David Dockter
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Photos by Gordo
1st MN U.S.Civil War Bootcamp Nov 6, 2015...SteveV's brand new high quality dice tower in center of picture. Evidently, SteveV's bride was not happy with the new purchase, but, as SteveV said "It had to be done and this tower should last a life time". Of course, the first time Frick tried to use it during our bootcamp, he missed the opening on the top, the dice went flying and took out a few counters - but, hey, that's Frick - he was off all day...

Background: So, how does U.S. Civil War compare to its parent games?


We take American Civil War games seriously in these parts


AAR from VG's The Civil War: Bitchin & Moanin Amidst the Brilliance: 1st MN Jumps into The Civil War during the Dead of Winter: FEb 13, 2015

I've always loved strategic ACW games: I think it started with American Heritage ACW game my folks got me when I was just a snot nosed lad. About a decade ago, I caught the For the People (FtP) bug, bad, and then played in the FtP WBC tourney a number of times.

A few years ago, I did an analysis of wargaming regarding the last 50 years, http://talk.consimworld.com/WebX?233@@.1dd309ee!enclosure=.1... . That work was prompted by a discussion on the ATO CSW board around the notion that "ACW games are a dying breed: the audience for them is declining". I wanted to check if that was true.


Top 266 war-games by topic: then non WW2 portion (which is 136 games...about 1/2): From my analysis mentioned above


ACW CSA & USA armies are among favorites (to game) in the hobby

Finally, Episode XVII of Guns, Dice, Butter (SEP 11, 2013) with Herman (designer of For the People), Smith (designer of The Civil War) and Beach (Great Campaigns of ACW) had a very good conversation regarding designing games in this space. A tough spaces to design in: Strategic Operational ACW. Everyone is an expert, a critic; so, designers will likely be savaged by some chowderhead(s) on the net; even the best in class ACW games get dis'd; "the history is not right".

So, I have some history with Strategic (or Op {operational} Strategic) ACW games. I think the two big honking meaty favorite op start ACW games are For the People (FtP) and The Civil War (TCW). While I'm a BIG fan of FtP, I just never really fell for TCW (in contrast to many of my mates, who are gaga about the VG {Victory Games} title) - partly do to not playing it back in the day (it was published during one of the periods when I checked out of gaming). U.S. Civil War claims lineage from those two legendary games.

Accordingly, the first question you probably have is:

How does U.S.Civil War (USCW) compare with For the People (FtP) and The Civil War (TCW)?

Here's my QUICK & DIRTY take after ONE play (and, BIG caution, I only played TCW ONCE - see my session report: link above).



A Bit about this Game...

What's the Juice? Action Points


Actions...difference in die rolls between players generates Action Points. Spend per above


Special Actions that may be used per the little cute cards

This game uses Eric Lee Smith's BRILLIANT Action Point system from The Civil War. Each side rolls a die. Subtract one from the other: that's the number of action points for a phase. Higher die roll moves first in the phase. 4 phases to a turn (would have liked to see a variable ending mechanic, but, no biggie that it is not here). If players tie on the come out roll, each side gets a cute little special action card.

Action points are then spent on a variety too things (see table above). It produces a great impulse system with a lot of interactivity.

War of Maneuver

You can muck with your opponents operational plans in this game. No B.S. I- go-you-go-and-there-is-NOTHING-you-can-do-to-interfere-with-me-surrounding- your-forces. However, there is perfect control over troops (YUK!): they always go where you want them. So, it's not a perfect operational system, but, it kept us engaged. Really like the interception & avoid battle mechanics (in contrast to For the People, if you fail to intercept a moving force, you can try again).

Something that I really disliked about The Civil War was a lack of an "engagement zone". Traditionally, in hex games, you may only react to an opponent once they enter an adjacent zone of control. And, then, you have two choices - intercept/reinforce or withdrawal. The designer has given us something cool: maneuver reaction. Essentially, you can now shadow a moving force; very cool.

Just based upon one play, USCW feels "right" (based upon my play of FtP). The CRITICAL portion of the map (Northeast) has some interesting aspects to it. Harpers Ferry is KEY (CSA will want to get an arsenal there - more on that below) since it will provide full supply going west (W VA) or east (Baltimore & DC). I can see many a dance occurring in the HBH triangle (Harpers Ferry, Baltimore and Harrisburg). Also, I REALLY like the SHADOWING concept. I believe that first appeared in Kingdom of Heaven: The Crusader States 1097-1291 (see image below).

NO IDEA YET if the game is susceptible to fanatically aggressive flood the zone FtP tactics. None. Played it once. I sense that it is (this is good - it will produce tension), so, I'd recommend getting the article that Mr.Herman and I co authored in Ci3 #25...Defending the Union or 22 steps to Big Boy Bliss...(http://www.gmtgames.com/p-336-c3i-magazine-issue-25.aspx).

