Saturday, September 28, 2019

Brigade Fire and Fury Game, finally.

Finally got around to playing a game, and it was a great outing for my first time with the Brigade Fire and Fury (BFF) rules.

How the Other Half Lives

I think the vast majority of the games I play are the ones that I host.  My place, my miniatures, my terrain, my scenario, my time spent for set up and tear down, my etc..  It's not an issue because I like that sort of thing, and I don't spend time painting little soldiers and making terrain just so that no one else can use them. I like to share, no matter how ungrateful the players are...

But there's something to be said for being on the other side once in awhile.  The other weekend I was just a player for my friend A.S.'s ACW game set in the battle of Chickamauga .  I just showed up, with my trademarked blend of a good attitude and flawed tactics, rolled the dice, moved the miniatures, and  then I simply left.
Fun and Easy.  I should be an ungrateful player more often.  All satisfaction and no work.

(Of course I was a grateful player, thanking the GM and the other players for a good game.  I even helped clean up.)

Brigade Fire and Fury (2nd Edition)

I loves me the ACW, it's probably my favorite genre and I have several rule sets for it, some I've even played once or twice.  Usually I play at the regimental level (where the units on the table represent regiments) and my go-to rules have been Regimental Fire and Fury (RFF); great set of rules. 

But We're talking brigades here not regiments

Back in 2017, the 2nd edition of Brigade Fire and Fury came out and I immediately snatched it up, and when a scenario book came out early this year it was immediately purchased. And there they sat on the self awaiting a play test.  I wasn't in a huge rush, I knew I was going to like BFF.  The core mechanics of BFF are basically the same as RFF, it just up-scales the battle from the regimental to the brigade level with a  few differences to reflect that.
So overall it's kinda like going on a date with your ex girlfriend's sister.

Will it prove to be the same awesome rule set?  let's find out.

A Brief AAR of the battle in 13 Pics

I knows there's no such thing as brief AAR that is also a really good AAR. Least not one I've ever written.  Certainly the act of writing it wasn't brief...Onward!

The game table and the setting for the battle.  Areas with trees based on large CD like bases represent areas of Heavy Woods.  Trees on small bases are areas of Light Woods.  The are some roads and a few clearings, but mostly wooded terrain dominates the board.  The river is impassable except for at the two fords.

CSA deployment and possible routs of advance 

I'm the CSA and we're on the attack.  The number of players will grow and shrink over the next hours but settles in 3 CSA and 2 USA for most of the game.  I'm also the CSA CiC (because people think I know what I'm doing, probably because I smile a lot and state loudly "I know what I am doing!" which is an obvious lie) so I have to decide our devilish strategy and dirty tricks.

The task is to capture the two crossroads as seen above (objective A and B).  We have the option to send forces across the ford to the far side of the river in an attempt to flank the USA in the rear.  As seen above by the far left arrow.  I quickly decided against such a foolish errand.  1) because the terrain is mostly heavy woods and would take forever. 2) The USA could easily defend the far ford with a single brigade in cover of the woods and 3) seemed to divert troops away from our objectives.
I didn't consult much with my fellow CSA generals, but they weren't sure either and if anyone looked at me too long I just smiled and said "I know what I am doing." 

I took command of a Core, with 2 divisions with 3 brigades each with 1 battery (lower half of the pic).  Mr A.S. and Mrs G.K took another division each, and each of those had 3 brigades.  The USA was played by some nameless thugs with poor hygiene and sour countenances.

Here also we have the timeless debate;  Is it better to deploy in the formation of field column or battle line when in the heavy woods.  Field Column lets to you advance faster through the terrain but then you lose a turn redeploying into line in order to fight.  Start in line and you advance slower, but at arrive ready to fight.  One day I will sit down and do the math to see which is really better.  I opted for field column because it seemed the thing to do, and I had to preserve the image of knowing what I was doing, because everyone else was deploying in columns. 

The union actually had the advantage of deploying first and the extra fast routes of advancing down good roads, the dirty cheaters.

