Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Brigade Fire & Fury 2nd Edition: McPherson's Ridge!

Last week I sent Ken the article written by Colonel Bill of Age of Eagles fame about the second edition of Brigade Fire & Fury American Civil War rules.  When I told him that the original Fire & Fury was one of my all-time favorite games and I was very interested in the new edition, the stage was set!

So the usual suspects came over on Sunday and we took the new "Brigade Fire & Fury" over for a test spin.
THe usual suspects, Dave and Ken finishing the setup.  You can see the new Brigade Fire & Fury rules under Ken's left arm.
We decided to go with the "smaller" McPherson's Ridge scenario but minus Howard's Corps.  I had enough miniatures to get the feel of the battle and had some of the most important and famous units on the table.
Iron Brigade starts to move into position as Buford's Brigade withdraws.  Cutler's Brigade can be seen straddling the "railroad cut" in the upper part of the pic.
 The changes to Fire & Fury are subtle and while they have a big impact in terms of combat, it still feels very much like Fire & Fury.  Players of the original Brigade game should not fear and will be very happy with this edition.  As the game opens, Dave is able to use Archer and Davis' Brigade to make some great initial headway up onto McPherson's Ridge.  He even pushes Cutler's Brigade back PAST the railroad cut.  Cutler's Troops are good though, and Cutler himself is "exceptional" so it's not proving to be the pushover Dave though it would be!

Rebs almost reach the McPherson Barn and are headed into McPherson's woods.

Archer's Brigade gets into position to deliver some enfilading fire onto Cutler's Brigade!
 Meanwhile Davis' Brigade advances against a covering artillery battery.  The cannister reaps a deadly harvest, however and they go "disordered."

Ken's wearing Dave's reading glasses.

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 Cutler's boys are pushed off the ridgeline and more and more Union Brigades start to stream in.
Lots of reinforcements for the Yankees!
 By this time I put the Iron Brigade into position right at the bottom edge of McPherson's Woods and they deliver a nasty surprise to the Rebs who are cruising through the woodline.  I would keep them there probably longer than I should have but they bought valuable time for the rest of the Army to deploy!  And thank heavens for that as the Rebs would get a ton of reinforcements soon enough.

Pettigrew's 13 stand brigade!  Crikey!

The Iron Brigade - a Crack Unit - "those damn black hatted fellows."

THe Iron Brigade taking on two confederate brigades!
 Union reinforcements move into position while the Iron Brigade takes volley after volley.  It's a nail biting defense full of tension as I try to form a defensive line on the back of McPherson's ridge and a reserve line on Seminary Ridge.  I can tell you that literally everything I did was historically plausible and felt right.  Fire & Fury has excellent period feel to it and this game, while long, really reminded me of how much I loved these rules.

The full battlefield as the Iron Brigade starts to conduct a retrograde under fire!
 There was plenty of Gettysburg trivia flying around this game, mostly annoying, and all of it by me.  Speaking of which, what is your favorite blunder/blooper from the movie "Gettysburg?"

Anyways I'm debating whether or not to let the Iron Brigade die in place since this is a wargame but looking at the mass of Dave's reinforcements (regenerated from the casualty pile - tell me that's not a kick in the pants!) I feel as though I'm going to need them for when the Rebs hit my main line of resistance.

Another thing I'll mention is that I attached Reynolds right to the Iron Brigade and he never died.

The Union line is starting to take shape around the hills near the McPherson woods and it's turning into "Fortress Seminary Ridge"as I've already lost the other side of the Chambersburg Pike.  Devin's Cavalry Brigade makes a sacrificial last stand for me but it's enough to keep the Rebs on that side occupied.
Dave's line shaking out with more reinforcements!  

The Iron Brigade starting to take casualties now as well.

The Union line starts to form and "Fortress Seminary Ridge" position is being assembled.

Devin's Brigade is having the Devil's own day 

more rebel reinforcements coming in now and it's starting to look grim for the Yanks.
 In order to put the reinforcing units on the table, Dave was collecting troop stands from the casualty pile and placing them into the line.  It was disheartening for me, but a great idea since I only had about 55 total Confederate stands!

