Sunday, April 10, 2011

Little Wars - April 9, 2011

For Little Wars this year, I decided to host Gettysburg - Day 2. The ruleset is a homebrew version of Command & Colors: Civil War that I cooked up. Here is a shot of the table as we were just getting going on the first game. I scheduled 3 games for Saturday: 10:00 am, 1:30 pm, and 5:30 pm. Game 1 lasted just over 3 hours and ended with Union victory. The Southern Commanders were determined to smash the Union left flank and sent Longstreet's Corp forward. Their initial attacks went in somewhat piecemeal and were driven off. The Union player reinforced the left with Sykes Corp and launched a successful counter-attack. The desperate Southern commanders fed in reinforcement's from A.P. Hill's Corp and the losses mounted. Eventually the Rebel army could take no more and retreated from the field: A Union victory!

After awarding the medal for the victory, setting up the table again, and taking a hurried bite of a beef sandwich, we were ready for the second group of the day.

This time, the Rebel players started out with what looked like a similar plan. Longstreet's men moved forward and began to attack Rose's Woods. After the Union player moved their Reserve (Syke's Corp and the reserve artillery) to their left to support Sickles, the rebels shifted their attack to the Union Right and began attacking the saddle between Culp's Hill and Cemetery Hill. The attacks started out slow, but quickly grew in intensity. Attack; counter-attack...charge; counter-charge. The Confederate leadership was fiercely determined to take and keep Cemetery Hill, and eventually did, but their losses were terrible the Union organized a final assault on the rebel units atop Cemetery Hill and drove them off. The depleted rebels finally admitted defeat and left the field: A second Union victory!

I was pretty tired after running two full games, but there was a full crew signed up for the third game, so after takign a short break with my wife and kids, I set it up again and off we went. Pictured above are the Union players, and below are the Confederate players. This time, the rebels were a bit more circumspect and after some skirmishing in the Peach Orchard, they began a grand assault on the Union right. It initially went badly, and Johnson's boys opposite Culp's Hill were rooughly handled and fell back into Gettysburg. However, once A.P. Hill's Corps deployed forward and began a slow, steady pounding of the Union position on Cemetery Hill and Ridge, the battle began to turn. Once several units of Union artillery were driven off the ridge, the Confederate Infantry began to advance. Their advance crested the Hill and swept down to Meade's HQ were a final desperate struggle erupted. The battered Union army quickly ran out of fresh troops, and the rebs had the victory!

It was a great day, but man was I tired. It was going on 10 pm and I had been on my feet for 14 hours. I slowly re-packed the armies and prepared to head for home. While I did so, several groups of players and judges stopped by to chat. Everyone had very nice things to say about my tabletop, which I appreciated. The star was the amazing paint job on the figures by Scott Mac Phee. Throughout the day, many gamers wanted to know who painted them, and the praise for the paintwork was unending. They are, truly, magnificent (Thanks again Scott!)

I had a great day, and really enjoyed putting on the games. The players all seemed to have a great time as well, with smiles all around after each match. Little Wars is a great Con. Well run, with many amazing looking tabletops (I was right next to a super-cool 54mm Alamo game that sprawled across two tables), many great vendors, and well attended by hundreds of very polite, and happy gamers. I was especially happy to see many younger gamers in their 20's and 30's...the hobby is very much alive in the Midwest.

Lastly, the new venue for Little Wars, at the DuPage Expo Center at the Pheasant Run Resort is perfect! It was enough space all under one very tall roof...and most importantly only 30 minutes directly north of my house!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Little Wars Gettysburg (part 3)

Cemetery Ridge and the Irish Brigade

The town of Gettysburg at the north edge of the table

General Lee at his HQ near the Lutheran Seminary.

Not a glam shot, but a good view of the entire table.

Preparing for Little Wars (part 2)

Early's Division eyeing the defenses on Culp's Hill

The defenses up close. (I made the breastworks pieces out of model railroad cargo logs.)

One of the new Iron Brigade units that Scott MacPhee did recently holding the saddle between Culp's Hill and Cemetery Hill.

Cemetery Hill ready for the attack. I scratch-built the Cemetery Gatehouse out of boardgame counters from the game Oasis.

Cemetery Hill/ Ridge. You can see the 14th Brooklyn Zouaves off on the right there.

Rebel units looking across at Cemetery Ridge

The Wheatfield there in the valley I made out of a coconut mat and some model railroad fencing.

Anderson's Division waiting for Longstreet's attack to go in.

...and waiting.

Longstreet's boys almost ready to go.


Sickles men in the Peach Orchard and Wheat Field

Preparing for Little Wars

I'll be running a game at Little Wars again this year on Saturday, April 9. Last year I did the Battle of Ligny. This year, I'll be doing the Battle of Gettysburg: Day 2. The rules will be my Civil War adaptation of Command and Colors: Ancients.


