13 September 2019

An ACW Campaign for Pickett's Charge

Myself and my friend Adam have decided to play another ACW campaign. We already played a campaign with the Longstreet ruleset some years ago. Our ACW figures have been languishing in boxes and it was time they saw the table again.

I have really enjoyed playing the two rulesets put out by David Brown in the last couple of years as published by TFL under the Reisswitz Press banner. I have played quite a bit of Général d'Armée with my friend Iannick in Montreal and have become quite comfortable with the ruleset. Pickett's Charge has similar mechanisms but the overall game is a little simpler. I liked playing Longstreet but I find that Sam Mustafa's rules, although superbly written in a very clear fashion, are pared down a little too much for my taste. I really enjoy the complexity of decision making that is the main characteristic of TFL rules in general. Yes, they are a little less clearly written (both Rich Clarke and Dave Brown use a much more conversational style of writing than Sam Mustafa) but if you do not overthink what is written, I actually find them quite intelligible. They are my first choice for Napoleonics and ACW.

I initially planned writing a historical campaign and I still do but Adam recommended that we use the campaign system in Longstreet. George A. had given me an excellent pamphlet he had written surrounding the Pea Ridge campaign which I plan to work on. But impatience and finding time has lead me to agree with Adam, especially after I saw the preliminary work he had done on translating the Longstreet campaign system in such a way that it can be used with the Pickett's Charge ruleset. I generally do not like playing a-historic or points based games but I think this is going to be OK.

The first step in making the Longstreet (LS) campaign work using the Pickett's Charge (PC) ruleset was dealing with the fact that LS is at the brigade level while PC is at the divisional level. Also LS uses the number of bases in a force to make a lot of decisions in respect to victory points, attrition, and reinforcements. In respect to PC, the most important command decisions are made by the ADC function which does not exist in LS. LS also has a set of campaign cards which are fun to use which we wanted to keep for our campaign.

Below, I will go through the LS Campaign section as laid out in the rulebook with our modifications. I will keep this updated as we go through the process. I think if you are unfamiliar with LS some of the following maybe a little puzzling but of course if interested you can always buy the ruleset.

Campaign Overview
The campaign will be 9 turns and will cover 1861-1865 with a varying number of games per year. We have decided to go with historical battles for our game set up in respect to terrain and victory conditions. The scenarios have been selected with respect to the historical situation during that specific year in order to balance out which side is the attacker and who is the defender. 

Game one will be the First Battle of Bull Run where the Union Army is the attacker. Forces utilized will be generated as below.
Green Rectangle defines terrain at scale of 1mm to 1m
Starting Forces
PC is a multi-brigade game but we are going to start with a small force that will increase as each game is played. Each army will have 6 large green infantry units, 1 standard green cavalry unit (the USA may subsitute infantry unit) and 1 three base mixed artillery battery. The player will arrange his army in 2 brigades with a composition of his choice.

In PC, each brigade gets an ADC as well as extras as determined by CiC. We have decided to double the brigade ADC complement for 1861 and increase it by 1.5 for 1862 (2 turns).  We will also add ADC's as follows:

  • CSA 2 extra ADC's in 1861 (1 Battle)
  • CSA 2 extra ADC's in 1862, USA 1 extra ADC (2 Battles)
  • CSA/USA 2 extra ADC's in 1863 (3 Battles)
  • CSA 1 extra ADC, USA 2 extra ADC's in 1864 (2 Battles)
  • USA 2 extra ADC's in 1865 (1 Battle)

This is to reflect the changing fortunes of each side as the war progressed.

Epic Points
LS uses a system of Epic Points to accrue experience. A lot of it is based on the number of bases in combat etc. etc. I have to say that I always thought this was overly complex. This has been simplified as below.

  • 2 points for each game played
  • 1 point for a victory
  • 1 point for each enemy dispersed unit as per PC
We are planning to use this system as a tool to increase the size our forces as well as the LS campaign cards. So an extra unit for each point gained in a turn. Limits on composition and total army size are discussed below.

The type of unit added is dictated in campaign card system but in respect to Epic System you add units as follows;
1862:  Large Green Units
1863: Large Green Units or Standard Regular Units.
1864: Standard Regular Units

Dealt with by the ADC system as above. Instead the CiC gets to decide before each battle how he is going to field his army with the proviso that there is no less than 3 units and no more than 6 units in each brigade.

In respect to individual unit promotion, this happens through the campaign card system and through time after 1862 (first 3 battles). If a unit has survived the year and has </= 4 casualties at the end of the year, a green unit will be promoted to a regular unit and a regular unit will be promoted to veteran unit.

