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Subject: Battle of Gettysburg rss

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Ernest S
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My wife is teaching a class of teens (including my daughter) about the Civil War. She asked me to research and find a game on the battle of Gettysburg. I asked her if historical accuracy was important, or if ease of play and fun-factor were important, of if 'nice bits' were critical. She said, "Yes, all those things." So instead of mowing the lawn & cleaning the house, I must spend hours researching games here on BBG. AND, I also would like to get your suggestions.

Let me provide a little background on my wife & the audience:

Wife: Does NOT play games often but is pretty intelligent. She loves history and I believe historical accuracy will be important to her. I also know pretty things will keep her engaged longer so a nice, accurate board would be good and colorful chits (or other pieces) would be nice.

Daughter: Loves games; we play often together. Her favorite game by far is Lord of the Rings. She also likes The Downfall of Pompeii, Carcassonne, Apples to Apples & other social games (Taboo, Cranium, etc). I think ‘fun’ & interaction, but not heavy conflict would be important to her. I know; how do you avoid conflict in a War Game?! I guess she will just have to learn how to deal with conflict.

Other Students: The kids in the class are home schooled. There are about 12 kids ages 12 to 17, both girls and guys. I know this introduces a huge variety of tastes, but hopefully there is a game out there that will fill the need. They tend to get pretty engaged in whatever they study so the subject matter may keep them interested.

Some other random thoughts:
- The game doesn’t have to play with 12. Right now the class is divided into North & South for various activities & presentations, so a two player game (two teams) would work.
- They meet once a week for about 2 to 3 hours, so I think the game should not be too long; however they could play the game over a number of sessions.
- I asked if a general Civil War game would work (Thinking A House Divided) but she specificaly said it must be a game about the Battle of Gettysburg.
- Learning must be the most critical piece of the game since this is a classroom.

Thanks ahead of time for your suggestions. And now I must browse BBG for the next 2... 3... 5 hours in the name of research. My wife told me to.
 
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Matias D
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The Guns of Gettysburg isn't done yet. But I seem to recall that Bowden's Simmons' earlier games, or Napoleon's Triumph at least, had rules for multiple players, with some sort of chain of command system in place.

So perhaps that could be an option? Unless you need it right away...
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Ernest S
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residue wrote:
The Guns of Gettysburg isn't done yet. But I seem to recall that Bowden's Simmons' earlier games, or Napoleon's Triumph at least, had rules for multiple players, with some sort of chain of command system in place.

So perhaps that could be an option? Unless you need it right away...


Thanks residue. Probably need it sooner rather than later, but will keep an eye on "Guns..." should it come out soon.
 
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Wim Leenaerts
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Not a wargamer so no suggestions on the game area, but might I suggest looking for the mighty musical trilogie 'Gettysburg' by American heavy metal band Iced Earth? Jon Schaffer - Frontman of the band - is a huge history buff and has composed 3 fantastic songs about the battle at Gettysburg. The trilogy deals with the facts but also handles emotions very well.
Good luck with your search!
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Freddy Dekker
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How about THREE DAYS IN JULY, allthough I'm not sure if you'll be able to get that.
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Kent Reuber
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My suggestions:

When learning to play the Civil War, I'd suggest playing division level games before advancing to brigade level or regimental level games. I think it's better to have fewer counters to get the big picture of the battle.

Yankees & Rebels is a division level game of the battle of Gettysburg and other Civil War battles. The map is two sided, with Gettysburg on one side and a blank map on the other. It has a distinctly Euro feel to it, but plays well. Boulder Games in the US sells the game and currently has it in stock. Rules are only 2 pages long, and are available for download at:

http://giogames.it/Y&Renglish.html

Each turn, you draw a Corps chit from a cup, then roll activation dice to see what elements of the division are able to do. So, each player could command a Corps and be responsible for his own actions and activations.

The second recommendation would be Gettysburg (125th Anniversary edition) or one of the older editions from Avalon Hill. These are long out of print, but show up on eBay all the time. Rules are short and the action is again division level. This is more old-school with traditional move/fire sequences.

Third suggestion is War of the States: Gettysburg, 1863. Again, division level, but more complex than either of the above (though a "Learn to Play in 5 Minutes" summary is available on Avalanche Press's site). Players try to activate particular formations based on the initiative of individual commanders, which may give students some insight into why the battle may have stalled on a particular area. Combat is "throw lots of dice and hit on a 6". The nice wrinkle is that a division can fall back to ignore a point or two of damage. So, you're faced with the decision of hold the ground and take losses or fall back. The victory conditions are very interesting as well: you have to dish out 25 points of damage, while taking no more than 15 points yourself. (I'm doing this from memory so I may not have the quantities right). So, you can't afford to go toe to toe and blaze away at each other--you have to seek out flank shots and maneuver to where you can cause superior casualties.
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Jeremy Fridy
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I would second the 125th anniversary edition of Gettysburg. It's part of the Smithsonian line, so it was made for sale at gift shops, not game stores (it was designed to be played by new gamers.) Also it has a very short rulebook and when I last played it I got the double fish hook line after the first day. Also it has a reasonable counter count.
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Brian Morris
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I recommend strongly Gettysburg: Badges of Courage. Block game where scenarios covering specific days can be played in 2-3 hours. It's also surprisingly good in terms of it's historical accuracy. I think it's easily your best bet.

