I recently noticed a link to an interview of legendary Civil War board game designer Dean Essig at Boardgame news. Essig was talking about his new regimental level Civil War game on the Battle of Antietam entitled None But Heroes. This excerpt from the interview provides a look at what Essig is trying to accomplish in this new design:
One thing I wanted the system to revisit is the old conceptions of Civil War combat as being World War 1-junior or some such. While it tended that way by the end when armies moved with their entrenchments, more recent studies have shown that while rifles were capable of firing longer ranges than ever, combat ranges were still relatively short either because regular troops were not trained well enough to hit targets with low velocity small arms at longer ranges and because officers would not allow fires by their soldiers.
This allows a look at the marginal, not overwhelming, advantage of the defense. As such attacking is difficult, not impossible as has often been the case in ACW games. Because the attack often “works”, the kind of free-for-all feel of the early (pre-trench) battles really comes out.
On the flip side, I got to take a look at the relatively better performance of smoothbore muskets at shorter ranges (because of buck and ball ammunition and speed of loading).
I was able to handle artillery in ways that make it a different combined arm, not just “big firing” infantry. A number of handing rules allow this to come out.
Command and control (as in all my ACW work) is paramount to controlling the formations on the map. Obviously, a bad general will get crushed by a good one. The order system here, while streamlined, is something that will be very familiar to players of the CWB/RSS games.
All this is great, but from the very get-go this project was dominated by one theme and that is make the system easier to play and a better look at ACW combat than anything seen before. Players can judge if I succeeded.
Longtime TOCWOC readers will recall that CWB stands for Civil War Brigade Series and RSS is short for Regimental Sub-Series, two other Civil War series sold by war game company Multiman Publishing. It will be interesting to see how this first game in what MMP is calling the “Line of Battle Series” plays similarly and different than CWB/RSS games.
Among other things Essig mentioned several items of research, newly discovered in the last 20 years and not available in any other Antietam game, which will debut here. One such example was the organization of the Union cavalry division. The Official Records order of battle uses the cavalry division’s organization as it existed in October 1862 rather than how it was composed on the day of the battle. Another popular topic for students of Antietam is the performance of the large, green Union regiments which were added to the Army of the Potomac literally in the two weeks before the battle. None But Heroes will attempt to account for these large, unwieldy formations prone to break early and often. Probably the most discussed part of any Antietam game is how it attempts to limit someone playing the overly cautious George McClellan, worried about phantom 200,000 man armies of Confederates just over the next ridge. Interestingly, this game is very light on restrictions.
The game is available at a special preorder price of $60.00 plus shipping and handling. Once released, the game will retail at $80.00, so get your orders in now. There are already 423 orders out of a required 510 for the game to be published. This one looks like it will definitely be published. I’m eager to check out the regimental strength and armament data these guys have come up with.
While at Multiman Publishing’s preorder page to check out None But Heroes, I saw a familiar name for veteran Civil War board gamers. MMP is planning a second go-round of the classic Great Campaigns of the American Civil War game Stonewall Jackson’s Way, which focused on the Second Battle of Bull Run. Stonewall Jackson’s Way II will update the first game while creating a new look at First Bull Run/Manassas, called “All Green Alike” or AGA for short.
Here’s a complete list of scenarios which will be coming out, quite a nice list actually:
All Green Alike includes four Basic Game and two Advanced Game scenarios. The Basic Game scenarios feature two Shenandoah Valley scenarios and two scenarios at Bull Run The two Advanced Game campaigns cover the advance and aftermath of the campaign:
Across the Potomac (4 turns, July 2-5, 1861) Johnston vs. Patterson (3 turns, July 17-19, 1861) McDowell’s Opportunity (3 turns, July 19-21, 1861) An End to Innocence (1 turn, July 21, 1861) The Bull Run Campaign (13 turns, July 16-28, 1861) The Virginia Campaign (14 turns, July 15-28, 1861)
[The first and last scenarios require use of the Here Come the Rebels (the 2nd game in the GCACW series) west map (not included).]
Stonewall Jackson’s Way II: Battles of Bull Run includes two new Basic Game scenarios, the five original Basic Scenarios redesigned and rebalanced, and the two original Advanced Game campaigns also revamped for better play balance:
Cedar Mountain (3 turns, August 8-10, 1862) Lee vs. Pope (2 turns, August 18-19, 1862) Stuart’s Raid (3 turns, August 22-24, 1862) From the Rappahannock to Bull Run (6 turns, August 25-30, 1862) Jackson’s March (3 turns, August 26-28, 1862) Bag the Whole Crowd (3 turns, August 28-30, 1862) Which Way Did He Go? (3 turns, August 28-30, 1862) From the Rapidan to the Rappahannock (8 turns, August 19-26, 1862) From the Rapidan to Manassas (15 turns, August 19 – September 2, 1862)
Stonewall Jackson’s Way II: Battles of Bull Run contains:
GCACW Series Rules Booklet (approx 24 pgs) SJW II Specific Rules Booklet (approx 68 pgs including scenarios/designer notes) Two 22″x 32″ full-color mapsheets Three Countersheets SJW County Display Sheet (front) and AGA Off-Map Display (back) Terrain Effects Chart Two full-color Force Displays Two 4-page color Charts and Tables Two 6-sided Dice
Here’s a nice screenshot of some of the game’s counters:
This game is available for a preorder price of $62.25 plus shipping and handling. SJW2 is well on its way to being published, with 418 preorders already in out of a needed total of 550.
With the 150th anniversary of the Civil War nearly upon us, I anticipate a rise in the number of Civil War war games out there, in all shapes and sizes. I’ll try to help readers wade through the muck to get to some of the better games out there, like I expect the two mentioned above to be.
Check out Brett’s list of the Top 10 Civil War Blogs!
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