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The Price of Freedom: The American Civil War 1861-1865» Forums » Reviews

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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Price of Freedom is a strategic game on the American Civil War from designer Renaud Verlaque, who made a big splash with Age of Napoleon. I loved his first design and eagerly anticipated Price of Freedom, although the map gave me concerns even when this was a GMT pre-order.

GMT Playtest map


I tried out Price of Freedom on VASSAL, had some concerns, but took the plunge after being disappointed with A House Divided, The War for the Union, and For the People. Unfortunately, Price of Freedom does not stack up and The Civil War remains the king.

Gameplay (44/70): Price of Freedom is a card driven game of grand strategy in which players used cards for points or for events over the course of about 34 impulses. Unlike other CDGs, Price of Freedom does not limit the number of events that can be played each impulse, and given the large hand size filled with screwage cards, a turn can be very frustrating, almost in a Twilight Struggle sort of way. Tthe rules make card management a non-issue, and so one of the finest aspects of any CDG is taken out of Price of Freedom because you can play any number of events on your turn. You’ll rarely have that Paths of Glory feeling of being able to do so little on a given turn. Then there is the tendency to play those screwage cards because your hand is so big, resulting in gamey usage of cards like “You Must Attack” which last session cost me Washington and the war. Lastly, many cards are cancel screwage cards, making turns quite frustrating. Screwage is good, but the small deck and large hand size makes it overkill.

Outside of events, cards are used to move corps, which each stack have a commander rated for attack, defense, and movement. Armies move, can be intercepted, and fight battles, which are effected by a myriad of factors. The CRT is possibly the best I’ve seen in Civil War gaming. It simulates Pyrrhic victories rather well and battles often leave both sides dissatisfied with heavy losses and spent units, which means that even in victory an army is worn down by battle losses.

Grant Comes East


At this juncture Price of Freedom would appear to break even. After all, the CRT is good and outweighs the less than stellar card play mechanics. What ruins the game though is the map and the convoluted commander rules. The map is absolutely ridiculous, except for the Virginia theatre. There the multiple points give players options beyond a simple “On to Richmond” mentality that stifles gameplay in most other Civil War offerings. Elsewhere, the map is lacking some obvious connections, such as a path to enter East Tennessee via eastern Kentucky. Worst of all, you can blitz clear across Mississippi and be home in Nashville for cornflakes. Swift rebel armies can force march from Corinth to New Orleans and attack at will. I have no idea how such an obvious historical error made it passed playtesting.

Virginia Theatre


The command rules do the game few favors, but this frustration seems to be part and parcel of any game on the War Between the States. Simply put, Civil War buffs are uber nerds when it comes to the mostly mediocre commanders of the war. I know so much odd ball stuff about the generals, even relative unknowns such as Clement Evans and Robert C. Buchanan. The result is that rules for Civil War generals are far more involved than in other simulations. I'm not saying it is wrong, only that it might be giving these games too much overhead and clearly it is doing just that in Price of Freedom, particularly the Grant promotion track. The Civil War is famously blasted for its leader rules, but I say error on the side of gameplay over complexity. Besides, The Civil War is easily fixed in this regard.

Accessibility (6/10): The rules for Age of Napoleon were blasted back in 2003, and while they had some problems, I found the game easy to play and teach. Price of Freedom though suffers from poor organization and vague descriptions. A veteran wargamer won’t have too many issues, but anyone else will be frustrated to no end.

Components (9/10): At first glance the map seems odd and lacks period flavor, but each area has a period picture instead of just a name on a circle. That is an excellent touch. Best of all are the cards. They are perhaps the most beautiful I have seen in any game.

