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: