Saturday, August 31, 2013

Build Batteries or Invest in Ironclads? A Key CSA Conundrum In Rebel Raiders on the High Seas

Each turn in Rebel Raiders on the High Seas both players are faced with making choices as to how to spend their builds.  The South has two arsenals, Richmond and Atlanta, each of which gives the Confederate player either a Battery to place on the map immediately or an Ironclad – which is placed on the turn record track to come in during the next Rebel build phase.   Several players have been debating the merits of Batteries vs. Ironclads. 

Before reading what Pat Kairns and John Bolash have to say, readers not yet familiar with the game should know the following:

Characteristics of a Battery

-a Battery is immobile.  Once placed it may never be moved.
-a Battery adds 1 die in land combat to the Confederate defense.
-a Battery is destroyed in land combat should the Union win the battle.
-a Battery rolls two dice in combat against ships
-a Battery is only destroyed in combat against ships if one of the ships targeting it rolls at least one “6” on a six-sided die.
-a Battery can be taken out by play of the Union mortar boats card (USN Card 2)

Characteristics of an Ironclad:

-an Ironclad may move along the rivers; although a Union Ironclad may be towed at sea from port to port, a Confederate Ironclad may not go to sea.  It may attack the Blockade Station off its port, but except for one special Ironclad (CSS Albemarle, CSN Card 75), no Rebel Ironclad may enter a Coastal or High Seas Zone.
-as long as an Ironclad, or any Confederate warship, is in a port, the Union may not complete an Amphibious or River attack on the port – the Union Navy can attack Batteries and other warships as part of its Assault, but it cannot complete the final round of that Assault – the round to take control of the Port.
-an Ironclad rolls one die in ship combat
-an Ironclad is only destroyed in ship combat if one of the ships targeting it rolls at least one “6” on a six-sided die.

There are cards that help and hurt Batteries and Ironclads.

The Rebels can trade in 20 Victory Points accumulated from their Blockade Runners etc. to purchase an Ironclad or Battery.  The Rebels can never place more than one Battery in a space in a turn, nor can they place more than one Ironclad  (other than through the play of a card).

That said, here are two views by gamers:

First,  Pat Kairns:

Rebels “Have the toughest turn-by-turn choices for their Build Points”
 
As I said in my summary of the early game back when I started this, I think the Rebels in particular have the toughest turn-by-turn choices for their Build Points, especially when it comes to choosing between a Battery and an Ironclad. This has given me an idea to ONLY build Batteries in a game until I run out of them & see how well the Union LAND assaults do against 2 or 3 batteries stationed in key cities. Worth a shot and then I'll probably turn around and build a preponderance of Ironclads. Many, many options in this game; I just want to try the extremes.  

A well placed sudden Counter Attack by the CSA can really deflate the Union player's morale.... believe me, it's happened to me and I've devastated a few over confident Yankees.

Now, John Bolash:

“I almost never ‘waste’ my free batteries to build Ironclads”

As the Confederate player I almost never "waste" my free batteries to build Ironclads. Instead I can generally rely on the ironclads I get from cards (Manassas, Tennessee, Virginia, and Albemarle etc.). After about mid-1862 I build/buy and use counterattacks very often which typically frustrates and slows the Union. When the opportunity arises I'll attack to clear weakly held blockade stations typically with gunboat(s), but sometimes even with a Raider: in other words an active defense. What ironclads I receive from cards are mostly used to hold Mississippi River ports. I build three-battery stacks in Richmond, Atlanta, and at in least one Mississippi River port (preferably two of them), and two batteries in Mobile, two in Savannah, and at least one battery in each of the remaining ocean ports, and as I can one battery in each of the adjacent approach spaces to Richmond & Atlanta, including Chattanooga. 


Finally, The Designer:

Never underestimate the power of an Ironclad

While a Battery is arguably a better buy for the buck, never underestimate the power of an Ironclad. A single Rebel Ironclad on the Mississippi signals the start of an arms race; one the Union cannot afford to ignore.  Gunboats alone are very vulnerable, and can rarely defeat Batteries on their own – especially if there is an Ironclad fighting alongside or lurking behind the Batteries  (the Rebels can keep their warships protected and fight only with Batteries, or vice versa, or put everything on the line at once).

If the Rebels start adding to the Ironclad fleet on the River, the Union will have to more than match them or give up all hope of fighting down the Mississippi by river – they will instead have to slog by land, as Ironclads do not defend against an attack from the land route.  This, however, means the Union will need two Assaults (and it only gets two free ones a turn, and can buy at most two more):  one by River to use ships to knock out some of the Batteries, after which its fleet will either retreat from or be sunk by Rebel ironclads, which costs ships and Victory Points, and then a second Assault immediately following against the port from the land side – assuming the Union ships knocked out one or more of the defending batteries.  If the port falls, the Ironclads can retreat down river to the next port.

