Wednesday, 30 November 2016

OHW - More thoughts.

I am now five battles into the the thirty battles provided by the scenarios in One Hour Wargames by Neil Thomas. I have to say the rules and scenarios are both quick and enjoyable to play, which of course is the whole point of the rules.They will certainly not appeal to everyone, but then again, what rule set does? The possibility of playing a reasonably large scale battle, with just a few units of troops, will be appealing to many.

I must start off by admitting to a rule error in the games I have played so far, namely musket range is actually 12 inches, or 12 centimetres in my case, not the six I have been employing. Would it have made a difference, quite possibly.

This is a photo from the Hog's Head River scenario. The Union troops had difficulty finding room if they crossed the ford. With a range of 12 centimetres, the unit of infantry at the rear, could have moved to the river bank opposite the wood, and engaged the right wing of the Confederates by firing across the river.

I will correct that error in future battles. Other than that I have stuck rigidly to the rules provided and will continue to do so for the remaining 25 scenarios. However, and there is always a however isn't there? I do intend in the future, once the campaign is completed, to tweak one or two rules, without losing the quick, easy and brutal play they currently provide.

The first tweak, will be to artillery. They automatically receive a minus 2 on their die roll when shooting, this is fine, but once in canister range, I think the negative modifier should be dropped.

The rules allow an infantry/cavalry unit to fire using the normal die score, even when it is virtually broken (again see the above picture, the Union infantry regiment on the left flank is just a single hit away from being destroyed.) I would like to reflect casualties and fatigue by a unit losing a pip on the die roll when it reaches 6 and 11 hits, signified by blue and red discs respectively, in the photograph.

I don't think the above couple of tweaks, would impact too much on the quick play aspect of the rules and would be easy to implement on the table.

The die roll to discover the make up of the army is also a clever idea. The forces will never be identical, as if both sides throw the same number, it has to be re rolled until different.

Could the game be scaled up using these rules? Yes, I don't see a problem, of course with a larger numbers of troops, then a larger playing area would be required. Not a problem for me, as I could just step up to the the 3 x 3 feet board recommended for 28 mm. It would of course, mean the battles would be more lengthy, so no longer qualifying for the One Hour Wargames ethic.
I would like to try a division versus division battle, each division having a pair of brigades, or possibly three. Again the make up being decided on a die roll and consulting a chart, this time home made of course.

Finally, I have thoroughly enjoyed writing the narrative that runs alongside each battle, many of you have commented on this aspect, and how it converts from a normal battle report into a story. I have also taken the liberty of using the names of some of you too. Those characters will crop up again and again as the campaign progresses.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

OHW - The Campaign - Part Five.

Scenario Four from the One Hour Wargames book is titled 'Take the High Ground.' Once again I have turned the provided map upside down. Here we have a road running North/South, a small wood to the left centre, with a small hill opposite, right centre.

Looking NE from the road towards the small hill.

Looking NW to the small wood.

The roll for units provided the Confederates with:

3 x units of infantry
2 x units of artillery
1 x unit of cavalry.

The Union force will be made up of:

3 x units of infantry
1 x unit of Zouaves
2 x units of Cavalry.

An isolated portion of a Confederate brigade occupies a strategic hill. The Union Commander is aware of this, and intends to capture the hill before any reinforcements arrive. A regiment of artillery and a battery of guns currently hold the hill.

Looking towards the hill from the edge of the wood.

The whole Union brigade will arrive at the North edge of the table in their turn one, the other four units of the Confederate brigade will arrive on or to the west of the road, from the South edge on their turn two.

'Colonel Chris Long was aware of the movement ahead, his infantry regiment along with a battery of guns, occupied Serenity Hill. The small hill, wasn't particularly impressive, but it did dominate the road that ran to its West. If the Union army was coming, then it would be along that road, and come they did. He had already sent a courier scurrying to the rear to inform the General that the enemy was in sight. Now he would have to hold until the rest of the brigade could be brought forward.'

'Brigadier General Richard Phillips inspected the hill and its occupants through his binoculars. Serenity Hill looked more like a pimple to him, but with the stalemate at the Hog's Head River, another route South was needed, and his orders were to capture and hold the hill, to allow the main Union army to pass unhindered along the road.
He knew enemy reinforcements wouldn't be too far away, so time would be at a premium, and decisive action was required to remove the present incumbents of the pimple. He had no artillery, but decided to use his two regiments of cavalry to sweep around the defenders flanks and take up a position to their rear. That would give the enemy commander something to think about. He would lead a regiment down the road to face any enemy units that might appear. His remaining three regiments would assault the hill, assisted by the cavalry troopers if required. 
Satisfied with his plan, he ordered his men into action.'

Colonel Long knew he was up against it as he watched the enemy deploy.

