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 Chancellorsville 1863 by Worthington Publishing  Chancellorsville is often considered Lee's masterpiece battle. He was outnumbered 2 to...

Chancellorsville 1863 by Worthington Publishing Chancellorsville 1863 by Worthington Publishing

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

October 2021

Chancellorsville 1863 by Worthington Publishing




 Chancellorsville 1863


by


Worthington Publishing






 Chancellorsville is often considered Lee's masterpiece battle. He was outnumbered 2 to 1 by The Army of The Potomac, led by Joseph Hooker. Hooker also was one of the few generals to put one over on Lee. Hooker's plan for the campaign was was a very good one, and more surprisingly it worked without a hitch. Then something happened to Hooker, not to the Army he led, only to him. He had managed to flank Lee's Army, and had 3/4's of The Army of The Potomac across the Rappahannock River ready to crush The Army of Northern Virginia between a rock and a hard place. Hooker had his Army positioned in the area that would later become famous as 'The Wilderness'. Lee's only chance to survive was to stop Hooker from leaving the area and entering the more cultivated land where the Army of The Potomac's numerical superiority would overwhelm him. For some strange reason that Hooker himself never really understood, he just stopped where he was and awaited Lee's riposte. One of Hooker's explanations was that 'he just lost faith in Joe Hooker'. Lee really only had 2/3's of The Army of Northern Virginia with him. Longstreet was out west with the other 1/3. However, Lee lost no time in trying to find a way to attack Hooker. Lee's boldness knew no bounds. Lee sent Thomas Jackson (Yes, Stonewall to most) around the open left flank of Hooker's Army. This left almost nothing in front of Hooker, had he decided to actually move forward. Whether it was Jackson's or Lee's plan we will probably never know. However, Lee was the commanding general so the blame or kudos rightly belong to him. Chancellorsville is a battle of so many what ifs. Had Hooker decided to move, had Jackson not been wounded by his own men, etc. The end of the story is that the Union suffered a defeat and the Army of The Potomac was pushed back across the river. We do know that Lee was not happy about all of his victories. He knew that he had to destroy the Army of The Potomac and not just send it packing to try once again in a few months. Porter Alexander always believed that the South's only chance of victory was during the Seven Days Battles, and that after that they had really no chance. So, let us see what is in the box:


Large mounted game board

Union formation activation cards

Confederate formation activation cards

Union bot activation cards (for solitaire play)

Confederate bot activation cards (for solitaire play)

Tactic cards

Confederate and Union reinforcement cards

2 x player screens for hidden movement (with player aid)

Cohesion cubes

Momentum cubes

Redoubt markers

5 x Dice

2 x Rules 




 The game has the same designer as Worthington Publishing's Freeman Farm. There are many similarities between the two, and many differences. I will have a link to that game's review below. This is what Worthington has to say about the game:


"Designed by Maurice Suckling.  Chancellorville 1863 uses many of the concepts from Freeman's Farm 1777.  What stays basically the same:


1.  Combat

2.  How formations are activated and the receiving of momentum cubes by the play of formation cards

3.  The use of leaders like Gates, Arnold, and Burgoyne --- now Lee, Jackson, and Hooker

4.  The use of tactics cards

What's Unique:

1.  Hidden movement -- the game uses minimaps that allow for some hidden movement and variable setup of some formations.

2.  More movement -- formations frequently move on the board and combat occurs when two formations of opposing sides end in the same location.

3.  Reinforcement by transfer of cohesion points between formations

4.  A card driven solitaire engine

5.  Formation cards allow for multiple formations to activate with major and minor activations.  Major allow two moves while minor allow one move.

6.  Prepared positions --- spend your activations to build redoubts.

Gamers who own Freeman's Farm and are familiar with it's concepts will be up and playing in 15 minutes.  And with quick setup and game play, gamers will be able to play multiple games in an evening."




