After a couple playings, I am wondering at the ratings this game is getting - are they really that deserved? Is this a good game?
Or put another way, what am I missing?
My experience playing as both the Union and Rebs, is that the system does not portray operational level Civil War combat very well at all.
It is too easy to defend, too easy to simply conduct on orderly retreat. Combat is very, very luck based, and the turn sequence makes it even worse.
1. How can you have a civil war game that does not have facing or at least flanks? There is no advantage in hitting a target from the flank, mainly because there are no flanks. In 19th century linear combat, flank security and integrity are critical. Not so in this game, who cares if someone gets on your flank? Same with linear integrity - no need to maintain a "line", because gaps are suicide for an attacker to get into, and without the ability of the attacker to "roll up", there is no real reason to have lines at all.
2. No moral. None. Units simply fight until they are destroyed.
3. The movement/combat/turn system. Basically, fire happens before movement, and you cannot fire and move. Melee happens after movement, but you have to get into a units hex in order to meleee. However, you cannot move after entering a hex adjacent to an enemy unit. This means that a enemy unit two hexes away cannot be attacked this turn.
This means that a defender (think Union on day one) can simply move two hexes back, and be safe from your attack. You move up, he moves back a hex...and it is impossible to for you to ever engage.
The only break for this is the possibility of a double move. However, even this is more likely to hurt the attacker than the defender. The only way to have the poassibility of a double move is to move last in a turn. If you do move last, then to exploit the *possible* double turn, you must move adjacent to the enemy. That means that if you do NOT get the intiative next turn, you just walked right up to his forces, who can now blow you away with close range artillery...or simply walk away themselves.
If you do get the double turn, you cannot really exploit it anyway, since you cannot march your artillery right up and get the devastating effect that the defender can.
The net effect of this, as far as I can tell, is that on Day 1, the Union simply retreats. Do not fight, ever. Maybe take a juciy range 1 artillery shot if the frustrated Reb player leaves someone out there, but otherwisse, simply fall back slowly to the town. There are no significant terrain VPs until you get back near Cemetery Ridge anyway.
I honestly cannot imagine how a Rebel player could possibly re-create a historical first day result, as long as the Union player has realized that he does not need to fight until he gets the rest of his army up. And once he does, the terrain objectives the Confederacy needs to win are in his posesssion, and he can simply sit back and demolish the futile assaults of the Rebels.
- Last edited Tue Jan 10, 2006 6:40 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Mon Mar 28, 2005 9:15 pm
Re:Is this game really that good?
Some of the things you are complaining about have been 'fixed' in the latest version of the rules. Be sure to grab the update. As far as not portraying Civil War combat very well, you're probably right. Then again, this is not a highly detailed game with lots of chrome and rules. That's not the type of game Columbia makes for the most part. They mainly aim for enjoyable, playable games that are lighter on the rules while still retaining some key aspects of the conflict at hand. If you want a highly detailed simulation with lots of chrome, look elsewhere. But if you want a nice Gettysburg game with many tough choices that is fairly easy to learn and doesn't last for days then this one is a pretty good choice. Here are some specific points:
"1. How can you have a civil war game that does not have facing or at least flanks? "
At this scale I'm not sure facing would be necessary or would provide any more interesting options for the players without adding unnecessary complexity. As for flanks, they are present and protecting them is critical since it is one of the few ways to get more troops into a melee hex.
" 2. No moral. None. Units simply fight until they are destroyed."
This is present to some degree. It mostly shows up in the number of steps a unit has in addition to the importance and capabilities of leaders. Units can only fight without a leader in rare situations. This is related to moral. As is that different leaders have a different number of steps.
"3. The movement/combat/turn system."
The turn system is certainly not very fluid but an oversimplified system in this case is better than weighing the rules down with more complexity which would not add to the enjoyment of the game.
"The net effect of this, as far as I can tell, is that on Day 1, the Union simply retreats."
I think there is a rule change in the updated rules which makes this harder to do but it might not be the best approach for the Union anyway because of the divisional structure differences between the two sides. The south has better leaders in general and they command a larger number of units than the average northern leader. This makes attacking en mass for the south an easier proposition because each step you spend from a leader activates more units. Since every unit eliminated is a victory point that makes things kind of hairy for the north until the end of the 1st day when they get more units. But turning and running back to Cemetary Ridge to set up a line isn't the answer either since then you just have to face a full strength southern army with all their leader steps intact. The key for both sides in this game is getting your opponents leaders to drop a couple steps and therefore limiting your opponents ability to respond in certain areas and then capitalize on that weakness.
Alan, thanks for the response.
After a lot of discussion on CSW on the game, I remain unconvinced. After more playing, I actually traded my copy away.
The fire/move/melee system simply does not work if the defender realizes how easy it is to trade space for time.
I am not talking about running back to Cemetery Ridge on Day 1 - not at all. I am talking about simply falling abck one hex every turn, all that is needed is to force the Confederate player to have to move to engage you, and then he cannot fire.
You end up with the Confederate Player moving adjacent, then the Union player flaling back one hex, the Confederate player moves adjacent, the Union player falls back one step....repeat until the later afternoon when Union forces are on the board en masse.
This makes the hard fought delaying action of the historical battle simply non-existent. There is no reason to fight, you can delay the Rebels without fighting and losing troops.
I HAVE PLAYED THIS GAME A NUMBER OF TIMES AS BOTH THE CONFEDERATE AND UNION PLAYER, AND MY INITIAL TACTIC WAS TO DO AS YOU SAY AND GIVE GROUND WITHOUT COMBAT AS THE UNION.
WHAT THIS CAUSED WAS TO ENABLE THE CONFEDERATE PLAYER TO CLOSE VERY QUICKLY TO CEMETERY RIDGE WITH COMPLETELY FRESH UNITS AND LEADERS THAT WERE NOT EXHAUSTED.
THIS MEANT THAT THEY WERE ABLE TO ASSAULT THE VITAL VP AREAS OVER A COUPLE OF TURNS AND GAVE THEM THE VICTORY.
AS THE UNION PLAYER I WAS NOT ABLE TO CONCENTRATE MY FORCES INTO A STRONG ENOUGH ATTACK TO CAUSE THE NESSECARY CASUALTIES TO FORCE THE DRAW AND THAT COMBINED WITH THE POOR LEADER RATINGS ON THE INITIAL UNION LEADERS MEANT ANY MOMENTUM I GOT GOING I WAS UNABLE TO KEEP GOING.
THE MOST EFFECTIVE ACTION I FOUND AS UNION WAS TO THROW YOUR REINFORCEMENTS IN AS THEY ARRIVED, TRYING TO KEEP THE CONFEDERATES PINNED TO THE SEMINARY RIDGE FOR AS LONG AS POSSIBLE, IN FACT ONLY PULLING BACK AFTER THE 1 PM TURN ONCE REINFOrCEMENTS START TO OUTFLANK YOU. IN THIS WAY YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO HOLD THEM OFF UNTIL THE END OF THE DAY.
- Last edited Fri Jan 20, 2006 1:29 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Fri Jan 20, 2006 10:43 am