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AAR Southern California Kreigsspiel Society, Sept 6, 2015, Los Angeles (LAX Hilton)

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AAR Southern California Kreigsspiel Society, Sept 6, 2015, Los Angeles (LAX Hilton)

Post  Father General on Wed Sep 09, 2015 5:00 am

AAR Kriegsspiel Game, Sept 6, 2015
Strategicon, LAX Hilton, Los Angeles, CA
Free Kriegsspiel, ACW Scenario
Umpire(s): Neal
Players: 7 (3 Confederate, 1 Guerrilla, 3 Union)

We enjoyed another successful kriegsspiel session in LA this weekend with an American Civil War scenario. This game was a refinement of the game played in May, as well as a continuation on that first scenario. I also experimented with having a third faction.

If there is one word to summarize this game, it would be “simplfied.” I took more shortcuts this time, which kept me running between the teams and providing updates. Turns progressed rather quickly, and we generally moved in 10 minute increments, with turns taking about 5 minutes in all, give or take. I we progressed at almost 1:2 when it was over. We did about 12 hours of scenario in seven hours of real time.

My goal in this game was to simplify those elements which slowed my previous game. One of those elements was my effort to have detailed combat results tracked per unit. I did away with that this time and I did not bother with keeping track of casualties to the man. Instead, I decided to determine outcomes by rolling dice, modified for unit condition, experience, size and position, and any other variables as I made sense of them. This sounds rather complex, but I did these calculations swiftly in my head. Generally I would roll 1-5 dice per side and use the difference to determine the outcome of each few minutes of combat.

Despite the gross simplification from strict kreigsspiel, I don’t feel this took away from the fun and accuracy of the game. I’ll leave it to the players to complain; I was satisfied.

The game was also a continuation on last May’s scenario, which saved me the trouble of a new map. The scenario was set to be a month after the last battle with the Confederates on the attack (surprised?).

The Confederates were also outnumbered 3-2 in this scenario until reinforcements showed up rather late into the game. This was by design. I wanted to give the Confederate commanders the challenge of an imbalanced scenario. Only the strong survive my battles!

The Confederates were commanded by a very intelligent and capable fellow named Mark, who is also a longtime gaming friend of mine from Las Vegas.  You would enjoy his company, he is an expert on Napoleonic warfare. Fun fact: Mark inspects cruise liners and container ships for a living. He travels almost every week around the world to inspect ships. This was his first Kriegsspiel and I am certain he is now hooked for more.

The Union was comprised of my old friend Barry from Los Angeles, a former Vietnam vet and an experienced gamer, also a longtime friend of mine. Barry commanded the Union in the previous scenario as well. The match was a sort of ultra-friendly grudge-match between the two gentlemen.

The scenario also had a third, Confederate guerrilla faction in the game led by a fellow named William. William had the unenviable position of playing a faction with very little direction, unclear goals, and minimal power to do anything of consequence as far as combat was concerned. Despite this, he played remarkably well.

His wife also commanded the first Confederate brigade. I would not care to oppose her, as you will see.

A forth fellow, whose name I never seemed to catch, played the second Confederate brigade.

These two brigades opposed three full-strength Federal brigades. Those commands were divided between Terry, a veteran of the previous scenario, and Bruce, a newcomer.


The Union had advantages in the number of units, the sizes of those units, and more than twice the artillery of the Confederates. The Confederates had some better troops. Cavalry was absent at the start of the game, deliberately rendering both sides temporarily blind!

The Union orders were to eliminate guerrilla opposition in the region, a task which was handled abstractly by removing pieces from the board to represent resources tasked with house-to-house searches for evidence of guerrilla activity.

Confederate orders were completely different, they were to attack the town of Tappahannock.

The Union started dispersed along the Mattaponi River (Mattapony on the map). The Confederates were given the option of where to start their attack, although they had to decide before knowing what crossings were defended and what the Union strength was. The Union commander detailed just three regiments (you’d recognize them as half-battalion pieces) for guerilla suppression. Curiously, they dispatched them in the very direction of the guerrilla commander’s home, which would have rendered them successful, had they remained on that detail. Fortunately for the Confederates, they would be pulled back early.

Mark mapped the strategy for his commanders. I allowed each side dry erase markers to draw arrows and notes on the map (covered with a sheet of plexigalss), mostly so I could quickly get a clear impression of what their intent was. Despite this, they still had to give written or verbal orders to me. The markers probably saved a lot of time and aided understanding.

