Antietam Replay 1

Welcome to my first replay post. Let me know how you like this and if you’d like me to do more. This is using the 3.0 rules with Baggage Trains, but not detachments (I forgot to add them). When playing an opponent, unpacked Baggage Trains are inverted with the bags down so as to retain an element of Fog of War. When I play solo I turn them up so I can see them. Also, when playing solo, I have turned the Confederate pieces around so I can see them without having to turn the whole board around each chit draw.

Written Orders – I am playing with written orders. The written orders rules I’m playing with are very basic. When I draw a chit I look to see what its orders are, If they are not underlined, I underline them. I must carry those out. If I want different orders I write them down, but I don’t carry them out until the following turn when they get underlined. The underlining just makes sure I remember which orders I should be following.

Written orders make the game play faster because one is not trying to figure out what to do, what gains the best advantage, each turn. The Corps will just follow its orders, with a turn delay getting new orders. Because I am playing solo, there are no miscommunication issues. The main issue is the delay in transmission of new orders. Often, opportunities can not be taken advantage of (like attacking an exposed unit, aiding a near by Corps, or sacking an exposed Baggage Train) because those aren’t the orders.

Initial setup with reinforcements (Franklin’s VI Corps on turn 3 and A.P. Hill on turn 5) at their entry points.

After a dawn conference the Union command is in the field. McClellan has decided on a demonstration North of Sharpsburg to tie that portion of the rebels down while the main drive to the South of Sharpsburg is led by Hooker’s I Corps. Burnside will cross the Antietam at the lower (Rohrbach’s) bridge and clear the heights on the Union’s left flank. Porter’s V Corp will guard the Union’s Artillery sent that way to support Burnside.

Burnside attacks McLaws across the southern bridge!

The initial artillery duel at left has seen the Union artillery south of the Middle Bridge in disarray, as is Jackson’s artillery is also disorganized. On the extreme right II Corps is seen occupying the East woods while below XII Corps is moving to the sunken road. The Middle Bridge has funneled the initial advance of I and XII Corps, neither of which has accomplished much beyond managing a simple crossing.

Longstreet receives the full measure of the Union’s best troops!

Lee confers in downtown Sharpsburg with Jackson and Stuart. There is minor skirmishing North of town with sporadic artillery and musketry, but the assault is obviously heavy south of town and Longstreet sends his regrets that he is unable to join them for coffee.

McClellan instructs Mansfield (XII) to block any Confederate troops observed moving south to reinforce.

Burnside pushes for the Harper’s Ferry Road in an attempt to cut one southern retreat route.

Whilst Burnside’s Large Corps is able to keep the pressure on west of the Lower Bridge, The divisions of both Hooker and Longstreet that fought so heavily south of Sharpsburg must pull back, reorganize and recover, before continuing the fight.

Meta-game notes: The Union and the Confederacy have both elected to unpack one Baggage Train each. This allows both Hood’s Texans and Hooker’s men to refit and recover.

Burnside’s juggernaut is finally halted by Walker’s division as two Union divisions are destroyed!

Porter has received orders to capture the ford that is reputed to exist at the tip[ of the finger of land south of the Southern Bridge, while Burnside tries to reform what is left of his IX Corps after the disastrous late morning assaults. Franklin’s VI Corps arrives and is sent to secure the Hagerstown Turnpike, cutting off another of Lee’s possible LoCs.

Meta game notes: VI Corps enters in column for which I use 1/8″ thick blocks special-ordered from a local supplier (www.tregames.com 1/8″ Birch plywood 3/8″x1 7/8″) @ 30 for $4. I have a divider that I set at 1/3 infantry moves and I use for almost all my measuring needs, and solid metal dice for authoritative dicing! You can see how few orders I have needed to change so far. V corps has been ordered to take the ford. This will change as we go forward.

Both sides have unpacked one Baggage Train. Baggage trains can supply any division within command range. They only use their Corp designation for movement. Since Unpacking is the player’s (General’s) decision, it doesn’t require orders.

Where to unpack is one of the toughest decisions to make, and takes experience to master. Lee has unpacked close enough to allow the troops South of Sharpsburg to gain some benefit. McClellan has unpacked on the East side of Antietam Creek and leaves enough room for a unit to have room to defend it from the creek, even though that limits its range Westward.

Hooker slams into Hood!