Card Back


Historical Quality (6/10): Price of Freedom has some fine historical elements. Battles feel just right and leader ratings are simple and mostly fair, although I’d be a bit kinder to Pemberton and Meade. Many of the war’s elements are captured simply and effectively, such as emancipation, Confederate economic collapse, and the rise of entrenchments. Other elements just do not work. I already noted the wacky map, but there is also a rigidity to your choices at high command. Options, such as Longstreet and Hancock, would have been nice. The blockade is the worst handled aspect of the war. It is accomplished through blockade action cards, but there are only two in the deck and each can be used to remove blockade markers. Furthermore, the markers only aid in creating the blockade and they fail to give the Union advantages which would help prevent rebel armies from driving Union forces into the sea with ease. Also, like all Civil War games, this one cannot help but perpetuate the myth that the election of McClellan would have resulted in a Confederate victory. Look, McClellan was a WAR DEMOCRAT. His opposition was to how Lincoln prosecuted the war, not the war itself. This does not mean McClellan would be a good president, only that his election would not mean the South would win independence. Outside of this, the victory conditions are varied and include both a military victory and a victory through the reduction of the enemy’s war effort. The later is the way to go with this conflict.

Overall (65/100): Price of Freedom is a painful game because it was almost great. I like the CRT and the basic premise of grand strategy, but the map, card management, and rules clarity are lacking. My hopes remain with Lincoln's War, which I believe will become the king of Civil War games when it hits the shelves.

Lastly, if you are reading this Mr. Verlaque, don’t take any of this personally. I plan to give a glowing review of Age of Napoleon in the coming months.
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Jim F
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Where the heck did this interest in WW1 come from?
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I have this sat on the shelf waiting to be played. This review has pricked my curiosity so I may dust it off and finally give it a go. From my read through of the rules I was still left hoping Lincoln's War is going to be the one...
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Pete Belli
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Elsewhere, the map is lacking some obvious connections, such as a path to enter East Tennessee via eastern Kentucky...


One of the reasons I gave this game away.

The artwork on the cards, however, was superb.



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Rauli Kettunen
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gittes wrote:
Then there is the tendency to play those screwage cards because your hand is so big, resulting in gamey usage of cards like “you Must Attack” which last session cost me Washington and the war.


Once you know "You Must Attack" is in the game, unless you have it in your hand, it's easy to prepare and counter it without leaving Washington undefended.

Quote:
Elsewhere, the map is lacking some obvious connections, such as a path to enter East Tennessee via eastern Kentucky. Worst of all, you can blitz clear across Mississippi and be home in Nashville for cornflakes. Swift rebel armies can force march from Corinth to New Orleans and attack at will. I have no idea how such an obvious historical error made it passed playtesting.


A House Divided is the only other ACW game on this level I've played and I prefer PoF's map to it, mainly because there aren't a million pointless spots on the map to grind and control.

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The blockade is the worst handled aspect of the war. It is accomplished through blockade action cards, but there are only two in the deck and each can be used to remove blockade markers. Furthermore, the markers only aid in creating the blockade and they fail to give the Union advantages which would help prevent rebel armies from driving Union forces into the sea with ease.


You can also work your blockade by land, taking the ports by troops, via Strategic Transfers (for cheapest option) or just standard naval move. I've also noticed that unless the Union gets both coasts blockaded, the extra WE left for the CSA, those extra troops they can have in play make things a lot harder for the Union. Turn 2 full blockade leaves the South hurting bad, so in that sense I feel like you do get full value for the blockades.

I haven't played For the People, mostly because I want to play the full war in one go and FtP's full game takes too long. PoF provides the full war experience in about 90 minutes, which is excellent.
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Fabian Mainzer
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I totally agree with this review. I found a lot to like in this game, but somehow it just doesn't come quite together and leaves one wanting more, but not of the same.

I still hope there will be a good strategic game on the ACW, but I've come to doubt it.
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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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Dam the Man wrote:
Once you know "You Must Attack" is in the game, unless you have it in your hand, it's easy to prepare and counter it without leaving Washington undefended.


I knew it was there in the deck. It did not matter, for not only was he able to leave Washington open, but he forced me to strike Richmond, leading to heavy losses.

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A House Divided is the only other ACW game on this level I've played and I prefer PoF's map to it, mainly because there aren't a million pointless spots on the map to grind and control.


I think the map for PoF was almost there. It just needed more connections out west.

I'm not a fan of A House Divided, but I do like the map quite a bit.

