Sunday, October 8, 2023

Developing a Chickamauga Scenario

 Okay, that title is a little misleading.  I'm not actually *developing* a Chickamauga scenario - I'm modifying an existing one!

Continuing on with my argument of the last couple years is that what the world needs is more wargaming scenarios, I was recently pondering on the fact that I have not played a good ACW game in a long while.  I searched through the blog and found a scant few ACW games played since the pandemic.  It looks like our Altar of Freedom Shiloh game took all of the wind out of me (but that was a heck of a game, though).

Anyways, by complete happenstance, I was cleaning off my shelf the other day looking for rules to get rid of, and the scenario booklet from the original Johnny Reb rules fell out onto the floor.  The scenario it opened to?  You guessed it.  Chickamauga.  You can read about the battle here.

 I started reading the GDW scenario for JR, struck by the beauty of the old-styled pencil drawn map.  My plan is to take this scenario and turn it into a scenario for Black Powder, which is one of my favorite rules for the ACW.  I will eventually post it to the blog here if you'd like to play it or modify it for your own rules of choice.  

The JR scenario takes place on the extreme right of the Union Army, anchored against a dramatic turn in the Chickamauga Creek, along the "Glass Mill Road".  The scenario creates an attack that "almost was" - the attack of Breckenridge's Division against the Union right.  We all know the story now - Bragg pulled Breckenridge out of the attack to countermarch north, and the rest is history.  In our scenario (IE the Johnny Reb Scenario), the attack is on.  Breckenridge will slam into the Union right with 3 mighty brigades.  Can Negly's Division hold out?

The Map

I'm not re-creating the map because I love the JR map as it is.  The only problem is I dont have 7 feet of table - only 6.  Take a small photo.  Problem solved!

Note the Union dispositions (dark rectangles) the northern-most brigade is in march columns.  Breckenridge's Brigades are formed for the attack!

I did some checking on Google maps and the area where this would-be battle would be fought is not technically on the National Military Park but off of the park in a more built up area.  You can check it out here.  Just use the Crawfish Springs on the printed map as your reference point and click on the link here.  This link will take you to Crawfish Springs.  I checked it out and sure enough, it's due almost directly south of Snodgrass Hill and the Bloody Pond.  

During the actual battle, Breckenridge's lead elements of Helms' Brigade were starting to drive Negly's skirmishers back along the Glass Mill Road when the attack was called off by Bragg, to which DH Hill made his famous comment - "Bragg had other ideas..."

The Order of Battle

Probably one of the biggest challenges.  Johnny Reb uses a strict figure count, and Black Powder units are approximated, so we'll approximate here!  The Regiments are all 15, 20, and 25 figure regiments.  Sounds to me like "Small", "Regular", and "Large" units!  So we'll make them so for this game

Union OOB

2nd Division, 14th Corps

  • MG James Negley - Commanding

1st Brigade - BG Beatty (SR7)

  • 4 x standard sized (5 x stand) Regiments 

2nd Brigade - COL Stanley (SR8)

  • 3 x large sized (6 x stand) Regiments

3rd Brigade - COL Sirwell (SR7)

  • 3 x standard sized (5 x stand) Regiments
  • 1 x large sized (6 x stand) Regiment

Division Artillery 

  • 2 x Batteries of 12 pound Field Napoleons
  • 1 x Light 3" Rifled Battery

Confederate OOB

Breckenridge's Division

  • MG John Breckenridge - Commanding

1st Brigade - BG Helm (SR8)

  • 5 x standard sized (5 x stand) Regiments 

2nd Brigade - COL Stovall (SR8)

  • 3 x standard sized (5 x stand) Regiments
  • 1 x small sized (4 x stand) Regiment

3rd Brigade - COL Adams (SR7)

  • 3 x large sized (6 x stand) Regiments
  • 2 x small sized (4 x stand) Regiments

Division Artillery 

  • 3 x Batteries of 12 pound Field Napoleons

Reinforcement Schedule & Deployments

The Union Forces are all deployed as per the map.  The Confederate Forces are from Helms' Brigade.  The Rebels may bring on one Brigade each turn for the first 3 turns (deploy from the shaded area on the map).  They may not charge the turn they come on.

