Saturday, February 10, 2024

Scenario Testing: Setting Up The Terrain

The table set up on my home turf. This is not Keith's table (s)

Click on all pictures to enlarge

(or double click if you dare)

Yesterday I traveled out to Woodstock to visit my friend Keith Leidy. Among other things, Keith is the proud owner of a huge basement that can hold three tables measuring 6ft wide by 36ft long. Call me envious.

The purpose of the trip was to set up the war game terrain for my upcoming 54mm Pickett's Charge game at Little Wars convention. I will host the game at this year's Historicon too. The idea was to lay out all of the terrain and all of the troops and see how much room that we would have to run the game at the conventions. We cut the table off at 24ft long, which is what I will use at the conventions, rather than use the whole 36ft. 

The left wing of the Union army defending Cemetery Ridge.

The famous Copse of Trees and The Angle which were the focal points of
Pickett's division attack.

Views of the whole enchilada:

The Confederate starting position on Seminary Ridge. Since this is just a
terrain test, the actual ridge is not presented in this picture.

A view of two of the three game tables in Keith's basement.
The middle table shows the length of the Emmitsburg Road, with the Confederate 
attack moving from right to left in this picture.

The third table where the Union army is deployed on Cemetery Ridge.
The ridge terrain hasn't been used in this picture because we were 
running a test to look at the positioning of the terrain and the troops.

The view of the battlefield from Cemetery Ridge. The Emmitsburg Road is in the middle,
the Codori barn marks the left end of the game table, and the Confederate infantry is in
the far distance.

The Union forces on Cemetery Ridge, showing the right flank of their position.
It's hard to believe, but we ran out of space for one of the Union brigades, so one 
brigade will be deployed as a reserve behind Cemetery Ridge.

Ground level view of one of the Union regiments. Each regiment has 30 figures
and each brigade has three regiments.

The Bryan House marks the right hand side of the table.

One of the Union brigades deployed to the right of the Copse of Trees.

For the first time I could see all of the figures out on the game table at the same time. My initial fear was that I might not be able to fit all of the Confederate regiments on the allotted space. Fear not, for my colleagues suggested that I would need more Confederates for the game. Yikes! Pickett's Division will occupy the righthand half of the game table with two brigades in the front and one brigade in support behind. The lefthand half of the table will be occupied by Pettigrew's Division.


As with my Khartoum and Abu Klea Sudan games last year, I want to use rules that are developed specifically for this game in a convention setting. The rules have to be simple enough for all of the players to understand and to use in a timely fashion. The rules will fit on one side of a 8-1/2 by 11 sheet of paper. There won't be a lot of complications such as having charts for different types of rifles and artillery. Every soldier is assumed to be armed with a rifle and all of the artillery is either 12-pound smooth bore Napoleons or a rifled cannon (Parrot, 3lb ordnance rifle or any other type of rifled cannon). Keeping the rules simple moves the game along and results in a game that will run about three hours. This is an absolute must for any convention game. My Sudan rules met all of this criteria and performed very well when I hosted the Battle of Abu Klea at Historicon.

The Play Test Game

We will be playing the first of three play tests of the scenario and the rules on Presidents' Day. I will be keen to see how long it takes the Confederates to cross that deadly open ground and to see how many of their troops reach the walls on Cemetery Ridge. On the one hand, I don't want to see the Confederates so shot up after they cross the Emmitsburg Road that they can't continue the attack; and on the other hand, I don't want them to reach the Union position with minimal casualties and then swarm over the walls. I want the artillery to inflict some damage on the Confederates at long distance, but not so much that units are all depleted before they even reach the Emmitsburg Road. Several play test games will help us find the right balance in the rules.

What Is Ahead?

It looks like I will have to paint two more Confederate brigades of 90 figures each, or 180 total figures. I expect to be able to knock out one brigade before Presidents' Day and maybe have the second brigade finished by the first week of March. My figure painting is actually running well ahead of schedule for my July Historicon games, noting that I have painted approximately 900 54mm figures as of this blog post.


  1. I didn't think you could out do your Khartoum game but I was wrong. This looks outstanding.

    1. Thank you Nick. The finished product will have a lot more terrain on the table than the Khartoum game. I’m just getting started.😀

    2. I have already gotten my room and arranged travel to historicon. Looking forward to getting in your game!

  2. As Tina Turner said, “ we don’t do nothing nice and easy.” 😄

  3. Good Lord. You don't do things by halves do you?