 The Map has nice period detail in places, but its look is not something we are used to seeing (unless, you already have played Freeman's Farm). There are no hexes. The movement of the wooden pieces on it is decided by the player's actions, and by arrows that show where the piece can legally be moved. It is sort of reminiscent of point-to-point maps, but still different from them. All of the record keeping for the different forces involved are right on the map. The wooden blocks are well done and uniform in their shapes with no pieces of wood hanging off them etc. Each deck of cards is done differently, and there are six different decks. The cards are not flimsy at all. The Rulebooks (one for each player) are in large print and full color. They are twenty pages long. The rules for the game are only fifteen pages long. This is followed by some examples of play, and then a Historical Summary, and Designer Notes. There are also two screens for hidden movement in a two player game. The screens have some Player Aids on the player side and a some nice period pictures on their other side. The game as a whole is meant to be more functional than artistic. However, this does not deter the game from being eye pleasing. As a whole, it is a wonderfully produced game. It fits well into the rest of Worthington Games stable of games.




 The game is one of very few that actually has a bot designed to play both sides. Playing solo has never been a problem for me with almost any game, but to have it all in place for playing either side is a very nice touch. It also speaks to the designer's skill in designing the bots. 

 The battle does not lend itself to be developed into a game. The disparity of forces between the North and South is roughly 2:1. So, there has to be some way of adding the tentative nature of Joseph Hooker once his plan worked and he ended up on Lee's flank. Otherwise, each game would just be to see how long Lee could hold out against the onslaught. In almost every game I have played where there is such a difference in size between both sides, victory is almost always how long can you last compared to history. It is hard to imagine, but you have to remember Lee won this battle, and tried hard to annihilate as many Union troops as possible and not just push them back. Although how he would deal with a group of captured soldiers almost half the size of his army is anyone's guess.


 


 

  This is the Sequence of Play:


"Each player’s turn has the same phases:

1. Play Activation card from one of the three in your

hand and gain Momentum cubes for the card played.

2. Determine whether you are playing the major, minor,

or one of the free actions of transfer reinforcements

or build redoubt.

3. Pay Activation cost by reducing cohesion for the

activated formation.

4. If, as a result of movement, combat occurs, perform

combat.

5. After all actions have been performed, optionally

purchase one Tactics card, and refresh the tableau

with a new card.

6. Draw a new Activation card."


These are the game's Objective Locations:


"There are 3 objective locations on the game board:

Fredericksburg (location 13), Salem Church (location

22), and Chancellorsville Junction (location 18). They are

assumed to be Confederate controlled unless there is a

Union control marker in them. A Union formation does

not have to remain on the objective for the objective to

remain Union controlled. Once controlled, at the end of a

Union turn, a Union formation may move away from the

objective. However, if a Confederate formation occupies

a formation at the end of a Confederate turn, the Union

control marker is removed and control reverts back to the

Confederates."




 These are the Victory Conditions:


"The Union player must capture 2 out of the 3 objectives

on the board by the end of the game. An objective is

captured if a Union formation was the last to occupy it,

the formation does not have to remain in the location

(mark with a blue cube to show Union control).

If the Union player breaks 3 or more Confederate

formations they immediately win the game.

The Confederate player wins if the Union player does not win.

The Confederate player also wins the game immediately

if they break 3 or more Union formations."


 The final verdict is that the designer was able to take what should be a one-sided battle (in two-player, or even against a bot), and make it enjoyable to play. Not only that, he was able to design it so that every game you play is different. The cards and other actions make sure that no two games are alike. This means that players cannot come up with unbeatable strategies that always work, and force you to just put the game back on your shelf as a part of your collection. Even for grognards these are 'games' that are meant to be played and not gather dust. The ease of the game's setup means that two-players can get up and and playing within minutes. The games are also meant for relatively fast play, so that each player can have a crack at either side a few times on game night.

 Thank you Worthington Publishing for letting me review this fine game. below I will have some other reviews of Worthington Publishing games I have also reviewed. 


