Have Game, Will Travel

An embarrassing number of weeks ago (embarrassing, because I’m just now getting a post up about it), Frank the Arkie (no relation) invited me to play an ACW game with his crew down in Little Rock. Frank supplied all figures, and terrain, and we played using a set of Neil Thomas rules. I believe they were the ACW section from “Wargaming: an Introduction,” along with a few choice house rules.

I arrived a bit early, and we ate delicious pizza and set up the game. Frank has developed an ingenious method of populating the table with random terrain. He divides the table up into sectors (8, if I recall correctly), and develops an equal number of slips of paper. Each slip of paper has a type of terrain (open, rough, woods, water, etc) written on it. The slips of paper are shuffled and placed face down on the table in the appropriate sector. Flip the labels over, and “voila,” random terrain! I dig it.

Frank being Frank, the forces were, shall we say, unique. I ended up commanding a brigade whose general was actually a commodore, and the two regiments were made up of sailors and marines. I had a third regiment from Ohio, and a battery of rifles. I’ve forgotten the Commodore’s name, but maybe Frank will fill us in in the comments. My ally (Rhett. I hope his name wasn’t Brett, and I was just calling him Rhett the whole time) had four regiments and a battery. One of his regiments was the Corps d’Afrique, which has a really interesting history.

Frank and Jeff took the part of the Confederacy. I had made the choice to be the Federals (for a change), so Frank and Jeff got to choose table sides. They settled on the side with all the juicy terrain. Each force had an objective in their area to defend. A cornfield in the center of the table served as the third objective, and became the focus of the fight (especially as time began to run low).

Confederates in the good terrain...

Dastardly Confederates in the good terrain…

The valiant boys in blue form up.

The valiant boys in blue form up.

Rhett had the bulk of our forces, and it turned out that I would be facing the greatest mass of the Confederate army. Interestingly, the Confederate generals decided to mass their artillery on their right. It proved to be effective (as massed artillery often is).

The STEEL JAWS of the Union aquatic forces.

The STEEL JAWS of the Union aquatic forces.

This may be nearly impossible for regular readers of this blog to believe, but I decided to sit tight and defend! Yes, you read it here, first. Arkiegamer defends. General Jeff attacked in depth, and hot fire from my marines and sailors saw him off again and again. The Confederates would try to rally up after taking losses, but this caused a traffic jam that held up the fresh full strength regiments in reserve and allowed my fellows to fight at 1:1 odds, instead of 1:2. This caused the Commodore to cleverly quip “Looks like a dollar waiting on a dime, to me!” Redneck saying aside, I was impressed to see how strong defense when attackers approached across an open field. It felt right!

Eat lead, Sesh!!

Eat lead, Sesh!!

Confederate forces maneuvering, trying to bring their strength to bear.

Confederate forces maneuvering, trying to bring their overwhelming strength to bear.

The Commodore leads from the front! Frank never believes me when I say this, but I really like these block painted figures. Especially the Confederates (which I didn't get a close up of).

The Commodore leads from the front! Frank never believes me when I say this, but I really like these block painted figures. Especially the Confederates (no close-up, I’m afraid). My sailors, who don’t even belong on land, have finally lost a base in the process of killing hundreds of elite Confederates.

Hey, Sailor

Hey, Sailor

In the picture above, you can see my marines waaaaay off in the distance. Dusk was falling (we were nearing the turn limit), and Rhett needed help against Frank’s Confederates, who had taken up position on the south end of the cornfield objective behind a rail fence. My fellow Union general suffered some of the same problems that my opponent faced: attacking with no cover while facing largely static troops. Additionally, Rhett had to deal with a tricky bit of terrain (a pond), and a massed battery. He was never able to bring the weight of his force to bear. Frank’s tactical acumen might have had something to do with it, but let’s be sure not to give him too much credit!

Over on the Union Left

Over on the Union Left

This was the state of the game at the end of play. This shot is on the Union left, where Rhett had four regiments. You can see he’s pushed Frank’s Confederates back all the way to the Farmhouse objective, but energetic fire from the Confederate regiment at the cornfield in the center has forced the Union regiments in that area back away from the objective (and really cut up the Corps d’Afrique, as well).

Yes, we finished the game, with time to spare. It was a Confederate victory, as they held on to the objective in their rear, and also held the cornfield at end-of-game.

The Neil Thomas rules are far less detailed than my usual rules set, Regimental Fire and Fury, but I have to say, I felt more like a general during this game, than any other I’ve played. Not having to worry about a billion different fire factors, formations, different rates of travel, and such, really lets you concentrate on the matter at hand. Playing a low overhead game like this was really refreshing (and fun). And the company was great, too!

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  • Frank  On 08/16/2015 at 2:00 pm

    Tim, I’m delighted you enjoyed the game – thank you for the kind words. We were honored to have you join us and look forward to gaming together again!

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