Quote:
You can also work your blockade by land, taking the ports by troops, via Strategic Transfers (for cheapest option) or just standard naval move. I've also noticed that unless the Union gets both coasts blockaded, the extra WE left for the CSA, those extra troops they can have in play make things a lot harder for the Union. Turn 2 full blockade leaves the South hurting bad, so in that sense I feel like you do get full value for the blockades.


I still wish the blockade markers did something else. It is just too easy for the South to knock off the corps I just sent to New Orleans.

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I haven't played For the People, mostly because I want to play the full war in one go and FtP's full game takes too long. PoF provides the full war experience in about 90 minutes, which is excellent.


90 minutes? You guys are swift!

I like the idea of this game. The execution is off.
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alex w
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Thanks for the review. I've read tthe rules and was going to give it a shot, but other games crop in.

I'm a wargamer that takes in anything and treats them fresh. I seldom compare games with each other. My ratings are what I feel about the game as a whole.

I've no historical knowledge about that period, but it does not stop me from enjoying it the way it tells the story.

I'll be trying it soon, once I finish with Normandy.
 
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Rauli Kettunen
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gittes wrote:
I still wish the blockade markers did something else. It is just too easy for the South to knock off the corps I just sent to New Orleans.


Most games (37 to date) I'd say South tends to run out of forces out west eventually, it's often just A. Johnston's Army of Tennessee alive with 2-3 corps at max, when JJ (or Lee) and Beau have about 5 corps between them out east. Having the South wiped out west isn't uncommon and once you've cut supply, they can't even bring out new troops anymore. Lone corps invasions mostly start at Savannah for us, work the Atlantic Coast with garrisons from the south, threaten Atlanta, while hopefully getting blockades to the two or three boxes from north. Once the AC is blockaded, go for Atlanta or another Strat Transfer to NO, by which time A. Johnston should have more pressing issues than chasing down Spoons Butler.
 
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Marco Arnaudo
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thanks for the excellent review, you just saved me some $$$!
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Steve Herron
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Also Sean, Marion is not in East Tennessee, it is in Southwest Virginia that location on the map (if it was going to stay in the same spot) should have been labeled Bristol. The only reason I can think that there was not a connection from Eastern Kentucky would be there was not a railroad link. Maybe since there wasn't a link between those area is why Sherman didn't move into East Tennessee in 1861 after the Bridge Burners tried to destroy all the railroad bridges from Chattanooga to Bristol
Why does Polk start in Knoxville and all the other CW games has him start in Memphis?
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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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sherron wrote:
Also Sean, Marion is not in East Tennessee, it is in Southwest Virginia that location on the map (if it was going to stay in the same spot) should have been labeled Bristol. The only reason I can think that there was not a connection from Eastern Kentucky would be there was not a railroad link. Maybe since there wasn't a link between those area is why Sherman didn't move into East Tennessee in 1861 after the Bridge Burners tried to destroy all the railroad bridges from Chattanooga to Bristol
Why does Polk start in Knoxville and all the other CW games has him start in Memphis?


I didn't notice that Marion was actually in Virginia. I figured the connection would be to Knoxville and would have limits. You are right though in that they wanted to stick to the railroads. The effect is that it limits gameplay. I mean Sherman cannot even take his actual route to the sea in POF.

I suspect Polk is there because otherwise he'd occupy Cairo and cause the union hell. Another way in which the map fails the game and history.
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Good review.

What this game gets right that so many get wrong are the supply rules for confederate armies when they invade the north. In PoF, the southern armies can not stay in the north as they're cut off from replacements and suffer attrition. Spot on. I wish this concept was ported to FtP.
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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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deschubert wrote:
Good review.

What this game gets right that so many get wrong are the supply rules for confederate armies when they invade the north. In PoF, the southern armies can not stay in the north as they're cut off from replacements and suffer attrition. Spot on. I wish this concept was ported to FtP.


Thanks for adding that to the list of things this game does right.

