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Gettysburg gamer reviews

I received Gettysburg for christmas. Kudos to my better half for ordering it from you, very unexpected and a nice surprise. I've come to the conclusion that in 25 years of board wargaming I haven't played a more enjoyable game than Gettsyburg, in many ways it's my perfect game. I'm a big fan of Gettsyburg which helps, but at the same time I'm absolutely sold on the block system. All my counter style games are a long second now, I just love the fog of war and visual appeal. Stick it together with fantastic art and some solid rules and I'm a very happy grognard.

Dave Langdon
United Kingdom


Congratulations on Gettysburg: Badges of Courage.  I own nearly every Gettsyburg game ever made going back to Avalon Hill's original hex game released around 1960.  Picket's Charge by Yaquinto was my favorite until you guys came up with this gem.  The components: box art, board, labels, and OB Cards are a sight to see.  Of course having great components does not necessarily translate to a great game.  What takes Gettysburg: Badges of Courage over the top, IMHO, are the rules and playability without sacrificing historical accuracy.  Your new twist on the sequence of play (fire before moving) and your innovative ZOCs/Frontline hex concepts along with the hexside limits really work well in the time/size scale of this battle.

Frank Novak,
OH


Gettysburg: Badges of Courage is the latest block game from Columbia Games. It is their first on a specific battle rather than a campaign. It seems typical at first with the usual fog of war and step reduction elements, but as soon as you hold the box you sense something different. There is a lot of wood here folks. 192 blocks, three times as many as their last game, Liberty.

Units are rated for strength (steps) and firepower (a combination of a letter indicating the order in which it fires and a number indicating its hit probability).,

The quickest way to approach this game, if you are already familiar with Columbia's other games, is to think of East Front. First thing you do is activate selected divisional headquarters (you can even displace one hex as in EF). Those headquarters enable the units under their command to fire. Infantry and cavalry can only fire at adjacent hexes, but artillery can fire up to three hexes distant. Artillery, at a range of two or three, hits on a one and can never directly eliminate the last step of a unit (the last step loss is taken as a retreat, so a unit can die if there is no legal retreat). Losses are taken by the largest unit, with allocation among units of similar size by owner choice.

Only one unit may fire through a particular hexside, and terrain hexsides may modify hit numbers for adjacent forces. Artillery at range is unaffected by hexside modifiers.

Units that did not activate in the command phase or fire may now move. Count movement points by hexside: clear two, woods, streams, orchards, towns, ridges are +1 (cumulative); rivers +2; and, marsh and hills +3. Stacking is limited by terrain in the hex, four in clear, three in woods and towns, two in marsh or rocks.

When you move into a frontline hex, one next to an enemy unit, you can only cross a hexside with a maximum of two units and then you must stop.

Units that began the movement phase in a frontline hex, did not fire, and are within range of an activated commander may melee the opposing unit. Only one attacker may cross per hexside. Combat lasts three rounds with. Either player may use his round to retreat but they may suffer losses from enemy units of the same quality (A, B or C). Attackers are penalized for hexside terrain on round one only, but must retreat in the third round if the defender still has a surviving unit in the hex. Activated commanders are rotated down a step and are returned to the upright position.

During the Supply phase any commander can activate, Lee and Meade can add steps to any units on their side that is within range, but are most efficiently used to rebuild Corps commanders. Corps commanders may help any unit in their Corps, but are most efficiently employed rebuilding divisional commanders. Divisional commanders may rebuild units under their command. Commanders who activated for supply are reduced one and returned to the upright. There are also 16 Union steps and 12 Confederate steps available at night for rebuilding anything, but they are probably best used to recharge commanders from the top down.

Elwyn Darden had the Union in the Sickles' Folly scenario, day 2, 4 pm. David Isby took the Confederates. The scenario starts with the Confederates holding 4 VPs of objectives and +2 in the dead box, needing to net four more points to win. The Peach Orchard (1), Big Round Top (1) and Little Round Top (2) appear to be the most likely, though Cemetary Hill (2) and Culp's Hill (2) could pan out.

Ewell opened with artillery fire at Culp's Hill, but did little damage and Longstreet's men surged forward to try to extend the flank to the very edge of the board. Sykes' V Corps flew toward the Roundtops (we did not use the optional column movement rule and Sykes' sudden deployment made a strong case for using the rule in future games). Some of Longstreet and some of Hill started pressing on the position around the Peach Orchard, but after a few hours of sanguinary actions, Sickles' was still firmly in the Orchard, Sykes was swarming over the Roundtops and Hancock supporting Sickles' right. Slocum extended the Union right to Wolf's Hill, securing the edge of the map against Ewell's efforts to get an edge on Culp's Hill.

The general rhythm was steady Confederate losses, interrupted by occasional startling Confederate successes. Ewell was trying to feel his away around the Union right, but when that door shut, he slammed back against Culp's Hill and overran two units in highly defensible terrain. Hill managed to inflict serious losses on Sickles, but almost always took proportionate damage in return.

The frontline rule made it hard for any of the Confederate Corps to get positioned for a coordinated two division assault, particularly since the Union, in such a forward position, could make slight tactical withdrawals whenever the Confederates seemed set to go. Why two divisions? Because, weaker assaults were routinely brutalized.

The Union Reserve artillery found its way up into Sickles' position, very useful but too valuable to be so exposed. The Union still held the Peach Orchard, though the Confederates were massing for the big push on the third day. The Union had gained one in the dead box, so the Confederates had actually lost points.

After the night turn the Confederates were unable to recharge all their leaders, but the Union had fully rebuilt all its leaders and reinforced two units as well, it was called as a Union victory.

Although the command structure of each army is steadily drained throughout the day, it was impressive how much continuous pressure the Confederates were able to generate.

Day 3

After Dave Isby departed John Sheldon took over the Confederates to get a feeling for the game. Knowing full well that we could not complete the game, he devoted his first turn to feeling out the game, the second to trying an assault or two and the third to an all-out charge (more Hood at Franklin than Pickett). There were no difficulties learning the system in the minimal time we had remaining.

The results were surprising. Yes, Confederates dropped like flies, but their pressure made it very difficult to do the planned gentle withdrawal. Sickles withered and took much of the reserve artillery with him. This was not a long term problem, Reynolds entire Corps stood waiting patiently for the first Confederate to come within arm's reach.

John's aggressive assault made a relatively good showing when going against a cautious defense based on cramming a few units into good terrain. He paid heavily when defenders counterattacked.

Both confederates were frustrated by a map that prevented any flanking attempt of the historical Union position, there was no problem securing both flanks on the map edge. It might not have been as big a problem if we had used the column march rule, or if we had played the campaign game (once you reach 4 pm on day 2 the battle line is pretty much set).

Although activations were by division, activity appeared to be happening at the Corps level. Corps could not afford to get too spread out, lest some division commander miss his feeding time. Also, thinking at the Corps level made it easier to sustain the attack, an elegant effect.

The frontline rule appeared to the most important mechanic regulating the pace of the game. A solid attack required preparation, and attacks that stalled ebbed back before they could be renewed. Unsupported or feeble attacks usually failed badly with high losses.

The next title in the series will be Shiloh, which should be a more fluid situation

Elwyn Darden
Richmond, VA