In an ocean port, an Ironclad on defense is less versatile – but still makes an Amphibious Assault against the port much more difficult – unless the Union tows in some Ironclads of its own.







Thursday, August 29, 2013

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,  

August 29, 1863 –  Bad Day for the CSS Hunley

            Historical Event:   On this day in 1863 the experimental submarine CSS Hunley sank during trials in Charleston.  Five crew members drowned.  The ship’s commander, Confederate Navy Lt. John A. Payne and two other crewmen escaped.  The vessel was raised but a second trial on October 15 proved even more catastrophic – as the ship’s inventor, H.L. Hunley, and seven others drowned.  The Confederate Army, which despite the Navy crew remained in charge of the vessel, raised her again.   CSS Hunley did go on to attack the Union fleet, and for that story see the blog entry cited below.

            Game Connection:    The CSS Hunley is represented in Rebel Raiders by CSN Card 73.  The target of its attack in 1864, the USS Housatonic is also represented in the game (USN Card 27).   For the story of their tragic yet historic duel, see my entry from August 26:





Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Goodreads' Reviewers Like Princess Ryan's Star Marines!

Goodreads' Reviewers Like Princess Ryan's Star Marines!



Two of Goodreads’ top sci-fi reviewers (rated numbers 1 and 2) reviewed Princess Ryan’s Star Marines. David Wilson sums up what he and his brother, Johnny, thought of the novel with this simple single line: “We both liked it and found the humor to be its greatest redeeming quality as well as some of the action scenes.” He also noted that there were “A lot of clever jokes and what appears to be a few nods to old movies and actors. Lol”

Link to David’s Review
http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/702129842
Link to Johnny’s Review:
http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/700403454

...and a PS:  They both also like the original board and miniatures games AND Johnny Wilson sent me a note saying how he also likes Rebel Raiders on the High Seas!  What a coincidence!


...and here is the opening from David Wilson's review....

a review of Princess Ryan's Star Marines: Save the Princess!
www.goodreads.com
This quality space opera sneaks in a whole lot of humor and attempts to be a parody without seeming like a parody. What I mean is that this is more a nod at something like Star Wars than an out and out parody like Spaceballs.

Monday, August 26, 2013

USS Housatonic: First Warship to be Sunk by a Submarine

The Ships of Rebel Raiders    - The Men o’ War

Rebel Raiders on the High Seas is a strategic game of the Civil War which focuses on the role of the navies on the rivers, along the coasts and on the oceans.  While most ships are represented by generic counters for Ironclads, Blockade Runners, Gunboats, Screw Sloops and, of course Raiders, there are cards and corresponding counters for many individual vessels.  This series presents those cards and offers a glimpse into the history of these storied ships. 

USS Housatonic:  First Warship to be Sunk by a Submarine

 The mighty USS Housatonic (USN Card 27)  was the first warship to be sunk by a submarine  (falling victim to the  CSS Hunley – CSN Card 73 in Rebel Raiders).  Before that fateful encounter that night in February 1864, however, the USS Housatonic earned other honors, most of them while blockading the very harbor, Charleston, in which she would be sunk.

Launched at the Boston Navy Yard in November 1861, USS Housatonic was one in a class of four powerful screw sloops, each capable of moving under sail or steam, and each carrying 11 guns – including a 100-pounder Parrot rifle, three 30-pouner Parrot rifles, and an 11-inch Dahlgren along with a mix of other rifles, guns and howitzers. 

Assigned to the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron off Charleston, her first capture came in January 1863 when, working with the gunboat USS Unadilla (USN Card 17) she cornered and then sent boarding parties to seize the Princess Royal.  The blockade runner was carrying engines, armor and ordnance meant to equip a pair of rebel ironclads.  At the time USS Housatonic was hailed for having been responsible for capturing “the war’s most important single cargo of contraband.”

The South knew this as well, and sent two ironclad rams out of Charleston to try to recover the Princess Royal, which USS Housatonic was attempting to refloat after having driven her aground.  Initially successful in driving back Union gunboats, the two ironclads could not contend with the massive broadsides of the mighty screw sloop – and soon retired under the protection of Charleston’s guns, leaving USS Housatonic with her prize.  

USS Housatonic took many other prizes off Charleston, bombarded her forts and frequently sent landing parties ashore to harry the Rebels, seize prisoners and conduct raids. 

