Saturday, July 30, 2011

Here Come the Rebels! (MMP) - "The Maryland Campaign" [Scenario #7] ~ Part 1

Game: Here Come the Rebels! (MMP)
Series: Great Campaigns of the American Civil War
Scenario: The Maryland Campaign, Scenario #7 [Updated via the Skirmisher #2 rules]
Participants: Jim "HeavyD" D, Myself
Time: Sat, 7/30 ~ 10.30AM - 1.45PM

"Here Come the Rebels!" was released in 1993, the second game of the GCACW series. It picks up right after 2nd Manassas in September of '62 (Stonewall Jackson's Way). Lee is on the March, for lack of anything better to do. Little Mac has reorganized the Army of the Potomac, absorbing Pope's Army of Virginia. Lee is bound for Maryland looking to take the fight out of Northern Virginia into the fertile fields of Maryland.

There are two Advanced game scenario's in HCR, we are playing the 2nd one, the complete campaign (18 turns). Lee's Army of Northern Virginia is on the offensive. There are two maps, the Eastern one has Baltimore and Washington on it while the Western map has Frederick, Harpers Ferry and Sharpsburg featured. HeavyD will be entering the Western map with his entire Army on the first three turns. The Union forces start out within Washington with 5 Corps free to move, the rest (3 Corps) are released gradually via random event.

As released, the two Campaign scenarios were broken. They captured the spirit of the campaign but were imbalanced in the favor of the CSA player. Steve Sandy published a revised set of victory conditions in MMP's 2nd volume of "The Skirmisher", a journal dedicated to the GCACW series (both of these are must haves for fans of this game series). Most of the victory conditions are the same in this updated version, with the values changed yield a closer game where either player has a fair chance to win. The scenario rightly forces the Union player to eject the Army of Northern Virginia out of Maryland. The CSA player has a couple of valid paths to pursue as well. The historical one (Lee goes West into Maryland) as well as an interesting Eastern strategy (Lee marches towards Baltimore). The much higher VP reward for this Eastern option make it very interesting, despite the proximity to Washington and the very large AoP.

At Start Set Up
 The scenario requires the CSA player to get at least 84 Victory Points to win. There are two major ways to score victory points. County Control is checked once per turn and this is the primary way the CSA player will earn VPs. The Eastern Counties yield much higher VP rewards compared to the Western counties. Burning rail road stations is the second major source of Southern VPs. One of my observations with the Campaign games is that some of them, especially the early unbalanced ones tended to result in games that had the CSA player running around doing things instead of trying to defeat the Union Army. Thus you had a series of much smaller battles that were spread out. I have rarely scene a Campaign scenario result in a large 1-2 day battle involving nearly the entire Armies of both sides. I will say that these rebalanced efforts have done the right things to correct this problem. I can recall several recent CG's (RTG & GTC) resulting in large scale game winning or loosing battles (at least in my experience). So I am very hopeful that this will come to pass in this game as well.

The entry point for HeavyD, with the Army of the Potomac encamped in Washington

We decided to let HeavyD continue to play the role of Robert E Lee while I assumed control of the Union side. I have played this scenario several times with both victory conditions, but alas none recently so I am not really starting with anything of an advantage (except that I am much taller then HeavyD, so that might help). We are using the GCACW basic game rules (1.1, as of BATC).

Opening

Turn one see's only one Confederate Division able to move. HeavyD runs this Division straight at Frederick. Frederick is the county seat for Frederick West County and the Division (DH Hill, Longstreet's Corps) has 12SP which is just enough for control of the county. DH Hill's division marches 19 hexes (21.85 miles) in four activations and falls two hexes short of Frederick on the first turn.


Turn 2 opens with Union Command Paralysis, thus I will be unable to move any of my units, except those that HeavyD gets too close (8 hexes) to. Jackson's Corps also enters this turn. HeavyD sends them towards Harpers Ferry and I see that we are going to see a conventional Western approach for HeavyD and not the Baltimore gambit as I had secretly hoped for. Jackson's three divisions make good progress towards Harpers Ferry while DH Hill rests in Frederick, picking over the Union Depot there. HeavyD earns his first 2 VP's of the game for controlling Frederick West County.

