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Subject: Gettysburg 77 and How I learned to like this bomb rss

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Gerald Todd
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Avalon Hill's 1977 edition of Gettysburg is an interesting phenomenon. I won't rehash the issues so many have had with this game, but I'll tell you a little of what I did to my copy to make it a game I could actually like.

The first thing about this game I saw was it's map. Maps are a big part of why I love wargaming, and here was a real topo map of an event and a place I knew very well, have walked and ridden many times (even more in the decades since 1977). It took very little time for me to come to hate this map. It's problem is that it's far too cluttered with unused information, and it's a pain to discern the information you need from it. You constantly had to refer to the simplified map inside the back cover of the rules to the point you were wondering why you weren't just playing on THAT map.

So my first mod to this game was marking the elevation numbers from the reference map in each hex of the map-board. With that I marked other points-of-interests, some to help game play, and some just because it needed it. This actually helped a great deal, and I don't think detracted from the map.
Here's a photo of it so you can decide...



The basic game, IMO, isn't worth the space it takes up in the box or the rules. They could have use the basic rules with the "intermediate" counters and it would have done a better job at the same goal for cheaper.

The Advanced game just wore me out too quickly. Too much accounting and too little game, to put it as simply as possible; but, there were aspects of it that got my attention and that I thought the Intermediate game needed.

One item was that the advanced game brought into consideration was the size of the brigades and the space they took up (frontage). In the intermediate game every brigade was represented by one counter, regardless of it's size. AH could have simply broken larger brigades into multiple counters as so many brigade-level games have done since, but maybe the technology for that didn't yet exist in 1976-77?
Honestly, at the time, that hadn't occurred to me either, but that was because I was enamored with seeing the regiments depicted, and that was my next mod to this game.

I had an order of battle to the regimental level available to me at the time, but not the strengths of those regiments. The game provided scaled brigade strengths for the advanced game on the back of the counters, color coded for quality. I simply divided that brigade strength by the number of regiments in that brigade and made up regimental counters using the advanced game line/column counters (which I resolved I'd never use otherwise). Like the advanced game, I kept the brigade counters as headquarters units.

I didn't want to turn this into the advanced game, so my rules mod did not incorporate ranged fire for infantry/cavalry. The rule book says a hex in this game is 756 feet across, or 250 yards. This is pretty much the average engagement range in Civil War battles, so I had no problem with infantry having a one hex range. I made the stacking limit 8 strength points based on the advanced game and the actual frontage of a 2 rank line over 250 yards. To simplify things I ruled all regiments stacked in a hex were treated as one unit in attack or defense. Also, only regiments in the same brigade could stack together but artillery wasn't restricted by organization. A regiment was required to be adjacent to another unit of the same brigade and if it wasn't, must move to be so if not in a ZOC. In combat, any eliminated result took the top-most regiment of a stack as sort of a step loss. Otherwise, the intermediate rules were used pretty much as-is.

Next thing I felt the Intermediate game was sorely missing was ranged artillery fire. The Confederate barrage before Pickett's Charge could not be portrayed by the Intermediate game, so how could it claim to be Gettysburg?

I was very tempted to use the battery counters from the advanced game and the wonderful detail they provided, but managed to restrain myself. I kept the artillery battalion counters and their printed strengths but gave them a range of 8 hexes. They would operate separately from infantry and cavalry. On defense they could add their printed strength to the stack, but I added a separate artillery fire phase to the sequence of play. Artillery strength would be x2 at one hex, x1 at 2-4 hexes; x.5 at 6-8 hexes. Only one artillery unit per hex stacked with up to 4 strength points of infantry or cavalry. But adjacent artillery could combine to fire at one target hex. There were DRMs for quality, target terrain, elevation, target type, etc.
The quality DRM's were based on the color codes on back of the brigade counters and the matrix in the General vol 15 # 1 page 9
I deemed US artillery to be red, and CS artillery to be black as concerns the chart below.



