Monday, December 30, 2013

Rebel Raiders Lead Article in New Issue of C3i Magazine

"There should be ships, lots of ships..." Rebel Raiders Lead Article in C3i Magazine

The new issue of C3i magazine is showing up in mailboxes and store newsstands this week.  The lead article in Issue 27 is on Rebel Raiders - as is the next pair.  Not only are the first 11 pages of the magazine devoted to my Civil War naval strategy game, but there are also bonus counters and a bonus Player Aid Chart among the many inserts in the issue.

Publisher Rodger MacGowan asked me to write the lead article on how the design came to be, and editor/developer Fred Schachter added a second piece, a full-length article entitled "Player's Notes" in which he explores the whys and wherefores of the game.  The third piece is an offering of optional rules by gamer and Rebel Raiders' fan Steve Carey.

Friday, December 20, 2013

December 20, 1863 – CSS Alabama Reaches Singapore

This day 150 years ago in Rebel Raiders’ History

-Dedicated to Civil War episodes, battles, people and ships that also appear in my game, GMT’s Rebel Raiders on the High Seas.

December 20, 1863 – CSS Alabama Reaches Singapore

Historical Event:  Not content with wreaking havoc among Union shipping in the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans, Confederate Captain Raphael Semmes pushes his now infamous (or famous, depending on the point of view of the commentator) commerce raider CSS Alabama through the Sunda Strait and in to Singapore harbor to take on supplies – and sniff out the scent of fresh prey.    Hastily departing the British colony two days later after learning that the USS Wyoming, which he had eluded in three close calls in November, was fast approaching, Semmes took his ship through the Straits of Malacca, making three captures that Christmas week.

Game Connection:   CSS Alabama not only graces the cover of Rebel Raiders of the High Seas, but also is represented by a named counter and card (CSN Card 63).  Recreating Semmes’ storied acts of piracy (as Union newspapers, diplomats, shipowners and naval officers called them) is part of the fun and the strategy of the game – as is the hunt for the elusive raider, whose actions across the world’s oceans can otherwise reap great rewards for the Confederate cause in Rebel Raiders of the High Seas.

Monday, December 16, 2013

December 16, 1863 – Joseph E. Johnston Takes Command

This day 150 years ago in Rebel Raiders’ History

-Dedicated to Civil War episodes, battles, people and ships that also appear in my game, GMT’s Rebel Raiders on the High Seas.

December 16, 1863 – Joseph E. Johnston Takes Command

Historical Event:  With Confederate armies reeling from the twin defeats of Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge outside Chattanooga, President Jefferson Davis finally removed his friend General Braxton Bragg from command of the Department of the Tennessee, replacing him with General Joseph E. Johnston.

 “The Gray Cunctator,” as he came to be known for his Fabian tactics, fought smartly and fought well. Over the next eight months, grudgingly falling back before overwhelming Union forces, he made his opponent, William Tecumseh Sherman  expend a great deal of time, resources and blood while “marching through Georgia.”  Unfortunately, as with the Roman general whose tactics against Hannibal he emulated, Johnston was forced to step down and replaced with a more aggressive commander – General John Bell Hood, who promptly threw away the army in a series of poorly managed and bloody battles around Atlanta.

Game Connection:   Although primarily a naval game, the land war is represented in Rebel Raiders on the High Seas, and Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston has his own counter and card (CSN Card 91).  So, too, is his nemesis, Sherman represented in the game (by USN Card 50).  Johnston’s defensive advantages can help offset the growing Union might (and the play of Union cards, including that of Sherman).  The headstrong Hood (CSN Card 89) and the hapless Bragg (USN Card 7 – entitled “A Lack of Brains”) are also represented in the game.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

December 11, 1863 – “Pook’s Turtle” Saves the Day: USS Carondelet vs. Rebel Artillery

This day 150 years ago in Rebel Raiders’ History

-Dedicated to Civil War episodes, battles, people and ships that also appear in my game, GMT’s Rebel Raiders on the High Seas.

 Historical Event:  On December 11, 1863 the captain and crew of the river ironclad USS Carondelet  engaged  Confederate infantry and artillery and drove off the Rebel crews attempting to salvage guns from the wreck of another Federal ironclad, USS Indianola.  The USS Indianola had been run aground in February during a duel with a Rebel flotilla led by the CSS Queen of the West (a Union ship of the same name that had been captured and pressed into Confederate service).   This action was a routine part of USS Carondelet’s patrol duties along the Mississippi, Yazoo and Red Rivers.  

The USS Carondelet was one of seven City-Class vessels designed by Samuel Pook (hence the nickname for her and her sisters as Pook Turtles), and was built by James Buchanan Eads at his Carondelet Marine Way shipyard outside St. Louis.  The ship fought in the battles at Forts Henry and Donelson, Island Number 10, Memphis and Vicksburg, and participated in the ill-fated expedition up the Red River in early 1864.  Pook’s Turtle survived the war – as did the USS Indianola, which was finally in January of 1865 – thanks to having been rescued from the clutches of Rebel salvage crews by the USS Carondelet on December 11, 1863.

