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Subject: A message to playtest groups and a few notes on Union strategy rss

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Pete Belli
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Several members of the playtest team are planning to run games of CWEx this weekend. It would be quite helpful if the recent rule changes were used during all playtesting events.

Please apply these major changes to the Public Opinion rules:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/447427

Please be certain to use the "Never Call Retreat" rule which affects endgame play:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/446878

A few other rough spots were cleaned up in the earlier clarification thread. Thanks again for all of the time and energy you Geeks have given to the CWEx prototype.
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James Cheevers
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Re: A message to playtest groups planning events on 10/03/2009 or 10/04/2009
Thanks,

I'm looking forward to being able to give this a run through tonight.

James
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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Re: A message to playtest groups planning events on 10/03/2009 or 10/04/2009
I just did my first playtest last night. I was going to do another today so this is good. I did use the Sherman rule but I didn't notice the new public opinion track, but it solves an issue I had!
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Elijah Lau
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Re: A message to playtest groups planning events on 10/03/2009 or 10/04/2009
4 games with the new Political Opinion track and Never Call Retreat rules.

3 Confederate wins, 1 Union win (and even that Union win was a struggle).

I felt that the Union player has less room to make mistakes. He just has a lot of fish to fry with very tight resources. Securing Washington. Occupying Richmond. Occupying the Mississippi. Breaking through into the Nashville-Knoxville-Atlanta triangle. Phew!

Ok, I give up. What's the secret to Union victory?
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Pete Belli
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Re: A message to playtest groups planning events on 10/03/2009 or 10/04/2009
Thank you for devoting so much time and effort to CWEx!



CWEx was designed to be competitive and I wanted the Confederate player to remain active throughout the entire game... I seem to have done that job with too much enthusiasm.

Quote:
What's the secret to Union victory?


Please accept this advice on Union strategic doctrine with a healthy dose of skepticism... people tend to play games in different ways so what works for one ACW buff might not work for another Geek.

-- The Yankees should be willing to take an occasional public opinion hit for not advancing against the Confederates in the Washington DC hex. Even if Union public opinion plummets the subsequent loss of one victory point can be balanced by the capture of some strategically vital area.

-- A Rebel army in the Washington DC hex can't use railroad movement to join a campaign in Knoxville or any other western hex. If the Union player gets too frisky in 1862 or 1863 and consistently "contests" the Richmond hex (where the Confederates are doubled on defense and can afford to send an army away) the Rebels will be able to dispatch troops to the west by railroad.

-- The first Yankee naval expedition will probably be aimed at New Olreans. The second will probably hit Charleston. The 1864 naval expedition is crucial. This invasion can be used to stretch the Rebel defenders or to add punch to an existing campaign. A Yankee landing at a vacant Mobile hex in 1864 can lead to a quick advance on Atlanta (the weird "Sherman's March From The Sea" strategy mentioned on the comment form) if the Union player gets a lucky initiative bonus on the following Confederate turn.

-- Lincoln was a suberb political manipulator. Use an occasional leftover command point for Politics & Propaganda dice rolls.

Thanks again for the contribution!
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Elijah Lau
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Re: A message to playtest groups planning events on 10/03/2009 or 10/04/2009
Quote:
-- The Yankees should be willing to take an occasional public opinion hit for not advancing against the Confederates in the Washington DC hex. Even if Union public opinion plummets the subsequent loss of one victory point can be balanced by the capture of some strategically vital area.

-- A Rebel army in the Washington DC hex can't use railroad movement to join a campaign in Knoxville or any other western hex. If the Union player gets too frisky in 1862 or 1863 and consistently "contests" the Richmond hex (where the Confederates are doubled on defense and can afford to send an army away) the Rebels will be able to dispatch troops to the west by railroad.

-- The first Yankee naval expedition will probably be aimed at New Olreans. The second will probably hit Charleston. The 1864 naval expedition is crucial. This invasion can be used to stretch the Rebel defenders or to add punch to an existing campaign. A Yankee landing at a vacant Mobile hex in 1864 can lead to a quick advance on Atlanta (the weird "Sherman's March From The Sea" strategy mentioned on the comment form) if the Union player gets a lucky initiative bonus on the following Confederate turn.

-- Lincoln was a suberb political manipulator. Use an occasional leftover command point for Politics & Propaganda dice rolls.


Union in my games didn't have too many problems with DC/Richmond. In fact, sometime by 1863, they'd have cleared DC of Confeds and be camping out at Richmond for the rest of the game.

1st Naval exped to NO is the BEST move possible. 2nd one to Charleston is also good or land at Mobile and keep the options open to advance to Charleston or Atlanta.