I just wish it did more things right.
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Thanks for the head-up. However, geography aside, the other features you mentioned about seem add fuel to my desire to play this: unlimited cards played out of the maximum hand size, Pyrrhic-enabled CRT, involved command rules, short game time, beautiful components, McClellan election for president (which was never prominent in other Civil War games before), variable victory conditions. They all add to my appetite.

Perhaps I am a fan of Age of Napoleon. Perhaps I am in the mood for ACW with the recent game of Battle Above the Clouds. I should bring this game out in the new year. laugh
 
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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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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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Lawrence Hung wrote:
Thanks for the head-up. However, geography aside, the other features you mentioned about seem add fuel to my desire to play this: unlimited cards played out of the maximum hand size, Pyrrhic-enabled CRT, involved command rules, short game time, beautiful components, McClellan election for president (which was never prominent in other Civil War games before), variable victory conditions. They all add to my appetite.

Perhaps I am a fan of Age of Napoleon. Perhaps I am in the mood for ACW with the recent game of Battle Above the Clouds. I should bring this game out in the new year. laugh


Maybe you'll like it. I do think the CRT is perfect.

However, most Civil War games feature the election of McClellan as leading to a Confederate victory. I might make for good gaming, but it is lousy history.
 
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Robert Derderian
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The beauty of this game (like the Napoleon game)is that it is a grand strategic civil war game, but plays very quick, has few pieces and yet you get a decent feel for the period. The rules are a bit confusing is some places, but once you understand what the author is saying, the rules are simple. The components are very nice and setup takes just a few minutes. I like the leaders and the leader rules and the battles and interception work well and are fun and exciting.

So you have a simple grand strategic civil wargame, that gives you the feel of the war, has few counters and pieces and can be completed in an evening.

Its not perfect, but I think it plays well, is fun, and the cards give a nice flavor.

The other games have larger maps, many more counter, and may portray the war better in some ways. But overall, this game is less figity than the others which makes the game move quick and overal can be more fun than the others as its easier and faster to play.

I give it a must buy for ACW grand strategic games. Give it a few tries and I think you will find that you play it more often then some of the other grand strategic civil war games that takes quite a bit more time to play and are alot more figity.
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Steve Carey
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rderderian wrote:
Give it a few tries and I think you will find that you play it more often then some of the other grand strategic civil war games that takes quite a bit more time to play and are alot more figity.


Sorry I did, and my reaction was the exact opposite of yours - with a 65/100, Sean nailed it from my perspective. Glad to hear someone is enjoying it, however.

Another title worth mentioning is the creative Blue vs. Gray; now there's a relatively light and fast playing ACW game that we received good value out of. But it's an innovative (i.e., different) design that's not for everyone.
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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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rderderian wrote:
The beauty of this game (like the Napoleon game)is that it is a grand strategic civil war game, but plays very quick, has few pieces and yet you get a decent feel for the period. The rules are a bit confusing is some places, but once you understand what the author is saying, the rules are simple. The components are very nice and setup takes just a few minutes. I like the leaders and the leader rules and the battles and interception work well and are fun and exciting.

So you have a simple grand strategic civil wargame, that gives you the feel of the war, has few counters and pieces and can be completed in an evening.

Its not perfect, but I think it plays well, is fun, and the cards give a nice flavor.

The other games have larger maps, many more counter, and may portray the war better in some ways. But overall, this game is less figity than the others which makes the game move quick and overal can be more fun than the others as its easier and faster to play.

I give it a must buy for ACW grand strategic games. Give it a few tries and I think you will find that you play it more often then some of the other grand strategic civil war games that takes quite a bit more time to play and are alot more figity.


Have you tried Civil War Express?
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Renaud Verlaque
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gittes wrote:
Price of Freedom is a strategic game on the American Civil War from designer Renaud Verlaque, who made a big splash with Age of Napoleon. I loved his first design and eagerly anticipated Price of Freedom, although the map gave me concerns even when this was a GMT pre-order.

I tried out Price of Freedom on VASSAL, had some concerns, but took the plunge after being disappointed with A House Divided, The War for the Union, and For the People. Unfortunately, Price of Freedom does not stack up and The Civil War remains the king.


