Friday, September 21, 2018

Stones River BBB

We played the first test game of my Stones River scenario back in late August. While it was fun, it called for some tweaks. We finally got around to testing the changed version yesterday. Bill played Bragg and I Rosecrans. Jay played Breckinridge when he arrived. Andrew would take the role of Crittenden when he showed. We got off to a late start, thanks to traffic delaying Bill. The first photo shows the deployment for the first test. It was pretty much the same for the second test, with minor changes. The rules are Bloody Big Battles, as usual, with my 15mm Yankees vs. Bill’s 15mm Rebels. From here on and in the photos, all Confederate units will be in italics.
The scenario puts movement restrictions on the Union center and left. All movement restrictions are lifted by the 4th turn (of an 8 turn game). The first and last turns are twilight, restricting visibility (and ranges) to 6”.

Bill couldn’t land a bayonet charge on the first turn. His rifle fire did knock off a base. Johnson’s  disrupted troops didn’t rally on my half of the turn, thinking it unsporting to do so. 

The 2nd turn saw a dramatic change. McCown and half of Cleburne’s infantry attacked Johnson’s front line. This negated the Union zone of control and Wharton’s cavalry rode across their rear, falling on Johnson’s artillery from behind. The gunners put a hit on McCown’s artillery. Wharton rode down the gunners and charged on into Davis’ flank. Davis dropped a lot of troopers and the rest scattered to the winds. The infantry assault wiped out Johnson. McCown exploited into Davis’ flank and was repulsed. Davis had held off two attacks in the same assault phase. That loud sound I heard was my right flank being torn to shreds.

Davis rallied in place and was assaulted in flank by McCown on turn 3. Two bloody ties saw both divisions spent before Davis was finally defeated and sent packing to the north. McCown would spend most of the rest of the game licking his wounds on the bloody patch of land he’d just won.
Sheridan got the full move he needed to fall back. Had he failed, the division would have been enveloped; put between a rock and a hard place. I think this was the most critical die roll of the game. It didn’t hurt that Baldwin (Johnson’s reserve brigade) also escaped. About this time I slipped Zahm’s tiny cavalry brigade around the enemy left and lurked in the enemy rear, making artillery movement hazardous. Hardee was sent off to Breckinridge since Cleburne’s division is always in command in this scenario.
Hard fighting ensued. Bill’s assault dice went cold, with me usually beating him by two, nullifying the advantage he should have had from most of my troops being fragile.

We broke for dinner. A quick check showed the Union had lost twice as many troops as the Confederates, giving them a victory if the game stopped then. We had 4 more turns after dinner, which was Bill's excellent smoked fish, bagels and bialys, along with fine wine and beer from Jay and Andrew. After a lengthy meal we returned to the fray. It occurred to me later that the Confederates could have reverted to a strict defense and made us come to them to even up the score, but they went for the kill, trying to break our right flank. 

Turn 6.
I sent green troops to attack Cleburne and was lucky to escape with a mere repulse.
The action heated up on the Union left as Andrew started fording the river, intent on mayhem.
Turn 7 action.
I should have waited a turn but thought perhaps the guys were ready to end the game.
Cleburne, hurt by heavy rifle fire, now faced Sheridan in front, Baldwin on the left flank, and artillery unlimbered within easy canister range. The fire factors would total just over 12, putting it in the 16 column and flank fire moved it into the 20 column. Hard to miss.
They tried to escape but were halted by fire and shot down in two fire phases.
Adding insult to injury, Davis’ division recovered enough to no longer be spent and relieved Negley’s badly shot up division.
During this Crittenden (Union left) and Breckinridge fought to a draw. The tiny Pioneer Brigade led the attack and was wiped out for their troubles. Wheeler’s cavalry got a full move. They turned around, deployed and terminated Zahm’s cavalry brigade.
It took us a little over 4 hours to play 8 turns. The game moved noticeably faster when we had 2 players per side. One of these days we’ll manage that from the start, but life keeps interfering with our schedules. The game was a sanguinary tie, since each side had two terrain objectives and the 2-1 loss ratio was gone with the wind. Union losses were 10 infantry bases eliminated, 2 run off, 4 artillery (half of them!) gone and 1 cavalry for a total of 17 bases. Confederate losses were 12 infantry gone, 1 cavalry and 1 run off for a total of 14. This equates to just under 10,000 casualties per side, not unlike the actual toll on the first day. We made a few errors. We forgot to bring on our reinforcements, although unless the fighting is close to the Nashville Turnpike they won’t make much difference beyond raising the spirits of Union players. We also forgot that the last turn was twilight and were firing artillery at full ranges. Bill needs to sacrifice a small animal to the dice gods next time. There was talk about checking my dice, though Andrew used some of mine and I didn't notice him wiping the floor with Jay.

The Fencibles like the scenario. After I clean up the small map this scenario will be submitted to Chris for the full BBB treatment. We will be playing simpler stuff for the next couple months until the renovation of the game room is complete. Then we can resume gaming in sybaritic splendor, providing I can recall where stuff is stored under the new system.