No wonder  that  when the Confederates launched their first submarine, USS Housatonic was chosen as the target for the CSS Hunley.







Friday, August 23, 2013

USS New Ironsides: U.S. Navy’s First Armored Steam Frigate

The Ships of Rebel Raiders    - The Men o’ War

Rebel Raiders on the High Seas is a strategic game of the Civil War which focuses on the role of the navies on the rivers, along the coasts and on the oceans.  While most ships are represented by generic counters for Ironclads, Blockade Runners, Gunboats, Screw Sloops and, of course Raiders, there are cards and corresponding counters for many individual vessels.  This series presents those cards and offers a glimpse into the history of these storied ships.


USS New Ironsides:  U.S. Navy’s First Armored Steam Frigate



The first of a new breed of modern warships, the USS New Ironsides (USN Card 26) was an ocean-going, wooden-hulled, armored man-o-war; a true battleship, with plenty of big guns, powerful steam engines – and even a ram, just in case.

Protected by 4.5 inches of belt armor, the USS New Ironsides would be hit many, many times by the Confederate guns she dueled with at Charleston and Fort Fisher – but like her namesake, the original “Old Ironsides” (USS Constitution) most shots seemed to bounce off; she was never seriously damaged by enemy fire.  USS New Ironsides, however, did have the dubious distinction of being the first victim of a submarine (technically a “semi-submersible torpedo boat”)– when the CSS David (CSN Card 65) set off a spar torpedo on October 5, 1863.  Damage, however, was minor – USS New Ironsides remained on station.

 (In Rebel Raiders, if the Confederate player declared an attack with the CSS David card on a Union warship, say the USS New Ironsides, each side would roll one die, with the Confederate player adding one to his die if his target is the only warship in the port or blockade space.  If the Confederate die roll is higher, the Union ship is sunk.)

USS New Ironsides was the flagship for Rear Admiral Samuel Francis DuPont (USN Card 54) during the April 1863 naval attack on Fort Sumter and the other defenses of Charleston harbor, and went back into the harbor for the second attack on Charleston.  She also supported the abortive assault by the gallant 54th Massachusetts (as depicted in the movie, Glory) on Fort Wagner, and took part in the two bombardments of Fort Fisher, the second of which resulted in a Union victory in January 1865.  


Decommissioned and laid up in Philadelphia after the war, she was the victim of an accidental fire, allegedly caused by a watchman’s unattended stove, and burned and sank in December 1866.



Thursday, August 22, 2013

Rebel Raiders Updated on VASSAL

Rebel Raiders Updated on VASSAL


A big Rebel Raiders' thanks to Joel Toppen, for making Rebel Raiders available on VASSAL and for once again updating it!

This is his announcement today of the update:

Version 1.3 of the Rebel Raiders VASSAL module is available:http://www.vassalengine.org/wiki/Module:Rebel_Raiders_on_the_High_Seas

Modifications include:
1. Made cargo counters smaller so they don't obscure MPs when stacked on ships.
2. Added Load/Unload functionality to Blockade Runners. Load will dispatch a cargo piece.
3. Added individual "Draw Cards" buttons to each hand window.
4. Added mouse-over zoom to hand windows.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

USS Mississippi (USN Card 23) “Largest Ship in the U.S. Navy”- Perry’s Flagship

The Ships of Rebel Raiders    - The Men o’War

Rebel Raiders on the High Seas is a strategic game of the Civil War which focuses on the role of the navies on the rivers, along the coasts and on the oceans.  While most ships are represented by generic counters for Ironclads, Blockade Runners, Gunboats, Screw Sloops and, of course Raiders, there are cards and corresponding counters for many individual vessels.  This series presents those cards and offers a glimpse into the history of these storied ships.


USS Mississippi (USN Card 23) “Largest Ship in the U.S. Navy”- Perry’s Flagship

......and the bane of Confederate Coffee Drinkers!


When Commodore Matthew Perry went to Japan he wanted to make a big impression – and so he chose the biggest vessel he could find for his flagship.  At over 3,300 long tons, in 1861 the USS Mississippi (USN Card 23) was easily the largest ship in the fleet.  Having served in the Mexican War, she was also already a veteran combatant. 

As the Civil War broke out, USS Mississippi was sent to blockade Key West, and within less than a week on station, captured an inbound blockade runner packed with Brazilian coffee (a highly-prized commodity the South would do without for four years). The massive warship was then sent to the mouth of the river whose name she bore -  and while on blockade duty captured another coffee ship, thus depriving the Confederacy of much-needed caffeine.