Though I know you like Age of Napoleon, it would seem that in matters of American Civil War your taste runs towardS the strategic/operational rather than the grand-strategic. I say that because your preference for VG's the Civil War and your comments on the map. I tried to represent the main avenues of movement while taking into account the facts that each turn is a quarter not a month and that the number of playing pieces is somewhat limited, all conscious design choices, which may not be to everyone's taste. You note that there is an appropriate number of spaces in the East but not in the West. That geographic distortion in my mind reflected the nature of the terrain (rivers as obstacles in the East rather than avenues of movement in the West) and the different stakes (capitals in the East not in the West) caused slower movement in the East and therefore requires a greater density of spaces.

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Gameplay (44/70): Price of Freedom is a card driven game of grand strategy in which players used cards for points or for events over the course of about 34 impulses. Unlike other CDGs, Price of Freedom does not limit the number of events that can be played each impulse, and given the large hand size filled with screwage cards, a turn can be very frustrating, giving this game a peculiar Twilight Struggle kind of frustration. As it is though, the rules make card management a non-issue, and so one of the finest aspects of any CDG is taken out of Price of Freedom because you play any nuber of events on your turn. You’ll rarely have that Paths of Glory feeling of being able to do so little on a given turn. Then there is the tendency to play those screwage cards because your hand is so big, resulting in gamey usage of cards like “you Must Attack” which last session cost me Washington and the war.


Card management can also be a matter of not rushing to playing all your cards in the early turns of a year or deciding between events or operations. "You must attack" represents the political pressure and is meant to force movement in the East where otherwise it is too easy for players to settle into a status quo. As someone else wrote you can prepare for it, and there are some "reasonable" safeguards like not being required to attack in a position of inferiority, but sometimes you'll indeed get "screwed". That's a design choice that is not uncommon in CDGs and as long as they don't break the game I'm fine with that.

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Outside of events, cards are used to move corps, which each have a commander rated for attack, defense, and movement. Armies move, can be intercepted, and fight battles, which are effected by a myriad of factors. The CRT is possibly the best I’ve seen in Civil War gaming. It simulates Pyrrhic victories rather well and battles often leave both sides dissatisfied with heavy losses and spent units, which means that even in victory an army is worn down by battle losses.


Thanks. I like it too! Some have complained about the "myriad of factors". To me it would otherwise be too flavorless.

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At this juncture Price of Freedom would appear to break even. After all, the CRT is good and outweighs the less than stellar card play mechanics. What ruins the game though is the map and the convoluted commander rules. The map is absolutely ridiculous, except for the Virginia theatre. There the multiple points give players options beyond a simple “On to Richmond” mentality that stifles gameplay in most other Civil War games. Elsewhere, the map is lacking some obvious connections, such as a path to enter East Tennessee via eastern Kentucky. Worst of all, you can blitz clear across Mississippi and be home in Nashville for cornflakes. Swift rebel armies can force march from Corinth to New Orleans and attack at will. I have no idea how such an obvious historical error made it passed playtesting.[\q]

See my comment above regarding the map design choices. In addition, in my opinion, if you can come squash the Union bridgeheads so easily than the Union player is not doing his work on the front lines. While New Orleans may be somewhat tricky to reach from inland, I'm not sure what would make it so difficult to take back were it not for the fact that troops are in short supply and needed up North to prevent Union armies to penetrate the Confederate heartland. I think "obvious historical error" is a little bit of an overstatement.

[q]The command rules do the game few favors, but this frustration seems to be part and parcel of any game on the War Between the States. Simply put, Civil War buffs are nerds when it comes to the mostly mediocre commanders of the war. I know so much odd ball stuff about the generals, even relative unknowns such as Clement Evans and Robert C. Buchanan. The result is that rules for Civil War generals are far more involved than in other simulations. I'm not saying it is wrong, only that it might be giving these games too much overhead and clearly it is doing just that in Price of Freedom, particularly the Grant promotion track. The Civil War is famously blasted for its leader rules, but I say error on the side of gameplay over complexity. Besides, The Civil War is easily fixed in this regard.


