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Subject: OK, can anyone provide a comparison between this game and VG's Classic The Civil War? rss

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Leo Zappa
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Alright, you guys have had enough time already! Is there anyone out there that can provide a solid comparison between The U.S. Civil War and Victory Games old classic, The Civil War? I ask because I own the old VG title and have played it several times, and want to know if there are enough new features in the new game to justify a purchase. I am especially interested if there has been any streamlining of TCW's systems, like how armies work, supply, and the naval rules, and, of course, the leader system. Does the new game play faster, and is it easier to grok right out of the box?
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Jon Gautier

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desertfox2004 wrote:
is it easier to grok right out of the box?
That's a good thing?
 
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Steve Duke
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It is better.

Get this one.
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Michael Mihalik
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desertfox2004 wrote:
Alright, you guys have had enough time already! Is there anyone out there that can provide a solid comparison between The U.S. Civil War and Victory Games old classic, The Civil War? I ask because I own the old VG title and have played it several times, and want to know if there are enough new features in the new game to justify a purchase. I am especially interested if there has been any streamlining of TCW's systems, like how armies work, supply, and the naval rules, and, of course, the leader system. Does the new game play faster, and is it easier to grok right out of the box?
Best to ask this over at the Consimworld forum for U.S. Civil War. There is a lot of discussion over there.
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Leo Zappa
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mihalik wrote:
desertfox2004 wrote:
Alright, you guys have had enough time already! Is there anyone out there that can provide a solid comparison between The U.S. Civil War and Victory Games old classic, The Civil War? I ask because I own the old VG title and have played it several times, and want to know if there are enough new features in the new game to justify a purchase. I am especially interested if there has been any streamlining of TCW's systems, like how armies work, supply, and the naval rules, and, of course, the leader system. Does the new game play faster, and is it easier to grok right out of the box?
Best to ask this over at the Consimworld forum for U.S. Civil War. There is a lot of discussion over there.
Ah, I've been a member of CSW for years but I don't hang out there much...the structure is not conducive to the kind of banter I prefer. In any case, enough people here have mentioned that they've bought the new game that I figure it shouldn't be too hard to get some opinions. However, if this thread remains quiet, I will head over there.
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desertfox2004 wrote:
mihalik wrote:
desertfox2004 wrote:
Alright, you guys have had enough time already! Is there anyone out there that can provide a solid comparison between The U.S. Civil War and Victory Games old classic, The Civil War? I ask because I own the old VG title and have played it several times, and want to know if there are enough new features in the new game to justify a purchase. I am especially interested if there has been any streamlining of TCW's systems, like how armies work, supply, and the naval rules, and, of course, the leader system. Does the new game play faster, and is it easier to grok right out of the box?
Best to ask this over at the Consimworld forum for U.S. Civil War. There is a lot of discussion over there.
Ah, I've been a member of CSW for years but I don't hang out there much...the structure is not conducive to the kind of banter I prefer. In any case, enough people here have mentioned that they've bought the new game that I figure it shouldn't be too hard to get some opinions. However, if this thread remains quiet, I will head over there.
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desertfox2004 wrote:
Alright, you guys have had enough time already! Is there anyone out there that can provide a solid comparison between The U.S. Civil War and Victory Games old classic, The Civil War? I ask because I own the old VG title and have played it several times, and want to know if there are enough new features in the new game to justify a purchase. I am especially interested if there has been any streamlining of TCW's systems, like how armies work, supply, and the naval rules, and, of course, the leader system. Does the new game play faster, and is it easier to grok right out of the box?
I'll take on these questions.

I've have PBEM games of VGCW going without pause for the past 15 years. It's one of my all time favorite games. I'm in the first few turns of a game of TUSCW and so far its very very good.

There are significant differences between the old VG classic and this game. At the same time the influences of VGCW are very strong.

There is a streamlined action cycle that is like the impulse system. Since both players roll 1 die you get dice differnces from 1-5. A neat change is that on a 1 result you get 1 Action Point (like a command point) in each theater. Players also have Special Actions Cards that can be used like an Action Point, or for a variety of effects like forced marches, attack DRMs, fort construction, or to avoid supply penalties.