Game Connection:  Union ironclads play a vital role in Rebel Raiders on the High Seas, reducing Confederate batteries and battling Rebel ironclads and gunboats in ocean and river ports and forts – including those the Southern player is bound to place in the sites on the map where USS Carondelet fought.   The ironclad herself is represented in the game by a counter and a card (USN 15), as is her maker, James Buchanan Eads, whose card (USN Card 35 – Ead’s Ironclads) provides the Union with three ironclads over as many turns, free of charge, in Cairo or St. Louis.     (The Queen of West, mentioned above, is also represented in her Union colors in USN Card 38, and the Red River Fiasco in which USS Carondelet took part, as noted above, is induced by the play of a Confederate card, CSN Card 76).

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Armchair General: “Rebel Raiders one of the freshest wargames to hit the scene in a long time” and one gamers will play “again and again”


A big Rebel Raiders thanks to the legendary Terry Lee Coleman for his very encouraging, in-depth and highly favorable review in the latest issue of Armchair General.

The veteran editor and reviewer has many, many good things to say about the game, including noting that “Not only does it shed light on a sorely neglected aspect of a significant conflict, it does so with verve and insight.  Whether you’re slipping through blockades, dashing past the mines at New Orleans, or pitting a lone ironclad against a group of angry gunboats, you’ll rarely be at a loss for things to do in Rebel Raiders.  More importantly, you will very likely play the game again and again to try some new strategy for winning the Civil War on the waters”

To read Mr. Coleman’s full review, please go to the Armchair General at the following link:  

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

December 3, 1863 – A Blockade Runner “Double Play” By USS Cambridge

This day 150 years ago in Rebel Raiders’ History

-Dedicated to Civil War episodes, battles, people and ships that also appear in my game, GMT’s Rebel Raiders on the High Seas.

December 3, 1863 – A Blockade Runner “Double Play” By USS Cambridge

Historical Event:  December 3, 1863 was a banner day for the Federal gunboat USS Cambridge.  One of many civilian steamships purchased and converted by the Navy into warships to man the blockade, the USS Cambridge was on station with the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron off Cape Fear when the schooner J.C. Roker tried to make her run.  The Rebel was brought to heel, and her valuable cargo of salt confiscated.  Later that same day, the gunboat, under the command of W. A. Parker, captured another blockade runner – the schooner Emma Turtle.  All told, during the course of her four years on station the USS Cambridge captured 11 Rebel blockade runners – one shy of a dozen.

Game Connection:    The USS Cambridge is one of the many warships represented in Rebel Raiders on the High Seas by the generic Gunboat counters, just as the generic Blockade Runner counters represent ships like those plucky Rebel schooners she ran down (some of which were later outfitted and commissioned to join the USS Cambridge and her sisters on station).

Although of under 900 tons and armed with only a pair of 8-inch rifles, in Rebel Raiders on the High Seas, as in the real war, the Gunboats like USS Cambridge play a vital role in frustrating Southern attempts to bring war material and other vital supplies back home. In the game, the cargo they carry if unloaded can be used to build warships and batteries, to buy cards which convey strategic and tactical bonuses and to fund those counterattacks which may regain key forts and cities that fall to the advancing Union armies.

The USS Cambridge, courtesy Department of the Navy:

Saturday, November 30, 2013

PRINCESS RYAN is 30 Today...

PRINCESS RYAN is 30 Today...

although the character of Princess Ryan will forever be a teen, the REAL Princess Ryan (my daughter) turns 30 tonight!
-when she was 3, Ryan tugged on my shirt and said "someday you make a game for me Daddy?"...well, i did -- twice...and then made a novel out of it!

For those who have read my novel....Thank You!   For the rest, it is on Amazon and Kindle, and you can read the reviews (which are all very good, and very much appreciated). -- For the link, scroll down on and look on the right hand side of the blog.....or clik here...

Happy Birthday Princess Ryan!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

This day 150 years ago in Rebel Raiders’ History

-Dedicated to Civil War episodes, battles, people and ships that also appear in my game, GMT’s Rebel Raiders on the High Seas

November 23-24-25, 1863:  Lookout Mountain & Missionary Ridge

Historical Event:  Union troops stormed Lookout Mountain (24th) and Missionary Ridge (25th), finally breaking the long Confederate siege of Chattanooga and opening the way for the Federal advance out of Tennessee and into Georgia.  The two assaults were made possible by a preparatory attack on the Rebel defensive position on Orchard Knob on the 23rd.

