Tag Archives: Civil war

Crusade and Revolution Review

Crusade and

Crusade and Revolution (C&R) pulls together enjoyment, playability and historical simulation. It uses the traditional card-driven system, adapting it to the specific circumstances of the Spanish Civil War.

Each player has his own deck of strategic cards, which are the heart of the game, and must make difficult choices on their use through-out the game. Each card has four possible uses, but only one of them can be chosen each time the card is played! The possibilities are:

Recreate a Historical Event: Each card shows a historical event that affected the course of the war. They include political, military, economic and even social events, as well as the reinforcements that flowed to both sides through-out the war both from within Spain, and from foreign powers Germany, Italy and Russia.
Conduct Operations: Each card has an operations value that is used for activating units on the game map for movement, preparing fortifications, or attacking.
Strategic Redeployment (SR) of Troops: Each card has a Strategic Redeployment value that is used to move units great distances on the game map, or to bring units out of Reserve to shore up a threatened flank.
Replacement Points for Reforming Your Army: Each card has a Replacement Point value which is recorded and used for repairing damaged or rebuilding destroyed units at the end of the turn.

The greater impact the historical event of a card has on the game, the greater its Operations, SR and Replacements value. As such, a player is often faced with a dilemma while playing each card: use an important event, launch an offensive in a vulnerable zone, move units from one front to other, or accumulate replacements to recover from losses? Combine this with “Combat cards” that bring tactical benefits, and a player faces has a myriad of choices with each and every card.

A complete C&R game is divided into three phases, which illustrate the evolution of the Spanish Civil War and introduce new strategic cards:

The War of the Columns phase begins with the outbreak of war and finishes in February 1937. During this phase only “small units” are used, because both sides had limited combatants, almost all grouped in irregular units – called “columns”- that operated across large, poorly garrisoned fronts. The best of these “small units” are the Nationalist African Army regular army units – brought to the Spanish mainland from Morocco by Franco at the outbreak of the war. These units are strong, but brittle, as they cannot be replaced or replenished with Replacement Points.

The Mobilization phase lasts from March 1937 to February 1938. During this period the two sides realized that the war would not be over quickly, and began to mobilize their human and material resources to form regular armies. The players deploy their first “large units” (army corps) and large battles erupt across Spain.

The War of the Armies phase begins in March 1938 and lasts until the end of the war, in April 1939. During this time, the Nationalists tried to force the enemy’s unconditional surrender, while the Republic fought desperately to resist and prolong the Spanish Civil War so that it might merge with the threatening Second World War, which could be seen looming in the horizon.

Take command of your forces! Marshall international aid and intervention to your side! But take care…for your opponent is doing the same, and while you may be planning on achieving a quick victory, you never know what a game of Crusade and Revolution may bring!

Time Scale: 1 turn = Two months (1 month during the first 4 turns of the game)
Map Scale: 1 space = approximately 60 kilometres (37 miles)
Unit Scale: (Small Units) from Irregular columns to divisions. (Large Units) From reinforced divisions to army corps.
Players: 2
Playing Time: Small Scenarios: 3-4 hours, Full Campaign: 8+ hours

One 22″ by 34″ map
110 Strategy Cards
176 5/8″ diecut counters
280 1/2″ diecut counters
One Rulebook
One Playbook
Four Player Aid Cards
Two six-sided dice

Designer: David Gómez Relloso
Developer: Kevin Bernatz
Artist: Nicolás Eskubi Ugalde

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Freedom: The Underground Railroad (2d6 Exclusive Content)



Designer:            Brian Mayer

Publisher:           Academy Games (2013)


Some games feature players pushing around fictional spaceships yelling “Pew! Pew!”  Others give you a couple of cards and ask you to channel the most low-brow, offensive humor your inner youth can birth.  Freedom: The Underground Railroad asks you to aid in the abolishment of slavery and fight to save the lives of captive men and women enduring hardships most of us will never know.

This is a thought provoking game whose historic theme is rich, detailed, and handled with utmost respect.  It deals with a touchy subject manner in a professional way and provides a great mechanical base that allows a group of people to sit down and enjoy themselves while honoring a movement that is forever burned into the fabric of American history.  What I find particularly remarkable about this design is the fact that the theme is never overhanded or obstructive and it never gets in the way of enjoyment or try to force itself upon you.  It’s not a particularly somber or raw experience and players interested in just sitting down and enjoying a quick coop will find it very satisfying.

