Tuesday, April 30, 2013

This day 150 years ago in Rebel Raiders’ History

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

April 30, 1863
            Historical Events:  The Camerone, Stoneman’s Raid and Porter at Grand Gulf.

            Game Connections:  Three big events for one day.

  While the epic last stand of the Foreign Legion at The Camerone is beyond the scope of Rebel Raiders, the French intervention in Mexico is not – as Card 61 Maximillian  (see below), which gives the South a free blockade runner and a bonus to its Supply roll each turn it is in effect attests.

Stoneman’s Raid in which 10,000 Yankee cavalrymen were sent by “Fighting Joe” Hooker to disrupt Lee’s supply lines in Virginia, should have been a huge success, considering how well Colonel Grierson did with a single brigade in Mississippi (see Card 42 The Horse Soldiers – and the blog posts from April 18 and 19 commemorating it – and the John Ford-John Wayne movie based upon that ride).  It was not, however, in part because half the Union cavalry lolled about Rapidan Station celebrating a minor victory and Stoneman, who suffered from piles (perhaps the worst affliction of all for a horseman), failed to push the other half to action.

On the Mississippi, on April 29 Acting Rear Admiral  David Dixon Porter silenced the lower batteries around Grand Gulf in a five-and-a-half hour slugfest, then sent the Lafayette and Carondelet (which appears in the game as Card 15 ) back in an action that continued on into the morning hours of the 30th to pound the upper batteries.  This opened the river to Grant’s transports.


Sunday, April 28, 2013

First Time Using the REAL Game...

Today I finally got to "play" Rebel Raiders on the REAL game (instead of my old hand-made playtest copy).

Actually, I did not "play" but taught the game.  My friend Bob, who had been a playtester but had not played for months, was the South, and Charlie, who had never played, was the North -- and I coached him just a little, but only on explaining what he could do, not what he should do.

 Bob as the South frustrated Charlie early on...by turn six he had not lost a single city or port...and had lost only Fredericksburg (which he took back) and had Louisville.  His blockade runners were steaming in and out of ports quite merrily and his raiders were having a romp on the seas.

Charlie got on a slow roll...he kept winning naval battles, sinking ships and blowing up batteries, but LOSING the final attack.  We counted: he made 12 amphibious attacks over the course of the game   and won ONE...Savannah was the ONLY port to fall!

But that was key...as from there he rolled through the South, where there were very few defensive batteries - as Bob concentrated on putting batteries in ports and on using his resources to build ironclads.

Charlie came out of Savannah and took Augusta, then into Atlanta and from there straight across to Vicksburg, then fought DOWN through Baton Rouge to New Orleans!

Jackson died defending Fredericksburg, and Grant took Richmond.

The final battle was a huge naval fight at Memphis (fourth such of the game).   Porter's mortar boats finally had an effect, knocking out a battery before the battle, and the duel of U.S. ironclad Carondelet vs rRebel ram Manassas was epic! Six rounds of combat during which four rebel and three union gunboats were sunk, along with one rebel ironclad forced to retreat due to a mechanical failure card and one Yankee ironclad sunk...then it was Carondelet and another ironclad alone vs Manassas and Charlie won.

That cleared the way for the attack by the army which took Memphis...and that was game (Atlanta,Richmond, the three Mississippi cities, negative rebel points makes for an automatic victory)...and it came on the last attack of the last turn of 1864.  (That is normally the last turn of the game, but Charlie played the card that gave him a chance for a 13th turn and he did win the election that would have given him one more turn)

Charlie sank 33 blockade runners through the course of the game -- there are 17 counters available, which means every blockade runner was basically sunk twice (the South still had four on the board)  and he sank four raiders (but Alabama, ironclad raider Stonewall and two others were still at sea)

It was a great game, both had a lot of fun and both want to play again! (Hopefully next time I will get to play!)

Friday, April 26, 2013

This day 150 years ago in Rebel Raiders’ History

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

April 26, 1863
            Historical Event:  On this day “Fighting Joe” Hooker began his much anticipated turning movement in a campaign that would lead to his epic and classic humiliation at Chancellorsville.  That the march got off to a bad start, with torrential rains turning the Virginia “roads” into muddy goo was seen by many as a bad omen – and right they were!

            Game Connection:  No strategy survives first contact with the weather, as card 59 “Mud-Bound” which the Confederate player can use to frustrate and so educate his Union opponent shows.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

 My Ship Has Come In!