Robert 

Worthington Publishing:

Worthington (worthingtonpublishing.com)

Chancellorsville 1863:

Chancellorsville 1863 — Worthington (worthingtonpublishing.com)

Antietam:

Antietam September 17, 1862 by Worthington Publishing - A Wargamers Needful Things

Grant's Gamble:

Grant's Gamble a game by Worthington Games - A Wargamers Needful Things



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ZERO LEADER FROM DVG At long last the wait is over and in some ways it was for me almost bound to be an anti-climax.  Why?  Well, this is th...

ZERO LEADER ZERO LEADER

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

October 2021

ZERO LEADER

ZERO LEADER

FROM

DVG

At long last the wait is over and in some ways it was for me almost bound to be an anti-climax.  Why?  Well, this is the latest in a series that has already a proven record of success from a company whose quality of components is superb.  How do you top what is already the top!?

Added to that is the fact that Corsair Leader [the Allied mirror image of Zero Leader] had already introduced the crucial new elements which tipped the balance to send it to the very pinnacle of my choice for a solo air game.  First of all both are set in WWII, a period which far outshines modern air warfare and that is obviously a very personal opinion, not a fact.  The only vague possibility for future additional excellence might be the path to... WWI!  I know you could argue that their Down In Flames does the job, but surely there might be a place for a Sopwith Leader or Richthofen Leader?

Anybody listening out there at DVG?  One can but dream and hope.

Ok back to reality.  I hardly need to say that quality remains supreme in all departments from the familiar abstract mounted map board to  counters and the massive number of aircraft cards.

The familiar abstract mapboard

A superb nine sheets of counters
Stacks and stacks of aircraft cards!

Rounding everything off is the consistently handsome rule book.  As always its apparent thickness is misleading.  First of all, of its 49 pages, only the first 34 are necessary to play the game.  The remainder cover optional rules, rules for the Ace expansion and the Rookie/Trainee Expansion, very welcome information on each type of Japanese aircraft, a 4 page crossover rules set for Zero Leader & Corsair Leader and 4 pages of charts relating to Target Destruction effects for both games.
Secondly, when you consider those essential 34 pages, the layout is so expansive and luxurious that  many other rule books would probably condense them down to half the number.  An amazing amount of white space is used to provide one of the easiest on the eye reads that you could ask for.

Even an example of one of the most detailed page is set out in two broad columns with double-spacing, as seen below.

The rules themselves follow a pattern that will be very well known to anyone who owns one of the Leader series that deals purely with air warfare.  So, what follows is very much aimed at those less familiar with any of this solo series. 
Most steps in this game are fairly quick and easy to execute, with one major proviso and that is the need for a very careful initial sorting of components.  This is particularly advisable for all the Pilot cards, which, I suggest, need to be grouped according to some system that you feel comfortable with.  No solution can cover all the multiplicity of year ranges perfectly.   So, my own preferred, personal choice is by plane type and then according to the earliest year in which a given Pilot first appears.
As in all this series, there are 3 double-sided cards for each Pilot taking them from Newbie to Legendary level which you need to keep grouped together.  
With Target cards simply keep them in numerical order, draw the numbers needed for a specific Campaign and make sure they get slotted back at the end of a game.  Event cards are a boon as they are always shuffled at the beginning of a game!
For the many counters, the most important to sort are Site, Bandit and Bomber counters by year.  Though not as necessary, sorting the pilot counters by plane type is very helpful, though small groupings by alphabetical order is a good alternative.  

With that out of the way, you can get down to play where your first task is to choose one out of the fifteen Campaigns on offer.  This is the identical number to those in the Corsair Leader game, though I was pleased to see a few different choices here.  Each Campaign can be played for a Short/Medium/Long duration.  As a starter, I'd suggest an Introductory Campaign such as Midway [a personal favourite] played for a Short or Medium duration.  Next you'll select the appropriate Target cards as numbered on the well presented Campaign Card.