Reorganized and reinvigorated, the desperate fighting resumes south of Sharpsburg. Longstreet is steadying his troops on the hill as they prepare for a resumption of Hostilities to the south. There is a steady fusillade of fire from the opposing troops, but neither is committing to a serious effort, yet.

Longstreet delivers a stinging rebuke to Hooker!

Longstreet flanks Hooker’s men, while applying a warm reminder to Burnside’s Corps to stay back. Porter’s V corps has received orders to move south and secure the road to the Antietam Iron Works, leaving Botele’s Ford as the only remaining southern LoC. However, A.P. Hill’s “foot cav” have arrived just in the knick of time! They are met by a dispatch from Longstreet telling them, that they are now attached to him, and he would be most grateful if they were to proceed along the Potomac and turn the Union left.

Late afternoon and Sumner’s gets the orders they have been waiting for to “Hit’em hard!

McClellan decides the time is now and releases the Union right flank against Jackson’s troops North of Sharpsburg, but Mansfield’s XII doesn’t receive the order in time, and so they sit. Burnside is still under orders to secure the road and presses forth, but Hooker’s Corps has been utterly destroyed and with it, seemingly, all hopes for a Union victory. With both IX and I Corps effectively out of the fight, hope seems to have gone over to the Confederacy.

A.P. Hill begins sweeping up the Union left flank as it becomes unanchored from the Potomac.

As A.P. Hill’s division, combined with Stuart’s cavalry, completely overwhelms the green troops of Morell’s Division, Burnside makes one last attempt to break the Confederate line. Walker’s division had moved to protect Hill’s left and this was watched with alarm by Porter as he sat upon his horse upon the hill. He ordered the Artillery to open up and give them a greeting on the warmest terms. The artillery had a most telling affect, one ball careering down a lane taking out a caisson of powder which blew up, causing a most fearful confusion.

Metagame note: The glorious dead are arrayed at the lower left. All of I Corps and half of IX Corps!

Porter, the “Bull of Antietam” breaks the southern line!

Fitz John Porter had a tough decision to make. Come to the aid of his suffering division along the river, or follow his orders to “Break the southern line!” Believing it was safer, even if it appeared more daring, he ordered Sykes division to follow up the rebels retreating from the barrage.

Meanwhile, Lee waited pensively to hear the result of A.P. Hill’s arrival on the Union’s flank when in rode a messenger from Walker’s division. “We are lost, Sir! Them yankees are swarming everything before ’em!” Having listened to the barrage and feared the worst Lee knew he had to save his army and not let it be captured, all the bridges were blown and the only route left was at Botele’s Ford. He sounded the retreat, but it was too late. The Yankees were attacking on all fronts and with the retreat sounded, the retreat turned into a rout. All was lost.

Meta-game discussion: As the designers were struggling for a way to make Baggage Trains more significant (after all, they are critical in Kriegspiel), WITHOUT adding troublesome logistics rules, they finally developed the solution.

Victory conditions are often the hardest part of game design. Key terrain features that end up being fought over weren’t usually decided on until the battle was fought. The previous way Pub Battles handled it was just to say that you had to inflict 50% losses on your opponent. The trouble with this is that it made defense the way to go. At Gettysburg the two armies could just set up on opposing hills and wait for the attack. Forcing Lee to attack just handed the game to Meade. Now there is a sudden death way to break the opponent. and it’s in the player’s hands!

Fitz-John Porter “The Bull of Antietam”*

*Not really an historical nickname, just for this alternate history. Illustrating how fickle fate can be.

3 thoughts on “Antietam Replay 1

  1. I was so wrapped up in the moment that I ended the game too soon without playing the turn out fully. If I had done that, I would have realized that the Baggage Train wasn’t unpacked and could just move away. Then A.P. Hill could have swung back and attacked Porter from the rear and the game would have ended in a draw.

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  2. Thanks for the post! I haven’t got a feel for how baggage trains will work yet — waiting for the moment to order something and get my upgrade kit. 🙂 Germantown…?

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  3. There is a contingent of folks who really love the way smaller battles play out with the Pub Battles system, including the lead designer. I happen to prefer the way Pub Battles manages the larger battles. To each his own. I believe that Germantown will be available next, but I hope Wagram or Leipzig (both under development) will be available soon.

    I like to think of Pub Battles as a Corps level game that really gives you a view into the operational management of Corps in combat. When I am playing with written orders, I really have to think in terms of each corps functioning as a discrete element. The Corps tend to operate as coherent entities, not a gaggle of geese that scatter trying to take advantage of every opportunity with each activation.

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