The naval rules are complex but are an improvement (IMHO) on VGCW. There are numerous areas that can only be assaulted by sea after securing a strategic location first. For example, you can't assault parts of the Alabama and Louisiana coast until you've taken Ship Island. You cannot invade parts of the North Carolina coast until you've secured inlets through the Outer Banks.

A great change from VGCW is found in the supply rules. It's hard to operate with full supply unless you're willing to be tied to a railroad. There are subtle costs to operating under limited supply. You can fight, but your force may find it hard to sustain an offensive. As the Union the delay involved in rallying from Demoralization might be a serious problem over time. Demoralization is not as crippling to defenders in the new game as in VGCW but it penalizes the attacker severely.

Leadership is very similar to VGCW, except that there are no negative DRMs. The worst leaders have zero DRMs to attack or defense. A "cautious general" costs 2 Action Points to activate *if* he's leading troops into a potential combat situation. This is a nice touch that give certain generals a variable activation cost based on what you want to do with them. As a result you get McClellan's ability to react and defend while accurately modeling his reluctance to attack.

Armies are something of an afterthought to TUSCW. All leader led forces can react to enemy forces entering a reaction radius. Armies can be designated at will if you're using them (they're optional.) An Army that is winning combats gets a single reroll.[EDIT: Actually it's the ability to reroll all "1s" rolled in combat one time each.] Otherwise any force is like an army from VGCW. Multiple leaders can be used depending on the size of the force. 1-6 SPs = 1 general, 7-12 = 2 generals, 13-17 = 3 generals. Cavalry generals are very interesting. There is no screening like in VGCW, but if you have cavalry you can basically abort a move that might lead to a disadvantageous combat. The result is to encourage aggression and raids. You can try a dangerous move knowing that if an enemy force reacts you can abort the move. Defensively cavalry improves your chance of reacting just like in VGCW.

One element I am not thrilled with in the new game is the scripting of leaders. Just like VGCW leaders come into the game at different times. Their removal or promotion is also scripted. So if McDowell manages to win Bull Run (quite possible on Turn 1) he'll still be demoted. That doesn't feel right.

So far I think this is a great game. I anticipate a few tweaks before the game assumes its final form, but as it is right now it's very very good.
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Leo Zappa
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Thanks, Pete! That's exactly the kind of feedback I'm looking for.
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Scott Snyder
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The map. Oh my god the map is gorgeous. AND the way islands, forts, the outer banks, etc are represented is way more authentic.

I miss the old leader deaths and variable turn lengths, but honestly I can see why those were removed: ever had a game where Longstreet, Jackson and Lee die? Or that has too many turns go short when you are playing the North? Yeah, less fun. So it makes sense.

But I agree wholeheartedly that this is different enough to warrant a purchase. Plus, frankly, there's no reason not to own both. Life's too short anyways.
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Fred Finkenbinder
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I was going to chime in here - but my friend and long-time opponent (we are playing this now) Mr. Walsh already gave most of the input I was going to contribute.

I should add that this game also incorporates some elements of GMT's "For the People" as well, amd the blending of the two games is turning out to be a dream for fans of this sub-genre of wargaming. The reinforcement schedule is not fixed as in VGCW - as in FtP you have full control over how many reinforcements a side can get. The Union will have to take resource centers, arsenals and blockade running ports to reduce the South's BPs (build points) and lower his reinforcements. Strategic movement is carried over and elaborated on from FtP, and I imagine at a high level of play it is this phase of the game that could prove most crucial to the outcome. Pre-planning is a key in every great wargame - this is not an exception in USCW. The cavalry changes Pete mentioned are actually mostly lifted directly from FtP, which IMO had a more realistic depiction of Civil War cavalry at the grand strategic level.

The naval improvements should be expanded upon. The game has a basic rule set and 5 pages of advanced rules that are specifically tailored to naval rules. We are playing with these rules in our game. As Pete mentioned, these rules have their roots in VGCW but additions include such things as NSP zones of influence, ability of NSPs to intercept, and so forth. It takes some getting used to - but the naval rules can be the most complex part of any Civil War game, and once learned they give the Union a new flavor. That said, I imagine the basic game plays just fine as well. There are naval rules there too, but things like amphibious assaults are more streamlined and you don't have physical naval units (and naval leaders) on the map.

