Battle Cry Campaign Game
Players: Doug Adams vs. David Coutts
This page is a bit of an experiment. It will grow over the next few weeks as David Coutts and myself battle our way through a campaign game of Battle Cry. We are playing a "Gettysburg Campaign", fighting the battles of McPherson's Ridge, Devil's Den and Pickett's Charge.
I have drawn the Union, David the Confederates. After the three battles, we will swap sides and play them again to achieve a final result. I hope you enjoy our reports!
General D. J. Adams, July 1863.
Battle 1. McPherson's Ridge, July 1st, 1863
Designed by Dennis Snow
Harry Heth is commanding his division towards Gettysburg. He is supposedly after some much needed shoes for his poorly shod troops. He encounters Union cavalry and decides to engage them, not fearing much resistance. However, the cavalry does indeed resist, as their commander John Buford recognises the value of the ground he is holding. If he withdraws, he knows his swiftly advancing army will find the Rebels before them on good terrain. He decides to stall the advancing Rebels with his two brigades of cavalry, until the Iron Brigade arrives to assist.
McPherson's Ridge, the first scenario in our campaign, is not included in the game but was devised by Dennis Snow and has found its way onto Web Grognards. It is a very interesting situation simulating the opening "clash" at Gettysburg between Harry Heth's division, up against Buford's cavalry and the Iron Brigade. The battlefield features the Ridge running virtually the length of the board, with the Union defending it against the Rebel advance. The Confederates must cross a creek (Willoughby Run) to engage the Union. The Rebels have a slight manpower advantage, but the Union begin closer to the defensive terrain, and have potent horse artillery.
A rather neat rule, which really creates a sense of "get there first with the most", is that Ridge hexes are flag points! If you can get an infantry unit onto the Ridge, you are one flag up. This is an excellent scenario rule that really highlights the importance of that ridge in the opening clash of forces.
The Union, led by General Adams, began well courtesy of a Bombard card. The artillery begins deployed in advance of the infantry line on the Ridge, and it managed to clear out some advancing Rebels and take the first flag. That bastion of the Rebel army, General Coutts, was trying to set up a balanced attack on all sectors of the battlefield, and threaten the Ridge hexes from multiple points. Whether this was deliberate or not, I am not sure, but it certainly worked.
The Union was forced from their strategy of advancing their own infantry, and using the cavalry and horse artillery to pick off individual threats as they approached the Ridge. A second Rebel flag fell, but the Union suffered a setback when one of the cavalry units was eliminated, along with it's General.
So, two flags all and Heth's division advancing en echelon. A rather desperate "Short of Supplies" sent one measly regiment back to General Coutts' edge of the battlefield. However, this didn't distract the master tactician one bit, as Rebels began swarming up the hill courtesy of the All Out Offensive card. It was suddenly like facing Napoleon as the flag count, courtesy of Ridge hexes occupied, now hit 5-2 in the Rebels favour.
General Adams launched a counter attack, as the Rebels were about to win next turn (one more unit on the Ridge and it was all over), and drove one Rebel back down the Ridge. The Union thought it had bought enough time as the Rebels now had to activate two sectors to get their two units back up the hill, and this should take two separate turns. Not so, a Coordinated Attack, allowing one unit from each sector to activate, saw two more Ridge hexes occupied and a historical result.
Confederates: 6 flags
Battle 2. Devil's Den, July 2nd, 1863
The Union experienced a severe setback yesterday. Encountering the rebels outside Gettysburg, the Union were sent reeling back through the twon by the corps of Hill and Ewell. However, reinforced throughout the night, the Union occupy good ground on the heights south of Gettysburg. General Lee orders and attack on the right flank, sensing the Union is weak there.
This battle covers the action from the Peach Orchard through to Devil's Den. The Union set up with an extremely weak left - just two or three units - but have the Devil's Den hex to defend in. The Union strength is on the right and it is here they have their best chance. An advance in the centre would be suicide, given the strong batteries of rebel artillery sitting in the open with a clear field of fire.
