The American Civil War
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The American Civil War is a game of grand strategy and tactical battles during the epic struggle that divided the United States. The players take control of the war effort of the North as they attempt to save the Union, or the South as they attempt to gain independence for the Confederacy. They can lead armies into battle, build their navy, emancipate the slaves, enact conscription, or attempt to influence European involvement in the struggle to tip the balance. Refight the war, and change the course of history.
Average Rating: 3.6 in 5 reviews
ACW as I will call it from here out is everything a civil war game should be.
I must stress however, that this game, as it came shipped, was never played by me. After reading the above reviews I was convinced that there were some hindsights in the games playability (in management). After purchasing it, I noticed the problems mentioned above (such as small city spaces, no battleboard, and hard to track armies). I deligently scoured the forums such as 'Thrasher's Web Site' and 'Eagle Games Forums' as well as 'Art Based Components' that were located on the net. In doing this, I found a pleothra of aids, official new rule additions, extra pieces to buy, battleboards of many varieties, placeholders for armies, etc. Just about everything you would need to make the game manageable...even things I wasn't looking for! All these player/corporate based aids were easily printed up off my inkjet printer.
After doing that, I then went about implementing as much of what I learned as possible. The final review I am giving this game is based off that work. I don't expect everyone to go to such lengths (if you call it that...I just hit a button), but the game is more enjoyable with these aids.
I must stress that what came in the box was up to the job nonetheless, but I would have paid just about double the price Eagle Games is selling it for, if it was a fully functional Civil War game with all the aids I added (which my work by no means equals a doubled price). The reason I would do such a thing? There is no alternative in this gendre that does what this game does! Well, no game in this gendre that isn't on a computer screen or in the form of cardboard chits.
This game is the Holy Grail of Civil War gaming! I will ask the reader to disregard the negative reviews at top, and ask themselves a fundamental question, 'Have you been waiting for a Civil War Game that is gorgeous, action packed, and full of depth and intrigue?' If your answer is 'yes', BUY THIS GAME! There aren't any others to compare it to, there just isn't!
I must admit that I own Battle Cry, and in comparison to this game Battle Cry doesn't even hold a candle to it.
The fact that I can add aids to the game to play better is no sweat off my back when I get the game of my Civil War dreams. I ask all not to fret or wait for anything better, because there will be nothing like the likes of ACW on the horizon ever again.
Now I will highlight the game in all its glory.
Truly, this is a masterpiece of convention. Players are given double blind setup of forces from which to fight from. Left, Right flank and Center as well as a Reserve Area. Forces then go in a certain play order performing various attacks. Calvalry is used to undermine weak areas quickly, cannons fire on the enemy diminishing their ability to hold the line. Infantry move forward and engage in Fire Attacks or plain Charge in. Generals in the rear rally the troops or riskily rush into the front to invigorate a future charge attack. The battles go back and forth with both sides usually getting the upperhand at some point escaping defeat narrowly. The intensity of the battles themselves is undeniable nail-biting joy. Once the battle is over, punishing pursuit attacks add insult to injury.
The Strategic Map:
Where does one go? Do the Confeds make a quick and risky drive on Washington or do they go for the West's neutral cities held by the Union giving the South more economic might to fight.
Does the North push onto Richmond or do they invade the South's coastal cities or both? Can the Union survive too many losses if they match the Confed's forces in battle instead of towering over them in numerical superiority?
Is it a good time for conscription? What if too many cities rebel? Will there be enough armies to quell the rebellions before the enemy takes advantage of the situation?
Should the South send a gift to the Europeans to convince them to join the war against the North, or should they ask for aid? What of the slaves, can the South free them to bring the Europeans into the war?
Should the Union increase their rail capacity so large armies can move from East to West at a moments notice or should they invest in expensive calvalry to counter the Souths horseman.
The Confeds are able to outfit leaders very cheaply and therefore lead their men into battle for longer harder periods of time. The South also enjoys affordable Calvalry over the North, should they invest in very expensive cannon?
These are just a few of the options in ACW, if you have any questions feel free to email me! I welcome any questions concerning this article and promoting this game or providing the wherabouts for the aids that I possess.
Thank You all to the diehard community for making this game as fun as the designers intended it to be!
I purchased this game expecting another BATTLE CRY(Avalon Hill/Hasbro). It's close, but needs shorter scenarios. LOVE the combat system. Guess I still love playing with little plastic soldiers. New gamers will get into the game easily with the introductory rules, and gamers with any experience will want to move quickly to the more advanced rules. Unlike many wargames, this one gets more interesting as the rules get more complex. Still, they don't bog down, and this one is a good evening's (OK, maybe TWO evenings) fun. I'll take it over many of those hex-and-counter wargames, and I hope AMERICAN CIVIL WAR is around for a long time
Let me start by saying that the reviewer from Ft. Collins has summed up many of my feelings about the components of this game. The board is huge, but in spite of that, it's extremely awkward to try to position numerious pieces in the smaller regions (cities as well as small non-city regions).
Also, in the copy I played, while the illustrations on the board are magnificent, the printing itself is mis-aligned so the border between two of the map sections doesn't match up correctly, and the boards did not lie flat when first taken out of the box (even after some careful reverse-bending). We left the board out overnight with some big books on it so hopefully that helped a little.
I found the little plastic pieces to be a little on the chintzy side. I guess it's nice that they used these miniatures instead of cardboard counters but cardboard might have been more practical given the aforementioned space issues.
