Tuesday 2 July 2019

Battle of Moonshine Ridge - 1862 Maryland

Sunday was unbearably hot inside the shed-o-war, but we persevered because we were playing an excellent ACW game using the Fire and Fury rules. Its been a while since I have played this period or these rules (I think I missed the last game at Reject HQ) so I pulled out my copy of the rules and skimmed through them on Saturday in preparation. Apparently, in that last game, all the players were so frustrated with the way the game played that Postie said he would try to alter some aspects of the rules. So having dutifully read the rules I turn up on Sunday to find that Postie had prepared several changes that made large chunks of the rulebook invalid! So this game was more of a test of some ideas he had that would 'fix' some of the supposedly frustrating elements of the original rules.

The Setup
The game is a fictional battle but set in the midst of a real campaign, so Postie drew up our orders of battle from forces appropriate to the time period and location. Both sides started the game in march column, streaming into the field of battle. We all got a 'free move' before play commenced, based on the roll of 2d6. In keeping with my poor dice rolling tradition, the average score for my Brigades was about 5 and consequently my Division bearly moved!

Order of Battle
Errr.... I forgot to copy the OOB's at the end of the game, so you'll probably have to look at Ray's BatRep (when he does it) if you want to know exactly what forces were arrayed against each other. In my defence, it was very VERY hot in the shed-o-war and by the end of the game, all I wanted to do was get outside to gulp down some fresh air.

Both sides started the game in a column of march

We then rolled for an initial 'free move'. 

Ray's Brigades moved well, gaining a lot of ground with that initial move. 

Surjit and I as the Confederates did less well!

Turn one and Ray brought on some reserves, two brigades of Mounted Infantry, by the second half of the turn they were across the table and behind our flank! They then dismounted and took up a position in the wheatfield on the left of this picture. 

Surjit moves to counter this shifting two Brigades to the hill. 

Meanwhile, my guns have got themselves in a good position and begin to open fire on the advancing New Yorkers across the table. My artillery fore was above average for most of the game and did significant damage to some of the Union Brigades. 

Surjit's Virginians continue to move into position, although sending two Brigades to deal with the Union dismounted infantry may be a bit of overkill. 

Meanwhile, the Unions Michigan Brigades adopt a strong defensive position in a wheat field.

Fire begins to be exchanged between the dismounted Union cavalry and one of Surjit's Virginia Brigades. 

While more of his infantry get close to the Union troops. Ray was compalining endlessly about how we (the Confederates) weren't attacking enough so he moved forward on us. We'd lost time at the beginning of the battle with poor movement but we also were not stupid enough to assault Union troops in the favourable ground.

Michigans charge Virginians on a hill. Despite the advantage, Surjit was never going to win this without the support and his unit was thrown back badly mauled. 

Meanwhile, my Brigades have finally got into position. The poor initial move was compounded by a subsequent turn where I managed to roll a 1on the movement chart. Three Brigades were unable to move or change formation, one of which was under fire from Union artillery. Surjit didn't want me to advance here but I had spent nearly three turns unable to even take advantage of any cover. 

Meanwhile, Surjits Virginians have charged and seen off the Union mounted infantry. But the cost was high. Posties changes to the rules give defenders a bonus for being behind light cover but also incur a penalty for anyone trying to assault across the same. This 'double penalty' made the fight here very costly for the Confederates. 

In the centre, the Unions troops from Pennsylvania and New York have advanced and charged the Confederate lines. 

Finally, on turn four our reserves arrive. Before the game started Stuart gave us a choice of where and when we wanted our cavalry to arrive. Surj wanted them to come on later in the game, although with hindsight I think an earlier entrance would have been desirable!

The Union charge, seen from the perspective of the blue bellies.

There is hand to hand fighting along most of the line. 

Union troops sweep up onto the hill after defeating one of Surjit's Virginian Brigades. 
A narrow victory in the melee send the Virginians back, but they are not out of the fight just yet. 

Meanwhile, I have had enough sitting behind my fence and decide to attack the Union troops that have come into charge range. My concern here was that if I continued to do nothing here Ray could move 'spare' units towards the centre where we were looking very thin. However, I now fell foul of the double penalty for charging across a fence. Despite getting a bonus for charging the enemy, another for outnumbering them, another for having my 'dander up' (a special rule invented by Postie) and more for having fresh units, I still lost by a significant margin. 

