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Part 5. Continuing with the History of The Avalon Hill Game Company 1981-1982

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Legendary Tactics take us through a productive time in the history of Avalon Hill. The story of The Avalon Hill Game Company continues as we move towards its peak!

Poster: Robert Holifield
Post Date: 6/17/2024

Part 4. The Story of The Avalon Hill Game Company 1978-1980

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In Part 4 Legendary Tactics takes a look at the prolific period at the end of the 1970s, when many classic games were produced by The Avalon Hill Game Company.

Poster: Robert Holifield
Post Date: 6/4/2024

Part 3. The History of The Avalon Hill Game Company 1971-1977

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Another installment by Legendary Tactics covering the history of The Avalon Hill Game Company (TAHGC). Several classic and enduring titles were published during this period.

Poster: Robert Holifield
Post Date: 5/21/2024

Part 2. The History of The Avalon Hill Game Company 1964-1970

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Legendary Tactics YouTube Channel continues to chronicle the history of Avalon Hill. In Part 2, he looks at the early years of the company, and the growing pains that came along with it.

Poster: Robert Holifield
Post Date: 5/4/2024

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Fast, simple, not expensive, little errata, but only reasonably fun. (War game Review)

In his review on BoardGameGeek, Brendan Whyte first turns a critical eye towards the components and rules and lists their shortcomings. Game play fares better: “…the game is fast and quite fun”. Whyte then goes into comprehensive details covering game mechanics and spares no criticism for the game opponent (AI). His discussion concerning solitaire board games vs solitaire computer games is very interesting.

PE TANG 1900 Q&A with Marco Campari

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PE TANG 1900 Strategy Tips

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S T U V W X Y Z '-9

The U.S. Civil War: War Game Replay

Game Replay - Session #2

The U.S. Civil War - Board Game Replay - Session #2
by Mark D.  *  17-Jan-2016


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Noble Knight Games
Buy U.S. Civil War from Noble Knight Games

This session begins with Game Turn 3 (Fall 1861). This week, Gary Andrews is unavailable, so the Union forces will be controlled exclusively by Harvey Mossman and I will control the Confederates. As mentioned in the last article, the finally Victory Point tally at the end of our last session was 7 VP for the Union, and 0 VP for the Confederacy. The formula for Automatic Victory is to subtract the Confederate VPs from the Union VPs and then compare that result to the Benchmark Number listed on the game turn track for the turn just ending. If the net VP difference is at least 12 greater than the Benchmark Number, the Union wins an Automatic Victory. If it is at least 12 less than the Benchmark number, the Confederate wins an Auto Victory. Any other result, and the game continues. In our game, the net VP difference of 7 was compared against the Benchmark Number of 4, and so the game continues.

The South is not awarded Victory Points for Objective hexes in Border States (i.e. Kentucky, Missouri or West Virginia). The only way to gain Confederate VPs is to invade a Northern state. A difficult proposition because the Union army is numerically superior right from the start of the game, and the Confederate forces never seem to be plentiful enough to leave a strong garrison in Virginia while the main army marches on Washington DC.

At the end of the last session, the Union was pressuring Virginia from the north with two strong forces under the command of Generals McDowell and McClellan, and from the east with an amphibious expeditionary force commanded by General Burnside. My "Army of Northern Virginia" was a powerul force of 9 SPs standing directly astride the path of advance of McDowell and McClellan. (see the map below)

The U.S. Civil War: Eastern Theater at the end of 1861
Situation in the Eastern Theater at the start of this session (Game Turn 3)

In my opinion, the Union is in great tactical shape at this point. All the pressure is on me. Harvey is getting dangerously close to scoring an Automatic Victory, and it's uncertain if I'll be able to prevent it. I'm sticking to my plan of trying to inflict a crushing defeat on one of the Union forces north of Richmond, with the hopes that that will cause the other force to scurry back to protect the citizens of Washington DC. Harvey's plan (which I did not know at the time, of course) was to move aggressively against Richmond, regardless of the actions of the Army of N Virginia, and to begin major combat operations in the Western Theater. The stage is set, and off we go...

Game Turns 3, 4 and 5 (Fall, Winter and Spring of 1862)

The Eastern Theater

The gods smiled upon me at the start of Game Turn 3, because I got the first activation and did, in fact, inflict a crushing defeat on McClellan after a failed Interception attempt by McDowell left McClellans 7 SPs to face the full fury of Joe Johnston's 9 SPs alone. Within a short period of time, the Army of Northern Virginia was in possession of the port at Aquia Station, right along the Potomac river, poised to strike into the heart of the Union.

