Sunday, June 9, 2019

The great skedaddle: Rebels and Patriots AAR

We played a variation of Scenario F from the Rebels and Patriots rules on Saturday set in the ACW. The scenario called for a force defending a line at one side of the table to skedaddle away to defend another line consisting of a stone wall and sunken road at the other side, all while being chased by a slightly superior attacker (a 5:4 advantage in points).

For a multiplayer game, I expanded the forces to 48 points defending and 60 points attacking. We had six players that made for three on each side. The Hated Yankees™ were the defenders played by Eric Donaldson, Bill Stewart, and John Stafford. The 'Secesh' were the attackers played by Mike Lombardi, Chris Craft, and me.

All the Yankees lined up along a rail fence on the north side of a road that ran the 8' width of the table. Just south of the road, the Rebs were massed in woods that also ran the full width of the table.

Johnnies in the woods!
The object of the game was control of the sunken road on the north side of the table. The choice for the blue-bellies was whether to try to hold the rail fence for a bit or get back ASAP to the hard cover of the stone wall and sunken road.

Jubal Tardee readies the boys for the attack
On the advice of Wm. Tecumseh Stewart, they chose to emulate the militia at Cowpens and Guilford Courthouse and sting the advancing boys in gray and butternut and then retire manfully to the sunken road.

One our right, John was stinging Chris pretty well in the initial turns—ably aided by Chris' wretched dice rolling. John decided to stay and fight it out on the rail fence, which seemed—at the time—to be a winning option.

Holding the line
Chris failed several morale tests and lost his commander, Lt. Beauregard Lemieux. Had he fallen in battle, Lemieux would be feasting in Confederate Valhalla with Stonewall, A.S. Johnston, et al. However, fate had a crueler destiny. In the confusion of battle, the good lieutenant was captured—along with his cat—while hiding in a dung heap wearing women's clothes.

Lt. Lemieux in more heroic times
He could not adequately explain to his captors how he came to be wearing women's clothes in a dung heap. Nevertheless, he was hauled off in ignominy. A prisoner exchange is likely, but his reputation is tarnished forever. Even now around the campfire the men are referring to him as 'Loretta.' Chris also lost a unit of line infantry at this point. The situation was starting to look dire at the start.

The initial sting left me with only one man hors de combat. With the rest, I moved semiboldly towards the rail fence—as much as my poor activation die rolls allowed. I also used my cannon to make noise at the backs of  Bill's fleeing Lincolnites. Apart from the noise, they were not aware of being fired upon.

The center advances
On our left, Mike advanced aggressively against Eric's dismounted cavalry. He kept pushing and trying to get into mêlée, but the mounted skirmishers could skirmish back as fast as Mike could move. Skirmishers, too, are hard to kill. For a while, the best Mike could do was to push Eric back while getting peppered by skirmishing fire. Nevertheless, he was making way.

Mike advances / Eric retreats
With my early flubbed activation rolls, it took me a couple turns to get up to the now-abandoned rail fence. Only my skirmishers got over and beyond. I needed to keep Bill from getting behind the stone wall. I didn't want to be advancing in the open against a lot of blue-bellies in a sunken road.

Barely getting started
On our right, Chris' die rolls improved and John was withdrawing to a second rail fence line rather than be outflanked by my advancing center.                                     

The rail fence is ours!
Chris followed up and over the rail fence with his skirmishers who kept engaged with John's troops as they withdrew. The skirmishers also screened Chris' surviving line infantry unit and the light cavalry.

Skirmishers forward
While Mike kept pressing Eric on our left, I was making headway in the center. Bill was making a beeline for the stone wall and sunken road, but stopped occasionally to throw out a few shots to keep me at bay. I was, however, in good shape. Up to this point I had lost only two figures.

Jubal Tardee going right up the center
As I advanced in the center, my right was getting past John's line of bluecoats manning the second line of rail fence in front of Chris.

The Yankee's eye view of the Confederate advance
At this point, I made a fateful decision. John's rightmost unit was just begging to be attacked. I got my activation and sufficient move to contact him. I won the fight and pushed him back. On his turn, John sent in another unit, lead by his officer—a Dan Sickles looking character, but still with two legs—and bounced back. I took some losses and became disordered.

After the fisticuffs
John fared worse. Both his units were now under half strength and therefore permanently disordered. Still, they had to be dealt with and I spent a few more turns exchanging fire before they were eliminated.

Chris was mounting greater pressure against John's other line unit and his light gun. He'd lost one of his skirmisher units and his slow-moving medium gun (also a bit shot-up from earlier) took a while moving up. His remaining skirmisher was still absorbing fire from John's units. Thus screened, Chris moved up his aggressive light cavalry and prepared to charge the gun.

The final skirmisher unit went poof, but Chris managed to charge home with his cavalry. He won the fight and pushed the gun back, but we flubbed the follow up, forgetting that aggressive units could do a follow up move. Following up would have allowed another charge home on the gun. In any case, Chris charged the next turn winning again, but the gun was still hanging on and Chris' cavalry was now disordered.