  • I've ordered new buildings to increase the number if my Civil War era buildings (which look different from Napoleonic era buildings). My building scale is 6mm, which may seem odd with 28mm figures, but I'm trying to create a tabletop that represents the entire battlefield, which would be impossible with 25mm buildings. I figure that since each figure represents approximately 300 men, that it actually makes sense that the figures are over-sized.
  • I purchased and based alot of trees
  • I purchased and flocked quite a few new hills
  • I also commissioned a few new units and casualty figures from Scott MacPhee (the genius figure painter who did all of my Civil War figures earlier this year.
  • I researched the orders of battle and starting positions of all units: Each infantry stand is equal to approximately 2 brigades.
  • The final step was to do a dry-run setup on my table. Here are some pictures:
The Luthern Seminary (great building from Total Battle Miniatures in the UK)

Notice the new casualty figures. I plan to place one on the table every time a unit is eliminated. That way, as the battle goes on, and units come off the table, it won't look as empty, and it will be apparent where the hard fighting took place.

Confederate troops of Rodes Division waiting in Gettysburg for their chance to storm Cemetery Hill.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Civil War minis are here!

My new Civil War armies have just arrived and I couldn't be more excited! I'm like a kid again. :)

I have been planning and working on the composition, layout, and other details of these Civil War Armies since my trip to Gettysburg last Fall. It took most of a year, but the project is now complete and the playing can begin.

The figures are Sash and Saber, Old Glory 2nd Edition, Foundry, and a few Perrys. The quality of the figures is quite good, but the painting is what really makes them sing. All hail Scott MacPhee, the artist that was good enough to take on the job of painstakingly painting and basing hundreds of miniature figures.

Scott is a rarity these days: a craftsman of the old school who is dedicated to creating works of art through hard work, talent, and skill. What he was able to do with these pieces of lead is truly amazing. His artistry brought these miniatures to LIFE, and now I have the privilege of owning and playing with works of art. You can see Scott's work here on this site and on his Blog (link is listed as one of my favorites), which is truly an inspiration and a pleasure to read.

My first blog showing the figures is a re-fight of Longstreet's attack on the 2nd Day at Gettysburg. I used my rules adaptation of Command and Colors: Ancients/ Battle Cry system by Richard Borg.

Gettysburg Day 2 - Longstreet's Attack

It had been a hard fight the day before, and the Union had taken a good lickin'. Two Union Corps were almost destroyed, but they doled out their share of punishment too. As Lee surveyed the field, he knew that he wanted to hit them again while the memory of their defeat was still fresh in their minds. He needed to hit them hard and drive them off those hills to his front. Once he did that, his boys would keep 'em running...crashing into the rest of the Army of the Potomac as it marched northward to reinforce them. Then it would just be a matter of pressing them...all the way to Washington; and an end to this war.

So how to hit them was the question. Lee sensed hesitation from Ewell over on the left, and A.P. Hill's Corps in the Center had done most of the hard fighting the day before and faced the strongest part of the Union line. The guns that were dug into the hill by that Cemetery would be tough to assault.

And he had found out that it was Hancock's men that had reinforced the I and IX Corps troops as they dug in last night. Those were good men, but they would run just the same if he could give them a good smash. Who would deliver the blow was obvious: It had to be Longstreet. His men were fresh and Hood's Division were the shock troops of the Army of Northern Virginia.

Where seemed pretty sure as well: The Union line was strong in the center and apparently over on the left, but to the right it seemed to just peter out at the end of the ridge as it headed over toward those two big hills on his right.

The attack would need to be made quickly so that Union reinforcements couldn't extend the line.

He gave the order for Longstreet to get his men in position and to make the attack as soon as possible. Longstreet wanted to avoid a fight here and swing around the enemy to the south, but not knowing exactly where the other Union Corps were because of his missing cavalry, Lee didn't dare to maneuver in the face of the enemy. He thought that it was much safer to smash this part of the enemy army to bits before the rest showed up. Longstreet didn't seem enthusiastic, but he was a good soldier. He would obey and drive the enemy.

As Longstreet lost several hours waiting for his Third Division, and then when ordered to move regardless, getting his men in position without being seen by the enemy, Sickles' III Corps appeared and extended the Union line southward. Now Longstreet's attack would head directly into these newly arrived troops. And when Sickles moved his forces forward to occupy the Peach Orchard, Longstreet's men were directly in his front. A collision was inevitable.

Graham's Brigade of Birney's Division occupies the Peach Orchard.

DeTrobriand's Brigade of Birney's Division occupies Rose's Woods south of the Wheat Field.

Meade's Headquarters behind Cemetery Ridge was distant enough from events on the Union Left Flank so that many decisions had to be made by the officers at hand. The battle would be won or lost on their initiative.

Longstreet's I Corp Artillery opens fire on Graham's men in the Peach Orchard to start the action at 4:00 pm on July 2, 1863.

Hood's Division was on the Confederate right flank and lead the attack. Robertson's and Anderson's Brigades...

...and Law and Benning's Brigades on their right.

At 4:00pm Longstreet gave the signal for the attack to begin.

I can see them! Union left flank 4:00 - 5:00pm

Hood's Division starts to advance...

4 Brigades cross the Emmitsburg Road as they head toward Rose's Woods and the Union left flank.

Meanwhile Ward's Brigade waits around the Devil's Den.

Skirmishers from the 1st U.S. Sharpshooters fall back and report the rebel advance. Busy re-directing Strong Vincent's Brigade of reinforcements from V Corps to extend his line into the woods south of Devil's Den, Sickles shouts back, "They're moving up right in front of me, I can see them."