a likely set of orders and 2) an alternate and less likely orders.

Here are the two sets of Confederate orders:

On a dice roll of 1-4

  • Lyon's division to hold position
  • Greg's division to move east towards the bridge
  • Cooper's division to shift north and cover the road bridge
  • Tanner's division to move east and relieve Cooper's division at the railway bridge

On a dice roll of 5-6

  • Greg's division to hold position
  • Tanner's division to swing north around Cooper's division to the road bridge
  • Lyon's division to cross Redmon's River and swing south east
  • Cooper's division to hold position at the railway bridge

A 5 was rolled.

Battle (campaign) movements
When moving armies a dice is rolled and the highest scoring army moves one of their division first. Then both sides take turns moving alternatively until all division are moved. Divisions must be moved in the order of the orders (e.g. the Confederate army order would be Greg, Tanner, Lyon and Cooper).

With the orders carried out the next action occurs again at the railway bridge between Cooper's division defending and Rawlin's division attacking. The order of battle is:

Cooper's division

  • 3 infantry brigades
  • 1 artillery battery
  • 1 infantry brigade will arrive to support in turn 6 from Tanner's brigade
  • 2 commanders
Rawlin's division
  • 4 infantry brigades (1 brigade had already be sent to support Cooper's division in the morning)
  • 1 artillery battery
  • 1 infantry brigade is avail for support from Brown's division in turn 6
  • 3 commanders

With the tabletop already setup from the previous game, it did not take long for the units to be deployed. Rawlin's division had a slight numerical advantage and planned to take fight to Cooper's weakened division. They planned to cross simultaneously at the ford and railway bridge.

On to the game which was most enjoyable, so much so that I forgot to take photo's towards the latter part of the game.

Tabletop deployments and planned attacks
Union troops quickly crossed the river
Union troops moved swiftly and were able to successfully cross Redmond's River. Skirmishing soon occurred supported by artillery fire. Casualties began to mount on both sides, the Confederate brigade positioned in the fields proved to be very troublesome on the flank of advancing Union units.

Reserve units arrived just as casualties began to result in lost units. The Union reserves marched very quickly and were soon in sight of the bridge.

Reserve units arrive from both sides
Union reserves arrived at the bridge just as they became the only remaining Union infantry unit. When this occurs the units may only defend and not advance towards enemy units. Remaining Confederate units made a last ditch and unsuccessful attempt to dislodge them.

A final attempt to dislodge Union infantry defending the bridge
A slim Union victory which came at the cost of an exhausted Rawlin's division. Cooper's Confederate division was not much better off and limped away westward. These divisions will not be able to recover they losses until night time.

Division positions as the battle moves into afternoon
Having written orders for the campaign has got me thinking about having written orders for the game occurring on the tabletop. Taking a similar approach with Confederate forces by writing two sets of orders and dicing to see which set are carried out.

Sunday, 8 December 2019

ACW mini-campaign morning clash

A quick reminder of the battle (mini campaign) which has four Union divisions trying to force a crossing of Redmond's River by capturing one or more of the bridges. The first actions occurs as Cooper's Confederate division moves south to defend the Railway bridge crossing against an early attempt by Cope's Union division to cross. The action is taking place the morning, 24th June 1863.

Union artillery battery in action
The battle will be over two days with each campaign move representing part of the day: morning, midday, afternoon, early evening.

The campaign - battle map the morning 24th June 1863
As both sides have a supporting division in an adjoining square they can draw upon a single reserve unit after turn 6 to add to their starting 6 units which are randomly generated at the start. Once a division's composition is determined it is recorded for the remainder of the battle (campaign).

The table top was laid out a second time for this game. It had been packed away earlier in the week and sharp-eyed readers may notice some differences to the photo in a previous post. The order of battle is:

Confederate forces

  • 5 infantry unit
  • 1 artillery unit
  • 3 commanders
  • Option of 1 infantry reserve unit arriving after turn 4
Union forces
  • 3 infantry unit
  • 2 artillery unit
  • 1 cavalry unit
  • 3 commanders
  • Option of 1 infantry reserve unit arriving after turn 4

The forces are deployed
The Union commander, Colonel Cope, was rather pessimistic about the morning and being able to achieve his orders. He did have the advantage in artillery and a cavalry unit to quickly reconnoitre the river for any possible fordable lengths of Redmond's River, but his division was facing a strong Confederates force of 5 infantry units.

Both divisions pushed forward their units and skirmishing occurred at long range supported with available artillery units. Union cavalry were able to discover a fordable stretch of river and attempted a crossing quickly coming under skirmishing fire.