General Coutts began very strongly on his right, playing an early Forced March card to move right into the Devil's Den before the Union had a chance to occupy it. With Rebels swarming up on his left, General Adams had to counter and advance his meagre supply of men forwards, lest a stray flag result on a die would force him to retreat off the board.
General Coutts pressed his advantage in numbers by continuing to advance on his right. The Union simply could not stand against that withering fire poured on them and wilted away. The Rebels were up two flags to nil early and there was no Union troops on their left flank.
General Adams began to draw some nice Centre/Right cards himself, where his main strength lay. An early Sharpshooter card missed its Rebel target, but the rewards were great as the much cherished "Counter Attack" card was drawn. "Aha", thinks General Adams - just let that Reb play his "All Out Offensive" THIS week! :)
The Union had to do something, effectively down 8-2 in flags in the campaign, so it was time to act. An advance on the centre and right with those strong Attack cards, and using the divider line to "leapfrog" units along with either sector card, saw the Union close with the Rebels. The advance was rapid as that Rebel artillery looked very daunting. Before the Rebel commander realised there were Union troops in his face and rolling flag results on the battle dice. This was a particularly deadly result as David was only a hex or two away from his board edge. For the first time in three games of Battle Cry, I had the Rebel commander looking rather concerned!
General Coutts stiffened the upper lip, preened his flowing beard and ordered fieldworks dug. The Rebels were immediately thrown out of them, and the Union boys were amongst the Rebels on the right. A misinterpretation of the retreat rules saw a Union regiment eliminated and the battle had closed up again to around 4 flags each.
The Rebels were threatening to take this game, after the Union had them on the ropes. General Coutts had bought his men who had performed so well on the right through Devil's Den and into the centre, turning a flank. General Adams had at most a turn or two to take this battle out and managed it via forcing a General to retreat off the board, and firing his artillery batteries at an exposed Rebel. As fate would have it, no flags were rolled, it remained exposed to further fire, and was eliminated.
Battle result: Union 6, Confederates 4
David writes: Once again a very enjoyable game of Battle Cry. The set-up took 15 minutes and the game took 25 minutes. It was a closer result than last week, and - for such a short game - nice and tense. From my perspective I only drew limited cards on my left flank (where Doug threatened), almost nothing for the centre, and held a useless Cavalry card the whole game (in a hand of 4 cards - effectively reducing my hand to 3 cards!). I noticed Doug ditched one or two similarly useless cards early in the game, and I think I should have done the same...
As Doug began to threaten in the centre, I played my recently drawn Fieldworks card which effectively stopped his progress in the centre by strengthening my defence there. I was also able to manoeuvre my artillery into position (with a Bombard card, allowing double movement, or double fire) just as my right flank began to swing into Doug's position in the centre with yet another Attack (3 units , right flank) card. It was looking sweet for another Confederate victory...and the next card that I drew was an Assault card for the centre (all units in the centre can attack). Considering my entire army was by now in the centre (Doug has destroyed most of the left, and my right had moved into the centre), I actually breathed a sigh of relief when I drew this card! It was the only card I drew for the whole game specifically for the centre (my other actions in the centre being non-region specific - Fieldworks, Bombard & Leadership).
Doug managed to snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat with his carefully husbanded Counter Attack card. This card replicates whatever the opponent has just played. I'd just used an Attack to manoeuvre 3 units on my right (Doug's left) so he could now Attack with 3 units on his right (my left). This was sufficient for him to destroy a General (sitting all alone, sadly) and an already weakened unit on the left part of my centre.
It was game over. Now I face Pickett's Charge... What was the quote? "No 15,000 men ever made can take those heights..."
