Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Roads to Gettysburg (MMP) ~ "The Gettysburg Campaign" [Scenrio #6]

Game: Roads to Gettysburg (AH/MMP)
Series: Great Campaigns of the American Civil War (GCACW)
Scenario: #6, The Gettysburg Campaign
Participants: Bob H, Myself
Time: Sun, 6/30 ~ 2.00PM - 5.30PM
         Wed, 7/4 ~ 12.30PM - 4.00PM

Bob and I will be stopping in Gettysburg on our way to WBC this year; we'll will be spending the whole day at the battlefield. This coupled with a fantastic new novel on the battle that I just read ("Cain at Gettysburg", by Ralph Peters) and the time of year was enough for us to bring this one off the shelf. Bob and I are old hands at this series, in fact the CG of Grant Takes Command is the first clear memory I have of gaming with Bob, many years ago. Bob and I last played BATC in May of 2011, though I have played a couple of CG's with HeavyD after that. None the less, Bob is up to speed on all the rules and we easily settled into this game. Recently we have been playing For the People (GMT) and I was the CSA the couple trainer games that we played through, thus I'll be playing the Union this time around.We will be using the adjusted Campaign Victory conditions which are a must for this scenario.

This CG is one my favorites. After the errata was produced it proved rock solidly balanced and one of the quicker playing CG's of the series as well. There are no supply rules in this one, nor any rail movement or other special rules overhead that you'll sometimes find in the other CG's. In short its a two map game with up to 19 turns, though we've rarely seen it go that long. The Army of Northern Virginia starts on the map near Williamsport and Sharpsburg. The CSA player gains victory point in several ways. The first one is imposing Levy's on the towns of Pennsylvania. We marked these with the little white tile x's. To Levy a town a CSA division must start the recovery phase at fatigue 0, once this happens the CSA player gets the VP's for the town (generally only one or two VPs). The other and more important way that the CSA player earns VP's is to have control of a county seat and the bulk of the ANY in a county at the end of the game. Adams County where Gettysburg is the least valuable @ 25 VPs while the counties that are closer to Baltimore/Washington start to pay much higher VP amounts. Of course the Army of the Potomac is marching up from this direction making controlling these counties more of a challenge.

At Start Set Up

The Army of Northern Virginia consists of 9 Infantry Divisions with strengths between 11 and 17. Stuart will show up later in the game with his three brigades of Cavalry, this is variable and handled by rolling against a chart at the top of each turn. The Army of the Potomac will arrive according to a schedule as well. Each of its three different wings will arrive in a different order depending on which one of the arrival result the Union player rolls. This is done starting on turn 2 using 2d6 and will generally produce a reasonably historical arrival. This randomness of course also means that each time you play the CG you'll have a slightly different experience, which is a plus in my book. The AoP is larger then the ANV with 19 Infantry Divisions however the average Union Division strength is usually only around 6-8, thus it will take 2-3 Union Divisions to line up against one CSA Division. The AoP has a fantastic force of Cavalry which is by this time in the War on par with the CSA Cavalry except that there are no Union Cavalry leaders which makes coordinating multi unit Cavalry actions against the CSA a chancy affair.

CSA positions around turn 6

Bob only starts with one CSA Corps able to move in the opening turns thus we moved through these quickly. Bob lead Ewell's Corps straight North and started to Levy towns right away. By turn 6 Bob had a couple of Ewell's Divisions 5-15 hexes in front of Hill's Corps with Longstreet's Corp following way behind Hill. The AoP finally arrived on Turn 6. Turn 7 see's the bulk of the AoP arrive. On turn 8 it becomes clear that Bob is trying to assemble his scattered forces. I am making decent progress towards Gettysburg with the III and XI Corps out marching the I Corps. By this time Bob's only gathered about a dozen VPs from Levy's. Stuart arrives around this time as well but he's well out of place with the AoP between him and Lee.

Start of Turn 9

Turn 9 opens with Longstreet on the Chambersburg Pike with the hills between him and Gettysburg. About 12 hexes North of Gettysburg, Hill has his Corps with two of Ewell's Division close by. Ewell's third Division is another 10-12 hexes away in the direction of Harrisburg. Some excellent marching allows me to get the III Corps into Gettysburg with the XI Corps a couple hexes away to the East. I have 4 Cavalry Brigades in front of these forces waiting to harass Bobs approach.  I Corps (Reynolds) ends the turn near Littlestown about 10 hexes from Gettysburg. The rest of the AoP is still another 7-10 hexes back behind Reynolds.

Start of Turn 10

Turn 10 sees the action start with Bob sending Stuart in first between I Corps and the two Corps in and around Gettysburg. After this he sends in Hill's III Corps against the XI East of Gettysburg. XI Corps fights well but yields the ground and retires a couple hexes back, both of us are at F4. Then Anderson's Division smacks Shurz's Division with a Rout result pushing them back 4 hexes. Thus far the losses have been fairly even. Lastly Heth moves up adjacent to Gettysburg. Thus far in the turn I have not had a single initiative go my way, all I've been able to do is watch.

Hill's III Corps drives the Union XI Corps back East of Gettysburg
Longstreet takes Gettysburg and Cemetery Ridge from III Corps

The initiatives continue to go with Bob and he sends Longstreet's Corps in after Sickles III Corps in Gettysburg. Hood first attacks Humphrey's on Cemetery Hill and is repulsed. Then McLaw's attacks Sickle in Gettysburg proper and takes the town. Lastly Longstreet sends Pickett to take Cemetery Hill through Gettysburg and with a +3 attack pushes Humphrey's off the hex with a Rout result. By now Bob has opened the turn with every single initiative roll go in his favor (8+). By the time I start wining some initiatives there is little to do except move up the rest of the Army.

Ewell Catches Slocum North of Littlestown

Slocum's XII is one of the first I activate and they start by clearing Stuart out of the way. Ewell then steps in and Routs one of XII Corps Divisions just North of Littleston. This is important as it eliminates any chance I have of counter attacking with I Corps towards Gettysburg. The only other action occurs North of Ewell's two Divisions as I send my Cavalry around the rear of Bob's forces trying to get at two of Stuarts Brigades.

End of turn 11

The turn ends with Bob in firm control of Gettysburg. Eight of  his nine Infantry Divisions are at F4 with about six of them having taken 1 SP loss. I have all of III, XI and one Division of XII Corps F4 having taken roughly the same losses as Bob (about 6 SP's). I have brought up the rest of the AoP and they are near enough to get involved in any fighting that might happen the next turn. After the recovery phase we pause to do the math on the VCs and see where we stand. Bob is currently at around 35 VPs if the game ended now (25 comes from controlling Adams county). This is not enough for a CSA Marginal Victory. This sort of surprises us as I had assumed that I would have to push Bob out of Adams county to have a chance at a win, instead it turns out that Bob is still going to have to fight on to get a win. He'll either need to take a better county or win several one sides battles inflicting 5-10 more SP losses on me then I inflict on him. This is easier said then done now that I have the whole AoP gathered, furthermore all the open terrain that we are in favors the defense.
End of Turn 12
Turn 12 is a quick one, Bob largely staying in place resting his Army while I do the same with my battered Corps. I do move up close to him with II Corps near Gettysburg while I bring VI Corps up to Hanover to cover any quick move South he might be cooking up. We stopped here for the day.