Dienstag, 1. Mai 2018

Gettysburg Day 1 - Heth's Charge! (Battle Report)

"General, Sir! The Davions overran our picket lines and they are coming right at us over Seminary Ridge!" A Major of McCarron's Armored Cavalry looks with disgust at the Corporal, who almost yelled the report towards the group of mercenary MechWarriors, standing next to the feet of a parked Marauder. "We will hold them. Tell the men to move to the outskirts of the city. There we meet the aggressors and we will crush them." He turns around, eyeing the front row of his seasoned pilots. After a brief pause he barks: "Saddle up!"

A couple of years ago, I already tried this scenario with BT Classic rules - and it didn't work so well. The scale of the scenario was far too big for Classic rules to play it on a single day. Since then I discovered Alpha Strike, which provides a much faster gameplay - but smaller terrains. One problem traded versus another ... not good. 

Mixed: BT Classic & Alpha Strike
So, I decided to mix both rule sets, to have the large scale terrain of Classic BT and the simplified combat rules of Alpha Strike. We tried this before and it did play out well. Now I gave Gettysburg in the BT universe a second try - and I am more than pleased!

To have a canon background, I set the story during the 4th Succession War. Having the 5th Syrtis Fusiliers of House Davion attacking the Liao world Sarna. The planetary assault was disastrous, because Sarna was defended by several regiments of the famous mercenary unit McCarron's Armored Cavalry.

Gettysburg -> Sarna
I mixed this official background with the events of the first day of the battle of Gettysburg, while the Confeds had momentary the upper hand and pushed the surprised Union army from the western hills of Gettysburg and through the town. As history showed, in the end, this was a mere prelude. because the decisive engagements were fought on day 2 and 3 on the eastern and southern hills, where the Confederate army ultimately lost the battle.

We couldn't bring the western ridges, the city itself AND the eastern hills (fishing hook) on the same map, if we didn't want to scale everything down, bringing the size of the battle to a brawl on small hillocks. This wouldn't have felt right! So we ruled out the eastern and southern part and made the city itself the price. To balance the scenario and though give the defenders (Union alias Liao/mercenary troops) a solid chance, I reduced the number of attacking troops (Confeds alias Davion) compared to the real events of July 1st, 1863.

For the rest, I tried to stay as true as I could to the original combat situation. But now, without further ado, here's the ...  

Battle Report!

The Units
The defenders had to position all their initial forces on or west of Seminary Ridge, the line of hills west of Gettysburg. Having mostly light and medium mech and tank units, these troops represented Bufords cavalry, which arrived the day prior to the battle. Performing a delaying action on July 1st, while Union infantry marched up north to Gettysburg to meet General Lee's Army of Virginia.

Unfortunately I do not own enough blue mechs, so some grey ones, which paint schemes match the colours of some units of McCarron's Armored Cavalry, had to do the job. The "Black Hats", or the Iron Brigade, as well as several other Union units of 1st Corps were represented by a company of medium to heavy BattleMechs in blue colours.

The Confed or Davion forces are painted in a light brown, which almost looks like a dirty grey. The first lances took the role of Heth's division, having Pettigrew's, Archer's and Brockenbrough's lance in the first company to arrive. Later two lances of Rodes division with the two lances of Iverson and Ramseur joined the fight from the north side of the map.

Early Stage - Delaying Action
While the attackers crossed the river at the north-western side of the ridge, the defenders set up their mechs on Seminary Ridge, while the tanks took up a forward position close to McPherson's Ridge - to threaten the attackers right flank. Even though the defenders lost almost all of the initiative rolls, they managed to draw a lot of attention to this side. So the advance of the Confed/Davion troops was slowed down from the beginning.

Especially when one medium lance of the Union/Liao troops joined the fight, the attackers had to move carefully. Brockenbrough's lance, third one out of Heth's company, was needed during the complete battle, to act as a rear guard and though the lance was out of business for the attack on Gettysburg itself.

Covering the rear, Pettigrew and Archer managed to climb Seminary Ridge in an "okay time", while their left flank was temporarily endangered by a Union/Liao scout lance in the northern woods. This finally changed when Iversons lance showed up and went after the scouts.

Mid Stage - Heth's Charge
Having only two lances left for the final assault on Gettysburg and being in disarray, the first Union/Liao heavy troops arrived on the field and took the lead units of the Confeds/Davions under heavy fire. Because of this critical situation, there was no time to regroup in order. The attackers had to push on as they were.

Now the defenders had the chance, to strike a deadly blow at the leading mechs of the attackers. But now the last Confed/Davion reserves had arrived on the field. Even if these mechs were still far away and out of weapons range, Ramseurs lance plus the now also advancing lance of Iverson and a single Stalker of Pettigrew's lance, made a huge impression on the defenders. They didn't counter-push immediately the bridgehead on the north-western outskirts. Instead they fell back and tried to reposition deeper in the city.

Endgame - Into the City!
The attackers saw their chance and pushed all in! Even though they had a newly arrived blue belly lance in their right flank, they pressed on the defenders in the city - ultimately overwhelming them. The close combat was intense and mechs on both sides were dropping like flies. I have to admit, luck was more on the Confed/Davion side. Some of the attacking mechs lived long after their expiry date. Dices can be ass holes.

Final Result: Win for Confeds/Davion

The end time of the scenario was set for 2:00 AM (CET) on April 30th, but on 0:30 AM the final outcome became clear: The attackers alias Confederates/Davion forces were about to win! After the explosion of the defenders Banshee-3E and Cataphract-1X, only a few heavy and medium Liao units stood against more than a company of mostly fresh Davion BattleMechs. So the Union/Liao commander decided to withdraw to fight another day.

Thank you!
To all the people who helped me setting up the scenario. And especially Icke Carter, who did a great job as the Union/Liao commander, performing a flawless delaying action during the early and mid phase of the battle. Hopefully we will do day 2 of Gettysburg for Devil's Den, the wheat field and Little Round Top this summer.