Well, right or wrong, most literature on the ACW spends an inordinate amount of time on the problem of leadership. Given the imbalance in resources between the North and the South, it seems that only some form of leadership imbalance in the other direction can explain why the war took 4 years to be resolved, and so I decided to make that a focus of the game, which you may disagree with. I agree that the path to Full Generalship for Grant is a bit convoluted, but that's the only way I found to make sure he would not be employed to possibly considerable effect too early.

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Accessibility (6/10): The rules for Age of Napoleon were blasted back in 2003, and while they had some problems, I found the game easy to play and teach. Price of Freedom though suffers from poor organization and vague descriptions. A veteran wargamer won’t have too many issues, but anyone else will be frustrated to no end.


I could use some help in understanding why my rules are sometimes deemed difficult to decipher. I certainly felt I learned some lessons from the 1st edition of AoN and applied them to good effect in the 2nd edition of AoN and in PoF. Don't tell my bosses and our clients who feel that I do a great job at explaining complex investment strategies...

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Components (9/10): At first glance the map seems odd and lacks period flavor, but each area has a period picture instead of just a name on a circle. That is an excellent touch. Best of all are the cards though. They are perhaps the most beautiful I have seen in any game. [\q]

It's difficult to make a point to point map beautiful. I think Mark did a good job and I was glad he accepted to go the extra mile and find individual illustrations for the various locations. The cards are indeed great.

[q]Historical Quality (6/10): Price of Freedom has some fine historical elements. Battles feel just right and leader ratings are simple and mostly fair, although I’d be a bit kinder to Pemberton and Meade. Many of the war’s elements are captured simply and effectively, such as emancipation, Confederate economic collapse, and the rise of entrenchments. Other elements just do not work. I already noted the wacky map, but there is also a rigidity to your choices at high command. Options, such as Longstreet and Hancock, would have been nice. The blockade is the worst handled aspect of the war. It is accomplished through blockade action cards, but there are only two in the deck and each can be used to remove blockade markers. Furthermore, the markers only aid in creating the blockade and they fail to give the Union advantages which would help prevent rebel armies from driving Union forces into the sea with ease. Also, like all Civil War games, this one cannot help but perpetuate the myth that the election of McClellan would have resulted in a Confederate victory. Look, McClellan was a WAR DEMOCRAT. His opposition was to how Lincoln prosecuted the war, not the war itself. This does not mean McClellan would be a good president, only that his election would not mean the South would win independence. Outside of this, the victory conditions are varied and include both a military victory and a victory through the reduction of the enemy’s war effort. The latter is the way to go with this conflict.


The blockade was barely achieved during the war. There were just too many ways for the Confederates to get some amount of supply. As noted by someone else, the Blockade cards only represent the naval operations, the taking of port cities via amphibious operations (bearing in mind the limitations of naval transportation in the 19th century) is another key aspect of completing the blockade, but also to possibly divert Confederate forces in short numbers from the defense of the heartland, let alone, offensives in the North, and also to offer some limited supply to Union corps without land lines of supply. Beside the WE reduction I am not sure what other advantages a pure naval blockade should confer the Union. One might disagree but I think the game is more likely than many to have a reasonable progression and outcome. Regarding the 1864 elections, it is enough for me that Lincoln was apparently very concerned about losing the election and I want the Union player to feel the same.

Quote:
Overall (65/100): Price of Freedom is a painful game because it was almost great. I like the CRT and the basic premise of grand strategy, but the map, card management, and rules clarity are lacking. My hopes remain with Lincoln's War, which I believe will become the king of Civil War games when it hits the shelves.

Lastly, if you are reading this Mr. Verlaque, don’t take any of this personally. I plan to give a glowing review of Age of Napoleon in the coming months.


I'm looking forward to it. Thanks for a comprehensive review. It's ok that we disagree, and I certainly would not pretend that PoF should be the game for everyone or even that I could not make it slightly better for my own taste today.

