Tuesday, September 3, 2013

"Longstreet" -Trial By Fire (AAR and review)

Rule book and one set of cards
After reading much about a new set of rules,"Longstreet" for ACW miniature gaming I broke down and ordered a set.  I took advantage of the bundle package which includes the book, one set of cards, and a PDF version of the rules.  After doing some reading on other forums and the Honour website I also decided to order an extra set of cards (total of 2) which are required for a 2 player game since each player is required to have a set of activation cards for the basic game.  Getting the PDF immediately was nice as I was able to start reviewing the rules prior to the arrival of the hard copies.  Sam is very quick with his shipping though and my hard copies which were ordered on Monday afternoon arrived on Friday.  I will say the book printing and the cards are top notch and look like the will hold up for years.
After having a week to read the PDF version I was pretty much ready to give it a try when the book and cards arrived.  Instead of using the scenarios in the book with random terrain for our first I pre-set the terrain using two of my standard 30"x60" folding tables.  The terrain was set up similar to the meeting engagement with a river/stream 3 hills, some fields, 5 wooded areas, a road to run the length of the field and several walls and fences.  My thought was to try a variety of terrain to see how it interacted with  the new rules for movement and combat.
Union force roster
I then divided up the forces using the point system in the book.  Since the fictional scenario was set in 1862 I gave the Federals approximately a 10% advantage in troops per the recommendation in the rules.  If any are checking my rosters for accuracy you will have to forgive me in advance.  The forces were completely made up on the fly so we could get out first test game in.  I have no idea if these even existed with the exception of a couple units.
Confederate Force Roster
To make the game flow a bit easier I did opt to label the troops with the unit name, type of unit (INF, CAV, ART) and the Elan and Experience so we would not have to refer back to the force roster each time.  The label faces the back of each stand so the controlling player can easily see them, but not the opponent.
The most important step was to find an opponent.  Fortunately my younger son was interested and we decided to give it a try after returning home from our Labor Day camping weekend.  I gave him the option and he chose to play the Confederates when I explained they were suppose to have a slight advantage in cards in 1862 scenario.
Both forces jockey for position to gain advantage
As both forces started off the table the game moved rather slow at first due to the short movement rates.  The first several turns were spent bringing our forces up.  In fact, we conducted our turns simultaneously until troops started to get close to Artillery range just to move things along.  We determined that the intersection by the General store would serve as the objective.  This was kind of an unfair advantage for me as it was slightly closer to the union side of the table.  In the end it served to force to action as intended.

Both sides moved along the road with the Confederates sending their battery of howitzer and Cavalry to their right to secure the hill on the opposite side of the river.  The problem was the howitzers are designed for a close up fight and he soon learned they did not have the range from the hill to get into the fight.  The Federals sent three veteran regiments and the 4th U.S. Arty straight up the road with the intent of securing the intersection and the walls around it to establish a solid defensive position in order to secure and old the objective forcing the Rebels to attack.   The Union Cavalry and regiment of recruits went to the right in order to pose a possible threat and establish a forward defensive line.

Battle lines start to form as the Rebs final cross the stream
The Confederates took way too much time crossing the stream. Instead of playing two cards a turn for movement the Rebel Commander attempted to time his move to get his infantry across the stream all at once.  This caused them to bunch up and lose valuable time while the Federal Cavalry was able to move into position in the nick of time and gain the wall in front of the store while the recruits staged in the wood line.  Most importantly the delay allowed the Union battery to move up on the intersection and deploy while the confederates were changing formations and preparing for a general assault.

Union troops unleashed a hail of lead
The next couple of turns were very bloody as the Rebels moved into position preparing to launch a massive attack with their eager troops.  In order to do so they had to cross open ground and expose themselves to at least one turn of small arms fire.  It turned out to be a very costly lesson for the young rebel commander as he had stacked his Eager recruits in a massive assault column only two ranks wide in order to fit them through the cluster of troops crossing the stream.  As a result they were not only exposed to the Union Cavalry defending from the wall, but also the three stands of Napoleons who had a clear shot into the middle of his dense attack column.  The Union Troopers and Artillerists were up to the challenge and unleashed a hails storm of bullets and canister which resulted in seven hits on the recruits and five on the veterans.  For some reason the Rebel Commander decided not to play any morale cards to reduce the hits and take his chance with the dice.  Lady luck remained with the Union as six of the seven hits on the recruits resulted in kills and three of the five hits resulted in kills on the Vets devastating their plans for a grand assault.

Confederates fall back 6BW after failed charge
Not to be thwarted though the confederates drove home their attack the next turn charging the Union Cavalry behind the wall with the eight remaining stands from the two regiments.  Lady luck may be fickle, but this day she was all for the Union as the veteran defenders rolled a defense score of five.  The two Confederate regiments could only muster combined attack score of two resulting in a successful Union defense and the Confederate humiliation continuing as the attackers fell back losing three stands total (later I learned they each should have lost only one stand instead of three total).


8th VT delivers the killing blow
As the Confederate Commander's turn ended he counted up twelve lost stands to zero for the union.  The Shatter point was set at twenty one and he knew it would not be long.  The Union commander also knew that victory was within his grasp and he only needed to provide the final blow.  That blow came in the form of another successful round of fire and the coup De grace delivered by the Eager recruits poised in the wood line ready to strike at the beleaguered Rebels sitting in the open licking their wound.  The Union Commander activated charge combat and modified it with "At the Double" fully expecting a interrupt card which did not come.  The Eager recruits were able to move in on the flank of the now reduced Confederate veterans.  No amount of morale cards would save them from the furious charge as the Rebels were broken and swept from the field.
Final disposition at the time victory was declared
At the same time the Union vets on the left launched a charge against the Confederate Cavalry that had taken up position behind a rail fence.  This was the one time that the dice gods sides with the Confederates.  The defenders won by four and the Federals fell back taking four casualties, the only ones of the game (later I learned that this should have only been one casualty).  It proved tow little to late as the fate was already sealed for the Rebels.  With 16 stands already in the broke box it was only a mater of time before the Federals would achieve victory.  With control of the objective the Union Commander rolled two dice for the victory check and obtained a win with a roll of six exceeding the shatter point by one.
All in all I would say our first foray into "Longstreet" was a resounding success.  We made a couple of mistakes with the charge combat, but now we know for next time.  I greatly look forward to changing things up or switching sides and trying it again before we expand further with larger forces.
If you want to check out "Longstreet" yourself I would encourage you to visit Sam's website:
There you can read all about it from the man who designed it, Sam Mustafa.  You can also download a lite version of the game as well as all the materials needed to play a basic version.  If you decide to order keep in mind you will need a set of cards for each player and the game can expand to as many players as you have space and troops. 
As mentioned above I started with the rules and two sets of cards.  The action cards are available for download as well (just not as nice).  I expect we will expand to a four player game and I will download and print the extra two sets for home use for now and encourage others to buy as set once they decide they like the rules.  While the download version will work perfectly fine in the basic game the ones that are sold are top quality and exceeded my expectations.
Until Next time......