Test Drive: The Portable Wargame

I’ve been wanting to take The Portable Wargame out for a spins for some time now, but just never could figure out what I wanted to do. What figures did I already have that would fit the bill, what playing surface did I have…

Suddenly it hit me; right in front of my nose, 40mm Scruby American Ciivil War and my Hotz Command Mat! Bonus in that they were already out and on the table. Hex grid runs wrong way, but that was easy enough to remedy (ignore).

Nothing fancy for the scenario. Just went with balanced forces: 4 x Infantry, 1 x Cavalry, 1 x Artillery and a Commander for each side. For terrain went with a mirrored layout; clear and some wooded areas (grid was 9 x 8).

Game was played Solo, using Sudden Death rules; grid was 6″ hexagons.
PIPS, rather than cards for activation. I do think I’ll need to devise a simple activation system for solo games; the cards seem nice, but more hassle (matching card decks, etc.) that I want. PIPs were ‘ok’, but still think I need a better solution.

pre-game setup

    • CSA wins Initiative and activates a single unit, Artillery moves up
    • USA activates 4 units; Artillery and Infantry move to forward positions
    • USA wins initiative and activates 4 units: Cavalry moves up and some more Infantry maneuvering.
    • CSA activates 5 units, with advances across the field

      end turn two

    • USA activates 4 units, maneuvering across the field
    • CSA activates 6 units. Advances and fires, but with no effect
    • USA activates 6 units. Attacks and Destroys the Rebel Cavalry and pushes CSA Infantry back on the left; further fire is ineffective
    • CSA activates 4 untis; Artillery fire has no effect

      end turn 4

    • USA activates 4; combat results in the Destruction of Infantry unit & Rebel commander. Further fighting dislodges CSA infantry for position in woods on the Right
    • CSA activates 5; fighting pushes back USA on right, while CSA on left must retreat
    • CSA activates1. Close Combat results in the loss of another Rebel unit. CSA reaches Exhaustion Point! Given the state of remaining troops, this effectively ends the game…

      end of game

      Had this I not been using the Sudden Death rules, the game could have continued.

After some reflection, I think hex grid was a bad choice for ACW; I will need to make up a square grid board and try again. Initial impressions are that, as Bob suggests square grid prior to 1900 and hex grid 1900 and later. My next game will feature British vs. Zulu on a 3″ square grid; might be a week or two, as I need to make up a terrain board with the 3″ grid.

Overall I like the game, I can see many uses for quick games. Will be trying this again soon.

Battle Cry: Shiloh, Part Three

As it turns out, we were not able to finish the game until Sunday afternoon, after finishing farm chores and a wee bit of shop work; so without further delay here is the last part of this battle report…

Turn 13
  • CSA Skirmishing on Left results in USA unit elimination
  • USA Attack on Right scores hits on CSA Artillery
  • Each side has Lost 1 Unit
    • CSA Casualties @ 7
    • USA Casualties @ 9

Turn 14

  • CSA Probe in Center scores hit on USA Battery in woods
  • USA Force Marches Infantry in Center and Attacks causing 2 CSA casualties
Turn 15
  • CSA Skirmishing on Right Eliminates USA Infantry unit
  • USA Attacks in Center inflicting 9 casualties and Eliminating 2 CSA units
  • Loses so far:
    • CSA
      • 3 Eliminated units
      • 18 total Casualties
    • USA
      • 2 Eliminated units
      • 13 total Casualties

End of turn 15

Turn 16
  • CSA maneuvers in Center, entering the Hornets Nest
  • USA maintains pressure in Center; pushing back CSA Infantry and Eliminating CSA Artillery battery
Turn 17
  • CSA Rallies troops on Right
  • USA Skirmishing on Right Silences another Artillery battery
Turn 18
  • CSA Coordinated Attack; No Effect on Right, inflicting Minor casualties in Center with Artillery on Left dislodging USA Infantry from positions in the woods
  • USA Counter Attacks; inflicting casualties Left and Center
  • Loses so far:
    • CSA
      • 4 Eliminated units
      • 23 total casualties
    • USA
      • 2 Eliminated units
      • 15 total casualties