  
Jackson closing in on Harpers Ferry

The Harpers Ferry Garrison
 Turn 3 starts off with Union Commitment, so I get a Division free to join the AoP (which hasn't moved an inch thus far). Longstreet's Corps enters this turn as well. HeavyD sends a couple units of it towards Harpers Ferry to enable Jackson to completely surround the forces there and start rolling on the surrender table. Longstreet and Lee take the rest of his Corp's North and East ending near the C&O Aqueduct. Jackson isn't able to surround Harpers Ferry yet. I move a Brigade from Harpers up on to the Naval Battery and start digging in there. I also start the AoP North with each of the 4 Corps averaging around 6-8 hexes on two marches. I elect to use rail movement for the 1st Corps (Hooker) and send them up towards Baltimore and then West down the B&O railway as Stuart has made his way over there and is in the midst of damaging railroad stations. DH Hill stays in Frederick resting and gaining VP's by controlling the county.

The Siege Begins

Another Union Commitment opens the forth turn, releasing another Union Division to start on the Road North. HeavyD destroys the C&O Aqueduct and continues marching Longstreet's Corps in a North Eastern direction. I am able to get some Union Cavalry in his way, slightly delaying him at the cost of one of the Regiments. Stuart falls back as the entire 1st Corps is now up from DC and is marching along the B&O Rail ling. HeavyD splits up DH Hills Division sending 5SP over to support Stuart and destroy the RR station.


Jackson is able to encircle Harpers Ferry. His units are tired and in no position to make an Assault (at least not yet), so they rest while we await the rolls on the Harpers Ferry Surrender table (right now he needs to roll a 9 or higher on two dice to cause a surrender.  I continue to march the AoP Northwest again only averaging 7-9 hexes per Corps.

Hooker's I Corps drives Stuart back along the B&O RR

Turn 5 sees Rain (Current) come up on the random events table. We also check supply at the top of the turn. Nearly all of HeavyD's units are out of supply with the exception of Stuart's Cav and DH Hill's division as they are sitting on Union Depots. This is really the perfect situation for HeavyD in relation to supply as he can afford to sit and make small adjustments to his position while he prepares to forage in the recovery phase. I am hampered by the rain and am only able to make it 2-3 hexes in his direction. Harpers Ferry holds out another turn. During recovery HeavyD rolls very well and gets most of his units back into supply, with only a few left that are not (they become disorganized as a result).

End of Turn 5 (Sept 8th)

We stopped here as we were out of time. Next session looks exciting as I am starting to get closer to Longstreet's Corps with the bulk of the AoP while Jackson is still laying siege to HF.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Stonewall Jackson's Way (MMP) - "From the Rapidan to the Rappahannock" [Scenario #6]

Game: Stonewall Jackson's Way (MMP)
Series: Great Campaigns of the American Civil War
Scenario: From the Rapidan to the Rappahannock
Participants: Jim "HeavyD" D, Myself
Time: Fri, 7/8 ~ 6.15PM - 9.30PM
         Fri, 7/15 ~ 6.30PM - 9.00PM

After a couple of warm up games of GCACW, HeavyD and I decided to start at the beginning with this series. I got Stonewall Jackson's Way back when it was released in '92. I played it a lot back in the day and have been playing it quite a bit here in St Louis. I even taught a co-worker of mine back in Atlanta to play, his last name was Pickett and in fact he was a descendent of that famous General. HeavyD and I have played a few scenario's to bring him up to speed on the game and the rules. The scenario's are mostly very good, but I think the strength of the series lies in the Campaign Games. Here the game truly shines.

As I was thinking through the various campaign scenarios (I have played them all sans OTR), I recalled that there was a short version of the of the CG in SJW and that it was a lot of fun. Then I started looking around for errata. The first three CG's in the series were notoriously unbalanced. I even recall calling poor Joe Balkoski (the series designer and a real asset to the hobby) up out of the clear blue to talk about the Gettysburg (RTG) CG as I had spent days doing the math and I was (rightly) convinced that the Union had not a prayer in that one. This was of course pre-Internet. I was thus a little concerned that this CG had not had an official errata treatment like HCR & RTG had. I posted on CSW and didn't receive anything like the official response I had hoped for. We did hear a general consensus that said the CSA player should be shooting for a Substantive (at least) or Decisive Victory to make the game even close. Undeterred, HeavyD and I decided to play this CG targeting the higher Victory levels for the CSA player.

After Set Up, Prior to play

We decided on giving HeavyD the potent Army of Northern Virginia and I would take Pope's hapless Army of Virginia. The scenario is eight turns long, starting when the campaign opened and leading up to Second Manassas (29-30 Aug). This you might recall included Jackson's famous flank march around the AoV. The campaign scenario is all about getting behind the Union Army and destroying its line of communication (Rail Road) back to Washington. Meanwhile McClellan's Army of the Potomac is moving up by boat from the Peninsula. Lee and Pope's Army's start off facing each other across the Rapidan River.