Game Connection:    Although primarily a naval game, the land war is represented in Rebel Raiders on the High Seas, and Chattanooga is a key defensive position for the South.  Three of the Union generals who participated in the battles there are represented by cards:  Ulysses Simpson Grant (USN Card 8 – Grant Takes Command), William Tecumseh Sherman (USN Card 50) and Philip Sheridan (USN Card 11).  The courage and resilience of the Union soldiers who stormed those heights is also represented by a card (USN Card 46 – One More Effort Boys!) as is the “Lack of Brains” by a certain ill-starred Confederate general, one Braxton Bragg, whose picture appears on the card of that name (USN Card 7).

Friday, November 15, 2013

November 15, 1863: Five crewmen on USS Lehigh Each Earn Medal of Honor

This day 150 years ago in Rebel Raiders’ History

-Dedicated to Civil War episodes, battles, people and ships that also appear in my game, GMT’s Rebel Raiders on the High Seas

November 15, 1863: Five crewmen on USS Lehigh Each Earn Medal of Honor

Historical Event:  On this day in 1863, the mighty Federal ironclad USS Lehigh was driven aground off Sullivan’s Island by heavy fire from Confederate batteries at Fort Moultrie in Charleston Harbor.  Thanks to the courage and dedication of her crew, and the aid of the captain and crew of USS Nahant, the ironclad, though battered, was rescued and lived to fight another day.  Five members of her crew received the Medal of Honor for their courage under fire in that action.

Game Connection:     The USS Lehigh is represented in Rebel Raiders on the High Seas by a special counter and card (USN Card 22).  Ironclads play a vital role in Union attacks on fortified ports, engaging both Rebel batteries and Confederate warships.

No ship in U.S. Naval history has had more crew members receive the Medal of Honor for a single action than the ironclad monitor USS Lehigh.  Among the five was one with a name he had – and did – live up to:  Seaman Horatio Nelson Young.

When John Dahlgren (USN Card 31) took over command of the Union the fleet opposite Charleston from Samuel Francis DuPont (USN Card 54) in the summer of 1863, he brought with him an exceptionally powerful new ironclad monitor: the USS Lehigh (USN Card 22).  Mounting a 15-inch Dahlgren smoothbore and an 8-inch (or 150-pound) Parrott Rifle inside a turret protected with 11 inches of armor, USS Lehigh was one of the lead ships in Dahlgren’s repeated attempts to knock out Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie, two of the most important of the man guardians of Charleston Harbor.  

The ironclad engaged with Forts Sumter and Moultrie many times between September 1 and late November, including engaging in an almost daily duel over a three week period.  On November 15 the ship was so badly pounded that she was driven aground – and it was for freeing her while under deadly fire the next morning that Seaman Young and four other crewman were honored with the nation’s highest decoration.  The sailors risked their lives under fire in a small boat that brought hawsers over from USS Nahant – hawsers that were repeatedly cut by Rebel shot and shell.

 Sent back to Port Royal for repairs, the Medal of Honor ship returned to duty off Charleston in January, where she continued to pound away at Rebel batteries and forts until the city succumbed to Sherman’s advancing armies.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

November 14, 1863: Ex-Blockade Runner USS Granite City Takes a Prize

This day 150 years ago in Rebel Raiders’ History

-Dedicated to Civil War episodes, battles, people and ships that also appear in my game, GMT’s Rebel Raiders on the High Seas

November 14, 1863:  Ex-Blockade Runner USS Granite City Takes a Prize

Historical Event:  On this day in 1863 the Federal gunboat (and former Rebel blockade Runner) USS Granite City captured the Confederate Blockade Runner Terista off the mouth of the Rio Grande.  The gunboat, ironically, would end the war once again running under Rebel colors...

Game Connection:    Running the blockade to bring in vital Victory Points that can be used to purchase additional ships, batteries, cards and counterattacks is a key plank in the Confederate strategy in Rebel Raiders on the High Seas, just as intercepting those blockade runners is a major goal for the Union player.   In the game the Confederate player builds ships to run the blockade while the Union builds and moves ships to blockade stations off the Confederate ports and into coastal sea zones outside of those ports – eventually hoping to seal off the Confederacy with two layers of interceptors.

The USS Granite City began the war as a Confederate blockade runner, SS Granite, but was captured by USS Tioga on a run in from the Bahamas in 1863.  Purchased by the Navy and rechristened with a USS in front of her name (as there was already a sloop named USS Granite, the "City" was added), she was armed with six 24-pound howitzers and a rifled gun and sent to the Western Gulf Blockading Squadron, where she arrived just in time to participate in the ill-fated Sabine Pass adventure.  Under heavy fire, USS Granite City barely escaped that disaster, and after repairs was sent to patrol the Texas coast, where she captured several blockade runners, including the Terista, which was packed with nearly 300 bales of cotton.

