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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

Chancellorsville 1863 by Worthington Publishing

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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