A close up view of the two Army's at start


Opening

As you can see, Lee's Army if tightly grouped up South of the Rapidan at the start of the scenario. Pope's Army has a free turn to move before the CSA can react. I quickly moved III Corps up to cover the Southern most crossings, having II & IX Corps cover the ones nearest Longstreet's Corps. I bunched up I Corps (future XI Corps in the AoP) as much as I could using two marches. If HeavyD decided to go through them I would at least have all the little advantages I could get to help slow him down.

End of the 1st turn


Turn 2 opened with Rain (current turn only). This of course is nearly a game breaker as it stops HeavyD from even trying to force a crossing of the Rapidan as he's not allowed to cross a major river at a ford in rain. Thus it really forced HeavyD's hand into moving East and trying to cross the next turn, hopefully before I could get there to cover the crossing sites.

End of the 2nd turn

We had a very exciting turn, with drama on each activation roll. He was trying to get across the River before I could through a division in front of the next ford. I was able to get to the crossings first and HeavyD didn't want to risk a frontal assault across a ford. I don't know if HeavyD was ever considering taking Jackson around my Right (as he did historically) but the rain last turn and this turn made it clear that this wasn't really an option any longer.

Drama in the Wilderness

Start of turn 4, in the Wilderness

The next couple of turns really reminded me of why I love this series. We did not have a single combat but the tension and drama around each activation roll was palpable. We were both running for the next river crossing. HeavyD was leading with Longstreet's Corps, with Jackson coming up behind him. I had two small Corps (Reno's 9th & Bank's 2nd), both of these Corps only had two Divisions and they were on the smaller side (between 6-9 SP). Longstreet has four divisions, each around 10SP. The further East we went, the worse the terrain got, we were entering the Wilderness. There were fewer roads and even fewer fords.

Reno Checks Longstreet's Crossing

Reno's IX Corps came through with some impressive marches and was able to get in front of Kemper as HeavyD finally made it across the Rapidan. Given time HeavyD could have brought in a couple more Divisions for a Corps Assault that would have overwhelmed the one Division I had managed to get in front of him, but in this scenario the clock is ticking and HeavyD has to get past my Army.


As turn 4 started I had no idea if HeavyD would try and fight his way out or continue to try and get around my army by moving further East into the Wilderness. This then is the real genius of this game. The tension created by the unknown order of activation (each player rolls a die, the CSA wins ties) coupled with the again unknown movement die rolls (once a unit is activated, you roll to see how many movement points it has) translate into some of the most intense enjoyable gaming experiences I have ever had. If HeavyD can string together 2-3 activations in a row, he could blow through my lone Division and he would be off to the races. I had no idea what HeavyD was thinking at the time. I didn't even know if he recognized the potential here or if he had already decided on continuing East, making for an uncovered river crossing.

HeavyD heads East instead of fighting through Reno's Corps
HeavyD decides to keep marching, not wanting to fight now. He moves for the next ford over and again Reno is able to slip over just in the nick of time to interdict that crossing. Banks 2nd Corp is marching up to help out while I & III Corps are falling far behind due to poor marching rolls. This is limiting my options as now if HeavyD wants to fight I will only have these four divisions to face him.

HeavyD senses that now is his chance and he decides to extend march Longstreet's entire Corps. They respond (rolling very well for movement) and make it out of the Wilderness. Jackson follows and the entire ANV is bunched up at one point along a single road. Soon they are streaming out of the Wilderness unhampered by the Rapidan River. I decide that discretion is the better part of valor and keep Reno and Banks in the Wilderness, not wanting to expose them in the much more open terrain with Sigel and McDowell lagging so far behind. Reynolds Division has marched over from Aquia Creek Station and is suddenly very much in the presence of Lee's entire force. I decide to dig them in and await Porters arrival (bringing another Brigade) as well as Fairchild's now released Division marching up from Fredericksburg.The turn ends with HeavyD's exhausted force out of the Wilderness and with a clear road up to Manassas.

Breakout!
 End Game

Turn 5 (Aug 23rd) opens with Jackson's Corps on HeavyD's right, exhausted with a Division or two disorganized due to marching. Reynolds is behind Breastworks blocking one of the roads North. Porter is nearby with another Brigade and Fairchild is closing from Fredericksburg. I am again concerned the HeavyD might elect to go after Reynolds by trying to encircle him. Instead he decides to again bypass my units and continue North. I hold Reynolds back until a couple more divisions arrive as reinforcements, but now Jackson has a real lead on me.

