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Death Valley: Battles for the Shenandoah» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Union disaster at Winchester! rss

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William Byrne
United States
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Played out the 0700-0900 turns of my 1st Winchester test.

General Banks pulled a "1" Efficiency for 0700, and I thought he'd never survive, despite his "1" efficiency rating (which gives Williams' division an extra activation). Problem was the Fog! It cuts all command ranges by half, and both the Union and Confederate leaders forgot to optimize their positions at the end of 0600, as mentioned in the previous AAR. Thus, both sides suffered, but Jackson, who'd pulled a "2" Efficiency to go with his own "1" rating, was probably going to suffer less.

By the end of 0700, however, Banks was holding on. He won the initiative for 0800 (another Fog turn), and both he and Jackson drew "4" Efficiency chits.

But accumulated Union losses and poor rally rolls paved the way for a nightmarish hour, just as that same hour proved Banks' undoing in 1862. By the end of the turn a Reb victory was pretty much sewn up. Gordon's brigade had nearly ceased to exist, and Donnelly's occupied a dangerously exposed salient.

There was only one chance for Banks, I reasoned, and that lay in holing up in Winchester itself. Besides, I wanted to try out the rules for fighting in town. The Designer, like any good constable , exacts heavy penalties for such unruly behavior. While the attacking side will bear the brunt of those penalties, they can cut both ways, and so they did here.

Not only that, but the Rebs gain an automatic victory if they take hex 2501 -- basically the center of town, where the courthouse is (it's a pedestrian mall these days, of which I have fond memories from my 2016 visit). That hex is only two hexes away from the west edge of Winchester, and Banks thus takes a dire risk in adopting this strategem. He will do so only when "in extremis", as he was in this instance.

Reb advantages in numbers and morale helped ensure their victory, despite some very tough fighting in town. I'm obviously biased, I suppose, but I found the effect of the town-combat rules thrilling, helping to produce the kind of upsets that make GBACW as unpredictable as the battles it depicts.

Banks lasted longer than in any previous test, which means the design is on the right track. Based on these results it will be adjusted so as to slow down Jackson's juggernaut a little more, and give the boys in blue a chance to make a game out of it.
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