The theme is what has garnered Freedom much of its attention, but the enjoyable and unique mechanisms are what has kept its popularity and buzz churning over time.  The players collaborate turn to turn planning how to spend limited actions to move slaves out of the south and through the northern States into Canada where they can secure their independence.  Slaves must travel along specific routes offering limited options which force difficult decisions upon the table.  Spaces on the routes are limited as well, and the paths will get obstructed and clogged, forcing you to continually attempt to keep the escapees on the move.




Providing uncertainty are the four slave catchers which travel along their own pre-determined routes.  Their movement is sometimes erratic, due to a die roll at the beginning of the turn, but most of the time predictable as they move along their path when a slave crosses it.  The cleverness here is that you can manipulate the slave catchers into traveling in specific directions, drawing them away from a city so that you can move two slaves through.  This makes for a satisfying game of manipulating your enemies as you try to keep the routes clear.  The congested tracks and limited spaces make the slave catcher tug of war more difficult as you always seem to be closing off one option to open another.



The Slave Catcher dice; nemesis of abolitionists everywhere.


While a nuisance and a prime source of tension, the slave catchers are not what will do you in.  At the end of every turn slaves appear on the board from the slave market, attempting to fill empty spaces in the southern plantations.  If you have not moved enough slaves out of the plantations then there will be no openings for the newcomers and they will be lost.  Once you lose a certain amount of slaves (determined by player count) then the game is over with the players suffering defeat.  This is the most common way to lose the game, although the group also fails if all of the slave market cards have emptied without the pre-requisite number of slaves being rescued, which occurs after 8 turns.

The movement of slaves from the markets to the plantations and their subsequent journeys north are only half of the package.  The other portion of the game is comprised of Abolitionist cards which are detailed with specific historical people, places, and events.  The majority provide bonuses and may be purchased on your turn, although a subset of orange cards provide for additional obstacles and crippling blows to your efforts.  There is also a bit of resource management in that you must purchase tokens which allow you to earn additional money, move slaves on the board, or garner support for the abolitionist movement.

The outcome of all of these mechanisms in combination with the main board is a Coop hinged on the management of limited actions and funds which advise tough decisions while up against a slightly aggressive clock.  It can be remarkably tense as you try to puzzle out all of your movement options in how you can best draw the slave catchers away from certain routes so that you can get a couple of slaves into northern cities and free up southern spaces so that you can start creating more room in the plantations for the encroaching slave markets.  That puzzle-like quality reminds me of Mage Knight in how you try to factor all of the options in your current hand and how to best accomplish the turn.  It doesn’t have the heavy feel or math qualities of The Mage Knight Boardgame, but it does possess that core conundrum of doing the best you can with your current situation.




Perhaps the strongest quality of this game is the thematic feel the mechanics support.  Many historical games feature cards with iconic images and flavor text, but Freedom takes it a step further by centralizing the epic struggle of men and women fleeing their pursuers.  The tension is palpable and as the slave catchers begin to section off and block your routes you will feel the pressure.  The tempo of the cat and mouse game is a bit uneven and chaotic yet provides for a pace and feel that is somewhat serene.  It is reminiscent of improvisational Jazz in that you have high and low moments peppered throughout the game in odd-timed intervals and you have to feel your way through the uncertainty with emotion.  When everything comes together in this syncopated rhythm of strategic genius and you discover an exceptional move the satisfaction is immense and unique.

Freedom: The Underground Railroad is an exceptional release adding to Academy Games burgeoning collection of accessible historical games that are undeniably enjoyable to play.  Don’t be fooled by the subject matter or art – this is a game that wants to be played and talked over.  It’s a game that is quite easy to get into and will keep you coming back for more.  It’s a game that will invade your thoughts in a subtle way; while sitting at your desk you will randomly find your focus centered on the rugged struggle a nation and group of people faced over a century ago.  It demands you throw on some Son House and grab a group of friends, as it refuses to be left on the shelf to collect dust.

