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Subject: anyone with impressions? rss

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Nathan Leavitt
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Just wondering if anyone is able to give any initial impressions?

Edit: Also wondering how easy the rules are for someone who's never played a LoB game
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I'll be posting a review in another week or so. So far so good!

The LOB rules are not overly complex, but they are definitely not entry level.
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Nathan Leavitt
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Thanks Keith. I look forward to your review.
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Nathan Leavitt
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Sounds great!
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michael esposito
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Still waiting for my copy......soblue
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Nate Strahm
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Me too, I know your pain.
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Matt Foster
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Some initial thoughts on the game:

http://opportunityfire.com/index.php/2014/02/07/first-take-o...

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Kev.
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nice blog. I'd like to subscribe, but all the log in, and math proved to hard.
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John Boswell
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Can someone point me to the Solo rules for this game? Not clear from the rulebook. I do notice the "solo playability" (or whatever) slider on the box is at "Medium"? thanks!
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John Boswell
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kiraly wrote:
hoodedhawk wrote:
Can someone point me to the Solo rules for this game?

You can play the game solo by playing each side (which is where the written commands really help), but there are no specific rules for solo play as far as I am aware.


Thanks!
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James Sexton
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Well, I have not played yet so I am only commenting on a quick look through the box. The components are top notch. Beautiful to look at and substantial in the hand. Give them an 'A'

One thing that struck me immediately though is ratings on the counters. The design team is evidently of the 'southern gods / northern clods' school. Look at a breakdown of the morale of regiments as a percentage of the whole:

Morale -CSA ---- USA
A ------- 32 ----- 10
B ------- 56 ----- 44
C ------- 11 ----- 42
D ------- 0.005 --- 5

Let me give you a quick example of how lopsided this is. Both Iverson's brigade (CSA) and the XI Corps (USA) were placed in a really bad position and were effectively blown away yet Iverson's Brigade has more 'B' rated regiments (in fact they are ALL 'B' rated!!!???) than the entire XI Corps. Any reference on Iverson's brigade I have ever seen talks about how awful the morale was, yet here they all have a 'B' rating.

Then the designers go out of their way to make the 20th Maine a 'B'!

The leadership numbers are also skewed in favor of the south (except at the Corps level). Even RE Lee has his God status renewed in this game.

Long live The Lost Cause (I guess...)
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David Gray
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It was a nice change to see the 20th Maine not overrated for a change. Well done Dean!
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James Sexton
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graydo wrote:
It was a nice change to see the 20th Maine not overrated for a change. Well done Dean!

The game does come with an optional A rated 20th Maine as well.[/q]

My comment was not so much a concern that the 20th Maine should be an 'A' vs a 'B', but just that the entire CSA army seems to be overrated. To nit-pick about the 20th then to give many CSA units outstanding morale when at the battle they performed terrible is ridiculous IMHO. Not so well done Dean!

I have still not played it and the more I look at this disparity the less likely I am to play it. All 'B' in Iverson's brigade? We do NOT get optional (and more realistic) 'D' counters for them. They performed more poorly and had less impact than any brigade in the XI Corps.

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Björn Engqvist
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lemperor wrote:
The leadership numbers are also skewed in favor of the south (except at the Corps level). Even RE Lee has his God status renewed in this game. Long live The Lost Cause (I guess...)


The designer really goes out of his way to explain some of his decisions in this game. In fact the designer's notes are some of the most extensive I have ever seen, and a great read in themselves. Two of the decisions he talks about at length are one, why Longstreet is a '0' command leader when accepting attack orders (worst rating) and to a lesser extent why Lee is rated 'not so sure'.

So, as was previously mentioned Lee certainly has no God status in the game, and the very poor rating of Longstreet all but makes sure that his corps will take a long time to get ready to attack. Both decisions seem reasonable to me in the aspiration to create a historical outcome. I do not know if it is the case in practice, but a good case is made in theory.

I have no opinion (yet) on your assessment of regimental morale values.
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Jim K.
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Also worth noting that Iverson is a 0 brigade leader, which means it is more difficult for him to coordinate attack plans. In my first play through day 1, Iverson finally marched off by himself and got chewed up pretty much like I would have expected.