Battle Losses
In PC, each unit acquires casualties points with a standard sized unit being dispersed after 12 casualties. If the unit is dispersed it is lost but at the end of each game the number of casualties in the non-dispersed units will be reduced by 1/2 rounded up for each unit. So if a unit has 7 casualty markers at the end of a game, it will only carry over 4 casualties to the next game. It should be remembered that in PC units do not lose bases, they accrue attrition.

The only mechanism to shed attrition is through the ADC Rally Posting or the Serendipity Test Roll.

Not in use.

Campaign Cards
At the end of a turn each player has a deck of campaign cards pertinent to the year and his army. Each player draws 4-6 cards depending on the year and can use them to improve or increase his army. We can not use all of them but can use most with some modification as below.
  • New Artillery: as it written or add 1 standard unit of regular infantry
  • Hail to the Chief : add 2 standard units of of regular infantry
  • Sharpshooters: add 1 three base unit of veteran skirmishers
  • Transfer: add 1 standard unit of veteran infantry
  • CS Replacement:  add 1 standard unit of regular infantry
  • Rebel Cavaliers: as written
  • See the Elephant: Promote 1 unit from Green to Regular or Regular to Veteran and so on
  • US Coloured Troops: add 1 large Green infantry unit
  • Union Repeaters: +1CD to unit when firing
Maximum Army Size
LS lays out a minimum number of bases that each army may have, this ratio was converted to units as below for maximum army size.
Units include artillery, cavalry and infantry batteries and regiments. The player may have a maximum of 6 brigades, each having a minimum of 3 units (except in the case of attrition where it may be reduced to 2)

Artillery is limited to 4 batteries with a maximum of 6 guns (3 bases) but the CSA may only have one 3 base unit. One base artillery units are not allowed.

Cavalry is limited to 4 units for the CSA and 3 units for the USA.

So that is where we are now, I suspect a few things have been missed and some changes will be made.

updated 9-21-19

07 September 2019

Pickett's Charge- Battle of Chickamauga

Last Friday, myself and Adam had our first Pickett's Charge game in about a year. I have a nice Blue Moon ACW Union army which does not get out often enough and Adam has an even nicer Confederate army. We have been playing quite a bit of SAGA but maybe a break was due.

The 2018 TFL Magazine had a nice scenario with 4 brigades per side so was an obvious choice for our next game. Essentially the scenario involves a confederate attack on a somewhat entrenched Union army. The Confederates were mostly classified as veterans and regulars while the Union infantry were half green and half regulars. No cavalry but a fair amount of artillery was available.
The Union line on the right flank
The Union left fkank, the Confederates make their advance, I decided to send out my largest brigade to meet them. I could stay in cover in the forest but Adam had a lot of Veteran and Elite units that could do damage with extreme range fire. We both kept our centre brigades in reserve.
Adam advances is small but elite brigade on his left flank.
Adam has a great looking Confederate army.
The Confederates move in and 2 of my regiments are in trouble as they are suffereing Fire Discipline. I have to say that Adam was extremely unlucky in getting the Initiative as I think I wone the dice toss for every turn. I decided to charge Confederate C with Union A with Union B in support. In kind Adam decided to charge Union C with Confederate A supported by C. Suffice to both Confederate C and Union C ended up being Whipped.
On my left flank, I decided to charge and although somewhat inconclusive the Conderates were wavering, so I sent in my left centre brigade in support.
By now my Rifled Artillery were being threatened by Confederate skirmishers to their front and Confederate Infantry to their flank. It is tricky however to attack artillery as their cannister fire is lethal. By now however the Conderate attack was crumbling and my 4 brigades were largely intact. Adam had been unable to bring in his reserve brigade. The Confederates decided to withdraw.
We had some minor questions about the rules early on but the game actually flowed quite quickly and I think we got in 9 turns whih is really quite good. I have played a fair amount of GdA recently and although there are some differences the mechanisms are quite similar. It was clear by the end of the ninth turn that there was no way the Confederates could meet their Victory Conditions so a clear Union victory.

I really enjoy these rules, I find them quite straightforward and give a good game with a lot of decision making. If I had one criticism it would be that using 4 ADC's aside really does not give you as many tactical options as are available as they are being used as Brigade Attachments to insure that they do not become hesitant. This is easily fixed by increasing the number of ADC's though which I think we will do in the future.

We are now considering playing a ACW campaign utilizing these rules. Any ideas?