After a few weeks or so doing other stuff it was time to get back to this year's major project, - the Pacific War of 1879-84. Regular readers will know that the last playtest was not satisfactory, and some work needed doing. The Melee rules have clearly not been right for a while, and needed fixing (I was reminded by my regular opponents that about this time before CoW I normally chuck away the mechanisms I've been using for months and re do them any how, so this has been a long run with the core system).
The answer to the problem was to fall asleep on the train home from work and dream the solution.All I had to do then was write it all up. I had a chance to do this Thursday morning, so we were set for a game in the evening.
Everyone loves a scenario, so here we have the Chileans attacking a river crossing through a pass between two hills. The massed forces of both Peru & Bolivia stand opposed to them. The river is impassable except at the crossing. The road in the middle is to cover up where the paint has flaked off my gaming mat.
So the set up, Chileans to the left, with 3 divisions. The Alliance to the right, Peruvians nearest the camera.
I was joined by Chris A and Phil. Phil took the Chileans, and I ran his right wing division for him to keep the game moving. I had strict orders to pin the Peruvian left flank in position whilst he broke in the centre and on their right.
Of course I hadn't really listened properly, and headed off at top speed to engage the enemy. I'm advancing with a screen of a firing line, with reserves in march column. Phil is advancing in columns all along his front. Desultory artillery fire is being exchanged, but to little effect.
I'm starting to take some heavy fire from the troops on the crest, and their associated artillery. My advance has slowed and the support columns have closed up.
We're closing all along the line, but rifle and artillery fire has started to disrupt the advance. Even the Gatling gun has hit something.
This is just a close up of the Bolivians behind their ram-shackle defences. As they're behind a wall I've put the notional skirmish base deployed with a firing line behind the main firing line, whilst keeping the support stand back.
From behind the Peruvian defences in the middle the Chilean advance looks like it is faltering. What isn't obvious is that the unit nearest the hill is being attacked by two units, those in the grey uniforms, and those with the light blue flag. The greys are taking most of the fire, so the light-blues will be able to close with the target. Perhaps.
A picture from behind the Peruvian left wing. My troops are labouring at the foot of the hill. The front line has been forced to deploy into Open Order, but is still pressing forwards.
Over on the Chilean left Phil is massing troops to launch a combined attack on the Verdes, whose flank is hanging in the air a bit.
Back on the other wing I had deployed my march columns into attack columns under cover of the skirmisher screen. Chris, however, anticipating what was coming charged my skirmisher screen routing one unit and forcing the other to retire in disorder. He was halted by my massed columns behind.
Massed fire from Phil's artillery and infantry drives the Verdes out of their position, but this is rapidly replaced by one of Chris' reserve columns.
In the centre the Gatling Gun which was in front of the red house has been overrun. On the road a savage bayonet assault has driven the defenders back towards the bridge.
On the left wing (our right) my attack columns counter-charged and drove the two units in firing lines back, routing one of them completely.
When we left it the Chileans had broken in all along the front, but had taken a lot of damage. The next couple of turns might have been interesting as the Peruvian/Bolivian forces had some reserves to counter attack with at the break in points. Still, a lot was got through in a couple of hours play, and at one point when I was making coffee the players happily ran through a turn or two on their own.
The new melee rules, which are based on the firing system, worked very well and gave quick clear results. There are some issues to smooth out (at one point it was impossible for an open order unit in defences to inflict any damage on the unit attacking it and that's clearly not right). Units uphill in melee don't get enough advantage either.
However that's all relatively unimportant and can be easily fixed.
A very satisfactory evening.