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Subject: Blockade & Related topics rss

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John Griffey
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I eagerly await the arrival of RR. Mark McLaughlin's games are always of the highest imaginative genius, and are designed with care & deep historical knowledge.

I distinctly recall reading that blockade runners faced greater danger running into port than running out of port. Running in, there's the danger of a dark shoreline on which to wreck, as well as the danger of interception. Running out, a runner can make his steam and pick the ideal moment of tide, moon and wind to make the dash to open sea. Was this difference accounted for in the game?

Also, I recall reading of the special geographical difficulty of North's blockade of Wilmington, NC. Cape Fear divided the North's blockade into two parts, among other difficulties. This made Wilmington especially valuable to the South. Was this also accounted for?

Also, there was a chance the South could have grabbed Ft. Pickens anytime January-April 1861, before the cannonade on Ft. Sumter in April. The Northern garrison was initially ashore but the Florida militia let them (only 81 men) slip away January 10 into the fort. Ft. Pickens controlled the entrance to Pensacola Bay, and in Northern control negated the usefulness to the South of Pensacola's large navy yard, including a large dry dock suitable for very large ships. In the game?

Also, is there interplay between Southern military fortunes and how far Britain and France will risk war by building Southern ships? The better the South did, the bolder were the British and French.
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Fred Schachter
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Hi John,

Mark McLaughlin and I are most appreciative of your patronage.

Your post above is an intriguing one and not something I'm qualified to respond to as the game's Developer (although, thanks to Mark and some reading of my own I'm now far more knowledgeable of the American Civil War's nautical aspects than I was when our Rebel Raiders on the High Seas efforts commenced).

Mark is currently traveling and asked me to let you know that he'll have a reply by Tuesday this week.

Furthermore, you've happily provoked a revisiting of the design elements behind the game which will become content for Mark's BLOG: http://markgmclaughlin.blogspot.com/

So thank you John for your shared passion of the game's historical backdrop. What you've provided is a reminder of why our hobby is fun.

Enjoy Rebel Raiders on the High Seas (when you receive it that is)!
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Fred Schachter
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Hello John,

Mark McLaughlin began responding to your design questions with his BLOG Post todat. Here it is.

Thanks so much for your interest in the game!

Enjoy Rebel Raiders on the High Seas!

France and England in the Civil War – and in Rebel Raiders

Last week a gamer asked about how Rebel Raiders on the High Seas handles “the interplay between Southern military fortunes and how far Britain and France would risk war by building Southern ships?"

As a strategic naval game of the war, Rebel Raiders has to account for the role played by the great powers of Europe. It does this in several ways:

-1. Ship Building: One Raider a Turn
-Each turn the Confederacy can build one Raider in either of the two overseas European map spaces that represent England and France or Spain. Doing so uses up one of the South’s allotted builds (usually five a turn, but fewer as the South loses cities), and also requires expenditure of a Victory Point (this reflects the cost of purchasing and arming the Raider). There are also cards that provide the South with a free Raider in one of those ports, and special Raiders at that (CSN Card 63 – CSS Alabama, CSN Card 64- CSS Shenandoah and CSN Card 74-CSS Stonewall).

-2. Ship Building: Blockade Runners
-Each turn the Confederacy may build one or more Blockade Runners overseas. In 1861 the South builds one abroad, in 1862 they may build two, in 1863, three and in 1864, up to four. Again, these count toward the South’s allotted builds (although by 1864 the South usually has been reduced below its original build level through Union assault successes, and is also less likely to build Blockade Runners as there are either few ports left to unload in, or those ports are so heavily blockaded by the Union as to make getting in or out of them extremely risky. There are also cards that give the South free Blockade Runners in Europe (CSN Card 84 – The Douglas) and in the other overseas boxes, most of which were part of the British, French or Spanish empires (CSN Card 108-War Profiteers)

-3. Investment: European Front Companies provide Arms to the South
The South relied on European companies for much of its war material (as well as luxury goods and civilian necessities). The loading/unloading of Victory Points (VPs) reflects that, as these VPs may be used to purchase ships and batteries and counterattacks, and are needed to fend off the degradations of the Supply Roll and penalties for losing cities. Several cards reflect this trade, and the establishment of front companies in their colonies by European interests which fed arms and other goods to the South. These include CSN Card 99 – The Queen’s Artillery – which allows the South to cash in one 2 VP European cargo counter for a battery …which normally costs 20 VPs, and Cards 87 –Cotton is King, 93 – Herrera & Co. and 94 – To the Dark Shores, each of which offers the South increased opportunities to gain additional VPs.

