Wednesday, 28 January 2015

After Action Report; ACW (Longstreet rules) 25 Jan 2015

This was the 4th battle (early 1863) of a 9 battle mini-campaign using Longstreet rules by Sam Mustafa (Honour Publishing). I commanded the Union force, whilst Ian commanded the Rebels. Previously in the mini-campaign I had won the first two battles and lost the third battle. In each battle the defending force had won. My Union force consisted of 8 infantry units (2 large units of ‘Eager, Recruits’, and the rest were small units of ‘Veterans’), these were supported by 3 artillery stands. In contrast Ian’s Rebels had more large units (and I think more were ‘Veterans’), plus a large ‘Recruit’ cavalry unit but only a single artillery stand. My commander (2 Eagle rank) was an ‘Indian Wars Veteran’ (improved scouting and better chance to select whether to defend or not); and in this battle I also had the ‘Sabotage’ characteristic. Ian’s commander (3 Eagle rank) was a ‘Drillmaster’, with ‘Political Savvy’ and ‘A Friend in the Statehouse’ characteristics.

We randomly selected the ‘Outflanked’ scenario and the terrain placement was fairly neutral (a central hill in my forward deployment zone, and a mix of standing crops and woods scattered between the opposing armies). I was the defender and had to deploy first. One objective marker was safely in my deployment zone, whilst the other was outside my zone on my left flank. My deployment had to be spread out to cover both the object I held and to contest the other objective. My strong artillery deployed on the central hill and could cover both sectors. Ian deployed second and choose to concentrate on taking the ‘free’ objective, ignoring the object I already held. This effectively isolated a significant part of my army from where most of the initial action would happen.

In the opening moves Ian rapidly moved on the ‘free’ left-hand objective whilst I attempted to move my forces from my passive right flank to the weak, contested left flank. I had to move behind my artillery on the hill because Ian’s cavalry unit covered the more direct route. My artillery scored no hits during this opening phase, in contrast to Ian’s single artillery stand which picked off a couple of stands from my already outnumbered infantry. At this point Ian launched his cavalry against one of my infantry units that had tried to sneak past. The rebel cavalry pushed this infantry unit back and then continued their charge into my artillery on the hill! The artillery were thrown off the hill and lost a stand of heavy rifles. The jubilant cavalry continued over the hill, hitting one of my infantry units moving behind it in the flank. These infantry were thrown back with some losses but they remained in the fight. The Rebel cavalry spent a number of turns trying to take out my remaining artillery whilst under fire from my surviving infantry. Meanwhile, Ian’s infantry advance successfully took the left-hand objective and started pushing my weak forces back, inflicting considerable loss.

At this point in the battle I thought the game was lost; the enemy had taken an objective, inflicted significant losses on my force, and his cavalry was in to my rear area and all over my artillery. Ian must have been full of confidence after such a brilliant opening to the game.

Things were to change! Firstly, Ian needed to reshuffle his Action Card deck; this involves losing 6 cards from the deck, but my ‘Sabotage’ characteristic increased this to 10 cards, plus I held an Action Card that increased the total to 13 cards lost! This severely impaired Ian’s ability to use beneficial cards, plus unless he was careful, he could lose the game by running out of Action Cards. Next, my artillery finally worked out how to use their guns and wiped out the pesky Rebel cavalry with canister! Finally, my uncommitted infantry finally moved from the right flank and hit Ian’s so far successful advance in its flank. I started to inflict casualties on the Rebels. By now Ian was beginning to make (unsuccessful) Victory dice rolls to end the game, but after a couple of turns I also reached a point where I also could roll for Victory. The battle was in the balance; we were both making Victory dice rolls. Ian had very few Action Cards available and so had to be very selective in his actions, whereas as I still could apply pressure and improve my chances. Eventually I reduced the odds and made the successful Victory dice roll!