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Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Vicksburg Campaign - Rules for a custom AQMF Campaign

I've been talking about creating and running a custom AQMF campaign since I started playing, and well, here it is. These rules are a work in progress, and I expect I'll be playing with them fast and loose, maybe throwing some curve-balls as I go. In this campaign, at least for now, the Martian player is also the game master, so this is really the story of the US Army and the 29th Division in particular. If my wife commits to trying the campaign, I'll create additional Martian rules. Until then, enjoy what I have so far!  Please let me know if I missed something obvious, or if you have some suggestions. This is a work in progress.

I'm playing the campaign with Wargamer Fritz, and we got started earlier in the week, so expect some battle reports soon.

The Vicksburg Campaign

1914 - Memphis TN has fallen to the Martians, the first major breach of the Mississippi Line. As General Pershing, overall commander of the U.S. Army, rushes divisions to contain the breakout, the 29th Infantry Division is left to defend a stretch of riverland almost 200 miles long.

After the death of Maj. General Morton late last year, you have been given command of the 29th Infantry Division, known as the "Blue and Greys" for being composed of old National Guard units from NJ, VA, MD, DE and Washington DC.  Some of these storied regiments trace their origins to militias which first defended the nation in the French and Indian War, and almost all of them had parts to play fighting for the North or South during the Civil War. The soldiers and officers of the "Blue and Grey" division are rightfully proud of their history, but now make common cause against the alien threat. Lead them well, and they will not let you down.

As army divisions stream into the area around Memphis, the 29th division is spread thin. You've been charged with the defense of the Mississippi Delta region, a region that is not a delta at all but a flat alluvial plain full of small rivers and swamps.  The Delta is sparsely populated, deeply rural, and with some of the best farmland in the world. Most of the inhabitants have already fled, although a few stubborn souls remain. You've been given great latitude by General Pershing to defend the region as you see fit. He expects you will see an incursion soon, intended perhaps distract American attention from the Martian buildup inside Memphis. General Pershing hopes that you and the 29th Division will be able to keep the Martians occupied without drawing valuable men and materiel from the Memphis area.  The General notes that the marshy terrain and the many rivers and waterways will make the area unfavorable for a major Martian attack, and its not expected that they will commit themselves fully to this operation. If the 29th is stubborn enough and fights hard enough, the Martians will turn back and seek more a more favorable crossing or concentrate their divisions in Memphis. The General pointed out that it may even be possible to lure the enemy into a costly fight.  The U.S. Navy vessels patrolling the river should be able to warn you of when and where any Martian crossing is attempted, but given the distances involved, not necessarily in time to stop the incursion.

With 200 miles of river between Vicksburg and Memphis, if the 29th were to spread themselves evenly along the river there would not even be 100 men for each mile - not nearly enough to stop a concentrated Martian attack. While the northern stretches of the Delta are patrolled by the divisions holding the Martians at Vicksburg, the rest is yours to defend.  You will have to decide where to give ground, and where to give hell.  The boundaries of the Delta are the Mississippi River to the west, and the Yazoo River to the East. Just beyond the Yazoo river is the Jackson-Memphis rail line, a vital artery of supply to the forces around Memphis. General Pershing has made it clear to you that while ground may be given within the Delta, if this rail line is cut, the American defenses around Memphis will become untenable. The rail line must not be cut!

Campaign Basics:

The campaign is intended to be a mini-game outside of the actual battles. I'm hoping the campaign turns will be relatively short - their main function is to give context to the battles themselves, and to give them some consequences. 

American Campaign Objectives: 
- Defend the fortress-city of Vicksburg (your HQ).
- Defeat any Martian incursion by pushing them back across the Mississippi. This is accomplished by destroying 8 Martian units or forcing all Martian forces out of the Delta after turn 3.
- Protect the Jackson-Memphis line.

If the Martians take Vicksburg, cut the Jackson-Memphis line, or destroy half of the 29th's Battalions (the eight mobile units), they force General Pershing to move men from the vital works around Memphis, giving the Martians the overall  victory.