The ONLY initial job of the USA in FtP is to NOT lose before BIG BOY (Grant) arrives. Of course, the USA needs to start the naval war early, opportunistically grab a state (Florida...TX...Ark?) and start choking the CSA. CSA? play like a demon. Win early or go home. In FtP it is possible to win a LONG game as the CSA, but, it is very unlikely (your position becomes too brittle).

Anyways, the operational model seems to feel right (forces USA to defend aggressively early...and gives the CSA a model to win early); it should cause the USA to sweat buckets early. USCW seemed to do that.


Most critical 1/16 of the beautiful game mounted map



Shadowing: I first came across it in Kingdom of Heaven: The Crusader States 1097-1291 . VERY cool concept.

Other Basic Mechanics

Three other mechanics to comment on: Combat, Blockade and Reinforcements. Simonitch gets all three correct. Combat has enough variability, but keeps within a narrow set of "rails". The blockade rules (basic game) work great: CSA tosses on a table using DRMs from how many open ports they own in a zone. Very simple, yet reflects the basic need for the USA to slowly strangle the CSA.

USA Reinforcements? Doesn't appear to be an easy way to crimp the USA (a KEY difference with FtP - where isolating DC frequently costs the USA 1/3 of its SPs - and then the CSA out produces it). , but its still possible (ex: taking St.Louis or controlling all the objective spaces in a key state (ex: Ohio). USA gets 14 SPs a turn (4 less than FtP). One wrinkle, NO SPs for the USA in the winter.

Regarding the CSA, pretty simple formula: for each 10 BP (build points), you receive 1 SP. Each blockade zone (there are three) will generate avg of 10 SPs originally, so, a SP (just like FtP). Additionally, the CSA begins with about 100 BP (these are generated from Resource space on the map and Arsenals)...so another 10 SPs - although the first 10 SPs must be spent on maintenance... so 9 SPs + the 3 blockade SPs...12 (FtP gives you 13). CSA can also snag 8 BPs from both MO and KY...so about another 2 SPs from those sources (very similar to FtP). One wrinkle, is that during Winter turns, the CSA must reduce SPs reinforcing by 10 (so, they'll get none during the 1st winter and have to reduce SPs on map in subsequent winters).

I REALLY like the econ engine (resource spaces that generate CSA SPs); it has enough granularity (spaces with values between 1-2...and the arsenals!{another one of Siminotch's light & elegant design touches) that the CSA will feel the effect of losing chunks (which FtP also models very well).

On balance, the early SP reinforcements seem about equal vs a roughly 3 to 2 USA vs CSA edge in FtP...hmmm....not sure what to make of that. Of course, SPs were also generated by cards in FtP. One good rule of thumb in FtP was that if total USA SPs on the board relative to the CSA SPs ever fell below 3 to 2, the USA was in for a tough go. Of course, no idea what the danger line ratio for the USA is in USCW.


CRT


Blockade table


CSA Reinforcement Formula


Its Got the Look


Berg's Boudicca: The Warrior Queen was being played when we arrived. The boys gave it a thumbs up...From RICH: "It was a barn burner.... literally. Romans and Britons were burning down places left and right. Brent's Roman ultimately took the game by a single point. It is good light fun. The game has a big map with relatively few forces so there seems to be a wealth of possible approaches to explore. It took us abut 2 1/2 hours to play it start to finish, so it is perfect Friday gaming fodder. It also boasts the sexiest cover art in gaming."


Speaking of look...compare the above FAB game cover to....


...this: the two looks certainly position the games differently

GAME LOOK/FEEL is HUGE; as it always has been and will be. The GMT/USCW team nailed it with this package. Fabulous mounted double map. Love the feel of the counters: THICK and thank god not 1/2 inchers (please, god, kill the 1/2 in counter). A good 4 page chart of key charts. Nice setup cards. Overall: very good look & feel.[/i]


The Map: A BEAUT!


"...Little cute cards..." according to my bride


Shitty little dice...good decision by GMT not to waste cost on dice. First thing SteveV said was, "We WON'T be using these horrendous little dice. I'll go buy us something worthy that can grace this fine game...and my spanking new dice tower of power". He brought back new USCW worth dice, but, as Alsen commented, "WTF? Why did you get those dice for the pip challenged"? (numerical dice vs traditional pips) When the dice scandal cooled, we resumed

Beloved Color, Flavor, Chrome?


Leader line up: impressive



The game survives the Sigel counter test

There is enough flavor here: it has a Franz Sigel counter (a rare misstep for Mr.Herman, when he failed to include a Sigel counter in For the People....and has failed to correct it in subsequent versions...SCANDALOUS!). The leader lineup is impressive.