USS Granite City twice supported the landing of a small raiding force of Union troops in early 1864, but during a third operation in April of that year was so heavily damaged by defending Confederate batteries that she was forced to strike her colors.   The Confederates stripped her of her guns and turned her back into a blockade runner, sending her in and out of Galveston on multiple runs…until one foggy night in January 1865 when she was run down and chased onto the rocks by USS Penguin.  The ship broke apart, never to sail again under any flag.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

November 10, 1863: CSS Alabama Raids the Sunda Straits: Burns Clipper Ship

This day 150 years ago in Rebel Raiders’ History

-Dedicated to Civil War episodes, battles, people and ships that also appear in my game, GMT’s Rebel Raiders on the High Seas

November 10, 1863CSS Alabama Raids the Sunda Straits: Burns Clipper Ship

Historical Event:  On this day in 1863 while on patrol in the Java Sea, the Confederate Raider CSS Alabama ran down, caught and burned the merchant Clipper Ship Winged Racer.  The chase ended in the Sunda Straits, where Captain Raphael Semmes forced the merchantman to surrender. She was carrying a valuable cargo of jute, sugar and hides.  The next day Semmes caught another Yankee merchantman, the Contest.  She was bound for New York, and packed with unique goods from Japan.

Game Connection:  CSS Alabama is represented in Rebel Raiders by a counter and card (CSN Card 63) and also appears on the box cover.  Raiders like CSS Alabama roam the oceans hunting Union merchantmen and when successful gain Victory Points for the South.

CSS Alabama was the most successful of the dozen Confederate Raiders.  During her 22-month career she made seven major cruises, conducting raids from New England to the South Atlantic and from the Gulf of Mexico to the South Pacific – rounding the Cape and raiding in the Indian Ocean on her way east.  The raider intercepted and boarded over 400 ships, and captured or burned 65 Union merchant or passenger ships.   By the spring of 1864, however, the ship (and its weary and ailing captain) was badly in need of repair and refit, and the CSS Alabama put into port in Cherbourg, France.

The USS Kearsarge (USN Card 14) followed, and its captain issued a challenge to Semmes, whom the Federal government and Union newspapers derided as a “pirate.”   His sense of honor as a naval officer piqued, Semmes responded to the taunts by sailing out on June 19 to do unequal battle.  Semmes fought his ship for nearly an hour against the much more heavily armed Union warship whose Yankee Guns  (USN Card 3)   

Saturday, November 9, 2013

November 9, 1863: CSS Robert E. Lee Runs its Last Blockade

This day 150 years ago in Rebel Raiders’ History

-Dedicated to Civil War episodes, battles, people and ships that also appear in my game, GMT’s Rebel Raiders on the High Seas

November 9, 1863CSS Robert E. Lee Runs its Last Blockade

Historical Event:  On this day in 1863 the CSS Robert E. Lee was caught off the coast of North Carolina while trying to run the blockade.

Game Connection:  While Blockade Runners in Rebel Raiders are represented by generic counters, some can gain special advantages from cards.  The CSS Robert E. Lee is represented in by one such card (CSN Card 69).  This card increases the value of any cargo she unloads by one VP (Victory Point).

The Story of the CSS Robert E. Lee:

Built in Scotland as the merchant ship Giraffe, CSS Robert E. Lee (CSN Card 69) began her career as a blockade runner in the fall of 1862.  For nearly a year the sleek schooner-rigged, iron-hulled, oscillating-engine, double-stack paddle-steamer ran in and out of North Carolina’s inlets and harbors to bring in war materials and other desperately needed supplies.

 Unlike most blockade runners which were either owned by private individuals or commissioned by the states, the Robert E. Lee was part of the regular navy – hence the CSS before its name.   Among the most important of its 21 voyages was a trip to Halifax to deliver cotton and a number of key passengers, including 20 naval officers destined to serve aboard other blockade runners and raiders.  Her most frequent runs, however, were between Bermuda and Wilmington (both of which appear on the game map).

Naval officer Lt. Richard H. Gayle took command in May 1863 and under his command the ship eluded capture several times, but on November 9, 1863 his luck ran out and CSS Robert E. Lee was finally run down off the North Carolina shore by a pair of Union warships:  USS Iron Age and USS James Adger

  As with many captured blockade runners, The U.S. Navy took her as a prize, armed and rechristened her and put her into service on the blockade.  During the second attack on Fort Fisher, the Lee, now flying the federal flag and bearing the name USS Fort Donelson, fired her newly mounted Yankee guns upon the Rebel batteries, making her one of  the comparatively few ships to have fought on both sides in the war.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Rebel Raiders in GMT's C3i Magazine!

In Civil War Games There Should Be Ships, lots of Ships…
Or “Why Rebel Raiders on the High Seas Came To Be”
By Game Designer Mark G. McLaughlin

(also in this issue, articles by and about two great designers:  
 Mark Herman and Volko Ruhnke)

 ...and this from Rodger MacGowan, the publisher and editor of the magazine, and who also did the cover art for Rebel Raiders - and many other games of mine over the last 30+ years)...

