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American Civil War Gaming - General Discussion

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Author Topic: American Civil War Gaming - General Discussion  (Read 695 times)
desertfoxleo
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« on: July 20, 2014, 12:38:24 pm »

I thought I'd start a general discussion topic on gaming the American Civil War (I used to just call it the "Civil War", but I've found that, apparently, there have been civil wars in other countries as well! Who woulda thunk it?

I'm starting this because my latest gaming effort is Eric Lee Smith's "Across 5 Aprils", which I'm playing solo in preparation for a F2F session with my buddy Dan. I'm playing the Gettysburg scenario and the chit-pull mechanic is making solitaire play quite enjoyable. Here you see the situation at the end of the first day (night is falling), with neither side scoring a decisive victory, so it's on to Day Two!



I have to say that the ACW has never been my number one wargaming subject (sorry to say, but yes, World War Two still holds that spot, though not to the degree it used to dominate my gaming). In part, maybe it's because I grew up in the North (Pennsylvania), the Civil War has never been that hot of a topic here (I'm guessing that perhaps in the South, Civil War gaming is more common/popular). However, and I'm sure I'm not the only wargamer who can say this, but recent reading on the subject has kindled new interest in gaming this war. In my case, having finished the first entry of Shelby Foote's classic trilogy on the Civil War, and having started the second one, has gotten me to thinking about the war and wanting to game it. As Dan expressed an interest in gaming Gettysburg, I thought this would be a good opportunity to scratch that Civil War gaming itch I had developed while also trying out a game in my collection that I've never played.

Yes, it's true - Across 5 Aprils was one of those games I've had in my collection for years (I don't even remember when/where/how/why I bought it), but had never played it until now. Man, I was missing out, but better late than never. Also, I have not played many chit-pull games, but I am thoroughly enjoying this experience, which seems a good way to protray the poor communication and coordination of 19th Century armies.

I think after this, I want to give the other four battles in the box a go, while I'm also looking to start a campaign of Smith's "The Civil War", another Victory Games classic covering the entire war at the strategic level. I'm aware that there is a new game on the horizon which is considered the spiritual successor to "The Civil War", so that might be in my future...time will tell.
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« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2014, 12:43:59 pm »

I'm planning on trying out the LOB series with Last Chance for Victory. The modern Gamers maps
have definitely gotten prettier. I have some real concerns about how much I'm going to enjoy
what seems a simplified CWB at a smaller scale.
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desertfoxleo
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« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2014, 12:50:14 pm »

Yeah, I've never tried any of The Gamers Civil War Brigade series games. To date, my only experience (and a very enjoyable one, at that) has been with their SCS games. How would you say CWB , or for that matter, LOB complexity compares to other Gamers series? Is it closer to SCS, or OCS? I am getting ready to dip my toe into the OCS end of the pool with Reluctant Enemies, but for the most part, I still prefer the less complex SCS model.
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« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2014, 12:58:57 pm »

As far as how LoB compares to other Gamers' series; It's much closer to OCS than SCS...

One series that's been around for a while that I just got to recently is The Great Campaigns of the Civil War. What a cool series! I wasn't really sure how I would like the rolling the dice to determine movement mechanism, but after playing a few different scenarios I found that it does add a very nice bit of unpredictability to the game. The new counter artwork really sucks though...

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desertfoxleo
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« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2014, 01:05:38 pm »

Good to know regarding LOB complexity. As for "Great Campaigns", I do own what I believe was the prototype for that series, the Victory Games "Lee vs. Grant - the Wilderness Campaign" I've never played it (I say that about too many of my wargames, but I'm working on that issue), but it seems to fill a niche in ACW gaming, as it appears to be operational in scale, as opposed to tactical/grand tactical, or strategic.

I agree, BTW - those new counters look like they belong in a WW2 or post-WW2 game, not ACW. At the very least, a different font might have made them look at bit less...modern. However, the map looks gorgeous, and I do remember that about the original series - the maps were some of the best looking maps I'd ever seen for any wargame.
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« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2014, 01:24:13 pm »

Cool thread, and timely because I have gotten increasingly interested in ACW the past year or so. On Judd's recommendation I picked up A House Divided, and even my lovely bride loves playing it.  I picked up Battle Above the Clouds during the MMP Christmas Sale, and jumped on the P500 for Simonitch's new game.

desertfoxleo is already asking the exact same questions I would, so carry on.
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« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2014, 01:38:42 pm »

Yeah, I've never tried any of The Gamers Civil War Brigade series games. To date, my only experience (and a very enjoyable one, at that) has been with their SCS games. How would you say CWB , or for that matter, LOB complexity compares to other Gamers series? Is it closer to SCS, or OCS? I am getting ready to dip my toe into the OCS end of the pool with Reluctant Enemies, but for the most part, I still prefer the less complex SCS model.