Leaders come and go per a hard schedule: No Stonewall zombie ala Summer Storm: The Battle of Gettysburg in this game

Sadly, there are no units; this is a SP (strength point) game. Would have been nice to see some state flags and/or some of the more famous unit's color on the vanilla SP counters. Or how about naming a few SPs with famous ACW units. Ironclads are nameless (wtf?!). No 1st MN counter (egads!) Ok, VERY minor quibbles.


Sadly, no Jenie Wade counter ala This Hallowed Ground ...pointed out on this GREAT list: Wargames with Odd or Special Units

Despite the missing flavor, overall, a very evocative package. Tip of the hat to the designer.

Chaos? Politics?

Enough chaos? Short answer, sadly, is NO. GRUMBLE...GRUMBLE. No random events table (a tragedy!, given this rich conflict). In USCW, the railroads ALWAYS run on time...that does grind on me for this otherwise stellar design.

Enough politics? NO. The political ratings for leaders from FtP are all gone. There are no divisions within either camp (USA or CSA): where's The Team of Rivals? No political constraints (other than the nod to KY - whichever side enters first, tosses KY to the other side). No strategic/political will model (but, see below). No political dynamics/constraints to speak of.

The combo of these two shortfalls usually is a BIG show stopper for me...but...well.....the rest of the design is so damm good, it didn't stop my fun or desire to play the sh*t out of this game.

Dials and Levers/Rulebook

Two words: Team Simonitch. The rulebook is fabulous: clean. Something else - design elegance.

I'd rate this game as a "3" on the BGG game weight scale...moderate complexity (and LOW learning curve). Despite that, the designer has produced DEEP choices. He has ALOT of dials and levers: this is great. Love LOTS of dials & levers. Also, it is very easy to operate all those dials and levers; that is a difficult design challenge. A few of examples of design elegance:

Fading Glory: CSA loses a VP when it no longer controls key spaces in the North. Like that. It reminds me of the drift on the Political Display Chart in the masterpiece Empires in Arms

Inflation: A bad roll on the blockade table generates inflation for the CSA - meaning the Mtc costs increases - sucking valuable build points out of equation.

2 VPs for the CSA to occupy a USA resource center. So, no incredibly glorious strategic will model like FtP, but, the designer I think got it (strategic will) about right (too early to tell - will require the usual 10k to 20k plays - and by the WBC sharks - more on that below). If the CSA reaches a certain VP net total (more on that below), they win. Simonitch has essentially distilled that model to its essence: CSA occupation of key USA cities may (STRESS may - ABE was in charge of the USA and had UNBREAKABLE will, but, that 1864 election could have damm close depending upon USA strategic will) have forced a USA accommodation with the South. Who knows? But, good enough to game.

There are more examples: nice, simple design touches that reflect key dynamics in the historical conflict.

Setting Up


Setting up


Set up chart: typical of this fabulous package

Set up is a breeze. Related, this is a game you can play and easily break down and then resume at a later date: hex numbers, not many counters. The rules also have a LOW learning curve to grok. How you optimize pulling game mechanic levers and spinning nobs - that may take a bit (this is good). Seems like a lot of depth of game decisions here.

1861: Summer 1: What the Hell Does One Do?


Early bootcamp action

Ok, we kicked off two games. SteveV sat in-between the CSA players - answering rules questions, giving advice as Jeb Davis and tossing dice as required into his glorious dice tower. No none of us knew quite what to do, but have played enough FtP/TCW to have a general idea what challenges are encountered in 1861.

PHASE1: 4 APs

USA got hit by the On to Richmond rule (if APs are 4 or higher) and is required to attack in the East (if doesn't, pays a 1 SP penalty - which doesn't seem enough and is easily gamed...the USA player would send out a suicide mission of 1 SP every time the OtR rule was triggered). USA attacked Harpers Ferry and lost. He also trenched a space. Out west, USA trenched Jefferson City and Lyons moved forward. CSA responded by entrenching Price, starting a fort in Little Rock, putting 2 APs into training ("banking"...when you get 10, you get a free SP)...and moved a SP into JJ in the east.

PHASE2: 3 APs

JJ attacked Harpers Ferry, but lost. CSA banked 2 more APs. USA started a fort in DC and moving Mac from Pittsburg to near Wheeling.

PHASE3: 2 APs

CSA banked 2 more APs (n6 in the bank), while the USA took Wheeling.

PHASE4: 2 APs

CSA banked 2 more APs (n8). Mac took Charleston.

At that point, we were still clueless...and hungry. What do you feed a hungry man (when no Manwhiches - something inflicted on us by our working mothers back in the day - are available)? MEAT and some ale. Off we went to a favorite 1st MN joint



New Bohemia has got great sausages and beer (New Bohemia Ale is a winner): what more does one need to survive? We talked the usual: current military events, travels around the globe, some sports...stuff that allowed our USCW strategy/gambits time to formant in the background. We returned to our lair, THE SOURCE Comics and Gaming in St.Paul refueled and ready to lock horns again.


