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Battle of the Little Bighorn» Forums » General

Subject: Is there a 'Hypothetical Scenario'? rss

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Sam Smith
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Newport Pagnell
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Does anyone know anything about a what-if scenario of this game, which I just ordered, where the exact location and numbers of the Indians are unknown initially?

The excellent review here of the earlier Khyber Pass version of this game says 'The Hypothetical Scenario puts you in Custer’s boots.. you’re riding into the valley of the Little Bighorn against the hostiles, their precise strength and location unknown. You can deploy your regiment as you see fit. You may come across scattered villages, or more Indians than you can handle'.

However, when I looked at the v1.1 rulebook in the files here, while there are several interesting what-if scenarios (eg Custer brings more troops, or Gatling guns) there aren't any I could see where he is totally unclear what he faces? From starting to read up on the battle a key reason for the massacre was that the Indians had always previously evaded a stand up fight and quickly catching them in their villages was key, which was why Custer pushed hard and divided his command. So it'd be fun to game that, maybe with variable VPs once the village(s) get revealed. Obv I could try and make something up, but any pointers gratefully received, as no point reinventing the wheel!
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Mike Taylor
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Sam,

No, I don't have that type of scenario in this edition. I would have to look back at the Khyber Pass version to see if that can be used here (it should). It was not included because I felt that this scenario did not occur. But if players want such a scenario I can certainly look at making it an add-on.


As to what Custer knew, his scouts certainly knew, and they did report to him. So as far as that goes I do feel that he had information on the size and location. At least in general terms as opposed to exact numbers and location.

The impression that he was surprised by the size and unaware of the village location appears to go back to the old myth; "if he knew this information then how can you explain his defeat? Therefore, he had to be surprised, and he had to be betrayed (Reno/Benteen), etc., because the savages cannot defeat the United States Cavalry." That is part of that myth. Events and situations had to be created in order to explain the unacceptable reality.

As you have found in your reading, Custer did indeed have a plan. I have addressed that over in the Consimworld IWAW folder. I believe that your analysis is correct about dividing his command, and how that was based upon his previous experience with Indian tactics. If the Indians would have behaved in a similar fashion, as he expected them to, you can begin to realize why Custer divided his command and what he was trying to accomplish.

What foiled his battle plan was the sheer number of warriors, the number of repeating rifles they had, and that they did not attempt to scatter.
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Sam Smith
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Newport Pagnell
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What you say makes better sense of the situation and how you've approached the game design - ie that he did actually know or strongly suspect that he was up against a much bigger force this time, but that he stuck with the tactics that had worked before and expected the Indians to do the same. There's a psychological aspect to that (people can be told and accept something intellectually, but still not really buy it in their hearts if it goes against experience); plus, of course, Custer could be a little gung-ho at times...

Still, I think a more conjectural what-if scenario, where you may be riding into the historic LBH or something a little or a lot different, could be fun and instructive of the dilemmas faced in this type of campaign. There's an ad around for a kickstarter of a simple 'Pub Battles' version of LBH which looks to take this sort of approach - ie maybe its a horde, maybe not.

Anyway, thanks for the quick reply, I appreciate it (and will have to swing over to CSW and read up more). I'm really looking forward to giving this game a go as is - I always thought this was one of those famous but hard-to-game battles, as the reviewer here says, but you look to have cracked it.
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Sam Smith
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Newport Pagnell
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A kindly gent has now sent me a scan of the original Khyber Pass Hypothetical Scenario, which looks good from a quick skim.

Its called 'What Custer Expected' and assumes that historically he encountered an absolute worst case scenario. So after US set up the number of Indian tribes present is randomly reduced (from 12 down to 2-6, if I've read it right) and their placement and spacing may be modified, with scope for them to be more strung out along the river. The game also came in the post - I might just start off with this Scenario.

If anybody else wants it in future just geekmail me.
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james bailey
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I just got the game series and I am looking forward to the game.

Just my thoughts on what Custer thought, based on my own military experience, Army ROTC in the 60's, Air Force 70's and Air National Guard 70's and 80's.

I believe after Custer was told that the Indian Village and number of Indians was larger than the he thought. He felt that the number of Indians was larger the he thought but smaller than being told as scouts have a habit of overstating numbers. The most important part, he felt the Indians would act and react as in the past. When the Indians changed the rules without telling him, him as his command was sunk.

I was going to ask about how to set-up this scenario.

So thanks guys,

James
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Mike Taylor
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James,

I believe the same. His tactics, his deployment, makes sense had the Indians reacted they way they had done. Custer was only drawing from his own experience. I don't think Custer, Reno, or Benteen deserved all the criticism directed towards them, but I do believe that the Indians didn't get enough credit for what they accomplished at both Little Bighorn and The Rosebud. Newer research and publications are changing how we see this fight, but the earlier writings were very much one sided (heavily biased authors, finger pointing, excuses why the US lost, etc.). Today we are much closer to the truth, with only a few mysteries remaining to be solved.
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james bailey
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Hello Mike,

Question, how to you suggest starting to learn play the game series? Would you suggest Adobe Walls, then Rosebud and the play the Little Big Horn? Then start with what if games of the Little Big Horn and campaign game of Rosebud and the Little Big Horn?

I found all the what if scenario's I would like to try once I understand the game play better.

I am reviewing the rules, BGG check of the games and Gilbert Collins YouTube videos.

Thanks,

James,

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Mike Taylor
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Hi James,

Well, the easy answer first. I would save LBH for 2nd or 3rd choice, because of the size and complexity. It is the grandaddy of the series.

As for the other two, I would say either is good to start with because the rules are shorter than LBH. Adobe Walls does have the cannons, and a small section in the rules for the camp and pony herd, but the counter density is smaller for the US player. Rosebud doesn't have any camp or pony herd rules (no camp), but has far more US forces to control. So I would have to say it is a matter of which subject you find more interesting.

The Adobe Walls situation is very similar to Little Bighorn, where you have a much smaller US force running into a much larger Indian force defending its camp. In Rosebud both sides are fairly evenly matched and it is strictly a force on force skirmish. Just as with subject, it also depends upon which situation you find more appealing.

But if I have to choose, and I couldn't flip a coin, then I would go with Adobe Walls, The Rosebud, and finally Little Bighorn.
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Tom Cundiff
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St. Bernice
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Concurring with Mike, though I learned on Rosebud 1st ed., I have found Adobe Walls is the easiest to play and learn. As Mike said, the counter density is so much smaller than all the others. This makes it easier to manage in the beginning.

They Pony Herd and Indian Camp rules have only limited bearing on the game and once the Indians have gathered their ponies, the herd or camps no longer matter.
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james bailey
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Thanks guys,

I will start with Adobe Walls, then to Rosebud and finish with BLBH.

Thanks again,

James
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