When David Glasgow Farragut took on Forts Jackson and St. Phillip in April 1862, USS Mississippi was with him – and it was two massive broadsides from her huge Paixhans Guns that wrecked the Confederate ironclad ram, CSS Manassas. (CSN Card 71).  (Farragut is a leader counter in the game and appears on three cards – giving strategic and tactical advantages on USN Cards 33 and 1, respectively, and with his presence on the map allowing play of the card marking his flagship, USS Hartford – USN Card 37).


Despite protestations by Captain Melancton Smith that her displacement and length made her unsuited for operations upriver, in March 1863 Farragut sent her to support the attack on Port Hudson. As Smith feared, she grounded while under enemy fire.  Smith and his exec, George Dewey (of Manila Bay fame over 40 years later), struggled mightily to refloat her – but Confederate gunners could not miss this huge, immobilized target.  Smith finally gave the order to scuttle her – and when the fires he set reached her magazine, the largest ship in the U.S. Navy became a part of the river with which she shared her name.






Tuesday, August 20, 2013

USS Powhattan: From Porter to Dahlgren, From First Shots to Last

The Ships of Rebel Raiders    - The Men o’War

Rebel Raiders on the High Seas is a strategic game of the Civil War which focuses on the role of the navies on the rivers, along the coasts and on the oceans.  While most ships are represented by generic counters for Ironclads, Blockade Runners, Gunboats, Screw Sloops and, of course Raiders, there are cards and corresponding counters for many individual vessels.  This series presents those cards and offers a glimpse into the history of these storied ships.

USS Powhattan: From Porter to Dahlgren, From First Shots to Last



When Fort Pickens in Florida was threatened by Secessionists in early April, it was the powerful USS Powhattan (USN Card 21)  which was dispatched to ward them off.  President Lincoln tried to recall her from that mission and send her instead to show the flag at Fort Sumter, but Lt. David Dixon Porter set sail before the change in orders could reach him.   That was probably fortunate for him and his ship,  for although this modern sidewheel steam frigate 16 guns – including ten 9-inch and one 11-inch Dahlgren smoothbores, and five 12-pounders – it would have been no match for the massed batteries in Charleston Harbor – guns which would pulverize Sumter that month and ward off fleets of ironclads over the next four years.

Porter (USN Card 2) went on to other fronts (notably commanding the mortar boats at New Orleans, as depicted on his card for Rebel Raiders),  while USS Powhattan went on without him to Charleston, where she chased down blockade runners (catching several prizes) and battered the defenses of Fort Fisher over Christmas, 1864.  Her guns later supported the landing and assault which led to Fisher’s capture three weeks later.

After the war, USS Powhattan took on another Dahlgren – Rear Admiral John Dahlgren, the designer of the guns she carried.  He chose her as his flagship for the South Pacific Squadron, and sailed aboard her to Valparaiso to guard American shipping and interests during the Chincha Islands War.  Dahlgren appears in Rebel Raiders twice – once on a card with his name (USN 31) and as the inspiration for USN Card 3 “Yankee Guns.”







Monday, August 19, 2013

How Patrick Kairns Won and Bob Kasabian ALMOST Won as the Union

Two Games, Two Condensed Replays of Rebel Raiders…and a compliment from Hong Kong.

Rebel Raiders is a really great game” says Alfred Wong of Hong Kong.  “My friend and I enjoy every game we play.”

Bob Kasabian’s “Almost” Union Victory (“Both of us love this game”)
-This from Bob Kasbian:

Just finished our second game of Rebel Raiders. This time I had a much more coordinated Union strategy, and with the aid of the card that extends the game one turn, came within a whisker of winning. On the final turn, I took Atlanta and Richmond, despite there being three batteries in each, but Farragut, with an eight sloop Grand Fleet, could not defeat the Rebs in New Orleans. The CSA VP total was negative, but since I had only 12 CSA cities/ports, I needed all three of the above (already had Memphis and Vicksburg) to get the win. We used no optional rules. The one change in Union strategy I would make would be a wolfpack of Screw Sloops to hunt down Raiders. They roamed free much of the game, and earned lots of VPs. Both of us love this game.

Patrick Kairn’s “Emotional Rollercoaster” – or when the Union is down, the only way is back up…to victory

-This from Patrick Kairns in Montreal

An emotional roller-coaster
My nephew and I played Rebel Raiders last night for the first time face-to-face. We had played a couple of times using the Vassal module. We started with the 1862 scenario with no optional rules, although the play book advised using some optionals. We wanted to see how differently the 1862 scenario would play from the Basic Game (1861). Did we EVER find out!! I was the Union and he was the CSA.