-My copy of Rebel Raiders arrived this morning!  Others should be receiving theirs any day now....

-Although of course I saw and signed off on the proof files the artists sent, there is nothing like actually holding the game, unfolding the map, shuffling through the cards and punching out the counters!

-I can't wait to play my own game; it looks beautiful!

-Many thanks to the artists who did such excellent work:  Mark Simonitch for the map; Charles Kibler for the cards and counters and layout; Rodger MacGowan for the cover and box art and Tony Curtis, of course, for coordinating the entire production.  Thanks are also due to the entire team at GMT, notably Andy Lewis and Gene Billingsley for once again believing in me.

-Thanks are also due to my editor/developer, Fred Schachter, our historical consultant, Chris Vorder Bruegge, our proofreaders and editorial assistants - Kevin Duke, Jonathan Squibb, Peter Reese and Paul Brodhoc - and to the host of playtesters who have worked on this since I first came up with the concept five years ago:  Michael Schachter, Phil Garland, Oliver Shueftan, Ken Gutermuth and Phil Spera and the Monday Night Gamers, especially Bob Turnbough and Ed Regendahl.

Monday, April 22, 2013

This day 150 years ago in Rebel Raiders’ History

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

April 22, 1863
            Historical Event:  As 18 Union supply ships attempt to run past the guns at Vicksburg, Confederate defender General Pemberton prepares to attack the Union fleet with fire rafts.  Eleven of the transports get through; enough to allow General Grant to maintain his siege.

            Game Connection:  Vicksburg is the key to the Mississippi in Rebel Raiders, and its retention is made even more valuable if playing with the “Mississippi Survival” Bonus Victory Points optional rule.  Taking a fortified Vicksburg requires a strong naval presence on the river, and one way the Confederates can weaken that is through the play of a card that reflects the tactic Pemberton used this day 150 years ago in Rebel Raiders’ History….

Thursday, April 18, 2013

John Wayne in John Ford's The Horse Soldiers

Inspired by my own posting yesterday, late last night I watched The Horse Soldiers - a great John Ford cavalry movie starring John Wayne and William Holden.

Yesterday I noted that "this day" in Rebel Raiders history (April 17) was about Grierson's Raid, a famous incident depicted in the game by The Horse Soldiers card, which as I explained was named so in homage to the great 1959 movie and the historical novel of the same name.

I first saw The Horse Soldiers when it came out in 1959 (I was five).  I got the 45 record from the local record shop and learned the theme song (which I still know and, I admit, sang while watching the opening credits last night).  I have seen this movie many, many, many times and know the dialogue almost by heart (as I do with most John Wayne films and all of the John Ford cavalry films in which he starred - notably the famous "Cavalry Trilogy" of She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Rio Grande and Fort Apache). I read the novel the summer after my freshman year of college when I worked selling paint at Sears. The movie of course has so many stock characters and little asides and vignettes that are pure John Ford romanticism - but that perhaps is why it still resonates so with me, 54 years after I first saw it...

...and as the song from the movie says, I, too, "would ride right down to hell, and back, for Ulysses Simpson Grant" -- especially if John Wayne was leading.....

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

This day 150 years ago in Rebel Raiders’ History

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

April 17, 1863
            Historical Event: Grierson’s Raid.  On this date in 1863 Colonel Benjamin Grierson set off with a brigade of 1,700 Yankee cavalrymen to ride deep behind Confederate lines.  His mission: to tear up railroads, burn bridges and destroy rolling stock and any military supplies he could find.  The highly successful one-way raid began in Tennessee, roared through Mississippi and ended at Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

            Game Connection:  The disruption of Confederate supply and production caused by the raid is recreated through the play of Union Card 42, The Horse Soldiers.  The name is in homage to the popular John Wayne movie of the same name, which in turn was based on the best-selling novel by Harold Sinclair.

Monday, April 15, 2013

This day 150 years ago in Rebel Raiders’ History

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

April 15, 1863
            Historical Event: “Captain, there be whales here!”  On this date in 1863 the Confederate raider CSS Alabama captured two Union whalers off the Brazilian island of Fernando de Norohna.  Over the course of the war Captain Raphael Semmes almost single-handedly destroyed the American whaling fleet, doing great commercial damage to the Union and New England in particular.

