Tag Archives: ACW

Stonewall’s Sword

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(from Revolution Games):

On the stifling hot morning of August 9th, 1862, Maj. Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson’s corps of Confederate veterans encountered a lone Union division under the shadow of Slaughter’s Mountain (also known as Cedar Mountain). The isolated Union division belonged to Maj. Gen. Nathaniel Banks, Jackson’s rival during the Valley Campaign and an opponent who the great Stonewall had consistently defeated. The Confederate troops were some of the best in the Rebel army, they outnumbered the Union force and were under the command of one of the iconic generals of American history. What could possibly go wrong?

Stonewall’s Sword: The Battle of Cedar Mountain is a medium-sized wargame (176 counters and a 17” x 22” map) that allows you to explore the reasons why things almost went horribly wrong for the Confederates that day. The map scale is 140 yards/hex and each unit counter represents an infantry regiment or artillery battery. The game system features the Blind Swords chit-pull mechanic, which thrusts players directly into the fog-of-war of an American Civil War battlefield. Players are never quite sure of when formations will activate – neither the enemy’s units nor their own! Event chits, each tailored to the conditions that existed at the battle, provide players with opportunities to create out-of-sequence attacks, rallies and a myriad of other actions. Players are thus constantly challenged with each chit-pull to produce a plan of action that will best exploit the current circumstances on the field. This unpredictable player interaction creates not only an exciting gaming environment but also accurately simulates the confusion, intensity and unusual circumstances of the Cedar Mountain battlefield.

The game system also features a simple Brigade Orders mechanic that forces players to assign activated brigades one of four orders – Attack, Defend, Maneuver or Regroup. The assigned order sets the parameters for the activated units and dictates how they can move, what type of combat (if any) they can perform and if they can rally. This establishes the “tone” for the units in the upcoming turn and reflects the effects of command orders without the need for complex rules or order writing.

In addition, certain “what-if” options have been included, allowing the Union player to possibly get Ricketts’ Division to arrive sooner than it did historically or the Confederate player to have Jackson snap out of his “stupor” earlier in the day. Both of these possibilities can be influenced by the players through the allocation of their Command Event chits.
Stonewall’s Sword attempts to be a unique gaming experience – one that elicits a fun gaming experience in unison with a realistic representation of the Battle of Cedar Mountain. We hope you agree.

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Blockade Runner

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Blockade Runner is a resource trading game in the Euro style, but with a dash of danger. In Blockade Runner, players take on the roles of entrepreneurs attempting to make the most money by shipping cargo in and out of the South during the American Civil War. Positioning is achieved by competing with each other for access to commodities, top market prices, and newly built ships. Hard decisions include whether to play safely to keep ships afloat or take potentially profitable risks. The crux of the play hinges upon whether to bring in vital war goods, which reduce the intensity of the growing blockade, or more profitable black market goods. This enables a potential for limited cooperation, but competition is the heart of the game.
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Last Chance for Victory

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(from MMP website:)

Last Chance for Victory is the next entry in The Gamers’ Line of Battle series (LoB) which simulates the Battle of Gettysburg. It is the second game in the series, following the well received None But Heroes about the Battle of Antietam.

The story of Gettysburg is well known or, I should say, the popular rendition of the battle is well known and has certainly been simulated multiple times.

As is usually the case with stripped down, accepted versions of complex events, this narrative misses much flavor and a deeper understanding of what went on. It’s the ‘auto-tour’ version of a much more involved event.

Many things are simply not brought out, or put into proper context, in the affirmed version of the battle:

1) Lee arrived on the field and tried to get his footing when Ewell (on his own initiative) ordered Rodes and Early to attack. Lee wasted no time in ordering Hill to attack with Heth and Pender to support Ewell’s Corps. In the commonly held view, Lee arrived and simply dithered while events unfolded outside his control.

2) There were several opportunities that afternoon and evening to advance and take Cemetery and/or Culp’s Hills. These were missed… but not, as commonly assumed, because one or more leaders were staring at their navels confused or indecisive. What happened and why?

3) Ewell made a clear headed decision his men were in no condition to take the hill that evening. He was the commander on the spot. Since then historians and armchair generals everywhere have questioned that decision, the game allows you to see who was right. Ewell was of the opinion that he could only do it if 3rd Corps supported him. That support was ordered by Lee (using 3rd Corps’ artillery) but was not implemented by the army’s chief of artillery. Would that have allowed the attack to work? What was the relative condition of the Union defenders and the potential attacking troops anyway?

