Supply Wagons are the most important unit on any board of any game. Without them you cannot win a prolonged engagement. So, let’s learn how they work.
Small Arms Ammunition
Supply refers to the ammunition that units have available to fire during the battle. A unit may become Low On Ammo or Out Of Ammo during the battle reducing or eliminating their ability to fire their weapons. Supply Wagons are used to maintain supply levels for the forces on the map. Each unit of strength of a Supply Wagon represents enough ammunition to resupply 10 men. Units can become resupplied at the beginning of the player’s Movement Phase provided they are not Routed and they can trace a path no longer than 5 hexes long which does not go through enemy units or empty hexes in their Zone-Of-Control to a friendly Supply Wagon.
Let’s give an example of that statement before we press on. At Gettysburg, for example, a Confederate Supply Wagon has 400 Supply points. Each unit of strength is enough to resupply 10 men. Easy math is good math so a single wagon may resupply 4,000 men before exhausting its resources. A unit can only be resupplied if the wagon has enough points to resupply the entire unit.
Each time an Infantry unit fires, there is a certain probability that this will result in a reduction in the unit’s ammunition level. The probability chance that a unit will suffer a loss of ammo while firing is determined by Parameter Data. A unit that is Out Of Ammo cannot fire again until it is resupplied. A unit that is Low On Ammo can only fire Defensive Fire. Being Low or Out Of Ammo affects the Morale of the unit.
As stated, each time you fire an infantry or cavalry unit there is a chance your ammunition will be reduced to a lower level. At Gettysburg, for example, that probability is 4%. The morale of a unit is subject to a -1 modifier when morale tests are done for being Low or Out Of Ammo.
Q: I had a unit lose ammunition on the first turn of the game. That’s ridiculous!
A: Is it? Having a full complement of ammunition was never guaranteed in any battle. While most often, a unit had enough ammunition to ensure the ability to fight for some time, breakdowns in command and organization often resulted in ammunition problems. Adding an ammunition level to each unit in the game would simply increase the micromanagement necessary to play the game without adding any benefit and would in fact detract from the game by including information that could hardly be known by higher level commanders.
I have to agree with the Game’s Designers on this one. Numerous times during my readings on the war I have encountered units who were sent into battle, or had the battle find them, when they were completely without ammunition. One need only look at Miller’s Brigade of Prentiss’s Division at the Battle of Shiloh for more information on this. Although it infuriates me to no end when my men run low on ammo at the start at least I know my opponent is dealing with the same issues that I am.
Q: I don’t understand the Low Ammo rules. Why can units with Low Ammo fire Defensive Fire and not the Offensive Fire? Do they have bullets or don’t they?
A: The distinction here is based on the fact that units low on ammunition will start to save their shots and not use them unless absolutely necessary. Since Defensive Fire is the point at which defending units get to fire on their attacker, this would be a good example of when units would use their precious ammunition. Not allowing Offensive Fire is the point at which the lack of ammunition is applied and thereby motivates the player to not use these units for attack. The end result in the game is a good one causing a reduction in aggressive ability by units low on ammo but retaining the ability for units low on ammo to deliver a good blast when threatened.
Normally artillery ammunition is provided in a scenario based the number of batteries in the scenario for each side. In the Terrain Info box, the amount of artillery ammunition is displayed with the Union value first and the Confederate value second. As each artillery battery fires, this amount is reduced for that side by one. During opportunity fire, the value will decrease by one only half the time on average however. When artillery arrives as a reinforcement, then the value will increase representing the ammo that arrives with each battery. Supply Wagons have no affect on artillery ammunition and are only used to provide small arms ammunition to infantry and cavalry.
Under the Artillery Ammo by Cannon Optional Rule, artillery ammunition and usage is computed on a per-cannon basis instead of a per-battery basis. All other rules concerning artillery ammunition remain the same.
Thank God for that Optional Rule! As you can imagine having each battery (regardless of size) fire the same amount of ammo was ridiculous. The Optional Rule creates a more even playing level for the Confederates as opposed to before the rule.
If the Isolation Effects Optional Rule (see the Main Program Help File) is being used, then Artillery units can also become Low or Out Of Ammo when Isolated.
Hopefully you never have to worry about this, but, it can happen. When Low on Ammo you need to find a way to get the artillery out from their isolated status. At that point they will automatically become resupplied and able to fire offensively again. Otherwise a unit Low on Ammo can only fire defensively – just like infantry or cavalry units.
In a limited number of scenarios you may find a hex labeled as a “Supply Source”. These are usually located in major cities, forts, or, notably, at Pittsburg Landing on the Shiloh Battlefield. These hexes allow the default supply side (shown in the terrain information box of the hex) to use this hex as a “base.” This is done to keep occupants of cities, or forts, from becoming “Isolated” by an enemy maneuver to surround the objective and then easily bag the defenders. The supply source will prevent their isolation despite being surrounded without any possible Zone of Control exit hexes from their location.