Wednesday, January 22, 2020

A Clearing in the Wilderness; a RFF scenario

Continuing on with ACWary, I present to you a RFF scenario.  It's called:

A Clearing in the Wilderness

This is the ACW scenario I ran at The Gauntlet.  It's a fictional one set during the time spent in the wilderness campaign, when Grant's and Lee's armies were fighting in the deep woods. I'm posting it by it's lonesome / separately so this terrible blog can act like my cloud storage.

RFF does a great job at taking a section of a large battlefield and bringing it to life.  In this scenario, the Union is gathering a bunch of artillery on a ridge that juts out over the thick trees.  The CSA don't like this and advance into some clearing to set up some counter battery fire.  The USA then counter attacks to secure this part of the line... but that's all useless backstory that only serves to increase the historic ambiance.

Lets get into the nuts and bolts of the scenario

While fighting in the thick woods where visibility was limited, men naturally gravitated towards clearings where they could see around them.  These areas became magnets for conflict.

The green areas represent the heavy woods of the wilderness, which dominates the board.  The yellow ish areas are clearings. There is a small hill on the right and the top left is the beginning of a larger ridge where the federal artillery is massing.

The woods are Dense and count as Rough terrain and limit LOS and command radius to 4”.  Units in the woods gain light cover during fire combat, or full cover if in extended line, and have favorable ground if charged through the woods.

Fences are Broken terrain to cross.  Units only in extended line gain cover while aligned behind a fence.  Otherwise fences do not affect fire or charge combat.  Units aligned behind a fence in any formation receive a +1 to maneuver checks.

Union artillery batteries on the ridge cannot join up and mass fire at CSA units, but each must select a separate target.  Union artillery batteries on the ridge may conduct Plunging Fire into CSA units in the woods that are out of LOS with the usual -2 for full cover.

Victory conditions:
2 Objectives:  The Union have to clear the...clearings of CSA troops.  Both of the bottom two fields count as an objective held by the CSA.  If at any point there are no CSA troops in one of the clearing then it's lost and gives the CS a -1 to further maneuver checks.  If the CSA take back the clearing then the -1 switches to the USA.  It is possible that each side may have a -1 applied.

Heavy Losses: Each side has heavy losses threshold.  The CSA gain one victory condition if the USA lose 35 stands. The USA gains one victory condition if the CSA lose 27 stands.  When a side reaches it's heavy losses it suffers a -1 to maneuver checks for the rest of the game.

Greater losses: When Heavy losses is reached for both sides, assess which side has lost the greater total number of stands, this side has Greater Losses and suffers a -2 to maneuver checks. Only one side can have Greater Losses.

Order of Battle!

Everyone has Rifled Muskets, it's 1864 for Pete's sake

I DIV - Arthur (Able)

I DIV Artillery (under Arthur's Command)
RI Battery C, 3 bases, each Vet Light rifle (LR)
9th CT battery, 3 bases, each Vet Light rifle (LR)

I DIV / I BDE - Bless (Gallant)
101 PA Green, Reliable 14/11/7
101 PA Brave Colonel Terry
87 PA Green,  Reliable  15/12/8
71 PA Trained, Reliable  12/9/6
61 PA Veteran, Reliable, 10/8/5

I DIV / II BDE - Crukis (Able)
54 NY Veteran, reliable, 10/8/5
103 NY Veteran, reliable 9/7/5
95 NY Veteran, reliable 9/7/5
83 NY Veteran, Reliable, 8/6/4

II BDE Artillery (Under Crukis' Command)
US Battery 10, 3 bases, each Vet Light Smoothbore (LS)

I DIV / III BDE - Daring (Able)
5 OH Veteran, reliable, 7/6/4
7 OH veteran, reliable, 8/6/4
29 OH Veteran, Reliable, 8/6/4
64 OH Veteran, Reliable, 10/8/5


1 BDE - Ellert (Gallant)
42 VA Veteran, Spirited, 11/8/5
45 VA Crack, Spirited, 8/5/3
48 VA Veteran, Reliable, 7/6/4
52 VA Veteran, Reliable, 10/8/5
58 VA Crack, Spirited, 9/6/4

I BDE Artillery (under Ellert's command)
Graham's Virginia Battery, 3 bases, Vet Light rifle (LS)

II BDE - Hotchkiss (Able)
26 LA Veteran, Reliable, 10/8/5
47 LA Veteran, Reliable, 9/7/5
53 LA Veteran, Reliable, 8/6/4
55 LA Veteran, Reliable, 10/8/5
61 LA Veteran, Reliable, 8/6/4

II BDE Artillery (under Hotchkiss' command)
John's Virginia Battery, 2 bases, Vet Light Rifle (LS)

Side Discussion: Battles by Graph Paper

Way back when in played BFF for the first time, the GM (the unconquered Mr. AS) handed me a map of the battlefield drawn on graph paper, with each square representing 2 inches or something like that.  I looked at it and instantly thought, "This is so simple it's Genius, and I'm an idiot for not  thinking of doing this before, because here I was drawing my battlefields on regular paper like a SUCKER." 

