October 20, 2021

HSN Scenario 4

Ongoing comments as I play through the GCACW tournament starting in October 2021. All scenarios are from Hood Strikes North: numbers 4, 6, 2 and 7 (in play order).

Scenario 4. "We will make the fight."

A two-turn scenario that tries to set the stage for the Battle of Franklin, which had one of the largest assaults of the war: 20,000 men (40 manpower points).

This scenario could have been called Last Chance for Victory. Historically, Hood had to defeat the Union forces before they reached Nashville; while the US is on the retreat and CSA still have the operational initiative. US infantry divisions and wagons need to end the scenario within 13 road/pike hexes of Nashville. But the US can't just flee at maximum speed because of a 40 VP penalty if a Confederate unit enters Franklin on day one of the scenario.

40 victory points seems like such an insurmountable loss to the Union, it might as well be an automatic CSA victory if they take Franklin the first day. Even a Union marginal victory is out of reach in this event.

The GCACW system has a problem forming large battles. They are hard to set up because both players must tacitly agree to a big battle, and the system penalizes stacking. So big battles hardly ever occur in GCACW. A house rule to aide stacking for battle is to ignore the movement point penalties for entering a friendly-occupied hex unless entering a hex containing another active unit. (Thus the movement point penalites would only occur in a multi-unit leader activation.)

Scenario as history?

Despite the initial scripting, and requiring the USA to defend Franklin on day one, there is no way this scenario will ever generate historical casualty numbers. In the game-as-history section of the HSN rules, the low-end estimate for Hood's losses on November 30 is 7,000. This is equivalent to 14 manpower points, which can't be replicated in the GCACW system. For example, a "-4" attack result with 70 CV would only lose 10 manpower.

Hood admitted to 4,500 casualties (nine manpower points) but who doubts that he low-balled the number? How about a shoot the moon special victory condition: the CSA player wins immediately if he can rack up 10 CSA assault losses on Turn 1.

+1 assault bonus for Hood? 

There is no historical basis for improving Hood's CRT result. The assault at Franklin was one of the worst of the war: the Pickett's Charge of the West. Instead, dump the Hood bonus and allow the CSA to make one free grand assault on game-turn 1 with any CSA infantry units (Fatigue-3 or less) within Hood's command range. But the CSA manpower loss must be doubled!

Confederate flanking march?

The CSA can easily bypass Franklin in this scenario (instead of making attacks in clear terrain without artillery support). Hood did not consider this feasible after the Union slipped away from Spring Hill. Was the Harpeth River more of a barrier than depicted in the scenario?

Confederate movement and tactical advantage?

Every game in the GCACW series includes a Confederate bias in movement rolls, extended march modifiers, and tactical ratings. These made sense in the eastern theater in 1862 only. There is no historical justification after that.

Confederate cavalry confusion?

CSA cavalry is halved when it comes to blocking Union lines of communication (in the victory conditions), but they are at face value for creating a covered flank hex. Their ZOCs will block or divert Union retreats.

Wagons, oy!

Any simplicity gained by not having supply rules is lost in the detailed and unclear rules for Union wagon trains. These have been clarified in the errata. It would be simpler to just say that a wagon's combat value exists only when the wagon's hex is being attacked. At all other times it has a combat value of zero: it can never attack and has no effect in creating or cancelling a covered hex.

September 12, 2021

Hood Strikes North: vmod

Here at Consim Comment, we're not particularly interested in the western theater of the USCW. So we quickly off-loaded BAC and AIO. But with HSN being billed as a simpler one-map campaign suitable for newbs, we are giving it a close look. This gives us something new in GCACW-land while waiting for the new version of On to Richmond!

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August 31, 2021

GCACW vmod Summary

I've always taken a learn while doing approach. In this instance, I wanted to learn how to make VASSAL modules so I started with a favorite game series: Great Campaigns of the ACW.

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August 19, 2021

Anzio (basic game) vmod

After a muddled 1st edition in 1969, Anzio was rescued from oblivion and improved over the years by its dedicated fans, most notably Tom Oleson.

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August 13, 2021

Defending Anzio

This is a reaction to an unfavorable video review of Anzio posted today on youtube by a veteran wargamer with 50 years experience in the hobby.

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June 27, 2021

St-Lô: vmod

Before he became a leading historian of the US Army in Normandy, Joseph Balkoski was well-know in the wargaming hobby as a game designer and developer. Years prior to the publication of his first book, Beyond the Beachhead, Joe demonstrated his research into the subject matter in two grand-tactical wargame designs: Omaha Beachhead (Victory Games 1987) and St-Lô (West End 1986).

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June 3, 2021

Sixth FLEET Play-by-ACTS

A method for playing Sixth Fleet remotely.

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May 14, 2021

Fjord: vmod

Fjord is one of four in Paddy Griffith's Book of Sandhurst Wargames. It consists of two hidden-movement game designs that portray the broad strategic situations in the North Atlantic during WWII.

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