Command control was kept simple. Units not in command could not enter an enemy ZOC. Command ranges were based on the advanced game leader counters, but I didn't impose command limits - a leader could command all of his subordinate leaders. As usual, corps leaders put brigade leaders in command, and they put their regiments in command. Any unit that was out of command, but was adjacent to a unit that was in command, and of the same formation was considered in command.
The highest ranked of any HQ (corp or division) could be designated as Army command on-the-scene until an army commander arrived. And would automatically be superseded when a higher rank HQ got in range; ie: Reynold supersedes Buford; Hill supersedes Heth.
I was never a big fan of leaders having a major effect on combat in the form of odds shifts or DRMs, but for advance after combat, I limited it to the top regiment in a stack unless a leader was there, and then up to the whole stack could advance.

In the end I got a game my friends were willing to play, and that made all the effort worth it. The game got a fair amount of play for a few years, but eventually got moved to the bottom of the pile.

I now have a listing of regiments with the strengths for most of them, and I'd like to redo the regimental counters (most of which I've lost somehow anyway or I would have posted pics) - that's a big job I'll have to work myself up to.

Also, if I go back to this game, I'll probably incorporate another couple of tweaks such as leader initiative rolls for out-of-command divisions, and maybe brigades. Something to denote mounted and dismounted cavalry, and lower the stacking limit for mounted cav to 5 as fewer horses fit into 756 feet than do men on foot.

An orders system like that in The Gamer's Civil War Brigade series could probably work here, but I usually play solitaire so I'll leave that to someone else.

All of the above exists as typewriter written pages with hand-written notes, so I suppose my best contribution to those interested would be to stuff it all into a properly formatted rule book and produce a PDF - that is if there's any interest.
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Bradley Fletcher
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Funny, I've done almost the exact same things--ranged artillery, revamped frontages with extended lines, morale, etc... I also tweaked the combat tables and ended up more or less using the Gamer's CWB fire tables w/ incremental losses. In the end, I enjoyed the game quite a bit--and actually more than any other Gburg game since of similar scale and complexity.
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Tom Cundiff
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I always intended to do that, but never got around to it. For a long time I hadn't the OOB info. And I never, still don't, had the info about the experience level of individual regiments. I suppose I should have latched onto other Gettysburg games, but never did. Always envisioned making regimental counters too.
 
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Gerald Todd
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I have the OOBs in HTML format, I can't remember where I found them. They have nearly every regiment's strength, as well as brigade strengths, so you can guesstimate at the ones you lack.

I relied on the color codes on the back of the brigade counters for quality ratings. Fateful Lightening has moral values for each regiment (larger font number in lower-left of each counter). I don't know their source, but I might go there for more detailed quality ratings. There's scans of the counters here on the Geek.

I cleaned them up a little, formatting wise, loaded them into PDFs, and uploaded them to this game's files. I'll link to the here when they're available.

I did start working up counters that I'm designing to print on colored paper, as my color printer hasn't been doing a good job of late. I will, of course, share the result on the Geek, but it may be a while before they're done.

My aim wasn't to make a highly detailed regimental level game - those already existed (and there's more of them now) - I just wanted to make the Intermediate game worth it.
 
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Tom Cundiff
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Yes, I had wished individual quality ratings for regiments within a brigade. A brigade's overall quality is one thing, but it doesn't really mean all of the units therein are of that same quality. So, I had wished to find those values. But that was 30 years ago.
 
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Gerald Todd
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OOBs with regimental strengths
Links to the OOBs with regimental strengths and other info:

Army of the Potomac at Gettysburg OOB ~ Army of Northern Virginia at Gettysburg OOB

Also, I looked over the moral ratings in Fateful Lightning and I'm inclined to think they took them from G77.

I started working on plugging this rules mod into a formatted document. I'm going with a all intermediate rules are in force except as contradicted below approach.
 
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Gerald Todd
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Regimental counters in progress
A sample of the regimental-intermediate Gettysburg77 counters for far.
They're meant to be printed in gray-scale on colored paper, so the back ground color is added to show them that way.

When I have the mod's rules typed up, I'll include the completed counters in the .zip

The ID is
Corps/division/brigade
regiment
The quality code hasn't be added yet. I would have made the strength number green, black, red, or blue to denote quality, but since this is meant to be printed on a black toner/ink printer it'll be a number from 1-4 instead.

 
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Gerald Todd
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The Draft Riots
My ranged artillery rule originally used the CRT, but for this, I outright stole the artillery table from Never Call Retreat and I think it'll work out pretty well.