Unfortunately, Harvey also stuck to his plan of "making Richmond howl". He reinforced Burnside with 3 more SPs via Ocean Transport, which made me lose my nerve and counter-march back towards Burnside in an attempt to eliminate the flanking threat once and for all. Burnside, however, inflicted a tactical defeat on Joe Johnston in between the Rapahannock and Pamnukey rivers. That, combined with the resumption of Union forces moving south, left the Army of N Virginia in a tenuous position.

The final blow came when Burnside moved against Richmond (with the speed of Rommel leading the 7th Panzer; Hmmmmmmm....), conquering and destroying the city in one fell swoop. A counter-attack by Joe Johnston failed to liberate the razed city, leaving the once mighty Army of Northern Virginia with only 3 SPs... and surrounded by Union forces.

The U.S. Civil War: Eastern Theater at the end of Game Turn 5
Eastern Theater at the end of Game Turn 5

Both sides remained minimally active during the lean Winter months (no reinforcements on Game Turn 4). The Union armies, providing Harvey the joy that President Lincoln certainly never got to experience, continued their inexorable southward movement down the Shenandoah valley to Staunton, VA and virtually across the entire state of Virginia. I tried to send General Stuart (cavalry) on a "thunder run" up north, but he was totally shut down by the solid wave of blue heading south and was finally trapped and put out of action. Harvey left me no breathing room. Every which way I turned, there was an aggressive Union general who needed no special prompting to move into action. Hmmmmmmm....

On the positive side (for me, anyway), Game Turn 5 (Spring 1862), brought me much needed reinforcements along with the General of Generals... Robert E. Lee, who was expeditiously put in command of the reinvigorated Army of Northern Virginia. After some transfers and reconfiguration, subordinate generals Jackson and Longstreet were added to the army, which promptly set off to inflict retribution on the enemy.

Before attempting to recapture Richmond, I sent Lee up to eliminate Union General Sigel and the threat he posed to the Confederate line of communication between Lee's army and Lynchburg. I figured an easy win would be good for troop morale, and would leave Lee in position to either move northeast toward Fredericksburg, west toward Staunton, or southeast to Richmond. Unbelievably, General Lee, et al, were fought to a standstill by General Sigel and his 3 SPs and had to retreat back to the combat entry hex!!! Let me repeat that... Generals Lee, Jackson, Beauregard, and Longstreet (although only Lee and Jackson actually contributed their Attack ratings to the battle) and a 3 to 1 numerically superior force, were fought to a standstill (read: they lost) to Union General (now called "Bugsy") Sigel. An unexpected turn of events for sure. Hmmmmmmm....

This will likely portend "the end" for Virginia. As we enter Game Turn 6 (1st half of Summer 1862) both sides will be able to reinforce but the Union position is much stronger. The Confederates can risk an assault on Richmond, or can start moving northeast towards Fredericksburg, hoping to defeat all the Union armies up there piecemeal, making the occupation of Richmond untenable. Neither sounds like a great option. The most likely Confederate course of action will be to try to hold a line from Norfolk to Petersburg to Lynchburg, keeping the Victory Point gap from widening any further. Harvey is likely to just keep doing what he's been doing; an irresistable wave of movement southward.

One thing that Harvey has not done at all, is to start picking off coastal forts and ports, thus squeezing off my ability to create new SPs. I strongly suspect that Summer of 1862 is going to see a bunch of Union activity along the coasts.

The Western Theater

All hell has broken loose in the West! The furious Confederate digging and entrenching was all for nought as the Union forces have gone through them like a hot knife through butter. In rapid succession, the Entrenchment along the Mississippi River near New Madrid, the Entrenchment in between the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers southwest of Clarksville, Clarksville itself, and the F2 Fort that was built in Nashville have all fallen without much of a fight.

The arrival of Union General Grant in the Winter spurred things into action and Harvey put him right to work. In no time at all, my Confederates had been chased all the way south along the Mississippi River into Memphis, TN, all the way south into Decatur, AL, and all the way southeast into Chattanooga, TN. What a rout! In this game so far, Grant is behaving like Grant in the West (even if Lee is not behaving like Lee in the East...).

The final positions you see on the map, below, came about as follows:

  • Curtis came barrelling down the Tennessee River (amphibious style), clearing the Entrenchment at the port of Dover.
  • Curtis then proceeded along the river down to Muscle Shoals where the river becomes non-navigable.
  • Grant came down the river to Clarksville, TN, and destroyed the force there.
  • Grant then proceeded to burn Nashville, TN, and then moved south through Murfreesboro, Columbia, Pulaski, before capturing Decatur, AL.
  • Confederate General Hardee fled southeast to Chattanooga, TN, in the face of Grant's onslaught, intending to make a stand there.
  • Harvey had originally planned to have Grant meet up with Curtis and then proceed east into Mississippi and then on to the River.
  • Harvey instead had Grant turn east to capture Huntsville, AL and Winchester, TN en route to an engagement with Hardee.
  • Hardee had an opportunity to move quickly north back towards Nashville before Grant could interfere and I decided to do that.