Confederates: 10 flags
Battle 3. Pickett's Charge, July 3rd, 1863
The battle lines have been drawn up. The Rebels were halted by a stubborn Union defence at the Devil's Den. General Lee orders a mass assault against the Union centre. Having inflicted heavy blows on the left and right during the first two days of the battle, Lee senses victory will come in the centre.
David writes about Pickett's Charge:
Continuing our match-play campaign, I mentally psyched myself up for the assault on Hancock's 2nd Corps. With a lead of just 2 flags, I didn't want to blow it just charging mindlessly forward on to glory and defeat. So, I decided to tease Doug a little on both flanks and test the waters. Hopefully this would allow me to accumulate more than just the one card (from a hand of 4) that I had for the centre.
Well, on my left flank Pettigrew's division started the scenario already weakened (due to an earlier heavy fighting against the Iron Brigade) to 3 figures per unit instead of the usual four. Nonetheless, their rapid advance saw first blood to the Confederacy.
On my right flank, Doug sent Doubleday's division forward into good defensive hill country and quickly reduced one of my infantry units to 1 figure. To avoid losing a flag, I eventually withdrew this unit behind the cover of a building hex. The right flank was looking pretty tough.
I'd managed to draw a Leadership card, so I now used it to try my luck at long range in the centre, whilst allowing Pettigrew to cause more havoc on my left. So, both Armistead and Pickett advanced from the trees and focused their volleys on the centre Union infantry unit. Each rolled 3 dice, and badly damaged the targeted unit. Meanwhile Gibbon's Union division in the centre poured some devastating fire down on my poor boys, reducing one unit down to 1 figure. I then played my Attack Centre card (which I'd been dealt), placing Pickett with one infantry unit, and Armistead with a fresh infantry unit, ahead of Armistead's damaged unit in order to screen it from further fire. They finished off the reduced Union infantry unit and I was 2 flags up. On the left flank, Pettigrew gained me a third.
Next turn, I withdrew Armistead's damaged battalion back to the trees and out of range of even the Union artillery. Doug played a Short Of Supplies to send Pettigrew and his unit back to the start line. However, another Leadership card saw me race Pettigrew forward to his most advanced unit and, more importantly, destroy a recently arrived artillery unit in the centre thanks once again to Armistead & Pickett. Now I was up 4 flags to 0.
A Force March card on the left flank saw Pettigrew once again in the think of it, killing General Hays (5-0) who hadn't budged an inch all game, and later finishing off a Union infantry unit that had incautiously advanced from behind the fence line. 6-0. I couldn't believe it, and neither could Doug...
So, my lead in our campaign was now extended to 8 flags (16-8) and the first Battle Of Gettysburg was won by the Rebels. Yee-hah!
Doug, to his credit, was then game enough to play another 2 scenarios (as it turned out) as the others were still in mid-game. I see he has already posted his reports, so my supplementary comments follow. I was going to end my report by saying that McPherson's Ridge starting very well for, as I went 2 flags up (8 flags for evening, and 10 up in the campaign!). What could possibly go wrong? Well, now you know...
Confederates: 16 flags
We have reached the halfway point of our campaign, with David leading 16-8 in flags. It is time to swap sides and play through the three battles again to determine the final result.
Battle 4. McPherson's Ridge, July 1st, 1863
Designed by Dennis Snow
This battle looks very tiny compared to Devil's Den and Pickett's Charge. Eight infantry regiments, two generals and an artillery battery. General Coutts made this look easy the first time around courtesy of the Force March card. Any infantry unit on McPherson's Ridge counts as a flag point, but getting there will take time unless some good cards come my way.
Well, well, well - I am dealt the Force March card! I decide to keep this one until I am in a position to rush the Ridge and overwhelm the Union with numbers. My first card is a feint in the centre to try and rush the Union horse artillery on the ridge with an infantry/general unit. That move failed terribly as David methodically destroyed both units to go 2-0 up. This is becoming a nightmare - 10 flags behind!
There was no time to lose - I played my Force March card on the left flank and send my four units charging the ridge. The dismounted cavalry is forced back, and subsequently destroyed along with it's general.
