Thursday, October 27, 2011

A long term project

Besides Virginia, Missouri was the most fought over state during the Civil War. And a lot of those battles were fought very close to my home town of Independence. Of particular interest to me is the First Battle of Independence, which will have it's 150th anniversary August 11th, 2012.
Enough time for planning a tabletop reenactment?
During the summer of 1862, many Confederate and Missouri State Guard recruiters were dispatched northward from Arkansas into Missouri to replenish the depleted ranks of Trans-Mississippi forces. 
Various guerrillas and bushwhackers, most notably those under William Quantrill, had gathered in Missouri and assisted these recruiters as they worked in the region. For example, Upton Hays was aided by thirty men from Quantrill's command under the brutal George Todd. By August 1, Hays was camped near Lee's Summit with 150 men. Additional Confederates continued to infiltrate the area throughout the days that followed.
Union forces, meanwhile, were bivouacked in Independence, the county seat of Jackson County. These were led by Lt. Col. James T. Buel. Like many towns in that part of Missouri, Independence had a number of sympathizers from both sides residing in it.
Colonel Hughes intended to cross the Missouri River, to recruit around his hometown of Clinton County, Missouri. He and Gideon Thompson rode to Hays's camp with 75 men; 25 additional men with Quantrill soon arrived. The officers conferred. Desperate for ammunition, and needing a victory to stir their recruiting efforts, they determined to make a surprise attack against Buel before he could attack them. Cole Younger and another man conducted a successful reconnaissance of the town on the day prior to the Confederate attack.
Lt. Col. Buel for his part had sent one of his officers, a Captain Breckenridge, scouting for eleven days, but Breckenridge found nothing. Buel became aware of Hays's camp, however, and prepared to attack it. On the evening of August 10, several citizens warned Buel of an impending assault on the city; many Union residents had already fled. Buel ignored these warnings, but another of his officers, a Captain Rodewald, did not.
The Federals were positioned in three main concentrations: their camp near a rock wall, the bank serving as Buel's headquarters, and the county jail.
Col. John T. Hughes’s Confederate force, including the partisan leader William Quantrill, attacked Independence before dawn, in two columns using different roads. They drove through the town to the Union Army camp, delivering a deadly volley to the sleeping men. Captain Breckenridge suggested surrender, but Captain Jacob Axline formed the Federal troops behind a rock wall and a nearby ditch while the Confederates rifled through their camp, looking for ammunition. The Rebels made several attacks against Axline's wall, but never succeeded in taking it. Here Colonel Hughes was killed, while Thompson and Hays were wounded.
Lt. Col. Buel attempted to hold out with part of his force in the bank building he used as his headquarters. He was forced to surrender after an adjacent building was set afire. Through a flag of truce, Buel arranged a meeting with the new Confederate commander, Col. Gideon W. Thompson, who had replaced Colonel Hughes, killed earlier. Buel surrendered, and about 150 of his men were paroled; the remainder had escaped, hidden, or been killed.
The battle intrigues me:
1- It's a small enough scale to be doable maybe even in 28mm:
  USA Lt. Col. James T. Buel

  • 7th Missouri Cavalry (2 companies)
  • 2nd Battalion Missouri Provisional Militia (3 companies) - Capt. Jacob Axline
  • 6th Regiment Missouri Enrolled Militia (1 company) - W.H. Rodewald
CSA Col./Acting Brigadier John T. Hughes
  • Hughes Recruiters
  • Hays Regiment
  • Quantrill's Guerrillas
2- All the colorful characters. Being a direct descendant of one of Quantrill's Raiders, I look forward to gaming so close to my heart.
What I need:
- Maps and terrain. Luckily, a lot of the buildings are still there (including the jail) 5 minutes away from my house. I just need to take a couple of picks.
the jail
- Minis. The Regulars are easy enough to find, the militia and Bushwackers are tougher. Foundry claims to make some guerilla types but they're wrong, wrong. They sculpted them with carbines. Being an exclusively hit and run mounted force, they shunned having to reload after each shot, and so usually carried anywhere from 4 to 8 pistols. Great-great grandaddy carried 6.
This will be one of the few times I've set a wargaming goal for myself. Hope I don't blow it.
William Clarke Quantrill
MIssouri Battle Flag

Friday, October 21, 2011

Flashing Steel!

