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The Price of Freedom: The American Civil War, 1861-1865
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The Price of Freedom: The American Civil War, 1861-1865

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Play Time Players
120-180 minutes 2

Designer(s): Renaud Verlaque

Manufacturer(s): Compass Games

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Product Description

The Price of Freedom: The American Civil War, 1861-1865 is Renaud Verlaque's second design (after the award-winning Age of Napoleon) and his first design published by Compass Games.

The Price of Freedom is a grand-strategic game allowing two players to recreate one of the seminal conflicts in American history and a precursor to the total wars that marked the 20th century.

Using an original card-driven system, The Price of Freedom provides strong historical flavor in a simple game that consistently can be played under three hours. This makes The Price of Freedom an ideal game for today's gamer's busy lifestyle, for tournaments, and for introducing new players to the hobby.

The card-driven engine ensures that no game is ever the same and that there are constantly plenty of hard choices to make. The game uses a fine-tuned deck of 55 cards that are all playable by both sides. Each card has two uses that are generally mutually exclusive: either it can be used by spending its operational value (ranging 1-3) on various actions or it can be used to implement the event described on the card. Operations include recruiting corps, creating armies, reorganizing forces, moving forces, garrisoning /liberating cities and drawing new cards. Events can affect leader appointments or dismissals as well as army creations (Commander-in-Chief), influence battle resolution (Blundering Fool; Seeing the Elephant; Bickering Generals; etc.), help move troops without spending operational points (Strategic Transfer), gain operational advantage (Turning Movement; Interior Lines) or simulate major political, economic or diplomatic events (Cabinet Pressure, Confederate Inflation; Draft; Kentucky; etc.). Hand size is dictated by each side's War Effort level and never exceeds 10 per turn. There is no restriction on the number of event cards that be played in any campaign round, making good hand management a critical skill in the game.

As you might expect from a quick-playing game, counter density is purposefully low and kept in proportion with the also limited number of spaces on the point-to-point map. Each counter represents a "corps" of 20-30,000 men. All corps can be either Fresh or Spent (as a result of march attrition or combat, which makes them less effective at moving and fighting again). In order to move or fight with two or more corps, players need to create armies, assigning leaders via card play. Naturally, all the major historical army leaders -- from Pemberton or Butler to Lee or Grant -- are present in the game and a card-based mechanic ensures that they are used historically. While the Union force pool is deeper than that of the Confederates, the number of corps available to each side at any given time is also a function of its War Effort Level, making the latter a critical driver of the game.

The Union player can win by driving down the Confederate War Effort level low enough or by vastly outnumbering Confederate troops. The Confederate player can win in similar fashion or by hanging on long and well enough to cause Lincoln to lose the 1864 elections at the end of Turn 7 or to prevent the Union player from achieving the historical outcome by the end of Turn 8.

Complexity: Low

Playing Time: 2-3 hours

Solitaire Suitability: Fair (due to card dynamic)

Product Information


  • 1 22x19-inch cardstock map
  • 120 counters
  • 1 deck of 55 playing cards
  • 2 player aid cards
  • 1 rules booklet in color
  • 2 six-sided dice

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