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!)