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Red badge of Courage

This Thursday’s game was set in the American Civil War using the excellent Black Powder set of rules. Unfortunately Nick had been taken ill but stepping manfully into the breach was Ian. My opponent was new to the system but one of the beauties of the game is its ease of play. We played on a six by four table so halved all movement rates and ranges. Ian commanded the Northern aggressors with three brigades. On his left he had a brigade of four regiments. In the centre, three infantry, one cavalry regiment and two artillery batteries. On his right he had another four regiments. The gallant defenders of States’ rights had just two brigades of infantry but I was using my new dice……… image imageThe terrain did not offer many wide fields of fire so I deployed my two brigades well forward so that my supporting artillery battery could occupy the small hill. It was a wide deployment with only one regiment in a central reserve. Ian wasn’t messing around. In the centre his troops screamed forwards like a tramp on chips. You have to love a rules system that allows the armies to get to grips with each other in turn one! How the defenders laughed! imageThe Union troops may have been spoiling for a fight in the centre but Jonny Reb must have been sniggering when both supporting flank brigades failed to move. I always classify players by their reactions in such circumstances. A few players, who I usually avoid, cannot abide a rule system that allows such occurrences. In my opinion, history is littered with instances of troops not behaving drone like at the behest of their omnipotent all seeing commander. Ian was up to the challenge, if the flanks were only moving slowly then the artillery would deploy and support the first infantry attack of the day. Also in the centre, Federal cavalry had been reading Napoleonic drill manuals and prepared to charge the emplaced Confederate battery. image The gallant Southern lines held. Federal bullets flew through their positions but the returning fire tore great gaps in the dark blue lines. Artillery shells deterred the Union cavalry. The Federals weren’t able to dislodge the Rebs from their position with bullets so cold steel was called for. Two batteries of artillery swept the flank of the grey lines whilst two Union regiments charged forward into the clouds of musket smoke….. And then it started happening…. Sixes….not just two or three……lots of them………. It’s funny how dice are the subject of so many gamers’ anecdotes. Were they really responsible for that tabletop defeat? In this case, I hold my hands up! The fire from the Confederate lines was awesome. Two Federal bayonet charges were stopped in their tracks and then the now dismounted cavalrymen were discomfited. But to my left the Northerners were finally making their presence felt. My left wing regiments followed the lead of the centre. The two leading Federal regiments were decimated as they trudged through the wheatfield. But, their commander was not deterred, throwing the second wave into the attack. Despite inflicting heavy casualties, first one and then the other Confederate regiment skedaddled! Union numbers were beginning to tell. Despite having two regiments shaken on his right, Ian’s energetic staff work was returning units to the fray. The second assault from the union centre left many dead Federals on the slopes leading up to the battery. Whilst Confederates routed through the woods on the left. The Federal Centre broke and sought cover behind the fence lined sunken road. Those sixes were playing havoc on the all important Confederate right flank. Despite being checked by the weight of fire this did not stop Ian lapping around the forest on the right and launching a bayonet charge into the undergrowth. Another three sixes saw the Northern assault checked….image Another two Union regiments shaken but still not enough to check the Union juggernaut. Using the Divisional commander to lead the third assault up the hill, the brigade commander rallied the faltering brigade. Although they had failed to charge home, the Pennsylvanian regiment was now enfilading the forest. The dice gods were to be revenged. Every hit struck home and the Confederate flank was lost. Charging through the stalled lead units, the Union general crushed the last Confederate infantry regiment. image It had been a superb game. My thanks to Ian as a worthy opponent. Can’t wait until we fight again, hopefully with Nick fit and well. Stay tuned for more ACW action from tomorrow’s Gettysburg re-fight in Newport. If you are local why not come down to Firestorm Games, Cardiff’s premier games-store, on the last Thursday of February? Thanks for reading…

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About the Author

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The wild ramblings of an infamous wit and wargames guru. One of nature's true gentlemen who devotes his time to the care of his two sons, i.e. watching episodes of Peppa Pig together, and recreating great moments of military history using toy soldiers. Currently a leading light in The Collectivo Despertaferres wargames and duelling association who meet regularly at Firestorm Games ( formerly Ali Baba's Carpet Warehouse). Find me also on Facebook "Despertaferres"!

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