The U.S. Civil War: Western Theater at the end of Game Turn 5
Western Theater at the end of Game Turn 5

I'm not sure if Harvey will have Grant follow Hardee north to Nashville, or if he will leave Hardee for General Buell to take care of. I'm not going to say which I prefer because Harvey will be reading this, but honestly I still haven't decided myself what to do with Hardee. He's going to have a supply problem very shortly and I'm not sure what the best course of action is. I'm open to suggestions; just drop me an email. :-)

The Trans-Mississippi Theater

This theater has settled down. The Confederates have picked up two new 2-star leaders, Generals Van Dorn and Hindman, but I'm not sure what to do with them! Basically, we're in the same positions we were at the end of our last session, and we have both reinforced. I have consolidated my forces in Little Rock, AR, and now have 4 SPs there along with an F2 Fort (we haven't been idle). The Union have beefed up Curtis's force from 1 SP to 4 SPs, with a 5th SP on the way from Missouri. I expect there will be a battle there soon, but it will be up to Harvey to initiate it; I'm not moving from my cozy fort in Little Rock!

The U.S. Civil War: Trans-Mississippi Theater at the end of Game Turn 5
Trans-Mississippi Theater at the end of Game Turn 5

The Gulf Coast

I added this final image for completeness. From Vicksburg on down there isn't much going on, but my Confederates have been digging furiously and I hope to have Vicksburg and New Orleans well fortified within the next turn or two. Let's see if General Kirby Smith can hold a fort any better than his contemporaries...

The U.S. Civil War: The Gulf coast states at the end of Game Turn 5
Gulf coast states at the end of Game Turn 5

Final Thoughts

Spending three full turns of just about everything going wrong (excepting the very first action of the turn), it's easy for me to psychologically drift into defeatist mode. Lee's failure to dislodge Sigel just completely crushed my confidence. However, we have to keep things in perspective. For example, his Victory Point position now, at the end of Game Turn 5, is slightly less rosy than it was at the end of Game Turn 2. After Turn 2, I was running calculations (detailed at the end of the last session article) that had Harvey realistically within reach of an Automatic Victory in Game Turn 3! I think the situation is still quite Union-friendly at the end of Game Turn 5, but maybe a bit less so. Let's review:

After 5 turns of play, the Union has accumulated 16 Victory Points:

  • Fredericksburg (1), Strasburg (1), Harper's Ferry (1), Staunton (1) and Richmond (4) in Virginia.
  • Grafton (1), Charleston (1) and Wheeling (1) in West Virginia.
  • Fayetteville (1) in Arkansas.
  • Clarksville (1) and Nashville (3 - 1) in Tennessee (net 2 points for Nashville because it has been recaptured).
  • Decatur (1) in Alabama.

The Benchmark Number for Game Turn 6 is 15, meaning that the Union must have a net VP advantage of 27 VPs to secure an Automatic Victory. Which means he needs 11 more than he has now, while preventing me from accumulating any VPs at all. Completing the conquest of Tennessee will bag him 9 VPs (remember that he's only get +1 back for recapturing Nashville).

Capturing Petersburg, Lynchburg and Norfolk in VA adds another 3 VPs to his total. A few amphibious assaults on coastal VP hexes or coastal forts than guard VP cities, and he's well above the required number of VPs. Unlike Game Turn 3, however, I now have two reasonably powerful forces on the map: the Army of Northern Virginia in VA (8 SPs) and Hardee's force in Nashville, TN, with cavalry General Morgan supporting. So it's not like I have to stand idly by and watch Harvey devour Victory Point cities.

Confederate prospects for accumulating any VPs are dreary. I can send Hardee north into Kentucky, but Kentucky Objective hexes will not get me any VPs (only BPs for building new troops). I would have to defeat Union General Buell and his 6 SPs in Kentucky, then make a beeline for Indiana's Objective hexes in order to get any VPs on my side of the score card. All the while trying to somehow keep my force supplied enough to prevent from withering on the vine. Not likely, I must confess.

Any level of victory is going to require aggressive play by Harvey and his Union army, and I must remain watchful for any screw-ups on his part that may present an opportunity that I can capitalize on to keep myself in the game a bit longer. As of this moment, I'm predicting my own defeat in the Fall of 1862... which is longer than I've personally seen any Confederate player last in this game. We'll see. This weekend, our schedules conflict so the next game session will be held on the weekend of Jan 23/24, and I will post an update within a week after that.