Among the many other details on the card are the types of Japanese  planes involved and the types of Allied bandits and bombers, you may come up against.  
Next you will select from among the named Pilot cards for the appropriate plane types and the year of the Campaign and the number of pilots allowed in your Squadron.  The rule book supplies the latter information on the number of pilots as well as the typical experience composition for the appropriate year and Campaign duration.  So, continuing as an example Midway and a Medium duration, I would choose 10 pilots made up of the following experience levels - 1 Newbie, 2 Green, 4 Average, 1 Skilled and 2 Veteran.  It's also worth noting that all Pilots are also divided into two categories;  Fast and Slow.  This is important for combat, as will be discussed later.
These details will be recorded on the Player Log [either a photocopy of the one supplied with the game or a downloadable copy from the DVG site] along with the number of Special Option [SO] points for the Campaign that allow you to further fine tune your Squadron by using them to upgrade experience or acquire specific skills to assign to individual pilots or improve the quality of a plane.

Above is a partially filled in Log for a short Midway Campaign.  I tend to include the type of plane under the Pilot name.  Each letter to the right indicates the pilot experience level and the black dots indicate in the first column the current Cool quality of the Pilot and in the second column their aggression.  Apart from keeping the completed Logs as a reminder of a Campaign, they're very handy if you want to quickly assemble a squadron and you don't have time for making a lengthy choice of a new squadron.
The duration of a Campaign will tell you how many days the Campaign will last and on each day you will be able to fly at most one Primary Mission and, possibly, one Secondary Mission.  Though the longer the Campaign the more pilots you will have in your assembled squadron, one of the delights/dilemmas/pressures of the game is how may pilots you assign to a given Mission.  Obviously the harder the Mission the more pilots is a pretty obvious decision, but so many factors come into play that it is rarely an easy choice!
I'm now going to step you through the basic play Sequence.
PRE-FLIGHT
Draw target card[s] and select one primary Mission. Determine and place sites according to info on the Target card. assign Pilots to the Mission - later in the war you may have the option to select Kamikaze aircraft or Ohka pilots. Finally prepare for the Mission.  This mainly involves choosing the weapons [essentially the bomb ordinance allowed by your plane] and drop tanks for added fuel.  However, Situational Awareness counters and Samurai Spirit counters may be assigned if purchased or originally allocated as part of your Pilot's profile.  Both obviously provide special benefits.
TARGET-BOUND FLIGHT
Draw an Event Card and consult the top box.  



After the Event is resolved, you can even abort at this stage - but I've found making that choice is very rare, unless you are doing very well in a Campaign or conversely very badly!
You then place your aircraft counters on the mapboard in one of the Pre-Approach Areas.  You also have to choose the altitude of your plane [either High or Low], as unlike all the modern era Leader games you won't be able to change this later, unless you are a dive-bomber or a kamikaze!

Here's one occasion when I went for all planes in one Pre-Approach Area, but beware as you don't know the exact Bandit [i.e. enemy plane] composition in the Approach Areas yet.  So, the next step is to draw them and you may get lucky and find that some of your draws may be No Bandits - great!  On the other hand, there may be some nastier opposition than you expected - not so great! 
Finally, you draw another Event card and consult and execute the instructions in the middle box and then place the Turn marker in the 1 position.  You now have 5 turns in the next Phase in which to complete your Mission.

Mission Pilots weaponed up!
OVER-TARGET RESOLUTION
At this stage you have 5 turns in which to complete your Mission. Each turn follows the same sequence:
[1] Dive Bombers or Kamikazes dive to low altitude. 
[2] Fast Pilots may make one attack on a Site, a Bandit or the Target - the choice will depend on the plane's location, altitude, appropriate range and weapon.
[3] Sites and Bandits attack
[4] Slow Pilots may attack
[5] All Pilots may move
[6] Bandits move
What happens will depend on whether you are in a Pre-Approach Area, an Approach Area or the Target Area.  If in a Pre-Approach  Area, not much more than moving your planes into an adjacent  Approach Area or adjacent Pre-Approach Area is likely to happen. But once into an Approach Area or the Target Area things are guaranteed to heat up!
It is also here that the main complexity of play also increases and is the major difference between all the modern era Leader games and Corsair Leader and Zero Leader.  That's because we're in WWII and DOGFIGHTING comes into play!