Start of Turn 5

Stuart by now has made it up to the rail line and begins by burning the railroad station at Manassas Junction. HeavyD also destroys the Union Depot there. HeavyD sends most of Longstreet's Corps North as well but not before hitting a Division of Reno's 9th Corps, sending them running. Anderson's second attack gets stopped cold. Sigel and McDowell are still marching very slowly towards the sound of the guns.

Anderson's fight with Reno's IX Corps

Turn 6 see's little action as we both find most of our units out of supply. HeavyD makes small marches while I elect to stay in place and hope to get most of my units back in supply in the recovery phase. I end up rolling very poorly and most of my units start the next turn out of supply. HeavyD is also mostly still out of supply and many of his units are now starting to get disorganized.

Longstreet's Ending Position
 At this point we decide to call it as there is little chance that I'll be able to catch up with Jackson as he is out in front of me. Longstreet is well positioned to block my approaching force as well. We do the math and decide that HeavyD is likely going to get around 45-60 VP's with little that I can do to stop him. This is a solid Marginal Victory and close to a Substantive.

Ending positions

The rain on the 2nd turn certainly limited HeavyD's options early on, then Reno and Banks we able to further deny him crossing the Rapidan for the next couple of turns. Without that rain on turn two this would have been a much different game. Still, we both had a great time and will be playing the Here Come the Rebel's CG soon.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

None But Heroes (MMP) - "The Cornfield"

Game: None But Heroes (MMP)
Series: Line of Battle
Scenario: "The Cornfield"
Participants: Bob H, Myself
Time: 6/26 ~ 2.00PM - 4.00PM
         6/29 ~ 7.30PM - 10.00PM
          7/4 ~ 3.00PM - 4.30PM

The Line of Battle (LoB) series is MMP's renewed entry into the regimental level ACW field. Units are regiments and batteries. Strength point represent around 100 infantry or a single artillery piece. Hexes are roughly 100 yards and turns represent fifteen minutes. This is the third entry into this space by "The Gamers" Dean Essig. From my many conversations with HeavyD and Bob, as well as Mr. Essig's excellent designer notes, LoB is expressly designed to simplify his previous systems and correct a few issues with how the previous series rules drove players to do things that didn't look much like what happened on the field.

This is my first foray into regimental scale ACW games. Nearly all of my previous ACW gaming has been spent with GCACW. Both of my main gaming partners are big fans of regimental ACW games having played nearly all of them. Their collective enthusiasm for games of this scale fueled my interest in trying out this new series. We talked for hours about all the different series in the game space on our recent trip down to the Chickamauga Battlefield. Happily MMP released this title shortly after our return to St. Louis.

Initial Set Up

"None but Heroes" is about the battle of Antietam. Prior to playing this scenario Bob and I set up and "played" through the first scenario "The Charge of the Texas Brigade". Both of us are new to the series and our first scenario was all about learning as much as we could about the rules. We then next decided to play "The Cornfield" as it is the logical choice for the next scenario for two beginners. The scenario depicts the AoP's I Corps assault into Millers cornfield and beyond to Drunkard church. Historically, I Corps made it into the cornfield and past but was unable to withstand the counterattack by Hood's division. Casualties were extremely heavy on both sides. This action also features two of the more famous Brigades of the ACW, the "Iron Brigade" (I Corps) and the "Stonewall Brigade".

I made Bob play the Union even though he's much more of a Southern gentlemen then I. I rightly guessed that Bob would pick up the game much quicker then I would. As the Union player is on the attack in this scenario it was only fitting. I had absolutely no clue as to what I should be doing as the scenario opened.


Openning

I Corps approaches Millers Cornfield
Bob starts out with the entire 1st Corps on the move. The first turn didn't have a lot action in it as Bob brought his Corps out of the North Woods and marched towards Millers Cornfield. The Ridge line in the middle of the cornfield prevented LOS between most of our units, so this advance was largely shielded from my main force. I did however have several batteries on Nicodemus Hill which shot into Doubleday's division on Bobs right. 