In any case, it'd be worth asking your question on consimworld, where it's more likely that Dean Essig would comment.
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Matthew Michaud
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Stay Away! This game looks great, but the rules are horrible. I've played it with my gaming group, 3 other guys, all serious grognards and we all came to the same conclusion: THIS GAME IS BROKEN. The command system is a joke...far worse than the CWB system. Artillery is far too weak (virtually impossible to stop a charge by A troops against arty since opening volley has no morale effect), sharpshooters are far too strong (they stop a charge in its tracks whereas chargers can slice through formed troops as long as they have MPs left), leader & unit ratings are questionable all over the map, clunky mechanics that give you 2 mechanisms each for fire & morale, stupid special rules that prevent you from exploring historically possible alternative strategies and, worst of all, nonsensical victory conditions. The Rebs can win every time on the 2nd day by just massing and going after Cemetery Hill. Due to the aforesaid weakness of arty, the Yanks can't stop them. Why worry about marching all over the map? The only victory hex is on Cemetery Hill. There ARE no other objectives. So the only approach that makes sense for the Rebs is to gang up on Cemetery Hill while sending either 5th, 3rd or 1st Corps "Looking for Glory" to reduce the possible Union counterattacking force. But all you have to do is run over their HQs to send them skedaddling and you win. This game IS NOT representative of Civil War tactics or the Battle of Gettysburg.
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Kev.
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slapdaddym wrote:
Stay Away! This game looks great, but the rules are horrible. I've played it with my gaming group, 3 other guys, all serious grognards and we all came to the same conclusion: THIS GAME IS BROKEN. The command system is a joke...far worse than the CWB system. Artillery is far too weak (virtually impossible to stop a charge by A troops against arty since opening volley has no morale effect), sharpshooters are far too strong (they stop a charge in its tracks whereas chargers can slice through formed troops as long as they have MPs left), leader & unit ratings are questionable all over the map, clunky mechanics that give you 2 mechanisms each for fire & morale, stupid special rules that prevent you from exploring historically possible alternative strategies and, worst of all, nonsensical victory conditions. The Rebs can win every time on the 2nd day by just massing and going after Cemetery Hill. Due to the aforesaid weakness of arty, the Yanks can't stop them. Why worry about marching all over the map? The only victory hex is on Cemetery Hill. There ARE no other objectives. So the only approach that makes sense for the Rebs is to gang up on Cemetery Hill while sending either 5th, 3rd or 1st Corps "Looking for Glory" to reduce the possible Union counterattacking force. But all you have to do is run over their HQs to send them skedaddling and you win. This game IS NOT representative of Civil War tactics or the Battle of Gettysburg.
....
But what do you REALLY think?
Wow.
I have not played ANY of the titles yet , but based upon past performance and the clean up of NBS I have hope that this is an erroneous opinion.
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preston smith
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I agree, a excellent system. I'am into the second day. I recommend the game.
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Marc Grad
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Regarding the recent comments about LCV, I'd like to add my two cents.

I'm one of the players in the just finished game Matthew described above.

Reluctantly I have to agree with much of what Matthew wrote. Reluctant because all 4 of us in the group desperately wanted to like and enjoy LCV. we are all big fans of many of the GAMERS/MMP game systems, and we all have experience with CBW and/or RSS and also three of us played many hours of None But Heros.

Each of us had objections to different aspects of the LOB version 2 rules and the LCV rules in particular. For my part, I actually like how the command system attempts to model the fractured and uncoordinated nature of an army executing offensive tactical operations in the civil war. I also like what other's might categorize as revisionist ratings of some of the regiment's morale and leaders command.

For instance James Sexton above voiced some concern over the ratings of Iverson's Confederate Brigade. I don't see a problem though with the North Carolinian's being rated mostly B morales, this being because it was really the disastrous leadership of Iverson himself that caused the terrible performance of the Brigade. Accordingly, Iverson is rated 0-0, the worst you can get.

Similarly, I think it's fine that much of the Confederate regiments are highly rated A morale units. Anyone studying the battles from late on the second day would have to agree that troops in Hood, McLaws, and Anderson's divisions accomplished amazing feats against some good federal opposition. But in my opinion the weakness for the Confederates was again their sluggish leadership form Longstreet, Hill, Anderson, and several Brigade commanders like Mahone and Posey (I don't want to make this into a historical debate, but I'll just say that the latter two might have been hamstrung by orders from above).

Likewise the Federal commanders on the field, like Meade, Hancock, Caldwell, Willard, Strong and many others were able to quickly react to the Confederate attack. And I think the game does a GOOD job of modeling this!!

I also like how the reserve rules work, and I appreciate the effort the designer made in trying to restrict the Confederates on the first day of battle of unhistorically being able to run rampant on the Federals. Some might argue that the game became to orchestrated to historical events, but I for one was in favor of this change.

