Friday, January 28, 2011

Cedar Mountain Play Tests

Tonight a few of my friends helped me play test an American civil war scenario that I'll be putting on at our club's game night in February. I wanted a smaller scenario so that the game would be sure to be played to completion during a three hour gaming session at our club so I initially selected first Manassas. After getting a lot of RSVPs for my play test session I switched to a slightly larger yet still manageable scenario - the battle of Cedar Mountain - August 9th 1862.

As a starting point I used some historical maps I found on the Internet and the excellent Volley & Bayonet order of battle from Keith McNelly's Volley & Bayonet page. After reading about the battle a bit and reviewing the scenario notes I decided on starting my scenario at the point where the Union forces are approaching the crossroads and the Confederate forces are entering from their side of the battlefield. For sake of speed, I started with all troops on the table and the Union with a 1 victory point advantage. Additional points are scored for holding the crossroads at the end of the game and for exhausting enemy divisions. With the Union easily capturing the crossroads early on their 2nd turn, the burden of attack is clearly in the Confederates hands. Their superior numbers and morale balance this out, or at least that is the plan.

Below we see the two teams. First play test the team on the left comprised of George, Phil, Ross and Ralph played the Confederates and the team on the right comprised of Ed, Robert and Mike played the Union. For the second play test the teams switched sides with Ross remaining Confederate for both games since the Union army could only support three players comfortably.

For both games the Union plan was to set up a firm defense at the crossroads and the Confederate plan was to flank heavily on the Union left flank. On the first game the Confederate attacks went in on turn three and four with the Union repulsing them with heavy losses. After five turns the first game was called as a decisive Union victory. Some photos of this game are below.

For the second game, the new Confederate players chose to take a more patient approach with two of their divisions aiming to take several additional turns to attack the Union lines from the rear forcing them to fight on two fronts. The Union players were forced to make a hasty redeployment that allowed for a swift attack from their front with later attacks from the flank and rear. In the end they held off the Confederates with a final score of 3-1 in victory points, but with both sides having additional divisions only a point or two from exhaustion. During the fighting there was at least one turn where the Union tilted on the brink of disaster, but in the end they were able to consolidate their remaining forces in a firm battle line defending the crossroads.  There are some photos of this game below.

In the end all players got to play both sides of the battle and all agreed that the scenario is pretty close to tuned. I believe that I will only make two small adjustments. One will be removing one of the Union corps batteries, the other will be to somehow bolster Lawton's command, possibly by adding an artillery battery to it, or maybe by just adding some additional strength points to the brigades. I should have a follow up post to this one after our February game night where I will be hosting the final game. I'd like to thank everyone who came tonight to help me play test the scenario.


Ian from said...

Just wondering why you decided to move from F&F to V&B?

AJ (Allan) Wright said...

We use V&B for many other periods. We're all familiar with it so the games go fast and are more fun because we're playing the scenario not trying to remember the rules.