Last year was good, and this year was much better. The new games that have now been out for two years are proving extremely good and generating a lot of interest, both here and at the MMP winter offensive. With more new games in the future (both a major combination reprint and a new module) we hope the excitement continues.
This year we had 24 generals make it to the tournament, much more than recent memory. About 8 people were at the demo to learn about the system from Ed Beach. Congratulations to David Dockter who was Risen from the Ranks and made it to third place. Also to Rookie of the Year Justin Chudzik who made it to the quarterfinals.
As with last year and all of the exciting options available with the new games, we were really focused this year on maximizing opportunities to play the games you wanted. Each round included an option from Here Come the Rebels (HCR), Roads to Gettysburg (RTG), or Atlanta is Ours (AIO). Every round saw at least one game of each option chosen. Quarterfinals and Semifinals used the same larger scenarios as the third round and again, saw all games selected. The HCR and RTG scenarios were all refreshed and rebalanced in the reprint edition and the AIO scenarios were all new so attracted the old timers to try something else out.
The first round is always a lighter scenario, particularly suited for introducing the system to new players and to get one quicker game finished. We played five South Mountain from HCR (1 US, 4 CS), four First Day at Gettysburg from RTG (3 US, 1 CS), and three Ezra Church from AIO (1 US, 2 CS). Unfortunately they are all quite dicey either way but just enough to get the blood flowing. Might give it one more year, but so far over the past two years, only one US win out of 6 games for Ezra Church.
We had a full slate of 18 players stay for the second round of slightly longer scenarios. To me, this is an important factor that we are getting a large number playing at least two games. We played three Harpers Ferry – Crampton’s Gap from HCR (1 US, 2 CS), four The Battle Continues from RTG (1 US, 3 CS), and two Kennesaw Mountain from AIO (1 US, 1 CS). Harpers Ferry is a little dicey because of the Harpers Ferry surrender roll, but is proving generally close and an enjoyable scenario.
The third round, quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals saw a total of seven McClellan’s Opportunity from HCR (2 US, 5 CS), two Battle of Gettysburg from RTG (0 US, 2 CS), and one The Battle of Atlanta from AIO (1 US, 0 CS) scenarios played. All three of these are excellent scenarios and tense challenges. Confederates generally proved superior this year, but I have no feeling right now that these scenarios are not balanced. We had an additional South Mountain played as the third place game with a CS victory.
The quarterfinal round had a mix of long-time veteran players and some relative newcomers (although this is not demeaning their capabilities in any way). In the end though, the current series developer Ed Beach and extremely long-time veteran Bruno Passacantando ended up in the finals beating David Dockter and Justin Rice respectively. David beat Justin in a third place game of South Mountain and Ed beat Bruno in the finals in McClellan’s Opportunity. Congratulations to all.
That wasn’t though the only thing GCACW event going on. In the “Wargame Room”, Curtis Baer who, at least many of the wargamers know, who plays monster games on his custom tables, decided this year he wanted to play GCACW. He set up the Long Roads to Gettysburg module designed by Ken Lee which combines the maps from Stonewall Jackson’s Way, Here Come the Rebels, and Roads to Gettysburg into one massive field of battle. Scenario starts on 3 June when Lee pulls out of Fredericksburg. We actually played this campaign twice!
In the first game which started Saturday and went through Wednesday, after all the maneuvering over a vast area, it ended up almost historical with Buford trying to delay the Confederate advance and then massed Confederate waves pushing at the Union in Gettysburg itself! In an alternate history though, the continuous waves overwhelmed the Union position and the Army of the Potomac was put to flight.
We reset the game again. In this scenario, the Confederates made a hard push directly towards DC getting cavalry to Fairfax. Hard to say if they could have made a big push into the city ahead of the incoming reinforcements, so they shifted across the Potomac and into Montgomery County. I think they had a good chance to head for Baltimore ahead of the Union, but they did not push it. Even with alternate initial moves, the battle developed near Gettysburg, with the first major Confederate assaults on July 1st. Despite their success in the first playing, the Confederates did not push the attack. Instead, they tried to slip around and head towards DC through Frederick. However, in this game Stuart and the rebel cavalry had been totally hammered with half of his strength eliminated. Thus, without any cavalry support, and some fortuitous rain, the attempt failed.
This campaign is a lot of fun. Following the convention, Ken has made a few adjustments. Maybe after one more playing that we are likely to have in October, a new ruleset should be posted.
In other news, the online tournament is still ongoing, with round 3 almost completed. Look for more GCACW at Winter Offensive in January. There will be multi-player large campaign play, single-player campaigns and a scenario based tournament. Whatever your preference, it should be a long weekend of fun.
As always, thanks to MMP for their support to this game series. In addition to publishing the games, they provided a number of tournament sets (maps and counters) that were used by most of us. They also provided gift certificates for the top four finishers. Finally, thankfully it wasn’t needed this year, and hopefully not next, they would provide sponsorship.
See everyone next year!