Both sides push forward. Union forces are hoping to find the river is fordable on their right flank.
Union artillery fire upon Confederate forces while their cavalry find a fordable stretch of the river and attempt a crossing.
Using their artillery to bombard the opposing infantry, forcing them to rout and retire. Union infantry managed to cross at the railway bridge, but had no supporting units, a risk venture. Reserve infantry had arrived from Tanner's division and were being rushed up as quickly as possible before Confederate forces were able to regroup.

As Confederate units retire and regroup after sustaining a few turns of artillery fire. Union infantry rush across the railway bridge.
Union infantry soon become exposed while reserve infantry try and move forward quickly to provide support.

Colonel Cope's pessimism was justified and he determined enough was enough, calling off the attack late in the morning. A Confederate success as they have control of the railway bridge. Cope's division retired eastwards.

From a campaign perspective Cope's division will next time field only 2 commanders. Commanders assigned to units allow them to re-roll movement and shooting dice. There will be more on the rules as the campaign progresses.
The Union commander calls off the attempt to cross the river.
With the Confederates in control of the railway bridge and Cope's division retiring eastwards. It is time to consider the next campaign move orders. In the case of Confederates this is two sets of orders which are diced for to determine which set to action. I am trying this approach instead of dicing for the individual divisional units as it provides more cohesive set of moves from the opposition.

The battle positions at the end of the morning.

Saturday, 30 November 2019

ACW mini campaign opening moves

Just a quick post this weekend as I am writing this on my phone having run out of time during the week before jumping on to a fight to Wellington, NZ, to see my Daughter and old work colleagues from when I lived there.

The opening campaign moves were made and the first action is setup and waiting for my return.

First action of the campaign waiting to be played. 
I did revamp the campaign counters to better reflect an ACW theme and uniquely identify each division with the commander’s name. Division identification is required to track the unit composition as the battle unfolds and the division become exhausted.

A reminder of the starting positions with counters now uniquely identifying divisions. 
This is a solo campaign and this time I am picking the attacking union forces. In my last solo campaign I was the defending WW2 British so it was time to switch.

The approach I am taking is to write down the orders for each side. For the union side I only write one set of orders which will be applied. For the Confederates I write two sets of orders: a likely set of orders and a less likely set (which may be the more riskier approach). All orders must include the sequence the orders are applied to the divisions.

Once all orders are written, then I dice for which confederate orders are applied. Rolling a D3 dice the most likely orders are applied on a 1 or 2, and the less likely on a 3.

The campaign battle map after orders are applied. 
When applying the orders I dice to see which side moves their first division. Then roll a D3 and the division can move that many squares (no diagonal moves allowed). This process is repeated with each side alternatively moving one division at a time. A division must cease movement if adjacent to an enemy unit. When this occurs and the enemy is blocking the intended move, the action is transferred  to the tabletop for a game.

Another book arrived during the week, which will be read this weekend.

Recent secondhand arrival

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

ACW mini campaign

Now that the ACW rules are starting to come into some semblance of order and the changes are less frequent it is time to string together a few games with a mini campaign. The plan with the campaign is to keep the games small and on a 4x4 foot tabletop.

As inspiration I flicked through War Game Campaigns (Donald Featherstone) and found in chapter 23 a small campaign for the Franco-Prussian War which would seem well suited for being repurposed for a mini ACW campaign. It has a Confederate force of 4 divisions defending the North side of a river with four bridges, and 4 Union divisions trying to force a crossing.

The bridges at coordinates B5 and D3 can be crossed by all units. While the rail bridge D4 and a partially destroyed bridge F1 can only be crossed by infantry. Additionally, the river may be fordable and Union forces can also attempt to construct a pontoon bridge.

The hope is the campaign will provide a series of actions which can be viewed a one battle fought over 1-2 days which each campaign turn representing a third of a day.

Taking a lead from the book "History shows that few armies seem to go into war with accurate maps". Each map square is a tabletop and is an indication of the terrain which will be determined using terrain cards stacked with cards to fit the likely terrain.

Each side has four divisions which start the game laid out as in the picture below.

During a campaign turn (a third of a day) both sides take turns to alternatively move one division at a time until all divisions have had an opportunity to move. When moving a division roll a D3 dice (1,1,2,2,3,3) to determine how many squares a division can move. Diagonal moves are not allowed and units cannot stack or move through other units. When a unit tries to move into an enemy occupied square the action moves to the tabletop.