Using graph paper made it so much easier...  

ACW Scenario Thoughts

So since this is a fictional scenario that I just made up that I think gives a pretty good game (having played it once so far).  Here are some of my thoughts behind it.  It represents the classic ACW trade off; where the Union has more of everything, but is constrained by terrain, some green or inexperienced units, etc..while the CSA has less but battle hardened.  Which I like in a game but more importantly is matches what people expect out of the ACW, so the game feels more historical.  
I've also made the attacking Union powerful enough to attack with a good chance of success but not steamroll the CSA.  In the ACW, the attacking side needs to be stronger because the tactics and technology of the time really favored the defense.
Plus, the scenario provides a little bit of maneuver for the players i the beginning, and then fight to the death!  Then of course I would say that.  Lastly, I think that all units starting on the board is a good set up for convention games.

You Said You Played This Once So Far... I Say Pics or it Didn't Happen

Very well.  Here are some pics from the game I ran at the Gauntlet convention last weekend.  Full ARR is in the works.  

Set up pics

The road through the Wilderness is empty for now

Union artillery on the ridge.

Union begins the advance.
CSA forms a defense
The road is full of Union soldiers now!

Union trying to take the clearings

Thanks for reading.  See you next time.

This ACWary might bleed into February, but that'd be alright.  The word mash still works. 


  1. Stew I really enjoyed the post, lovely presentation, the map and table are spot on. Much for me to absorb here.

    1. Thanks Norm. I appreciate all the comments you leave on this blog. πŸ˜€

  2. A spectacular and magnificient table, great looking game!

  3. Great looking game Stew well done, agree on the mapping idea I do something similar when planning my games.
    Think you may need some more trees there though :)

    1. Thanks Tony. I could of put out more trees but during the game the just get in the way and all end up in the corners anyway. πŸ˜€

  4. Good looking game and interesting scenario!
    Best Iain

  5. Man, with terrain like that, how do you keep people (esp. the Union player) from just hunkering down in the woods and shooting?

    1. Objectives! The Union have to attack to win the scenario. Good scenario design if I do say so myself. πŸ˜€

  6. Great scenario, must try that myself


    1. Thanks Bluewillow. I appreciate the comments
      And the following. Hope I’ll post more stuff that you will find interesting. πŸ˜€

  7. You always come up with fin scenarios. This one does not disappoint either, at least in writing. Looking forward to that AAR!

    1. And by "fin" I of course mean, Fine, or Fun - take your pick.

    2. I’ll take both being the greedy hog for praise that I am. πŸ˜€

  8. Interesting scenario and good looking game. The opening map graphic is quite arresting. What program did you use to make it?

    1. Thanks Ed. The map was drawn using PowerPoint. Very functional. Though I’m a big fan of how Norm does his maps as well using paint I think. πŸ˜€

  9. Since my map drawing skills are limited, it is graph paper for me. Nifty scenario. I await the battle report. I pulled the DG boardgame Salem Church out this evening and gave it a try, Norm’s account of this game and your ACWary were inspiration for tonight’s diversion from the painting desk.

    1. Lol thanks Jonathan. A scenario of Salem Church is one that I’ve been meaning to get onto the table...someday. πŸ˜€

  10. I think it is highly impressive that you designed your own scenario, Stew! The battlefield looks great both on the map and in the pictures you shared as well. It really fits my mental image of a Civil War battlefield. I look forward to the full report when you have time to write it up! :D

    1. Thanks Kuribo. I enjoy scenario design and it’s a nice hobby thrill to see it on the table and played out. πŸ˜€

  11. Cool looking scenario! One question: in the Confederate OB, both artillery batteries are listed as "Vet Light rifle (LS)". Are they supposed to be Light Rifles (LR) or Light Smoothbores (LS)?

    1. Thanks Dave. Glad you liked it and for leaving a comment. For your question; it should be light smooth bores. πŸ˜€

  12. Great looking game Stew! Scenario and table are top draw πŸ˜€ (really like your fields and snake rail fences!)

    1. Thanks Ivor! The fields are home made but the fences are kits from Battlefield Terrain Concepts. πŸ˜€