I'd say midway between, IF you're used to other tactical systems like GBACW. If you're not
used to fire and movement stuff in pre-20th Century, it's gonna take some getting used to.
The orders writing also throws some people for a loop.

The rulebooks are big, but not terribly complex, IMO.
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« Reply #7 on: July 20, 2014, 01:40:23 pm »


desertfoxleo is already asking the exact same questions I would, so carry on.

He's a great person to have on a site.

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« Reply #8 on: July 20, 2014, 03:28:23 pm »

I first became aware of the ACW back in the early years of my university days (daze). The hook was Bruce Catton's three volume centennial series. I devoured that up like nobody's business.

Prior to that I have received as a gift a couple of the smaller GBCAW games from S&T magazine. Namely Wilson's Creek and Cedar Mountain. So while I was reading Catton I set up Cedar Mtn and was blown away. A little while later I picked up the TSR version of Terrible Swift Sword and I have not looked back ever since. It opened the door for me for love affair with pre-20th century games.

Yeah... good times.

I have kept pace with the GBCAW series, but since my solitaire play has been reduced thanks to VASSAL I have not played it for some time now. The last being a PBEM attempt with Mr Code Monkey and myself playing a scenario from Gringo, but we found that difficult due to the reaction and whatnot. I have some of the more recent CWBS games, including all three of the 7 Days titles. I really enjoyed playing For the People both FtF and PBEM and I think I have about three sessions of it under my belt. I have Battle Above the Clouds, but have not tried it or any of the other GCACW titles.

I too am looking forward to the new GMT game coming out. Should be intriguing.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2014, 03:56:34 pm by capt_s » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #9 on: July 20, 2014, 05:37:58 pm »

I'm playing LoB: NbH right now. I played SM before. with the CWB/RSS rules.  I'm struggling with a few concepts, but all in all it works out. LOS is a headache if you are used to ASL-like 'exact' LOS. Orders are okay, I guess but I have to start the campaign to be sure (Not much to order in the scenarios).

There are a few things I don't understand,  Fluke Stoppage is an example. I mean, I get the rules but I don't have any idea what they represent. And my dictionary just gives strange translations for 'fluke'...
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« Reply #10 on: July 20, 2014, 05:46:33 pm »

... And my dictionary just gives strange translations for 'fluke'...

Definitely not the "fish".      Cheesy

"Fluke" in this case means unexpected or lucky. It is probably slang, but I am not sure about that.

So a "fluke stoppage" would mean the corps/division stopped due to some unexpected reason.
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« Reply #11 on: July 20, 2014, 05:48:24 pm »

As opposed to a fish clogging your drains.
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« Reply #12 on: July 20, 2014, 06:24:54 pm »

... And my dictionary just gives strange translations for 'fluke'...

Definitely not the "fish".      Cheesy

"Fluke" in this case means unexpected or lucky. It is probably slang, but I am not sure about that.

So a "fluke stoppage" would mean the corps/division stopped due to some unexpected reason.

Yeah fluke is still relatively common slang in the uk, particularly related to sports. As in 'a fluke shot'.
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« Reply #13 on: July 20, 2014, 07:46:11 pm »

GCACW is such a playable game and easily teachable that it's becoming a house favorite.  Kibler's maps are, as usual, works of art which helps greatly.

The Clash of Arms ACW games are also noteworthy.  I had Mississippi Fortress back when I was a kid and enjoyed it quite a bit because of the campaign board and engagement board with some inventive fog of war opportunities. 

I remember the first time I played The Civil War from VG...I was blown away.  I KNOW my friend and I in 7th grade had a 7th grader's grasp of the rules, but it still blew my mind at the scope and potential.  I managed to track down a copy last year, but it's still not hit the table again.  It is definitely one of my 2014 gaming goals.

The thing I like about American Civil War games is the focus on leaders.  It makes games, at least for me, more accessible.  I know I'm moving a lot of pieces, but I inherently understand with whom they're fighting and where I want them to go.

I think LOB is pretty fantastic as well.  Enrico is right that it's CWB without all the chrome that attracted people to CWB and between v1 and v2 of the rules even more was removed.  That said, you stand a chance of finishing a whole Gettysburg campaign game without growing old before it's done and the orders system is still pretty darn fantastic.
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desertfoxleo
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« Reply #14 on: July 20, 2014, 07:53:35 pm »


desertfoxleo is already asking the exact same questions I would, so carry on.

He's a great person to have on a site.



Why thank you, Enrico! I never took to Consimworld's Social Forum, but this place you've created is already starting to draw me in. I think it's the great folks you've gotten to cross over that's the key, and the ease of posting here. I really could see this place taking over the role of the BGG wargame subdomain general forum.
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