The Rebels swarm up the ridge on the left and the flag count is now looking a healthy 4-2 in the Confederate's favour. General Coutts is forced to advance infantry to try and take back the ridge hexes less the battle is lost, but from the high ground that infantry unit is destroyed and a third Rebel infantry unit moves onto the ridge. The battle is over, 6-2 to the Confederates.
David and I both agree that the Force March card really blows this battle open, and could possibly be removed from the deck. In our two games playing the battle the Rebels have had it twice and won 6-2 both times.
Confederates: 6 flags
General Coutts: 18
David writes: I remember advancing both cavalry units onto their respective ridges (was that a good idea?) ... I remember quickly destroying the lone infantry unit and its general that advanced towards my position in the centre. So far, so good. The rest was quite literally a blur (and perhaps I'm already suppressing the memory...), as Doug blew away my cavalry on my right (with its general) and occupied 3 ridge hexes. My Johnnie-come-lately infantry unit on my right arrived just in time to allow Doug to complete a quick and easy Reb victory, 6-2.
Battle 5. Devil's Den, July 2nd, 1863
This was a very close battle first time around, 6-4 to the Union. The Union begin in a very good position, deployed forward in strength on the right, with only a couple of Rebel units opposing them, screened by trees. On the other hand, the Rebel right is very strong, but there are fewer opportunities for flags on that flank.
My battle plan here was to get the vulnerable units on the back row of the board forward less a retreat result force them out of the game. I was going to ignore my left, keeping the Rebels behind the screen of trees, and let David come to me. If I could swing my artillery in the centre around and cover David's predicted advance against my left, then I would. On the right, I'd try and claim those two rebel flags opposing me and move into the centre, as David did last week.
Well, the plan sounded good :) General Coutts' initial advance was in the centre, and once again I was waltzing to David's tune via losing an early flag. However this battle the flags were exchanged and had quickly tightened up to 3 each. General Coutts began to get his right rolling towards the screen of trees, where two quaking rebels and a general awaited. Crunch time came when a Union regiment accompanied by a general came through the screen of trees, only to be confronted by a Short of Supplies card that sent it back to the back row of the board (I love that card!).
Meanwhile the Rebels had advanced on Devil's Den and eliminated the Union regiment occupying the hex. Another flag beckoned via the 20th Maine on Little Round Top, but the right flank cards dried up and that "gimme" flag lay tantalizingly out of reach.
General Coutts was trying to keep the pressure up in the Centre/Right sectors, where David picked up a fourth flag. David missed a terrific opportunity to fire on a Rebel unit/general on the back row, which given a retreat result would have won him the battle. General Adams hastily moved that exposed Rebel behind the trees, attached the general to a full strength unit and fired on his only target, a Union artillery battery. The result was a hit.
The battle was very tense - if David had a right flank card, he could have won the battle via inflicting a retreat result - but he didn't! Doug fired yet again at that exposed artillery unit, rolled another hit, and the battle was over 6-4 to the Confederates. Very tense stuff!
Confederates: 12 flags
General Coutts: 22
David writes: This one appeared to be going quite well for a while - at least I managed to keep pace with Doug, flag for flag. I occupied Devil's Den early, to forestall giving Doug an easy time on my weak left flank. I advanced quickly in the centre, and more slowly on my powerful right flank. As Doug mentioned, I think I blew this one by not attacking his General Anderson and 2 infantry figures sitting right back on their start line. I actually held a Probe right flank card so, with 3 dice at range 2, I could have forced a retreat result (it was a 50-50) and won the game. Or perhaps I might have destroyed his infantry unit. After that, my attack on the right just petered out as I drew no more right flank cards and Doug's Short Of Supplies disrupted things there a bit, too. I lost 6-4. It was a good come back by Doug.