My brigades advance!  I have it in mind to throw one division through the clearing towards one objective and one division through the heavy woods towards the other.  The immediate problem is the union Wilder's brigade guarding the cross road in front of me.  These guys are going to be a problem, since they are armed with Spencer repeating rifles, giving each base the fire power of two of mine.  Not to mention I'm going to have to fight through the heavy woods.

Picture of the entire battlefield.

AS and GK are also advancing, all according to plan

The attack becomes general.  I spend a turn shacking out my brigades into line in order to be an effective fighting formation.  I send one brigade through the woods to confront Wilder's brigade head on through the heavy woods.  The trees have been moved in order to make room for the soldiers, as happens in almost all miniature wargames.  The table is only pretty for the first couple of turns.  The two other brigades in that division move up the flank in order to encourage that troublesome brigade to move out the way.  My division on the left moves toward the other crossroads.  The union enjoy a strong position at the edge of the heavy woods.  That lead brigade is taking a lot of fire on the way in.

After a brief fire fight, Wilder's brigade mounts up and retreats.  I personally think they gave up too easily.  But with Objective B firmly in my hands (told you I knew what I was doing),  One brigade advances just past the road to guard against a union counter attack, but it never comes because the cowardly mugs don't want to leave the cover of the wood line.  However Objective A is still in union hands so I start to shift brigades toward that way.  unfortunately there is a solid line of troops firing incessantly blocking the way.  My lead brigade continues to take the worse of it and is worn down to only 3 stands from 10.

closer pic of my glorious troops in action

The union are without they're own dirty tricks though, and there are a series of counter charges that wipe out my lead brigade and charge into the next ones.  (Not all pictured).  Except for the lead brigade being taken off the table the union come off worse for the wear for their efforts.  But these succeed in ramping up the CSA causality count and delaying the advance. 

How's the other half of the battlefield going?

END GAME;  All across the lines there are charges toward the final objective.  I can honestly say I have a near perfect charge going into the union. I got the (mostly) fresh veteran brigade, with leader attached, supported by another brigade, bearing down on their target which is a small union brigade with a damaged battery attached; with the whole attack in position to roll down the union line and sweep into the final objective.  It's near perfect because;  it would of been better to be in supported line instead of the line (a double line versus a single one).  For that  single line stretched far enough that the union is able to cobble together more defensive fire power than I would of liked.  After all the fire points are calculated we know that the union will need to roll an 8 or higher on a D10 to prevent the charge (in fire and fury the defensive fire can be so hot that the charging infantry stops).  1-7 sees my devastating charge go through.  Good odds says I.  I told you I knew...

and of course an 8 is rolled.  : )

So instead of charging into the hapless but lucky union,  my brigade stops and shoots instead.  Sigh,  The two other CSA charges on other parts of the battlefield are also unsuccessful. 
After that; A.S. announces that the CSA have reached their heavy casualty limit of 34 stands dead (at least 13 of those are from my command, so it's been a bloody attack). 
That's usually a good time to call a game in Fire and Fury, if one side has suffered heavy casualties and the other is not really that close.  Union victory 2-1; They have 1 crossroad and have killed way more CSA with small loses, while the CSA has one crossroad. 

I do think IF we had played two more turns it might of been a different story. 

Post Game Thoughts

So how did the rules play? BRILLIANTLY.  My first outing with the BFF rules and I loved them.  Not surprising with my love for RFF, but right now I'd be hard pressed to decide which one I liked better. 
On the whole I'd say BFF was a shade simpler. The ranges are a shorter, there are less modifiers, a more traditional roll to activate a unit mechanic,  etc.. which would make it a better convention game.
While RFF leans a little more toward the tactical, BFF leans a little more toward the strategic. 

I'm definitely gonna have to take a real hard look at the BFF scenario book and see which ones I'll be able to put on the table.  There are a few that I have enough troops for, it's the terrain that might be the challenge. 

