Well after a year 2 years of elapsed time I am happy (and a little sad) to write up the final game in our campaign for Longstreet. Overall, I have to say that Ernie and myself have thoroughly enjoyed the campaign and all the games. I’d recommend anyone to try Longstreet and play a campaign if you have time as it’s a fine system. It definitely adds to a series of linked games. I’ll add my thoughts/comments in detail after the end of the game report.
Note, I used my phone for the photo’ so that’s why some colour variation in the shots occur.
So to the last game, this time set in the spring of 1865, when my rebels have no advantages in control cards and Union gets them all. I did still have a small cavalry unit though so I got a +1 on the scouting roll and won that. Thus, I chose to defend in the woods scenario that we rolled up – which seemed to fit well to the background of this time of the war as well.I set up as above, in a large woods with several swamps in front of it and a wide stream off to the right as I looked at the table. As I had to have at least 8 bases of foot off table in this scenario I agonized as whether to hold back a couple of my smaller regiments but the numbers did not work well for that. I would still need a larger one to add to the totals, so in the end I put my big 9 base new regiment of seasoned recruits in reserve.
The Federals were set up in three groups, all in column. The main group was on my left – facing most of my strength as well. There were quite a few units in that lot. There was a single unit in the center on a hill and a couple of large units on my right, with some art to support them. The first few turns saw the Federals move forward while I passed half the turns and moved some of my second line to the left as I now knew the main attack would come from that side.My basic plan for the game was to let the Federals attack and hold out against it – using the woods and my veteran units to win in a firefight focused game. I was significantly ahead of Ernie in the EP’s for the campaign so I did not to go out to get loads of those by attacks. But I could expect him to do that. Being significantly outnumbered on the table in units/bases, good control cards was well as artillery it seemed to be the best move to build a decent defensive line, let the Federals attack and just ‘counter punch’ where/when I could.
As the Federals came on I had my units create Field works for them to defend. They were already in woods so would be skirmishing in firefights, but this would give then a bonus for defending close combats. My battle line was set at least 2″ back from the edge of the woods to avoid the large federal artillery batteries. I had one art unit at the tree line to cause some casualties as the Federals marched up, and to ensure they did not just sit back too long. As expected the Union troops did start to form up for an attack on my left, and deployed 2 large art units to oppose my one. Mine focused on the small infantry unit on the left as their target and in the end took off a base from them – but my ‘to kill’ rolls were as good as ever…so they unit survived the constant barrage it was under. On the right the same things was happening, with the central and left hand deployed Federal units trying to get around the flank of my force as they had dug in. I had a plan to handle this eventually though. All this movement and especially the stream caused Ernie to burn through cards and turns at a fairly decent level. Just as in the early games for me he had plenty of cards to do this with. Meanwhile I was busy trying to conserve cards as much as possible, especially at this stage.My plan for the flanking troops were played out ok as the Confederate reserve’s came available at the right time to help. Just as I had hoped I brought them on at the left of my line to stabilize that side. You can see that below. This really would end the outflanking risk from Ernie to a large degree but now would mean that I had a fight at both sides of my defensive line,. The troops in the center had a little movement room as it was clear they would not really be challenged that much at this point. On my left the Federal units got ready to pounce… massing with their large ‘coloured’ regiment in the front. That unit was one of the few on the table eager to get into the fight at this point. The charges at this stage now often favor the defender and that’s before they have field works to hide behind.