End of turn 18

Turn 19

  • CSA Generals take Aggressive Action! Action results in 4 USA casualties in the Center
  • USA massive Artillery Bombardment! Last of the CSA Artillery has been silenced; additional Infantry casualties inflicted in the Center
Turn 20
  • CSA Attack in Center Eliminates USA Infantry unit
  • USA Artillery in Center opens fire, Eliminating the 6th CSA unit! Game Over!
  • Loses at end of game:
    • CSA
      • 6 Eliminated units
      • 28 total casualties
    • USA
      • 3 Eliminated units
      • 20 total casualties
It seems to me like our games always last about 20 turns, with maybe 5 or 6 cards remaining before shuffle.
This game went the opposite of my expectations. I was sure the CSA would pull off a victory. However, around turn 16 the tables decisively turned in favor of the USA, who in turn had a run of good fortune and was able to continue to press the attack.
We shall see how round 2 comes out…
We usually play each scenario at least twice, typically looking for best 2 out of 3; switching side after the first game. For the third game, if needed, player eliminating the Most units (in the previous 2 games) chooses preferred side.
I’ve been toying with the idea of using Twitter to report on the next game. I’m pretty sure we can report on each turn in two (2) 140 character posts (one for each side). What do you think of the idea?

Battle Cry: Shiloh, Part Two

It was another busy evening, so only 6 more turns played…

Turns 7 through 12; casualties remain about even, a wee bit of an advantage to the CSA. Plenty of maneuvering, after some reflection, I’m starting to think that the real action is about to begin…

The Hornet’s Nest

  • CSA Probes Right
  • USA counter with Probe on Left
  • CSA Advances Artillery (Left flank)
  • More USA advances on Left
  • CSA Artillery opens fire! resulting in 2 USA causalities and a push back
  • More Advances on USA Left
  • CSA Shuffling into position in Center
  • USA makes further advances on Left flank
  • CSA in motion across the battle field with Attacks on the Left
  • USA Attack on the Left dislodges CSA infantry form position in woods
  • CSA Assault on Right results in USA casualties with one unit dislodged from woods
  • USA maneuvers into position in Center

After 12, CSA View

More from Shiloh on Friday…

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Battle Cry: Shiloh

Setup from rules book

Shiloh, Tennessee (first day of battle) — April 6–7, 1862

Battle Cry scenario from page 20 of the 150th [Civil War] Anniversary edition.

Battle Cry has been on the game table since late November; have played few different scenarios. Some solo. Some two player. This is the first time playing the Shiloh scenario.

On the table

The first thing you may notice is that we are not using the playing pieces or game-board from the game. Instead we use a Hotz Command Mat and Scruby 40mm figures.

Not a lot of free time right now, so was only able to fit in six (6) turns last night, so you will be getting this battle report in a few installments…

  1.  Minor maneuvering, a small skirmish initiated by USA resulting in a CS withdrawal
    • CSA action in Center; scores hit on USA Artillery
    • USA in turn Assaults Center resulting in CSA casualty
    • CSA Sharpshooter targets General Prentiss (in Center), but fails to score a hit.
    • USA under command of General Prentiss strikes back, eliminating the first CSA unit!
    • CSA maneuvers on the Right
    • USA coordinated Attack pushes CSA unit from Center sending General Bragg, riding hard to the rear.
    • CSA maneuvers, the previously idle Artillery on the Left
    • USA Infantry in Center Force Marches to better positions
    • CSA Artillery Bombards USA Troops and scores a hit
    • USA Attacks Center, pushing CSA troops back

After six

My pictures are not the best, I will work on getting better pictures going forward. Be sure to check back later in the week for more from Shiloh…

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Victoria’s Enemies

Now Reading:

Victoria’s Enemies
An A-Z of British Colonial Warfare
By Donald Featherstone and
published: 1989

This book provides a overview of Britain’s overseas wars and campaigns on five continents between 1837 and 1901. The book examines: tactics, weapons, uniforms or battle dress and equipment; all this in short, easily digestible chapters. This is the type of book that I won’t sit down and read cover to cover; I find it perfect to keep at hand, on the reading table, to pick up and consume a chapter at a time and usually not in any specific order. If you have an interest in British Colonial warfare, I recommend this book for your library, while not currently in print (at least not as far as I know) it is easy enough to find in used bookshops (online or otherwise).

Some Sample Content:

The Abyssinians
The Afghans
The Ashanti
The Baluchi
The Boers
The Burmese
The Canadians
The Chinese
The Dervishes
The Egyptians
The Kaffirs
The Mahratta
The Maoris
The Persians
The Russians
The Sikhs
The Tribesmen of the North-West Frontier
The Zulu
The last section of the book includes sources

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