The plan had the Confederates splitting to cross the freezing cold river and rally at a location on the south of their objective. Rachel’s First Brigade stepped off at morning twilight, as soon as the men could see to shoot. They immediately drove in a Union picket line across the river, and were met with solid resistance. As the skirmish kicked off, a light, seasonal rain began to fall.

First Brigade forced its way across the river, but not without being bloodied. One regiment peeled off to reorganize as the rest of the brigade finally began driving the surprised Union troops back.

The Union enjoyed near-immediate reinforcement. Oddly, another, third Union regiment that was in the vicinity, did not respond and instead held its position defending another river crossing against Confederate troops that never came.

Second Brigade had a much harder time. Their orders were to choose the more lightly defended of two crossings and push across there, and they passed several lightly defended crossings until they reached their initial objective. To save time, they did not march out of sight of Union observers, which simply spread the word of their presence. However, this had a beneficial effect of tricking the Union that a much larger force was preparing to cross the river, for they were seeing Confederate troops all up and down the line. It took a while for the Union players to realize it was just one brigade marching and countermarching because of their commander’s indecision.

Second Brigade arrived at its crossing points, only to find both were heavily defended. Unable to choose, he sent couriers, who could not find an easy way around Union positions. He halted, countermarched, then detatched several regiments to “daisy chain” (his words) and monitor Union positions across the river. He attempted no crossing and eventually just halted and waited for orders.

Confederate guerrillas arrived on the map a little late, but rode without any particular goal in mind except to get to Tappahannock town, or thereabouts. While on their ride, they encountered one of two telegraph lines in the game. They cut the line immediately. They did not know it, but this triggered a Union cavalry response, which would arrive later in the day.

The Union was lethargic, and indeed they could do nothing for the first hour as word of the Confederate attack did not arrive at their headquarters for an hour. (This was by design, it gave the Confederates a chance to actually cross the river.)

When news finally arrived, Barry rode south to personally observe the situation. This was an excellent move and without him or I knowing, he actually chose the perfect spot on the map to rally troops and observe.

First Brigade gave an excellent account of itself, dodging the growing Union resistance while pushing back the half-Hearted Union defenders in her way. What Rachel did not know was the Union was organizing a proper defense on high ground along her axis of advance.

Couriers were desperately sent between the Confederate CiC and his second brigade because the First Brigade was finally sensing the weight of the Union advantage. Still, second brigade held position and watched the Union defenders, some of which were moving off to the east to clash with First Brigade.

The Guerrillas (Col. Davis’ Tappahannock Partisan Rangers) managed to find their way across the river to the north and encountered a lone Union regiment what was unaware of what was happening. They surprised that unit, but the unit quickly rallied, forcing the small band of raiders to swing wide around in their attempt to ride east to Tappahannock.

Another detachment of guerrilla raiders made contact with second brigade. Somehow this emboldened the commander to finally attack. He returned to his first ordered position and initiated an attack, although this time the Union had already called in reinforcements to the area. This caused his attack great difficulty.

Eventually, every unit of second brigade would be bloodied in the attempt to cross the Mattaponi, but they would make it, thanks to some unlikely help from… First Brigade.

First Brigade realized that Union resistance was growing, so they fell back. Word had finally arrived that Second Brigade was stalled, so they sent half of their force west to attack the river defenders from the rear.

They achieved no surprise, but they did manage to split the attention of the Union forces, allowing Second Brigade to finally make it across.

As Second Brigade struggled across the river, aided by half of First Brigade, Union numerical superiority began to tell. By mid-day, Union troops were finally moving south, concentrating in two places. Rachel’s brigade caught a Union regiment to her west and moved to attack, in the direction of her previous detachment.

Second Brigade (CSA), aided by half of the First, managed to flank the Union at the river and rolled their line into retreat.

Despite several such successes, the Confederate units were under-strength and the Union units, although green, were packed with well-equipped men. This meant that Union forces usually escaped their Confederate adversaries by virtue of force alone.

With the Union badly bloodied along the Mattaponi, the two Confederate brigades resumed their march towards Tappahannock.