Keep in mind I had two primary goals (stated in these rules) with this mod and neither was turning it into Last Chance for Victory

I originally formatted this in three columns, trying to maintain the original rulebook's format, but the type was just too small. I went to two columns and 10pt type. I had to drop to 9pt and 8pt on the player aid card (last two pages) to get things to fit. I originally had all the combat charts on one side and other data one the other, but you couldn't read it without a magnifying glass.

Still working on the counters. The Federals are done, and I'm into the CS II corps. They have colors and can be printed in color, but they don't rely on color to be functional - that way you can print them on colored paper or a full page label. I'll make a set with a background color for the latter.





Please, post your thoughts or questions on this, you other three people that pay any attention to this game
 
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Michael Melen
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I still have this game up in my attic. I tried three or four times to play the advanced game, but never got through the second day. I remember thinking that it shouldn't take longer to play the game than it did to fight the actual battle.

The intermediate game was fun, but I can't say that I was a very discriminating gamer at that point. The map was a bit blinding. I also have the original Gettysburg, which had a map that wasn't psychedelic.

What I really liked about Gettysburg 77 was the optional rule which put Stonewall Jackson back in the saddle and brought the Army of Northern Virginia back to two corps. I don't remember what the game did with that, though. It should have brought Confederate troops more quickly to the battle, possibly putting pressure on the pointy end of the fish hook.

I wish you success with your remodeling work!
 
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Gerald Todd
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Well, the counters are just about done. The fronts are anyway, I need to make backs for the artillery and commanders. I thought of making the brigade commanders "shattered" on their backs. The rest of the commanders will be generic replacement commanders with a reorg value of 3.



Now to mount them, cut then, and get to play-testing.
 
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Gerald Todd
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Ok, a draft set of counters, printed and mounted on thing card. Didn't have any gray or tan paper, so the CS units are printed on yellow. (only other choices were white and green)

Here's the end of the 7am turn


Discovered a couple of typos while cutting, which I corrected in the file.

I already don't like the infantry line across the counters - I think I'm going to change it to an infantry horn hat badge. The cavalry are wearing a scan of my m1836 false embroidery crossed sabres, so a horn will fit in.

I do like the gun on the artillery and cross-cannon might be too easy to confuse with cross sabres on these little guys, so I don't think I'll change that.
 
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Gerald Todd
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So I played 4 full turns and it played like the Intermediate game with more pieces.
Ranged artillery only got tried about four times. A 3pt CS battalion got a d2 on the 19 IN from 4 hexes. Line of sight is a pain to determine on the map. There's so much clutter, plus you have to move playing pieces to see what might be intervening. This would be so much simpler with a crest hex-side system instead.

In the pic the Union cavalry fell back to either flank of Cutler and Meridith who just lined up on McPhearson's Ridge, while the rest of I corps comes up with Rowley on the far left flank. Heth has lost 6 regiments, but Davis reconstituted one *. Pender's come up on Heth's right along Herr Ridge. So now both sides are staring across the valley at each other going into the 11am turn.



* So, Davis lost 1/2+ of his brigade strength and became "shattered" but spent a turn sitting still, out of a ZOI, and managed to recover a regiment (reconstituted, I don't care for the term either) bringing him back above the 1/2 loss mark. I deemed he was no longer shattered, but the recovered regiment was d2.

It was hard to keep to the brigade integrity rule, you have to resist that urge to send regiments off from the brigade. I was tempted to change the rule from requiring regiments stay adjacent to to their brigade-mates to just being in command range of the brigade commander and maybe reducing that range to 2 hexes from 3.

Interestingly, all Heth's losses were from attacking. Breaking brigades into their component regiments with 8 SPs plus artillery (max of 16 SP) in a hex, and Union cav doubled on defense, is a different dynamic than the original CRT was designed to work with.

Did anyone notice there are no division commanders in the intermediate game? I kept forgetting to include them with their troops because they're not on the order of appearance card. Does Doubleday come in with Rowley or Stone? The Advanced Game OoA came to the rescue, it's Stone.

 
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Gerald Todd
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OOBs and Regimental Strengths
I found where I got the order of battle with regimental strengths in the PDFs I uploaded to the file section: OOB Link

In looking for it I also found these on a "Civil War Wiki":

Union OOB
Confederate OOB

I haven't compared the lists. At a glance, they appeare to be the same data formatted a little differently.
 
