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A Few Recommended Rules Changes for WAR IN THE EAST
OPTIONAL RULES CHANGES
1a. Railroad Repair Units (changes to Rules Case 6.6):
1b. Optional (Experimental) Rules Change: Repair of “Neutral” Rail Lines (changes to Rules Case 6.6):
All other railroad rules stipulated for use in the standard Campaign Game of THE WAR IN THE EAST remain exactly the same. Thus, except for the specific changes outlined above, all other regular game rules which pertain both to Rail Movement and to Rail Road Repair Units, as well as all rules pertaining to the Finnish Rail System remain unchanged.
Third, and contrary to the designer’s guesswork regarding the operations actually required to effect rail line repair or conversion, the greatest hindrance to repair — then and now — is not the laying of new ties and rails, but the repair of roadbeds, bridges, trestles, and tunnels. Thus, besides the construction of railroad bridges and the digging of tunnels, the single most significant obstacle to actually building a railroad is not the physical process of setting down track, but the surveying, clearing, grading, and preparation of the roadbed on which the track will ultimately be laid. The soldiers of the withdrawing Red Army did (as the defenders of the original repair rules argue) burn trestles, bridges, and railroad ties; and they did bend rails and destroy rolling stock; but retreating Red Army units rarely, if ever, had either the time or the equipment necessary to seriously damage the roadbed, itself.
Fourth, the argument that the Germans failed to allocate sufficient railroad repair assets at the start of “Barbarossa,” because they anticipated a short military campaign, also fails to hold up to close scrutiny. While it is true that the OKH did not plan for extensive ground operations past the autumn of 1941, they did plan for a permanent occupation of all of European Russia west of the Urals. Also, because Hitler viewed the war against the Soviet Union both in ideological and economic terms, a large-scale, functioning rail system within occupied Russia was seen by the Germans as a critically important adjunct to the long-term goal of robbing the Soviet Union of its resources and of then transporting them west to the Reich.
In the final analysis, for all of the excuses and designer “double-talk,” the standard game’s Railroad Repair Rules were nothing more than an “outcome-based” design trick on Dunnigan’s part to limit the depth of the German offensive during the first year of the war. Clearly, the designer had decided, in the design process, that he did not want the Germans to capture Moscow in the course of the first summer. In addition, he had also decided, it would seem, exactly where he wanted the frontline to form when the fall rains finally stalled Hitler's armies in 1941; thus, the ridiculous and unhistorical restrictions on German railroad repair units, in combination with the game’s regular supply rules, pretty much guaranteed Dunnigan the game results that he wanted.
Probable Effects of Recommended Changes:
2. Kampfgruppen and Battlegroups (changes to Rules Case 10.3):
a) All regular German infantry divisions (6-5s) and Finnish divisions (4-5s) form a BG on a die roll of 1 to 6.
b) All Soviet Guards rifle corps (5-5s) form a BG on a die roll of 1 to 5.
c) All German security divisions (6-3s) and regular Soviet rifle corps (4-4s) form a BG on a die roll of 1 to 4.
In addition to the above changes in the procedure used to determine BG formation, individual BG die rolls may also be subject to certain adverse adjustments. These die roll modifications (DRMs) are cumulative and are applied in the following combat situations:
a) +1 DRM: If the unit is eliminated while defending against an attack (Finnish divisions defending in “Old Finland” are not affected).
b) +1 DRM: If the unit is eliminated (whether attacking or defending) while unsupplied.
c) +1 DRM: If a German (only) unit is eliminated (whether attacking or defending) during game turns 21-40 (the first Russian winter), inclusive.
Probable Effects of Recommended Changes:
CONCLUSION TO PART I
Finally, for those players who prefer to leave the ‘rules writing’ to others, I offer a word of warning: some of the rules modifications recommended herein have been tested fairly extensively, but some have not (much like most commercially-produced games). For this reason, those readers who are tempted to actually experiment with one or more of these optional rules are urged to proceed with caution; some changes, as already noted, will have only a modest effect on the game, but others have the potential to affect play and play-balance significantly. Consider this “a word to the wise.”
Recommended ReadingSee my blog post Book Reviews of these titles which are strongly recommended for those readers interested in further historical background, or just go ahead and get the books:
Book Review: Battle of Kursk , Book Review: Panzer Battles, Book Review: German Army 1933-1945
, Book Review: Genius for War, the German Army ,Book Review: Command Decisions
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I have been in a serious funk during the last ten days or so; which probably explains why I have found it so difficult to write anything worthwhile of late. Needless-to-say, this temporary mood of mine largely accounts for why it has been almost two weeks since I published anything new on my blog. That being said, I thought that, for those visitors who might be wondering about my lack of new posts, I would offer an explanation for my uncharacteristic silence.
