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Seven Pines; or, Fair Oaks» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Scenario 2: Johnston's Plan - Replay rss

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Jeff Capuano
United States
Ohio
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Introduction
Scenario 2 presents a chance to execute Johnston's attack plan as he envisioned, with 2 wings converging on the Federal position.

The Confederates have their entire force of 4 divisions available from the start and are able to activate 2 divisions in a single impulse, allowing each wing to move in an impulse. They also start with the initiative, so they can have the first impulse of a turn as well as a final bonus impulse at the end of a turn.

The Federals have a similar number of divisions, 4, but they are much smaller (fewer units) and are slow to respond: only 1 division is eligible to activate at the start, with the others becoming available, released either by proximity to the enemy or when "empty activations" bring them into the yellow section of the activation track. Even when multiple divisions are available, the Federals can still only activate a single division per impulse. The Federals have the benefit of some heavy entrenchments (sorry, intrenchments!) and abatis around Seven Pines, but the Confederates won't simply smash into them behind their defenses, will they?

For the Confederates to win, they must capture the victory locations (Fair Oaks station, Orchard station, and Seven Pines) as well as eliminate a fair number of Federal units. If the Federals can manage to hold one or more locations and preserve at least half of their forces, they can probably eke out a slim victory. The game ends after 12 turns or, more importantly, immediately when a total of 4 divisions from either/both sides regress to "retired" status.

Setup
Initial Activations
Initial Positions

The only on-map forces at start are the Federals, with Casey's 3rd division of the IV Corps (purple unit color) around the intrenchments near Seven Pines and Couch's 1st division of the IV Corps (blue unit color) at Fair Oaks. Casey cannot begin intrenched and his division has already activated (he begins DONE). Couch, Kearny (orange unit color), and Sedgewick (green unit color) cannot activate (really activate) until the Federal reinforcement conditions are met (as described above). Additionally, Sedgewick must pass a die roll before he can even begin "empty activations".

The Confederate Left Wing consists of Longstreet's division (yellow unit color) and Whiting's division (green unit color) and enter on the north map edge (above Fair Oaks station). The Right Wing consists of DH Hill's division (red unit color) and Huger's division (orange unit color) and enter on the east map edge.

Turn 1
Activations
Positions

The first turn belongs to the Confederates as they activate and move each wing, being careful to remain out of range of Casey's artillery but do close to "activation" range of Couch. With the bonus impulse they activate the divisions of the Right Wing again, moving into range and throwing some fire on Casey's exposed men before they can take refuge behind the abatis. This pushes the Right Wing divisions far down the activation track, but they want to exploit the element of "surprise" by moving quickly. The Federals elect to perform an "empty activation" for Kearny as their only activity. Wasn't quite sure if Couch was "released" immediately when Longstreet approached and could activate this turn or had to wait until next turn; opted to wait.

(Minor mistake here: Huger should have regressed 2 places on the Activation track. But, since he was "held in reserve" for a while, he would have reclaimed that spot eventually anyway)

Turn 2
Activations
Positions

With the initiative, the Confederates use the first impulse to attack Couch with the Left Wing; Longstreet charges the Federal artillery, avoiding losses while destroying the guns and taking the north side of the station. Probably should have sent the Right Wing in first, as Casey activates and intrenches his units. The third impulse sees the Confederate left wing attack the exposed brigades of Casey's division and charge the artillery on the left of the line of intrenchments. Though they send the Federals flying and destroy the guns, they take serious casualties. Couch then activates and attempts a counterattack against Longstreet, which fails. But with "defensive artillery" on their side, Casey is able to pummel Hill's division from the intrenchments. Kearny again spends an "empty activation", giving Casey's artillery another chance to fire.

