I take a look at the Civil War Card Game Rebs & Yanks
I take a look at the Civil War Card Game Rebs & Yanks
While one of my favorite subjects is the American Civil War, I do tend to concentrate on the eastern theater of the war instead of the west. I think it’s mostly due to the personalities, and something about Stonewall Jackson that captured my imagination. Of course there was Nathan Bedford Forrest out west, but most of the other personalities were in general solid, able commanders who died for their commanders blunders. I’ve read up on the defenses of Bragg, but in the end it still appears that he hurt his own cause more then he helped.
So other then Pea Ridge and Shiloh, I haven’t played many western battles of the Civil War. Not too long ago I got “War of the States: Chickamauga & Chattanooga” on a relatively cheap deal. I’ve managed to do that quite a bit with titles from Avalanche Press, but so far I haven’t had a complaint about them. Then again I’m not expecting much when I’m not paying a lot for a game. I’ve always considered myself leaning more towards the beer & pretzel or bucket of dice kind of game, and WOTS:C&C is both.
There is one major problem that you will notice right away looking at the map:
That’s the setup at turn 1, and the Brown roads that run through the borders (and the rivers for that matter) tend to make it tough to tell where some borders start and end. For me though at least the folds for the map tend to stay down and don’t upset the counters unlike a lot of other maps. Speaking of the counters they are beautiful, but are somewhat tough to differentiate for setup. The setup charts don’t tell you which symbol is for the corps and which is for the division, so I tended to reverse the division/corps number for the counters.
The game is rather easy to teach. Each unit has a fire and morale rating. The fire rating adds into the number of 6 sided dice a side uses with 6 being hits. The stack with the better morale adds another dice. I should mention I am always bad at teaching games. That’s why I try to stay away from the rules when reviewing games. Each general has an initiative rating, it’s importance being that both sides roll a dice at the beginning of the turn. The side with the higher roll (using initiative as a DRM) goes first for that turn. So Rosecrans and his 5 rating tends to go first before Bragg who has a 3. Then you would roll and whatever amount you roll under the initiative. So if Rosecrans rolls a 3 he can activate 2 corps, and if Bragg rolls a 2 he can activate 1 corps. So the Union tends to get more moves and the South ends up reacting more.
People have complained about the system, but in my opinion the Army of Tenseness tended to have poor overall commands and some commanders who would flat out refuse to listen to Bragg. The Battle of Chickamauga itself was lost more because of a poor command from Rosecrans (which opened a hole in the front line) then anything the Confederates or Bragg did. Bragg even managed to fumble the victory, as it took 21 different assaults to finally force back Thomas. Those assaults were haphazardly thrown together instead of one concentrated assault that would have easily destroyed Thomas.
The game plays quickly, although the one in six chance of a hit tends to be frustrating. Sometimes you can role ten dice versus four and just have luck go against you and take two hits while giving none. I’ve never really complained about luck in a game though, because I think luck is always something important in a battle. People have also complained about the high amount of casualties, mostly based on the multiple counters for each division. Most divisions have 4 counters with weakening strength on each side. So if you stand your ground instead of retreating for step hits you can run through counters quickly.
I also liked Across 5 Aprils, just to give you some background on the type of civil war games I do like. I tend towards the lesser heavy simulation games (For example I dislike The Gamers Civil War Brigades Series) and this felt pretty solid. There is some trouble reading the rules that I had mentioned before, and some ambiguous moments.
But a lot of the complaints about the game seem to be complaints that are common among avalanche press. But so far in my experiences I haven’t had a problem with their games yet. I still have some that I have to play. After playing this I want to give a try with the first game of the series which is based on Gettysburg. I think I also have some of the series that this is based on, War of the Empires, a Napoleonic era game.
There are probably better games out there , and better games covering Chickamauga and Chattanooga. I think I paid 15 bucks for the game and felt like I got my money worth. I’d also love to sometime try the campaign that combines both battles into a massive game. I wouldn’t tell you to go out and particularly look for the game. It would definitely be one of those things you keep in your peripheral vision.