4) There never was any sort of ‘dawn attack’ order, but there were orders to attack much earlier on the second day than actually occurred. The game allows you to find out what went wrong (so you can draw your own conclusions as to who to blame).

5) By evening of the 2nd day, the fate of Cemetery Ridge rested in the hands of a handful of formed Union regiments (including the human sacrifice of the 1st Minnisota). Confederate victory was very, very close—teetering in the balance much more than normally assumed. There was a reason Lee said that if Dorsey Pender remained in command for another 30 minutes, the Confederates would have won the battle. See just how tough the Union job was and how close to the edge they got. What would have been the result of that 2nd day’s attack had it launched just a few hours earlier or even at the same time, but with the coordinated use of Anderson’s and Pender’s divisions?

6) Everyone assumes Pickett’s Charge was a forlorn, desperate, throw of the dice, but what was the condition of many of the Union units manning that ridge? Was this attack a complete reworking of the Confederate battle plan out of blind frustration or was it a continuation of the plan from both earlier days? What was the earlier, theoretically coordinated, plan the attack was ad libbed from?

7) As a whole, the popular version of the battle pretty much assumes a Union victory unless multiple stars aligned for the Confederates. If this is so, did the Army of the Potomac have to merely put out a ‘fair-to-middl’in’ effort or did they have to fight tooth and nail to gain victory? If the latter, just how close of a run was it? Doesn’t “assuming they will win” take away well earned credit they had for finally overcoming a determined and usually successful foe?

Last Chance for Victory attempts to allow players to find their own answers to these questions and points as well as many others. The added depth and nuance makes for a very different and, in my opinion, more accurate rendition of the battle than you’ve ever seen before.

Aside from showing the history in a way that will be both entertaining but make you thirst for more and better reading on the topic, multiple variations are provided to explore the battle. Sure, there are the usual “extra troops” variants, but more importantly, options that allow players to tweak the various historical behavior ‘knobs’ I assigned. If you think my ‘setting’ for Howard (to pull a name out of a hat) are all wet, you can change him to be better (or worse) so you can see how your version ‘plays.’ Likewise, a number of rules simulate activities that were pretty much out of the player’s hands (such as Buford’s need to screen the town yet keep his losses very low), these can be ‘turned off’ as desired to see what effect they really have on the battle. There is a matrix of the various ‘control’ rules and the possible ‘settings’ for each one that players can use before starting if they disagree with my decisions. The results of your choices might surprise you and spur your understanding of the battle to new levels.

As with None But Heroes, Last Chance for Victory is designed to bring all of this and much more to your table in the most historically accurate and informational jam-packed game possible. Like any LoB game, it was designed with twin goals: the most insight possible and a game with maximum playability.

Enhancing the already well received and streamlined Line of Battle rules, Last Chance for Victory comes with the v2.0 series rules. These rules incorporate the refinements and suggestions of hundreds of real players which make this smooth system even faster to play. Make no mistake, this is the only regimental level Gettysburg game that can be played to completion at a respectable clip—yet it is a large game. A pair of reasonably fast players could play the campaign game to completion at a convention like ConsimExpo. I’ve completed campaign games with three players in a week of rather relaxed play time.

Scenarios abound of various sizes. The campaign uses a 4-map ‘box’ layout, but the game comes with two additional maps, one covering just the 1st Day’s fighting and the other the 2nd and 3rd Day’s. The big game scenarios can be played on one or both of those maps and, with those two linked together, it is possible to play the entire battle on 2 maps.

It replaces This Hallowed Ground from the RSS-series.

 

 

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Lincoln’s War Review

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CDG (TM) style game on the American Civil War, with a focus on the political rather than military aspects.

A card driven Civil War game that is less complex than For the People, but more detailed than the Price of Freedom. The map uses hexes of approximately 70-80-miles across. With exceptions for certain commanders, combat is without dice. To quote the designer:

Lincoln’s War revolves around political influence points which can be used for a variety of purposes. Political influence can be banked, spent on activation, promotion, building naval assets, stockpiling combat resources, or goading a recalcitrant general into action. In the field, combat strength is represented but outranked by the personalities of the generals that command them. As the commander’s fortunes rise and fall so do the fortunes of his army. Some generals are better in the offense, some in the defense, some are completely unpredictable in battle.”

Lincoln’s War contains:

1 24” x 34” map
1 16-page rulebook
1 10 page optional rules and background booklet
160 Operations Cards (80 Union, 80 Confederate)
140 1” counters
76 5/8” counters
2 player aid cards

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