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Subject: Another Pointless Fight rss

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Dan Taylor
United States
Berryville
Virginia
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Just Another Washed Up Wargamer
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No Better Place To Die is eighth in The Gamers’ (now MMP) Civil War Brigade Series. It covers the battle of Stone’s River in late 1862 between the Confederate Army of Tennessee under Bragg and its opponent, Army of the Cumberland under Rosecrans. It was an odd battle in that its beginning saw a few hours of furious fighting, followed by almost 2 days of doing nothing which was topped off by a charge against Union guns reminiscent of Gettysburg to finish the battle. The result was an odd, inconclusive fight that did nothing for either side.

If the reader isn’t familiar with the Civil War Brigade Series as a whole, it might be wise to check my review of "3 Battles of Manassas" (or some other overview of the CWBS) before looking at this game's specific review. This review will assume general knowledge of the series’ concepts and ideas, and will seek to review the game’s specific ideas.

The game contains one unmounted map which is serviceable, as well as counters beginning to look very impressive in this eighth game of the series. (There are subtle shadings of blue to differentiate the Union wings and the Confederate corps are set off by colors as well.) The special rules for the game cover less than a page and have absolutely nothing truly new or different about them. There’s a few options with regards to forces, allowing both sides to bring on reinforcements if they’d like. A variety of scenarios present the battle at different times, from the initial surprise attack to Breckenridge’s doomed attack on the Union artillery lines. In all, a very solid package.

The forces arrayed for battle are smaller than some of the battles back East, but still impressive. The Confederate army has two corps commanded by Hardee and Polk of veteran soldiers. The Union is technically all one army corps (the 14th), but for sanity’s sake there are 3 small corps representing the left, right and center “wings” of the 14th. The Union troops are for the most part veterans, but lag slightly behind the Confederates’ morale states in general. The Confederate command structure continues to have Bragg and Polk in it, meaning getting either of them to start an offensive is difficult at best. The Union army has Thomas and Rosecrans, but getting either of the other wing commanders to do much is a difficult task. In general, the game shows off the command system (and its problems) very well, as both players have competent and incompetent generals to deal with.

As a result of the small number of forces, almost nonexistent special rules and the small nature of the battle, NBPtD is probably the best introduction to the CWBS currently available. The small number of forces involved means it may be possible to play through the full historical battle in an evening. For a while the game was available at MMP’s website for $13, but that time may have passed. If the system interests you but you’re not willing to take the plunge into Seven Days or Manassas, give this or Champion Hill a try.

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Steve Herron
United States
Johnson City
Tennessee
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Never play block wargames with a dentist, they have those little mirrors to peek behind the block.
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I lost a great,great,great uncle in the battle.
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