Where the game falls down for me is in several areas:

1)Victory Conditions
2)Some tactical concerns about Artillery and Sharpshooters
3)Uncertainty of how to execute orders


1) Victory Conditions - The only victory conditions in the game are to capture the Cemetery Gatehouse (Confederates have an unlimbered Artillery battery within 4 hexes I think at the end of the game). Additionally the Confederates can prevent a union victory by having units astride the Tanneytown road and Baltimore Pike at the end of the game(I don't own the game so I'm going a bit off memory here and might be slightly wrong, feel free to correct me if needed) The problem mine and Matthew's groups encountered was that the single victory hex seemed to make the rest of the battlefield unimportant. Unlike in the older RSS game This Hallowed Ground, there are no victory point hexes to be won any place else on the map, and further there are no victory points for damaging/wrecking your opponent's army. So with that being the case, why would the confederates bother to extend their forces down towards the Round Tops? Sure there is some benefit to cutting off the roads thus preventing a union victory if they end up holding the cemetery hex, but that move will not WIN the game for the Rebels. So the obvious strategy in our view is for the Confederates to mass their troops opposite Cemetery Hill, and just charge it. But how can that be done you ask, with all the artillery that is undoubtedly stacked mile high on the hill?

2) Tactical concerns - I wouldn't begin to describe myself as some sort of civil war expert in knowledge or in games, but admittedly I've been involved in both for as long as many of you. That said, in our opinion, their are issues with how the artillery functions in the game. We spent about 35-40 hours playing multiple scenarios of LCV. In that time what we experienced consistently was artillery batteries getting overrun by infantry charges. (Actually charges seem really powerful to us, regardless of whether they are against arty or inf). A change in the LOB rules 2nd edition was to prevent infantry from stacking with Artillery. I like the designers rational for the design change, but in our admittedly limited 35-40 hours of gaming experience, it doesn't seem to work. A charge by the before mentioned great morale Confederate regiments will likely pass multiple rolls to close. The artillery gets a canister bonus in their opening volley, but they can do at best 2 strength points of damage, but more likely 1. Then the infantry is in most cases I think able to automatically do a strength point of damage to the arty, who must then roll their morale with a negative die roll modifier due to being attacked by infantry. It's very hard in our experience for the artillery to stand, they often get pushed back losing more guns. The real issue though is that once the battery limbers, it can not unlimber again within 5 hexes of an enemy combat unit (or 4 hexes if the arty is stacked with or near a special arty leader).

Matthew and my group played the second day scenario, 7.7. The Confederates were rather easily able to attack up Cemetery Hill, driving off the Artillery in 1 turn, guns that will now not be able to get back to their former positions. In the playing of smaller scenarios we encountered similar problems, where artillery was unable to defend itself.

We also thought Sharpshooters were too powerful. They could block oncoming charge attacks, move in and out of ZOCs and they are effective at shooting at other units. The designer freely admits that these units ARE powerful, and maybe the way they are portrayed is historically accurate. Still they take some getting use to.

3)Uncertainty on how to execute orders - I'll freely admit this could be a problem some folks don't encounter. The issue at hand here is in my feeling comfortable properly executing on orders, and not feeling like I'm cheating the system. Let me explain, my group struggled for a few sessions in trying to understand what kind of movement was legally allowed for units without orders. Dean Essig and others on Consimworld do a fantastic job of supporting the games by providing thorough and often quick answers to questions. Despite that, I kept finding myself questioning what was allowed and not allowed in the system.

Example 1 - In front of Cemetery Hill on the second day are a number of Confederate Sharpshooter units from Rodes' division. In the game the confederate player moved the sharpshooters up right to the base of Cemetery hill, and started shooting at and forcing back Artillery and other infantry regiments (they were a bit lucky, and the Federal player whiffed some morale rolls) The point though was the federal player was unsure if should be allowed to move infantry down the hill to engage the sharpshooters. The command rules in our interpretation don't allow for a command without orders to move up to take group from the enemy, but we also read that you can't really move up to block an enemy. Did we interpret the rules wrong? Maybe, but it's hard to tell.

Example 2 - So Anderson's Division moves to attack towards Cemetery Ridge, extending down to just south of the Copse of Trees. Sickles III corps in his rightful place defending the far left flank of the Federal line along Cemetery ridge (and not up by the Peach Orchard) has no orders. They have the ability to move within command radius, to advance Westward towards the peach orchard and to in essence flank the oncoming Confederate line. Do the rules really allow them to do this though without specific orders??? We really don't know.

I'm not sure why this particular game caused us such problems. We have many CWB/RSS games under our belts, and for whatever reason, I undoubtedly need to explore it in more detail sometime soon, the command rules as they related to LCV just didn't work as well as we wanted.