Turn 3
Activations
Positions

Still with the initiative, the Confederates use the first impulse and activate Hill to get him to the "safety" of the woods, abandoning their gains in the intrenchments. However, Garland attacks the depleted and disrupted men of Palmer's brigade, eliminating them and pushing Casey a spot down the Activation track. Casey opts to pass, regaining that spot. The Confederates then activate the Right Wing, throwing Longstreet at Fair Oaks and moving Whiting to the east through the woods. Longstreet inflicts casualties on Couch, but cannot take the station. Couch then counterattacks and retakes the north station (is that a thing? the buildings north of Fair Oaks station). At the cost of the bonus impulse, the Confederates opt to pass Huger so that he can regain a spot of readiness (on the Activation track) while the Federals use another "empty activation" on Kearny, making him eligible for real activations next turn.

Turn 4
Activations
Positions

The Confederates opened the first impulse with Hill charging the intrenchments again, taking heavy casualties but capturing a part of the works and the last of Casey's guns. With the benefit of the bonus impulse, Longstreet swept aside Couch's division, capturing Fair Oaks station while eliminating all units of that division: Couch's division is now permanently "retired". Casey only managed some fire attacks from the intrenchments. On the bright side for the Federals, Kearny did activate and enter from the south.

(Did I foul this up? I think Sedgewick must pass his die roll regardless of the enemy proximity to the entry location. If I'm wrong, he could have entered 2 turns earlier, as it turned out, and been completely slaughtered instead of merely roughed up!)

Turn 5
Activations
Positions

Have the blistering Confederate attacks sealed the fate of the Federal forces? Maybe, but the Confederates are nearly spent and don't want to risk too many retired divisions (don't want to trigger that sudden end of game condition) before they can capture the remaining victory locations, so they "rest" the Right Wing this turn at the cost of the bonus impulse. The Left Wing uses the first impulse to advance to Seven Pines and Orchard Station. Kearny attempts to retake Seven Pines and fails, but does help Casey retake the trench line, apparently for no reason other than to inflict losses on the Confederates! The turn ends with all 3 victory locations in Confederate hands.

Turn 6
Activations
Positions

At this point, the Confederates just want the game to end! They have the victory locations and VPs to win. But the Federals still have enough will to launch some counterattacks and possibly change the outcome.

The Confederates use the first impulse to activate the Left Wing and position Longstreet to defend Seven Pines and Whiting to counter the ultimate arrival of Sedgewick; and pushes Longstreet to "retire"!

(It is so stupid and gamey to place forces at the "end of the world" to impede the entry of reinforcements, but that's what Whiting is doing. A throat punch is a perfectly reasonable response to such a tactic...)

Kearny attacks Seven Pines again, still without any luck. Huger pushes back a portion of Casey's division as they continue to struggle over the intrenchment line. With 2 divisions retired, the Confederates may be able to end this thing next turn.

Oh yeah, Sedgewick: he finally makes his die roll number to "cross the bridge" and begins the process of "empty activations" so he can enter.

Turn 7
Activations
Positions

Kearny is finally able to re-capture Seven Pines and the "retired" Longstreet cannot activate to counterattack! Now the Confederates need to continue the fight, so they rally Longstreet and rest Hill and Huger. Casey snipes from the trench line while Sedgewick expends an "empty" activation. The battle rages on to another turn.

Turn 8
Activations
Positions

Attack and counterattack as the rallied Longstreet re-captures Seven Pines only to see Kearny take it back again while pushing his division to "retirement". Huger attacks Casey trying to inflict casualties, while Casey continues to snipe from the trench line. Hill attacks one of Kearny's exposed brigades; Kearny's men are seriously depleted and struggling to hold on. Sedgewick uses the last required "empty" activation: he will be able to activate normally and enter the maelstrom next turn.

Turn 9
Activations
Positions

Sedgewick has not entered the map, so the Confederates retain the initiative, right? Longstreet attacks but fails to take Seven Pines. Kearny rallies, but then is attacked by Hill, losing a unit and regressing back down the activation track. Casey activates and fires from the trench line, driving his division to "retire". Sedgewick attempts to enter, only to be quickly be attacked by Whiting; no help for the Federals from that quarter. The turn ends with 3 divisions retired (Couch, Casey, Hill) and the Confederates still not in possession of Seven Pines. Can the Federals hold out?