My art was doing ok at the tree line but I knew it was just time before the power of the union guns would start to show. Their mission was to take out the flanking infantry unit – which in the end they failed to do although they took it to 2 bases (from the start of 5) it was not enough to kill it. Meanwhile the counter battery fire from the union guns did it’s job destroying one of them in the end.Ernie seemed to be playing for time a bit and so I decided to forced the issue with a confusion card and get one of his units in front of mine for a decent shot. This was to move them in front of one of my central units which otherwise did not have any great targets. I did that on the smaller unit in the center (the top blue unit in picture below) and they moved right into the skirmish area of my troops. This I think forced Ernie to start to commit other units to support them. He may have been planning to attack anyway but I wanted to ensure he did no use that force to pin my center but keep them out of skirmish range and just engage my weaker troops on the flank. With the Federal left moved moving in close the troops on the right also did the same. So a lot of skirmishing started. As you can see below as predicted the loss of Rebel art had really started to occur here, with my 3 base unit now down to a single base! Their target unit, the Federal infantry were down to 3 bases but had now just moved to within musket range. At least this blocked the counter battery fire from the Union Artillery. The Rebel artillery needed some luck if they were to be effective enough to destroy that whole unit themselves.With some decent card play and rolls on my side my defensive lines was doing well in the skirmish firefights, killing more Federals than I had expected. I had about 6 bases of Federals in the dead box for the cost of a couple of art bases at this point. I was rolling really well on the to hit – which need 6’s but failing more than my share of to kill 4+ rolls… <sigh> Still it seemed like the plan was working at this point. The Federal forces were close and I knew a charge was comming.As expected the first Federal charge came in to my troops. Although somewhat supported i.e. there were a few units which shot and did not charge Ernie still got 20+ bases into combat earning him much needed Ep’s. I used the like a stonewall card which I had been keeping for this from early on in the game. I thought I might win all the battles but in the end he won one against my end single base art unit in the tree line. That caused them end up in the dead box and me to not get any EP’s for defense.
Below you can see the reserve unit of recruits facing down and in the end winning against the Federals on the right side of my line. The decision to fire vs. charge in everything was an interesting one and one I might not have done. The skirmish firing was not that effective but some of the Federal units are at this point pretty bad at charges due to their low elan.With my artillery unit on the far left all in the dead box you can see below the remaining unit of 2 bases of federal infantry were in a place to soon get behind my line – which would be a big problem. The flanking bonuses really make a huge difference and that was a concern for me. However, I decided that the Rebel line would continued to skirmish and slowly hurt the Federals that they just threw back. The Federal dead box was though filling up nicely with all the failed charges. It was clear that more charges were coming soon though.
That attack came in and again my units did well in defense. However, yet again another single base art unit lost the combat and it fled the battle line. So this again provided a number of EP’s to Ernie and none to me. The failed charges were adding to the casualties inflicted from skirmishing fire. Although I had 11 bases in my dead bin by this point, the Federals had 15. With a break level of 21 for the game I needed a six to win the game at the end of the turn – which of course I failed to get! But this meant that the game was nearly at the end point. After a turn of ineffective skirmishing from us both I had to reshuffle for the second time – meaning I had maybe 4 turns of cards left at best. It was clear to me that the Federal troops were going to charge again – this time likely for devastating effect, as I had few defensive cards in my hand now, but I did have a couple of attacking ones.
So, the next turn I decided I had to try to reach for the win. This lead to the rebels charging after a round of skirmish fire and then a play of the ‘clear the smoke card’ to allow for those troops to charge! So the Rebels went in to the Federals aiming to just get a couple of bases killed which should allow me to get the win – well that was the plan. This did not work out as planned though and Ernie had like a stonewall card to defend hit troops with as well. This meant defeat all along the line for my troops! So I got 1 Ep for the charge but he also got one for the solid defense. Again as expected I also did not roll the needed 6 to win the game. I had to get more Federal bases killed to have a chance of winning.
That lost charge though did add more Rebel troops to my own broke box and as expected the following turn the Federals did charge. Now my troops were not behind their defensive barriers, as can be seen below and one unit was vulnerable as they were outflanked by the remaining federals from that units which the Rebel art failed to kill.On the right side, at the same time again two Federal units charged the recruits. I had not had time/spent the movement to swing around the veterans to support them, so this unit againwas taking the largest amount of fighting. Still the Rebel Recuits did ok and fought off both units!