Post 1861 Spring turn: Brain food from New Bohemia required

1861: Summer 2: Here Come Da Rebs!

Ok. CSA thought he now had a plan.

For reinforcements, the CSA had this total of BPs (Build Points): 131 (97...lost Charleston & Wheeling...+2 Springfield MO...+2 {can't remember what for}, +30 from blockade ports...). Always need to spend 10 on maintenance ("the mtc tax"), so 121...round down to nearest 10...so 120....or 12 SPs. Most were sent east to generate enough traction (flood the zone) to determine how well (or not) the CSA can raid early.

PHASE 1: 2 APs

JJ got rolling and took Harpers (inflicted 2 SPs, lost 1...and forced 1 USA SP under the worthless Paterson to retreat...demoralized). Out West, AJ moved from memphis with a force. CSA also banked 2 more APs and spit out an important (EVERY SP IS VALUABLE EARLY) SP in the East.

USA finally also had a plan: start strangling the CSA. First up? A successful invasion of an un garrisoned Ft Fisher. In the Northeast, Burnside assembled a force north of DC, sensing what might be coming.

PHASE 2: 2 APs

JJ got reinforced by some SPs and now had a force of 7. 3 SPs held the dam at Manasas. Out west, AJ continued to concentrate a force in western TN. USA went with another invasion: this time success against an un garrisoned Ft.Philip Jackson.

PHASE 3: 4 APs

USA first completed its conquest of W VA by taking Grafton. 1 SP in the Northeast fulfilled the OtR rule by suiciding against a large CSA force. - NOTE: I think the OtR rule will require some tweaking ;-) CSA then sprang into action...

Longstreet ran to Chambersburg and wiped out the remnants of Paterson's force, while leaving a decent screening force under JJ in Harpers (plus the blocking force at Manasas ) - the doors on DC were beginning to slam shut. CSA used a number of special action cards throughout the turn to allow force marching. One thought we had was that perhaps there should be some attrition cost associated with force marching (a die roll on the supply attrition table with arms).

PHASE 4: 4 APs

USA now could see the writing on the wall and tried to use Burnside to combat the significant early CSA raid. Not wanting to be on his heels everywhere, USA managed to successful assault and capture Wilmington NC. Moving last, the CSA timed his lunge: Baltimore and Harrisburg both fell.

At that point Rich (our dungeon master for TCW earlier this year) came over and looked at the board, "WHAT the hell is going on, Alsen?". Aasen responded, "Oh, Dr is doing his usual totally fanatic flood the zone FtP stuff - it won't stand". I said, "I think you're correct, BUT each resource space I occupy in the north is 2 VPs PER TURN. Once I hit a net 12 (USA subtracts resource spaces they capture from this total), game over. So, be careful, big boy...I only need to stay for a few turns"

Comment: I can hear a few readers saying, "So it's possible to raid big & early in USCW - just like FtP...hmmmm....and the USA can't let it stand....hmmm". Yes, better get a defense in place - quickly. DO NOT let the CSA operate with more armies/concentrations in the east than you. If he has two, you get two. The war in the east, I suspect, will be won or lost at Harpers Ferry and in W VA. If the CSA can hold that position, they can either wheel east into the HBH triangle (Harpers, Baltimore, Harrisburg) or go west and cut the USA in two at Pittsburg (read below). NOTE: For the USA, railroads extend off the north edge of the board and connect, so, the USA can SR {Strategic move} around the blockage



61 sum 2a east


61 sum 2b east


61 sum 2c NC


61 sum 2d NO


61 sum 2 west



1861: Fall: Slice It in Two...

FtP and even the oldie House Divided are frequently won by the CSA by dividing the USA in two at Pittsburg or somewhere in Ohio. I wondered if the same could be accomplished in USCW. Of course, we were only pushing counters in a bootcamp - and who knows what the long term tradeoffs are - but was curious none-the-less...


Now, THAT is look (cover art). shake ...hideous...

CSA Reinforcements...124 BP (build points) this time - only 24 BPs from blockade zone (the USA invasion of key ports was having an impact).

PHASE1: 4 APs

CSA repositioned in the Northeast to fully isolate DC. In addition BEAU was sent west from Harpers with a small force to retake W VA and potentially make a lunge at Pittsburg. The USA responded aggressively to the big raid: MaC won a tough battle at Baltimore and Burnside beat the CSA force at Harrisburg

PHASE2: 2 APs

Beau made significant progress in W VA, while the USA entrenched in the Northeast to prevent a repeat of the previous turn.

PHASE3: 2 APs

Beau grabbed Pittsburg, while the USA invaded KY.

PHASE4: 3 APs

USA continued to invade KY and landed a force at Hatteras Island. The CSA solidified its position in Pittsburg/W VA, while concentrating a large force under AJ and moving to Clarksville TN: the battle in the West was about to begin.

