Saturday, April 30, 2022

Battle of Las Guasimas

Battle of Las Guasimas

Having taken up a short residence at the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas this past week, no gaming or painting activities were seen on the hobby front.  I did manage to put together a Spanish-American War scenario and Rules of Engagement for an upcoming game while away.  Amazing how much work can actually get accomplished on the plane and sitting poolside.

Anyway, a QRS is finished for Tuesday's remote group game and a scenario laid out.  Still time to make a few adjustments to the QRS if needed before Game Day.

Las Guasimas Battle Briefing

The action at Las Guasimas was the first substantial land encounter between the US and Spain at the start of the war. After landing at Siborney, “Fighting Joe” Wheeler (an ex-Confederate cavalry commander), the senior American officer on the ground received reports from local Cuban rebels of the Spanish dispositions around Siborney. On the 23rd, Cuban forces had contacted the Spanish around Las Guasimas but were driven back. The Cubans reported that the enemy was digging in field guns on the heights.

Wheeler, ordered not to bring on an engagement with the enemy until the Siborney landings were completed and the Cubans were in position to assist, decided to launch a reconnaissance in force on the 24th regardless. With the Cubans in a flanking position, the attack was planned to push down the road toward Santiago de Cuba and drive the Spanish from the field.

To accomplish this task, Wheeler’s 2nd Brigade of the Cavalry Division would strike out toward Las Guasimas. Young’s brigade would attack up the Siborney-Santiago Road toward Las Guasimas Creek and pin the Spanish in place against the foothills. Wood’s 1st US Volunteer Cavalry would march up the trail along the saddle and flank the enemy from the west. The Cubans, on Young’s right, would turn the enemy’s left. With both flanks in jeopardy, this maneuver was expected to dislodge the Spanish from the foothills and force a retreat back to Santiago.

The Spanish commander at Sevilla, General Rubin, was tasked with conducting a fighting withdrawal back to Santiago. Rubin’s main objective was to buy enough time to allow the evacuation of a hospital train traveling on the road back to Santiago. He could not risk having the hospital train fall into American hands. To this end, trenches had been dug across the trail near the junction with the Siborney-Santiago Road and rifle pits had been dug on the high ground escarpment overlooking the main road. Spanish forces may deploy anywhere behind the yellow line on game map.

On the morning of the 24th, Wheeler set elements of his division into motion. With reports of activity on the foothills, Wheeler was unsure if the activity was from the Cubans who were expected from that direction or the enemy. Young positioned a gun on a hillock to the southwest and directed the firing of the piece at the hill in the distance to confirm. When these ranging shots were answered by 75mm Krupp Mountain guns, the action was on. Unfortunately for Wheeler, there were no Cubans on his right.

Order of Battle

Game Table
Victory Conditions
It takes 10 turns for the hospital train to exit the table on the road to Santiago. Spanish units begin unspotted.

American player has Initiative on Turn 1.
  • Major Spanish Victory: Hold the field for 10 Turns and control the crossroads while not losing more units than the Americans.
  • Minor Spanish Victory: Hold the field for 10 turns while not losing more units than the Americans.
  • Draw: Spanish hold the field for 10 turns.
  • Minor American Victory: Occupy western Siborney-Santiago Road exit at the end of Turn 10 while not losing more units than the Spanish.
  • Major American Victory: Occupy western Siborney-Santiago Road exit at the end of Turn 10 while inflicting 2:1 losses or better on the Spanish.
There are a few details left out of briefing to be shared with the commanders prior to game time.

Back to the week in Las Vegas...

The trip to Las Vegas was the first air travel undertaken in more than two years for me.  To enjoy sunny skies, the heat of 85-90F temperatures, good food and a concert, Nancy and I jetted off to stake out a short, four-day stay in Sin City.  Unbeknownst to us at the time, this week also coincided with the annual NFL Draft.  Who knew that the football draft was such a HUGE event?  We did not, for sure.  A few blocks of Las Vegas Boulevard (The Strip) were even closed down for the festivities.
The Venetian
Pedestrians walking Las Vegas Boulevard
With a resort named the "Venetian" one might expect a Venice themed complex.  One would not be wrong.  Walking around this faux Venice for four days reminded us how much we enjoyed the real Venice.  Having visited Venice on two of our three Italy trips (2009 and 2016), it may be time to start thinking of a return visit.

 

34 comments:

  1. Ok, spill, did you gondola ride?

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  2. Looking forward to seeing this battle played out

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  3. I've been to Las Vegas 10 years ago, wonderful souvenirs...Glad to see these pics, and promising battle!

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  4. That's a nice scenario there Jon and I look forward to seeing how it plays out. Have you decided upon the rules yet?

    Las Vegas is my idea of hell, but some loveyl warm and sunny weather could tempt me for sure! As for Venice and Italy, something we hope to do in a few years when hopefully travle is easier and Covid is much more in the background. Fingers crossed...

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    1. Thanks, Steve! I will be trying some rules of my own for this trial.

      Las Vegas may not be as hellish as you think. Great food, great entertainment, and great relaxation but sometimes big crowds.

      Hope you make it to the REAL Venice one day!

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  5. Looks good, especially Sin City.

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    1. Thanks, George! Weather was terrific in LV this week.

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  6. Sounds like it will be a good game, Venice is great, they were building the Las Vegas version when I went there to get married last century!
    Best Iain

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    1. You married in Vegas? There must be an interesting story in that.