When an action is going to be played the make up of a division is determined with dice and recorded. A division will start the campaign with 6 units.

When a game is being played on the tabletop one reserve unit from any adjacent division can enter the game. If there are two adjacent units there is an opportunity to call upon two reserve units.

Finally, the post arrived with a recent secondhand book purchase. I have always wanted to own a copy of The War Game by Charles Grant since borrowing a copy from the school library when it was first published.

Sunday, 24 November 2019

Game report and more felt and pastels terrain

Having livened up most of my ACW army bases (see previous post) it was time for a quick game to test out some modifications to the One Hour Wargames (OHW) ACW rules variant I am using.

The game has Union forces making a morning attack on Green's Farm where Confederate forces have taken up some hurried defensive positions to block the Union advance.

All ready for a game
The tabletop was decided using terrain cards and allowed both sides to add a small hill to their side of the tabletop. The order of battle was diced for using the force composition tables from OHW.


  • 2 Commanders (1 on-table and another 1 off-table ready for promotion rule)
  • 1 Cavalry unit
  • 1 Artillery unit
  • 4 Infantry units
  • 3 Commanders (2 on-table and another 1 off-table ready for promotion rule)
  • 5 Infantry (a Zouave unit is part of the 5 units and is why Union forces have 3 commanders)
  • 1 Cavalry unit
The Union plan was quite simple. Push up into the central woods and move the cavalry around the flank to keep as many Confederate units in position while making the main assault on Green's farm with the remaining 4 infantry units.

Planned Union moves
The Union assault progressed well. While one unit was disordered and retreated the gap was quickly filled by reserve infantry lead by a commander. Soon the combined shooting from two commanded units took its toll on the defenders of Green's farm who retired disordered, only to be replaced by infantry reserve with commander. 

The Confederates desperately wanted a rally command event, but instead got additional moves and shooting. While extra shooting and moves are always helpful in a defence, it did not stop their disordered units retreating off the tabletop and into the elimination pile.
Early stages of the assault
Confederate reserves quickly move up to fill the gap caused by disordered units retreating.
An extra command event move allowed Confederate artillery to move up into canister range and shoot in one turn. Rallied union units can be seen entering the assault again.
On the Union right flank a swift advance had allowed the Union cavalry to race forward and surprise their Confederate counterparts. Soon the Confederate cavalry were under pressure which drew in infantry from the nearby woods. This action quickly escalated with Union infantry emerging from the centre woods to join the action.

Union cavalry occupying and distracting Confederate forces
Action in the Union middle and right flank where infantry charge out of the central wood.
By noon Union forces had successfully taken Green's farm. It had not been easy and required a number of assaults. Being able to rally their disordered infantry before they retreated off the tabletop allowed then to be used again later waves of attack on the farm. On the right flank Union forces eventually forced back the defenders around the woods.

A Union victory.

This game was the third time I had played this tabletop setup and has resulted in sorting out the disorder and rally rules to a point where I hope the balance is right.

Green's farm is taken
Confederates retire
As I was preparing the tabletop it soon became evident the roads I have were too wide for 15mm units. So out came the oil based pastes again to spruce up the roads (see previous post on use of oil based pastels). 
Comparison of roads with and without oil based pastels
There were a couple of questions about the use of these pastels and whether they rub off? In the short time I have been using them I have found it takes a bit of rubbing to have the colour come off onto my hands. However, with all my felt terrain I often give the felt a light spray of a varnish/sealer to reduce the likelihood of bases catching on the felt. This also has the effect of stopping any colour getting rubbed off from the felt.

Example of oil based pastels on wooded areas...
...with trees

Thursday, 21 November 2019

Livening up some old ACW bases and rules

My old ACW figures were based some 30 years ago. Over the years they have lost their green colouring and become quite dark, and needed some livening up. I did consider removing the figures from their bases and creating new bases, but they do seem to be very well stuck on with the risk a breakages during the removal process.

After a little bit a trial and error I have ended up painting the bases with a heavy dry brush of green following by a lighter dry brush a brown. While not perfect is good enough for my eye when deployed on the tabletop.

Original bases are looking drab and tired and look too dark on the tabletop
Over the last week I have been testing out a One Hours Wargaming ACW variant using D3 dice, having units retire and rally with random command events, and commanders to improve unit performance. These can be found on a tab at the top.

Bases livened up with dry brushed paint
I will be doing a game write up of one of these games next, and hope to finish all the bases this weekend. However, this week seems to be slipping away with work and the lead up to the end of year.