Civil War for the Hexagonally Challenged
Who would have thought that a 30-year old trial event such
as A House Divided could pull in so many people, if a
dozen can be considered a lot?? Still it is a good number for
a Saturday afternoon, and the game-master fought valiantly to
keep each game under two hours. Playing the 1861 scenario exclusively
contributed a long way towards that goal, as there are only 20
pieces on the board to start the game! All three AHD editions
were featured in this Civil War Classic, from the original with
paper map all the way up to the beautiful new mounted edition
Let's start with the final, since this game featured appearances
by perennial favorites Terry Coleman and David Metzger. Both
players had high hopes for a great game, as they are both intimately
familiar with the game and all its nuances. Since the first turn's
movement rolls are predetermined, there is not much that either
player can really do on turn 1, and the game started with the
traditional battle of Manassas, as David led his Unionists successfully
southward. Terry consolidated in his turn, looking forward to
the Rebel's chance to take the offensive in turn 2.
In turn 2, the Union rolled a 4 for marches, and undertook
a Jefferson City offensive. Terry had his hopes for a drive crushed
by rolling a 1 for movement, leading to the bare minimum of two
marches. His position was still looking good, if he could get
the marches in the next turn. In turn 3, the Union rolled a 3
for marches, and took Springfield. Would Terry's luck break?
Nope, as he rolled another minimum roll, this time a 2, leading
to more frustration and consolidation of his forces.
Turn 4 was to be Terry's last chance. David, as the Union,
had rolled a 4, and surrounded, attacked, and eliminated a Union
force in Bowling Green. Unfazed, Terry hoped for better results
for his offensives elsewhere, perhaps in the east, where he had
built up. The writing was on the wall when Terry rolled a 1,
indicating that he had the worst possible movement rolls for
four turns in a row. Although the Union rolls were average at
best, it was all over but the shouting. With nothing to do, the
Confederates could only watch and wait as the Union steamroller
Turn 5 was the straw that broke the camel's back. The Union
rolled a 5, the highest number of marches for either side in
the whole game. It was enough: They attacked Decatur, and achieved
a 5:1 kill ratio on the first turn of combat. Although the Rebs
finally broke their rut and rolled a 3, there was very little
they could do to stem the tide. Turn 6 saw the Union march into
Atlanta, a mere three years earlier than historically! Turn 7
featured the Second Battle of Bowling Green and the Second Battle
for Bull Run, but it was all academic at this point: The Confederates
had been crushed decisively!
Although the Sunday morning final was a great disappointment,
the Saturday semifinal games were noteworthy. There were six
preliminary rounds, so we'll start with Game 7, which featured
Coleman vs. Roderick Lee. Here, Terry's Rebel luck for marches
was much better than in the final. A major Confederate cavalry
raid on turn 5 to the Northeast caused the Union city count to
fall below the Confederate number, leading to an automatic CSA
Game 8 featured Jonathan Price's Union against Ray Freeman's
Confederates. Ray kept up the pressure with a continual threat
to the Northeast, which directly led to a reduction in Union
defenses around Washington, always a sore point for the Union.
The Union player had to spend much of the game chasing Confederates
around Baltimore and Philadelphia, yielding the
initiative, and eventually victory, to the Confederates.
Game 9, between David Metzger's Confederates and Ray Freeman's
Union, offered up a valuable lesson to all Union players. You
must resist the temptation to reinforce the first battle of Manassas
with the unit starting the game in Harper's Ferry. Ray brought
the Harper's Ferry force in, and David retreated from the battle.
He then undertook an audacious assault on Washington in the first
turn of the game, which almost succeeded!
Turn 4 featured action around Vicksburg and Fort Smith, and
the Confederates rolled a 6 to consolidate their western army
on the battlefield at Memphis. The Union responded by consolidating
and entrenching, and placing cavalry at strategic locations to
stop the Confederates. But against a pro and eventual winner
like David, you've got to be careful!!! A Union force got ambushed
and annihilated on Island Number 10.
One thing this last game showed was the value of maneuver.
On turn 7, the Union rolled a 6 for marches, the best they could
do, and spent the turn consolidating their gains at Louisville
and invading Mobile. They had a huge force ready to roll down
the Mississippi! But the Confederates rolled a five, spread out,
and by doing so took back enough cities to lead to an automatic
victory. Thus, the Union player has got to keep in balance the
task of having a force capable of a sustained offensive, while
at the same time spreading out to prevent the Confederates from
a city grab. As Ray learned the hard way, those offsetting goals
are often impossible.
Another great tournament, and many thanks to all the participants!
Vote AHD back in 2004, and I'll run it again!