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Subject: The Famous Western Theater Campaign of 1862! rss

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Leo Zappa
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Aliquippa
Pennsylvania
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Rick and Jeremy stopped over my house back on May 23rd for a day of gaming. Jeremy and my son David went down to the gameroom and spent the day playing Heroscape, while Rick and I decided to play a Battle Cry campaign. Battle Cry! is the Civil War version of the Commands & Colors/Memoir '44 game system, and is the first full commercial implementation of Richard Borg's "Commands & Colors" gaming system, known more famously for "Memoir '44", "Battlelore", and the excellent "Commands & Colors: Ancients" series. Battle Cry is probably the simplest of the C&C family.

We decided to play a Western Theater 1862 campaign consisting of three scenarios: Pea Ridge, Shiloh, and Murfreesboro. We randomly selected sides, with Rick getting the Confederates and me getting the Union. I therefore assumed the persona of General Henry Halleck while Rick donned the role of General Abert Sidney Johnston
Leo morphs into General Halleck
Rick transforms into General Johnston

In Battle Cry!, campaigns are won simply by whichever side ends up with a positive victory flag differential after playing all three scenarios.


...The Battles....

Game I: Pea Ridge

Historical Note (courtesy Wikipedia):
The Battle of Pea Ridge (also known as Elkhorn Tavern) was a land battle of the American Civil War, fought on March 7 and March 8, 1862, at Pea Ridge in northwest Arkansas, near Bentonville. In the battle, Union Army forces led by Brig. Gen. Samuel R. Curtis defeated Confederate troops under Maj. Gen. Earl Van Dorn. The outcome of the battle essentially cemented Union control of Missouri. One notable fact of this battle is that it was one of the few in which a Confederate army outnumbered a Union army.


Game Commentary:
In the first game, Rick's Rebs were able to pull off a number of attacks and assaults across all three sectors of the battlefield, while my army generally could do little more than skirmish and probe – the command cards definitely favored Rick in the early going, we both agreed. Before long, Rick had me down 5 flags to 2. I finally got a useful card, "Coordinated Attack", allowing me to order one unit in each sector, and amazingly, each attack routed a Southern unit. In a blink, it was a 5-5 game. However, Rick came back on his turn with the same card, and was able to score one kill, knocking off an unattached general (the second general I lost in this game) to score a 6-5 scenario victory. For the campaign, Rick was now at +1. This game took 13 turns.

Pics:
Start:

Mid-Game:

End:


Game II: Shiloh

Historical Note (courtesy Wikipedia):
The Battle of Shiloh, also known as the Battle of Pittsburg Landing, was a major battle in the Western Theater of the American Civil War, fought on April 6 and April 7, 1862, in southwestern Tennessee. Confederate forces under Generals Albert Sidney Johnston and P.G.T. Beauregard launched a surprise attack against the Union Army of Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. The Confederates achieved some initial success on the first day but were ultimately defeated on the second day.


Game Commentary:
In this scenario, the Rebs want to push to the Union side of the board, simulating their attempt to push the Union army back into the river. Any hex on the Union side of the board occupied by a Confederate unit would count as a Confederate victory flag as long as it was so occupied. However, the Union army starts in a fairly strong defensive posture (I think this scenario basically simulates the second day of the battle), and this position got a lot stronger when I moved out a couple of regiments on my right flank and played a "Field Works" card, allowing those two units to dig in. This made the Union line very strong across the entire board, and the game stalemated for awhile. I ran out to a 2-0 lead, but finally, Rick started a push again the Union left and was able to score a couple of victory points, tying the game at 2. Rick then began a push against the North's right flank supported by his artillery, of which he had three batteries on that flank. However, my units in their field works, and led by one of my generals, beat back that attack, wrecking all three batteries. With the score of the game 5-3, I finally felt confident enough to leave my defensive
positions and attempt to score the knockout punch. One of my infantry regiments on the left "Forced Marched" and attacked a depleted Reb infantry unit to score the final victory flag, for a 6-3 Union win. For the campaign, Leo was now up +2 (total flags Leo 11, Rick 9). This game took 32 turns.

Pics:
Start:

Mid-Game:

End:


Game III: Murfreesboro

Historical Note (courtesy Wikipedia):
The Battle of Stones River or Second Battle of Murfreesboro (in the South, simply the Battle of Murfreesboro), was fought from December 31, 1862, to January 2, 1863, in Middle Tennessee, as the culmination of the Stones River Campaign in the Western Theater of the American Civil War. Of the major battles of the Civil War, Stones River had the highest percentage of casualties on both sides. Although the battle itself was inconclusive, the Union Army's repulse of two Confederate attacks and the subsequent Confederate withdrawal were a much-needed boost to Union morale after the defeat at the Battle of Fredericksburg, and it dashed Confederate aspirations for control of Middle Tennessee.


Game Commentary:
The last battle of the campaign. The Union army starts out deployed in an inverted "V", with the center set up near the middle of the board, and each flank bent back towards the Union side of the board. Most of the Rebs are set up along or close to their edge of the board. The killing started early in this game, and the Union got the better of it right off, running out to a 4-1 lead. Again playing a "Field Works" card, plus a "Reinforcements" card, I secured my right flank, which stymied Rick's hopes there. Meanwhile, his efforts against my left flank were repeatedly shot to pieces, as I luckily had a pretty good hand of command cards and usually had at least one to allow me to fire at his troops as they attempted to ford the river. A final assault allowed me to finish him off 6-2. This game took 20 turns.

Pics:
Start:

Mid-Game:

End:


Final Western Theater of 1862 Campaign Score:
Leo scored the victory at +6 victory flags (total flags Leo 17, Rick 11).

A fun day, to be sure, and I think that to be fair, we should probably play this campaign again in the future, but switch sides. I think Shiloh and Murfreesboro especially are probably slanted a bit in favor of the North (Pea Ridge appears to favor the South), making it a tough campaign for the Southern player to win outright. Of course, things would have been much closer had I not gotten rather lucky at the end of Pea Ridge and knocked off three Southern units in one turn to make a 5-2 game 5-5. If I don't get that "Coordinated Attack" card, and then succeed on all three attacks, Rick probably wins that game 6-2, and then we are talking about going into the last game, Murfreesboro, with Rick holding a +1 margin. In any case, an enjoyable day spent playing what in my opinion is a very underrated entry in Richard Borg's "Commands & Colors" family. Had this game appeared after BGG had become the fixture in the boardgaming universe that it is today, I think it would have received far greater attention and accolades. Of course, I believe there is a second coming of this game in the works, so perhaps it will finally receive the attention it deserves!

Oh, and Jeremy and David appeared to have a good time as well, as they played Heroscape until 10 that evening!
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Jim O'Neill (Established 1949)
Scotland
Motherwell
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VENI, VIDI, VISA - my reaction on entering my FLGS.
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Like a good red wine, I improve with age... and being laid.
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Pyuredeadbrilliant

Jim
Est. 1949

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gregory duff
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Ft.Worth
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An excellent report! The photos are very clear & they do justice to this awesome game, one of my faves!
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John O'Haver
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Louisville
Kentucky
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So many Command and Colors games and so few hours in the week.
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Bob Gibson
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Well done! Makes me want to put together a campaign of my own and clear the dust off my gamebox! With all that Borg has accomplished, it's sometimes easy to overlook Battle Cry when it comes to making game choices. Consequently, IMHO Battle Cry is a very under rated game.
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