Turn 10
Activations
Positions

Now the Federals have the initiative, which seems to fly in the face of the facts on the ground given how bottled up Sedgewick is, but that's how the scenario rules play! Sedgewick attempts some attacks but fails to gain ground. The Confederate Left Wing activates: Whiting smacks Sedgewick around and Longstreet hits Kearny but still cannot retake Seven Pines. Kearny passes as he is too weak to attack. Huger falls back while Hill rallies. Casey ends up rallying, which in game terms was not the correct choice, but he will be ready to fire/defend next turn; the Federals might be able to win if they can end the fight, so rallying only serves to prolong the contest.

Turn 11
Activations
Positions

Initiative can't help the Federals: they are too depleted and dispersed to mount a defense. Whiting has Sedgewick completely bottled up and the attacks and counterattacks only result in Federal losses. Longstreet surges forward, taking Seven Pines and eliminating one of Kearny's brigades, retiring his own division and pushing Kearny's division further down the Activation track (that's 2 retired divisions: Couch and Longstreet). Hill then attack Kearny's remnants, destroying another brigade and pushing Kearny to "retire" (that's 3 retired divisions: Couch, Longstreet, Kearny). Finally, Huger activates just to force himself to "retire": ending the game with the "retirement" of a 4th division.

Victory
The Confederates did what they needed to do to win. They captured all of the victory locations and inflicted more losses than they absorbed. Importantly, they eliminated many Federal units without losing any of their own; their formations were severely depleted but none eliminated. There is only one level of victory in the game, win or lose, but this seems like a major victory for the Confederates.

The final victory point tally:
Confederate: 37
Federal: 30

Final thoughts
I guess Johnston had a good plan! The combination of Confederate numbers and speed really tell in this scenario. Having the initiative for so long, with the ability to move first and last each turn, and the advantage of multiple activations per impulse, really tilts the balance towards the Confederates. But, holding out for 11 turns isn't so bad for the Federals given those conditions.
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Wayne Hansen
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Springfield
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Great AAR! Interesting seeing how one of the other scenarios plays out. I've only played the historical scenario, and had a lot of fun. Looks like the Confederates have a much easier path to victory in this scenario, for obvious reasons. In my historical games the Rebels have it tough.
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Pete Belli
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Excellent work! A compelling narrative with interesting photographs.

Of course, in 1862 this outcome was about as likely as Joe Johnston riding into battle on a unicorn. Confederate staff work was abysmal and Johnston's plan for a concentric advance was far too complicated for the inexperienced Rebel army.

Looking forward to more of your stuff on BGG.

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Tom Russell
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Dearborn
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wtjBatman wrote:
Great AAR! Interesting seeing how one of the other scenarios plays out. I've only played the historical scenario, and had a lot of fun. Looks like the Confederates have a much easier path to victory in this scenario, for obvious reasons. In my historical games the Rebels have it tough.


The third scenario evens it out a bit for both sides, and is probably the best "competitive" experience of the three May 31 scenarios.
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Wayne Hansen
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tomrussell wrote:
wtjBatman wrote:
Great AAR! Interesting seeing how one of the other scenarios plays out. I've only played the historical scenario, and had a lot of fun. Looks like the Confederates have a much easier path to victory in this scenario, for obvious reasons. In my historical games the Rebels have it tough.


The third scenario evens it out a bit for both sides, and is probably the best "competitive" experience of the three May 31 scenarios.


Thanks for the feedback Tom! Who would know better than the designer? I am one of those guys who mostly plays historical scenarios, but I'm not vehemently opposed to "What ifs" either. I don't mind a game with some asymmetry if it makes sense historically and the victory conditions allow for both sides a chance to win. You do that well here with the Confederates having chances to earn extra VPs over the Union by holding certain hexes at the end of the game, and the CSA winning tie breakers.

I could go on but I don't want to distract from Jeff's AAR.
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