Sorry I’ve been quiet again, the last weeks been a bit rough as I have been moving apartments. Between packing and cleaning it’s just been a pain. Even worse is that I might be moving again at the end of next month. Let me tell you, if you can, always rent a first floor apartment. It doesn’t matter if there’s a bowling alley above your head, it just makes life so much easier.
So when I was done getting everything down here, I noticed I had quite a few piles of boardgames. Which actually shouldn’t be too surprising considering that I own over 100 board games. It’s one of those things that kind of snuck up on me. I got a lot of good deals and a few trades to get some cheap games. Some of them aren’t too bad though when you consider they are very small games in general. But yea, two games of battlemasters might be a bit much.
So here’s how everything looks:
And that is a big reason that I am such a geek. I wish at least that most of the boxes were the same sized so they were easier to put away. Tough finding storage and getting everything to fit.
In case you don’t follow me on Twitter, I’ve been throwing Furniture off my 2nd floor landing. It’s under the Jump.
The Command and Colors system has always been one of my favorites. It was one of the first games (Battlecry) I got when I was getting into board games. Across the board they play relatively easy. Units are made of 2, 3 or 4 figures, they move and attack based on cards, which most often are broken into sectional attacks (left, center and right). Figures are eliminated due to hits, and when a whole unit is removed the other side gains a victory point. Sure there’s more to the games that came out, but that is a quick and dirty breakdown.
Battlecry came out first, covering the American Civil War and was recently re-released. Then came Battlelore (medieval and fantasy) Memoir 44 (WW2) and Command and Colors: Ancients. While Battlecry was one of the last releases of the AH-Hasbro brand, BL and M44 were each released by Days of Wonder, while the C&C banner has been used by GMT. I own all of them except Ancients (which I have played some of) and own multiple expansions for both Battlelore and Memoir 44. I was borderline on Napolenics, but got a good deal when I purchased it around last Christmas with Here I Stand.
Napolenics has all the normal hallmarks of a C&C game, the cards, sections, Calvary, Infantry and Artillery. It also uses the blocks much like Ancients. Which is a pain because you need to sticker an endless number of blocks. It took me most of the day to get through everything and the dice which need to be stickered too. Although stickering everything annoys me, having to sticker the dice is a pet peeve of mine. Otherwise though the components are solid, and they give you plenty of extra stickers/blocks. The mapboard is solid, the cards are of a good paperstock and everything is of GMT expected quality.
The problem with the game, at least imho, is that it tries to do too much and isn’t good at what it does. C&C is never going to be a simulation of an actual battle. Most people get that, and enjoy it because it’s simple to play. But while the first few games of the series took periods which have both casual and hardcore elements, the Napolenic period tends to attract the more hardcore elements. Or it’s just a period whose popularity isn’t as high as either the Civil War or WW2 in North America, so those looking for games from the period tend to be a bit more well informed.
By saying that it tries to do too much, is that instead of just being infantry, you have multiple types of infantry, multiple types of Cav and two types of artillery. The problem is that each unit tends to have it’s own rules, which then need to be cross referenced with the nation it’s from. Not all the same infantry has the same number of blocks across all three (French, British and Spainish), making setup a bit of a pain in the ass. While firing will be dependent on how many squares you have, it also depends on if you have moved and nationality.
This is different from every C&C game that had come out so far. I think it really tends to slow down the game here, especially when the name of units can be so close. For example the British have “Rifle Light” and “Light” infantry, whose names are easy to confuse. Even worse is that the name themselves are very small on the bottom of the blocks, and the pictures tend to not really differentiate the types of units (infamously the horse artillery doesn’t have horses on it).
I really think the C&C system is spread thin here. Your never going to turn a C&C game into a historical simulation. In trying to do so or even coming close they weighed down the game. Just as another example the game contains a reference sheet for terrain and another reference booklet (2 pages, front and back) for the units. For something that worked so well in the past, the simplicity of the game seems missing.
It still plays fast, and your still recommended to play both sides of a battle to find out a winner. You’ll probably spend more time setting up then playing. Another little complaint is that I’ve always considered the Spanish/Portuguese battles to be a secondary theater when it came to the Napoleonic Wars. Yet the introductory battles that come with this game are almost overwhelmingly from Spain, and truthfully very few of them I had heard of before. Austerlitz is missing, there are no Italian battles, and the only battle I did know that was included was Waterloo. It’s almost like making a Civil War game and not having any battles (or just Gettysburg) of the Eastern Theater.