As can be seen it even has its own special mounted chart.  Unengaged, Engaged and Positioning all play their part with a matrix of manoeuvres bringing a series of potential modifiers and choices into play.  Some of these will also depend on qualities inherent on the Pilot card or Skills purchased with SO points. The element of Dogfighting was the one I was most looking forward to in this and its companion game.  It adds greatly to the level of detail, but I must admit it does add significantly to the many small rules that you need to master to play the game well.  
Herein lies the major complexity of playing Zero Leader.  The basic stages and rules of the game are clear and fairly easy to grasp and retain without too much return to the rule book.  However, the many skills, qualities and attributes when combined with the modifiers on the Dogfight chart and how they affect them, allowing usage of some and not of others can lead to a much greater level of checking and rechecking that I've got things correct.
Regular play of the game obviously smooths the path, but this is not a game that you can easily lift down from the shelf for the occasional and infrequent session.  Play is engrossing and as always, a system which has named Pilots invests the action with an element of personal involvement as Stress levels mount, planes suffer damage and for some go down in flames.
Battling through the Bandits and the defensive sites in both the Approach Areas and the central Target Area, eventually you get a crack at the target itself which may range from a simple shore battery all the way up to a carrier.

And here are my heroes taking on those shore batteries
This will have taken at least two or three of your five turns and so you'll find yourself with at the most three turns to destroy the target to gain your main victory points.  Whatever degree of success you've had, however, the game's not over yet - there's still one last stage to work through.
HOME-BOUND FLIGHT
One last Event card is to be drawn and instructions on the bottom row of the card carried out.

 In what's called a debriefing section, the success of your mission and the number of VPs gained is entered on your Pilot Log.  The quality of your Recon and Intelligence abilities on the game board may be improved to give your future benefits in new missions. Stress gained by all your participating pilots is recorded.  Experience points may be gained, leading to possible pilot promotion; stress may be recovered from and finally your Maintenance Crews come into play.  Yes, you even have a chance to put in some repair work, mend damage that might have been taken and by rolling on a special table, you can even push your crews to additional work at the risk of them gaining fatigue and at the very worst making a mistake in their efforts.
The game may be played out on a very stylised and abstract mounted board, but a great amount of realistic detail of this brutal war is packed into Zero Leader.  Consulting your Campaign success at the end of a gruelling 6 day Long Campaign from the VPs you've accrued may sound anti-climactic, but I can tell you it's not.  There is a profound sense of satisfaction even if you've only achieved Adequate and just don't ask about what went wrong if the result is deemed Dismal!

Once again it's many thanks to Dan Verssen Games for providing my review copy and ... as a foretaste of my future reviews.  Next up will be a further venture into the Pacific war - this time in its entirety with Phalanx's new edition of Fire In The Sky and then it's back to DVG to review their production of David Thompson's most recent design, Soldiers In Postmen's Uniforms.


Publisher: Dan Verssen Games
Players: 1
Playing time: 90 minutes +
RRP: £87.95












1 comments :

Micro Macro Crime City is the 2021 Spiel de Jahres winner and despite hearing the title and listening to various gaming podcasts, I had no r...

Micro-Macro: Crime City by Johannes Sich Micro-Macro: Crime City by Johannes Sich

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

October 2021

Micro-Macro: Crime City by Johannes Sich



Micro Macro Crime City is the 2021 Spiel de Jahres winner and despite hearing the title and listening to various gaming podcasts, I had no real conception of what it was until I played it for myself.  It is quite unlike any boardgame I’ve experienced before and more like Where’s Wally*: The boardgame.


*Where’s Waldo for our American readers.


It comes in an attractively slim box (which is still too large for the components) and one game plays in about 15 minutes or so.  However, I defy anyone to only play just one game of this before packing it away.  Each ‘game’ you’ll find yourself trying to work out who, why and how a particular crime was committed across an expansive fold-out isometric map of the eponymous ‘Crime City’.



