'Splendid Little Warriors' had its first actual game. Overall, I'm fairly happy with the system. The scenario was kind of, sort of, based on the encounter at las Guasimas. In short, the Americans were advancing through the Cuban jungle on two parallel paths. There was a ridge running along their right. The parallel paths converged in scrub land after crossing a few jungle streams. The Spanish had a fortified location at the far end of the table. The American objective was to push the Spanish out of the fort. Subtle, eh?
The American force consisted of four units of infantry, two units of dismounted cavalry, support was provided by two Gatling guns. The whole force was commanded by three officers who looked suspiciously like Wheeler, Roosevelt and Pershing. Go figure. The units were evenly divided to advance along both jungle paths.
The Spanish force consisted of five units of infantry, a pseudo-Krupp gun (crewed by the sons of Confederate emigres!) and had three anonymous officers, though one of them was conspicious in his British khaki uniform and answered to the name of Lt. Churchill. The Spanish commander chose to ambush the Yanquis and placed one of his units on the ridgeline and another on the opposite side of the nearest path hoping that he would be able to bring both units to bear on the advancing column. The jungle unit dug in and created some light works for protection. Two other Spanish units were set to ambush the enemy as they came up the other path. Finally, the artillery piece, protected by a sandbag emplacement, was hidden in place to fire down the path of Americans as they advanced. One Spanish unit garrisoned the fort which was surrounded by two barbed wire fences. The first fence had obvious gaps, the second was more extensive.
The game progressed as expected. The Spanish on the ridge exposed themselves piecemeal and were easily chased away. The artillery opened fire at long range but was ineffective. Once the Americans advanced the crew was quickly suppressed by massed American rifle fire. On the other flank the Spanish were more successful at slowing the Yanqui dismounted cavalry as they crossed a stream. However, once a supporting Gatling was unlimbered the Spanish retreated along the path in the direction of their main fort. During the retreat they did manage to give a devastating volley suppressing almost all the following Americans. That gave them some breathing space. Nevertheless, superiority of numbers and Gatling support made the American advance inevitable and few of the Dons made it to safety. Bala Pedro Esponja earned himself a name.
Meanwhile near the ridge, unable to reload the gun due to suppression fire, the artillery crew decided to escape while the Americans were delayed by a lone, courageous soldier. A noble though desparate act! The gun was rendered inoperable before the crew scurried into the jungle heading for the fort.
Having inflicted considerable casualties on the Americans, the Spanish commander was still confident that he could hold the fort. However, the retreating Spanish needed to cross a wide area of open terrain in order to join the garrison. Not many of them made it. Most fell, picked off by American rifle fire.
The Americans reformed at the first line of barbed wire and slowly advanced. The Gatlings unlimbered and started firing at the fort to suppress the defenders. Slowly, the Yanquis made it through the second line of barbed fire. At this point the Spanish morale failed and half of them fled the fort. As the Americans clambered over the wall they barely caught sight of the fleeing Dons as they slipped out the back of the fort. Victory, though dear, was proclaimed by the Americans.
I was fairly happy with the mechanics of the rules. The morale rules need tweaking as it was almost impossible for the Americans to fail their morale rolls. Sharpershooters also need some tweaking though I'm not quite sure what I want to do with them. Sharpshooters should not be a deciding factor in these games--and they certainly weren't in this game. But, they were such a large part of the war in general, I do want them to be present to give some period flavor. Something to think about. Lastly, I think I want to emphasize officers a bit more. In the game, two of the American officers were killed. But because of the overly strong American morale it did not make much difference. Even if it had it only would have affected the Americans for a single turn. I'm leaning towards making movement more dependent upon the presence of officers some how.