After the brutal beating we gave Drums and Shakos last week, I decided to pull back and try a smaller game. We only had 4 players last night, so I dug out some minis I've had sitting around patiently for rules to go with.
I recently downloaded the latest in the "Song of..." family from Ganesha Games, "Flashing Steel". Having played lots of games from the family the group was already familiar with the mechanics. But, FS seemed to have a little more depth. I gave each player only two figures each (except the Cardinal's men who got a bunch of "extras"). Each team only came out to 150 points. Normally in a two player game, you use 500 points a side.
The scenario went thusly: A messenger carrying secret letters of love to the Queen's lover has been waylayed on the road to Calias. She has sent her loyal Musketeers to find the messenger and the letters before they fall into the wrong hands. Enter the Cardinal's men. They want the letters to prove the Queen's disloyalty. Somewhere at the crossroads they meet....
Each player had to search areas on the board. Aramis found the messenger right away, but forced to burn an activation each turn to keep him close. He could take him off the board, but would lose Aramis for the rest of the game.
The Duc D'Harme and his lackey Smedley stumbled into the thugs that had attacked the messenger. While they were distracted D'Artagnon and Porthos attacked. Unfortunately for our heroes, it was a bad move. D'Artagnon was taken out by a common thug, while Porthos was done in by the Duke and his man-servant.
On the other side of the table Athos was dispatching a veritable horde of Cardinal's Guards single-handedly, while Rochford (boo-hiss) stumbled around the woods looking for letters (which he found along with a pack of wolves).
It finally came down to Aramis and Rochford. It was Aramis's "Slippery-ness" that won him out. The Queen's honor remains intact!
This turned out to be my favorite version of the Ganesha system yet.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Retro Sci-Fi

Finally some painting done.
General Drago, with his Robot Legion
Azullian Shocktroopers. Emperor Xorg's elite forces.
The good guys. These aren't new, but nice to see them assembled.
From left to right, Xandar Zarn, Stella Starfire, Dash Dixon and Lance Vortex.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Drums and Shakos for 9 players...

...or "How to Break a Rules Set".
Here's the dilemma: I have a large group that comes over every Thursday. I have a nice 6 x 8 table. So most of my games need to almost be convention style, and playable under 3 hours, cause some of the guys drive a little ways.
This limits, sometimes, the games we play to mostly large scale skirmish. I really like the the "Song of Blades and Heroes" game mechanics, but they're really made for one on one games.
So, I guess it was inevitable that this game Song of DRums and Shakos wasn't going to work.
We had 9 commands. Four British, defending a fortified farmhouse against 5 French units. The game looked great, and actually played well if we had 6 hours.
I'd like to try the whole thing again with something simple like GASLIGHT.
British defend the Farm
Highlanders hold the right flank
French begin to cross the bridge

Friday, October 7, 2011

In the Emperor's Name - Fantasy

In the Emperor's Name, a free set of Sci-Fi rules set in the not-40k universe, turned out to be great time when we tried it out several weeks ago. Though nostalgic for early GW days, that universe has never been my bag. Fantasy, particularly a large scale skirmish, which is the best for my group of 6-8 weekly, is what I wanted to try. Now, I loves me my Song of Blades and Heroes, but it's really a two player game. I figured it would be simple enough to tailor ITEN to fantasy. The ensuing brawl proved me right.
the Wastes
"The temple of Baal-El has lain buried in the Wastelands for untold centuries. But recently, during an earthquake, the temple emerged from the depths. Now, forces converge. Some to destroy the temple, some to worship it's dark god..."
the Elves
The Adventurers
The Barbarians
the Forces of Chaos
The King's Men

The forces weren't balanced point-wise. But tactics should have panned out. They didn't. It was mostly a one sided affair in favor of Chaos. The Boy, controlling the Adventurers, got hammered by the Barbarians second turn. He never even got off a spell. (Spells are basically Psyker Abilities from ITEN). The forces of Good should have hauled ass to the temple, and then defended it's narrow passage. Chaos warriors are slow, the Barbarians have no long range, and the orcs were farthest away and blocked by terrain. Oh well. It was still fun.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Battle of St Eclair (a Fast Play Grande Armee game)

The French fought the Austrians in this fictional battle for the town of St Eclair. Fast Play Grande Armee are my rules of choice for this scale and this period. I think it gives a great representation of Napoleonic battles without all the excess "stuff". You can get a huge battle fought in 3 hours easy. We had six commands, and ended with a obvious winner in 2 1/2 hours.
Throw in the gorgeous 6mm figs (yes, I said 6mm) and stands provided by Scott, and you have the ingredients for a great game.
The French
The Austrians

The Austrians took the early initiative, but chose to let the French go first. The French covered the ground quickly, except in the center, where for some reason, Napoleon's troops lagged behind. The town was seized by the French, but it would turn out to be a tough time holding it.
The French capture St Eclair
The cannonade is fierce
The entire game, the Austrians pounded the defenders in the town. Although the these guns might have been better served pounding the infantry outside the town.
The battle ebbed and flowed, until finally the Austrian cavalry on the left broke. Seven Austrian brigades would break in a single turn after that. French victory.
Some take aways: The Austrians need more heavy cavalry. And a few extra infantry, too. The French move faster, so you need something to balance.
Keeping track of everything is easy with these nifty dry erase labels on the back.