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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

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


 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

  Death of an Army Ypres 1914 by Revolution Games  "The Ypres Salient in Belgian Flanders was the most notorious and dreaded place in a...

Death of an Army Ypres 1914 by Revolution Games Death of an Army Ypres 1914 by Revolution Games

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


 Death of an Army Ypres 1914


Revolution Games

 "The Ypres Salient in Belgian Flanders was the most notorious and dreaded place in all of the First World War, probably of any war in history. Typical was this British infantryman's reaction on being told that his battalion was to go there: "I mentioned Ypres and he cursed the place. Rumors of what waited ahead of us had disturbed everyone." This was said between men who had just gone through the ordeal of the Battle of the Somme, where more than 50,000 British soldiers became casualties on the first day.

 From the autumn of 1914 to the autumn of 1918 Flanders was, in effect, a gigantic corpse factory. Hundreds of thousands died there for ground where gains were measured in mere yards. It was where, in 1914, the British professional army was virtually annihilated, though it had stopped the German drive to capture control of the English Channel." (Winston Groom in 'A storm in Flanders')

 The Battle of Ypres in 1914 has many times been described as the 'Death of the British prewar Army. The actual name of this game should be 'Death of Armies'. This is because the German Army was also bled white here. The Germans have their own mythology about the First Battle of Ypres. This is called the 'Kindermord', roughly the 'Massacre of the Innocents'. On November 10, 1914, the Germans attacked the town of Langemarck (hex 0813 on the map). The story that was told was that eighteen-year-old German soldiers clasped arms and sang the German National Anthem while they marched to their death. While the actual history has found this to not be correct, the battles for Ypres did turn the area into an abattoir for the German reservist troops. As an aside, the British troops called it 'Wipers'. This is a game I have been waiting to have in my hot little hands for a long time.


 This is what comes with the game:

22" x 34" Map

Exclusive Rulebook

Series Rulebook

2.5 5/8" Countersheets

3 Player Aids

1 Scenario Setup Sheet

Box or Ziploc Bag

1 Six-Sided Die (Boxed Version)

 This is a blurb from Revolution Games about the game:

"The Battle of the Marne signaled the failure of the Schlieffen Plan and of German hopes to win a quick, decisive victory. In turn, this triggered the Race for the Sea as opposing armies attempted to outflank each other. Then, in a final bid to gain the upper hand, both Allied and German Armies clashed in the First Battle of Ypres. On these fields, the British Expeditionary Force, the professional army of Britain, and the strongest on the Continent, was bled dry.

Death of an Army, Ypres 1914 is a brigade/regiment level simulation of the First Battle of Ypres. Players assume the roles of the commanders of the German and Allied troops as they desperately fight for this valuable position in the line."

 The map shows us exactly why this small patch of territory was fought over for four years. These small ridges, 200' or so in height, are the only high ground to be found in Flanders. With their control of them, the Germans were able to see everything going on in the Ypres salient. Not only that, but their guns were able to target the area, thus turning the salient into a deathtrap for the French and British troops that were stationed there.

German Counters

 The Map is nicely done even though it is mostly made up of clear spaces. There are some important features, such as the canal and the ridge that is almost in the center of the map. The area was also sparse as far as woodlands. The towns and woods that are there are mostly named and will be remembered by people who are familiar with the later battles such as Polygon wood. The map also has the turn record track on it. It is made of the normal glossy paper that we have come to know over the last few decades. The scale of the Map is 1,350 yards per hex. The counters are large and are easy to read. They use the NATO symbols. The counters might look a little busy to some. However, I didn't mind them at all at 5/8" size. Two of the Players Aids are exactly the same. These have The Combat Results Tables on one side and the Terrain Effects on the other. The third Player Aid is one-sided and has a Markers Reference sheet on it. The Scenario Setup sheet is double-sided and has the information for the game's three scenarios on them. The Great War Battles Series Rulebook is twelve pages long and is in black and white with large type. Last but not least, the Exclusive Rulebook is only four pages long. The components some might complain, are Plain Jane, but they are infinitely better than what we used to play with. They also help to keep the game's cost down. You may not get all the bells and whistles with them, but all of Revolution Games productions I have played do come with a lot of gaming, which is really what we are after anyway.

