In the process of working on the Horse & Musket version of OHW, I developed a strong desire to figure out a fast-play version of grand tactical rules for ACW, along with painting up 6mm ACW figs for which I traded some excess 15mm WWII and board games.
[thus keeping my rule intact not to spend new money on gaming, which has been going well for several years now - I've been not just "new money" free but also a significant net "giver" into the bills and savings account with my gaming over the last few years, depositing several thousand dollars while continuing to finish or start a few projects!]
The development of the ACW rules has proven to be the most difficult I've ever attempted as it is a new approach from a larger battle concept, where each Unit or Base of 6"x3" is a full brigade. Along the way, I also wanted to stop using three dice to mark casualties with the OHW rules and get it down to only one die, preferably color-coded to also indicate morale / suppression status. I must've played 20 times with several different versions! Finally, I decided I had to try it with the WWII rules as they are more solid in both concept and execution.
So, here I am with a more linear mechanic for combat resolution. I'm using a standard six-sided die and modifying it as usual, up / down / halving but giving each Unit 6 hits [one die worth for ease of marking] with a -1 at 2 Hits and -2 at 4 hits [at which time the 2 Hits become permanent and can't be rallied off]. Most of the rest of the rules are the same with just a couple of little changes to accommodate the new math and a couple of little tweaks.
Below, the scenario, quite an interesting one. The Blue attacker has six Units to four Red defender. Blue must take both the wooded hill at bottom left and the town at top center. Red deploys one Unit on the hill facing East and three Units within 6" of the North board edge [the squares are 12", so it is the top half of the top three squares]. Blue deploys all six Units within the shaded area, the two bottom left full squares as indicated on the map. Note that I played this 2-3 times before recording it as there were several little modifications needed to the combat mechanics as I switched them from 1Dx and 15 Hit Units to 1D3 and 6 Hit Units.
And below is the resulting forces and set up. I picked the forces from my available painted figures. The Italians are defending with two infantry - essential to hold the town and the wooded hill. Supporting them are a Unit of ATGs and a Unit of tanks. Both infantry are pulled back into the objectives thus limiting Line of Sight to only 4" mutually, two bases to two bases. I felt that with the British superiority in force if they lined the edge they could fight but then be overwhelmed by superior firepower. The 24" range of the tanks and ATGs does reach halfway into the British deployment zone but the Brits have the first turn and I didn't want to make the mistake of sacrificing Units for some early shooting.
I put the ATGs on the Italian right to cover the flank of the Unit on the hill, and the tanks to the left to give them some space and threaten the British right. The alternative was to put them on the right so they could move to support the hill if needed. I also had to decide to deploy the defenders first, which seemed likely altho not specified in the scenario. I should try using blinds for a couple of the defending Units so that I don't even know what they are!
Upon seeing the defense, I weighted the British right, intending to overwhelm the tanks quickly then threaten the town. Advancing upon the ATGs in support and to take the town is a platoon of Motor Infantry. This limited me to one Motor Infantry to take the hill, but I thought they could do it with the support of the CS Crusaders - Mortars [at bottom right with big barrels] and possibly switching one Crud platoon left after the ATGs were handled. As ATGs don't fight infantry as well as they fight tanks, I felt I had a solid threat to the ATGs and tanks supporting the town while having just enough to take the hill unless I rolled badly.
Turn 1 below. British mortars and two tank Units fire upon the Italian tanks causing 4 Hits, so they can't rally below 2 Hits and are presently -2 firing. One tank platoon and the infantry are advancing but rolled low so not advancing much! probably just want to see how the prep shooting goes! Italians return fire off of their "Ready" status in the British turn, then fire again in their turn; this causes a few Hits on the advancing British tank platoon and the infantry against the wooded hill. They didn't roll great, so acceptable losses to the Brits thus far!
Turn 2 below. British advance continues. Italian tanks wiped out by the fire of nearly the entire British force! British infantry take it in the teeth as they try to take the hill but they've dug-in. Italian ATG fire is weak, mildly suppressing one British tank Unit.
Turn 3 below [slightly blurry, sorry, but the action was too intense for our correspondent!]. British advance shifts left, two tank Units and the infantry heading against the town while one tank Unit shifts to support the infantry on the hill who only rally off one Hit. The Mortars put the hurt on the Italians on the wooded hill. The Italian ATGs get one Crud platoon to 4 Hits and the left infantry to 5 Hits but they rally well. They need to eliminate at least one platoon to weaken the British attack at this point I think.
Turn 4 below. British taking heat on the way in, but weakening the ATGs and hill infantry. Still, looks good for the Brits to be applying this much pressure this early in the game.
Turn 5 below. Limey's outflank the town and eliminate the ATGs. This clears the way for the infantry to advance as the tanks are threatening the Italian infantry holding the town. Combination of mortars and infantry gaining slight edge on hill, but it is clear that they need additional direct fire support if they're to overwhelm the Italian defenders. The game has a nice balance - if you don't bring overwhelming firepower to bear, opposing Units may be able to rally off enough hits to stay in the game. Very historically accurate from my reading.
Turn 7 below. The Italians on the hill folded and the British are attempting to bring overwhelming firepower to bear on the town as the tanks and infantry fighting the hill shift North. While a few British Units have taken serious Hits, there isn't enough Italian firepower to eliminate them before they can pull back and rally.
Turn 8, the end of Italian resistance. The combo of three Units, including the infantry at Close Range overwhelms the Italian infantry Unit holding the town. By sitting at the back of the town, they British were able to get a couple of bases into it and get some Cover and Concealment benefits. Next time I would defend a town with the infantry closer to the edge so that the attackers can't take positions within it. This will still leave a flank vulnerable but would be worth it. I like the choices here - defend a town at the edge, just inside the edge, or deep within it. Each presents the attacker with a problem yet is realistic and very simple.
Overall a good playtest. Had a few tweaks along the way with the rules, shifting the factors a couple of times here and there. I still tried to keep the scenario a real battle despite the changes. I am trying to get the right balance with the Italian deployment, but wondering if there's a use for Italian tanks in this battle, honestly. I think a second ATG Unit or some Mortars might be more useful.
I played this scenario again, shifting the Italian tanks to the right flank, but they still didn't last long. Dug-in ATGs would be more of a threat I think. There are several tough decisions for both sides. The Italian ATG and tank Unit have to fire and engage the British or else the Brit tanks can shift left and overwhelm the defenders on the hill. But in doing so they lose their Ready status and may be spotted and fired upon.
Meanwhile, the Italians on the hill don't have enough firepower to destroy even one Brit Unit, so the question is only if the time taken up to destroy them would be enough to make the defense of the town more plausible given the 15-turn limit. I also made some final adjustments to the combat mechanics and am ready for a final playtest!