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Subject: Cemetery Hill: More Historical Than History Was rss

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Chris Rush
United States
Virginia
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Completing our fourth Blue & Gray I PBeM playthrough recently, my dad and I finished Cemetery Hill. I can now testify to the frustrations the game is unbalanced in favor of the Union. It was still fun to play (it is a wargame, after all), but I got close to breaking it early on. And I do mean Early.

Unable to move the first turn as the Union player, it was up to my dad to drive me off the ridges and back to the famous mounds and hills, which were anxious to give me triple defense bonuses. What could best be described as the most unfortunate opening offensive in Gettysburg reenactment history, my dad's attack was repelled completely, forcing him back and leaving me on the wrong side of Gettysburg (historically). In retaliation, Buford's cavalry made kamikaze ford-crossing flanking assaults and wiped out half of Early's forces on the first turn. By the end of the second turn, I was winning 66 VPs to 0 and Early was all gone. It turned out to be that kind of game.

My dad was naturally upset at this frustrating and ahistorical start to the game, and he took a bit longer than usual to make his next few moves, now that he had essentially lost the chance to drive me off the high ground and was statistically almost out of the game already. Even so, we pressed on made a pretty good go of it. He made a good defense of the outskirts of town, holding out in the double-defense terrain for most of the game until I could whittle down the flanks and get the artillery in position.

After my first sally, the cavalry didn't play much of a factor in the game. Once the Confederate cavalry entered, I didn't need to worry too much about the "exiting the map for VP" option, since my dad needed all the units he could get at that point. I did delay their entry a turn, and delayed their efficacy with my own cavalry for most of July 2 and 3, but it also resulted in some of the Union's biggest losses (though, again, by that time, it was too little too late - especially with the 3x face value VP Union scores and only 2x face value VP Confederate scores).

Pickett's Charge was not much of a charge, since Early had already taken his line ("I have no division") two days earlier. No unit on either side ever made it to any Horn, Little or Big. The 20th Maine spent most of the game hanging out in town, basically on furlough. The Union artillery had their way up and down the ridge, eventually horseshoeing the Confederates into an ever-dwindling "U" by July 4.

By the end of the last turn, the Confederates only had 2 cavalry units left on the board. It was a slaughter, though certainly not because I am a better player than my father. The unbalanced unit sizes and numbers (perhaps somewhat necessary for a 100-counter-sized battle of the largest battle in the Civil War), coupled with Early's early destruction (and probably overly-generous treatment of the river as "all hexes are fords," which basically meant "cross the river whenever you feel like it"), made the game certainly ahistorical and lopsided, but still fun to play. And I don't think I am saying that just because I won a decisive victory (to put it mildly).

Last week, on an Easter visit back home, we took the 2.5-hour trip over to Noble Knight Games in person. My dad got me the TSR edition of Terrible Swift Sword. That is ... a different version of this battle, that's for sure. It will take a while to work through these rules, but when they come out to visit (their grandchildren) in July, we'll see if we can give it a go (fitting, considering the 150th anniversary).
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Chris Rush
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I realized I forgot to explain the title. My father said something early on in the game that the reason I was fighting on the "wrong" side of the town was because he failed to push me back in the first two rounds. He made the further comment to the effect of that's how it would have been or should have been had the Union done a better job of positioning in the first day or two. He made the comment about two weeks ago, and it made more sense then (I've totally butchered it). But he did say something like we were fighting the battle the way it should have been fought, and he knows about what he's talking.
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James D. Williams
United States
Lexington
Kentucky
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Creeks have dark-line boundaries, and streams have no 'boundary'... re: Antietam Creek", the 'Creek' in Chickamauga, Bull Run Creek vs. streams.
So, "...probably overly-generous treatment of the river as "all hexes are fords,..." helped me spot the distinction. Thank You! All those Bridges in Cemetery Hill might make one think they crossed a Creek. But the Name of the unlabelled stream(?) in "Cemetery Hill" is "Rock Creek"! Oh, no!
Looking at a photo of a played to End Day 2 Cemetery Hill Game on BoardgameGeek and my own experience with the Game and listening to Sam Elliot's character Buford in Turner's Gettysburg movie (when he seems to be at and talking about Seminary Ridge...And giving Cemetery Hill's Designer credit...Your Dad is Right!
Apparently, Meade's preference for Cemetery Hill was because he hadn't got there yet to see for himself.
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