Victory Conditions

The OOB was easy enough, but what about who wins?  The JR scenario requires the Rebels to cause the Federals to suffer a 60% point loss (based on the "points" of the commands), or a 40% loss AND a firm control of the crossroads indicated by the shaded area on the map.  This is the crossroads on the "Dry Valley Road" where it links up with the Glass Mill Road.  Since this is a very tactical scenario (albeit with high-stakes operational consequences), I feel like the crossroads should be an important part of the victory conditions.

Per the Black Powder rules for Broken Brigades, either half or more units in a Brigade are destroyed or shaken - the Brigade is Broken.  We will count small Regiments, in this case.  So the Confederates must break 2 Union Brigades, and capture and hold the crossroads.  The game will last 12 turns!

Interesting Fact

Dont kill Confederate BG Helm!  He is President Lincoln's Brother-in-Law and there will be "mourning in the White House".  I'm trying to figure out how to work that into the game somehow.  It's advantageous to kill an enemy officer, but in this case...

So there you have it!  A quick and simple attempt at forging a Black Powder scenario from an existing Johnny Reb one.  Going to put this on the table and it may be a candidate for this year's "Christmas Offensive"!

Monday, October 2, 2023

"Black Powder Edition N" Quick Reference Sheet!

One of my favorite blogs out there highlights quite a bit of Napoleonic goodness.  You may have seen, or commented on, the "Wargaming Everything" (W.E.) blog, especially after their ambitious attempt at cataloging Napoleonic rules.  For me, always desperate for more Napoleonic wargaming fodder to consume, the Wargaming Everything blog has much to read and it's easy to get lost in the battle reports and rules reviews (with batreps!).  (I should also mention there is plenty more historical wargaming going on in his previous posts - not just Napoleonic).

The "Wargaming Everything" Blog!  A keeper for the Favorites section on your browser!

And if you weren't sure what more to ask for, W.E. published a Napoleonic variant of the famous (and infamous) Black Powder rules which he calls, appropriately, "Black Powder Edition N".  For me, it was just what the doctor ordered, and I'm frankly ashamed I hadn't tried them when he posted them in spring of 2023.  

"Edition N" has many tweaks, all of them positive and done in the name of simplification, speed, and putting big battles on the table (If I may be so bold as to declare).  The turn sequence is retooled with firing coming before orders (a la "Glory Hallelujah"), and the shooting modifiers are removed, with units standing in for Regiments, this game has you managing divisions and so you are up a bit higher in the sky than a Brigade Colonel.

Movement and ranges are streamlined with the addition of MU's or movement units, which are equal to the frontage of a "Standard Infantry Unit" so in my case, 4 x 30mm stands or 120mm = 1 MU.

I also absolutely love the additions to shooting - with skirmishers streamlined into the firing information (think Blucher - there is now a volley range, and a skirmish fire range) so no more fiddly formations to deal with.  Units shoot a set number of dice when in volley range, and a set number of dice when in skirmish range.

Anyways, a few months ago I had been wanting to try "Edition N" and the I realized I needed a QRS to use during play, which I humbly present to you now, made without permission (because I have no way to contact the author).  The only change I made to W.E.'s work has been to re-introduce a single shooting modifier of -1 for units which are disordered/shaken, because I felt it was an important handicap.

You can find the link on the right hand side of this blog for a downloadable PDF of the QRS to give them a spin for yourself (if you have zero experience with Black Powder, you'll want a copy of the rules handy.)

Those of you who have downloaded will notice that there are more goodies I crammed onto the QRS such as unit stats, and the always controversial "national characteristics" which, if you take issue with, I will happily refer you to the Wargaming Everything blog, because I copied from his post.

While I used the cool, parchment-looking textured background, it would not copy over into my adobe PDF so it looks very plain on the download.

Also if you happen to see W.E., please let him know there is a QRS for his BLack Powder Edition N up floating around the internet.  If you try out his variant, do let him know how you liked it.  I will promise to do the same!

*Black Powder Edition N is the sole work of the Wargaming Everything Blog and their affiliated staff.  Used here without permission.  No challenge to their status is intended.  All rights reserved to the respective owners.