Boom Boom Boom... the only good part of the game for me, as my Artillery continues to perform well against the enemy. 

Lining up for another charge in the centre. However, by now time was getting late and we called the game a draw as neither side had the upper hand. 

Well, I think it's fair to say that didn't go entirely to plan. I lost two turns early in the game simply trying to get my units into the formation and positions I wanted them. I was able to send a couple of my units to assist Surjit in the centre, but it took us so long to get started it felt like the game was already decided by that point. Over on the right, Surjit was wrong-footed by the excellent move of Rays mounted infantry. I don't think Surj would admit that, but I think we were both taken by surprise by Ray's bold move and I think that's why we both overreacted to the threat. Surj diverted two battalions to the threat of the dismounted infantry on our flank, which I'm convinced Ray had no plans to move once they were in position behind soft cover. That extra battalion could have helped us hold the line against the Union assault on the hill in that sector.

Then when our cavalry finally came on in Turn 4 (waaay too late in the game, but that was the C/O's decision) I don't think Surj handled them very well (sorry mate). I think he was lining them up for a Napoleonic style frontal charge of the Union infantry, but that's just not how cavalry of this period worked and I'm not convinced the rules would have favoured such a move either. Personally (and Ray agreed with me) I think they would have been better used to swing wide behind the Union flank, take a turn or two to get into position and then dismount to become a thorn in their side as his dismounted infantry were in ours. But I wasn't in command of these reserves so it's hard to say what I would have done when faced with such a conundrum. I had my own problems...

So, over on my flank, having spent several turns just trying to roll higher than a 1 on the movement chart (*facepalm*) I was effectively ordered to hold my position and support the centre. I was able to send two Brigades into the centre and one of these was instrumental in holding back a Union breakthrough charge that had destroyed one of the Virginia Brigades. Eventually, Ray brought his troops close enough to my line that I decided to charge his position. Despite supporting the charge with a second Brigade and have the benefit of a 'Dander up' charge, I was unable to beat the union troops because they were lined up behind a fence. We discussed this after the game and I felt the bonuses for standing behind a rail fence were just too high, effectively putting this on par with a fortification.

I had better luck with my Artillery. Indeed we all did with some devastating barrages falling on enemy units. I concentrated my fire on the leading Union brigades in front of my line and although I didn't destroy anything I did significant damage which possibly held back another union advance. We all felt that artillery was a little too powerful for the period and needed to be scaled back a little.

So at the end, we called the game a draw but I felt the Union forces had the upper hand. (Ray will probably say he won, don't belive it!). Postie needs to rethink some of the rule changes he was trying out but I hope to give these adapted rules another try because I have always enjoyed playing the period. 


  1. I'm curious about what you didn't like about the rules as written! Was it Brigade or Regimental version you were playing. I ask as we play a lot of F&F and have no problems, if the games are set up to come to action ASAP. Some games are long, I agree and we often play them over a two weekend period. I always felt that the only improvement the game needed was the use of "Patrol" game within a game as in Chain of Command to start the forces closer together. We have worked on that idea on and off for a while now, but haven't come up with anything concrete.

    1. Personally, I don't really have a problem with the rules. I'd happily see us stick to the originals (we play the Brigade version). But the rest of the group find them frustrating because melee's are not as decisive as other systems we use. I missed the last game where the decision was made to make some changes, and I'm not entirely convinced the alterations made were an improvement. To be fair to Postie, keeping our group happy is akin to herding cats, so whatever he did I'm sure someone would be unhappy.

  2. Great looking game, Lee!

    Thanks for clarifying that you were playing the Brigade level version of Fire & Fury. Were you using 1st or 2nd Edition? I am interested in seeing your amendments used in this game.

  3. That's a lovely looking game Lee and I don't envy you having to play in that heat!

  4. Great looking game but you were penalized with having Surj and as C/O too!

    1. More like he was penalised by having me and my bad luck with dice rolls on his side!

  5. Cool photos Lee, I really need to get me a decent camwa!!! What a pair of plonkers!

  6. I do love a good ACW game. Nice report and pics. Good luck with the rules adjustments. 😀


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