Monday, 7 November 2016

Bloody Big Battles! - Gettysburg game blow by blow

This is the blow-by-blow account in photos of the BBB! Gettysburg game which I first reported on here. It was difficult to recall all the detail even directly after the game, and harder still at this remove in time. But if you study the photos you should be able to follow the main flow of the battle.

Unfortunately, it's a little difficult to tell the two sides apart in the photos. It may be clearer if you click on the photos to enlarge them and look for the ID markers which are predominantly grey or blue. The large numbers are turn indicators for the benefit of the camera.

The battle was fought on a blown-up version of the map. The map squares are only 8" square, but the figure bases are only 20mm square (instead of 25mm) so the table and the units are more-or-less in proportion.

Deployment. Union troops are deployed around Gettysburg or moving north-west towards Gettysburg up the Baltimore Pike. Two Confederate units are shown in the north-east moving south to turn the Union left flank and threaten the Union supply line.

Union troops (nearest) form line. As the Union commander I am feeling relatively secure, but that's mainly because I hadn't actually read the scenario in detail...

Hordes of Rebs hook round the Union line to surround Gettysburg on three sides. The units nearest the camera and to the right are Confederate! This is alarming!

The Rebs close in for the kill but Union troops launch a spoiling attack. I thought they might as well.

What's left of the Union troops are thrown back into the town. They still cling on but are seriously depleted.

Two veteran Confederate divisions (lower right) launch an attack in depth on Gettysburg.

The surviving Union troops are pushed out of Gettysburg but miraculously cling to life. It's heroic but of no particular benefit. The rest of the Union army is in no position to do anything other than sit tight.

The situation at the end of Turn 3. 

At the beginning of Turn 4 the Union receive significant reinforcements. Hurrah. But because of the Confederate toe-hold in the south-west, the Union forces are extremely hemmed in. The central clump of units are Union: all the surrounding units are Confederate.

The Union forces open out to face west and north. Being on the inside of an 'L' shape is not good.

More Union reinforcements arrive on the east. Now a Confederate unit is caught inside a Union 'L' shape and doomed.

Two Confederate divisions (immediately south of Gettysburg) move bravely into view of the Union artillery concentration. A Union division advances on the Confederate flank on Culp's Hill.

The Confederate artillery on the eastern edge of the battlefield (nearest to the camera) look as if they are threatening the left flank of the Rebel line, but their line of sight is severely restricted by terrain features. This isn't so clear when fighting on a 2D-only map.

Minor success for the Union as one Confederate division is destroyed.

The Confederates protect their left flank.

Two Union units formed in depth face off against two Confederate units formed in depth. 

The leading Confederate unit attacks but the supporting unit fails to move. Meanwhile another Rebel unit contacts the left flank of my artillery. This is really the decisive turning point in the game.

The Confederate frontal attack is beaten back but the flank attack contacts my infantry.

The beginning of the end as the Rebs close in around me.

The main problem for the Union was that my early loss of ground meant that I wasn't occupying the position occupied historically I just couldn't bring my forces to bear.

We placed the Union reinforcements on the table to see what the situation looked like. I didn't think they were adequate to turn the tide and conceded the game.


  1. Lovely map to game over, I very much like the Kriegspiel effect and the compactness of the play area.

    1. I did discover some problems with the 2D map - the terrain wasn't as obvious and the figure bases further obscured it. This might be countered by colouring in the features.

      The smaller squares (8" instead of 12") allowed me to get the 6' x 4' map on my somewhat smaller dining-room table without having to set up my extension boards, but I didn't like measuring in 20mm increments. Again, that could have been countered by making a custom rule.

  2. Perhaps your game illustrates how vital Buford & co's actions on Day 1 really were!

    1. Agreed. Holding Gettysburg is vital but difficult given the strength of the Confederate attack.

  3. I use 2D maps from time to time but place buildings and trees on the map to drive home line-of-sight issues. Still, some get confused by complex contour lines.

    1. That would have helped but the 8" squares created quite a congested battlefield. Using a map directly was in part supposed to be a time-saving shortcut, but it took quite some time to prepare. 3D is better!

  4. Great Report and it is on my to do list to create this map. Thanks for posting the report.

    I will look at how I can create some features to help enhance the map. When I am done I shall try and get some photo's up.

    Maybe even have it ready for the BBB Bash Weekend next year...

    1. I look forward to seeing the results, especially any iconic features.

  5. Also you have now answered how best to show units and I will look at creating similar markers as I want to run a game at HCon next year and those markers really help...

    1. If you want to see all the unit markers in detail they can be downloaded from the BBB Yahoo Group files section under 'Unit ID Counters'.

  6. A belated thank you for the unit counters I used them when running the game at HCon 2018. It really helped people locate the units. Thanks MJ