At that point, we called it a successful day: we had learned the basic mechanics in the game and got a little insight into proper - or not - USCW strategy & tactics. And, we had great time - all vowing to get the game back on the table ASAP.


61 fall east 1


61 fall east USA counter attack


61 fall east USA cut in 2


61 fall KY TN

Wrap Up: Welcome to GaGaLand: Deploy the WBC Sharks!


Photos by Gordo

Big thumbs up. Tip of the hat to the designer, the USCW team and GMT: all did a great job. The hobby has been possibly provided with a beefy successor to TCW/FtP: proof will be in the first 10k - 20k plays or so - and how the budding USCW tribe and designer responds. So, now what?

First, get this game. Play it.

Secondly, I hope USCW gets picked up by the WBC card sharks (Pei, MeCay, The Finnish Dragon, Young, Reese, Wixson, Drueding, Byrd, Scenario Boy, etc): would be great to see this game become a tourney next year. (Coincidently, I did just get a call by my mate Reese. He indicated he is planning to give USCW a go in the next few days.)

Maybe two or three prelim rounds using the 1861 scenario (3 hours each), a couple of money rounds playing from 1861 > 1862 (6hours each) and then a final using the whole bloody campaign game (15 hours if it were to go the distance). The whole tourney would take in the 30 hour range (reference: Paths of Glory take 48 hours - 6 rounds...8 hours each...back to back in true ironman fashion).

It will take such a tourney(s) and shark feedback to improve the game (as was the case with FtP and PoG).

I'm also guessing that USCW will make the GaGa list ( Welcome to the GaGa Zone: Wargames with High Fanboy bases and lots of LUST: 2nd Golden Age of Wargaming Edition ) in a blink of the eye. GaGa list is discussed on Episode XXIV: NOV 5, 2015 of Guns, Dice, Butter



I can't wait to play a full campaign game of the U.S. Civil War: plan to initiate in the next week or two.


Gordo's always fine AAR of the First Minnesota Historical Wargame Society Friday gaming session: Gordy's After Action Report -- 11/06/15


=====================



Other 1st MN/Sawatdee/Herr Dr AARs: 1st MN/Sawatdee/Herr Dr Session Reports

And, if you are a follower of the way of the beast; someone that likes big honking war-games: The Way of the Beast: Session reports & reviews of heavy wargames
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Mike Oberly
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Nice job, David. Really eager to play this. Looks like a winner.
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Eric Brosius
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Great AAR!

Would it be accurate to say that the For the People river rules have a restraining order out against:

David Dockter
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Wow. Just what I've been looking for. And I'm not talking about the kick-ass wild boar sausage or stream-of-consciousness AAR prose. I'm getting into ACW gaming lately, and these three are on my list. It doesn't sound like there's a choice here; gotta play them all. See, I also like elk and buffalo. Mmm-eaty.
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Patiently waiting for the zombie apocalypse...
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Outstanding session report/review!

However, I noticed in several pictures entrenchment markers with no SP. That is not possible. They go away if no SP is in them at the end of their activation.

Not sure if those were meant to be forts?

Just wondering. Thank you for the time put in to write this up.
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David Dockter
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CM Randall wrote:
Outstanding session report/review!

However, I noticed in several pictures entrenchment markers with no SP. That is not possible. They go away if no SP is in them at the end of their activation.

Not sure if those were meant to be forts?

Just wondering. Thank you for the time put in to write this up.
Thank you for the feedback. Yes - our oversight (leaving the abandoned trenches).
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David Dockter
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Eric Brosius wrote:
Great AAR!

Would it be accurate to say that the For the People river rules have a restraining order out against:

David Dockter
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Yes: they hate me....and, the feeling is mutual
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Henrik Reschreiter
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Remember that you can't just send SPs in the reinforcement phase anywhere ("most went to the east to get traction"). 1SP always goes to TM, then half-half west and east, with east getting one more in case of an odd number. Railing troops then could achieve a local concentration, but at the expense of the other theatres of war. Just an observation in case this was just an oversight.

Great review otherwise! It truly is a great game!
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David Dockter
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Thanks for the feedback.

So, let's see if we had it correct... CSA received 12 SPs second turn. First one goes to Trans Miss, split the rest evenly...odd one players choice...so 5 to West, 6 to East. I then railed at least 5 to the East...north east specially...and maybe 2 more from the west (or I might have stripped from port defense).

Of course, could have went the other way, but, it's tough to get them into Missouri (no FtP armies suck up SPs from anywhere if they have a LOC..even China! rule - which is cool, that "armies" don't have that ability in USCW) - why MO? CSA can get build points there. Guess you could shove into TN and then try a blitz via Cairo or Louisville (just like FtP) to grab VPs from northern cities. Will give that a toss also in the future.
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Henrik Reschreiter
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Interesting idea with the 1SP suicide mission for the On to Richmond roll. Gamey, but legal.
This will help the CSA a lot this way. If conducting a normal attack, yes, the Union might loose the battle and end up demoralised, but it will also cost CSA SPs. And given that this is an attritional war, this is not something to be ignored. But what if you draw or win?
Those 1-2 losses add up, given that the Union will aways get more reinforcements than the CSA, turn after turn. So even sustaining slightly higher losses each turn is not an issue for the Union.

