A couple weeks ago I hosted the first face-to-face game for the Fencibles since February 2020. It was a small gathering, Bill and Jay with me as the umpire, since the rules were new to all of us. The next day a death in the family sent my wife and I to Florida. We returned a week later.
The belated report on the game follows, with less detail than usual. It was our first game of Bonnie Blue Flag, a set of tactical rules for the American Civil War. Our usual rules for the 19th century are Bloody Big Battles, grand tactical rules where the basic units are brigades or divisions, even small corps. BBB works just fine at that scale. A couple attempts to use battalions as basic units have not scratched that itch. Bonnie Blue Flag sounded interesting. I purchased a copy, typed out a simplified QRS that only had troops for the first scenario and set up the extremely spare table.
I shortly added a couple fields that had no tactical importance just to dress up the table a bit. The scenario is designed for 28mm figures in units 12 inches wide. I substituted 36 figures in 15mm scale to get the same footprint. Each side had a brigade of 4 infantry regiments and one artillery battery. I decided to name the units after a pair of brigades that tangled on the first day of Gettysburg, since I had that order of battle at hand. Dice assigned Jay the role of Union CO Cutler and Bill as Confederate brigadier Davis, nephew of the Confederate president. Can you say nepotism, kids?
But first we sat and talked for quite a while, since we had not been together in person for well over a year. Bonnie Blue Flag has a game system where you fire at and/or melee with enemy units. You don’t roll dice. The target checks morale with percentage dice. If they fail, another roll with varying numbers of D6 (based on target unit class) decide how severe the penalty is. Losing the initial percentage roll with a really low roll removes the testing unit immediately, no further checking needed.
Bill started out rolling high and ignoring Union fire again. I proceeded to roll low and fail morale. My one veteran regiment failed morale and for severity managed to roll a total of 4 on 3 D6. Back went the regiment with lots of hits, enough so that Cutler rode over and resuscitated the unit from his personal stash. One of the two veteran Rebel regiments, the 11th Mississippi, charged the experienced 56th Pennsylvania and a prolonged melee broke out over a fence lining the road.
And then disaster struck. The 11th Mississippi needed 50% to pass morale and rolled 4%. The hitherto unscratched regiment vaporized, stunning both of us. On my left, an experienced Union regiment fell back in some disorder but remained on the table. A few more turns saw the larger veteran Union artillery drive the Confederate battery back. We ran out of time. The game was officially a tie, though the Rebs were closer to the crossroads while the Union had more troops on the field.
I find the skirmisher rules quite interesting, and simple. The new Napoleonic rules Shadow of the Eagles has simple skirmish rules that are somewhat similar. The sudden death rules for low rolls are breathtaking. Reading about them was one thing. Having a crack unit disappear was another. I’m not sure how I feel about that.
Edit: we played 10 turns in a little over 4 hours. Part of this I blame to ring rust, it having been a long time since we played a miniatures game. The guys had trouble playing the turn phase by phase, wanting to jump ahead for some units. I'm sure we could play this faster, but am not sure we'll do this again.
I’m still dealing with the death of a family member, so no game is planned right now, but so far I think the next game, whenever that is, will be a simple scenario of Shadow of the Eagles.