In the process, they were informed that reinforcements were coming, in the form of Third Brigade, but they had no more information than that. As they marched east, Third Brigade came up from the South. The Union was well-positioned to receive the Third Brigade, and its column ran into a prepared Union line. Third Brigade was embroiled in a skirmish against a larger force and nobody on the Confederate side knew it.

Their first hint that Third Brigade had arrived was the sound of fighting to the west. Marching in that general direction, they found the Union right flank and rear-guard before them. The tired Confederates attacked, causing the Union to withdraw. This relieved Third Brigade.

The Union now had a sense that the Confederates would be concentrated and they needed to defend Tappahannock. Barry chose ground before the town and ordered his commanders to rally there for an organized defense. At about this time, a brigade of Union cavalry also arrived to join him, sent by headquarters to investigate the cut telegraph.

The Union did well, making good time to their positions. The Confederates however, were logjammed. Units had become mixed and the roads were badly congested. This took nearly an hour to sort out.

When the Confederates surmounted the hills south of Tappahannock, they found the Union Army, once again, deployed on good ground, but with their flank exposed!

The Union bent back its line like a door on hinges, and the Confederates followed. This exposed the Confederate flank to fresh Union forces from the north. Now the flakers were flanked.

Second and Third Brigades clashed with almost the entire Union force, as First Brigade felt its way around the Union left. Screened by guerrillas who arrived in the area, attracted by the gunfire, they drove south, then north around the Union flank. However, flanking them were the newly arrived Union cavalry.

The Union cavalry managed an attack on the First Brigade while it was in column and they scattered one of its regiments before being quickly repulsed in turn by the neighboring Confederate units.

Now it was the turn of Co0nfederate forces to be enveloped while the intrepid First Brigade circled its wagons and held against Union cavalry. Despite the superior position to the west of Tappahannock, with the Union having positions on the front and rear of the Confederate line, the Union hesitated.

The battlefield went quiet.

It was the Confederates who attacked, but they didn’t stand a chance. Their attack was broken by terrain, support was a challenge and units were simply repulsed. A few Union units were pushed, but they recovered almost immediately.

As the sun began to get low on the horizon and both sides realized the day was drawing to a close, the situation became desperate. The Union counterattacked and a massive firefight ensured.

The Partisan Rangers, discovering the way to Tappahannock clear, broke off from the Confederate forces and infiltrated the town, to the cheers of the locals.

The joy was short-lived. Just five minutes north of the town, a Union force of one regiment and a battery were trying to do the same. The guerillas honeycombed into the town, determined to resist. The Union held positon and deployed their battery, pointed at the town. Without hesitation, Bruce, commanding the tiny force, order them to fire.

First Brigade, largely uninvolved in the great clash west of town, made its move toward Tappahannock.

The Union counterattacked landed just minutes before sunset and this time the Confederates gave better than they got, despite being badly outnumbered. The Confederates still lost, generally, but they managed to remain intact, for the most part.

The Union regulars were sent into Tappahannock to clear the town, now catching fire from the shelling and the Union desire to burn out the guerrillas.

As night fell along the battlefield, skirmishing units halted on their own accord and drew towards fellow units. Knotting up into bunches, both Confederate and Union forces stopped fighting and withdrew to mutual safety across the battlefield. The only exception was in Tappahannock itself.

Here is where the battle became astounding.

One Union regiment persisted in pressing into town and clearing it. The guerrillas couldn’t hold against the Union troops and the flames of burning buildings. But to their rescue came First Brigade with Rachel at the head of the column.

By this time, discipline at the Union table broke down and everyone told Bruce to retreat since an entire brigade was almost upon him. Bruce coolly turned his guns and ordered double canister loaded.

Rachel sent her first regiment right at the guns, but it was repulsed by the storm of iron shot. She withdrew the first regiment and without wavering, ordered her second regiment to attack.

In the dark of evening, the second regiment went to its demise, being repulsed in turn. Rachel did not miss a beat. She ordered each regiment in turn until down to her last pair.

This pair she sent in together and the regiment on the left gained the guns, destroying the battery before the Union troops in town, which had reformed and were awaiting the charge, answered the skirmish with a volley. After a brief fight, the last two regiments in First Brigade were finally repulsed.

With that, the battle ended, neither side having much fight left.

The umpire was exhausted too. At the time of this writing, 48 hours later, I still haven’t recovered.