Gameplay

During each case 1 to 4 players will pore over the large map of the city trying to find clues to answer the questions posed by the Case cards.  Only when you’ve found the right answer can you go onto the next card and after ten or so cards, you’ll find you’ve solved the case.


There are 16 increasingly difficult cases in the box which I completed in 4 games sessions, with friends and family alike.  Anyone can jump in to help you solve a case and you could even put this in front of someone with no experience of board games and they’ll do alright and have a good time.  All you need is a pair of eyes.  They do provide you with a plastic magnifier to look at some fine details, but this wasn’t used / necessary in my groups.



Each crime scene on the map can be referenced by coordinates round the outside (confirming you’ve got the clue’s answer right) and you’ll then use the hints left in the artwork to find the next answer.  Each element of the crime is unique to that crime so in order to find the next answer you’re left searching the now huge map for another appearance of that unique item.  These will appear some distance away from the last answer, but I was often surprised at how quickly our eyes homed in on the next object.  Meaning it never bogs down into boredom just searching and squinting for the smallest of details.




I would describe this as a very relaxed experience; players could easily drift in and out of the game.  I distinctly recall during my first session of this with 5 other players (3 kids, 2 adults), after the third case the adults drifted away, probably to get some time without kids if I’m being honest, and the kids kept playing the case by themselves and even started and finished the next case.  It’s incredibly simple to explain and fun to play and that is why I think it won the SdJ.  You’ll even be able to start playing the game before you’ve opened the box – how many board games can say that?


However, is it a boardgame? I’m not so sure…it’s a fun experience in its own right and I am impressed at how much detail the artists have got into the map, in fact there are more puzzles and scenes to solve both in the manual and online.  So I can’t really say I’ve completed it, but after finishing the 16 main cases I don’t have any desire to revisit the map / cases / game?  Like with any escape room style game, each case is for one time use only.



The best endorsement I can offer this is that it suffers from ‘one more turn’ syndrome, or in this case ‘one more case’.  You’ll be surprised at how many cases you’ll get through in one sitting, although thankfully they do get significantly harder at the 4 and 5 star levels.

Components

Just as the game is quite simple so are the components.  You’ll get 16 decks of cards (one for each mission) and a large paper map of the city.  I was initially concerned that repeated unfoldings and foldings would obscure some details but it’s stood up just fine, to where I would happily give it away to another family.  The main map damage has come from our bellies and bodies leaning over the map and creasing the corners.



The map itself is just black and white line art, however I think it is this simplicity that makes this game work and has become a recognised trade mark of the title.  My daughter wants to colour-in the whole map which although would look spectacular, I doubt would ever get finished and the colours would actually hinder gameplay.  Thankfully so far she’s not been brave enough to start and I think she’s forgotten…


The box provides a small micro-cosm of the City and poses one case to players even before they’ve opened the game.  This could be a fun diversion whist trying to pick new games in your FLGS but shows just how simple this game is to teach, play and involve all types of people.



Criticisms

I can’t really criticise the game for what it is.  I think it does it pretty much perfectly, ‘it’ being a fun, quick simple filler and why the SdJ chose it as their Kritikerpreis.  And although I did enjoy the experience of playing this with others it’s not a game (or its expansions) that I’ll be seeking out again.  It’s just not in wheelhouse and I’m finding more and more that my tastes don’t necessarily jive with the SdJ.  

Conclusion

I would heartily recommend this to gamers and non-gamers alike.  It’s cheap and different from pretty much anything that I’ve experienced before.  It plays quickly and is an enjoyable experience for everyone (if you’re comfortable climbing over each other to view the map from the best angle), and I’m pretty sure that you’ll suffer from ‘one more case’ as well.  It’s an extremely simple concept and it is done brilliantly here. 


I’d like to thank Asmodee UK for sending this review copy. You can use this link https://www.asmodee.co.uk/contentpage/find-your-game-store to find your Friendly Local Game Store, which need all the help they can get at the moment.


Designers: Johannes Sich
Playtime: 15 minutes +
Players: 1 - 4

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