I am sure, about now, that some of my readers will be thinking that the observations contained in this post are both a little maudlin and a bit overdone. The death of a pet, to those who have never had an animal companion, probably does not seem like a major loss when considered in the greater scheme of things. In thinking this, however, I believe that those unlucky individuals who approach animals in this way could not be more wrong.
Not an hour goes by, but that I am reminded of the gap our dog’s death has created in our daily lives. Clue was really mainly my wife’s dog. This is not a complaint, but simply an observation. I have enjoyed the loyal companionship of many wonderful canine friends over the course of my life, but for my wife of almost forty years, Clue was special. She was, in many ways, the perfect dog that my wife, from her earliest childhood, had always wanted: obedient, well-mannered, startlingly intelligent, affectionate to everyone she met, and in her younger days, full of playful energy and boundless enthusiasm. Of course, in her later years, Clue’s playful energy and enthusiasm declined markedly. Nonetheless, she was still a constant and welcome part of our family's everyday routine. On most afternoons, while my wife was at work and I sat at home staring blankly at my computer screen trying to think of something modestly sensible to write, Clue would wake up from her morning nap — old dogs sleep quite a lot — and amble a little unsteadily over to curl up right behind my chair. There she would stay until either my wife returned home from work in the late afternoon, or it was time for her dinner (curiously, her “appetite” clock always seemed to run about a half hour faster than any of our real clocks).
Clue, as those who are familiar with the breed will know, was actually quite old for a Boxer when she died, and because of her advanced age, her day-to-day behavior around the house gradually changed in a number of eccentric, but endearing ways. She had become quite deaf in her later years, so she learned to communicate her various wants (to go outside, to eat, etc.) by licking my or my wife’s leg. Her deafness also led her to stay within eyeshot of either my wife or me at all times; if she woke up to find herself alone in a room, she would immediately patrol the house until she had located one or both of us. If I retreated to my game room — the only room in our house to which she was never allowed entry — she would follow me down the hall and curl up quietly outside the closed door until I finally emerged. Her devotion and good spirits were present to the very end.
The long and the short of it, I guess, is that I and my wife heartily miss our dog now that she’s gone, and will for a very long time to come.
Different cultures, I know, have very different attitudes towards dogs, as pets; however, for my own part, I tend to agree with the unnamed Englishman who long ago observed that any man who did not love dogs was unworthy of either trust or friendship. I would go one step farther and say that anyone who has not enjoyed the companionship, loyalty, and utterly uncritical devotion of a dog is, and always will be, the poorer for it. Our dog Clue is gone, but my wife’s and my lives are immeasurably richer for having known her; and the many happy memories of our years with our Boxer friend, I am positive, will be with us until the end of our days.
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In the course of writing my memorial post on the recent passing of Charles Roberts — the founder of modern “adventure” gaming — I was reminded of an unfinished game profile that I had, for a variety of reasons, allowed to languish in my documents folder for over a year. The passing from the scene of Charles S. Roberts, however, finally moved me to complete this long-neglected game review and it is presented here. - JCBIII
GETTYSBURG ’64 is a historical simulation of the critical battle between the Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of the Potomac near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in 1863. This bloody three-day battle determined, more than any other single engagement between the Unionists and the Confederates that, however long the American Civil War might last, the South would not prevail. GETTYSBURG ’64 was designed by Charles Roberts and published by The Avalon Hill Game Company (TAHGC). The game profiled here is the 3rd edition of the game, reissued in 1964 after substantial changes from the earlier 1958 and 1961 versions.
HISTORICAL BACKGROUNDGeneral Picket receives the order to charge from General Longstreet at Gettysburg
In the spring of 1863, the Army of Northern Virginia, under General Robert E. Lee, seemed invincible; it had recently won a crushing victory at Chancellorsville, and Lee began to think that one more decisive Confederate victory, particularly if it could be attained on Northern soil, might be enough to induce the Yankees to abandon their attempt to forcibly compel the political reunification of the North and South. So, in spite of the bitter memories of the Antietam campaign of the previous year, Lee marched into Pennsylvania at the head of an army of 77,000 men in the summer of 1863.
On 1 July, near a small rural town called Gettysburg, the Army of Northern Virginia, quite by accident, blundered into the advanced elements of General George Gordon Meade’s Union Army of the Potomac. In a steadily escalating battle, the Confederate forces of General Ambrose Hill’s corps succeeded, by the end of the day, in driving the Union defenders out of their advanced positions and back into Gettysburg in some disorder. During the night, the Union troops abandoned the town. But Union reinforcements were on the way, and, as additional troops from Meade’s 88,000 strong army continued to arrive, the Union commander immediately deployed them on the ridges to the south overlooking the now Confederate-occupied town. As night fell on the first day, the stage was already being set for the battle to be renewed as soon as the sun rose on 2 July, 1863.