The components are a blessed upgrade, and you should believe the hype!

I do agree with Pete on the scripting of the leaders. This combines with other more subtle things to encourage the player to pursue the war in a historical direction. The Union is encouraged to constantly be on the offensive when at all possible due to the game's victory determination system; if the Union is not "on track" for a certain number of VPs per turn, he can lose the war. The South is encouraged to raid and neutralize the Union's gains as well - but don't be fooled - this isn't as fluid as in FtP and I imagine that there will be certain "windows" of opportunity that the CSA will have to run through to take full advantage.

All in all though, if you are a fan of the Civil War, I think this is THE title to go with. Pete and I are only into Turn 3 at this point in our first game, but already I can see this being a classic. Careful study will unveil things, but I doubt my overall opinion will ever change.
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I know some players may be turned off by the idea of the scripted removal of leaders. But since I knew Gen. Lyon (outstanding ratings) would only be around for one game turn, I made a "suicidal" assault at Wilson Creek - and won! Let's say McDowell wins at Bull Run, nevertheless, he is demoted the next turn. Just remember Little Mac had many powerful friends in Washington. Beside that, Little Mac won all those glorious "battles" in western Virginia. I think this system makes a lot more sense than the alternative. You loose a game because Bobby Lee buys the farm in his first battle. Or Grant and Sherman fall at Shiloh. Oh well, there is my two cents worth of opinion on this design feature.
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Jon Gautier

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Check this out:

http://boardgamegeek.com/article/20864195#20864195
 
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phuloivet wrote:
I know some players may be turned off by the idea of the scripted removal of leaders. But since I knew Gen. Lyon (outstanding ratings) would only be around for one game turn, I made a "suicidal" assault at Wilson Creek - and won! Let's say McDowell wins at Bull Run, nevertheless, he is demoted the next turn. Just remember Little Mac had many powerful friends in Washington. Beside that, Little Mac won all those glorious "battles" in western Virginia. I think this system makes a lot more sense than the alternative. You loose a game because Bobby Lee buys the farm in his first battle. Or Grant and Sherman fall at Shiloh. Oh well, there is my two cents worth of opinion on this design feature.
I guess the trick then is designing a game where leaders are important but not utterly game changing. The point being that even if Grant and Sherman die, there is always Thomas, Meade, Rosecrans, Hancock, Sheridan, etc. A great weakness in strategic Civil War games is that leader rules tend to be overly complicated and finicky because Civil War studies in America are heavily leader focused. By contrast games on the Napoleonic Wars are generally good at showing the importance of leaders without getting carried away. A noted exception is For the People. A House Divided goes too far in the other extreme.

Thanks for the summation of the differences between USCW and FtP and VGCW. I am a little wary of complicated naval rules and the leader stuff sounds like it needs a fix. But, I will be ordering this one before Turkey Day.
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phuloivet wrote:
I know some players may be turned off by the idea of the scripted removal of leaders. But since I knew Gen. Lyon (outstanding ratings) would only be around for one game turn, I made a "suicidal" assault at Wilson Creek - and won! Let's say McDowell wins at Bull Run, nevertheless, he is demoted the next turn. Just remember Little Mac had many powerful friends in Washington. Beside that, Little Mac won all those glorious "battles" in western Virginia. I think this system makes a lot more sense than the alternative. You loose a game because Bobby Lee buys the farm in his first battle. Or Grant and Sherman fall at Shiloh. Oh well, there is my two cents worth of opinion on this design feature.
As with anything, your mileage will vary. There are lots of reasons why you can justify the scripting of leaders. I don't like it. It's not from an inability to imagine a historical scenario where it might make sense. To me the uncertainty of when a leader will leave the game makes a game better. There are many alternatives to the either/or way of depicting the rules you describe. In the WGA rules for VGCW if you lose Grant, Sherman, or Lee you gain other leaders in compensation. In that game the key factor is having a leader that only costs 2 CPs to activate.

