Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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My favorite 18xx game for six players is two games of 1846 with three players each.
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Four of us got together for a GBG all-day Civil War Brigade Series gaming session on July 11. The chosen game was Malvern Hill and we played Scenario 7.1, which covers the situation that led to the Battle of Glendale.

In this scenario the USA is trying to buy time to move their ponderous supply train across the map on its way from the York River to the James River. The train does not appear, but the CSA wins by cutting the road that leads south from Glendale to Malvern Hill and on to the James further south.

Eric and Tom had played CWBS games before, while Rob and his son Erik were new to the series (and Erik hadn't played "real" wargames before at all.) The system works well for new players because most of what you do is follow pre-written orders. Eric and Erik were chosen as the CSA team, with Eric playing the part of Robert E. Lee, together with some peripheral forces, as Erik took charge of Longstreet's Left Wing. Tom and Rob split the USA forces, with Tom taking Porter's V Corps down south and the VI Corps up north, leaving Rob with the forces in the middle that expected to receive the heaviest blow.

Robert E. Lee had a grandiose and impressive plan for the attack on June 30. Four separate CSA forces were directed to follow four different converging roads toward the USA defenses, and if everything went well, the hapless Federals would be crushed between the pincers. It didn't turn out that way, though, as Stonewall Jackson with the Valley army decided he needed some sleep, leaving the leftmost of Lee's thrusts stalled while the legendary general slept the day away on a log. Two other forces took defensive stances, leaving the bulk of the work to Longstreet's Left Wing, which included Longstreet's own division and that of A.P. Hill. They were two powerful divisions, to be sure, but they had already taken a beating earlier in the Seven Days Battles and were quite fragile.

In our game, Erik pushed the Left Wing forward, but Tom rolled successfully for initiative with Porter's V Corps and before Longstreet could even finish deploying for his attack, Porter slammed into the rear of Longstreet's wing. With a '3'-rated leader like Porter, you need a 10 or more on 2 dice to roll for initiative, so it was only a 1 in 6 chance. Erik asked what he should do, and I told him to do what a real general would do---continue to carry out his orders while doing his best to prevent the enemy from disrupting them. Erik pushed AH Hill's division eastward to attack (to the left in the picture) but Longstreet's division could only defend against the blue horde.



The single division attack did not go well, as the oft-maligned Pennsylvania Reserve Division held its ground with the help of some well-sited artillery and a left flank support from Hooker's Division. Rob rolled for the initiative with Kearney's Division, and it headed off through the woods west of Glendale to hit Longstreet in the other flank.



With strong threats to both flanks, Longstreet called for an emergency corps retreat, even though his only escape was northwest into a cul de sac completely surrounded by trees. Quite a few guns were lost in the retreat, but Longstreet got his corps away safely.



Fortunately for the cornered Rebs, Eric had sent an order to Holmes as soon as the V Corps marched north. Tom had left Malvern Hill totally unoccupied, and Eric decided to make a grab for the road with Holmes' independent, though small, force. Tom saw them head down the River Road and knew it would be trouble if the CSA could dig in across the road---the USA wagons would never make it through. Tom rolled again for initiative, and again he succeeded, sending Porter rushing south again. Porter had arrived at just the right time to spoil the main CSA attack, and now he returned back to Malvern Hill with just a turn to spare.

The one positive aspect of Porter's second heroic act, from Erik's point of view, is that it relieved the pressure from Longstreet. At this very moment an order from Lee arrived. The order had been written several hours before, and it commanded Longstreet to attack Kearney's Division, which was now out on a bit of a limb. Rob rolled successfully for initiative twice more, throwing the Pa Reserve and Hooker forward to support Kearney. Longstreet's Division was wrecked by now, but orders are orders, and they raced forward with a yell.



To our surprise, the USA fire, though heavy, did not send the wrecked Rebs recoiling back. Not one CSA unit turned tail and ran, though one brigade melted away completely in a hail of bullets. The CSA in turn fired their own sharp volley, driving several USA units backward.

Erik in particular was really starting to get the feel of battle, as after being punched around for several hours of fighting, he could sense the tide turning in his favor. But we had to stop at this point, having played about 13 of the 25 turns of the game in about 6 hours of real time. There was a lot of play left in the game, as the right wing had just entered the board and several brigades of the Valley Army had found a different crossing of White Oak Swamp further east, but we'll have to play again on another day.

We awarded Rob and Tom the victory, as they had wrecked Longstreet's two divisions and were ahead in the casualty track. They had also denuded the northern end of the critical Willis Church Road position of troops, however, and it was certainly possible that a forceful and well-timed CSA push could have stopped the wagons later in the day.



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Chris Bryer
United States
Los Angeles
California
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Wonderful report. I would love to play a teams game soon!
 
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Andreas Lundin
Sweden
Lund
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Great report. Team play is the best and most fun way to go with this series.
 
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