Add to that the starting of a few fires here and there (coastal attacks, going for Salt etc), and the CSA will rapidly end up not having the Eastern board kill-stacks around anymore. Plus just build a fort lvl2 in DC, and in Harper's Ferry. Remember the fort rules (in case of a tie, -1SP loss for the defender; and with a +4 from a lvl2 fort (+usually a +1 defence leader as well), a tie or win is very likely, even with only 4 SPs defending! Lvl2 forts take often quite big attack stacks, and then even often take several attacks to whittle them down. Helps the Union in the east, and is well worth investing in for the CSA along the big blue river at Columbus, Memphis and Vicksburg...

Also, deep raids rapidly get very vulnerable on their supply lines, and all those folks guarding the supply lines are not at the spearhead anymore.
In one test game I has such a dance with Mark. Our two armies hardly ever met for several turns, but rather cut each others supply again and again, bleeding SPs - very effective! Lee in the end had to retire south, without a big battle in the north ever being fought.
This kind off approach works well for the CSA against Grant, and especially in Kentucky, but hinders them nicely in the east. No free lunch....

Just some ideas from games done during testing...
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Henrik Reschreiter
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Herr Dr wrote:
Thanks for the feedback. So, let's see if we had it correct... CSA received 12 SPs second turn. First one goes to Trans Miss, split the rest evenly...odd one players choice...so 5 to West, 6 to East. I then railed at least 5 to the East...north east.
Yes, correct. But what did the Union do with all those extra armies in the centre that arrived and where not matched by the CAS, or did he not simply do the same, overall gaining 3-4 extra SPs per turn on the CSA?

This is not criticism by the way - just ideas :)
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Bill Lawson
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I played this for the second time at Carnage Con in Killington VT Saturday. 2 of my friends played next to us at the same table. 3 of us had a great time. My Confederate opponent did not care for the game as much.

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Henrik Reschreiter
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Herr Dr wrote:

Guess you could shove into TN and then try a blitz via Cairo or Louisville (just like FtP) to grab VPs from northern cities. Will give that a toss also in the future.
Blitzing across rivers that you don't control (and they are usually Union controlled) is hard for the CSA except with cavalry 1SP forces, as crossing takes forever (make sure you play those limits correctly), and supply can be an issue... But cavalry cannot place control markers until the end of turn phase. And all those cities are defended by 0SP Union militias, so a success is not guaranteed.
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David Dockter
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Arcology wrote:
Wow. Just what I've been looking for. And I'm not talking about the kick-ass wild boar sausage or stream-of-consciousness AAR prose. I'm getting into ACW gaming lately, and these three are on my list. It doesn't sound like there's a choice here; gotta play them all. See, I also like elk and buffalo. Mmm-eaty.
They even had jackalope yesterday. I'm serious.


One proud Jackalope gave his life so that 1st MN might have a good lunch on USCW BOOTCAMP DAY 2015
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David Dockter
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hreschreiter wrote:
Herr Dr wrote:

Guess you could shove into TN and then try a blitz via Cairo or Louisville (just like FtP) to grab VPs from northern cities. Will give that a toss also in the future.
Blitzing across rivers that you don't control (and they are usually Union controlled) is hard for the CSA except with cavalry 1SP forces, as crossing takes forever (make sure you play those limits correctly), and supply can be an issue... But cavalry cannot place control markers until the end of turn phase. And all those cities are defended by 0SP Union militias, so a success is not guaranteed.
I assume it works the same way as it does in FtP; CSA needs to get river control just over that space...Louisville...a fort...upgrade it...plus some Naval toys (naval toys trump forts for naval control - but even 1 CSA naval unit would suffice regardless of how many naval units USA has...correct?) Would that do it?
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Doug Mann
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Thanks for posting. Our group's Boot Camp is a week from Friday.

As for the dice, we'll probably end up using my The Civil War set shown below. The speckled pairs on the right are for initiative rolls and the solid pairs on the left for CRT, with both sets used for leader loss rolls so each side can check two leaders per roll. The white speckled were marketed as Warhammer 40K, the other 3 are Chessex, all 12mm.
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David Dockter
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Doug1020 wrote:
Thanks for posting. Our group's Boot Camp is a week from Friday.