I know Kent recommended Gettysburg (125th Anniversary edition) and Yankees & Rebels but the first is horrible in terms of historical accuracy. I've played it three times and any resemblance to Gettysburg is coincidental. The second is ok but a bit lacking as a historical simulation.

The Guns of Gettysburg unfortunately is not out yet. Been watching that one carefully and it is looking very promising.
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Mark Swenholt
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It takes very little research on the battle to realize the degree to which subordinate commanders' decisions drove the direction and ultimately the outcome of the battle, often to the surprise and not infrequenct dismay of the generals notionally in command of the armies.

Oft-cited and critical examples include Ewell's decision to not clear the Union forces from Culp's and Cemetary Hill on July 1st, Sickles' decision to advance the III Corps to the Peach Orchard position and Law's decision to (in effect) re-route the axis of advance of Hood's division to the Round Tops instead of up the Emmitsburg pike to the Peach Orchard as ordered, both on July 2nd.

The Gamer's "Thunder at the Crossroads" provides some understanding of the effects of a not particulary responsive command structure implemented as fairly simple rules overlaying a brigade level game. It has the benefit of illuminating the "friction" that made the execution of the Army commanders' battlefield decisions so difficult. I think it is the most successful of the non-regimental monster games at representing the battle.
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Ernest S
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What I got so far:

Gettysburg: Badges of Courage is great for historical accuacy... though may be a little complex for new / non-gamers. My thought is they could still handle it as an educational exersize.

Gettysburg (125th Anniversary edition) would better fit the audience due to lower complexity but there may be a loss of historical accuracy.

Yankees & Rebels has low complexity but limited historical accuracy.

Roads to Gettysburg has lower historical accuracy & a wider scope than just the battle of Gettysburg. Also OOP.?

I also looked at War of the States: Gettysburg, 1863 & The Three Days of Gettysburg (third edition), both OOP. Neither had much information on their pages concerning accuracy or playability.

I could wait for The Guns of Gettysburg.

And lastly, the mighty musical trilogie 'Gettysburg' by American heavy metal band Iced Earth might add some emotion to any game I get.
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Kent Reuber
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bigeeh wrote:
Yankees & Rebels has low complexity but limited historical accuracy.


When I played the first day of Gettysburg as the Union, my relatively small divisions were forced to fall back time after time to avoid being swept away by attacking large confederate divisions. At the same time, I was hoping to buy time until my reinforcements arrived. It certainly felt like Gettysburg to me even with the relatively low complexity.

The URL for the "Learn to play in 5 minutes" for War of the States is:

http://www.avalanchepress.com/pdf/WarEmpiresQuickPlay.pdf

(though that won't help if it's out of print.)

I have Gettysburg: Badges of Courage as well, though haven't played much of it. I'd recommend it as well. The rules are online at Columbia's web site so you can see if they're what you want.
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E Butler
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As others said,



Hands down.



Easy to learn, low unit count and captures the 'flow' of the battle.
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Joel Toppen
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Quote:
I recommend strongly Gettysburg: Badges of Courage. Block game where scenarios covering specific days can be played in 2-3 hours. It's also surprisingly good in terms of it's historical accuracy. I think it's easily your best bet.


I'll second that. Badges of Courage is very a very good, very playable Gettysburg game.
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Ernest S
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UPDATE:

I purchased Gettysburg (125th Anniversary edition) and it arrived yesterday. I played a solitaire, learning session last night and found it enjoyable & simple to learn. I also like the battle manual which has lots of historical data in it. Today I will teach my wife how to play. She has very little interest in board games so we shall see how it goes. The subject matter is very interesting to her so I will attempt to emphasize how the game depicts the historical events. Friday she plans to use the game to teach her class; I will update you again on how that goes.
 
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My advice:
Tell your wife that her request is impossible. Furthermore, the recommendations here are preposterous. Realistic, attractive, playable games (playable by teenagers who have not played wargames before) don't exist.

There is so much unconscious knowledge that we all have, as gamers and wargamers, that makes game and wargame mechanics understandable, that we forget what it would be like to play a wargame for the first time. And play a wargame for the first time, as taught by a non-wargamer (your wife), performed by non-wargaming teenage boys and girls? This request is utterly preposterous.

To give some background: I have tried to play a Axis and Allies with a non-wargamer/non-gamer. We explained the rules, and tried to start. Because he had not played wargames (even Risk) before, he had no concept what to do-just organizing the information necessary to plan out a turn (build, then move, while keeping track of the different values of different units under different circumstances) was way beyond him. We were a group of graduate students in political science. Gamers are used to this process: we played Risk at age 10, and 'get' the relative value of an airplane or tank vs an infantry unit. Non-gamers, and non-wargamers, don't.