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Chris Stimpson
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So - amazed as I am that there's so much interest in this - anyone want to buy/trade my copy?
 
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Gerald Todd
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The mod is done, I think.
Everything is ported to PDFs , zipped up in a convenient package, and uploaded to the Geek awaiting approval for posting.

The .zip includes the full rules, so you don't need to play rule-book ping-pong, everything's in one book (I hope). The rules of play are 7 pages, the remaining 4 pages are my rant, er, "redesigner's notes," Game set-up and victory conditions, and two scenarios by James McLean, Jr, from the General vol 15 #1; July 1 - The Final Push, and July 2 - Longstreet's First Assault.

A player-aid card with everything you need to get at quick during play is in a separate PDF.

There's a card with 4 boxes for recoverable units and permanently eliminated units.

Another PDF contains the turn record and combined order of arrival card.

There's two PDFs of counters. One set has colored backgrounds for those of you to whom ink is no object. The other set is designed to be printed on colored paper either in color or black, for those with mono printers, or ink-stingy.

Here's some sample counters


After you spend a weekend in the shop mounting and cutting counters,
all you will need from the original game is the map; number counters, breastworks, and the die. Maybe a couple of TIME markers for the turn record chart.

BTW: G77's map is scaled at 250 yards per hex; many other Gettysburg games are set at 200 yards per hex; Thunder at the Crossroads, Summer Storm, Bloody July, Fateful Lightning, to name a few.

You can decrease the stacking limit from 8 SP to 6 SP, or just fudge it and leave it at 8; and multiply all the ranges, including command ranges, by 1.25, and you can play this mod on their maps. Ta-da!
For instance, my artillery range is 8 250 yard hexes, or 2,000 yards. 8 x 1.25 = 10. 10 of their 200 yard hexes is 2,000 yards! Ain't math fun?

And you can't beat the price either!
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Gerald Todd
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A "final" modification

This game gets crowded quick. Trying to look at your stacks, or see what the terrain is under them when a lot of them are elbow-to-elbow like the men they represent means dealing with units bumped and displaced to a maddening extent. The hexes are just too small.

So I scanned my board, pasted the scans together into a north map and a south map, enlarged the images by 127% which gave me "Panzerblitz" sized hexagons. I edited the maps, removing my hand written elevations and placing the number in the south corner of each hex - now you can see them and hardly have to touch a counter.

I put the two maps into a PDF. Acrobat will "tile" large images onto multiple pages, which you can cut and paste together like a puzzle.

It's still a bit sloppy, but it's functional.

Comparison


Close-up of the Peach Orchard-Round Tops area


I don't think I can post the PDF because of copyrights and such.
 
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Tom Cundiff
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What size overall is the enlarged map? I'd like to get a copy of it in editable png or jpg or some such graphics file. I like the elevation notation, but for my part I want to make them in something larger and brighter (aging eyes you see) and then take that somewhere to have the whole thing printed in one large map.

Depending upon the size you can either e-mail it to me, or if you have Drop Box, send me the DropBox link and I'll download it.

Drop me a Geek Mail and I'll send you my e-mail address.

Thanks,
Tom
 
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Tom Cundiff
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I can convert tiff to png. But I cannot get the link you posted to work.

 
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Gerald Todd
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I incorporated two scenarios into the mod from the General 15.1.

I compared the Second Day scenario to unit positions in Pfanz's Gettysburg: The Second Day and the two matched very well.

I didn't verify the First Day scenario beyond setting up just the brigade commanders. Turns out when you add the regiments and abide by stacking restrictions, it doesn't set-up so well. I was going to do a play session of this scenario till this issue cropped up.

So I went looking for information and found several fine maps at the Civil War Trust website, such as this overview of positions right when the scenario begins:



There are other maps that zoom in on specific spots and show more detail, that I actually could overlay on the game-board and see where units were on the hex-grid. Some units were in very different locations than the original scenario had them. I attributing that to newer research since 1978.
 
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Tom Cundiff
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This file g77_map.zip still indicates damaged archive.
 
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Gerald Todd
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Bigger hexes
Here they are in 150 dpi jpeg

North Map

South Map
 
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Gerald Todd
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Beyond a Mod
This little project out grew being a mod, and is now a "print-and-play" game I've dubbed, Last Full Measure which can be downloaded here
 
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