As for the dice, we'll probably end up using my The Civil War set shown below. The speckled pairs on the right are for initiative rolls and the solid pairs on the left for CRT, with both sets used for leader loss rolls so each side can check two leaders per roll. The white speckled were marketed as Warhammer 40K, the other 3 are Chessex, all 12mm.
Cool. A proper dice tower and dice; you really can't play USCW without that - the USCW mounted map is just too darn pretty and is due proper gaming respect.

We'll also bit it/pimp it out with would to denote key naval control locations, control of resource spaces, etc in future plays.
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As is no doubt apparent, this is a military campaign situation with one objective - Union destruction of Confederate capacity to Build SPs and destruction of SPs.

To do that, the Union must be clever and relentless - its only political concern is the Threat of On To Richmond - a result being is a substantial AoP must be maintained.

The CSA goal is the opposite - and to get there they need to waste Union time - distracting operational/strategic penetrations and flankings, defense in depth, and a willingness to counter attack.

One of the weaknesses of FTP was the politics along with DC Rules resulted in an Eastern Theater heavy military campaign game.

Absent from this game is the Cut off DC focus.

The war is broad - to achieve victory requires action everywhere.

The VGTCW activation system is clever - a mechanic that forced action across the board and some strategic thinking for the player in planning primary, secondary and tertiary theaters.

In TUSCW this is taken over by the Special Action draws - you plan the shifting of theater over time by 'building up resources' by choosing what SAs to hold. Instead of flopping each turn, you have to build up to gain theater shifting - one can consider the random card draw to be a political part of the game - erratic political resourcing of the military along with High Ranking interference from certain Generals.

The Political Will part of FTP is interesting - however I have wondered how well it really fits - the CSA held up to the end that you need to get to in TUSCW - destruction/capture/isolation of resources and relentless pounding of the enemy military.
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Henrik Reschreiter
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Herr Dr wrote:


I assume it works the same way as it does in FtP; CSA needs to get river control just over that space...Louisville...a fort...upgrade it...plus some Naval toys (naval toys trump forts for naval control - but even 1 CSA naval unit would suffice regardless of how many naval units USA has...correct?) Would that do it?
Yes,-ish

There are no naval toys in the basic game; in the advanced game the CSA does get some boats - it's just, the Union gets a lot more + has a leader. He will hunt your boats with the free naval activations at every opportunity, so don't rely on them too much.

So, back to the basic game:
building a fort up there? possible - check; easy / blitzing....depends.

Your logistics officer will point you to the rule 10.2.2 that says that the hex needs to be in FULL supply. So you need to be adj. or in a hex with naval control (not going to happen), or a railline that is connected to home sweet home.

So, the recipe then requires:
assuming your base of operations is still Nashville (if not, and you are further south to start off with, don't even bother)
- 1 SP for each town along the rail line north (4 SP needed) - this at least makes it for the Union cavalry not a simple walkthrough to cut your line of supply
- an army that gets rid of the Union Kentucky army that will push south against you, and is likely bigger than yours to start off with
- whatever is left of that army shall we say becomes the army that ultimately will get across the river. You probably will want to cross with say 5-6 SP? So, say you need to start with 10-12 SPs to account for losses.
- one army to guard your base against Grant coming to you via the rivers from Cairo direction (say 6 SPs plus a good leader, may need more)
- say half an army to deal with the remnants of Rosecrans army your first army defeated on the way north and which will be in the Frankfort / Lexington vicinity waiting to cut things off from the opposite side (say 3-4 SPs + good leader)

So, that's then an estimated 23-27 SPs to get 6 across. And that assumes that you can fight your way past Rosecrans in the first place, and Grant fails miserably!

Timewise, shall we say 2 phases for a straight walk up from Nashville if no opposition whatsoever, so rather say 4 (=1 turn) to get there. Then build the fort, plus get across. So shall we say, 2 full turns, spending one activation each phase in the theatre at least, more likely two. You also need the guts of 2 entire turns' worth of SPs.
And all the time the Union is just sitting there and watching, not invading Texas, Florida, pushing in the TM, or towards Richmond, never mind landing on the Atlantic coast picking off cheap harbours with a few little pushes inlands while in the swing of things...

So yes, easy peasy

In testing we found that river-control denial forts are too easily built, hence the requirement for Full supply, instead of just limited supply. Suddenly it is clear why Memphis and Vicksburg were the key locations in the theatre.
This here is a nice little side-effect, as as always, everything works both ways...

I am sure some sharks somewhere will find some loop-holes, gamey abuse scenarios, but we tried to limit them...we tried...
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David Dockter
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Thanks for the analysis/stats; very helpful.

hreschreiter wrote:
I am sure some sharks somewhere will find some loop-holes, gamey abuse scenarios, but we tried to limit them...we tried...
It shows. I remember with PoG, it had been played a few times - 10k+?...and Wixson/Hassard came up with DtR (Defend the Rhine), and Ted responded well...game improved...then at least another 10k+ times...and MeCay came up with the Limited War stick, and Ted responded well...game improved. Similar with For the People. In both cases the tribe around the game - and the designer - made it better - by the sharks breaking it. Probably why the CDW (card driven war-games) are so beloved; tribe/sharks/designer improving the design thru a boatload of play.