C3i Magazine, Nr27 will be a 64-page, full-color issue.
Below is a list of some of the article highlights, including new variants,
new scenarios, designer’s notes, interviews, a new countersheet,
and a Complete Bonus Game Insert in C3i Magazine Nr27.
We hope you enjoy the new issue.

Rodger B. MacGowan,
Publisher and Editor

Here is the full table of contents:
Table of Contents – C3i Magazine, Nr27

Fire in the Lake – COIN Series in Vietnam
A Fireside Chat with Game Designers
Mark Herman and Volko Ruhnke
By Sam Sheikh


In Civil War Games There Should Be Ships, lots of Ships…
Or “Why Rebel Raiders on the High Seas Came To Be”
By Game Designer Mark G. McLaughlin


Rebel Raiders on the High Seas
Players Notes
By Game Developer Fred Schachter

Cuba Libre – COIN Series
Designer’s Notes, alt-History, and Variants
By Game Designer Jeff Grossman


Iron & Oak
Two New C3i Scenarios
Scenario C3i-1: Galveston – January 1863
Scenario C3i-2: Cat-and-Mouse (hypothetical)
By Game Designer Jim Day


The Battle of Dertosa (Ibera), 215 BC
C3i SPQR Deluxe Version GBoH Module
By Game Designer Dan A. Fournie

Empire of the Sun
Fighting for a Negotiated Peace: Japanese Strategy against the Big Three
By Mark Herman


Soviet Dawn (C3i Insert Game – States of Siege Series)
Simulating The Russian Civil War
By Game Designer Ted Raicer


Soviet Dawn (C3i Insert Game)
How the Bolshevik Revolution Survived
By Game Designer Darin A. Leviloff


Two New C3i Scenarios:
• Battle of Kovel, Part I, July 1944
• Battle of Kovel, Part 2, July 1944
By Game Designer Jim Day

Bloody April
New C3i Nr1 Scenario:
7 June 1917
By Game Designer Terry Simo

C3i Interview with Hall of Fame Game Designer
Jack Greene
By Sam Sheikh


Clio’s Corner Nr4:
Ignorance is bliss or how to put the fog back in war
By Mark Herman

4 new Combat Commander Scenarios:

Scn 117 Avanti, Tridentina, Avanti, Russia, 26 January 1943.  Italians vs Russians
Scn 118 No. 4 Commando, France 1942.  Brits vs Germans
Scn 119 Sky Fall, France 1944.  Partisans vs Germans
Scn 120 Deadly Convoy. France 1944.  Partisans vs Germans


The New Countersheet included with C3i Magazine Nr27 includes 140 (1/2 inch) and 88 (5/8 inch) full color counters for such games as:
Soviet Dawn (C3i Insert Game); Roads to Moscow; Eutaw/Guilford; Bloody April;Rebel Raiders on the High Seas; No Retreat North Africa; Mr Madison’s War; Cuba Libre; Oriskany; Alesia; Deluxe SPQR; Empire of the Sun; Andean Abyss; Iron & Oak; Devil’s Horsemen; Chariots of Fire; and Flying Colors
Complete Bonus Game Insert
Soviet Dawn: The Russian Civil War (States of Siege Series)
Color Mapsheet, Counters, Cards, Player Aids & Rulesbook
By Game Designer Darin A. Leviloff

Monday, October 28, 2013

150 years ago today in Rebel Raiders - Last Raid of the CSS Georgia

Historic Event:  On October 28, 1863 the Confederate commerce raider CSS Georgia finished her first and only cruise, limping into the French port of Cherbourg with her bottom so badly fouled that she was deemed no longer fit for military duty.  Her commander, Commander William L. Maury agreed to have her decommissioned and to sell her off, but first removed her armament for transfer to another raider, CSS Rappahannock, which he had purchased through Confederate agents in Britain.

CSS Rappahannock was ordered seized by the British government, but Rebel agents managed to get her underway in late November 1864 and made it out of English waters – only to develop engine trouble in the Channel.  She was commissioned while at sea and made it to Calais – but before she could be armed with the Georgia’s guns the French government ordered her detained.  The Rappahannock never sailed under the Rebel flag again, nor did Georgia’s guns ever fire again.

The CSS Georgia had only a brief career – purchased in Britain and armed and commissioned at sea in April 1863, she too nine prizes during her six month cruise in the Atlantic. Maury removed their cargoes and set the ships afire, causing over $400,000 in damages to her Yankee owners.  (Image below is a photograph of an artwork, mounted on a carte de visiteproduced by Rideau, Cherbourg, France, circa 1863-64, and is part of the U.S. Navy Historical Center's collection).