Order of Battle:  The 29th Division is divided into 2 Brigades, the 57th ("the Blue Brigade") and the 58th ("the Grey").  Each Brigade has 8 Battalions (making up 2 Regiments per Brigade), each of which will be represented as a single unit on the campaign map.  One of the brigades will be kept in reserve, in positions guarding Vicksburg and fortifying the Yazoo river, and will be frozen for the beginning of the campaign. If you are forced to withdraw from the Delta, you may fall back to either of these locations at which time you will be free to move the extra battalions in preparation for a final battle. You can choose which Brigade is on guard duty (blue or grey, depending on who you want to play with).  If it helps, the 57th Blue Brigade (NJ)'s motto is "Fidelis et Fortis (Faithful and Brave)" while the 58th Grey Brigade (VA, MD)'s motto is "Ever Forward."

The dashed lines are railroads, the green is bayou and swamp which causes mobility problems for both sides.  Any area that is not green and does not contain a city is typically going to be flat farmland.

Officers (humans only): While the human player's main character is the Major General,  commanding the whole division, they will also appoint junior officers to lead companies and battalions. Every officer of this type which sees action on the table must be named, and if the officer survives a battle, he gains experience.  1 xp for a defeat, 2 for a victory, and 3 for a Heroic Victory. XP can be spent to increase the rank of the officer which will have significant in-game effects.  The starting officer rank is captain, and any other command units deployed will be considered lieutenants, and should the captain be killed and a lieutenant survive, the lieutenant gets a free promotion to captain and keeps any xp which the previous captain would have received from the battle. If the captain is not killed, we don't track the lieutenant's xp or even name them.

Captain: No bonus.
Major: 3xp to promote. 2 extra Orders.
Lt. Colonel: 3xp to promote. +1 on morale checks for all units under him.
Colonel: 3xp to promote. +2 on morale checks, and +1 on all Industrial Might or reserve rolls.

Campaign Turns:
The winner of the previous battle (or of the most battles from the previous turn) has the initiative. If more than one battle is fought, whichever side wins the most has the initiative. In the case of a tie, whoever currently has the most (unspent) victory points goes first. If that too is tied, roll off.  At base American forces move two squares, and the Martians move 3, modified as below:

Railroads: American forces may follow the railroad lines to move 8 spaces along the line total. If they move more than 6 spaces, they may not also move off the rail line this turn. If they move 6 or less, they may also use their regular movement either before or after using the railroad.

Bayou: (Green squares) -1 square for the Martians, normal movement for humans (as they are using roads and local guides). If a battle takes place in a Bayou, all movement for vehicles and tripods is halved during the battle (the entire table is considered a swamp), and Slavers, drones, Grenadiers, and all human vehicles (including towed pieces) are held in reserve and must roll to enter as normal.

River: River spaces (Mississippi & Yazoo) count as 2 spaces for Martians.  If the space is Martian territory, it counts as 2 for the Americans as well, but it is always 2 for the Martians.

Each army moves all of its units, then the other does the same. Moving into a space occupied by the enemy calls them to battle. The enemy, if going second, may choose to retire, moving out of the space, unless the enemy also controls any adjoining spaces, in which case, they will be withdrawing under fire and a tactical battle is played using an appropriate scenario.

Battles: Whenever two units from opposite sides end a turn in the same space, a tactical battle is played. More than one battle can occur for each campaign turn - the campaign can end in very few turns if the opposing forces choose not to maneuver much, or there may be more than one turn before a battle is fought. Opponents continue to take turns until a battle needs to be resolved.

Battle Terrain:  The terrain for battles fought depends on the square in which the battle takes place.

Plain Squares - Rural farmland, light or heavy woods, dirt roads, etc.

Green Squares - Swamp, Bayou and soft ground. The entire board is considered rough going for Tripods and vehicles. Light and heavy woods will also be present for cover, and possibly deeper pools or streams which may be uncrossable.

Towns - If a square contains a town or city, half the board may be covered in buildings, but the rest should be farmland. Towns in the Delta tend to be small.  The exception to this is Vicksburg, which is a special scenario.

Mississippi Line - Battles on or near the Mississippi river should contain trenches or fortifications, and possible river areas as well. Rail lines could also be placed for color.

