Having now played 4 games of Longstreet I thought it time to share my thoughts on the rules. They were introduced to the Falkirk Club a few weeks ago pretty much as soon as they were published. The Maurice rules by the same author had proved popular and a move to ACW seemed logical as a number of people had usable figures in 15mm.
Although not in the absolute first wave I jumped on the bandwagon fairly early on for two main reasons. First off there was a good vibe about the rules in the club with a number of games being played and the participants obviously enjoying themselves. Secondly it was an excellent opportunity to reorganise my ACW collection. I am not a fan of rebasing but having 3 very different basing conventions did need to be sorted out.
There was soon demand for a Longstreet campaign and the original half dozen grew to a final tally of 14 players. This has been an added bonus for me as of the 4 games to date 2 have been against club members that I had not previously played.
The rules mechanisms themselves are very simple and easy to pick up. The differentiator here is the card system. Each player maintains a set of 6 cards which as well as being used to initiate firing, movement and charges also enable additional effects to be introduced such as move further, deliver more intense fire etc. One killer card is the ability to put a bit of disordering terrain on, just where your opponent does not want it to be. There are a number of cards that effect only one side. As a Confederate commander I particularly like the Rebel Yell card which makes charges more effective, although only for the early years of the war. It is also possible to interrupt your opponents move.
The campaign system exploits the fact that the rules cover a single war and uses this to mimic the changing face of the conflict. Thus at the start both sides are made up of Eager Recruits who are more effective in attack than defence. As the war progresses the troops become more war weary, the effect cards swing from being more supportive of the Confederacy and Union armies on average become larger.
Another interesting feature is the personalities of the generals which can enable them to have certain battlefield advantages - an engineering officer is better at putting up battlefield defences for instance. Other cards are important in the post battle phase.
A mechanism that I have not seen before which is used in the campaign is that of epic points. This is based on the premise that the point of the campaign is the personal prestige of the general. Heroic deeds are more important than actually winning the battle. Thus in my last game where I was the attacker trying to take a hill, despite being thrown back and losing the battle itself successive waves of heroic charges resulted in me scoring 7 epic points to Bill's 4. At the end of the campaign it is the general with the most epic points that wins.
The post battle phase allows the recovery of many of the battlefield losses but the effects of camp fever (all stands throw a dice and are eliminated on the throw of a 1) can be deadly. Campaign cards are then drawn which generally provide recruits to bolster units and new personality traits for commanders. Armies are then brought up to a minimum strength for the next game by attaching new units.
A campaign lasts nine battles, one in 1861, two in 1862, three in 1863, two in 1864 and one in 1865.
Overall my impressions are positive. Games are generally a little short for my liking (mine have been under 2 hours) and the rules a little simplistic. They will never be my rules of choice for a meaty refight of an actual battle where a set such Fire and Fury would be my rules of choice giving a more intense, thought provoking encounter. That is not to say that the games are not fun, just perhaps a little shallow.
The campaign system is what stands out for me. The fact that although results carry forward from one game to another each commander is always left with a usable army for the next game is a real strength. Indeed early in the war an army can actually be improved by an influx of eager new recruits. Making the standard campaign nine battles long is also a great idea. In Falkirk we have committed to a game a month for nine months which is (hopefully) eminently doable.
To summarise - a reasonable fun ruleset for playing ACW battles backed up by an excellent campaign system. Over the next couple of years I hope to fight a couple of campaigns and after that possibly a game or two a year - that is a good result for a new set of rules.
On learning that I was to attend a course in Grimsby I immediately did some research and put out a request on several forums to see if I could contact the local wargamers with a view to getting in a game or two.
Paul got in touch and invited me along the Grimsby Wargames Society's club house.
I subsequently learnt that this had originally been a very run down old stable block which had been purchased many years ago, refurbished and turned into a bespoke wargames venue by the members of the Society.
My first visit was on the Monday night which was devoted to historical wargaming. There were I think five games on including an impressive looking Boxer Rebellion game featuring a part of Peking, a large 25/28mm Wars of the Roses game, An English Civil war battle and a 15mm Napoleonic clash between the Austrians and the French.
I joined in with Paul playing the Austrians against Andy's French. The rules were the Grimsby Wargames Society's 15mm Napoleonic rules. They are fast play and well designed to allow the large number of figures on the table to play to a conclusion in an evening.
When I don't know a set of rules my instinct is all out attack so I sent forward my cavalry on the extreme left flank and 6 battalions of infantry beside them in a headlong charge towards the French. The basic sequence of the rules are a roll for initiative with the winner moving first followed by the second player, firing, melee and finally morale. Combat is decided by opposed dice rolls which use from D4 to D12 (or D20?). Depending on the type of unit a number of hits equates to its total loss and immediate removal from the battlefield.