The Confederate right surges
Meanwhile, in the center, my attack to the right against John's flank, while achieving good results, left Jubal Tardee's heroic advance unsupported. Bill had by now managed to get his gun and two line units over the wall and was well ensconced in hard cover. He'd lost his other line unit—with his officer—to the withering fire of my troops.

Before the glory
My lone skirmisher unit was at the end of its tether. Absorbing Bill's fire for several turns eventually wiped it out. This left me with little choice but to do or die. Exposed to Bill's fire from his gun and a supporting line unit, Jubal Tardee's unit was soon to die if I didn't act quickly. I managed a '12' on my activation roll to charge and went straight in against Bill's gun.

High water for Jubal Tardee
I won the fight, but failed to destroy the gun. However, it was reduced to half strength and broken. I didn't cross the wall. Now I was in a pickle. Bill failed his rally test for the gun, which went away. However, his supporting line unit was now making trouble for me.

Stormed at by a fusillade of minié balls, I took casualties and fell back. Further losses reduced me to below half strength but I hung on. I was helped by having my officer and I got favorable activation bonuses on double 6s that gave me +2 discipline for the game. I failed, but not catastrophically.

Battered but unbowed, Tardee and cat remain in the fight
By this time, John's gun had gone away leaving our right completely unopposed. On our left, too, Mike had finally sent off the last of Eric's dismounted cavalry and we up against the wall ready to cross. The only remaining Lincolnites on the table were Bill's two line units facing me.

At this point, we called it a Confederate win.

Only Bill made a strong effort to get behind the wall. John did a Dan Sickles and kept his force out front for too long, even though Chris had to recover from near disaster in the opening turns. Chris also managed to recover his lost unit on the blessed 6-6-6 activation roll that brought in reinforcements. His only net loss for the game was his two skirmishers, who perished doing yeoman's duty screening his other troops.

Eric skirmished with Mike, which slowed Mike's advance, but didn't really hurt him. Mike had the probably least losses of any of our commands. Eric eventually got shot up and his units dispersed. If he'd manned the stone wall, it might have been bloodier for Mike.

I kept pressing Bill in the center, but that didn't stop him getting to the stone wall with 3/4 of his force intact. That was a formidable obstacle for me, despite successfully charging the gun. If we hadn't called the game, Bill would have shot Jubal's unit to pieces.

It turned out to be a great game. So far, Rebels and Patriots is proving to be a very enjoyable game to play. More thoughts on that in a following post.


  1. What a superb looking game! Great post!


  2. Great AAR! I had originally planned to do ACW with Sharpe Practice, but this may cause me to reconsider - not only for the game play but for the aesthetics of the 3-2-1 basing that can be used.

  3. A beautiful looking game, thanks for sharing it with us.

  4. Wow, cracking game with spectacular pictures, so many lovely units here, close ups are just stunning!

  5. Great looking game; excellent terrain and beautiful troops!

  6. David,

    Thanks for putting on the game. It looked great and was a lot of fun.

    One minor correction. While retrieving additional figures from the car, I was nominated as Union CinC in absentia. When questioned, my orders to the others were to run like h**l for the sunken road. Results were as you related.

    Thanks again for a enjoyable game.

  7. Lovely AAR, as always here. And beautiful figures... wish I could paint half as well. And yet, I find myself asking....what are these units supposed to represent? Companies? Why would there be cannon assigned at company level? Or cavalry? And if companies, then shouldn’t the whole unit on either side have been a single regiment? With a clear command structure? I guess what I’m asking is how would this particular game/scenario of Rebels and Patriots differ from one set in the AWI or indeed one set in the Franco-Prussian war?

    1. Thanks, Ivan. Most of the minis were painted by Wm. Tecumseh Stewart, some by Eric Donaldson, and the rest by me.

      As to purpose and distinction, that's a tough question to answer to anyone's satisfaction. The whole 'Rampant' series of rules does not reward overthinking. Most things don't. In any case, the rules are technically skirmish and represent figures at 1:1 that operate in groups. However, you can abstract the scale to 1:5, etc. Otherwise, just think of them as groups of men being led around by NCOs or really charismatic PFCs.

      Why cannon? Why cavalry? That would be overthinking it.

      The beauty of Rebels and Patriots is that you can play it to represent what you want. In our case, it's always sort of a Kelly's Heroes situation: Ad hoc eclectic groups composed of infantry, cavalry, artillery—and Confederate cats—that stumbled into each other, only no gold and no Tiger tanks, or Shermans with loudspeakers, but a lot of attitude and occasionally negative waves.

      And squalor.

      What Rebels and Patriots has going for it is simplicity and speed of play. The rules are interesting and reward the time spent playing them. They don't attempt to model small unit command interactions. Something like Brother Against Brother or Sharp Practice may do that better.

    2. Fair point, simplicity and speed. and next time I find myself on the West Coast, love to tumble into one of your games. , BUT... that basic "clear the fence line" scenario, I think it should feel different, play different, depending on whether you set in in the French and Indian war, the American Revolution, the American Civil War or even the Franco Prussian war. Because.... tactical doctrines changed.