Sunday, March 17, 2013

Fox's Gap, Sunday Septemper 14th, 1862

I had forgotten how fun Norbsoft's Scourge of War games are.
I've spent most of my gaming time this weekend relearning how to command troops in this game by repeatedly re-fighting the engagement at Fox's Gap, part of the Battle of South Mountain.

This engagement matches the Union Kanawha Division, made of of two brigades of Ohioans against a Confederate brigade and attachments that are trying to hold the gap.

What I've been (painfully) re-learning about this game is that it really is a game of generalship  and not a game of micro-management.  You must develop a sound tactical plan and give the right orders to your subordinate commanders, and as much as possible, allow them to manage their regiments.

Once committed, you need to monitor progress and the condition of your subordinate units.  If a regiment or entire brigade is in trouble, it's time to adapt the plan and take action to correct the situation, again with as little micromanagement as possible.

This scenario doesn't have that many regiments to manage, so it's possible to move them around on your own if you want, without losing track of what's going on.  What I've been reminded of is that doing so tends to make a shambles of the brigade commander's plans, and his brigade will suffer for it.

Like Command Ops games, both the friendly and enemy AI are excellent.  You learn to trust your better brigade commanders and keep a close eye on the less effective ones, and learn to use the right commander for the right job.  Meanwhile, the enemy AI is capable of creating and executing very effective plans of its own - plans that have so far frustrated my ability to recreate history at Fox's Gap and clear the Rebels off of the ridge!

In my latest attempt, I concentrated my two brigade to the right of the Confederate line and focused on taking the two objectives on that side.  My attack with Scammon's Brigade went well, and in the end I took those two objectives with his brigade.  Unfortunately Crook's brigade's assault stalled, and then my entire right dissolved under concentrated artillery fire and flanking attacks.  The end result was a draw, which is the best I've been able to manage in this scenario so far.

For my next attempt, I'm going to attack the Confederate right with Scammon again, but I plan to keep Crook's brigade in reserve until Scammon has taken the first objective.  I'm then going to pass Crook through Scammon's line to take the next objective, using the woods for cover.  I'll try and leap-frog the two brigades through the chain of objectives that way, which should shelter them from the pounding of the Confederate battery on my right, give each brigade time to recuperate between attacks, and provide me with a reserve to head off flanking attacks.

Note that this is nothing at all like what happened historically.  On that Sunday, Scammon's Brigade swept right across the open ground and up to the stone wall the rather weak Confederate Brigade was sheltering behind.  While not strong enough to break the Rebel line on their own, they did manage to kill the brigade commander and cause enough casualties that the Confederate line was in serious trouble.  Crook's Brigade arrived, filled the gaps in Scammon's line, and a final charge cleared the summit of the Gap of Confederate regiments.  The action took about three hours, rather than the 45 minutes allowed in this scenario.