Man did this make me want to play more ACW in the near future.  Just need to find the time, which is the trick of course.  In the meantime, the wife and I have been off celebrating our 10 year marriage anniversary. 

which is why this post is like 2 weeks after the game and I've been behind in my leaving of blog comments.  "yeah 10 years is a big deal Sweety, but I just want to check my blog list..."

See you again soon! 


  1. Congratulations on ten years of marriage!

    The game looks good and it is relaxing to let another do all of the work for a change. I have such an opportunity tomorrow when I drive into Idaho for a game at a buddies. On tap is an Age of Eagles Napoleonic game in 15mm. No clue what is cooked up for us on the morrow.

    As for BFF, that is the rules we all cut our ACW teeth on so many years ago. Still a solid set and fun. We enjoy RFF too and play that much more than BFF. I’ve only played BFF2 a few times but like the melding of BFF1 to RFF. Have not played either in a very long time...

    1. Thanks Jonathan.
      It was a good time and nice to let others do the work lol.
      I think Age of Eagles is based on Fire and Fury?
      Have fun in Idaho!

      I wasn’t war gaming when the original Fire and Fury came out but I really did like the 2nd edition very much. For my next ACW game I’ll be hard pressed on deciding on which to play; BFF or RFF. A nice problem to have. πŸ˜€

  2. Hello Stew. Nice game report. I have never gamed ACW but after reading this I'm wanting to. Congrats on the 10 years of marital bliss. We had our 25th last March.

    1. Thanks Vol, though bliss might be too strong of a word. πŸ˜€ congrats to you too.
      Easiest way to get in some ACW is find someone who already doing it. πŸ˜€

  3. Hi Stew, nice looking game and of course always nice to enjoy (and appreciate) a friends efforts.

    In Black Powder, units would be forced to go into skirmish formation to negate heavy woods, I like that and it strikes me that any unit that has traversed heavy woodland would always need time to re-order and get back into a 'better' fighting formation.

    1. Thanks Norm. BFF gives the option of keeping your fighting formation but moving slowly or moving quickly in a column through rough terrain. Both ways have trade offs and make sense to me. It only really matters bc gamers have a time limit so I want to spend more turns in combat rather than setting up the fire fight. Before my next game I’ll have to do a hard analysis of the movement rates which are of course rule set specific. πŸ˜€

  4. Very nice ACW report Stew, looks intense and bloody...and congrats on the 10 year marriage anniversary!

  5. BFF2 are a great set of rules as are RFF and Age of Eagles which is an offshoot of the F&F family. Your AAR made great reading.

    And congrats on your 10th!

    1. Thanks a lot Mike! It my first outing with BFF2 and I know there will be more. πŸ˜€

  6. Its nice to see a battle report from you, Stew! I enjoyed reading this and I have almost no interest in the ACW which is a testament to your writing and photography. The board and terrain looked great as well! Congratulations on your marriage milestone and I hope you're able to squeeze in another game soon! :)

    1. Thanks Kuribo! Hard to imagine someone with no interest in the I do hope to get in at least a few more games before the year is out. πŸ˜€

    2. Ha, even more so considering I do enjoy reading history quite a bit! WWI and the Revolutionary War interest me the most in terms of American History though World History and Ancient Rome are my primary interests. One of these days I will get around to doing some historical wargaming like yourself :)

    3. I’m in a constant debate with myself of when I will start gaming the AWI. I know it will happen eventually, just do many other projects going on. πŸ˜€

  7. Excellent battle report; shows you know what you're doing :). Coming down to a 7 in 10 chance of coming out on top on the last turn sounds a good game (and a good plan: sort of like you knew what you were doing...). And happy anniversary, too.