CSS Georgia and CSS Rappahannock in Rebel Raiders

Rebel Raiders on the High Seas is a strategic game of the Civil War which focuses on the role of the navies on the rivers, along the coasts and on the oceans.  While most ships are represented by generic counters for Ironclads, Blockade Runners, Gunboats, Screw Sloops and, of course Raiders, there are cards and corresponding counters for many individual vessels. Neither CSS Rappahannock nor CSS Georgia are represented by a named counter, but are represented by one of the generic Raiders counters. The purchase, detention and eventual seizure of the CSS Rappahannock is represented in the game, for all Raiders are built in one of the two European ports on the map (England, or France & Spain).  Through play of USN Card 55 – Diplomatic Pressure – a die is rolled for each Raider and Blockade Runner in one of those ports:  on a 1, 2 or 3 it is seized, as was CSS Rappahannock, and on a 4,5, or 6 it is forced to sea, where it may be hunted by any waiting Union warships.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

October 27, 1863 Opening the “Cracker Line” at Chattanooga

This day 150 years ago in Rebel Raiders’ History

-Dedicated to Civil War episodes, battles, people and ships that also appear in my game, GMT’s Rebel Raiders on the High Seas

October 27, 1863 Opening the “Cracker Line” at Chattanooga

Historical Event:  During the night of October 27, 1863 a Union infantry brigade stealthily moved by boat downriver and past the Confederate batteries on Lookout Mountain to land and establish a bridgehead on the west bank of the Tennessee River at Brown’s Ferry.  The brigade repulsed Rebel counterattacks and opened a supply path to the embattled defenders of Chattanooga, a route that would become famous as the “Cracker Line.”

Game Connection:    Although primarily a naval game, the land war is represented in Rebel Raiders on the High Seas, and Chattanooga is a lynchpin in the defense of the Confederate west.  Cards represent many of the leaders who fought in and around that city, including Union General Ulysses Simpson Grant  (USN Card 8) and Confederate Generals James Longstreet (CSN Card 79)  and, at least in image and intent, Braxton Bragg (USN Card 7 – “A Lack of Brains”).

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Happy Rebel Raiders Birthday to "Old Ironsides!"

Happy Birthday, "Old Ironsides

Today in 1797 the 44-gun frigate USS Constitution was launched in Boston.  The oldest commissioned warship afloat (and capable of moving under her own sails!) "Old Ironsides,"  which earned her nickname from the shot bouncing off her thick hull is still going strong, as visitors (this blogger/game designer for one) who walk her decks in Boston Harbor can attest.

Scheduled for demolition in 1830, she was saved from the scrapyard thanks to Oliver Wendell Holmes, whose poem "Old Ironsides" moved the nation - and more importantly, the White House and Navy Department, to spare the gallant warship.  Repaired and refitted, USS Constitution went back to sea with the Mediterranean and Pacific Squadrons, and became the first U.S. "territory" a Pope ever set his slipper on (Pius IX).  

Although  the USS Constitution played no appreciable role in the Civil War, as she was converted to a training ship in 1857, she did contribute to the fight against slavery:  her last capture was a slaver, the H.N. Gambril, which she stopped and boarded off Angola in 1853.  When the war began, USS Constitution was stationed at the Naval Academy, but was sent north rather than risk falling into Confederate hands.

In 1862 the Navy honored this, the last of the famous "Six Frigates," by christening an ironclad New Ironsides  (which appears in Rebel Raiders as USN Card 26).   Her sides clad in real iron, New Ironsides survived many a pounding from Confederate batteries in multiple battles in and around Charleston - and although struck by a spar torpedo from CSS David (a torpedo launch that appears in the game as CSN Card 65),  New Ironsides did not live on much past the war, succumbing to fire in December 1865.

Old Ironsides, however, lives on...and long may she sail!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Another Bad Day for the CSS Hunley

150 Years Ago in Rebel Raiders History:

October 15, 1863- Another Bad Day for the CSS Hunley

            Historical Event:   On this day in 1863 the experimental submarine CSS Hunley sank for a second time during trials in Charleston. (The first time was August 29, when five crew members drowned).   The vessel was raised but a second trial on October 15 proved even more catastrophic – as the ship’s inventor, H.L. Hunley, and seven others drowned.  The Confederate Army, which despite the Navy crew remained in charge of the vessel, raised her again.   CSS Hunley did go on to attack the Union fleet in 1864, becoming the first submarine to sink a warship.

            Game Connection:    The CSS Hunley is represented in Rebel Raiders by CSN Card 73.  The target of its attack in 1864, the USS Housatonic is also represented in the game (USN Card 27).   

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A Happy Rebel Raiders Birthday to the U.S. Navy!

Today is the day the U.S. Navy celebrates its birthday...238 years young!   It is a much happier birthday than the one it celebrated 150 years ago today - when the Navy, like the country, was so divided.

