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Bloody April: The Battle of Shiloh, 1862» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Bloody April, GBACW rss

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thomas fernbacker
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Bloody April, The Battle of Shiloh, Published by SPI 1979, a Richard Berg design.
AKA the scary monster, AKA an accountants dream, AKA an accountants nightmare, are just some of the names I've heard and read given about this game.

Bloody April is the surprise attack battle on April 6,7 1862, between Confederate Army of the Mississippi under shared command of ASJohnston & Beauregard and Union Army of the Tennessee commander Grant with Union Army of the Ohio commander Buell arriving on the 7th.

This game IMO should have been given the added title of Volume I in the GBACW series. Why you may ask? Bloody April does not look like it's two predecessors TSS(Terrible Swift Sword), SPI 1976 or Stonewall, The Battle of Kernstown, SPI 1978. The map is the first thing that stands out about this game. Nicely colored with different shades of terrain elevation's and landmarks. All of your record tracking are also on the map, supply, casualties.


Second is the counters being given a numerical morale rating for each unit. The artillery became sparated though from it individual command(not good, added more counters to a stack). To me the rules also read a little clearer.
That being said the rules have some of the most additions to a game I've ever read. If you were to seperate them, the game rules would outweigh the standard rules. And that's where the problem starts for some folks.
Some of these that stand out are "Pickets" which serve two different functions,(alerts & message carriers), "Encamp" which serve three different functions(informational status of the Union brigade, supply status and possible looting potential), "Camp Depleted"(after being looted or supply drawn by Union forces), & "Looting"(explained above). Optional are "Forest Fires" & "Aide Camps" etc.
Don't get me completely wrong there is alot of information that I find interesting in the booket itself, replacement officers(up and coming names you learn as the war progresses) & Van Dorn's orders to move on Corinth Ms.(more about that later).
Just to give you an idea
This is from my last set up of this game

Pickets are set up secretly, they're seen here just for recording purpose.
You can see the pickets in advance and the unalerted/encamp Union in the back ground.

LOS plays an important part in picket duty.
Note the proximity of the Confederate unit to the Union picket.

Now the accountants dream or accountants nightmare.

The roster sheets. These were the roster sheets provided with this game. Foremost is the "Fatigue", which must be accounted for per turn not phase of each units movement or fire or melee or failed morale check to recover from rout, phasing or non phasing.
It is also used for strenght point unit or artillery/leader loss. Now this is interesting if you have a certain strenght point or morale levels or "?" where your morale rating should be. You must roll for straggler loss if you use more than one movement point or combat or looting you must roll.
To use these roster sheets a player needs 17 for Confederates and 30 for Union, add 13 more to the Confederates if you use the opional Army of the West, Van Dorn, yes Van Dorn is an option, fresh after his engagement with Curtis's forces in the far west or trans mississippi theater(Pea Ridge).

But wait there's easier softer way thanks to a fellow BGGer James Laubach, who created some really nice roster sheets that only require the player to need 11 sheets for the standard game or 14 sheets total for both sides including Van Dorn's optional play.
Bloody April, The Battle of Shiloh,
AKA scary monster, accountants nightmare, accountants dream, I say neither. This has gotten a bad rap. The game can be learned by two players in under 2hrs. Once the players get into the routine of the game and pass around the 10am turn depending upon how agressive you are, a lot of the map counter clutter will be cleared(pickets, encamp & depleted camp).

It's really just a larger version of Pea Ridge, Cedar Mountain or Drive on Washington. The latter two reviews will be coming soon.
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Michael
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We few,we happy few,we band of brothers;For he today that sheds his blood with me Shall be my brother: be he ne’er so vile;And gentlemen in England now-abed Shall think themself accurs’d they were no here That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.
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My First "Monster" game.

And still love it

Finding opponants still the biggest bugbear ..lol

Great review Thomas

.
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thomas fernbacker
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mixykym wrote:
My First "Monster" game.