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Reds! (A Video Review)

Reds! is a two-player wargame covering these dramatic events from August 1918 to the start of 1921, when the last organized opposition to Red rule outside the far east was destroyed.

The single large-hex map stretches from Warsaw in the west to Omsk in the east and from Murmansk in the north to Tashkent in the south. Across this vast expanse, players maneuver a colorful array of combat units representing various White factions, Anarchists, Nationalists, Alied Intervention Forces, the two divisions of the Czech Legion, and six Polish armies.

Units range from armies to brigades. The Red Order of Battle is built around 16 Red Armies organized by Leon Trotsky. There are also two powerful Red cavalry armies and the elite Latvian Rifle division. The White Order of Battle includes everything from Cossack cavalry corps to Moslem partisans and a German Free Corps. Each side also has support units: naval and river flotillas, air units, and, of course, the famous armored trains. Key leaders are also included: Frunze, Denikin, Wrangel, and Trotsky and his famous Red Train.

To model the chaos of this many-sided multi-front war, the sequence of play is based upon random chit pull which determines the order of activation of each White faction or six Red Army Front commands. The key Logistics phase, in which disrupted units are rallied and unsupplied units attritted, is also randomly determined. The game also includes TWO random event tables: one for each side.
From sweeping cavalry advances to slogging matches over major cities (such as Tsaritsyn – the future Stalingrad – know as the Red Verdun), Reds! is a true player’s game. It is also a realistic depiction of some of the most titanic and unusual campaigns of modern history.


  • One 22 x 34″ Game Map
  • One Sheet of 240 Counters
  • Two Player Aid Cards
  • One Rule Book


TIME SCALE 1-2 months per turn
MAP SCALE 65 miles per hex
UNIT SCALE Brigades, Divisions, Corps, and Armies


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Liberia – first look

Liberia: Descent into Hell is a simulation game on the Liberian civil war of 1989-1997. The game is for two players, one representing President Samuel Doe’s Armed Forces of Liberia and its allied factions (the Government player) and the other the insurgent forces of Charles Taylor and his allies (the Rebel player). The object of the game is to control enough territory and resources at the end of the game to win a post-war election and become the undisputed President of Liberia.

~ Fiery Dragon Productions










Gettysburg the Wheatfield (A Video Review)

Tattered Flags is a series of Kriegspiel-style historical miniatures/board game depicting battles of the American Civil War (1861-1865). In this first game in the series, each player controls a Union or Confederate force at the Battle of Gettysburg, struggling for The Wheatfield on July 2nd, 1863. Gettysburg: The Wheatfield was carefully crafted to introduce players to system basics of organization, events, maneuver, fire and morale, with future games in this series promising to expand the detail and accuracy of the Tattered Flags system.

Since many players do not have the time, funds or eyesight to paint armies of miniature figures, Tattered Flags comes with colorful cardboard counters, called “Stands” (in the vernacular of miniatures gaming). These games also use a printed battlefield game map in lieu of miniature trees, hills, buildings, etc. Feel free to substitute miniature figures if desired!

There are three scenarios included in Gettysburg: The Wheatfield, each with its own Order of Battle (OOB), Special Rules, Turn Length and Victory Condition. The first scenario is introductory in complexity and is used when someone is first learning and playing the game. The second scenario is the historical scenario depicting the actual fighting that occurred during the afternoon of July 2nd. The final scenario is a dramatic, “what-if” meeting engagement battle.

Game Data:
Complexity: 5 on a 9 scale
Solitaire Suitability: 7 on a 9 scale
Scale: 1 inch = 50 yards; each Stand is approximately 150 men or 3-4 cannon; each turn represents a variable amount of time, perhaps 15 to 20 minutes or so

Game Components:
• One 12 page color rules booklet with lots of illustrated examples
• One 4 page scenarios booklet
• 60 color, die-cut 1″ x 1/2″ Stands
• 60 color, die-cut 1/2″ square markers
• 8 color, die-cut 5/8″ x 1.25″ Leader pieces
• 1 beautiful, full color game map
• 20 Event cards
• 2 Player Aid sheets
• 1 Game Turn track
• 1 Movement measuring tool
• 1 Combat measuring tool

~ Victory Point Games


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