That said, this still seems like a great game to play, and one that would be great for introducing history buffs to the hobby of wargaming. My girlfriend and I bought it for her dad, who's a big Civil War buff, and five minutes after opening it and starting to sort the pieces, he was excited to play. We all had a good time playing the basic rules, and I found them to be interesting enough to satisfy even a relatively-experienced gamer such as myself. The basic rules are not a 'baby' version, but an intelligent simplification that still managed to retain a historical flavor (e.g., two or three turns into the game, most of our conflicts were occurring in the historically-accurate locales of northern VA and Tennessee).
So overall, I was a *little* bit disappointed with the quality of the game board itself, and, like the previous reviewer, found it awkward to keep track of which pieces were on which space, but once we got used to that, we found it to be a compelling and extremely playable game.
The American Civil War, the new game by Eagle Games is the latest edition in the cross between more traditional hex-based wargames and minitures along the same lines as Avalon Hill's Civil War game, Battle Cry, and [page scan/se=0431/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]Axis & Allies and other such games. The game itself recreates the American Civil War at the grand strategy level.
The rules of the game allow players at different levels of experience with gaming to play and increase the complexity of the game from a set of Basic Rules, to Standard, to finally a set of Advanced Rules. Each level adds realism, historical flavor, etc. to the game. The rules themselves are--for the most part--well written (but include some typos), but some parts when first read do not make any sense until a following rule is explained. Here is an example: In the section on 'Emancipation of the Slaves' for the South, one of the political consequences is that a State could leave the Confederacy and set up its own separate government. The rules state, 'The newly independent state places 1-3 units of infantry in each unoccupied region to protect itself.' It is not clear what '1-3 units of infantry' means until the following rule on 'Conscription' is read and implies that the number of units (1, 2 or 3) is determined by a die roll. And the rules leave it up to the players to determine if rolls of 1 and 2 mean 1 unit and rolls of 3 and 4 mean 2 units, etc.
The map board of the game is very very large. It measures 36 inches by 46 inches, which means a big table devoted to just gaming needs to be found. The large size of the map is needed because the playing pieces are slightly larger than those found in Battle Cry. I guess there is a patent on the Battle Cry units because I think they would actually work as well, if not better, than the units included in the game. More on the units later. The map is for area movement of forces. The major problem with the map board is with the cities, which are significant playing spaces of the game. The city circles are way too small. There should have been holding boxes made for cities along the edges of the map board--Lord knows the sucker is big enough. When 2 or more units move into a city, it basically requires that they be replaced with the substitute Flag Bearer piece to represent several unit pieces on the map board. When several cities have such Flag Bearer units in them, game players need to be careful which off-map group of units are located in which city. There also are several tables on the map board to record rail capacity, naval strength, etc., as well as a time record track. However, there are no markers included in the game to indicate the levels of these things for the North or South, or to show what turn (month/year) it is. Players are forced to use game pieces to do so. Not that that is all bad, but some simple die cut counters would have been much better.
Like Battle Cry, the playing pieces in American Civil War are plastic toy soldier moldings representing infantry, cavalry, artillery, and leaders. Cavalry soldiers, leaders, and horses are separate pieces, i.e., soldiers and leaders can actually be placed on horses. The horses are different colors (brown and black) to represent regular cavalry and elite cavaly respectively. Overall, the playing pieces are great!
The mechanics of the game are the typical I-go-you-go, with the South moving and fighting first. Obviously, different units have different movement capabilities and rates. When units of both sides are in the same game space (called a region or city), a battle occurs. It is with the battle sequence that I have the biggest problems with the game. It starts with the 'Tactical Battlefield' required for small battles (Skirmishes) or large battles. The rules have a note that states, 'There is no Tactical Battlefield mat included in the game, as it is unnecessary.' This I strongly disagree with. I think the game should have included a playing aid similar to the aid included in Columbia Games Bobby Lee and Sam Grant for positioning of forces in a battle. A playing aid is included in American Civil War with summaries of key sequences, charts, and tables. It probably would not have cost much more to include a similar aid for battles, having the Skirmish Battlefield printed on one side and Major Battle battlefields printed on the other side. Oh, well, maybe in version 2.0. So, the game players must take their units off to the side and fight battles on another part of the table which is probably already 80-90% consumed by the map board.
Battles attempt to capture to feel of Civil War conflicts as forces are deployed in center and right and left flanks, with some units held back in reserve to plug gaps in a side's battle line. Players secretly deploy their forces and then go at it through a series of battle steps. Advanced rules deal with initaitive, entrenchments, and terrain, all of which are optional and can be used independently or in combinations of groups. The results of conflict are based on dice rolls with certain numbers being required for 'hits' that result in either retreat or elimination of units. Leaders are useful in assisting charges and/or rallying troops. Additional rules deal with potential European intervention, production, naval combat, and amphibious assaults.
For players who like these types of games, I believe the American Civil War will be a winner. The rating of 4 stars is due to the city map and marker problems and the lack of a battlefield aid.
Awful, awful game.
Not only is the board way too big (it IS very beautiful, but too big nonetheless), not only do the figures *not* fit in the spaces on the board (despite its hugeness), but the rules are a terrible mess of randomness and lack of playtesting. And I'm talking about the advanced rules here, which are supposed to be the best set of the three.
If you're serious about playing a civil war game, check out Columbia Games' Bobby Lee and Sam Grant.
Not as beautiful, but highly playable, and in about the same time, too.