-4. “Intervention”: Trent Affair, Maximillian, and Royal Navy
-While some ACW wargames and novelists like to toy with the ‘what if’ of French or British armies or navies fighting for the Southern cause, Rebel Raiders sticks to what these great powers did do, as is reflected in the Cards in the game. The play of the Trent Affair (CSN Card 83) provides an opening for the play of Maximillian (CSN Card 61) and Royal Navy (CSN Card 62). The first makes Mexico, where the French had installed Maximillian as emperor, very friendly to the South: providing one free Blockade Runner a turn plus a modifier to the Southern Supply Roll die. The second card simulates the movement of British warships and troops to Canada (which occurred as part of Britain’s angry response to the Trent debacle) by requiring the Union to take warships out of play to guard against this threat (as also occurred).

-5. The Emancipation Proclamation and Diplomatic Pressure
-The Emancipation Proclamation event changes how Europe viewed the war, and reduces European support to the Confederacy. It removes Trent, Maximillian and Royal Navy from the game (and if Royal Navy has been played, frees up the Union warships which responded to it). It also removes two of the six VP cargo markers from play, which makes it more difficult for the South to bring home large amounts of Victory Points each turn. Diplomatic Pressure (USN Card 55) forces the discard of Trent or Royal Navy and, if played after The Emancipation Proclamation, closes one of the two European ports. Any Confederate ships in that closed port are either chased out (where they can be intercepted) or seized by the European government.
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Fred Schachter
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Hi John,

Thje preceding was but a partial response to your initial inquiry.

You also noted: "I distinctly recall reading that blockade runners faced greater danger running into port than running out of port. Running in, there's the danger of a dark shoreline on which to wreck, as well as the danger of interception. Running out, a runner can make his steam and pick the ideal moment of tide, moon and wind to make the dash to open sea. Was this difference accounted for in the game?

Also, I recall reading of the special geographical difficulty of North's blockade of Wilmington, NC. Cape Fear divided the North's blockade into two parts, among other difficulties. This made Wilmington especially valuable to the South. Was this also accounted for?
"

As to certain Ports unique geographies, with a game like Rebel Raiders strategic perspective, we elected a homogenous approach to keep the game and map simple without differentiating one Port from another in the maner you describe. Of course, feel free, as you did with your victory points per city optional rule, to propose a variant which does.

As to your inquires regarding Blockade Runners going in and out of Ports, Game Designer Mark McLaughlin provides the following response from his latest BLOG.

Hopefully this post and its preceding reply concerning how Rebel Raiders reflects the possibilities of British/French intervention in the American Civil War provides satisfactory response to your 10/4/13 inquiries.

Enjoy Rebel Raiders on the High Seas!

From Mark McLaughlin's BLOG

"Running the Blockade – in Rebel Raiders on the High Seas

A gamer who ordered and “eagerly awaits the arrival” of Rebel Raiders on the High Seas asked if and how the game system handles the vagaries of running the blockade, and the abilities of Blockade Runner captains to find “the ideal moment of tide, moon and wind to make the dash to open sea” and to navigate the “danger of a dark shoreline” on the way back in.

Blockade Runners have an advantage over the Union patrols, in that in the die roll to evade interception they gain a +2 and win ties. That means if they roll a 4 or higher, they are safe, and if they roll less, the North still has to beat them by 3 (i.e. if a Blockade Runner rolls a 1, the Union ship needs a 4 or better to catch her). In addition, there are some Blockade Runners that are even more difficult to intercept, as are represented by certain cards. Here are a few examples:

The Don (CSN Card 66) was a particularly fast twin-screw vessel. Capable of 14 knots and drawing only six feet, The Don was hard to run down and could slip into coastal inlets to hide.

Most blockade runners made a profit by their second voyage; the CSS Advance (CSN Card 67) made 20 such successful runs, making her one of if not the most profitable of all of those ships that ran the Union blockade

The Banshee (CSN Card 68) was one of the first ships built specifically to run the Union blockade. She was also one of the first commercial vessels to build of steel. Under Joseph W. Steele (ironic how the name and the ship match) the ship made eight successful runs, giving her owners their investment seven times over.

CSS Robert E. Lee (CSN Card 69) began her career as a blockade runner in the fall of 1862. For nearly a year the schooner-rigged, iron-hulled, oscillating-engine, double-stack paddle-steamer ran in and out of North Carolina’s inlets and harbors to bring in war materials and other desperately needed supplies.

The Union, however, had gunboats and sloops that were expert at catching these ships, and many of them are in the game. The Union can also stack ships in the Blockade Stations off the ports, and can either roll one die for each ship or roll a single, modified die for the stack – the bigger the stack, the better the chance on that die. The Union can also set up an outer blockade in the Coastal Zones; the sloops there can do not get the modifier for a stack, but each ship does roll.

Eventually, in the game as in the war, the Blockade Runners DO get caught. There are 17 Blockade Runner counters in the game's counter mix. In the last three games I played, we kept track of them, and the Union intercepted 30 to 35 of them each game; which means that every Blockade Runner the South started with and built was caught not just once but TWICE….

Many of the Blockade Runners (all but one of the above, for example) were captured and pressed into Union service on the blockade stations."
 
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