The Iron Brigade has about had it after repeated Rebel assaults 

2 x 9 stand Veteran Confederate Brigades!  Trouble for me!  Good shooting would keep them at bay long enough but when Dave eventually would close, it would have been curtains for the Union.  My only hope was to keep these Brigades "disorganized" long enough to buy more time.

I lost complete track of time becoming totally invested into the defense and the ever growing Rebel ranks to my front!  We called the game at 7:00pm and I was exhausted.  I will say that Fire and Fury as a leisurely game is best played if you have the entire day or even the entire weekend to play.  As casual Sunday game where you only have 3 or 4 hours it's probably not the best game if you want a decision in a short period of time.  We probably played a good 4 hours and had not reached a decision yet.  One could argue that the time scale was pretty realistic but I want something a little faster.

With that said, I did have a blast and I believe Dave and Ken did as well (Ken was more of our rules aficionado and umpire) and as I stated before, this game reminded me of all the reasons I love Fire and Fury.  Historically plausible outcomes, realistic maneuvers, tactics, and operations, and a great narrative are all features of this great game and if you want a truly grand-tactical American Civil War game that retains the flavor and feel of Horse and Musket fighting while putting you in the Corps Commander's saddle, then these rules are worth looking into.  As for me?  Well it's safe to say unless I'm going to play them at a Convention, I have retired Fire and Fury in favor of games that play a little quicker (Neil Thomas ACW from Wargaming An Introduction, Black Powder, Rank & File being 3 examples) but they'll always have a special place in this gamer's heart.


  1. Sounds as though you had a ball with this game. The system is certainly playable, if a little on the chancy side. I'd like the F&F system more if it didn't require so many model cannon!

    1. Very much fun was had by all, sir. The only "problem" i see which isnt a problem really, is that the games take as long as their historical equivalents to complete. That's probably a real strength of the rules but in my time-strapped life, i simply cannot spare 8 hours or 12 hours on a Saturday or Sunday, as much as id like to, in order to finish a game.

      Not a complaint mind you, just an observation. Id happily play FNF at a convention.

      How many cannon did you need? We played with 1 stand = 1 battery and had just enough for mcperhsons ridge (substituting rebel batteries for yankee batteries-old porter alexander was spinning in his grave!

    2. In Brigade F&F each actual battery on the field is represented by one gun model. AFAIK all other ACW use the same representation or more (for instance, in Regimental F&F each gun represents only one section of a battery). I"m not aware of any rules in which each model gun represents more than one battery. If you're going to represent all the batteries in the actual oob of a historical battle, there's no way around it. That's not the problem of the rules and it's not unique to F&F

  2. A few observations. First, it took us more than an hour to layout the terrain, cut out the labels and apply them to the units, and figure out the scenario. Second, we spent a substantial amount of time trying to figure out the rules after not having played them for years. The point is that this game was not an accurate prediction of how much time it will actually take to play a game of BF&F. That being said, there's really no disputing that it would take longer to play a BF&F game then a game of BP with the same number of units.

    1. Thanks Ken. I felt that besides the hour and a half it took to set up we were moving along pretty well. Most of the rules issues we suffered didnt seem to stop play outright like in some other games.
      I agree there was some fumbling through on our parts but nothing that i felt caused a significant delay.
      The game takes long to play!

  3. I have always enjoy the F&F games. Am now looking forward to giving these new rules a go!

  4. What a great game! Sounds like F&F hasn't lost its magic from way back. Loving the look of the new game room too.

    1. It was an excellent game Darren even without Howard's Corps. Look at the new FnF as a refinement of the old classic.

      Yes im so happy with the game room!

  5. Give a look to Bloody Big Battles. These are like a stripped down F&F, with variable troop ratios. A stand can represent anything from 500 troops/12 guns up to 2,000+ troops/48 guns. We play First Bull Run in a couple hours. The whole Gettysburg battles takes us 2 sessions of 3 or 4 hours each.

    Basing is the same. Game uses 2D6 instead of D10 so you get a bell curve.

    1. I do need to check them out. I have read good things about them. Apologies for the long-delayed response! This comment was awaiting moderation for some reason.