Friday, 13 September 2013

The Donald Featherstone Memorial Wargame - Battle At The Crossroads

Last night the Gong Garage Gamers  made our contribution to the Donald Featherstone Memorial Game project on TMP. We'd actually scheduled a play-through of the new 'Longstreet' rules, and went ahead with it as planned, but allowed our choice of scenario to be inspired by the three example ACW games in 'Battles With Model Soldiers' - simple, equal forces, fighting over an uncomplicated terrain. To some extent we were doing exactly what that chapter does; trying out a set of rules using the minimum forces necessary to get a feel for them.

As discussed here and elsewhere we adopted shirts and ties, in homage to the endearing images of  those smartly-dressed (to our modern eyes) gamers of the 1960s. Ralph brought a small libation and the most suitable table covering he could find (he's an ex-member of the Senior Service), we chipped in some glasses and before the game we drank a small toast to the great man.

To Don!

Then on with the game - after Ralph had taken some photos of the set-up for posterity.

The essence of the battle was a simple crossroads, flanked by two cornfields. The Union had to defend it against a Confederate attack. Both forces were equal - two large units of recruit infantry, two smaller units of veterans, two howitzer artillery sections and two rifle artillery sections. The recruits were eager, whilst one veteran unit was cautious and the other seasoned.

This was our first go with the full version of 'Longstreet'.

Ralph took more photos ...

... then we settled down to coming up with a plan. Ralph and I were the defending Union, whilst Caeasar and Bryan took the Confederates. Whilst the forces were equal, which would seem to favour the defender, there were big penalties to the Union morale if they did lose the crossroads,  so it had to be defended with some vigour.

The Confederate commanders - Matchbox Marshal Anderson and Bryan 'Blood And Glory' Sallans.

This is me, looking bemused. iPhone selfie. No duck-face. But I digress ...

We defended the crossroads with our howitzer battery and some seasoned veterans. The veterans are good at defending in close combat, but less effective on the attack than the more eager recruits. The recruits, however, are more vulnerable to enemy fire as they advance into position. We kept our recruits in reserve.

The Confederates went straight for the jugular, launching an aggressive assault, backed up by some useful melee cards. We used cards to up the effectiveness of our artillery, and concentrated on their recruits, trying to break them up before they closed.

The first round of close combat saw our artillery swept away, however.

We brought up a veteran unit on the flank and used deadly musketry to hold the Confederates back.

The Confederates pulled back. A large unit of Confederate infantry can be seen sneaking around the Union flank, but some sneaky card-play held them off for a turn or so. Our ability to bring up our reserve recruits was hindered when they became confused and moved to occupy positions in a nearby wood instead.

Caesar was still optimistic at this stage. The Confederates had settled for peppering us with artillery fire, whilst sneaking the remains of one of their veteran regiments around our flank. Successfully.

The small Confederate unit charged, and won the combat, but not by the crushing margin Caesar and Bryan had hoped for. Our unit defending the crossroads was pushed back, but remained on the objective.

On the next turn we turned the battlefield into a killing ground of musketry and artillery fire, inflicting enough casualties to push the Confederates to their army break point, ending the game.

As with the previous game we seemed to grasp the card-play pretty well, and only made a couple of errors of timing. The attackers have a difficult job in this scenario, but it wasn't entirely easy for the defenders, as teh objective is an exposed position and a unit defending it is subject to a lot of fire. The small number of casualties we took was more testament to poor die rolls on our opponents' part than anything else. We used cards to keep up a steady, effective, fire when we could, trying to score as many casualties on vulnerable units as we could to get the Confederates to their break-point.

All in all this was a very enjoyable game. I did like how the troop rating interacted, with experience being boosted or hindered by the troops' willingness to fight. And the mechanisms were easy to pick up and use; whilst we did spend time looking stuff up in the rules it was more to make certain of things rather than any lack of clarity.

And the important thing, for a game which was played to celebrate the contribution of one man to our hobby, was that we all had fun.


  1. Another great post - thanks!

    Despite the sadness of his passing, it was actually a very enjoyable evening and, I think, a suitable way of marking Don's passing over the bar.

  2. Nice work Alan, good to see Evil Dave there.

  3. i like the idea of dressing like you're really concerned with how good you look. I would love to see more of this at cons, instead of the "Spiderman" t'shirts and the pokeeman labcoats next to the guys in sandles and shorts playing FOW.

    1. For me it was a costume. Nothing more. Not that I don't like dressing and being concerned with how good I look. But if you flick through this blog you'll see that when I do it, I do it in a way that's regarded as a little unusual :)


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