The game was an amazing roller-coaster ride! All the way through 1862 and half way through 1863 the
Union could do NOTHING right and the CSA could do NOTHING wrong! My dice rolling was atrocious through that period or if I did get a good roll my nephew would get an exact same roll, therefore winning the assaults, speed rolls, etc. If I remember correctly I must have unsuccessfully assaulted New Orleans (the only city I needed to capture the Mississippi) about 5 times!! I had an amazingly difficult time (dice again) capturing coastal cities as well. So I turned my attention to destroying his Blockade Runners, and Raiders and was quite successful (at last). I had to. He topped-out many times at 50 VPs. He was on top of the world and I was about to burn the game...literally!

Then finally in mid-1863 the cards
AND dice finally turned. His inability to accumulate VPs by sea and my capturing of Atlanta started to bite into his VP total during the CSA supply phase (rolling two dice & subtracting that result from his VPs.) When I did capture New Orleans and he was to roll 3 negative dice in his supply phase, and I had him discard R.E. Lee from his hand hurting his chances of defending Richmond, he surrendered in April 1864. Now the roles reversed completely. I was elated and he was crushed.....emotionally.

The game play was very exciting, at times very frustrating, but immensely entertaining. As the
Union I learned to be patient, forget my bad dice rolling and concentrate on my plan, which was more or less trying to implement "The Anaconda Plan". To my relief it worked.

This was not a complete game, but very close to being one. As stated we played until April 1864 when we both agreed a Union victory was inevitable. I had whittled his VPs down to low 20's, and would have smashed through to
Richmond in the 3-4 turns we had remaining. I was building 2 extra Cannon Pawns/turn availing me of 4 assaults/turn plus his Supply rolls would have done the CSA in.

It was a tremendous game. An exciting time was had by all. If I may add a bit of advice, do not get too high or discouraged with your play. the tables can turn extremely quickly.

Have fun, and if you don't own Rebel Raiders on the High Seas, it is worth the price of admission and belongs in your game collection.

…and then he added:


Thanks to both you and Fred for creating such a great game!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

August 17, 1863 – “Swamp Angel” In Place To Shell Charleston

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,  

August 17, 1863 – “Swamp Angel” In Place To Shell Charleston


            Historical Event:   On this day in 1863 Union forces completed one of the most amazing engineering feats of the war.  They unveiled a massive siege gun, which would earn the nickname “Swamp Angel,” as they readied a new bombardment of Charleston and its defenses.  The huge 8-inch 200-pounder Parrot Rifle was installed in secret by soldiers who worked nights in 30-man teams to create a road and gun platform in a swamp by vertically driving huge logs 20 feet through the soft mud into the sandy substratum below, then adding a layer of pine logs, earth and sand bags on top.  It took 450 men to drag the 12-ton gun into position (which they did in two parts, the heavier carriage first, then the barrel) – and then to ferry powder and shot and shell – including incendiary rounds filled with a combustible fluid of gun-designer William Parrot’s own invention -  “Solidified Greek Fire.”    Firing would commence on August 21, with devastating and demoralizing if not decisive effect - and would conclude two days later when a the breech exploded, dismounting the gun.  That final shot, however, the 36th launched by the mighty weapon, hit its target.  The "Swamp Angel" never fired again - her position being taken over by a pair of giant siege mortars.

            Game Connection:    Attacking Confederate ports is a tough job for the Union, especially if they are as heavily fortified as was Charleston.  Massive mortars and huge guns like the “Swamp Angel” were often used to aid the Army and the Navy in its attacks, and are represented by USN Card 48 – Siege Train.  As the card (see below) notes, when used successfully, it is returned to the player's hand for use on another turn.




Friday, August 16, 2013

USS Kearsarge “Semme’s Bane”

The Ships of Rebel Raiders    - The Men o’War

Rebel Raiders on the High Seas is a strategic game of the Civil War which focuses on the role of the navies on the rivers, along the coasts and on the oceans.  While most ships are represented by generic counters for Ironclads, Blockade Runners, Gunboats, Screw Sloops and, of course Raiders, there are cards and corresponding counters for many individual vessels.  This series presents those cards and offers a glimpse into the history of these storied ships.

   USS Kearsarge  “Semme’s Bane”


Named after a mountain in New Hampshire, USS Kearsarge (USN Card 14 in Rebel Raiders)) is best known for its epic duel with the CSS Alabama (CSN Card 63), in the Battle of Cherbourg, fought off the coast of France in June 1864.   That was not the first day the Union warship plagued the Raider’s captain, Raphael Semmes, as it had been part of the force that blockaded him and his previous ship, CSS Sumter (the Raider counter that starts the Rebel Raiders’ game in New Orleans) when the Union caught up with Semmes at Gibraltar in 1862.  When Semmes took over the CSS Alabama a few months later, it was USS Kearsarge which was tasked with hunting him down.