    1. Thanks Ed. I at least know what I’m doing when it comes to writing an AAR; you make your good luck look like the result of good decisions and your bad decisions look like poor luck. πŸ˜€

    2. When one writes the history, liberties can be taken in the retelling of the story.

    3. Ha! I was about to say almost exactly the same thing as Jonathan.

  8. As the GAME MASTER of this game, your humble servant CinC to cover your left flank and "try" to punch through that ghastly Union "good ground" center position by Objective A, I thank you for this excellent AAR. I can do a great write up but don't have the young person., that's you SB, skills to take stock photos and make them tell a battle story. Maybe you can teach me... beer will be provided at your house :)
    Seriously, a really nice repot.
    Remember I'm happy to come up to your place whenever your "bride" will allow it. Shoot I can bring my 40 year + "bride" (years of bondage, I mean happily wedded bliss) up to provide child care while your wife gets some R & R from the rigors of your small children.
    Always great to game with you.
    Best Regards,

    1. Thanks Alan, I’m glad you liked it. It’s much easier to write an AAR when during the game I’m able to just focus on my little part of the battlefield instead of GMing the whole thing.
      You’re always invited when I host an ACW game and hopefully I will be able to before the year is out. Though if your wife ever watches my little terrors than I’d be taking my wife out on a date, and not playing with miniatures! πŸ˜€

  9. OOOO and to add to comments... In BF&F "Field Column" it used for movement, but not appropriate to fight a battle (no firepower). IF a situation presents itself occasionally a Field Column was used to charge a formed enemy line BUT ONLY when that line had be lit up, hair must up, shot to ribbons, by a supportive line unit. Then that Field Column would CHARGE and typically run through the battered line like crap through a goose (nice GS Patton IV phrase... Factoid: GSP Sr his grand daddy being a CSA regimental commander, the 22nd VA... KIA at Winchester AND his great uncle Waller Patton Lt Col of the 7th VA, was killed at Gettysburg during Pickett's Charge)

    Bottom line: Use artillery and line fire to weaken the enemy THEN CHARGE... OR next time SB I'll give you "crack" troops across your entire division... rarely get stopped in a charge.

    1. Oh, I’m with you 100%. Field column was not a fighting formation in the ACW, and when I host ACW games in RFF I usually have a house rule that field columns can’t charge. It just really wasn’t done except maybe in the later war and mainly against fortifications.
      I was surprised to see that in BFF2 that field columns are harder to stop charging with defensive fire but I would still discourage their use as such. In your game I just should of been in supported line and charging with two brigades side by side versus two in line supporting each other. Next time.

  10. Nice report and fun sounding game! Bad luck, but probably for the best! Oh and congratulations on 10 years!
    Best Iain

  11. Sounds like you had a great time! What do those big colored blocks indicate? They seem like an interesting alternative to chits.

    And congratulations on 10 years. Looks like you got away for a bit, which is always great, but doubly so for a milestone like that.

    1. Thanks Laz!
      The color blocks indicate status of the unit like being disordered or low on ammo. Easy to see but a little jarring in the pics.

      We did get away for a few days down to Big Sur. It was NICE. πŸ˜€

    2. Oh nice! We went down there for a long weekend a while back, and it was super relaxing (aside from the drive!)

      The color blocks are a bit "gamey" but are probably easier to read than flat chits.

  12. Looks like a great game Stew, despite that classic Ivor roll there! It is nice to just show up to play instead of being the everything guy isn't it πŸ˜€ Congrats on #10!

    1. Thanks Ivor!
      Oh it wasn’t my die roll but the other’s side that prevented my glorious charge! But that’s how it goes. πŸ˜€

  13. Sad to see the CSA lose as I'm quite partial to an army in butternut-ish uniforms. ;)

    Great report and post overall mate per usual. The game was fun to follow and read like an actual AAR of a real ACW fight.

    Glad you two had fun on your 10th Anniversary, here's to many many more my friend.

    1. Thanks Dai! Glad you liked it. I’m sorry the CSA lost but it wasn’t from lack of trying. I feel the union just some good luck when needed.

      Hope to see you soon, but I feel like I am always saying that. πŸ˜€

  14. It sounds like this is a rule set that rewards you for effective coordination, which to my understanding was a key consideration in the period - which is really cool! That you were able to get in a fun game in the doing is even better.

    1. Thanks FMB. It was something that the real world commanders tried to do; effective coordination. I’m fortunate that’s it’s slightly easier on a table top. πŸ˜€