Saturday, May 30, 2020

Little Sugar Creek ACW Solo Game

During the lockdown I've continued to experiment with solo games. My friend Jim has given me pointers over the past months and I've learned to develop my own systems. Like Jim has told me; it's not like you can go out and buy a set of solo rules that fit for everything.

Frankly, I've found the experience most enjoyable. I have yet to have an argument with myself! I also have yet to win a game and that is encouraging.

For this game I modified a scenario from my collection of ACW scenarios called Little Sugar Creek or Dunagin's Farm. The battle was fought in Arkansas on February 17th, 1862.

Historically, the battle was little more than a skirmish. It factored into the Pea Ridge Campaign. One of the features of the campaign was the Confederate withdrawal from Missouri into Arkansas in the hopes of uniting the army. Federal forces followed the Confederates in pursuit and came into contact with the Confederate rearguard near Little Sugar Creek and Dunagin's Farm.

I took some liberties with the Order of Battle settling for what I simply called a Union pursuit versus a Confederate rear guard.

The rules used were based on an old set called Rally Round the Flag from the 80's. The set emphasizes a regiment/brigade scale. A second set called Rally Round the Flag was printed a number of years ago but is quite different although it did give me come concepts that I integrated into my system.

The main one was the idea of Command Points. In my system a brigade receives one command point for each unit in the brigade. A brigade consists of the brigade commander and each unit of infantry, cavalry and artillery assigned to the brigade. Most brigades will start with 3-5 command points per turn.

Command points are modified by a 10-sided die roll. This represents a certain amount of Fog of War. It costs command points to maneuver so it's possible to have an abundance of the command points to do what you want but it's also possible to end up with few thus forcing the making of priority decisions. Brigades are activated in general way with the draw of an assigned card. Jokers are included as more FOW as an individual unit will get a "free move" even if they have moved or fired before. The AI gets more Jokers than me in my system. It makes for a tough opponent!

I also eliminated single figure removal from the equation. Instead, the charts have been adjusted to remove stands. The number of stands in a unit is fixed at six. Instead of taking a figure out at a time the loss of a stand represents a step down in the unit's effectiveness. It has a bearing on their morale and combat ability. It's more of a board game concept than anything else but for what I'm shooting for it works rather well.  Well, that's enough about my rules so here is the Order of Battle I used the game.


Ellis's Cavalry Brigade (3 CPs)

3rd Illinois (IL) Cavalry BLC Green
1st Missouri (MO) Cavalry (US) RM Green

Dodge's Brigade (4 CPs)

35th Illinois (IL) RM Green
4th Iowa (IA), SBM Average
4th Iowa (IA) Battery 6lb SB Average

Vandever's Brigade (3 CPs)

9th Iowa (IA) RM Average
25th Missouri (MO) Militia (US) SB Green
3rd Iowa (IA) Battery 6lb SB Average


Herbert's Brigade (3 CPs)

14th Arkansas (AR) SBM Average
13th Arkansas (AR) SBM Average
3rd Louisiana  (LA) RM Crack

Little's Brigade (4 CPs)

1st Missouri (MO) Cavalry (CS) SBM Average
2nd Missouri (MO) (CS) SBM Average
3rd Missouri (MO) (CS) SBM Average
Clark's Missouri (MO) Battery 6lb SB Average

Historically, Ellis's cavalry went in mounted and soon retired when Ellis realized he had bite off more than he could chew. For purposes of the game I dismounted all the cavalry and assumed that the Union would press the Confederate rear guard. The Confederates were commanded by the AI.

1st MO (US) Cavalry leads Dodge's Brigade. The unit did have six stands and the pic was taken prior to the game when I was still considering a four stand unit. The figures are a mixture of Musket Miniatures and RSM.
Same as above but it's the 3rd IL screening the artillery and Vandever's Brigade.Figures are New Line Designs
Ellis and his staff checking things out. Ellis would die on the very first turn thus crippling his small brigade.
The two Union batteries moving up. My thought was to get the artillery up and pound the Confederate line of battle. Most of the Confederates were armed with SBM so I sought to outrange them. 

A nice view of Dodge's Brigade
One of the Union batteries got ahead of the other in a free move. 
This one is hurrying up. The escort are classic Airfix figures!
Little's 1st MO (CS) Cavalry screening the 2nd and 3rd MO. The unit includes Airfix, Accurate  RSM and Musket Miniatures figures.
The 2d and 3rd MO (CS). Figures are New Line Designs
13th Arkansas, again an admixture of figures and this time with a few Irregular Miniatures.
Same as above except it's the 14th Arkansas

Clark's MO Battery. The officer is Airfix and the crew are Musket Miniatures.
Part of the Confederate force withdrawing while the rear guard holds.

The 4th IA. The figures are Strelets from the Union Infantry Firing set.
The Union Artillery deploys. Airfix crews on Musket Miniatures cannon.
The 14th Arkansas routs from artillery fire but would recover. The 13th Arkansas and the 3rd Louisiana hold the line.
I counted on the Union Artillery to blow a whole in the Confederate line. It went well at first.
The Standard Bearer's in the Strelets sets leave much to be desired so you have to convert. Otherwise, the figures are excellent except that they do not mix well with other brands imo.
The crack 3rd LA. It was the only CSA unit with rifled muskets and thus had a chance of getting a hit. It was amazing how often they missed. Great FOW!
This illustrates the reasonable line of battle both sides had just before everything fell apart for the Union. The CS MO Brigade is on the left. The 1st MO (CS) cavalry have badly handled the 1st MO (US) cavalry.THe Confederate AI only needs to hold and so far the Union can't get anything going besides routing the 13th AR on the other flank. What happens next is a tribute to the FOW command system.
According the sequence Dodge's entire brigade "got their dander up" changing the CS MO brigade. The 1st (CS) MO Cavalry easily routs their Union cousins 1st Mo Cavalry. Next in the sequence Confederate artillery routes the 35th IL while the (CS) Mo Brigade also get their dander up. The way the cards fell meant that the 1st MO (CS) cavalry effectively rolled up the Union flank backed by the two MO Infantry regiments. Great day for CS MO.