Session Report: Battle Cry!
Date: January 1, 2006
Participants: Leo, Dan
The first gaming session of the new year was in fact played on New Years Day! Dan and his family stopped over our house as part of their visit back to the ‘Burgh’ (Pittsburgh, PA, for those unfamiliar with the local terminology). While Dan’s wife and kids visited with my family, Dan and I drank some excellent beer and watched the Steelers beat Detroit to qualify for the NFL playoffs. After that, we decided to duke it out, Civil War style, with Avalon Hill/Hasbro’s fine “Battle Cry!”
Battle Cry uses Richard Borg’s “Command and Colors” system, which revolves around the use of command cards that allow each player to activate certain units for movement and combat. This system limits each player to using only a portion of his army on a given turn. The game also features finely detailed miniature soldiers and a game board on which modular terrain can be placed to replicate various American Civil War battlefields. The game board is divided in three sections – left flank, center, and right flank. The command cards typically indicate units from only a particular section can act. Another key feature to this game is its relatively short playing time. In this case, Dan had never played Battle Cry before (although he had played one game of the similar Memoir ’44 some time ago), and yet we finished the first game in 45 minutes, and the second one in 30!
After quickly reviewing the rules, we decided to play the first scenario, First Bull Run. As I knew these games go fast, I suggested we play in match style, where in the first game, I would command the South and Dan the North, and then we would play a second game, where I would then command the Union and Dan would take charge of the Rebels. Dan agreed and we quickly set up the battlefield. To start, the South has JEB Stuart plus two cavalry units and one infantry regiments on the left; three infantry regiments, one artillery regiment, and Gen. Jackson in the center; and two infantry regiments on the right. The North has a cavalry and infantry regiment on their right, an artillery regiment, six infantry regiments, and Gen. Hunter in the center, and two more infantry regiments on their left. While the North has more units, the Confederate player gets more command cards in his hand, 5 to 4, which gives him more flexibility. Historically of course, the South won this battle, but that would not necessarily mean anything here. As with all Battle Cry scenarios, the winner would be the first to completely destroy six enemy formations.
Things started well enough for me, as Dan moved his artillery onto a hill just to watch me summarily wipe it out with a charge from both of Stuart’s cavalry units. I also knocked out an infantry outfit bringing my total to 2 victory points. This was the high water point for me. I moved my infantry and artillery in the center up onto a ridge for added defense and was feeling good about myself, but Dan got some useful cards and brought up his cavalry and infantry on his right. These units were hot and quickly destroyed one of Jeb’s cavalry units. Next, Dan played a Sharpshooter card and rolled a lucky “crossed saber” (a one out of six shot) to kill off General Jackson. He then knocked out my second cavalry unit and Stuart himself, although looking later, Stuart should not have died with his cavalry unit, as Dan did not separately target him (the crossed saber he rolled during his attack on the cavalry unit should have been ignored). However, it didn’t really matter. I moved up my right flank infantry, just to have it shot to pieces (Dan was rolling really, really well!). He killed off his fifth and sixth units to win 6-2. All the while, my units in the center were relatively unscathed, but it didn’t matter as my flanks collapsed.
We quickly turned the board around and started the second half of the match. This time, however, things went (unfortunately) much truer to historical form. Dan used a Hit and Run card to execute a raid with Stuart’s cavalry that destroyed my artillery unit. Later, he used an All Out Offensive card to cut down several infantry units. My cavalry did get involved and scored a victory over one of his infantry units that had previously been weakened, but that was all I could muster. Dan played some nice card combinations, using a Coordinated Attack card to group his units in the center and following up with an Assault card to attack with his entire center force. Dan won the second game 6-1 and the entire match by a score of 12-3, a very impressive outing. It was especially nice that we could finish the entire session in less than two hours!