Thank you to all who participated.
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Father General

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Re: AAR Southern California Kreigsspiel Society, Sept 6, 2015, Los Angeles (LAX Hilton)

Post  Father General on Wed Sep 09, 2015 5:34 am


Before the game.


Confederate planning.


Union positions.


Union forces in the south, just before dawn where the Confederates would cross.


Second Brigade finds Union resistance at every crossing and racked with indecision, the unit becomes disorganized and confused. Couriers can't get across to the division commander. Guerrillas (shown at left) have just cut the Union telegraph and are taken under fire by Union artillery across the river.


Rachel's First Brigade bullies its way north.


Union troops begin a defensive line. The arrow shows where more troops are expected to march.


The Second Brigade forces its way across on the left, while First Brigade on the right digs in against uncoordinated Union opposition. Despite their strong position, the Union failed to execute a proper attack on the First Brigade position.


Aided by a detachment from First Brigade, the Second manages a line against the Union. First Brigade would then swing wide to strike the Union flank, causing the units to retreat, although in good order.


Third Brigade arrives and runs into an established Union defense on the right.


The Union establishes a good line.


The Confederates find a way around it.


The Union will react by making a massive retrograde redeployment. Note the Confederate traffic jam at the center of the line.


Movement complete, Union reinforcements arrive to protect the flank.

First Brigade attempts to flank the line.



Cavalry hits the First Brigade as the Union line refuses in anticipation of the First Brigade. The Confederate veterans repulsed the cavalry after taking casualties.


Chaos. The battle results in some Confederates surrendering as darkness falls. Guerrillas have occupied Tappahannock, as the Union arrives to take the town.


It was a near-run thing, but the badly exhausted Confederates could not defeat the Union, despite making repeated charges. In this final picture, the Rachel's First Brigade comes up to attack the Union in front of Tappahannock as the town burns.


In this picture, Nick, Rachel, William, Barry. Mark is facing away on the right and Bruce has the yellow shirt. Bruce and Rachel had a tremendous fight at the very end.


Explanations are given, but the Father General doesn't care. Why so many survivors he wonders?
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Re: AAR Southern California Kreigsspiel Society, Sept 6, 2015, Los Angeles (LAX Hilton)

Post  Father General on Wed Sep 09, 2015 5:41 am

Anyone across the pond interested in running either of my scenarios? I'm willing to post the maps to the UK on the condition they are returned after use. I can pay return shipping also, if I need to.

Briefings are already done, of course you may wish to modify them, and improve on them since you will have more umpires and won't have to "iron man" the event by yourself!

Drop me a line.

NOW, I have time to presume the Peninsular campaign with you guys. Digby, I'll get orders out tomorrow!

-Neal
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Re: AAR Southern California Kreigsspiel Society, Sept 6, 2015, Los Angeles (LAX Hilton)

Post  Martin on Wed Sep 09, 2015 7:57 pm

Good AAR Neal, and well done from flying the KS flag in sunny California.

The photos really help to bring the game alive. It looks as if it could have gone either way with a few different player decisions.

I wasn't sure whether each player had their own map, or whether everyone worked off the umpire map. If you are not already doing that, giving the players their own maps helps keep the game moving. Of course extra maps are expensive, and we often give them reduced-size copies.

Thanks for the offer of the scenario. At the moment, we have an approximate schedule up to the middle of next year, but I'll reserve the right to contact you again if I may Cool

Martin (J)

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Re: AAR Southern California Kreigsspiel Society, Sept 6, 2015, Los Angeles (LAX Hilton)

Post  Father General on Wed Sep 09, 2015 8:02 pm

Oh yes, of course, we used three different maps. That's what kept me running back and forth! Great exercise. I'm already talking to a studio to produce a series of workout videos using my patented Kreigsspiel Weight Loss System(TM). You run back and forth, do math, decipher scribbles, and skip lunch. I lost like ten pounds on Sunday.

-Neal
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Re: AAR Southern California Kreigsspiel Society, Sept 6, 2015, Los Angeles (LAX Hilton)

Post  King_Rufus on Mon Sep 14, 2015 5:40 pm

That’s the umpire experience in Little Gaddesden as well. Except that there is an alarming tendency to binge junk food on the way home What a Face
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Re: AAR Southern California Kreigsspiel Society, Sept 6, 2015, Los Angeles (LAX Hilton)

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