Category Archives: Volley & Bayonet

Battles, Campaigns & Other Thoughts

I have been reflecting this week on the role of one-off games, historical refights and linked games. While the following has a Napoleonic and American Civil War references I see the concept as equally applicable to Ancient warfare through to the Cold War.

Regular readers will recall the American Civil War 160th anniversary series recently played. That is, six major historical battles all played in sequence. Casualties in one battle didn’t influence the next, but in some ways I likened it to being something of a campaign, though without all the hard work that comes with a campaign. The down side with such an intensive historical series is there was much terrain to be built, often in a short space of time between historical battles. Indeed, I completely failed to grasp the work required. The net result being my planned miniature painting for the year has suffered. Despite that, the project was extremely satisfying and I plan to repeat it in some form, though with different battles.

The next idea was to fight a small series of games leading to a larger game. Free from the restraints imposed by historical terrain fictional encounters seemed to offer less work. This series is also now complete. My cunning plan was to play two smaller encounters first before ending the series with a larger game with all set in 1813. The first involved the Prussians and Russians engaged against the French at the Battle of Aulzhausen in August 1813, shown below. This was a typical Friday evening game with the situation generated by a scenario system we use.

The second battle found the Prussians and Russians again engaged at the Battle of Zollengen, now set in early October 1813. Again no casualties were carried over.

The final battle of the series was that of the Battle of Kleindorf set in the middle of October 1813. This last game found Austrians, Russians and Prussians engaged against the French. While also a fictional the situation was influenced by that south of Leipzig and would result in well over 3,000 miniatures deployed and shown here.

I was pleased with the concept and how it played out. While I didn’t advertise it as a series of linked games to the players, it was my intent as is evident to the reader referencing the supposed battle dates. I think there is some merit in exploring mechanisms to enhance these games further. But what mechanisms should I consider?

The first and most obvious is casualties from one game feeding in to the next. However, I am nervous that will add too much complexity and potentially distract from the concept of an enjoyable game at the end of a busy week. The next is the outcome of a game influencing where the next battle will be fought. As I write this I am pondering the battles that made up the series of engagements between the French and their allies against the Austrians in 1809. The result of one battle influencing the location of the next.

Clearly more thought is required on my part. I wonder if others have experimented with such concepts and what worked, or indeed what didn’t?

Decision at Antietam

For those readers watching our on-going American Civil War 160th anniversary series our most recent battle has now been fought, specifically the Battle of Antietam. A stirring action was fought, which involved over 2,000 6mm miniatures. In our engagement near the town of Sharpsburg General McClellan would press the Confederates for most of the day.

Miller’s Cornfield in 2015. The battle raged around here in 1862 and in our refight was the centre of attack and counterattack.

As would be expected our refight the fighting opened in the north around the Cornfield, the East and West Wood. Soon it would rage all along Antietam Creek, especially from the Middle Bridge to the Lower Bridge.

Burnside’s Bridge, or the Lower Bridge in 2015. A scene of intense fighting in 1862 and a focus of Union attacks in our refight.

As our battle progressed it deviated from the historic narrative. In particular our commanders, though limited by command challenges, attempted alternate strategies. Some working while others failed.

For those interested in our game I have two reports. The first is in a more traditional format which can be found here. For those preferring a more visual report a YouTube video can be found here.

We have now refought six of the battles of 1862, all in a relatively short timeframe. Some have even been refought multiple times providing a different experience. I have found such a focussed and intense series fascinating. As noted previously they have provided something of a campaign feel.

There will now however be a short pause in our American Civil War anniversary series. Yet, I envisage us reconvening in a couple of months for a battle or two in the west. Stay tuned…

Lee Moves North

With our campaigning in the Peninsula completed August has found us focussed on Lee’s campaign in Northern Virginia against General Pope.

The first was Cedar Mountain fought on the 9th of August 1862. Cedar Mountain is, in Volley & Bayonet terms, a small engagement. Historically Jackson is caught by an aggressive Banks and must contend with the complexities that a single road brings when your troops are stacked up in road column. Being a smaller battle we fought the battle twice and in both games our Confederate commander was challenged by similar issues. One of our two refights can be found here.

Union artillery at Second Manassas and south of Stony Ridge. Warrenton Turnpike is some distance behind these guns.

More recently we gathered to refight Second Manassas, fought historically on the 28th to 30th of August.

It has been many years since I’ve refought this battle and I admit to being particularly interested in this refight. Surprise, uncoordinated forces, delays and terrain all combined to produce, in my view, an excellent game which modelled many of the historical challenges that the historical armies faced. If you are interested photos of our version of Second Manassas it can be found here.

Now, I must turn my attention to the terrain for our next American Civil War refight.

Peninsula Reflections

In my last post I mentioned that terrain was required to enable us to refight Gaines’ Mill and more miniatures, and by therefore additional terrain, were required to refight Glendale & Malvern Hill. Despite a busy month all goals were finally achieved. The result being we have managed to refight both Gaines’Mill and the combined battles of Glendale and Malvern Hill. As such this completed a series of battles to mark the 160th anniversaries on the Virginia Peninsula in 1862 using my 6mm miniatures and the Volley & Bayonet rules.

Gaines’ Mill was a particularly challenging engagement with the Union defensive position being particularly strong. Refighting it twice it was interesting to see a general historical result replicated each time, but only just. Our first refight of Gaines’ Mill can be found here. Our second here.

Then over last weekend the troops were deployed to refight the Battles of Glendale & Malvern Hill. As with all the battles on the Peninsula force coordination was a significant issue with many Confederate divisions failing to arrive on the first day. Union command can best be described as disorganised, thanks to specific scenario rules, much as they were historically. A report of our game can be found here.

I accept historical refights are not for everyone, but I do find them fascinating exercises and a great way to reinforce my readings of particular battles. Now it’s time to consider General Lee’s next move, while McClellan career is in question…

Richmond & Beyond

Back in February I provided an overview of some planned projects for the year. Given the year is disappearing at an alarming rate perhaps it’s time to check in with something of an update.

Painting has proceeded at a slower than planned rate, but progress has been made. At the time of writing this year’s 6mm American Civil War goal, set early in the year, has been reached.

It can be best described as an eclectic mix of infantry, cavalry and artillery to expand my collection for specific battles. Some additional rifled artillery as well as some horse batteries, several infantry brigades and an assortment of cavalry, both mounted and dismounted. A selection of which are above and below, all in 6mm using Heroics & Ros miniatures.

These reinforcements allow me to refight my initial batch of 1862 battles. Specifically, a couple from the Peninsula Campaign and then Second Bull Run and Antietam before switching to the west for Stones River at the end of the year.

A new stretch goal has been set for Glendale & Malvern Hill. This requires a few additional Confederate infantry brigades to be completed.

The first 160th anniversary battle has also been played. In particular the Battle of Seven Pines, shown above. We actually refought Seven Pines twice, once each side of the anniversary. For those interested a summary of our first refight can be found here.

The result of each refight was different, yet in both the key historical narrative was followed. Confusion, delayed reinforcements and challenges with command all proved critical. All testament to the Volley & Bayonet rules and the historical scenario.

Next up is Gaines Mill, assuming I can complete the terrain in time…