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Renaud Verlaque
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Steve Carey wrote:
rderderian wrote:
Give it a few tries and I think you will find that you play it more often then some of the other grand strategic civil war games that takes quite a bit more time to play and are alot more figity.


Sorry I did, and my reaction was the exact opposite of yours - with a 65/100, Sean nailed it from my perspective. Glad to hear someone is enjoying it, however.

Another title worth mentioning is the creative Blue vs. Gray; now there's a relatively light and fast playing ACW game that we received good value out of. But it's an innovative (i.e., different) design that's not for everyone.


Steve, I very much like BvG and in fact noted on BGG that it almost dissuaded me from designing PoF, but the rules are even more obscure, the map about as simple (simplistic?), and the leadership rules as or more intricate.
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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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Thanks for the reply Renaud

Renaud Verlaque wrote:
Though I know you like Age of Napoleon, it would seem that in matters of American Civil War your taste runs towardS the strategic/operational rather than the grand-strategic. I say that because your preference for VG's the Civil War and your comments on the map. I tried to represent the main avenues of movement while taking into account the facts that each turn is a quarter not a month and that the number of playing pieces is somewhat limited, all conscious design choices, which may not be to everyone's taste. You note that there is an appropriate number of spaces in the East but not in the West. That geographic distortion in my mind reflected the nature of the terrain (rivers as obstacles in the East rather than avenues of movement in the West) and the different stakes (capitals in the East not in the West) caused slower movement in the East and therefore requires a greater density of spaces.


Actually I wanted a grand strategic as opposed to strategic/operational because I feel the later is covered by VG's The Civil War. My third favorite strategic Civil War game in print is Civil War Express which is even more grand strategic in scale than PoF.

As to the map, my specific problem is with the Deep South, as I feel you did a good job with the upper South. Why can any army march clear across the board from New Orleans to Nashville or from Vicksburg to Atlanta?

Quote:
Card management can also be a matter of not rushing to playing all your cards in the early turns of a year or deciding between events or operations. "You must attack" represents the political pressure and is meant to force movement in the East where otherwise it is too easy for players to settle into a status quo. As someone else wrote you can prepare for it, and there are some "reasonable" safeguards like not being required to attack in a position of inferiority, but sometimes you'll indeed get "screwed". That's a design choice that is not uncommon in CDGs and as long as they don't break the game I'm fine with that.


It doesn't break the game and it is a card I like in theory.

Quote:
See my comment above regarding the map design choices. In addition, in my opinion, if you can come squash the Union bridgeheads so easily than the Union player is not doing his work on the front lines. While New Orleans may be somewhat tricky to reach from inland, I'm not sure what would make it so difficult to take back were it not for the fact that troops are in short supply and needed up North to prevent Union armies to penetrate the Confederate heartland. I think "obvious historical error" is a little bit of an overstatement.


But it should not even be possible. No army could do that in the war, and least of all the Confederate army, for whom large scale offensive operations were rare due to resources.

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Well, right or wrong, most literature on the ACW spends an inordinate amount of time on the problem of leadership. Given the imbalance in resources between the North and the South, it seems that only some form of leadership imbalance in the other direction can explain why the war took 4 years to be resolved, and so I decided to make that a focus of the game, which you may disagree with. I agree that the path to Full Generalship for Grant is a bit convoluted, but that's the only way I found to make sure he would not be employed to possibly considerable effect too early.


These are valid points and I don't doubt the need for more involved leader rules in Civil War games. I just prefer that rules for commanders to be as streamlined as possible so I can concentrate on the game.

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I could use some help in understanding why my rules are sometimes deemed difficult to decipher. I certainly felt I learned some lessons from the 1st edition of AoN and applied them to good effect in the 2nd edition of AoN and in PoF. Don't tell my bosses and our clients who feel that I do a great job at explaining complex investment strategies...


Hey, if I try to explain philosophy I stumble a lot more than when I try to explain politics or military history. I also know that my rules for my game designs are not perfect. It is a very difficult thing to pull off.