Allied Counters

 As mentioned, there are three scenarios. These are:

Battle of Langemarck  - October 20th until October 24th

Fabeck's Attack - October 29th until November 4th

First Battle of Ypres (Campaign Game) - October 20th until November 12th

 The game plays out in daily turns so the Campaign Game is 24 turns long.

 This is the Sequence of Play:

First Player Turn

The first player is the phasing player and conducts the following events in sequence.

Coordinated Combat Phase: the first player may conduct 
coordinated combat with his units against opposing units (see 6.0).

Movement Phase: the first player may move his units (see 7.0).

Hasty Combat Phase: the first player may conduct hasty combat with his units against opposing units (see 11.0).

Surrender Phase: the first player checks whether any of his 
isolated units surrender (see 12.4).

Second Player Turn

The second player becomes the phasing player and conducts 
the same sequence of events as described for the first player.

Markers and a few more German counters

 So, what is the verdict? Just like any other Revolution Games effort I have played, this game is a winner. Not only if you are interested in the game for its history, but also if you are looking for a great gaming experience. This is early in World War I so air power and even air reconnaissance is in its infancy. You do not have to worry about tanks or poison gas either. This is a straight of battle of king of the hill. One thing a player has to keep in mind is that casualties will mount up and usually mount up quickly. This is the maneuver battle that all of the generals were hoping for after the trench system was built. Artillery is king of the battlefield, as it remains for the rest of the war. You can attack without artillery, or not enough of it, but be prepared to pay the cost. All of the Victory Conditions in all of the scenarios are based on the capture or defense of the high ground. It is a simple concept, and they are right there for you to see. Your problem is getting control of them. It is a rough and tumble affair that simulates the horrific blood loss of the year 1914. One thing really good games have is an ebb and flow to each side. The reinforcements that come in for each side at different times help greatly with the 'what happened, I was winning last turn', feeling that you get in this game.

 This is a blurb from the Designer Notes:

"For Ypres 1914, I wanted to create a simple, fluid game that moves quickly -- sort of a Napoleon at Waterloo for the First World War. Well, it didn’t quite turn out that way - simple, perhaps, fluid, not quite. There aren’t many innovative rules per se but one significant departure from most games is the reversal of the movement and combat phases. The decision to begin with a combat phase was intended to capture the general flow of the battle of the Great War. Most attacks were planned overnight and started at dawn of the next day. Generally, troops were positioned accordingly, often in plain sight of the enemy. After the initial attack, communications would falter, and the original plans would disintegrate. It then fell on the initiative on individual commanders leading smaller units to carry it on, with limited artillery support. The former reflects the co-ordinated combat and the latter the hasty combat procedure."

 I cannot wait for more games in the series.

 Thank you, Revolution Games, for allowing me to take this game for a spin. I will admit I was expecting a lot from the game. The books about the Ypres battles are some of my favorite reads. I was immensely happy that the game played out historically, and all of the outcomes were entirely plausible. While you are at their site, please take a gander at the rest of their games it is definitely worth it.


Revolution Games:

Napoleon and his Marshals by Two Generals Games  I have been looking for a game to replace or better Avalon Hills &...

Napoleon and his Marshals by Two Generals Games Napoleon and his Marshals by Two Generals Games

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



 I have been looking for a game to replace or better Avalon Hills 'War and Peace'. I believe I might have found it. This game has incredible detail, and seems so far to play out historically. By that I mean that it wouldn't play the same if you were using tank units or foot soldiers.  