When the Civil War broke out, the U.S. Navy was a proud but almost pitifully small force, and one made much smaller by the defection of 259 of its officers to the Confederacy.  These 259 included 13 captains, 33 commanders and 94 lieutenants.  They helped build a small but potent and technologically forward fighting navy for the South.  Meanwhile, the North, to which 40 Southern and the great majority of Northern-born officers remained loyal, grew to become the largest and most powerful fleet in the world - one which if needed could have taken on the Royal Navy (which is represented in Rebel Raiders by CSN Card No. 62)

At war's end, the Union had 671 warships, notes James McPherson in his War Upon the Waters.  Of these "all but 112 were steamers, and 71 of them were ironclads."  They mounted over 4,600 guns - many of them powerful Columbiads, Parrot Rifles and Dahlgrens  (as represented in the Yankee Guns card in Rebel Raiders - USN Card No. 3)    (This does NOT include the large number of river warships run by the U.S. Army).   The Navy built over 200 ships and purchased or pressed into service another 400-plus  (many of them Blockade Runners, such as  CSS Advance (CSN Card 67) which was caught off Wilmington in September 1864 while attempting her 21st run, and recommissioned as the gunboat USS Frolic - and then sent back South on blockade duty.

According to McPherson, the North spent over $6.8 billion on the war effort - of which less than 8 percent ($587 million) went to the Navy.   "By any measure of cost-effectiveness," however, says McPherson "the nation got more than its money's worth."

That assessment holds true today - as it has in two world wars and many other conflicts large and small in which the Navy played a signature roll.

Happy Birthday, U.S. Navy....and many more.


Friday, October 11, 2013

Running the Blockade – in Rebel Raiders on the High Seas

A gamer who ordered and “eagerly awaits the arrival” of Rebel Raiders on the High Seas asked if and how the game system handles the vagaries of running the blockade,  and the abilities of Blockade Runner captains to find “the ideal moment of tide, moon and wind to make the dash to open sea” and to navigate the “danger of a dark shoreline” on the way back in.

Blockade Runners have an advantage over the Union patrols, in that in the die roll to evade interception they gain a +2 and win ties.  That means if they roll a 4 or higher, they are safe, and if they roll less, the North still has to beat them by 3  (i.e. if a Blockade Runner rolls a 1, the Union ship needs a 4 or better to catch her).  In addition, there are some Blockade Runners that are even more difficult to intercept, as are represented by certain cards.  Here are a few examples:

The Don (CSN Card 66) was a particularly fast twin-screw vessel.  Capable of 14 knots and drawing only six feet, The Don was hard to run down and could slip into coastal inlets to hide. 

Most blockade runners made a profit by their second voyage; the CSS Advance (CSN Card 67) made 20 such successful runs, making her one of if not the most profitable of all of those ships that ran the Union blockade

The Banshee (CSN Card 68) was one of the first ships built specifically to run the Union blockade.  She was also one of the first commercial vessels to build of steel.  Under Joseph W. Steele (ironic how the name and the ship match) the ship made eight successful runs, giving her owners their investment seven times over. 

CSS  Robert E. Lee (CSN Card 69)  began her career as a blockade runner in  the fall of 1862.  For nearly a year the schooner-rigged, iron-hulled, oscillating-engine, double-stack paddle-steamer ran in and out of North Carolina’s inlets and harbors to bring in war materials and other desperately needed supplies.

The Union, however, had gunboats and sloops that were expert at catching these ships, and many of them are in the game.  The Union can also stack ships in the Blockade Stations off the ports, and can either roll one die for each ship or roll a single, modified die for the stack – the bigger the stack, the better the chance on that die.   The Union can also set up an outer blockade in the Coastal Zones; the sloops there can do not get the modifier for a stack, but each ship does roll.

Eventually, in the game as in the war, the Blockade Runners DO get caught.  There are 17 Blockade Runner counters in the game.  In the last three games I played, we kept track, and the Union intercepted 30 to 35 of them; which means that every Blockade Runner the South started with and built was caught not just once but TWICE….

Many of the Blockade Runners (all but one of the above, for example) were captured and pressed into service on the blockade stations.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Big Thank You! To Rebel Raiders Fans!

A big thank you to Rebel Raiders fans!  Most of the initial print run has been sold - and GMT is already talking making this a "reprinter."   The game went on sale in April, and as of the end of June over 60 percent of the print run was sold...and GMT says third quarter figures look great!

For all of you who have bought, played, commented on, reviewed or otherwise expressed interest and support in my strategic naval game of the Civil War, a big THANK YOU....if I wasn't such a Yankee at heart (an ancestor in the Irish Brigade, 69th NY), I'd give a big rebel yell!  

So instead, here's a hearty HUZZAH!  HUZZAH! HUZZAH!

....and by the way, I started this blog at Easter (when my son built it for me) and it just topped 10,000 views!


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A Rebel Raiders’ Happy Birthday to the USNA - & Its Rebel Admiral

On this date in 1845 Franklin Buchanan – who later became the first admiral of the Confederate navy – opened the doors of the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis.    “Old Buck” was the academy’s first superintendent, and many of the midshipmen who studied while he was at the helm of the academy would see him again through the smoke of battle during the Civil War.

