Saturday, June 15, 2013

The road to Gettysburg

Like everybody else, I will be celebrating the 150th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg with a game. Initially I thought I'd host a Fire & Fury game focusing on the Longstreet vs. Sickles fight in the Peach orchard / Wheatfield / Devil's Den / Round tops area but I got a bit greedy. I want to play the whole three days of the entire battle!

With the Fire and Fury rules, this would be simply impossible given the number of models needed as well as take too long to play. Fire & Fury shines when you have a Corps at most per side but starts to slow down after that. I need a faster, lighter set of rules and I think I've found what I'm looking for in Volley & Bayonet.

A quick comparison of brigade level Fire and Fury versus Volley and Bayonet:

Base unit:
    F&F: 1 infantry stand = 150/200 men. About 10 stands to a brigade.
    VnB: 1 infantry stand = 1000 - 2000 men. One stand to a brigade.
    F&F: 1" = 45/60 yds
    VnB: 1" = 100 yds
    F&F: One turn = 30 minutes.
    VnB: One turn = 60 minutes.

So, Volley and Bayonet is more geared towards bigger battles and drops a lot of micromanagement in favor of faster flow. The rationale is that when you play the role of army commander, you focus on massing your forces in the right location and send them in at the right time instead of worrying whether a singular brigade is in single or double line. That's why the only brigade formations available are close order battle lines, march column and open order skirmishing. It makes sense for the scale.

The ACW supplement for VnB is getting difficult to find without paying an exorbitant amount, but I got mine from Old Glory 25's for the original price. Their shipping calculations are crazy for overseas orders but I managed to haggle it down to standard USPS fees by just asking them about it in e-mail. The booklet might run out any time as it's a 1995 print so be quick if you want yours! The supplement is for the first edition of the game whilst I have the second edition rulebook, but there isn't a lot you need to change.

I played a test game with my friend yesterday with a Corps of troops per side and played to a satisfactory ending (all enemy divisions exhausted) in three hours on a 6x4 foot table so its not bad at all considering it was our first game. My camera ran out of battery so no pictures for you unfortunately.

Modeling-wise, I changed the sabot basing scheme I introduced in an earlier post a bit. I opted not to have a white line at the bottom and instead of blu-tack I use painters tape to fix the models and the labels in place. Painters tape doesn't leave the stands ugly and is easy to remove.

The visual impact I'm going for is fairly obvious. There is one F&F sized stand of infantry per one strength point (500 men) of infantry and it should look a bit like a brigade in double line. The unit labels are from the Volley and Bayonet yahoo groups user gbitters, who has shared these fantastic labels in the files section. I think this is his blog. Give him a visit, he has some great 3mm VnB games there using half the recommended sizes.

As for figures, I don't have the complete OOB's worth of figures. I'll combine my models with a couple of friends' and for infantry we'll be 19 F&F stands of Union infantry short. These will all be with a Corps arriving on the field on the night of the second day so I'm sure there'll be enough volunteers in the dead pile. For artillery the situation is a bit more worrisome as we're 9 union artillery stands short. I'll have to make blue chits with an artillery symbol on them to compensate if it goes to that. Good players don't lose their artillery :)

I still need to make sabot bases for cavalry, artillery and leaders and paint a whole lot of mounted officers to get all the Union division commanders represented on the field but I think I'll manage. For terrain I'm pretty much set and all I'll have to do is make some optional eye candy to sweeten up the landscape. I already have all the hills, woods and such.

So, who else is doing an anniversary game?


  1. I agree with the SP per block of troops as that eliminates the roster approach.

    You say 1"/100 yards but your brigades look smaller than 3" square are they 66% of size for 2" brigades or centimeter and 3cms square?

    1. They are indeed 3" blocks. The smaller stands on the blocks are 1" * 3/4". After playing our test game I'm leaning to play with rosters after all to add a fog of war element to the game, much akin to block wargames. It would be a simple way to do a rosterless game however, and visually appealing at that!