I really can’t recommend the game unless your either a fan of the period, or a huge fan of C&C that is looking for something new. Everything in the C&C system has been done better before, and I’ve seen fan made Napolenic scenairos for Battlecry that were a lot simpler. I can’t blame them for what they were trying to do, I just think if your the average C&C player and come into Napoleonic, you might be a little bit surprised.
I was actually surprised to find out this game came out in 2004. It means I was in my mid-20s when it came out. But it still looked like one of those games that looked too good to be true, like a lot of board games. I guess even before I got into board games via boardgamegeek, I had always been a fan of them. I just had continually been disappointed in them after spending money on them. But now I was an adult, and I wasn’t going to fall for some flashy commercial.
It’s also funny that the Golden Age of Piracy isn’t one of my favorite periods of history. It’s actually rather far down on my list, and I’m eternally annoyed by the popularity of Pirates meaning that they bleed into Medieval Re-encatments. It’s a stretch to even combine pirates and Renaissance Faires. But you really can’t blame them for selling something that’s popular. I guess in the end the reason I have the pirate games I do is because they can be fun with the right group of people. And in the end, historical misgivings aside, who doesn’t want to play a game on the wrong side of the law.
Now I wouldn’t expect anything like Blackbeard or Merchants And Marauders from a constructable card game. During it’s run Pirates ended up with over 12 different releases, which is amazing when you consider it ran from 04 to 09. Although it’s reported that a new Pirates game might appear in 2012, not many specifics have gotten out. It should be noted that my cards seem to be mainly from the original release and from Pirates of the Revolution, a release that added American Ships to the mix (Spanish, French, English and Pirate).
First off, thank god that most of the ships I got were already put together. There’s no way my fat fingers could work putting together these ships without ruining them. I’m never a fan of small parts, but there’s not much that Pirates can do about that considering that even the biggest ships are made from 3 cards. A quick look at Amazon.com shows that the cards aren’t that expensive at the moment, and are probably even cheaper on Ebay. To get together enough ships to play the game at this point is probably cheaper then what most board games cost you.
The game is easy to setup, throw out a bunch of Islands on any flat surface, split up the available ships according to the point level for the game (ships have point levels marked on their cards, you can do two or three big ships, or a bunch of small ships as your fleet) and finally spread out the treasure over the islands. So for example, you can each decide to put in gold worth up to 12 pieces. But each piece can range anywhere from 1 to 5 in value. The winner is the first person to get half of the value of all on map treasure back to his home Island, as limited by his cargo.
Movement is controlled by cards, as ships either move the short side or long side (or both) of a card. Each mast counts as a cannon, and it’s range is limited to either the long or the short side of a card. Roll higher then the number on your mast/cannon and its a hit. For each hit the defender has to remove one mast/cannon. When a ship has no more masts left, it is sunk. It’s relatively simple, and the games come with two of the smallest six sided die you’ll find.
One of the problems comes from using multiple packs of different releases of cards, as each release seemed to add something new to the table. Obviously it’s up to you to decide what to add from each, but it can be annoying having to skim through three different sets of rules for one particular rule. Thankfully you can go to BGG and get one big reference sheet along with illustrated instructions which give a better idea of what ship positions look like for which rules. The illustrations are something the printed rules tended to skimp on.
There are also rules for those looking for a much deeper game. Personally I like the game with some of the additional rules from the Pirates of the Revolution that I had. It seems like a game that could get easily buried with too many rules, or lose some of the fun if you added too much to it. It also seems to go at a pretty good flow currently, I can’t see how adding more to it will help.
In the end it’s a fun quick game that can be played anywhere pretty easily. Other then that though I’d rate M&M and Blackbeard far above it. It will be interesting to see what happens if the new game or the reboot gets released in the next year. There’s a lot to work with here, and it sort of reminds me a bit of Wings Of War. But it’s definitely a kids game, and might be better if you have a family with some young ones around to play it with.