And still love it

Finding opponants still the biggest bugbear ..lol

Great review Thomas

.
Excellent, my first was Gleam of Bayonets
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thomas fernbacker
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Peso Pete wrote:
Agree with you concerning the graphics. The map might be Redmond Simonsen's masterpiece (which is saying a lot!). Sadly, I don't agree on the gameplay. The alert system was a pain. Every time I played, I thought "there has got to be a better way of simulating this". Then there was all the die-rolling concerning stragglers. When I played, I would have whole regiments simply evaporate due to straggling which was neither realistic nor fun. Then there was the ammunition supply which you spoke of in your review.

I enjoyed your review and I certainly respect your point of view, but I believe that BA's reputation is well-earned. Rather than a bad rap, I think it shows the intelligence of the BGG wargaming community. It took a fun and clean system and muddied it up with too much complexity and procedure. Then again, there is that gorgeous map that begs to be played on...
Excellent point regarding stragglers. I don't know if that is historically accurate especially so early in the war. One would think the troops were more disciplined and not in need of looting or running off.
 
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Thinking the same thing with my copy - what a really nice map to not play on.

Maybe I should just frame it.
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thomas fernbacker
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Wilhammer wrote:
Thinking the same thing with my copy - what a really nice map to not play on.

Maybe I should just frame it.
LOL,hahaha
Create a different way of straggler. With the new roster sheets it's a great play.
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Tom Hanover

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I once umpired a 9-player double-blind Bloody April game by mail. It took six years to complete but it was well worth the effort (see the AAR posted in the Files section). I had participated in a similar BA game some years previously and, based on that experience, made several key changes to the rules in order to streamline game play and make it easier and faster to umpire.

Rather than remaining bogged down in the rules as written, I strove to create a "clean" version of Bloody April by pruning away most of the accounting chores (which designer Richard Berg seemed all too fond of adding). This is what I recommend to make Bloody April the enjoyable contest it should be:

- Ditch the fatigue rules altogether (including the unwieldy roster sheets) and substitute the BCE ratings and rules as used in the later GBACW games. I simply set BCE at 50% strength(rounded up) for all brigades. You can easily set these higher or lower depending on your preferences or how well (or badly) you think a particular brigade fought historically. You can also do so randomly just to vary things up a bit and give some brigades more "staying power" while leaving others more "brittle".

- Eliminate straggling die rolls for both movement and combat. Losses tend to be unrealistically high in this game series anyway and (to me) the loss of a strength point in combat represents not only killed and wounded but stragglers as well, all rolled into one. No need to pile on more.

- Use Random Ammo Depletion for infantry and cavalry (again, as in the later games) and do away with keeping track of ammo for individual units, except for artillery batteries.

- Add Melee Initiation die rolls (i.e. a unit has to roll a die equal to or lower than its morale rating to engage in melee). This injects a little more uncertainty into the battle and makes leaders and high-morale units all the more valuable (and necessary) for initiating a critical charge.

I agree the Alert Rules are a pain and if I were to run another such contest I would take a close look at modifying them, possibly by eliminating the pickets altogether and substituting a simple die roll for each Union division. One could work this out based on the historical alert times and still achieve a reasonably varied outcome (either quicker to alert or slower).

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Don Lynch
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thomas7163 wrote:
Bloody April, The Battle of Shiloh, Published by SPI 1979, a Richard Berg design.
AKA the scary monster, AKA an accountants dream, AKA an accountants nightmare, are just some of the names I've heard and read given about this game.


Was part of a 6 player effort played out over a few nights way back when it first came out. Never did finish that game; seemed like we hardly started.

As a result of general dissatisfaction, it was afterwards referred to as "Bloody Awful".
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thomas fernbacker
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donlyn wrote:
thomas7163 wrote:
Bloody April, The Battle of Shiloh, Published by SPI 1979, a Richard Berg design.
AKA the scary monster, AKA an accountants dream, AKA an accountants nightmare, are just some of the names I've heard and read given about this game.