I probably wrote more than most want to read, but I felt some elaboration was necessary. Certainly it's a tough order for any wargame to hold up perfectly to desires and expectation of multiple players. Certainly no game, or gamer is perfect. But in the end the problems above and more really doomed the experience for us. Certainly I have no doubt the game was extensively play tested, and many of you might not find the issues described above as serious problems. The game itself is beautiful, and the enjoyment that I got out of reading the designer notes and explanations was great, but in the end for our group, it just didn't work.
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Matthew Michaud
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Just to give you an idea of how pissed off we all were after playing this game multiple times (because we REALLY wanted to like it)...the guy who bought it said he will never buy another Civil War game designed by Dean Essig...and he owns almost the entire Gamers catalog. It looks to me like this was not playtested by any objective players. The rules are horribly written...vague, contradictory and enormously frustrating. And the system itself is broken anyway. Sad, really.
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Marc Grad
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To build off one thing Matt said, and I agree with him, I wonder if it's possible there was some amount of group think going on when the game was developed. Again I bring up my concern with the victory conditions.

Certainly I agree that historically Lee was trying to 'push' the federals off the Cemetery Hill, which was the dominating ground in the area. And the best way to do this would be to capture the area in and around he cemetery. But IMHO the way that translates into the game doesn't work. Again what incentive is there to attack or defend south of the Roundtops? (in and around that area, not necessarily attacking DIRECTLY through there which of course wasn't part of Lee's orders) It will take a zero rated Longstreet a long time to get an attacking moving from down there (and of course it should) but if there aren't VPs down there, why do they care to go through the trouble? and if there are no VP's to be won by destroying enemy units, again why go through the trouble.

In the end for us it seemed more like the last side that had a fresh command to attack up Cemetery hill, be it from the East or West, would win the game. For our group at least it seems there could have been a better way to develop the victory conditions. Since it's obviously important for the game to develop a narrative, why then not a few other ways to get VPs? I'm not game designer, so not trying to say I'd do it better, but as a player, this just really didn't work, at least for us.

I look forward to reading other people's write-ups that could show a different view.
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Jim K.
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Matt and Marc,
You guys raise some interesting concerns. As far as the victory conditions go, I've always had the sense that Dean Essig has more of a 'seat of the pants' philosophy than trying to lay out extensive and specific victory condition rules. Some of his notes in the LCV rules point to that. In DAK, for example (OCS but also an Essig game) it says "If it isn’t obvious, it is a draw."

I agree that distilling the whole Gettysburg battle into a fight for a single hex on Cemetery Ridge clearly doesn't cover the complexities of what each commander was trying to accomplish. When I've played, I just try to run the battle by what I think would be the general goals at the time, not trying to meet victory conditions layed out in the rules. Bottom line is that I can appreciate your distaste of the victory conditions as written, and agree that they could have been better thought out if one wanted to codify more encompassing objectives for each side. But I haven't worried about it myself.

As far as the fragility of artillery - this actually came up on consimworld back in 2012. Here's an excerpted quote of some of the discussion:

Quote:
Mike Henshaw - Nov 25, 2012 10:59 am (11241.)

How does one safely support artillery under v2 rules? They seem pretty fragile...

As Rod pointed out in a previous post, most of the batteries have C morale, they now suffer a +1 on their morale check when fired on by small arms (and presumably when charged?), and they are no longer exempt from the +1 Small modifier either (when fired on at range 1 or charged).

It seems that a good tactic would be for opposing infantry armed with rifles to sit at 4 hex range (outside canister range)and exchange fire. And at 4 hex range, no Opening Volley is generated by a moving attacker. A 6-8 firing stack of rifles shifted 3 Left still gets a Morale check on a roll of 8+. If the artillery then limbers and retreats, they must be 5 hexes+ away from the infantry to unlimber again.

Seems like artillery will be easy to push back, and flank-supporting infantry don't help screen them from fire, or share casualties, or use their better morale since they are no longer stacked.

I appreciate that artillery is now harder to Close with with the -1 modifier. A stack attempting charge would have to pass two closing rolls at -1 to charge, then suffer the 1 right shift on the OV table to boot. Scary...so is it better to sit back and trade fire? How was this handled in play-testing?

-----

Rod Miller - Nov 25, 2012 12:33 pm (11242.)

Hi Mike!

re: Firing at Artillery in defensive line at 4 hex range...

At that range, if forced to retreat, arty can unlimber just a hex back from its original position, often does not take the arty out of the line, or the line just adjusts a bit.

