By Chris Hahn
Given my reported preference to conduct miniature wargames without miniatures, I guess this latest project could be called an improvement, or at least a step in the right direction.
Photo H shows four regiments of Brigadier General Gladden’s 3rd Brigade, one of the Confederate units taking part in the action around Danville.
The regiments are deployed in line formation, with skirmishers deployed. Each regiment numbers 28 “figures,” and in this particular formation, occupies a frontage of 3.14 inches of table, and has a depth of 1.54 inches. The pictured battle line is approximately 10 inches long.
The regiment was created using Pages software. There’s a lot of copying and pasting involved, but it’s significantly faster and less expensive than painting and basing. The stands or counters are copied onto bright white card stock. For additional reinforcement (no pun intended) a smaller piece of cardboard is taped to the unit counter or stand.
Storage is not an issue, as the 40-odd battalions, batteries, and cavalry regiments for this scenario fit into a quart-size Ziploc baggie.
Each regiment can adopt a different formation if ordered to do so by the commanding player, who would be me. The traditional firing line formation consists of two ranks of 14 “figures.” There is a march column formation (4 abreast by 7 ranks deep), as well as an attack column formation, which is also screened by skirmishers. While the “switching out” of the various formation stands or counters is quick and simple, each regiment in Gladden’s brigade requires four different stands or counters. I do suppose, however, that the 2-rank line could be used as a march column. Some sort of indicator or marker would have to be placed at the head of the column.
Speaking of markers, each regiment has an “identification tag.” This square tag gives the unit identification, brigade, and division attachment. The basic unit ratings or characteristics are also listed. I grant that it’s an additional piece or marker and so adds to the movement time, but by keeping the unit counter separate, I can re-use Confederates as a different army if the need arises.
Photo I shows a column of Confederate infantry followed by artillery. To indicate the cannon are unlimbered, it’s a matter of turning the counter around so that the business end of the artillery symbol is facing in the direction of the enemy. The caisson is “parked” within a reasonable distance or removed as suggested in the rules, if the playing surface is too crowded.
Photo J shows a couple of sections of Rebel artillery deployed behind a rail fence. This battery has the same frontage as a 28 “figure” unit of infantry in line formation.
During my “Armati” period, I was content with using counters marked with the universal symbols for infantry, cavalry, and command. I used this format or method with other rules, but have experimented with more colorful if still two-dimensional representations. Some of these have proved more labor-intensive and less flexible than others.
Even I as worked my way through the action at Danville, I am tinkering with this latest version of playing a miniature wargame without using miniature figures. I am limited with respect to the size of my playing surface and even more so with respect to budget. This is not a complaint; it is a statement of fact. I realize that I am not alone with regard to these “deficiencies” or challenges. I also realize that my approach is somewhat odd or unusual, given that our hobby is a visual and tactile pursuit.