I and several serious, experienced gamers tried to play Napoleon's Triumph (which is the sytem upon which the Gettysburg game you are considering wating for is based). Three of us are serious wargamers. The fourth is a serious gamer (18XX). We struggled for several hours just to get the mechanics down. The idea of playing the Gettysburg equivalent by 13 nongamers, as taught by a nongamer, is laughable.

Serious, experienced wargamers have difficulty with some of the games on your list.

It is just possible that the very simplest games (maybe the block game, I don't know about the 125th anniversary edition) could yield an experience that wouldn't be utterly wasted and frustrating for everybody involved. I doubt it, but its possible. But they are so simple, they probably won't yield the type of history you are looking for (the effect of various leaders on the decisionmaking in the battle?).

My advice: get a map, and have the kids 'roleplay.' In essence, the class will conduct a historical study of the battle (day by day, or hour by hour). One kid will 'be' Lee, another Reynolds, etc. The class talks through the battle, with the maps and little soldiers or artillery pieces or cavalry guys (toy soldiers-each soldier may represent a brigade, or division, as you see fit), and move them on the map (by map, maybe a big terrain map on a ping pong table, with books as hills, green cardboard as trees, blocks as towns, and a green sheet over the books and table as the grass) as they did historically. Each kid only has to research the actions of one person, they all participate, there are no rules to memorize, and you are getting right at the history you want to teach. This is the format the army uses for StaffEx's (staff exercises) historical studies of famous/useful battles (though they generally do it with a terrain walk on the actual battlefield).

P.

Note: I just read your plans-to use the 125th anniversary edition. I'd be very interested in how it goes.
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Ernest S
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Paraguay wrote:
My advice:
Tell your wife that her request is impossible. Furthermore, the recommendations here are preposterous. Realistic, attractive, playable games (playable by teenagers who have not played wargames before) don't exist.


I have a little more optimism than you share, Paraguay. I played a solo session last night and the rules were really quite simple. I think many (maybe not all) of the kids in this group will get it. Even if they don’t “get it” as a game, I noticed a number of things in the game that were true to history and would benefit the class: relative strength of specific units, the map layout, units arriving in succession (vs all at once), terrain modifiers, etc. So, even if the game mechanics don’t quite flow, there are some obvious teachable moments present in this game.

The class is also watching a movie of this battle, reading books & doing individual reports on various aspects of the greater Civil War. So, with everything else the class is doing, I think a game Like Gettysburg will only add to the education. It may not succeed tremendously as a game but it will succeed in giving them one more tool to try understand what happened on this battlefield so many years ago. And maybe, just maybe it will also perk the interest of a future gamer; who knows.

I like your role play idea; in fact one other thing the class will be doing is a physical reenactment of the battle, outdoors. I don’t know all the details of this activity, but each student will play a specific brigade, corps or general and they will walk through key parts of the battle in an attempt to understand the strategies.
 
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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bigeeh wrote:
I could wait for The Guns of Gettysburg.


The Guns of Gettysburg may be too difficult for your students, but I hope you've seen Bowen's design diary essays. They contain a wealth of detail about the battle, and would be an excellent resource for studying the battle.

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Greg Schmittgens
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How about Battle Cry to refight the battle in 1.5 hours and then show Roads to Gettysburg to orient the students in the real world?

Seems like the right level to me. Might be hard to locate, but ~2500 BGGers own Battle Cry and 330+ own Roads to Gettysburg. Maybe there's one nearby. (Sorry, I'm in Kansas or I'd bring mine.) At least these both exist; they're not like 'Guns of Gettysburg' vaporware.

(I need to get out more. I thought Battle Cry was just available to the general public. Turns out I've got some kinda gold mine on my shelf.)
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Ralph T
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bigeeh wrote:
Paraguay wrote:
My advice:
Tell your wife that her request is impossible. Furthermore, the recommendations here are preposterous. Realistic, attractive, playable games (playable by teenagers who have not played wargames before) don't exist.


I have a little more optimism than you share, Paraguay. I played a solo session last night and the rules were really quite simple. I think many (maybe not all) of the kids in this group will get it. Even if they don’t “get it” as a game, I noticed a number of things in the game that were true to history and would benefit the class: relative strength of specific units, the map layout, units arriving in succession (vs all at once), terrain modifiers, etc. So, even if the game mechanics don’t quite flow, there are some obvious teachable moments present in this game.

The class is also watching a movie of this battle, reading books & doing individual reports on various aspects of the greater Civil War. So, with everything else the class is doing, I think a game Like Gettysburg will only add to the education. It may not succeed tremendously as a game but it will succeed in giving them one more tool to try understand what happened on this battlefield so many years ago. And maybe, just maybe it will also perk the interest of a future gamer; who knows.

I like your role play idea; in fact one other thing the class will be doing is a physical reenactment of the battle, outdoors. I don’t know all the details of this activity, but each student will play a specific brigade, corps or general and they will walk through key parts of the battle in an attempt to understand the strategies.


The best thing would be to find Sid Meier's Gettysburg for the PC, which is quite old but the best way of showing the action. Alternately you could push around the divisional pieces of Gettysburg and show how the action occurred.
 
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