@Gangleri: Thanks very much.
@GamesPoet: Thank you. Yeah it's weird how this conflict which initially didn't interest me at all turned out to becoming my largest 28mm collection of historicals.
Few weeks after that very lovely trip we had yet another ACW game. This time it was at Greymouse's. It was planned to be a 2on2 game, me of course playing on the rebels' side, the other Confederate commander was to turn up later but when he did he was too tired after a busy work week and doing family stuff on that day he stuck to watching.
The rules played are Guns at Gettysburg which of course are from the General de Brigade family of rules. I had participated in two games of Die Kriegskunst (7 years war version of General de Brigade) and a GdB Napoleonics game before but never quite grasped the command and control aspect of the game.
None of us had played them before but we had an umpire to guide us through the game with a firm hand.
Here's the table setup and a nondescript number of my fingers:
You can see the border of my "deployment zone" by the units I deployed. The year is 1862, the Union army is on the attack and my two brigades were left behind with the job to keep the unionist troops who were advancing along the road from doing so for as long as possible. The Union's mission naturally was to break through.
The Union's division consisted of 3 infantry brigades, each with two bases of cannon, troops are of mixed quality (Green, Regulars, Veterans). They also brought a rather large cavalry brigade along. My boys were made up of two infantry brigades (four regiments of infantry and two bases of cannon each), also of mixed quality, and a small elite cavalry detachment. I Might have had more veteran troops than the Unionists but I'm not sure. In general the equipment was in reverse proportion to the quality of the troops - green and regular troops mostly had rifled muskets, veterans came with their older smooth-bores.
Here's another picture of my deployment (the Union was to move onto the table). The centre and left:
Two units I had set up in and around the far left barn to secure the flank in case the enemy would make use of their superior numbers and attack on two sides.
The right, with veteran Louisiana Tiger Rifles at the front, the world's smallest cavalry brigade to support them and a smaller regiment having set up in the farm (probably searching the place for edibles or valuables):
My brigades were basically set up in two lines, the first line being the first brigade made up mostly of my Louisiana boys, supported by their pals from the South Carolina regiment. The second line was the less experienced second brigade. The cannons were concentrated in the middle with a slightly narrow but nice look down the road the enemy was approaching on.
The orders of both my infantry brigades were to hold their positions, the cavalry brigade's order was to support the right flank. Guns at Gettysburg uses a command and control system based on set orders given out to each brigade at the beginning of the game. Sometimes written down on little markers or just told to the umpire if one is present. The orders - Hold [terrain feature, position, etc.], engage [enemy unit, any enemy by terrain feature X, etc.], Retire, Assault [enemy unit, any enemy by terrain feature X, etc.], Move [terrain feature], Support [friendly brigade, flank, etc.] - only allow for specific behavior for a unit. If say a brigade has the order to hold a position they may not charge out of it to engage an enemy or advance to another position (or even leave their position voluntarily) unless the brigade order is changed at the beginning of the turn. Either the overall commander may change one order per turn (having to roll for it) or one brigadier per turn may attempt to change his brigade's orders. If the rolls are failed the order can not be changed. If the brigadier attempting to change the order himself and rolls badly though the men lose confidence in his plans and their order changes "one level down" in aggressiveness. So a "Hold" order is changed to "Retire", Attack is changed to Engage (I think) and so on. Good old double one will mean that the brigadier decides that all is lost and retreats, with devastating effects to his brigade. I'm not 100% sure on any of this but that's how I picked it up during the game.
So the command and control aspect is pretty important (which I'm all for) and you get a feel for how maybe it's not that easy to make a division of dudes in a life or death situation do exactly what you tell them.
The cannons weren't my models but from other collections. Which of course must be the reason why on turn 2 and 4 respectively I rolled two ones for their shooting which meant that they were low on ammo and would only fire to half effect for the next four and five turns each. A highly unwelcome turn of events. The low ammo rule actually is rather fun. Each time you roll two 1s on your firing dice (almost everything is done via rolling 2d6, add/substract some modifiers and then look the results up on a table) your unit is low on ammo and will only fire to half effect. Each game you can have new ammo delivered to up to three units (according to the rules you then deploy an ammunition cart on the table which moves towards the unit and throws new ammo at them but we house-ruled that we roll 1d6 and that's the number of turns it takes for the ammo cart to arrive and do their job), after that the ammo will be low for your whole army or something for the rest of the game or the unit can't fire any more at all. Something bad at least.
On came the hordes in blue:
As was to be expected, the first Union brigade attempting to break through got badly pummelled but my opponents (in their devious ways) mostly sent their green troops into the meat grinder to soften the Confederate defences whilst the second brigade snuck up in the far right behind a hill. At this point my second brigade got the order to leave their positions on the left and all march over to support the right flank, including their cannons which were low on ammo anyway so wouldn't so much for the next few turns anyway.
At this point the Union's second brigade had reached the fences. My elite cavalry which I had placed to support the Tigers in their attempt to hold back the overwhelming force of northern aggression had gotten decimated badly and retired. Another horrible display of my tendency to burn elite units without any tactical merit.
To be fair though, the second Union brigade did scary things. They marched up as one nasty old block, unloaded a horrifying salvo the first time they fired by rolling double 6s. Which not only means a lot of casulties on the receiving end but also forces the unit that got hit to do a morale check AND (as any roll of double 6s) it allows the lucky player to roll on a special table for "special events" which rarely are bad but often will result in a "token" which the brigadier can use later during the game to enhance his brigades abilities for a turn. Which is also a neat little touch. Actually, I could see this being used in 40k or WHFB on double 1s on Leadership checks and such.
In this case it didn't amount to much but the next turn the brigade's commander changed the order, rolled ANOTHER double 6, resulting in a token he could use on one salvo his brigade fires in the future to enhance the result.
The Tigers at this point had taken quite a beating, mostly lying down whilst being fired upon by one to two units and two bases of cannon firing canister in their faces for several turns. But reinforcements were on the way to patch the hole in the Confederate lines.
Above you can see an overview of the game when we decided to call it a night. 2nd brigade had arrived at the right flank, cannon deployed, the Union soldiers were still chewing away at the Tigers and their pals from 2nd brigade, ready to cross the fence.
It was clear that the Union troops were about to break through on the right and they even deployed their cavalry to cross the river and start to get in my left flank. That said, the lines held at this point, a second line of defence was built up in the right so I'm sure my boys could have held the farm for a fair amount of time longer. Of course the numbers on the union side would have crushed my guys in the end but that was basically the mission.
Good game though. I like Guns at Gettysburg's order system (and I'm glad that I finally played a full game of a rules set of the GdB family and finally somewhat 'got it'). The point that it's fitting for the SYW and Napoleonics but may too restrictive for the ACW was raised and it can be a little frustrating to see one of your units being in an excellent position to charge an enemy but not being able to because they got different orders but that's the game and it offers some very interesting challenges. The whole firing procedure may look a bit daunting at first but really is rather fast once you get the hang of it.
Once again I think we could call it a Union victory. After the game we did some more testing about how well enfilades work and such. Good times were had, thanks to the umpire and my opponents.