Saturday, June 22, 2013

Musing on Victory – and the “immersive experience” of playing Rebel Raiders or

“ I Think Mahan Himself Would Have Heartily Approved”

By Brandon Musler

On the Design:  a “CFG” (Card Flavored Game) vs a CDG (Card Driven Game)

Overall, I was amazed by how immersive an experience playing Rebel Raiders could be. Normally, I do not favor CDG  (Cared Driven Game) designs, and I really like this new thing called a CFG  (Card Flavored Game) because it had its priorities in order: play mechanics informed and spiced up by cards.  I also liked that there were endless decisions to make, and you could recover from mistakes.

 I thought the whole brown water navy aspect to things was brilliantly conceived and designed -- it fascinated me how the designer encapsulated the entire western theater by blending a point to point subsystem with a CDG dynamic.  He really, really distilled a crucial dynamic of the land campaigns in the a game primarily focusing on the naval war.  I think Mahan himself would have heartily approved...but more importantly I feel I gained some crucial insights into a subject that I've never really been able to get my arms around before, despite reading Shelby Foote et al! And of course there was learning about the whole mercantile war via the raiders and runners.   

Union Play

First time players really ought to take the Union side because although the choices seem a bit overwhelming in the first half of the war, the enormous power of the Union industrial base makes it relatively easy to recover from a myriad of mistakes and power to victory in 1863 and 1864...or once Grant is on the board.  In other words, in the basic game we played (or without any of the many optional rules) it is a lot harder for the CSA player to keep morale up and get it right...

In the first year of the war when the Feds are down a die,  (and maybe the second when the odds are even,) it's probably a good idea to use Union attacks to take undefended port cities via amphibious assault. (The designer hinted at this repeatedly during our play, I believe, but I didn't hear it at the time.)  The risk is relatively low and late in the game it will leave the door open to pursue the maximum territory approach to victory.
Late in the game the designer reminded me that  the
Union need not take Richmond to win, provided it has 16 other cities (including Atlanta and the three on the Mississippi, which I did have).  At that point, however,  I had only half of turn 11 and turn 12 ahead of me, and would have had to shoot a 100% from the foul line (6 for 6, I think it was) so I chose the "On To Richmond!" path four years late...and then I got really, really lucky with Jackson getting killed etc...
 Final Thought:  Great Fun to Play

It was great fun to play, and refreshingly enlightening...pretty much everything I could expect out of historical board game. 

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