Maybe I was too ambitious in the Midwestern campaign. Taking Nashville and securing the Mississippi should be spread over a longer period. I'll try that.
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Iain K
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Re: A message to playtest groups planning events on 10/03/2009 or 10/04/2009
Question Pete, how many plays would you like us to get under our belts prior to filling out your "mail-in" questionnaire?

PS - I am maintaining a spreadsheet of plays, who played, who won, comments and oddities - pretty standard playtesters note taking. IS such a thing valuable to you?

Cheers,

Iain et al
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Pete Belli
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Re: A message to playtest groups planning events on 10/03/2009 or 10/04/2009
Thanks again for all the help with CWEx!

Quote:
how many plays would you like us to get under our belts prior to filling out your "mail-in" questionnaire?


Whatever you feel comfortable with... the comment form was designed to be a "first impression" evaluation. It could be one or two plays... even ZERO plays if the playtester thought the rule booklet or the concept stinks.

Quote:
I am maintaining a spreadsheet of plays, who played, who won, comments and oddities - pretty standard playtesters note taking. IS such a thing valuable to you?


Yes. Great idea.

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Pete Belli
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Re: A message to playtest groups planning events on 10/03/2009 or 10/04/2009
Several of the playtesters have sent me GeekMail messages offering excellent analysis of the game. There have also been some great Forum contributions. I am lucky to have such a fine playtest team.

Many comments have been made by Geeks concerned about the difficult situation faced by the Union player... some people have also mentioned the activity level around Washington DC and Richmond:

Quote:
In fact, sometime by 1863, they'd have cleared DC of Confeds and be camping out at Richmond for the rest of the game.


I would like to use this example of play to illustrate the potential for decisive results around Richmond.

The Fortification rules (page 14) provide the Confederate player with an opportunity to avoid a retreat result in the Richmond hex by accepting a "Battle Of Attrition" outcome. The Confederate player can maintain control of Richmond (losing this hex to the Yankees could have a severe impact on Rebel strategy!) by removing an army from play instead of withdrawing.

 


This photograph shows a typical strategic situation. The Federals have four army units in the Richmond hex while the Rebels have three army units in the hex. Since the Confederates are doubled in the Richmond hex the relative battle strengths would be Union 4 and Confederate 6 for a -2 column on the battle table.

By adding a cavalry raid (yellow arrows) and playing an Aggressive General event card (a King) the Union player can create an attack (blue arrows) at equal combat strength. With any luck at all when rolling the leadership dice the Yankees could inflict a defender rereat result on the Confederate player.

The Rebels would have to remove an army from play in a "Battle of Attrition" or withdraw from Richmond. Please note that even a Union attack at -1 (perhaps with just an Aggressive General event card available) has a slim chance of success. In fact, even an attack at -2 carries the remote possibility of a Yankee victory with a series of perfect die rolls.

The point is this: the Union player can risk taking a public opinion hit with an attacker defeated result on the battle table in return for the potential of a big payoff in the form of a destroyed Confederate army. This "Battle Of Attrition" situation may occur only once during a game or perhaps not at all... but the Union player should keep this option open in order to cast doubt into the mind of the Confederate player.
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Elijah Lau
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Re: A message to playtest groups planning events on 10/03/2009 or 10/04/2009
Having tried and been embarrassingly forced to retreat from Richmond on more than one occasion, I can only blame it on ... bad dice!

Worse thing is that it's followed up by a Confederate occupation on Washington thus gaining the Confederates 5VPs in one go. Gaah!
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Pete Belli
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Re: A message to playtest groups planning events on 10/03/2009 or 10/04/2009
Quote:
Having tried and been embarrassingly forced to retreat from Richmond on more than one occasion, I can only blame it on ... bad dice!




One comment about this... please remember that units are never required to retreat if they are defeated while attacking. The A or "Attacker Defeated" result on the battle table does not require the attacking player to retreat.

Just wanted to make that clear.
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Elijah Lau
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Re: A message to playtest groups planning events on 10/03/2009 or 10/04/2009
Quote:
One comment about this... please remember that units are never required to retreat if they are defeated while attacking. The A or "Attacker Defeated" result on the battle table does not require the attacking player to retreat.


(Slaps head)
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Iain K
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Re: A message to playtest groups planning events on 10/03/2009 or 10/04/2009
I have never seen the CSA take Washington, the USA however must pressure Richmond. The only times (twice now) that I have see definitive, USA wins by a healthy margin, was when the USA took Richmond.

I believe (don't have my notes here) that the first of those occurred because of a misplay where the attrition rule was forgotten. Knoxville was Union controlled, as was North Carolina - two armies were eliminated when Richmond was taken.

IIRC it was also the only game that saw more than two armies eliminated (4 by the bloody end).

The other taking of Richmond was a long campaign that left two CSA armies in the dead pile.
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