Was part of a 6 player effort played out over a few nights way back when it first came out. Never did finish that game; seemed like we hardly started.

As a result of general dissatisfaction, it was afterwards referred to as "Bloody Awful".

Ouch, I'm sorry to hear that
I was never a fan of the 100 man strength point, it seemed like a lot of men to loose in stragglers.
I'd like to see some of our current designers take this game on and come out with a re-print
If your still interested in a good Shiloh Battle, I recommend MMP's RSS/LoB series, Fearful Slaughter
It also provides a what if situation
VanDorn command is included as well as some Union commands
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Don Lynch
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thomas7163 wrote:
donlyn wrote:
thomas7163 wrote:
Bloody April, The Battle of Shiloh, Published by SPI 1979, a Richard Berg design.
AKA the scary monster, AKA an accountants dream, AKA an accountants nightmare, are just some of the names I've heard and read given about this game.


Was part of a 6 player effort played out over a few nights way back when it first came out. Never did finish that game; seemed like we hardly started.

As a result of general dissatisfaction, it was afterwards referred to as "Bloody Awful".

Ouch, I'm sorry to hear that
I was never a fan of the 100 man strength point, it seemed like a lot of men to loose in stragglers.
I'd like to see some of our current designers take this game on and come out with a re-print
If your still interested in a good Shiloh Battle, I recommend MMP's RSS/LoB series, Fearful Slaughter
It also provides a what if situation
VanDorn command is included as well as some Union commands


>"Ouch, I'm sorry to hear that"
Actually no sorrier than I was at the time. We were all looking forward to that session. It really just dragged, for little fun. Most of us were TSS veterans too.

At this point, it would likely be too much to expect to play it again even with rules changes, well just because of time commitments if not too many rules to study up on. I will take a look at MMP (Gamers?) version at some point. I like the idea of variants and variable entry time and locations

Landed here after a visit to the BGG Columbia Games version of Shiloh to check on something. Like that game a lot, especially with simpler rules set and less time commitment. And blocks.
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thomas fernbacker
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donlyn wrote:
thomas7163 wrote:
donlyn wrote:
thomas7163 wrote:
Bloody April, The Battle of Shiloh, Published by SPI 1979, a Richard Berg design.
AKA the scary monster, AKA an accountants dream, AKA an accountants nightmare, are just some of the names I've heard and read given about this game.


Was part of a 6 player effort played out over a few nights way back when it first came out. Never did finish that game; seemed like we hardly started.

As a result of general dissatisfaction, it was afterwards referred to as "Bloody Awful".

Ouch, I'm sorry to hear that
I was never a fan of the 100 man strength point, it seemed like a lot of men to loose in stragglers.
I'd like to see some of our current designers take this game on and come out with a re-print
If your still interested in a good Shiloh Battle, I recommend MMP's RSS/LoB series, Fearful Slaughter
It also provides a what if situation
VanDorn command is included as well as some Union commands


>"Ouch, I'm sorry to hear that"
Actually no sorrier than I was at the time. We were all looking forward to that session. It really just dragged, for little fun. Most of us were TSS veterans too.

At this point, it would likely be too much to expect to play it again even with rules changes, well just because of time commitments if not too many rules to study up on. I will take a look at MMP (Gamers?) version at some point. I like the idea of variants and variable entry time and locations

Landed here after a visit to the BGG Columbia Games version of Shiloh to check on something. Like that game a lot, especially with simpler rules set and less time commitment. And blocks.

And there lies the problem
We tactical gamers have the problem of liking games that either have too many rules or mechanics which in turn takes time.
I'm ACW nut so if a game or really a series interest me and it works I'll learn it to proficiency. I did it with the early GBACW and now with later 2000's version. I actually became a play tester for GMT-Twin Peaks and coming soon a very large addition to the series in (2018).
I can say this, once you get the mechanic's down for the later GBACW games they moves along very smoothly.
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