Civil War for the hexagonally challenged
In a convention almost dominated by strategic Civil War Titles
(Civil War, For The People, and Bobby Lee)
a dozen dedicated grognards decided to pay their respects to
a true original: GDW's A House Divided. Twelve gamers
decided to forego the other two dozen events scheduled for Saturday
morning and refight the US Civil War, from start to finish, in
under eight hours. With 12 entrants, four expressed a desire
to play the North, four desired to play the South, and four had
no preference. After the gamemaster matched up the Unionists
against the Confederates, the six games got quickly underway.
The tournament started off with the 1861 scenario and basic
game rules were in force for the duration of the day. A standing
house rule, known as the rule of 7, was implemented in order
to minimize the luck element regarding moves and recruiting.
This simple rule states that the sum of your marches die roll
and your recruiting die roll in a month is always seven. As all
scenarios started off with a 1 for marches for both sides, things
had the potential to get bloody quickly, with lots of troops
around and nowhere to go.
Much to the gamemaster's delight, the first six games ended
in a balance of wins for each side, including one capture of
Washington by Tom Cannon, an eventual finalist. It would not
be the last time Tom pulled victory out from the jaws of defeat.
Other winners of the 1861 scenario, including Terry Coleman,
Trevor Bender, Barry Shoults, Marshall Collins and Chris Bauch
jumped right in to the 1862 scenario for the second round. The
1862 scenario starts with both sides holding tenaciously to territory
acquired since the beginning of the war, and enough veteran troops
to enable promotions to the almost invincible crack troop status
coming rapidly on the heels of successful campaigns.
In the quarterfinals, the leadership skills of the Confederacy
began to show, as all three Southerners advanced to the Semifinals.
With the Confederate player having the last turn, the Union was
hard pressed to pull off a victory in any of the three games.
Tom Cannon actually lost as the Union in the second round, but
was advanced into the semis by virtue of keeping it closer than
the other two Union players. In all three games, several Confederate
cavalry units were noticed romping around north of the Ohio River,
much to the chagrin of several Midwestern farmers and their daughters!
The semi-finals were once again a close fought contest. The
1863 scenario, which starts in April 1863, has a quality laden
Confederate army including several veterans and a couple of crack
infantry units starting in entrenchments (almost impossible to
hit!) against a Union army that is so large it actually exceeds
the Army Maximum Size. The Union is able to apply pressure in
almost all theaters, with the Confederacy being forced to respond
in kind. As before, most of the action centered in the Western
Theater (Kentucky and Tennessee) while the Eastern Theater was
more a campaign of attrition rather than maneuver. Who says A
House Divided is not realistic? Once again, with the ability
to respond to Union thrusts, the results were the same as before,
culminating in two more Confederate wins by Spring 1864.
The finals started with last year's runnerup, Terry Coleman
facing off against Tom Cannon, who had already come back from
the dead once. In order to play a balanced scenario worthy of
a battle for the championship, both players agreed to forego
the proposed 1864 scenario and once again play the 1861 scenario,
which had proved to be so balanced in tournament play. Terry
took the North and Tom the South, where they had each won before.
In an exciting, tension-filled game that came down to the last
die roll, Tom Cannon pulled off a victory as the South, snagging
the wood and Terry Coleman was a bridesmaid for the second year
in a row.
In spite of the stabilizing element of the rule of seven,
all players found at least one reason to complain about their
marches die roll at one time or another. Perhaps with the addition
of duplicate rules for determining marches for both sides next
year, their complaints will be alleviated, but it's not likely!
Still, all the participants said they had a very enjoyable tournament
and they invite each of you to join them again next year for
this old favorite.