A 4-range shot at them successfully gets the arty to retreat just 24% of the time. {8 on crt and then a 7 on morale}. 1 in 4.

At 4 hex range, while arty cannot use cannister, it has no range shifts...so, while the infantry is shooting on the 1 column, arty is shooting on 4-5 or 6 {or whatever it has}

so far, I have not seen sit back and trade fire as better. It can be an option in the right circumstances.

rod

-----

Dean Essig - Nov 25, 2012 2:35 pm (11243.)

I think it's that fire column differential that makes the sit at range (well, the infantry thinks its shooting a long way) tactic fail to be cost effective.

You can try to mitigate that in two ways. Use a lot of infantry stacks (at some point, you'll gain a successful exchange ratio) or use sharpshooters (if you have them).

I've been on the receiving end of the sharpshooter version. Not a good look for the arty (unless you have a lot of it... I didn't). Tactically, it felt right, though, I needed infantry to go out a shoo off the sharpshooters.

Working up the number of stacks to get a decent exchange ratio (or at least a positive one) is a simple math problem... but at some point, you are using so many stacks to trade blows with one arty hex that you are wasting resources for that reason. Like Rod, I've yet to see a player decide that was a good trade off... love to here the comments from anyone who does it (in real play, not a static test in a vacuum, though).

(note that Dean seems to support the notion that you can indeed send some infantry out front to "shoo off the sharpshooters")

I'm sure that doesn't solve your concern, but it seems at least like the issue came up and was considered (and dismissed).

I followed a lot of the rules-changes discussions on consimworld around the time of the release of NBH and subsequently as it went to v2.0 for LCV. Quite a few changes were made in a relatively short period of time (artillery stacking and danger close to name two). Whether there was enough time to really explore the effects those changes made is debatable, I suppose.

Other parts of the rules were 'streamlined' (LOS in particular) to the point where I, at least as a LOB newbie, had to scratch my head to figure things out, especially with LOS and command/orders. A good degree of responsibility is put onto the gamer to use their best judgment as far as whether LOS is blocked or whether a given move is allowed under the orders system. This may be fine for someone with prior experience, but difficult to sort out in a vaccuum starting from scratch using the rules alone. The rules are probably very efficient for someone who has prior experience with the system, but to a newcomer there are terms and assumptions that aren't clear just by reading the rules. Discussions on consimworld have helped a lot.

All that said, I have really really enjoyed my experiences playing NBH and LCV. They're not perfect, but I think they're great games that play out compelling narratives. I treat it more as a loose system than trying to nail down everything by the book.

As I mentioned previously, if you really want to discuss your concerns with the designer (and maybe get more insight into why things are the way they are), I suggest you post on the LOB forum on consimworld.
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Marc Grad
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Good Stuff Jim.

Thanks for sharing your insights. I appreciate your suggestion about posting in the LoB folder, I actually do post there, and Dean and the others provide good, timely answers.

One thing Matt and I didn't mention was our struggles with the LoS rules. Suffice it to say I agree with your assessment.

Enjoy the games!!





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Matthew Michaud
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Jim,
You make some very good points. I agree with just about everything you said, except the conclusion. For me, if I was paying $180 for a game, I'd want to have a tight, finished, coherent product, not just a kit that I can use to explore the battle while having to come up with my own house rules to make it an accurate representation of ACW warfare. I know Dean is a "seat of the pants" kinda guy, but that's just not acceptable at this price point. It just seems sloppy to the point of being really annoying. If I'm playing a game, I want to know what I need to do to win...and if those victory conditions don't make sense, well, then that just destroys the whole raison d'etre of the game, doesn't it? And, as you said, the LOS rules are insane. I'm not gonna shell out $180 and spend hours of my (all too rare) gaming time to play a game that is unfinished, frustrating and tedious. Anyway, thanks for your thoughts. Maybe I'll take it over to ConsimWorld. I'm sure I'd get pilloried by Dean's legions of sycophantic supporters, but it might be worth it if it persuaded him to tighten up his design so that his next game would at least be playable.
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Björn Engqvist
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Whether we like it or not, having airtight victory conditions is never going to be a feature in a Dean Essig game and I did not expect any. Why did you?

Even so, there are 22 scenarios in LCV, 14 of which (by my count) use the Campaign victory conditions, the rest have their own particular victory rules, so even if you were to find the Campaign victory rule a disaster only 2/3 of the scenarios would be spoiled for you.

Discounting your feelings about the victory conditions, what makes the game unplayable/broken?

Discounting your feelings about artillery and sharpshooters, why is the game just a kit that is not an accurate representation of ACW warfare?

 
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