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Subject: "Remember the Alamo": a basic re-creation of a famous battle rss

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Richard Partin
United States
Urbana
Illinois
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"Remember the Alamo" (Chatham Hill Games, 2001, designer: Ron Toelke) is a relatively simple, low-priced battle game that depicts the conditions existing at the Alamo in February and March of 1836 when General Santa Anna and 6,000 Mexican troops headed north to do battle with less than 200 renegade Texan troops commanded by William Barrett Travis. The Texans, who had sworn allegiance to Mexico in return for receiving cheap, fertile farmland in the 1820s, decided in 1835, for various reasons, to break away from Mexico. Armed with only light field guns, Santa Anna largely wasted most of 13 days of siege before ordered his troops to the attack on March 6. Hundreds of Mexican troops died under heavy artillery fire, but by sheer numbers the Mexicans opened breaches in the walls of the Alamo and the fighting continued inside. Prior to the attack, late in the afternoon on March 5, Santa Anna had his buglers blow the "deguello," a battle call signalling that fighting would be to the death. All but five of the defenders were killed. Despite pleading from some of his junior officers, Santa Anna ordered the survivors put to death. And so ended the battle.

The game is played in up to 13 turns, starting on Feb. 23. Texan morale is an important factor, as the Mexican player can use siege, skirmish, or assault techniques to gradually lower morale, which can eventually lower the fighting capability of Texan troops. But if, like Santa Anna, he uses too many turns trying to reduce Texan morale, he risks failing to mount sufficient forces in attack in order to enter the Alamo and finish the enemy. Each player makes moves secretly behind their respective cardboard screens. The Mexican player can spin to possibly add reinforcements each turn after his first turn. Depending on the Mexican spin total, the Texan player occasionally can spin to possibly add one unit of reinforcements--all that is available to him. Special cards may be played at times, and these can raise or lower Texan morale.

Given the scenario, most of the moves belong to the Mexican player, as he must decide whether to lay siege, skirmish, or go all out with assaults. Spins can add numbers to basic unit strengths, and a combat results table yields final results for each turn. The American player can secretly reapportion his forces along the four walls of the Alamo, and hope his skill and luck can save the day, as the American player can win if he prevents the Mexican forces from entering the Alamo on two successive turns prior to the penultimate day of fighting March 6.

Since odds are stacked heavily toward the Mexicans, this is a game probably best approached by playing twice, with players switching sides to gain an appreciation of each side's particular numbers and strengths. The game sells for $7.95, so components are fairly simple light cardboard cutouts, along with a plastic spinner. The game board is four-color, however, and the reverse side of the game board includes a written history of the battle. So although this isn't a complex simulation of the battle, school-age children in particular can definitely get a feel for the battle as it might have unfolded.

Replayability is probably relatively low, as this a prescribed, largely mismatched battle, so I would rate it a solid "6" for providing some challenge and interest, as well as some historical perspective in an affordable package. (See photos on this site to view game components.)

For players who are interested in learning more about this famous battle, "Remember the Alamo" affords them the opportunity.
 
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Barry Kendall
United States
Lebanon
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Good descriptive review, Richard. I think this is one of Chatham Hill's best games, along with "Hampton Roads" and "Don't Give Up the Ship."

Having some experience constructing DTP game components, I mounted the RTA counters and cards on art matting before cutting them out. Makes things more sturdy.

I doubt I'll ever wear them out, but I do like the game.
 
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Richard Partin
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Thank you, Barry. I appreciate it. That's a very good idea about how to mount the pieces. I found a suitable box in which to store the game parts and used glue-for-paperwork to affix the 4-color cover to the top of the box, which makes it reasonably attractive. Thanks, also, for the references to "Hampton Roads" and "Don't Give Up the Ship": I'll take a closer look at them. I also own two other Chatham Hill games: "1876: Centennial Baseball," which I find promising but disappointing on the whole, and "Bunker Hill," which borrows its game system from "Asulto" and therefore seems to have a tangential, at best, connection to the Battle of Bunker Hill. That is, I think the game itself is alright, but I don't believe I learn anything about the Battle of Bunker Hill by playing it. Or do I? Are you familiar with this one?

--Rick
 
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