Both flanks were soon locked in swirling cavalry melees. These continue until one side breaks or each player throws the same number on an average dice. Both were fought to the death - unfortunately the death of the Austrians. My attack columns advanced and threw themselves on the French line throwing it back but not doing enough damage to destroy any foot units although a battery of artillery was taken out. On the right French horse artillery supported an advance by their foot which disposed of much of Pauls infantry. My attack had also ran out of steam so at that point we conceded.
The rules were very easy to learn and the game was a lot of fun. Thanks to Paul and Andy for being so hospitable and the club members for being so welcoming.
On a Tuesday night the venue is used by another group of gamers largely playing Fantasy and SF games but some board gaming is also done. Although he does not usually attend on a Tuesday Paul very kindly invited me down . There were six of us
up for board games so we split into two groups of three. I played two
games, Carcassonne which is a tile game set in the Middles Ages and a dice game
entitled Roll Through the Ages. Somehow I managed to win both games. It was another very enjoyable night out.
Grimsby is a long way from Falkirk so I don't know when I will get down again which is a great shame as I had an absolute blast. Not only do they Grimsby lads have an excellent facility but the club also has a great atmosphere. Thanks again to the members for having me and Paul for being such a gracious host.
The right flank cavalry melee
My massed troops surge forward
What the French saw
The rather large downstairs table filled with WoR troops
The Kirriemuir club presented their annual Targe show on Saturday and I was part of a small team from the Falkirk club that put on a couple of scenarios from the Crisis in Kashmir CY6 Jet Age scenario book.
The show itself had about a dozen traders and perhaps sixteen games along with a Bring and Buy. I brought along half a dozen items and managed to shift all but one which paid for my purchases on the day which can't be bad. It was all well organised and I enjoyed my day.
The first of the scenarios saw me flying a pair of Pakistani Sabres tasked with intercepting two Indian Canberra bombers, only for them to be jumped themselves by Gnats. Kenny took the bombers and Doug the Gnats. I got in a good firing position fairly quickly and put a lot of bullet holes in the Canberras, forcing one down. The Gnats were all over me and their cannon firepower proved too much for the Sabres. To give you an idea in terms of damage points caused the Sabres roll 6 x D6 and the Gnats 2 x D20.
The second scenario saw 4 Sabres being jumped by 4 Gnats. It seems in the actual confrontation this was based on the Pakistanis never saw the Indian fighters and attributed the plane they lost to anti-aircraft fire! Barry and I shared the Sabres and Doug took once again took the Gnats. We also lost a plane before seeing our opponents and the game was a short and bloody affair with all the Sabres going down but not before Barry got a shot in throwing 34 on 6 D6 to cause the only Gnat shootdown of the day.
Doug had done all the preparation and planning and his was his excellent 1/200 scale planes we were using so it was probably only justice that he achieved a 6:1 kill ratio. I would recommend CY6 to anyone looking to get into air combat. We had lots of interested spectators throughout the day which always adds to the experience.
I was very pleased to meet fellow blogger Jim Duncan who came over to say hello, although I was saddened to hear of his loss of a close friend and fellow wargamer as reported on his blog.
We also took the opportunity to promote the next Carronade show (10th May 2014) and look to have signed up a new trader in Eagle Miniatures.
Congratulations to the winner of the best demonstration game which Rob Anderson of the Border Reivers club won with their Battle of Trafalgar Square 1984 and the RAF Leucars boys whose Divine Wind public Participation game was always going to be very hard to beat.
I managed a few photos:
A bit of a long shot but this shows the position where the sabres have turned and are about to take on the Cangerras rather than dogfighting with the Gnats
A shot of the main hall with our game in the foreground - that's Doug on the right talking to fellow club member David who was providing some moral support
The final Canberra with a Sabre on its tail which is just about to be taken out by a Gnat
A staged photo of the Canberrs and a Sabre
Another staged shot with a Mig 21 firing a missile at a Sabre - Doug had lots of positive comments about his pipe cleaner missile!
A rather poor shot of the Battle of Trafalgar Square game
OK - I am going to do an experiment and see if going public with my to do list for a month helps me focus and complete it
1 - Rebase 15mm confederates for Longstreet. I actually did some of this last night and have a usable army for my game on Friday (edit: Monday). All the infantry, cavalry and dismounted cavalry are now on 25mm square bases, which now need to be painted, flocked and magnatised. The artillery are on bases that are far too big but I have some replacements on order from Warbases which I will hopefully pick up at Targe.
2 - Paint up my Mordhiem warband. This will be the tough one.
3 - Finish off the bases of some 25mm figures that I varnished a while ago. They have been sitting there waiting for flock and magnetisation for months. Before the end of the year I want to see what I have ready and what I need to work on for both sides of a Bloody Battles game
4 - Base up my 15mm figures, acquired about a year ago for the Paraguayan war. I think I may be able to pad them out with some of my ACW figures
Lets see if this works?
Nearly forgot - tidy up the warattic a bit as well