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 Mac and Lee by Hollandspiele  The 1862 Peninsula Campaign was at the very beginning a bold stroke to move around the Confederate Army in No...

Mac and Lee by Hollandspiele Mac and Lee by Hollandspiele

Mac and Lee by Hollandspiele

Mac and Lee by Hollandspiele

 Mac and Lee



 The 1862 Peninsula Campaign was at the very beginning a bold stroke to move around the Confederate Army in Northen Virginia. In actuality, it turned out much like the Anzio invasion. A whale had been beached, and that was about it. Little Mac (George McClellan), could not, for the life of him, understand the reality of the situation. The Pinkerton Agency told him that he was outnumbered two to one and he either believed them outright or used it as an excuse for his own doubts and fears. Whatever it was, his attack on Richmond progressed slower than a sloth descending a tree to do its business. Joseph E. Johnston had his own fears and doubts to deal with. He let Little Mac saunter ever so slowly to the very gates of Richmond. Had it actually come to a siege Little Mac's artillery would have pounded Richmond to dust. If, that is, he let them actually open fire. His nightmares of massive Confederate forces clouded his campaign from start to finish. Once Johnston was wounded, when he finally attacked at the Battle of Seven Pines, Robert E. Lee was summoned to take command of the Confederate Army. From this moment on Little Mac believed to his core that he had to be vastly outnumbered for the Confederates to attack him. He went into an almost mental breakdown and left his forces to mostly deal with the Confederates on their own. Lee was presented several times with opportunities to deal the Union forces a crushing blow. Instead, his forces rarely did anything correctly from a military point of view. He either could not get his subordinates to do anything, or they decided to attack the Union forces where they were the strongest. Porter Alexander believed that during this period, now called the Seven Days Battles, was the only time that the South could have won independence. Is it actually possible to put such a strange campaign into a game? Let us find out if Hollandspiele and the designer John Theissen have actually succeeded in doing so.

 This is what comes with the game:

22" x 34" mapsheet

184 counters

8-page series rulebook

12-page module rulebook

2 display sheets

1 double-sided player aid

28 special event cards

1 six-sided die

 The box and its contents are standard Hollandspiele fare. The map needs some coercion to lay flat. A piece of plexiglass or a few books on top for a bit fixes the issue. The map is reminiscent of a spruced-up map from SPI or AH. It is meant to be a wargame map and not a wall decoration. In this it serves its purpose admirably. The terrain is easy to discern and there are no ambiguities. About one third of the map is taken up by charts and tables. These are in large print and have enough separation so that all the information is easily discernable. The counters are a little dark in color, but their information is large enough to be read without squinting. The number of actual units on the board is very small, which is a hallmark of Hollandspiele's American Civil War Operational Series. They are Corps sized for the Union and Division for the South (Not until after this campaign were Corps introduced to the Confederate Armies). The Series Rulebook is eight pages long. It does have some color thrown in for aesthetics. The print is nice and large. The Module Rulebook is actually ten pages long. First is an excellent five page write up about the campaign by Doug Miller. Then there are four pages of Module rules for Mac and Lee. This follows the same format as the Series Rulebook. There are three Player Aids. These are standard size and in full color. The first one has the Terrain Chart on one side with multiple tables on the reverse side. The other two Player Aids are Strength tracks for both sides in the two scenarios that come with the game. Next up are the Special Events Cards. These are the standard game size and are nicely done. The only problem with the cards is that they contain so much information that the type is rather small. Again, the above components are the standard fare for Hollandspiele. There is nothing wrong with this. They just veer toward meaty games in play instead of artwork for the components. 

 The Sequence of Play is:

A. First Player

  1. Reinforcement

  2. Movement

  3. Combat

  4. Recovery

B. Second player same as above.

 The scale of the game is:

Time: One day per turn.

Hex size: 4.9 miles per hex

Men: About 3000 men per Strength Point.

 A game can be incredibly plain Jane in the components and still be on your table for months at a time. Conversely, some games belong in the Louvre but are never brought out to play. So, now we will go into the game itself.

 As I mentioned, this is an incredibly hard campaign to design a game around. Little Mac should have been able to swamp the Confederates and been in Richmond in no time flat. There have been many theories put forward to explain his actions, or more correctly non-actions, during the campaign. So, the designer has to take into account that the Union Army was operating with a large ball and chain attached, mainly its commander. Then on the Confederate side you have Johnston who seemed just as reticent to engage the Union troops (This was shown throughout the war). The designer chose to simulate this with a Caution & Uncertainty Roll. Each side's Caution Level is kept track of, and this simulates the oddness of the first part of this campaign. Both sides are like old Walruses who are stuck in the mud glaring at each other. At times this will be a bit maddening for the player, just as it was for Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis. Once Robert E. Lee shows up, the campaign usually turns abruptly into constant battles. This again shows how much the designer worked to make the game historically accurate. As Little Mac you cannot just ignore his foibles and and use your army to say, maybe fight the enemy. As Johnston, you can retreat only so far before you are heading toward the Appalachians. I love games where the designer puts you into the shoes of the commanders but also gives you the opportunities and restraints that those commanders had to deal with. This includes seeing hordes of butternut soldiers where there are none. The game also comes with 'Dummy Counters' for the Confederate Player to use to confuse Little Mac that much more. 

 The Victory Conditions for each scenario are based mostly on the control of Richmond (again historically based). The Union Player receives ten points if they occupy Richmond at any time and another ten points if they control it at the end of the game. If the Union Player never scores these points the Confederate Player receives twenty points at the end of the game. You can also get Victory Points for disrupting and eliminating the other side's forces as long as any of your units are not disrupted or eliminated in the combat. Each side must also take a Rest Turn during each quarter-month segment. This is not enforced during the first turn or during July. 

 Thank you very much Hollandspiele for allowing me to review this game. I am a deeply read student of the campaign and I am very impressed on how Mr. Theissen has been able to give us almost a simulation of it. Hollandspiele has just released an expansion to 'The Grass Crown: Battles of the Roman Republic'. It is called 'The Grass Crown II' and it includes eight new scenarios. The link to my review of The Grass Crown will be below. They have also released 'Horse and Musket V Age of Napoleon'.




Mac and Lee:

Mac and Lee – Hollandspiele

The Grass Crown review:

The Grass Crown by Hollandspiele - A Wargamers Needful Things