            Game Connection:  The Alabama is not only on the cover of the game but also is a counter and card (Confederate card 63, as depicted below).   Hunting whalers is also what raiders like Alabama do best – and there is even a separate special zone on the map for such activities. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

This day 150 years ago in Rebel Raiders’ History

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

April 12, 1863
            Historical Event: Union naval forces land General Nathaniel Banks’ troops behind Confederate positions on the Teche River in an effort to trap and destroy the Rebels so Banks can march on Port Hudson.  In a three-day running fight that involves a brief naval action between rival squadrons, the Confederates break out with the help of a captured Union gunboat, the Diana.  Also engaged – and finally lost – was the CSS Queen of the West – a Union army warship of the same name that had been captured and put into service by the Confederate army in February.

            Game Connection:  Army-Navy cooperation is a key part of Union strategy in Rebel Raiders, and in many battles small groups of warships must fight to clear the way for a landing.   The Queen of the West, noted above, appears in the game in its original Union colors as Card 38.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Rebel Raider Shipping Date Confirmed!

GMT announced today that Rebel Raiders will ship in late April, along with Iron & Oak,  a tactical Civil War naval game which gamers can use to play out the battles in Rebel Raiders if they wish.   A section of the Rebel Raiders playbook shows how to use Iron & Oak for such a purpose.  So when Monitor and Virginia clash, or Kearsarge and Alabama meet, or when you are ready to run the gauntlet of guns at Vicksburg, rather than just play a card and roll a few dice for a quick result, you can go to Iron & Oak and fight it out in detail.

Late April, 2013:

My Friends at GMT have also put my blog up on their site:

Mark McLaughlin's Blog

Mark just started a new blog covering his various novels and game designs. It includes a feature on Rebel Raiders on the High Seas - 150 Years Ago - that ties in the cards with history. Drop by and say hi to Mark and check out the blog. It's here:

Saturday, April 6, 2013

This day 150 years ago in Rebel Raiders’ History

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

April 7, 1863

- Historical Event: The South Atlantic Squadron attacks Fort Sumter! Flying his flag from the masts of the mighty USS New Ironsides, Admiral Samuel DuPont boldly steams into Charleston Harbor to bombard Forts Sumter and Moultrie. His nine ironclads pound away, taking on the brick and mortar forts and numerous batteries that protect the beating heart of the secession.
- Game Connection: Ship-to-fort combat is a big part of the naval war in Rebel Raiders. Admiral Samuel Francis DuPont is a key leader, and card (US #54), as are many of his ships, including his flagship and the “Giant Monitor,” USS Passaic, which appear in the game as the following cards:

If you would like to follow my blog and receive email-updates when I post, please go to the "Follow by Email" link at the very bottom of the page.  Enter your email address and you will be notified via Feedburner when I post something new.  (The notice from Feedburner might appear in your spam box, as it did in mine, so just open it and click on the 'this is not spam' button).

Thank you, and please check out the review of Princess Ryan on the Foreword Clarion website, the link to which is over on the right hand side under "Reviews of My Novels"  (as someday soon I hope to have more than one novel).

Thursday, April 4, 2013

This day 150 years ago in Rebel Raiders’ History

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

April 5, 1863

 - Historical Event: Shipyards in Liverpool prepare the Alexandria for service as a blockade runner.
- Game Connection: The Confederate player may build blockade runners in England. As in the war, such vessels play a key role in bringing war material (represented as cargo points) that the South may convert to military use, and as Victory Points which enable the Confederacy to continue the war.

Sample Blockade Runner Counter:


Sample of Blockade Runners loading Cargo in Europe; Union warships hunting for a Raider:

Typical Blockade Runner of the type built in England (a schooner-rigged sidewheel steamer, built by Caird & Co. of Greenock, in Scotland, purchased by North Carolina and christened Advance, in honor of the state’s governor, Zebulon Vance. (As depicted in the game as CSN Card #67 – CSS Advance)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Rebel Raiders "one step closer to shipping"

GMT sent out this notice today to those who pre-ordered Rebel Raiders on the High Seas:

We're writing to let you know that game Rebel Raiders on the High Seas is one step closer to being completed and shipped out to you! Please note that today we charged your card for your order of 1 copies for a total of $59.50. As with all P500 games, this charge is made when the game in in our final printing process, so it won't be long now until the process is complete and we can ship your game. 

We will update the completion and ship dates for Rebel Raiders on the High Seas on our website, www.gmtgames.com, so please check there regularly if you want status updates. We hope you are as excited as we are to receive the finished product! 

Thank you, 

GMT Games