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  7. The battle looks like it could be another great game. I likecthe preset victory conditions.
    Las Vegas looks great, Mrs R want to go there for her 50th in a few years, gotta save up first!

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    1. Thanks, Ray! I hope this situation provides an interesting contest. Perhaps this is a scenario at which your group would like having a go?

      Save up your money, Ray. LV is not the bargain it once was.

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  8. Sounds like a great scenario, Jonathan. Some of the locals here have a keen interest in this war too. Nice to see you all enjoying the sunshine in Las Vegas!

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    1. I have been watching Kevin's SAW project develop. I figured it high time to get my armies back onto the gaming table.

      Yeah, the LV sunshine was great!

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  9. Looking forward to the game Jonathan. Looks really promising.

    Glad to see you finally got to travel and start getting that sense of normality back. Never been to Vegas and not sure if I ever do. Somehow I don’t find it appealing. Would prefer Yosemite or the Grand Canyon if I had to visit the States again. Still, enjoy your break!

    PS it seems I finally licked the posting problem.

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    1. Great to have you back, Mike!

      Yes, good to see travel beginning to pick up. Flight back to Spokane had no empty seats. If you visit the Grand Canyon, might as well make a stop over in LV.

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  10. A fighting withdrawal always makes for a slightly different and interesting scenario. This should be a good read. I remember the Venetian and we had dinner in an (funnily enough) Italian restaurant just upstairs and to the left of the bridge you have pictures. It was a nice meal, although quite expensive as I remember. We were there in 2016 in think it was which was great fun and I would go back, but five days is probably my limit. Our son is very much into NFL and was watching the draft, and I recognised the Bellagio from the pictures as I walked past at one point.

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    1. Fighting withdrawals are interesting and offer up more than the more usual meeting engagement. The trick is to make the scenario challenging for both. Not delays an easy task. We will how this goes.

      You are a world traveler, Lawrence! Prices are quite expensive on The Strip. Big change from the old days when there were bargains galore. I would say good quality has improved from those days gone by.

      Your son would have enjoyed the NFL spectacle this week. Lots of big guys wearing football jerseys walking the streets and filling the casinos.

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  11. It looks like a fair bit of preparation work went into setting this game up.

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    1. Always a fair bit of prep for a game. One of the pleasures of Wargaming!

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  12. That looks a fun game Jonathan. I remember getting quite excited about the SAW after watching the film Rough Riders, but there was a lack of figures at the time and the interest faded. Of great interest to me is that former Confederate generals Joe Wheeler and Fitzhugh Lee held high command positions.

    We had a fabulous time in Venice in 2013…spent a week there in a hotel a few streets (canals) away from St Mark’s Square. I’d love to go back…

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    1. I sure hope the game at least provides some entertainment and challenges. Having not playtested it, one never knows for sure.

      Rough Riders was good and probably motivated several wargamers to test the SAW waters. Wheeler is attributed with a great quote during this action.

      Venice. Yeah, Nancy and I would enjoy returning to Venice too. Both stays in Venice were at small boutique hotels. Fabulous!

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  13. The scenario and set up looks really good and am buzzing with anticipation for the battle report on this.
    Have never been to Vegas. But absolutely love the real Venice, having been twice and itching to get back there again.

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    1. Thanks, Richard! Hope you maintain this enthusiasm after the battle is in the books and account relayed!

      The REAL Venice is a terrific place to spend several days. Actually, all of Italy is a great place to spend LOTS of time! Hope you can return.

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  14. This looks like it’s going to be an interesting game Jonathan…
    I’ve been to the real Venice a number of times… it’s one of my favourite cities to go too… but I’ve never got as far as Las Vegas… The faux Venice certainly looks intriguing… It looks a bit like it like was designed and built by Lego 😁

    All the best. Aly

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    1. I hope the game with offer up some interest to the payers, Aly! One can never guarantee how the battle will unfold when randomness plays a hand.

      Vegas is an interesting place to visit. I think everyone ought to visit at least once.

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  15. Looks like a nicely put together scenario. Don’t see many fighting withdrawal scenarios and there should be more of them. Though 10 turns can be a long game depending on the rules; though that’s not necessarily a bad thing. 😀

    Hope the Vegas trip wasn’t too crowded by the NFL crowds. I would’ve been surprised too.

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    1. We don’t see enough fighting withdrawals on the gaming table, for sure. Perhaps, if wargamers focused more on historical actions, we would see more? Ten turns may seem like a lot but I was wondering if the game duration was long enough. Game length is not absolute. I may adjust the battle duration as it unfolds. Ten turns is about the max I can expect in the three hour remote game.

      The crowds swelled on the day we left. Otherwise, LV did not seem overcrowded at all.

      Great to see you commenting again!

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  16. Looks like this will be a great game Jon, so don't linger in the sun of LV too long! Great to see you able to travel again...my wife and I have also recently been on our first flight since the start if Covid! Pics to follow soon I think....

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    1. Keith, with luck, the players will find some enjoyment in what has been set up for them. One never knows, for sure.

      Seems like a very long time since our travel stopped. We have plans for more travel but some plans are still tentative.

      I await your latest travels photos!

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  17. That's going to be a fun scenario to follow for sure Jon.

    I watched the draft all weekend. So I was there with you in spirit! (Did you hear me yelling at the tv when my Raiders draft choices were not.... good? LOL)

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    1. I will let you know about fun later after I have recovered. There were lots of Raider fans roaming the streets if LV. You would have been in good company.

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