Quote:
The blockade was barely achieved during the war. There were just too many ways for the Confederates to get some amount of supply. As noted by someone else, the Blockade cards only represent the naval operations, the taking of port cities via amphibious operations (bearing in mind the limitations of naval transportation in the 19th century) is another key aspect of completing the blockade, but also to possibly divert Confederate forces in short numbers from the defense of the heartland, let alone, offensives in the North, and also to offer some limited supply to Union corps without land lines of supply. Beside the WE reduction I am not sure what other advantages a pure naval blockade should confer the Union.


This is a point of debate among scholars. The blockade should give some defensive bonus to Union armies in that port. It is way too easy for the Confederates to retake their ports. Also, blockade markers should not be removed through cards if the port fell to a Union army.

Quote:
One might disagree but I think the game is more likely than many to have a reasonable progression and outcome. Regarding the 1864 elections, it is enough for me that Lincoln was apparently very concerned about losing the election and I want the Union player to feel the same.


For my Civil War game (still being designed) I'm going to have a McClellan election gradually eat away at the North's will to win, because he would have been an awful president.

Quote:
I'm looking forward to it. Thanks for a comprehensive review. It's ok that we disagree, and I certainly would not pretend that PoF should be the game for everyone or even that I could not make it slightly better for my own taste today.


Thanks Renaud, your reply was respectful, unlike the words offered by more priggish designers on BGG.

Do you plan to design any other games? You know the War of the Austrian Succession is crying out for a good grand strategy game.
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Actually my game turns are semi-annual, not quarterly as I wrote above, but that only reinforces the design choice of the number of spaces. Or maybe I got lazy in the Deep South... I continue to think that no serious relief effort was made against captured Confederate ports because Confederate forces were needed to defend the heartland and even attack, especially in the East under Lee, not because it could not be done. At least that's the belief that explains the design. With respect to the military benefits of the blockade, the possibility of naval supply removes a -1 modifier for being out of supply and dont I have a card that can be played as a +1 modifier to represent the benefit of having the navy in the right spot at the right time?

Also, unless I recall incorrectly, a full blockade is established when all ports are Union controlled and or blockaded by play of the blockade card. If a port is both, the recapture of the port des not remove the blockade marker placed via card play.

I think your idea for a McClellan electoral victory is a good one. But it could drag the game more than needed. In this game, you could cause a loss of 1 WE point per turn starting with said electoral victory, but then you might have to allow for the game to last past beyond 1H/65
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gittes wrote:
Thanks Renaud, your reply was respectful...


Agreed, kudos to Renaud for coming here and offering insights into his design vision - even for a game that I personally didn't enjoy, the discourse has proven to be both entertaining and illuminating.
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Found this game last summer very cheap and it being ACW, hey! how could I resist.
So to avoid the wife complaining about my buying to many games I dumped it with my kids with the words "if you ever need a pressie for dad"....

And so I was surprised with this at Christmas.

Sofar I've only just had the time to take a quick look and am about to punch the bits.

My first impression was one of being severely underwhelmed by the components.
Okay the map is nice cardboardish and I think it looks good.
But only one sheet of counters?
Somehow I'd expected more units.

But maybe this is all the game needs to play it {I think it's save to assume it is}

One thing I really like about the game is the box art.
I think that picture is great and wonder if anyone can tell me more about it and what it exactly portrays.
I assume it probably is just something the artist dreamt up, but can't help but ask.

Great picture.
 
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Rauli Kettunen
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sagitar wrote:
But only one sheet of counters?
Somehow I'd expected more units.

But maybe this is all the game needs to play it {I think it's save to assume it it}


South rarely gets to even field 10 corps at one time, so having even three separate armies can be tough to have troops for. Union gets to around 12-14 corps range most games. Further (and this is one of the elements that sets PoF above AHD for me), losses are permanent so it is possible to run out of the corps, although there is an Event that gets back 2 corps out of those that have been removed from the game. While you don't have to worry too much about running out of troops, if the game goes to turn 8, could be early devil may care attacks come back to bite you and you have no troops left to muster.
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