That hunt took 20 months, during which Semmes sank or captured 65 U.S. merchant ships.  When Semmes, ailing and, like his ship, worn out, went to Cherbourg for a rest and refit, USS Kearsarge followed.  Piqued into action by allegations that he was a mere “pirate,” the Confederate Navy officer accepted the challenge from his Union counterpart, Captain John Winslow, and steamed out to fight.  While CSS Alabama did mount a more powerful 100-pound Blakely pivot rifle, she was otherwise outgunned by the Union sloop-of-war, which carried a pair of 11 inch Dahlgrens, four 32-pounders and a 30-pound Parrot rifle.  USS Kearsarge had another advantage: an armored belt of single-link iron chaincladding  and chain cables protected her most vital areas.

The duel lasted about an hour, at which point Semmes struck his colors and asked Winslow for help in saving his crew – although Semmes along with 41 other sailors were picked up by a nearby yacht which spirited them to safety in England.   The action was recreated by   Edouard Manet in his famous painting (see illustration below).

USS Kearsarge earned a battle star on her Civil War campaign streamer, and 17 members of the crew received the Medal of Honor for this action.  After repairs, she was sent to hunt down the Confederate ocean-going ironclad ram/raider CSS Stonewall (CSN Card 74), but the war was over before they met.

In the Game….recreating the epic duel

In Rebel Raiders on the High Seas, when a Yankee Sloop meets a Confederate Raider, the Union player has to win a speed roll; the odds are in the Rebel’s favor, as the Confederate ship adds a +3 to its die and wins ties.  CSS Alabama is even harder to catch, as it gets an additional +1 …but so does the USS Kearsarge, making it one of the few sloops that can catch her.

In The Battle of Cherbourg, however, it was the Rebel who initiated the combat, which a Confederate player may do if he wishes in Rebel Raiders.

When a Sloop and a Raider do fight, the Union ship gets two dice, and the Rebel one.  A “5” or “6” on any one die will sink the other.  Both CSS Alabama and USS Kearsarge each get a plus to their die/dice respectively, and if the Yankee Guns (USN Card 3) is in play, the Union ship also gets to re-roll one die in one round of the combat.   Should the Union player miss, the Confederate can escape...and live to raid another day.








Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A "Rebel Raiders" Homage Admiral David Glasgow “Damn the Torpedoes” Farragut!

A "Rebel Raiders" Homage to Admiral David Glasgow “Damn the Torpedoes” Farragut!


On this day in 1870 David Glasgow Farragut passed away.   The admiral appears in Rebel Raiders on the High Seas not only as a Leader counter but on TWO Union cards (USN Card 1 – “Damn the Torpedoes…Full Speed Ahead!” and USN Card 33 – The Grand Fleet).  The first card gives Union ships extra dice when firing on Rebel batteries – but only after they take a round of fire from the Confederates, thus mimicking the Navy tactic of directing fire at Rebel gun positions that have exposed themselves, and the second allows the Union to amass a larger stack of ships (10 vice the normal 6 allowed in the rules) when making an attack – which represents Farragut’s accumulation of a massive force to hit Mobile Bay.

Farragut was one of the first admirals in the U.S. Navy – attaining the rank of rear admiral as a reward for taking New Orleans in 1862.  Nine such rear admirals were authorized by act of Congress in 1862  (among these were Samuel Francis DuPont – USN Card 54,  John Dahlgren – USN Card 31, David Dixon Porter – USN Card 2 and Andrew Hull Foote, who appears as a Leader in the game).  Farragut later became the nation’s first vice admiral – promoted by Lincoln for his storming of Mobile Bay, and its first full admiral (four star rank), an honor he was given a year after the war in July 1866.


Farragut, though born in Tennessee and married to a Southern belle, stayed loyal to the Union – so much so that he told his wife that he was going North even if she and the family stayed South.  He and Confederate Admiral Franklin “Old Buck” Buchanan (a Confederate leader in the game) were among the senior officers in the Navy, and just as Buchanan felt Farragut had betrayed the South by coming North, so did Farragut believe “Buck” had betrayed his oath to the Union by going South.   The two men quite literally fought eye-to-eye at Mobile Bay,  Farragut supposedly uttering his famous “damn” not so much because of the torpedoes, but because from his perch on the rigging of the USS Hartford (USN Card 37) he could see Buchanan looking up at him from the pilot house of the ram CSS Tennessee (CSN Card 86), as depicted in the famous painting of that action by William Heysham Overrend (see below).