Of course, a couple of knuckleheads pop off with the usual noise during the improvement process - they always do. Noise.

It does look like a good tribe is developing around USCW - which is great news. Really hope USCW makes it to WBC big dog tourney land next summer.
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chuckster williams
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I worked for a small company that didn't believe in cash bonuses for a job well done. Instead it gave you a Tip Of The Corporate Hat. So to the 1st Minnesota, I give a Tip Of The Corporate Hat for their outstanding post! Personally, I love the micro-mini cards. They beat the heck out of info counters. What was GMT thinking with those utterly crappy dice? Fortunately, I have wooden red and blue dice. I too thought the SP counters should have been more imaginative. Otherwise, buy this fantastically designed game if you already haven't. I doubt TUSCW will be in stock much longer.
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Greg S
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phuloivet wrote:
I worked for a small company that didn't believe in cash bonuses for a job well done. Instead it gave you a Tip Of The Corporate Hat. So to the 1st Minnesota, I give a Tip Of The Corporate Hat for their outstanding post! Personally, I love the micro-mini cards. They beat the heck out of info counters. What was GMT thinking with those utterly crappy dice? Fortunately, I have wooden red and blue dice. I too thought the SP counters should have been more imaginative. Otherwise, buy this fantastically designed game if you already haven't. I doubt TUSCW will be in stock much longer.
Alas, I only recently ordered it and it is taking its sweet time getting here!
 
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Calvin Baker
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Hey-You Looked! Been on BGG for a couple years and just getting around to this...
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A great review/analyses. I forgot I bought this game and then it showed up. I was a little surprised(how could I explain to the wife?) and dumbfounded (how could I explain to the wife?).
But after I got it cracked open and she saw how excited I was about it (It was here after all and already paid for...) I made it into the home.
Enough about me and again thanks for doing these!
Give us your impressions!
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Fred Finkenbinder
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A most excellent review of a wargaming group's first play of what will certainly become a classic in the hobby. I am in the middle my first PBEM game of this and so far it is playing out pretty much as I expected - the birth child of VGCW and FtP. VGCW players will love the changes to the DD system (love the 1/1/1 mechanic when a DD of 1 is rolled!) as well as the polish of the naval rules lifted from that classic; FtP players will be pleased to see that CSA aggression is possible (encouraged early?) - and although I don't see things getting "carried away" as in FtP, breakthroughs can happen and when weighed against the game's Victory system, can be crippling to the Union player.

We are playing with the advanced rules and I would highly encourage players give these a shot - if you need to use the basic rules first to learn the systems, that is fine (and encouraged by the designer), but I think the Advanced Rules give the game the full flavor that a CW gamer is looking for. All the optional rules are sound; we are only using the maneuver reaction rule in our PBEM game, but I want to eventually try them all.

I disagree (again, this is based on VERY limited play experience) that this game would be a WBC candidate. Once people play the campaign game (and who doesn't want to play the campaign game?), I think the scenarios will not be very popular, and that the campaign game (just as in FtP) will be the way to go. If you throw an event like that into WBC you will have something a lot meatier than many can digest. But I have only been to WBC twice, so I defer to Dockter for his wise, experienced opinion and I won't argue too much.

David - if you do want to try the campaign game, I would love to play a PBEM with you. I am pretty reliable at doing at least a move a day on average. E-mail/PM me if you are interested.

Fantastic review - can't wait to see what is in the future for this one. I will be playing it (and only it for the immediate future) for some time.
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Jim Doughan
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Excellent Post Herr Dr.

George Young, Pete Reese and I have started playing this, first at Beach con, and now PBEM by Vassal. There's a great Vassal mod out there.

My first reaction is that the map is incredibly well thought out. The interaction between the map and the naval and supply rules is very clever. I'm sure some nuts will find some places on the map where game play will not fit the historical narrative well, but these can probably be handled with errata.

One area where the attention to the map really pays off is West Virginia and Eastern KY. There is no rail or navigable river network there, so any Army operating in that area will be stuck with limited supply, and no strategic movement. (Each side is limited to 1SP of Strategic Road movement per turn).

Only repeated playing will tell us, but it seems like any army sized attempt in WV or Eastern KY by North or South is a fool's errand. You'll spend a lot of action points to march forward, leave behind many SP's to guard your LOC, and fight a battle or two. After you take casualties, you'll be limited to bringing up 1 SP per turn by strat move. Your opponent, having thoughtfully prepared his defense will be under no such restrictions. In short WV looks to be the dead end it was historically.

Looking forward to playing this a bunch. I really like the naval rules and the nuanced supply rules.

I'm looking forward to 6th place finish in this at the next WBC.
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