Determining the Scenario:  Either the game master determines the scenario, or both agree upon it. Talk it out!  What are your men trying to do? Make up some interesting objectives or use some that are out there online (like mine). 

Determining Force Size:  Each unit is roughly a Battalion, but that doesn't mean you have to play 2500-3000 points each time. Instead of one big battle you can have one or more smaller "company-sized" actions at around 650-1000 points, and say it is representative of a larger battle spread out over the area.
            That said, units adjacent to the square of the battle zone will lend support to the main action. As a rough guideline, for each unit occupying a square touching the battle, you might give 500 points of reserves, perhaps coming in from different table edges. If they transversed multiple squares to get there, you might have them wait a few rounds to get in, especially if crossing rough ground.
            The object here is to make these battles fun not accurate. Of course, if you have one battalion, and the Martians have 3, you are much better off trying to fight a "withdrawal" scenario than a straight fight.

Recording Movement:  Mark not only current location, but paths taken by the forces. I use red x's for the Martians and blue o's for the humans. The paths are important because they help us represent supply a bit, which is mostly only a human concern, with some exceptions.   If an American battalion cannot trace a line to Vicksburg (the HQ) without crossing a space taken by the Martians (even if a unit isn't present), then it is considered Out of Supply.  The same goes for the Martians, with the line being traced to the Mississippi River (any point).  If a unit crosses an enemy line that is unoccupied, it simple takes it (back).

Out of Supply: American forces that are Out of Supply can no longer use orders for Industrial Might, and if 2 campaign turns go by without regaining supply, all vehicles (including rough riders) move at half speed due to coal shortages, and artillery units are removed on a roll of a 1 to hit, being out of ammo.
Battalions that are Out of Supply, including Martians, and are forced to fight multiple battles, should also find their manpower impossible to replace, and the force disparity should be reflected in the scenarios.
Lastly, if a unit on either side that is Out of Supply loses a significant battle that isn't specifically a fighting withdrawal scenario, it is considered destroyed.  The game master might allow some survivors to band together for a desperate action if it suits the narrative.

After a Battle:  Typically after a battle is resolved on the table, a campaign turn is taken. If more than one battle needs to be resolved, both should be completed before the campaign turn. However, defeated armies must move immediately as explained below.
            Immediately after a battle, the defeated army immediately move its full movement away from the enemy. If it cannot for whatever reason, is Out of Supply, or there are at least 2 times as many enemy units in squares adjacent to the battle that was lost than friendly units, the unit is destroyed. Further, the unit must make it's full move, and it must move directly away from the enemy (not necessarily in the direction you would want). If it ends its move adjacent to or in the same space as an enemy, it is destroyed.
            Any defeated unit thus moved may not move again during the campaign turn as it has already done so.

Victory Points:

            An army (not the unit) gains victory points for winning battles. 1 point for a close victory, 2 points for a Heroic Victory. Some scenarios will define special conditions for a heroic victory, or the players may choose to award a Heroic Victory if a game just ends up being excessively one-sided.  An example: The Martians win a "break point" battle, but the only American forces left are the commander, a HMG team, and a bunch of artillery. The players acknowledge that without other support, the artillery batteries would abandon their guns and make for the hills, turning the retreat into a rout and a victory into a Heroic Victory.

Spending Victory Points:  The first use should be the most common, and is the one it was designed for. The others are just suggestions.
- 1 point to double a unit's movement on the campaign map.
- 1 point to give a small point edge (reinforcements) for a single battle.
- 1 point to alter the table set up more favorably
- 1 point for 5 additional orders to use in a single battle.
- 1 point to automatically use industrial might once (Americans only, and you still have to spend orders like normal)


  1. I look forward to seeing these rules in action! If one side gets a certain number of VP is the campaign over?

  2. Good question! No, the VPs represent momentum from a tactical victory, but it's up to the player to turn those victories into a strategic victory. Essentially, you spend VPs to press your advantage (more movement, etc), but it's the overall strategic objectives that need to be fulfilled. For the martians, this means cutting the rail line beyond the Yazoo river or destroying Vicksburg, and for the humans it means destroying 8 units completely or pushing the Martians back across the Mississippi.

    The first battle will be posted in a day or two. Thanks for commenting!