Col. Joshua Chamberlain and his 20th Maine, the lions of Little Round Top.
In the Confederate camp, General Lee had some reason for optimism as darkness settled over the battlefield. Although his army had been unable to rout the Yankees completely, it had succeeded in pushing the Unionists back. On the first day of the fighting at Gettysburg, the Army of Northern Virginia had attempted, without success, to break the Union Right; when the battle resumed on the second day, Lee had decided that he would shift his attention to a small brush and scrub covered hill on the Union Left, known locally as Little Round Top. Although the hill was only 650 feet high, if the Confederates could emplace artillery on its heights, they could enfilade the entire length of the Union line defending Cemetery Ridge below. The Confederate commander knew that if his men captured Little Round Top, Meade’s forces would have no choice but to retire in defeat. Lee was supremely confident in his men as they began their preparations for battle, and he was just as confident that by sundown on 2 July, 1863, Gettysburg would be the site of another decisive Confederate victory — perhaps the crucial triumph necessary to bring the War for Southern Independence to a successful end.
GETTYSBURG ’64 presents only one game situation: an hour-by-hour simulation of the entire three day battle; there are no shorter scenarios, so players who sit down to reprise the battlefield roles of Generals Lee and Meade must be prepared to slug it out for as many as forty-nine game turns. In addition, the designer includes only one “optional rule”: a short but somewhat awkwardly framed set of instructions for incorporating Hidden Movement into the play of the game.
A PERSONAL OBSERVATION
It took Avalon Hill three years, but in 1961, the second version of GETTYSBURG finally made its appearance; and in a form that was noticeably different from its predecessor. While Roberts had opted to make a number of alterations to his earlier design, the most significant (and obvious) change was that, while GETTYSBURG ’58 had made use of a square-grid map board, GETTYSBURG ’61 presented players with a hexagonal-grid playing area. Despite the game’s several improvements, it proved to be a commercial failure; neither Roberts nor the gaming public, it turned out, could muster much enthusiasm for the second edition changes, and in 1964, Avalon Hill reverted to the earlier design format and reissued the game yet again, this time in the square-grid version presented here.
I purchased my own copy of GETTYSBURG ’64 in the late 1960’s and, after sitting though a couple of uninspiring play sessions, I put it aside in favor of BULGE ’65 and AFRIKA KORPS (1964) and did not look at the title again for almost twenty years. Interestingly, when I finally took up the game again, I discovered that, although the square-grid map design seemed antiquated and awkward, the combat system was actually more sophisticated and challenging than I had remembered. The combination of enfilade and down-hill attacks tended to make for very interesting tactical problems for both players, particularly where the defender was forced to create an angle by bending his line. To make a long story short: although I had barely played GETTYSBURG ’64 when I first purchased it, I ended up playing Robert’s Civil War game — both face-to-face and solitaire — more than twenty times on this second time around before I finally tired of it and moved on to other titles.
Nowadays, of course, players can select from an extensive library of different game titles which, employing varying scales and levels of complexity, all attempt to simulate the Battle of Gettysburg. Even Avalon Hill returned to this popular topic two more times: first, with the somewhat disappointing GETTYSBURG ’77; and then again with the simpler, and much more popular, GETTYSBURG ’88. Thus, given the fact that there are currently a large number of Gettysburg games to choose from, the obvious question is: Who would most likely be interested in owning GETTYSBURG ’64? The short answer is that this title will probably mainly appeal to collectors; moreover, I personally believe that it also has enough play value to suit both soft-core Civil War buffs and casual gamers. However, those players who are looking for a richly-textured, highly-detailed simulation of the battle should, in all honesty, probably give GETTYSBURG ’64 a pass. The game was cutting edge in its day, but that day was almost fifty years ago.
See my blog post Book Review of this title which is strongly recommended for those readers interested in further historical background.
THE WEST POINT ATLAS OF AMERICAN WARS (Complete 2-Volume Set); edited by Brigadier General Vincent J. Esposito; Frederick A. Praeger, Inc. (1959); ASIN: B000MTBTEU
Also, for those interested in battlefield maps, the "museum book" collection of historical Civil War maps by William J. Miller, released in 2004, or the atlas compiled by Stephen Hyslop in 2009 of Civil war battlefields are worth collecting.
Recommended ArtworkThis Giclee print of a map of the Battle of Gettysburg is suitable for framing and makes a nice wall decoration for a game room with a Civil War theme.
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