A little more granularity in the scripting so that you don't know *exactly* when a leader is going to be removed wouldn't be hard to create. TUSCW already has a concept for "Cautious Generals". How about "Reckless/Unpopular Generals"? If a "Reckless General" is in combat he's subject to an end of turn roll to determine if he dies of wounds in combat. Every turn past his usually scripted exit he's subject to a growing DRM that will eventually see him "promoted to glory" and out of the game. Same rule would take care of Lyon and Jackson, Van Dorn, Cleburn, Reynolds, Sedgewick, etc. Generals like Joe Johnston, McClellan, Burnside, Hooker, Holmes - anyone subject to demotion or removal is an "Unpopular General". They're unpopular back in Richmond or Washington DC though they get their moment in the sun upon arrival into the game (or promotion). Once an Unpopular General loses or avoids battle (or fails to fight at all) the clock is ticking on his demotion or removal just like with a "Reckless General".
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My feeling is if you are asking for uncertainty regarding generals, then scripting only certain aspects of their involvement is not going far enough. Why just their entry/exit times? The general's actual combat ratings should also be unknown until proven, if you are wanting to avoid all foreknowledge not available to the leaders at the time. And where they are assigned should not be scripted either.

The problem with that approach is no one wants a US Civil War game without Lee and Grant in their traditional roles.

I've played For the People and now The US Civil War. Neither is perfect regarding leaders, but I like the latter's approach better. The generals aren't quite as influential in battle outcomes and I like how they appear initially at a lower rank and get promoted/demoted as the war progresses.
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You have to draw the line "somewhere". Variable leader ratings mean a lot more rules and potentially serious balancing problems. The Paper Wars unrevealed leader variant rules for VGCW look great, but they're terribly unbalanced. Variable demotions/exits of leaders from the game is a relatively easy thing to do.
 
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Gentlemen, it sounds like I may have stirred up a hornet's nest with my approval of the scripted generals system. Well at least, no screamed at me in capital letters! Seriously, I appreciate the fact Mr. Simonitch took such a daring design approach to this game. As far as a general's rating goes, well we could argue that one until the end of time. In this game, personally, I think Braxton Bragg may be overrated. But I am sure Mr. Simonitch could give me solid reasons why he rated Bragg the way he did. BTW, on Consimworld he has responded to some reasons for design choices.
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Thanks for this thread. I wasnt a big fan of FtP, but I do consider VGCW one of the top 5 wargames ever made. With that being said, I am really intrigued by this one, and as mentioned before, we only live once!

One of the weaknesses in VGCW are leaders. I love how they are used, but the stack of Halleck, Fremont, Banks et al guarding a depot in Rolla was interesting. Plus, a 3-star Lyon always irritated me. If this game fixes these issues, that is good.
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phuloivet wrote:
Gentlemen, it sounds like I may have stirred up a hornet's nest with my approval of the scripted generals system. Well at least, no screamed at me in capital letters!
We are mostly a civil group over here.

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Quote:
In the WGA rules for VGCW if you lose Grant, Sherman, or Lee you gain other leaders in compensation. In that game the key factor is having a leader that only costs 2 CPs to activate.
The same applies in U.S. Civil War. If Ulysses Grant dies, he is replaced by the 2-2-5 general Frank Grant, if William Sherman dies, he is replaced by the 1-1-4 general Hugh Sherman, etc.

Quote:

A little more granularity in the scripting so that you don't know *exactly* when a leader is going to be removed wouldn't be hard to create.
You could do that, but what would be the purpose? Does having Van Dorn live an extra turn or two add that much excitement or strategy?
 
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Leovigild wrote:
Quote:
In the WGA rules for VGCW if you lose Grant, Sherman, or Lee you gain other leaders in compensation. In that game the key factor is having a leader that only costs 2 CPs to activate.
The same applies in U.S. Civil War. If Ulysses Grant dies, he is replaced by the 2-2-5 general Frank Grant, if William Sherman dies, he is replaced by the 1-1-4 general Hugh Sherman, etc.
I'm not sure what you're trying to say. In VGCW Lyon can survive and gain 3-star rank. The WGA rules allow this to happen only if Grant or Sherman dies first. There is also a replacement leader Philip Kearny who is a 2-init. leader. Neither is as good as Grant or Sherman, so you lose something, but it doesn't make the entire game unplayable for the Union. Similarly if Lee dies, Jackson is promotable to 3-stars.