Unfortunately, the small unit of dismounted cavalry who were flanked did not do so well though and were destroyed. These and the dead already in my dead box from the previous charge and a late surge in success of the Federal skirmishers meant that all Ernie needed was a 4+ on a roll to win the game, which he made. So that was the game. Overall, this was a close game and if I had moved my second line and center troops a little different and/or managed to kill the unit with the Rebel artillery I likely would have been in a better position at the end and had a great chance of a win. I maybe should have waited and not done the charge forward out of my defensive line, but I believe that would just delayed the end maybe a little more. I’m sure I could have held out for too many more turns- i had cards for maybe another couple of turns at most before the Federals would have won due to that. So I played for trying to get a more casualties to make the roll for the win easier.
In the end a close one and another great game.
In period battle description
Here we go again for my attempt of an ‘in period’ view for the spring of 1865…
For the campaign Ernie made a great last push in this game gaining 9 EP’s to my 3. Not a great score for me really this turn. That leaves the totals at Ernie 41 and me at 51. I believe I won 6 of the 9 games that we played. So I can claim the victory, but in reality I think we both won as we had a great series of linked games with interesting and characterful forces.
Longstreet Game and Campaign thoughts
Overall I believe we both really enjoyed this campaign. It definitely allow some unique and interesting forces and gave us some good games. It generated some unique story lines – the Rebel cavalry will live in infamy in some Union camps I suspect. I would recommend anyone who like the Longstreet game to give it a go – it’s worth it. Below are a few of my thoughts on the system and the Longstreet games and the system in general:
- There is an interesting dynamic in the Longstreet campaign in that winning a game is less important than how the game is fought on the table. Although we kind of understood that it took a couple of games to really ‘get it’. The EP’s for charges – launching them or successfully defending them are often more significant than the EP for winning alone. I actually really like that – it does make for an interesting meta game as well as the usual dynamic of always wanting to win games. It is a factor on how you play the game vs just looking for the win.
- The campaign system means that forces are somewhat balanced but never even or a perfectly fair match up. That actually makes it interesting and I really like the effect this has on games.Being outnumbered by 10 to 20% is possible in the game but the break points seem to balance that out so it’s not too overwhelming.
- Not all the printed scenario’s in Longstreet are ‘fair’ or balanced. A couple provide a distinct advantage to the defender if your just looking at a win vs. loss game. Knowing a little of the history I think that’s realistic. Attacking well defended positions was starting to become absolutely deadly, especially at this smaller scale of game. However, this and the previous points do make some gamer’s unhappy, as it’s a non traditional approach. The EP system actually means that for the campaign the is much less of an issue as winning games is not as important as how you fight them – see above comment. Again it takes a little getting used to for this.
- We really liked the campaign cards section and the random effects of the draws had on troops you have to command. The lack of high level choice of what happens but still giving you some flexibility in the campaign cards use adds to the overall ownership of a force, and makes them quite interesting to play as well.
- Small units are very vulnerable and large units can be very effective, especially in charges. The provisional unit rules are very useful as units under 4 bases are targets and can be a weak point in a force, and anything over 7 bases can stay around a long time. This makes a difference to games and the force generator does concentrate troops to roughly this size as well. It’s nice to see this reflected in campaign games.
- The typical battles have lots of terrain, more than you may see in some other games. This adds to the scenario’s and really is an important aspect to the game. ACW battles were fought over lots of terrain, so this seems to be reflective of the period but is nice to see and does have a huge impact on games.
- Artillery seems very effective or useless in the game. They can be deadly but often are a nibbling slow death of units when bombarding. Only at short range do they become really effective and even then luck has a huge impact. However. when massed as especially can be done by Union forces later in the war they can be a nasty and very efficient weapon.
- The early vs. late war games do change by the nature of the troops and cards available vs having explicit rules around that. The change in forces which are more effective in attacks vs. defense and shooting comes out well in the campaign system without having to have any special rules for it. That’s a nice effect of the system.
- One thing to note is in 2 player campaign the stars don’t really matter – I can see that being a factor in larger multi-player games/campaigns. This is a nice touch of flavour though so was still fun to do.