Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Historicon 2014: Fridays' Game, One Day during the Seven Days

 On Friday, Mike and I ran our second ACW game at Historicon.  The game used the same terrain setup from the previous night but was a more traditional "big battle" style game rather than a skirmish.  I decided to use the newish Longstreet rules for the game and was extremely please with how they worked (more on that later).  While our battle was fictitious in nature it was themed the be part of the Seven Days Battles.  The first few shots show the initial set up for both sides.  The game had four players per side, with one being designated as the Commander-in-Chief (he could play interrupt cards).  Each side 18 regiments of infantry, 2 cavalry and 5 artillery batteries of 2-3 guns each.  Oh yes - there was also an ironclad for each side but these were more for show (they were GM controlled)

 The Confederate right flank featured a dug in position manned by Confederate marines.  There were three objectives in the game - best two out of three to win.  One of the objectives was held by either side and third was neutral.  The Confederate held objective was the pumpkin patch in the lower left center of the picture.  The Union held a pig sty in the diagonally opposite corner and the tree stand at the top of the center hill wasn't held by either side.

 Down the Confederate line.  All of the infantry for both sides was on the board.  The calvary regiments would enter on turn three anywhere along a sides table edge based on written down order from the respective CIC's prior to the start of the game.
 The Union line starting from the opposite side of there table features a very strongly fortified artillery battery and some regiments moving up to secure a stone fence line.

 Going down the Union line

 Longtreet is a card driven game that does a very elegant job of simulating command friction with cards.  I was a little worried it would be too complex to throw at players in a convention setting but everyone seemed to pick up the basics after 2 or three turns.  I'm sure we (and when I say "we" I mean "I") did a few things wrong, but the players seems to enjoy the game and it was a grand time.
 The Confederate general staff discussing their battle plans.  "Lets charge the hill" is a pretty good summarization!
 The Union side deep in strategic contemplation.  You can see the Union held objective - the pig sty in the lower left of the picture.

 The game commences - both central brigades make a general advance onto the hill with the Union being a bit quicker and seizing the tree top objective with a three gun artillery battery.
 The non- river flank saw extensive skirmishing at the start of the game before a general Union assault.

 The Union infantry catches up to the artillery and a defensive line is established....
 The Confederates continue to advance but their CiC has a devilish gleam in his eye.  Hmm I wonder what interrupt card he is about to play?

 Contact!  The Confederates are significantly advantaged as they playe the card ""They couldn't hit an..." which requires one of the opposing brigade commander to discard a D6 of his six command cards - the Union player rolled a 5 which left him with little ability to respond during the confederate turn.  The result was that the Union artillery battery was overrun and the Confederates gradually pushed the Union back off the objective.

With the land game going so well, Mike and decided not to add in the complexity of the ironclads and left them more as color than true game influencers.  We put them on in case one side ended up running way with the game to even out things (they have really big guns) but never needed to use them.  I firmly believe the primary role of a GM at a con game is to ensure everyone has a good time and I'm not above "re-balancing" a game if needed.  This game needed no rebalancing given the great players we had.

 The Union attacks and breaks the extreme Confederate non-river side flank.  The river side flank on the opposite end of the table actually saw very little action as both players where of a very defensive mind set.

 There was a lot of see-saw fighting for the hill with the confederates initial advantage evaporating in the mode portion of the game and then they regained some momentum and finally held the hill objective.
 Finally some movement on the river bank! but the Union advance was checked by a surprising confederate calvary charge into their flanks!
 Action in the center - many regiments where very worn by then.  Longstreet features casualty removal so regiments get smaller as the game goes on.  Each regiment was made up of 6 stands, with the exception of the LA Tigers who had 9.
 A shot of the battlefield at the end of the game.  Total losses for the Union 39 stands of Infantry and calvary vs 42 for the Confederates.  However, the Confederates firmly held 2 of the 3 game objectives and were granted a well earned "Minor Victory"


A miniature gamer version of Mathew Brady surveys the battlefield.  A lot of people came by during the game and took pictures of the setup - Mike and I received a lot of very nice complements about the game which is always very gratifying.  At the end of the day, con games are essentially more elaborate versions of "show and tell" from our elementary school days.  There are times I wonder is we ever really grow up?  I kinda hope that answer is no!

 Overall, both Mike and I were very pleased with how the game worked out.  As with our game from last night, we were very lucky to have a great group of players (a few of whom played with us on Friday also).  All of the players were more interested in having fun than "winning" so the game was easy to manage.  The interrupt card play of Longstreet can lead to some initial player frustration when they are the recipient of their first interrupt card but that frustration quickly dissipates when they get to, umm, "return the favor".

I was extremely pleased with how the Longstreet rules worked in a convention setting.  We essentially used the Longstreet "lite" version which simplifies the game but it was both easy to teach and the players were able to play the game without guidance after the third turn.  To be honest, my favorite ACW rules are still Regimental Fire and Fury but Longstreet is a very close number two and a great option for beer and pretzel gaming or cons.  It will likely be my goto rules for ACW at cons going forward.


Paul oftheManCave said...

What a wonderful game Miles! Everything looks brilliant. Congrats to you and Mike for putting on not one but two great days of gaming for others.

"I firmly believe the primary role of a GM at a con game is to ensure everyone has a good time and I'm not above "re-balancing" a game if needed." - I couldn't agree more!

Monty Luhmann said...

Great work, putting on such a fine game! Looks like everyone had a blast.

I especially like your ironclads lurking on the flank!

Peter Douglas said...

Great looking games!
Wonderful stuff.

DeanM said...

Another excellent game, Miles. The figures and terrain always top-notch. It is very nice to be able to use the same terrain for multiple games and scenarios too. Best, Dean

Sean said...

Looks like some great games. Congrats on the award as well. I think the Brown river is quite a bit less shocking.

Red Dog said...

Excellent game and report. Great to see a big game like that played to a conclusion in a reasonable amount of time :-)