So, on the night, I started 2 flags up with Pickett's Charge next to play and that's exactly how we finished! Now Doug, forget all about Coutts' Charge and remember, Pickett's Charge is meant to fail...
Battle 6. Pickett's Charge, July 3rd, 1863
Well, here we were again, only this time with the roles reversed. Doug opened the proceedings with some long range fire from the centre, having advanced a couple of units. He also advanced on both flanks, whilst I brought up additional units in the centre, and occupied defensive terrain on both of the Union flanks.
Before I knew it, General Adams was up 5 men to nothing before I scored my first hit. Time to hit back. Well, first I actually retreated one infantry unit in the centre which had been reduced to just the flag figure. There was a nervous moment for me as this unit moved back from the fence line, but was still in range of 2 Reb units. They missed, and I later pulled him back to the woods in the rear.
Like I said, time to hit back. I had way too many cards for the left flank, so I decided to risk an advance and take a shot at the 2 advancing infantry there. I was successful, causing 2 casualties on one and the other to retreat back to the start line (but out of range). In the centre, General Armistead and his Rebel infantry unit were also retreated back to the start line, but just within range of a lone Union artillery unit (1 dice).
On the Union right General Adams had advanced Pettigrew's men, and they just kept coming. From memory the Confederacy were first to score a flag and it was down to Pettigrew, who also caused a couple of recently advanced Union units to retreat back (with light casualties).
A Force March card brought the Union infantry back into position, followed by a Leadership card to bring up the General. The Leadership card also caused light Confederate casualties in the centre. I repeatedly ordered our artillery to attack Armistead and his men and eventually this paid off, resulting in 2 flags for the Union as Armistead tucked tail and ran.
After a slow start by the Union, more Reb infantry were retreated off the map (this time on our left flank), and another was eliminated. 4-1 in flags to the Union and the Confederate right flank had ceased to exist.
General Pettigrew was again causing more Union casualties on the Union right flank, so I ordered units forward to support our defence there.
I think it was an infantry unit from the centre attempting to shore up the Confederate right flank which became the 5th victim of a vigorous Union attack there. 5-1.
Finally, Pettigrew had run out of steam, and the infantry unit that he was stacked with became the 6th flag for the Union.
Game over, and 28 (David) to 21 (Doug) the final score - a 5 point gain on the night.
Doug and I shook hands at the conclusion of a well contested and most enjoyable match-play mini-campaign. We'll probably give it a rest for a while, though Doug has agreed to try out a scenario I'm designing using the figures from Samurai Swords. Stay tuned.
Doug adds: Not surprisingly, my strategy was driven by the cards I drew. My plan was to pepper David with my artillery from my side of the board, mainly from the centre sector. It worked okay early on, and David suffered some early attrition and units were retreated to safety.
However from that point on I seemed to draw nothing but left flank cards, the sector where my brittle 3 figure infantry units were held. Holding 4 of them, I decided to begin the advance. David beat me in this sector last week by forcing my Union boys to virtually retreat off the board via flag results. I was hoping to do the same, and despite some early success, weight of Union numbers saw them through.
I made a hideous blunder - I had a general/infantry stack on the back row with a clear line of sight through to a Union battery at range 5. David was peppering it for a flag result (retreat) to gain two flags, while I bit my nails trying to draw a centre sector card to rectify the situation. When I finally did, I used it on another unit, and sure enough David quickly rolled his retreat result and I lost two flags. I have only myself to blame for my whuppin'.
I did win the mini-campaign as the Confederates 13-12, but went down 28-21 over the course of the campaign. I think the difference was David used his generals very well to take advantage of those leadership cards, and looked after his endangered units a lot better than I did - retreating them to safety, etc.
I can recommend the campaign game as a lot of fun. BC is my most played game this year (12 games) and will probably stay there. I'd now like to try the "Jackson" campaign AH recently released, perhaps against a different opponent ;-)
Confederates: 13 flags
Overall Campaign Tally after 6 Battles
General Coutts: 28