In the centre of the table French advanced. Clearly they wanted to hold as much land as possible beyond the objectives while at the time of securing it with irregular forces. Their Militia unit nearest the enemy stared to come under concentrated fire. The French flank was looking fragile. If the infantry go they will lose their artillery. Urgent messengers were sent off asking for support from the central reserve holding the village.
One aspect of Bloody Big Battles that I particularly like is the way little dramas unfold across the table top. On the south side of the battlefield, next to the lake, there were only two units on each side.
The Louisiana Militia were able to engage their Mississippi counterparts and drive them off. Having skirmishes proved to be a significant advantage. They ended up perfectly poised for a flank assault on some regular CSA troops. Their target also had French veterans advancing on them through woods to their front. Despite being outnumbered and flanked the CSA regulars were able to bounce their attackers. The breathing space gave them time to retire and regroup, able to take their place in the overnight battle lines.
Things had reached a critical situation in the centre swamp. The French and Louisiana troops had committed to a strong defence. The Confederates were positioning to apply concentrated fire. It looked like one of the Louisiana Militia units was getting the worst of it. In fact, the Militia unit on the north side of the swamp soon ran off as a result of a failed test. The French regulars held their ground under a withering fire from many units. To start with their skirmishers were driven off. This made them more vulnerable during the next round of shooting.
At the end of the game, night fell and the two forces separated. They each tried to: recover lost stands, remove disrupted markers and replenish low ammunition.
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We are still very much new to these rules and learning all the time. I used the point system produced by someone on the Bloody Big Battles Yahoo group. Force size was 500pts each. Any less than this and we think there will be less flexibility for manoeuvre. More than this and things would slow down too much. If there had been two players per side then 500 points might be too much. We are thinking of trying 500 points for the first to arrive and then 400 points for players who arrive a little bit later.
We found that the benefit of skirmishes to be quite significant and wondered if the points cost should be a little greater. I think perhaps we will try that and see how it works.
Close combat is quite random and deadly. I like that it makes it decisive but risky enough that it needs good preparation before contact. You can mitigate the risk by making sure you have numerical advantage, you’ve reduced your opponent to spent, you’ve disrupted them and ideally flanked them as well. Even then, you’re probably going to win but there’s always the risk of the dreaded 6 : 1 roll.
That concluded day one of the battle. Day two of the battle will find the forces starting in their overnight positions. (Using the BBB night time rules.) It will also find two additional forces arriving. The French force will arrive along the Baton Rouge Road. The CSA force will arrive along the road either from Mobile or Jackson. I plan to take more photographs and share the results.
In conclusion, I would say I am very happy with the Rules and the progress so far with the narrative.
A decisive victory for the French with their Louisiana allies would secure the territory on this side of the Mississippi. The French commander has been tempted to abandon all land east of the Mississippi as being indefensible. The problem with this approach is that Baton Rouge just happens to be on the East Bank of the river. With the French minor victory during the first day, the stage is set for a decisive French victory.
This AAR has been the first entry in the narrative campaign of A71 (Alternative history 1871.)
Details of the full alternative history should be ready to post soon.