The Confederate Batteries on Nicodemus Hill Engage the approaching Union units


We quickly made our first major rules error. On our initial pass through the rules and again as we were playing we missed the part of the rules where it said that you cannot take the shot if you column shift off the fire table. Thus I took perhaps a half a dozen artillery shots illegally on the "1" column. Due to the special rules in this scenario I quickly ran out of ammo for most of the batteries on the hill. I did take out 4-5 steps of infantry though prior to this. We discovered our error later in the game whilst searching for an unrelated rules question. The lack of an index in the rules book was felt here as we repeatedly spent a long time scouring the RB looking for an arcane answer to a rules question. The up side was that we were really never unable to find a rule to cover whatever we were looking up, it just took us a lot of time.


I Corps Prepares to enter the cornfield


I largely remained passive on my first couple of turns as Bob's units bore down on me. Given what eventually happened I can assume that I missed my chance to improve my defense on these first couple of turns. After having played through the scenario once I can think of several adjustments I would make as the CSA player on these opening turns to offer the Union a stronger defense. This of course is another way of saying that while our result was fairly exciting and one sided, my gut feeling is that this scenario, when played by two reasonably skilled players will be fairly well balanced. I was also very impressed with the fact that Mr. Essig often made mention in the rules/notes of adjustments to VC's based on play testing.

Into the Cornfield

Union Batteries suffer as they emerge from the Cornfield

It was now Bobs turn to learn a few lessons the hard way. As I had previously mentioned, Bob is able to get into the cornfield largely unseen by my main force. Bob elected to have a few batteries accompany his first Brigade over the crest and through the cornfield. Here we made our second major rules gaff. An artillery battery must be limbered in order to move thus Bob had these forward batteries limbered in order for them to move up and take position on my side of the cornfield. We missed the part where a battery must roll for losses if it unlimbers within 5 hexes of an enemy unit. At the end of Bobs turn we was sitting pretty with a couple of batteries mixed in with his lead brigade.

My next turn however went quite well as I opened up on this line and inflicted some impressive losses. Many of Bobs infantry regiments ran, forcing the batteries to do the same. We realized our mistake and Bob lost many of his guns as his batteries had to limber up only two hexes from my first line. Bob even mentioned that the designer made note of this no-no in the notes to the game. Neither one of us will make this mistake again. None the less we certainly had a good time leaning this important lesson while watching these batteries melt away as they tried to bug out.

End of the Union's 2nd Turn

My next turn found me starting to actively guide my defense as I started to get more and more comfortable with the rules. I mostly stood in place and fired at Bob from about two hexes distance. Bob's units largely stood their ground, except strangely for the brigade that was protecting the batteries. Hindsight again makes me think that I missed another opportunity to lessen the mighty shock I was about to face in Bobs next turn.

Two Lines Meet

Bob engages Lawton's Brigade

This turn (the 3rd I believe) was certainly very exciting. It literally was my first experience at having two lines comes together at this scale on a board game. Bob started on his left, with Ricketts division. We were learning on the fly here as Bob would move a couple of regiments, see the results and then try something a little different the next time. I enjoyed it immensely.

A word here on the mechanics of movement & combat are in order. During a players turn he has three basic choices on how he can move a unit (in proximity to the enemy, that is 2-6 hexes or so). First off you can simply stand and shoot, doing nothing else. This is nice because it doesnt trigger an Opening Volley. Opening Volleys allow the defender (or inactive player) a chance to shot back prior to the active player making his shot or charge attack. I have to say that I love this feature of the game, its reminiscent of Defensive First Fire in ASL. The second option a player has is to "Move and Fire", this means that the active player can move up to half his movement allowance (3 for infantry in line) and then take a shot. This exposes the moving unit to reaction fire (an opening volley) at no risk of morale degradation (you generally with take losses though). The final option open to the active player is to "charge", this means that the player can move a unit adjacent to an enemy unit and make a fire attack followed by a much tougher morale check (should the fire warrant it). This usually means that the attacker has a good chance of taking the hex and forcing the defender back (or in some cases to run away).

Bob reinforces after smashing Lawton's Brigade

The catch here with the Charge option though is that in order to execute a charge, the unit must pass two morale checks (these are called Closing Rolls) in order to move adjacent and then to make the charge attack. Failure of the first means the unit is unable to move adjacent (he can still fire though). Failure of the second (when you are adjacent) means that you can still shot (and are subject to an OV) but the special Charge modifiers do not apply to any subsequent morale check the defender may make (i.e. it's much more likely that the defender will stand). These mechanics seem to work very well in simulating what it takes to actually run towards hundreds of armed men trying to shot you. Unit morale plays a big role in whether you are actually able to get in and make the charge. This also creates a very engaging experience for both players as its highly interactive for both and full of surprises.