Tuesday, August 13, 2013

“American Civil War games are very popular in Japan”

Rebel Raiders – In Japanese?

“American Civil War games are very popular in Japan” 

My old friend, the renowned artist Rodger MacGowan made that comment when he sent me the photos (see below) of the Japanese language edition of Rebel Raiders on the High Seas.

“Based on my contacts in Japan and the photos I have seen on the web from Japan,” Rodger told me, “the American Civil War is a very popular subject among wargamers in Japan today.”

Rodger should know, he has been doing covers of my games for 30 years – including all of my Civil War titles, from the early 1980s Army of the Potomac, Army of the Tennessee pairing that combined make Mr. Lincoln’s War right up to, of course, Rebel Raiders on the High Seas.


Look for more Rebel Raiders images on his website, and for major coverage of Rebel Raiders in an upcoming issuing of his C3i magazine.




Monday, August 12, 2013

“The Unsinkable” USS Brooklyn

The Ships of Rebel Raiders    - The Men o’War

Rebel Raiders on the High Seas is a strategic game of the Civil War which focuses on the role of the navies on the rivers, along the coasts and on the oceans.  While most ships are represented by generic counters for Ironclads, Blockade Runners, Gunboats, Screw Sloops and, of course Raiders, there are cards and corresponding counters for many individual vessels.  This series presents those cards and offers a glimpse into the history of these storied ships.


Part IV – The Union Screw Sloops: “The Unsinkable” USS Brooklyn


The sloop-of-war USS Brooklyn  (USN Card 13)  was practically a one-ship Navy; she did it all, and fought everywhere, in every kind of action.   She helped frustrate Confederate attempts to take Fort Pickens in Pensacola in 1861, then captured several blockade runners.  When Raphael Semmes made his initial foray out of New Orleans on the CSS Sumter (the Raider counter that begins the game there) she gave chase – but the elusive Semmes got away, as he always did.

USS Brooklyn caught several blockade runners in 1862, and battled her way up river past the guns of Forts Jackson and St. Philip to engage the Rebel Ironclad Ram CSS Manassas (CSN Card 71 in Rebel Raiders). The ironclad did ram her, but as the captain reported “did us little injury.”  (Only on the USS Brooklyn was a 24-foot long gash in the hull a “little injury.”)    Later in the summer of 1862 she went upriver to run the batteries at Vicksburg and drove the Rebel gunners away while troops landed at Donaldsonville, La.

USS Brooklyn was pulled out of the Mississippi to blockade Galveston, where she again was stymied by Semmes (who returned in the CSS Alabama (CSN Card 63) to trick, engage and sink the USS Brooklyn’s consort, the gunboat USS Hatteras (USN Card 16).   The mighty warship, however, got some measure of revenge by capturing a pair of blockade runners, including the Kate, skippered by the legendary and until then always lucky Thomas Lockwood – until then “the most successful of many Charlestonnians engaged in blockade running” (according to Robert N. Rosen, in his book, Confederate Charleston).  Kate was one of nine blockade runners captured (and one sunk) by the USS Brooklyn during the war.

Mobile Bay in August 1864, however, was where USS Brooklyn would be most sorely tested – as she led the second column into the Bay; when the ironclad USS Tecumseh immediately off her port bow hit a torpedo (i.e. mine) a sank in seconds, the captain stopped and began backing as the USS Brooklyn had also run into a net of mines.  The Rebel Ironclad Ram CSS Tennessee (CSN Card 86) tried to ram her, but she fended off the ram and added her guns to those of the other Union ships that forced the Rebel ship to strike.

Nearly 100 of those aboard USS Brooklyn were killed or wounded in the action, and 23 sailors and marines aboard were awarded the Medals of Honor.


After extensive repairs, USS Brooklyn was sent to aid in the attack on Fort Fisher.  After the war  she became the flagship of the South Atlantic Squadron and later that of the Asiatic Squadron.  For her final service, in 1889, she circumnavigated the globe – running Cape Horn – before returning home to New York to be decommissioned.






Saturday, August 10, 2013

USS Iroquois: Ship of War, Ship of Mercy - 50 Years of Service

The Ships of Rebel Raiders    - The Men o’War

Rebel Raiders on the High Seas is a strategic game of the Civil War which focuses on the role of the navies on the rivers, along the coasts and on the oceans.  While most ships are represented by generic counters for Ironclads, Blockade Runners, Gunboats, Screw Sloops and, of course Raiders, there are cards and corresponding counters for many individual vessels.  This series presents those cards and offers a glimpse into the history of these storied ships.