 The first thing you should know about this game is the packaging. You get a rolled up map in a circular tube. Then you get the counters in a small plastic wrapped bag. The next thing you receive is a small plastic case that you would usually keep washers or small screws in. So after separating the counters it has its own little case for them. What you do not get is the rules or scenarios. These are downloaded from the company's website. This is also nice, and is something a lot of companies are doing now so you can peruse the rules and scenarios before you buy the game. 

 We will look at the actual physical pieces you get now. The counters are 5/8 of an inch square. They are mostly your typical strategic game counters with just strength and their movement factor listed. The counters are physically different than any I have ever seen. They seem to have some plastic or something added to them to make them almost pliable. It also seems to make them more durable than the usual cardboard ones. The map is also different than normal. It almost feels and rolls up like it is made of leather. I assume it has gotten the same treatment as the counters. Whatever it is, I love it. When you spread it out it flattens immediately so there are no folds etc. It almost seems like you are unfolding a map from the period. I have not tested it, nor will I, but I believe the map would survive a drink being poured across it. As far as looks, the map is a standard hex map of Europe. This map goes from the French Atlantic coast to the border of Russia, and from the top of Italy to Denmark. The map's size is 23" x 30". The colors of the map are so much more vibrant than any other I have seen. There are maps just as beautiful out there, but none that pop out at you like this one. I assume this also has to do with the manufacturing process. 

 The rules are long at seventy-nine pages. This might make some people pause. However I believe most of us have tablets or phones that it can be downloaded to. As mentioned, you do not get the rules or scenario booklet with the game. If this was to save money to make the counters and map better, then it worked.

  The unit counter types in the games are as follows:


 Forts are also in the game, but they are shown on the map.

The map

 The games turn mechanics are a bit different from the norm. There are six two month strategic turns (Jan-Feb). Within the six strategic turns are six operational turns for each strategic one. This is not just an operational game, but a strategic one. So in effect you are running your entire country or countries' war and peace efforts (in the campaign game). As a king or emperor you have to decide your country's production, replacements, and policy, and also mobilization and demobilization. Each strategic turn, the phasing player may purchase 'Command Points' which are used to activate leaders, units, or other actions. Movement and combat take place during the operational turns.

The outside of the counter box/tray

 Supply and lines of communication are important in the game. As a matter of fact, they take up four pages of the rule book. Lack of supply and attrition can kill your armies much quicker than losing battles.

 Leaders and their various abilities, and the rules of what they can do is another important part of the game and rule-book. Leaders affect activation, movement, combat, reinforcement, and also have special abilities. Napoleon has the ability to 'split' the coalition armies that he is fighting into their separate national units. Wellington can remove disruption on British units that suffer it during battle.

The inside of the counter box/tray

 As I mentioned, the rules and scenarios are a download only, but that means anyone interested in looking at them can peruse them at their leisure.The rules for combat are unique and quite involved. There is a CRT, but there are no dice rolls. First the attacker figures out the defender's losses and then the defender checks on the attacker's losses. They both take place at the instance of combat. Meaning that the defender doesn't take casualties, and then checks on the attacker's losses after his losses are deducted. So if both the attackers have a combat number of twenty, twenty would be where on the CRT you would check for casualties to both (terrain etc. are also added in). The leader with a stack can 'protect' or absorb losses. So the higher the number of the leader the easier to absorb losses. In this, the French have an ace up their sleeve until the latter years of the Napoleonic conflict. I am making it seem more involved then it really is. I will include a link to both the scenario rules and the rule-book at the bottom.