So, back to our narrative. Bob is learning right in front of me, in front of the East Woods with Ricketts division. I am learning too and enjoying the whole thing, even as my line gradually melts away. One of the interesting options open to the attacker is that he can mix and match his movement and fire options. So you can open an attack with a couple of regiments firing (prep fire), then you can move a couple more in close and fire again (advancing fire) finally you can finish your attack with a dramatic charge to take the position (close combat). The system elegantly handles the defenders return fire with the Opening Volley mechanic.

As the defender you then have to deal with units that run away. You have choices. The second time you play the game you will be much better at understanding what this looks like and how to prepare for it. The was my first time playing, so it was messy. In short as a unit runs away from a fight (due to a failed morale check) it will have an impact on the other units around it. For example, if I have a unit directly behind the retreating unit, I have to either run through the hex (bad for both the running unit and the unit in the path as both units have their morale degraded) or I can have the unit that is in the way displace one hex, degrading its morale in the process (although less then if the unit would have move through its hex).


End of the Union 3rd Turn

Again this is an elegant way of handling this situation and very engaging. The defender has to give thought to setting up his line and think through what a retreat will do to those units behind the first line. Its also very engaging in that even during my opponents turn I am still making important decisions that effect the outcome of the game.

By the time Bob works his way over to the cornfield my initial line is mostly gone. I have one stalwart band standing firm due to the leaders in the hex, but almost two whole brigades have taken flight. Bob is only a few hexes away from the 2nd victory hex and I am still a couple turns away from having Hoods division freed for movement.

Adjustment and Counter Attack

End of the my 3rd turn

When the smoke clears from Bobs turn I am faced with a tough situation. I am now a bit smarter in what to expect when two lines meet and I have the benefit of what Bob and I learned during his turn. Still he is largely standing where my units where just moments before and in fairly good shape sans losses taken from OVs. I start on my right with Ripley's brigade. I try and move up and support the 21st NC which is still holding its ground. When I do attack or charge it doesn't go nearly as well as it did for Bob, he has very good morale troops and they are determined to hold ground they have just taken. On my left I get to open up with a battery using dense canister and cut down a regiment in short order, using all of my ammo in the process. Its satisfying but its not going to stem the tide of blue uniforms poring our of the cornfield. The Stonewall Brigade takes flight as well.

The End


The 12th Mass displaced Ewell's Divisions HQ

Bobs next turn will be our last (6.30AM turn). Here we both learn another important lesson. Divisional HQ's are represented by counters. When an enemy unit enters your HQ it has to displace. This triggers the whole unit to skedaddle back to get into command range of the now displaced (8-12 hexes to the rear) HQ unit. Bob opens with some fire attacks and then moves in with the 12th Mass and Charges the regiment in my HQs hex. He takes the hex and we both review the displacement rules. Its going to be a mess for my Confederates. We decide to call it a battle at this point as the odds are very long that I have enough time to adjust for the displacement AND retake the victory location.

Ewell's HQ repositioned

Despite my shellacking I had a great time. There was pain along the way in learning a new system. An Index in the series rules would be a great help in lessening this. We spent a lot of time looking up things for the first and second time, but this lessened as the scenario went on and we become more confident with the rules. The meat of the game lies in the movement and fire mechanics and these are rock solid. A few turns of playing and you will nearly have most of the important concepts down. I loved the inspired design of the Opening Volley and Closing rolls. I like the way the series handles Charges (melee combat). I am certainly no expert, but the system "feels" right in factoring morale into these mechanics, something a lot of game don't consider.

I do not love the map art. Bob and I spent a lot of time looking back and forth between the map, the key and the terrain effects chart. There is a lot of little chrome on the map the mostly had little impact on the larger scheme of things, this takes some time to get used to. I felt like I was fighting the map most of the time. The Line of Sight rules however are well written and I didn't have trouble with these. The counter art grew on me. The charts are functional and well thought out in most cases.

I should point out that the game spends a lot of time on the Orders section of the rulebook, that is the mechanics of assigning units (Divisions and Corps mostly) objectives. We didn't even touch those rules in this scenario as its not really needed here as the Union player has clear cut objectives and there is little room to wiggle around these.

I really liked the experience and narrative the game creates. Both players are highly engaged in the very tactical decision making this game presents (at least in this scenario). The devil is in the details and this devil is a whole lot of fun.