Leovigild wrote:
Quote:

A little more granularity in the scripting so that you don't know *exactly* when a leader is going to be removed wouldn't be hard to create.
You could do that, but what would be the purpose? Does having Van Dorn live an extra turn or two add that much excitement or strategy?
Van Dorn is a 1-0-5 leader. Hindman moves at 4, Holmes moves at 3. So I do think that having Van Dorn around an extra turn or two can be of strategic advantage. It also means the Union doesn't get to count on fore knowledge things will get easier in the TM once he's gone.
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Quote:

I'm not sure what you're trying to say.
I'm trying to say that if you want a system where Grant or Sherman can die and be replaced by another leader that is just about as good, you can pretend TUSCW does that. And without the need to shuffle counters!

Quote:

Van Dorn is a 1-0-5 leader. Hindman moves at 4, Holmes moves at 3. So I do think that having Van Dorn around an extra turn or two can be of strategic advantage.
Well sure. You could also roll a die every turn, on a 1-2 you get an addition SP due to extra volunteers, on a 5-6 you lose a SP due to desertion. But would that kind of chrome really add anything?

Quote:
It also means the Union doesn't get to count on fore knowledge things will get easier in the TM once he's gone.
But under the system you're proposing he's gone eventually, it just might be a turn later, so not a major difference.
 
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Leovigild wrote:
Quote:

I'm not sure what you're trying to say.
I'm trying to say that if you want a system where Grant or Sherman can die and be replaced by another leader that is just about as good, you can pretend TUSCW does that. And without the need to shuffle counters!
I think you misunderstood the point of my post. I was responding to a point someone else made earlier about scripting vs. a leader loss system. I didn't suggest that TUSCW include a system where Grant or Sherman can die and be replaced. I offered an example of another system where you can have something other than full scripting without facing game imbalancing disaster.

Quote:

Van Dorn is a 1-0-5 leader. Hindman moves at 4, Holmes moves at 3. So I do think that having Van Dorn around an extra turn or two can be of strategic advantage.
Leovigild wrote:

Well sure. You could also roll a die every turn, on a 1-2 you get an addition SP due to extra volunteers, on a 5-6 you lose a SP due to desertion. But would that kind of chrome really add anything?
One person's "needless chrome" is someone else's "worthwhile change." The example you offer strikes me as needless too. Having played TUSCW and found that the difference between leaders with 5,4 and 3 MPs is of more than minor significance I'd be happy to see good leaders exit the game with slightly less scripting. I won't be surprised if a variant leader system is released by Mark Simonitch. He suggested he was considering it on other threads/boards.

Leovigild wrote:
Quote:
It also means the Union doesn't get to count on fore knowledge things will get easier in the TM once he's gone.
But under the system you're proposing he's gone eventually, it just might be a turn later, so not a major difference.
Not a major difference to you and fair enough. I'd like to see how the game plays with it.
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Wait... I just got this in the mail last week but have not yet read the rules...

Nobody dies????? Or only those that are supposed to?????

Leader uncertainty is what made the VGCW game so good, especially for solo play, which is all I've ever done with it. Now, I did use the variant leader casualty rules that did away with the rampant death and made it more like 5-6 per game but it was not set in stone, nor who would be the target of the scythe.

okay, okay, maybe van Dorn.... I suppose a philanderer is going to eventually find a jealous husband to be shot by no matter where he is, but the rest of them??? Why should death be automatic and for that matter why should others bear a charmed life?

If this is what I'm gathering from this thread, then I can foresee a game or two with this one but then a return to VGCW or using the VCGW leader casualty system with this game.
 
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stevuscaticus wrote:
Wait... I just got this in the mail last week but have not yet read the rules...

Nobody dies????? Or only those that are supposed to?????

Leader uncertainty is what made the VGCW game so good, especially for solo play, which is all I've ever done with it. Now, I did use the variant leader casualty rules that did away with the rampant death and made it more like 5-6 per game but it was not set in stone, nor who would be the target of the scythe.

okay, okay, maybe van Dorn.... I suppose a philanderer is going to eventually find a jealous husband to be shot by no matter where he is, but the rest of them??? Why should death be automatic and for that matter why should others bear a charmed life?

If this is what I'm gathering from this thread, then I can foresee a game or two with this one but then a return to VGCW or using the VCGW leader casualty system with this game.
I think this can be addressed pretty easily by a home brew rule.
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