Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Rebel Raiders Replay: 1862 Jump Start

 The Developer & A Naval Historian Team Up Against the Designer in the 1862 Scenario

For those who want to dive into the heat of the action, rather than do a slow burn, the alternate 1862 start scenario is the way to jump right into Rebel Raiders on the High Seas.  It begins with the Union half of the April 1862 turn. The Union enjoys a dream hand of cards that historically made that such a great month for the North – and a month after which, it was said, the South never smiled again.

Developer Fred Schachter and naval enthusiast Brandon Musler took charge of the Union, with Fred taking responsibility for the Gulf and Western Theater, and Brandon the Atlantic and Eastern Theater.   They began the game with a chance to conduct four attacks – as many amphibious as they wished – and three of four failed (save for Union capture of Key West).  Designer Mark McLaughlin rolled more “6s” on the dice than anyone should in a single or several turns, thus allowing the South to smile, perhaps a bit early, but grin broadly nonetheless.

What followed was a wonderful if lamentably brief “happy time” for the Confederacy. Its Blockade Runners brought in enough cargo to allow the purchase of two Batteries – in addition to the two normally earned each turn for the Atlanta and Richmond arsenals.  Mark employed his largesse to construct a strong “crust defense” by placing batteries at Memphis, Chattanooga, New Orleans, Mobile and Savannah.  This approach leaves the entrenchment of Richmond until later, entrusting its defense to Bobby Lee and Stonewall Jackson  (CSN Cards 60 & 104).  Mark deployed J.E. Johnston (Card 91) to command in the West and he also had cards in hand for the Ironclad CSS Manassas (CSN Card 71), Hulks, Rafts and Chains (CSN Card 110) and later the CSS Virginia (CSN Card 70) to help defend any port the Union chose to attack.

On land Confederate confidence was rewarded. For the remainder of 1862 the Union onslaughts were repeatedly repulsed, including two failed amphibious attacks on Galveston,  but at sea it was a different story. In four turns the South lost 25 blockade runners with the Union sinking them literally faster than they could be built.  As 1863 opened, there were more Raiders (five) at Sea than Blockade Runners. The number of Raiders would dwindle to three after the Union built packs of hunter-killer screw sloops.  For the remainder of the game the seas stayed blue in more ways than one.

Tomorrow Part II of the Replay: 1863, The Nightmare Year – but a Nightmare in Blue, or in Gray?

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