Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Kicked In the Mule - By Company Into Line AAR

Last weekend I went back up to Pennsylvania to attend Cough Wars... Cold Sores... er, Cold Wars. I was hoping to attend both Friday and Saturday, but with COVID-19 reaching pandemic levels, I wasn't feeling it and decided to skip out after just going Friday and hitting the dealer hall (where you could tell just how down attendance was by the lack of people). 

I did manage to get into both games I had signed up for on Friday, however. My first game was a 28mm American Civil War scenario, run by John McConnell using his convention rules, "By Company Into Line."

The scenario saw the Union launching an attack against the Muleshoe Salient during the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, during the early hours of May 12th, 1864. 

The table looked fantastic, with plenty of additive terrain that didn't affect game-play but did wonders for the eye.

The goal for the Union was to get over the defensive perimeter and capture three objectives, evenly spaced in the Confederate territory - the ammo dump, supplies depot, and headquarters camp. They would also score victory points for holding sections of the perimeter and moving units off the opposite table edge.

The Confederates needed to keep the objectives mentioned about, along with the trenches, but also scored Victory points for each Union unit that was fully removed.

The attacking union force consisted of eight units (I'll call these regiments) made up of three to four stands (companies) of ten models each.

I took control of the three Zouave regiments.

The other two Union commanders took the rest of the infantry split into a three regiment command, and a two regiment command.

We decided to commit all of our forces to the Union's left flank, with the Zouave regiments on one side of the fence and the rest of the Union infantry on the other in the fields.  The plan was to move forward as aggressively as possible to get up and over the trenches. If we couldn't make a breach in the defenses by turn five, the game would end as a decisive Confederate victory.

Not knowing where the Union attack would come from, the Confederate defenders had spread their companies across the trenches.

This also meant that the Confederates had to activate their units according to the card draws (each card was of a certain color - blue, red, green, white - that matched a company's color in each regiment). The Union units, as long as they stayed in contact, could move together on any card drawn as long as that stand's color was in the unit. Command stands, marked in yellow, could activate on any color as long as it matched a stand in the unit.

One daring Confederate general, seeing his sector of the line was completely open, decided to move his men out of the defenses in a flanking maneuver.

As the closest units to the Confederate trenches, my Zouaves were the first to make it up and over the trenches.

With the weight of fire and a bloody counter attack the Union was forced back out of the trenches, which the Confederates happily re-manned.

My infantry were further punished by the flanking maneuver, which devastated the already bloodied Zouave regiment that had breached the trenches.

I was able to give some of that back with the arrival of a fresh Union regiment. The scattered Confederate companies out in the open made for inviting targets.

My troops were also able to make another hole in the Confederate lines, but it was a tenuous position and unlikely to last long.

While my men were pushing at the Confederate center, the brunt of the Union attack was finally coming to bear against the Confederate right. However, the numbers that helped the Union along also hindered their advance, slowing the Union's progress.

While the card draws allowed the Confederates to move first, a failed charge and a strategic retreat saw half of the Confederates beyond their defenses back behind them. My fresh regiment of troops fired and wiped out a full company of rebels, along with their command stand.

While it seemed like a decent trade at the time, I came to realize that this meant the Confederates would be difficult to remove, even with my superior numbers.

The Confederate right was drowning in blue as the Union came on, and another breach in the rebel defenses was opened.

With so many Union troops coming on, the Confederates were forced to bring their reinforcements on directly into the fight. While the Union was capturing trenches and moving units off the table, the Confederates were able to anchor their flank on the headquarters camp objective and keep the fight going.

As the attack continued, the Union lines finally swung right and began advancing towards the headquarters camp objective.

With my Zouaves all but exhausted, my attacking force was reduced to two regiments. The Confederates were quickly moving any available companies over to intercept the new threat.

But when the time came to throw my men against the line, my dice went cold and I barely managed to do any damage. One of my two regiments cracked and were forced back, while the other was unable to move far enough to off any support.

The tattered remains of my Zouaves watched on as the scenario reached its time limit and the Union attack faltered.

After counting up the victory points for both sides, the final scored ended up being 29 points for the Confederates and 10 points for the Union - a stunning Confederate victory. It would have been closer had my attack been more effective, as the Union would have gotten control of a long stretch of trenches. But it was the failure to capture any of the objectives that ultimately doomed the attack to failure. Not putting so much of the Union's forces in one flank might have helped as well.

I enjoyed the rules and the scenario. The GMs were fantastic, and I would happily return for more action using By Company Into Line.

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