 So what we are looking at is a game that tries to recreate the Napoleonic years in a game format. The following is a list of the scenarios and the 'game set' you need to play them:

1805 Introductory Scenario - (solo, or two players; requires only basic set) Napoleon attacks Austria in 1805, culminating in the Battle of Austerlitz in which he decisively defeated Austria and Russia.The French can follow the Danube(historical), attack through Bohemia, or come from Italy. Will Austria fall back to join the slow Russians and risk losing
most of its production, or stay forward and risk losing most of its army?
1805 - 1807 Campaign Game - (requires only basic set)
France must be prepared to take on three opponents at once (Russia, Austria and Prussia), plus a fourth one (Britain) that finances the others. Napoleon must nimbly defeat each one at a time, or risk facing them all together.
 2-France, All other nations
3-France, Austria/Britain, Russia/Prussia
4-France, Britain/Russia, Austria, Prussia
5-France, Britain, Russia, Austria, Prussia
1809 Scenario - (requires only basic set)
Austria has completed Army Reform and increased the size of its army and is ready to take on Napoleon again, but without Prussia or Russia to help.
2-Franceand Russia, All other nations
     3-France, Britain/Austria, Russia(only recommended if the optional       rule for full Russian participation is included)
1807-1810 Scenario - (requires basic set plus Peninsular War set
and expansion maps are optional) Napoleon must deal with the "Spanish ulcer" and a resurgent Austria at once.
2-France, All other nations
3-France, Britain/Prussia, Austria/Russia
4-France, Britain/Prussia, Austria, Russia
5-France, Britain, Russia, Austria, Prussia
1811-1814 Scenario - Zenith and Nadir(requires all games in set)
France is victorious everywhere but Spain, and that is encouraging Russia to resist once again. Can Napoleon defeat the Russians once and for all while handcuffed in Spain, or will he try to defeat Spain before Russia can liberate Germany and get Prussia and Austria as allies?
2-France, All other nations
3-France, Austria/Britain, Russia/Prussia
4-France, Britain/Russia, Austria, Prussia
5-France, Britain, Russia, Austria, Prussia
1812 Scenario -The Patriotic War
(requires basic set plus expanded maps)
Napoleon puts together his largest army ever to defeat his biggest continental rival. But can LaGrande Armee repeat its successes in such a large nation against a foe that is prepared to fight it?
    1813-1814 Scenario - German and French Campaigns  (requires basic       set or add on Peninsular War)
Following the loss of most of his army, Napoleon must scramble to retain his client states, and rebuild his army. Can he hold the now united Coalition off long enough to achieve the impossible yet again?
1815 Scenario (requires basic set and Peninsular War set)
Can Napoleon retake France and return it to glory? Or will he face another Waterloo?
2-France, All other nations
1807/1809-1814 Peninsular War Scenarios (requires basic set plus Peninsular War set) A long scenario, starting in either 1807 or 1809, with a small number of units, the players will have to face the limitations of a small war in a poor nation with terrible terrain for campaigning and a long sea coast that favors Britain's best asset-the Royal Navy.
2-France, Britain & allies
1805-1815 Campaign Game (requires basic game and all expansions)
The entire French Napoleonic Wars, from 1805 to 1815. Up to 396 operation turns and 66 Strategic Turns. Expect to play
for 130 hours or so. That's about 32 weeks if you play 4 hours once a week. Play tests averaged about 4 months.
2-France, All other nations (the Coalition)
3- France, Russia, Britain/Prussia/Austria.
Alternatively, Russia with either Prussia or Austria, Britain with either Prussia or Austria
4-France, Britain, Russia, Austria/Prussia

The counter setup for the 1805 scenario

 As you can tell, I am very impressed by the game's components. As far as the game play I am somewhat impressed. This might be because as a person who has rolled a die for most of the last fifty years on a CRT, new things are hard to learn. I have played other games that do not use die rolls for the CRT, but those have made the function of combat in these games relatively easy. Combat in this game was a bit hard to get a grasp on until I worked through a few examples for myself. The rule-book does have examples and I probably just needed hands on to get the gist of it. As I mentioned at the beginning, I was looking for a replacement for a tried and  true friend. I am not sure I have met the replacement as added another good friend to my table. The game has so much more to offer (marching to the guns etc.), than I can mention in this small space. Please take a look at the link below.