The Union brigade immediately put General Phillips' orders into action.

Cavalry to the left.

Cavalry to the right!

The artillery is the only unit in range, it fires a salvo at the advancing infantry and misses.

On the Union turn, the swift advance continues. the cavalry reach the wood and General Phillips moves along the road with an infantry regiment.

The Union assault goes in on Serenity Hill.

The cavalry dismount behind the hill.

The first volley of musketry from the Rebs on the hill is devastating, the unlucky recipients taking a full six hits.

The artillery is again disappointing, managing just a single hit.

The precarious position of the Confederate troops on the hill is plain to see. They are being assaulted from front and rear, as well as enemy troops marching down the road on their flank.

The rest of the Confederate brigade arrives at the South end of the table.

The commanding general can already see he is at a distinct disadvantage, his force on the hill faces overwhelming odds and enemy cavalry and infantry are before him, blocking his forward movement.

The Union cavalry behind the hill, dismount and prepare to lend their firepower to the main frontal assault.

Union infantry and cavalry, face the new foe.

The assault on Serenity Hill goes in hard, a crack unit of Zouaves ready in reserve.

The advancing Union troops, now in musket range open fire and cause hits on the Rebs.

The artillery crews, also take casualties from front and rear.

The cavalry dismount and the infantry form into line.

Back on the hill, the Rebs continue to hold their ground, the Union troops suffering more casualties.

The artillery crews, spooked at also being fired on from the rear, miss again.

 The Confederate general orders an advance to clear away the Union cavalry troopers, his artillery to engage the infantry and his cavalry are ordered to engage the Union cavalry at the rear of the hill.

The artillery unlimber and prepare for action.

Now in musket and carbine range, the trooper let loose a volley.

On the hill, the infantry take more losses, but hold their ground.

The artillery crews are not so fortunate, hit from front and rear, they suffer terribly.

'Colonel Long was proud of his boys, outnumbered and outflanked, they refused to give ground. But he knew it could not continue like this, Sheer weight of numbers would eventually tell. Looking back he could see friendly cavalry approaching, but the main part of the force had been slowed down by the Yankees.'

The reb cavalry dismount with the intention of engaging the enemy cavalry, drawing their fire away from the beleaguered defenders on the hill.

Back at the main force, hits were scored on the Union cavalry troopers.

On the hill, Colonel Long's boys had almost destroyed one of the assaulting regiments.

But the attached artillery battery was once again off target.

The Union cavalry at the rear of the hill, were forced to swing around to face the new threat.

The cavalry troopers scored another hit, but it was not slowing down the determined advance of the Rebs.

Still the defenders of the hill would not yield, more men fell, but they refused to give ground.

The artillery was almost at break point.

The main rebel assault thinned out the cavalrymen facing them.

More musketry fire from the rapidly thinning ranks of the defenders on the hill.

Yet again, the artillery failed to hit!

The Reb cavalry opened up on their opposite number, and caused a hit.

The Union troopers by the wood, now unnerved by the close proximity of a full and vengeful Confederate infantry regiment, wasted their shots.

The inevitable finally happened. In an instant, both the infantry and artillery on the hill were obliterated in a fusillade of musketry. Both units collapsed as fighting units.

'I shouted to my boys, what was left of them, to throw down their muskets. They did so and began tending the wounded who cried out for help. An infantry colonel approached me and saluted. I returned the salute and began to unbuckle my pistol and sabre scabbard, with the intention of handing them over. He waved his hand, you and your boys fought like lions even though heavily outnumbered and flanked. You have earned the right to keep them.'

Colonel Chris Long, 10th Alabama Infantry.

The Reb cavalry now took a salvo from the Union cavalry, they saw that the hill had fallen, they were now in great danger themselves.

The battle by the wood continued, the troopers being totally outgunned, taking more casualties.

The artillery here was more successful, causing hits on the infantry regiment before it.

The hill may be lost, but the Rebel cavalry fought on.

The successful assault now topped the hill, free to pour down onto the enemy cavalry, and then on to the flank of the main Confederate force.

By the wood, more Confederate troops fell.

As did some of the gun crews.

The cavalry troopers faced another volley, but escaped lightly. They were keenly aware of the mass of blue now atop the hill.

The Confederate general knew the game was up, he had been unable to break out and assist the valiant defenders of the hill. He could see the enemy flags flying above Serenity Hill, it told him all he needed to know He gave the order to withdraw, there would be another day.

The precarious position of the advance Rebel cavalry.

A final top down view of the battlefield. The Union in possession of Serenity Hill and with enough forces to comfortably hold it.

So the Battle of Serenity Hill is over. Another Union victory bringing the campaign tally to 4 - 1 in favour of the Union. The Union advance South will continue in Scenario Six.