Part IV – The Union Screw Sloops: USS Iroquois: Ship of War, Ship of Mercy - 50 Years of Service

Few ships serve their country for 50 years – and fewer still serve as both men o’ war and ships of mercy.  Such, however, is the legacy of USS Iroquois  (USN Card 12 -  “Sloop of War ” in Rebel Raiders on the High Seas).

USS Iroquois was commissioned in 1859 and sent the Mediterranean – where it hosted no less a figure than the renowned Italian freedom-fighter Giuseppe Garibaldi.  Recalled home as war loomed, she was sent to the Caribbean to seek out commerce raiders  (those very ships for whom Rebel Raiders on the High Seas is named).  She found the first of those, the CSS Sumter (the Raider counter that starts the game in New Orleans) but its wily captain, Raphael Semmes (who would later command the CSS AlabamaCSN Card 63 – and which also appears on the game box cover) gave the mighty Union warship the slip. 

USS Iroquois also later intercepted a British sloop, aboard which were the Confederate ministers James M. Mason and John Slidell (of the Trent Affair – CSN Card 83 fame).  Commander James S. Palmer, however, wisely and diplomatically let them proceed.

USS Iroquois finally got into the shooting war as part of Farragut’s (USN Card 1) squadron during the attacks on Forts Jackson and St. Philip (which appear in the game as well).  She also took part in the shelling of Vicksburg before being recalled downriver for service hunting blockade runners in the Gulf of Mexico (a key role for Union sloops in the game).  USS Iroquois performed that same task in 1863 as part of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, catching several blockade runners, notably the Kate and the Merrimac.  After repairs, she was dispatched to the Pacific to hunt the raider CSS Shenandoah (CSN Card 64).

After the war, she became part of the Asiatic Squadron and later the Pacific Squadron, landing her Marines to protect U.S. interests in Panama in 1885.  In 1892 this antique man of war became a hospital ship, a role she performed until finally retired and struck from the Navy List in 1910.








Friday, August 9, 2013

First Nine Chapters Free!

Princess Ryan's Star Marines - First Nine Chapters Free!


Here's a sample of what you get for only $4.99 on Kindle:

Click on the "Look Inside" feature on the Princess Ryan's page on Kindle and read the first nine chapters of the novel for FREE! on line.

That is 45 pages (nearly 10 percent of the novel) and includes the Dramatis Personae and a Contents section with the titles to all 94 (short) chapters.

If you liked the games, you'll enjoy to novel -- as most of the characters, weapons, warriors and sites from the Avalon Hill board game are there - along with new characters and much, much more!  Suitable for all ages,   Princess Ryan's Star Marines, as one reviewer says, is "...packed to the rafters with old-fashioned space opera (and lots of new bits) that throws caution to the wind and replaces it with very amusing prose, without losing the reins of the story."

http://www.amazon.com/Princess-Ryans-Star-Marines-ebook/dp/B006P4E9V6/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1376016448&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=princess+ryan%27s+star+marines



Thursday, August 8, 2013

$4.99 for Princess Ryan on Kindle!


$4.99 for Princess Ryan on Kindle!

-To make my novel more accessible and more affordable, I have reduced the price by half to $4.99 on Kindle. Paperback version is $17.99 (down from $19.99 - I can not go any lower due to 'price to publish' contractual agreements with CreateSpace...although it can be had for even less in the used shops on Amazon).

http://www.amazon.com/Princess-Ryans-Star-Marines-ebook/dp/B006P4E9V6/ref=sr_1_15_bnp_1_kin?ie=UTF8&qid=1375994527&sr=8-15&keywords=princess+ryan%27s

Some Nice Press About Princess Ryan's Star Marines

Woke up today to some nice and unexpected press about my novel, Princess Ryan's Star Marines...


Over da edge

 

A blog of edgy book writing, clever game designing, and lucky life 


AUG
8
On Sharks, Gen Con, Matt Forbeck, Mark McLaughlin, and Bacon.
http://overdaedge.blogspot.com/2013/08/on-sharks-gen-con-matt-forbeck-mark.html


As the blogger remarks:

In other game novel related news, an acquaintance of mine, Mark McLaughlin, recently released Princess Ryan's Star Marines. Based of the beloved game of the same name, Princess Ryan's Star Marines follows the exploits of a squad of star marines as they attempt to rescue the beautiful (I assume) Princess Ryan. You can read a review here.

In related news, look for a major review of the novel on Goodreads very shortly....