'Rebels and Patriots' is the latest installment in the Rampant series of games published by Osprey, and is aimed at skirmish warfare in North America from about 1750 to the end of the ACW. Obviously that's where the 'fluff' and examples in the book is pitched, but it would cover just about anything else geographically in that period as well. Caesar and I decided to give it a try last night, playing the introductory scenario using the book's 1862-63 ACW lists.
The game is skirmish level, so each unit is basically between 6 and 12 men. However we used my 6mm ACW troops, and had one base of eight figures representing two men, which is an unusual scale (0.25/1) but looked OK. Basically a full infantry unit is 6 bases, we used two artillery stands to represent 'a gun' and, had we used cavalry, we would have had three bases per unit, as they operate with six figures normally.
Are you completely confused yet? We weren't.
We played on a 2' x 2' board and halved all game distances to compensate.
The scenario basically has a ridge in the middle of the board and an objective point on the ridge. Each side scores points if they are the only one with units within a certain distance of the objective at the end of a turn.
I took the Union - one artillery piece, and four line infantry units, two of which were veteran and two of which were green. Caesar had the Confederates, who also had a gun, but a smaller force of three veteran infantry units who were poor shots, but aggressive.
The terrain was fairly open aside from some fences, which slowed movement and provided light cover.
I put my veteran units to the fore, leaving a green unit in reserve and another to cover my left flank.
The green troops advanced through a field, and soon had some rebels in their sights. They opened fire and inflicted a goodly number of casualties with their initial volley.
Meanwhile I pushed close to the objective. Caesar reorganised his troops for a single aggressive push over the ridge.
The first lot of Confederates to poke their heads over the far end of the ridge got them shot off. The Union were closed up and firing volleys with confidence and relative competence.
Unfortunately the Union reserve came under Confederate artillery fire, and decided to skedaddle.
Caesar pushed forward, and sat on the objective, contesting it. There was much firing.
The Confederates came of worse in the firefight. The problem was that they couldn't charge something unless they could see it, so Caesar had to crest the ridge on one turn before charging on the next. As each unit crested the ridge, the Union troops shot it down.
However the veteran Confederates, whilst depleted, still had fight left in them. Their aggressive train makes them pretty formidable in close combat, so even when outnumbered their charge was enough to push back their opponents and give the Confederates a couple of turns of control of the objective.
But it wasn't enough. Control of the objective also meant being exposed to fire, and steady Union volleys made short work of the Rebels. With a few turns left in the game the Union had undisputed control of the objective.
I picked up the big victory points for control of the objective, and we both picked up points for inflicting casualties on our opponent. In addition I got a bonus point from fortuitous random events during the game, and that gave me a convincing 5-1 win.
The game played very smoothly and we didn't have to look up very much once we got going. Obviously we know the system reasonably well, and whilst this version does have some fundamental changes, prior knowledge helped. The fact that we really only had two troop types in play kept things simple as well. The biggest changes in 'Rebels and Patriots' are that all units get a chance to activate, rather than a fail ending your turn, and the fact that a morale tests are easier to pass (since you only factor in casualties inflicted that round, rather than accumulated casualties), with a failure leading to disorder rather than a straight rout. Units basically have more staying power, although this is somewhat offset by the lethality of firing.
This game very much covers the same ground as Sharp Practice, but I found the system easier to follow, and it was more obvious how to set about achieving an aim. It's probably slightly lighter in terms of chrome than SP, but certainly easier to play. A worthy addition to the Rampant stable.
Thanks to Caesar for running the game, for which I just provided toys, terrain, and a righteous cause.