 Buchanan did not stay long at Annapolis, as the old salt longed to go sea – which he did as second in command of Commodore Matthew Perry’s expedition that “opened” Japan. At the start of the Civil War he was commandant of the Navy Yard in Washington, but resigned his commission and went South after the Baltimore riots in 1861.  (Although when his native Maryland failed to secede, he tried to get his federal commission back, but Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles would have none of that and sent him packing, with a curse).

Buchanan’s reputation and service, however, propelled him up the ranks of a grateful Confederacy, which named him its first admiral.  “Old Buck” was a fighting admiral, a combat sailor in the finest tradition of the USNA, personally taking charge of the South’s first ironclad, the CSS Virginia at Hampton Roads in 1862 and later the CSS Tennessee in the fateful battle at Mobile Bay in 1964.

Buchanan is represented three ways in Rebel Raiders on the High Seas; first, as a leader counter for the South, and then twice more in the cards – for the two ironclads he commanded during their historic encounters with the Union navy.  Those ships are represented by CSN Cards 70 and 86.  Despite having “gone South,” Buchanan has not been forgotten by the Navy or the Academy: three U.S. Navy destroyers were named for him, as is the house that serves as the superintendent’s quarters at Annapolis.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

France and England in the Civil War – and in Rebel Raiders

Last week a gamer asked about how Rebel Raiders on the High Seas handles “the interplay between Southern military fortunes and how far Britain and France would risk war by building Southern ships?" 

As a strategic naval game of the war, Rebel Raiders has to account for the role played by the great powers of Europe.  It does this in several ways:

-1. Ship Building: One Raider a Turn
-Each turn the Confederacy can build one Raider in either of the two overseas map spaces that represent England and France.  Doing so uses up one of the South’s allotted builds (usually five a turn, but fewer as the South loses cities), and also requires the expenditure of a Victory Point (this reflects the cost of purchasing and arming the Raider).  There are also cards that provide the South with a free Raider in one of those ports, and special Raiders at that (CSN Card 63 – CSS Alabama, CSN Card 64- CSS Shenandoah and CSN Card 74-CSS Stonewall).

-2. Ship Building: Blockade Runners
-Each turn the Confederacy may build one or more Blockade Runners overseas.  In 1861 the South builds one abroad, in 1862 they may build two, in 1863, three and in 1864, up to four.  Again, these count toward the South’s allotted builds (although by 1864 the South usually has been reduced below its original build level, and is also less likely to build Blockade Runners as there are either few ports left to unload in, or those ports are so heavily blockaded by the Union as to make getting in or out of them extremely risky. There are also cards that give the South free Blockade Runners in Europe (CSN Card 84 – The Douglas) and in the other overseas boxes, most of which were part of the British, French or Spanish empires (CSN Card 108-War Profiteers)

-3.  Investment: European Front Companies provide Arms to the South
The South relied on European companies for much of its war material (as well as luxury goods and civilian necessities).  The loading/unloading of Victory Points (VPs) reflects that, as these VPs may be used to purchase ships and batteries and counterattacks, and are needed to fend off the degradations of the Supply Roll and penalties for losing cities.  Several cards reflect this trade, and the establishment of front companies in their colonies by European interests which fed arms and other goods to the South.  These include CSN Card 99 – The Queen’s Artillery – which allows the South to cash in one 2 VP European cargo counter for a battery …which normally costs 20 VPs, and Cards 87 –Cotton is King, 93 – Herrera & Co. and 94 – To the Dark Shores, each of which offers the South increased opportunities to gain additional VPs. 

-4. “Intervention”: Trent Affair, Maximillian, and Royal Navy  
-While some games and novelists like to toy with the ‘what if’ of French or British armies or navies fighting for the Southern cause, Rebel Raiders sticks to what these great powers did do, as is reflected in the Cards in the game.  The play of the Trent Affair (CSN Card 83) provides an opening for the play of Maximillian (CSN Card 61) and Royal Navy (CSN Card 62).  The first makes Mexico, where the French had installed Maximillian as emperor, very friendly to the South: providing one free Blockade Runner a turn plus a modifier to the Southern Supply Roll die.  The second simulates the movement of British warships and troops to Canada (which occurred as part of Britain’s angry response to the Trent debacle) by requiring the Union to take warships out of play to guard against this threat (as also occurred).   

-5. The Emancipation Proclamation and Diplomatic Pressure

-The Emancipation Proclamation event changes how Europe viewed the war, and reduces European support to the Confederacy.  It  removes Trent, Maximillian and Royal Navy from the game (and if Royal Navy has been played, frees up the Union warships which responded to it).  It also removes two of the six  VP cargo markers from play, which makes it more difficult for the South to bring home large amounts of Victory Points each turn.   Diplomatic Pressure (USN Card 55) forces the discard of Trent or Royal Navy and, if played after The Emancipation Proclamation, closes one of the two European ports.  Any Confederate ships in that closed port are either chased out (where they can be intercepted) or seized by the European government.