Monday, October 27, 2014

Happy Navy Day from Rebel Raiders on the High Seas!

October 27th is NAVY DAY!

In 1922 October 27th was designated "Navy Day" by the United States Government.  The date was chosen because October 27th was also the anniversary of Theodore Roosevelt's birthday.  As assistant secretary of the Navy in the last years of the 19th century, Teddy Roosevelt pushed for the modernization of the fleet and as such is considered by many to be the father of the modern Navy.

In 1949 the Department of Defense decided that it would no longer officially celebrate Navy Day, and that instead of having its own unique day, that the Navy would instead join with the other services to mark Armed Forces Day each May.   Navy Day, however, is still marked by the Navy League and many veterans groups, with parties, dances and other celebrations.

A hearty "Happy Navy Day"  from the designer of GMT's strategic naval game of the Civil War, Rebel Raiders on the High Seas.....

Friday, October 24, 2014

"Hitler's Reich" is "Favorite New Game" of GMT Fall Weekend of Blogger Charlie Lewis

"Hitler's Reich" is "Favorite New Game" of GMT Fall Weekend of Blogger Charlie Lewis

"Great entry game for a new wargamer" says Charlie

Charlie Lewis of The Game Box blogger fame, just posted that my new WW II design "Hitler's Reich" was his "favorite new game" at GMT's Fall Weekend gaming con.

Hitler's Reich is WW2 for two players in two hours - it is a quick set up, fast-playing strategic game where combat and other conflicts are resolved  through a modified version of the classic card game of "War" - but with dice and Event Cards to modify the total.  Colored wooden pieces mark the march of armies as players battle it out across Europe, Russia, North Africa and the Middle East in a military, political and economic struggle to create or take down "Hitler's Reich."

A full description of the game and links to postings on GMT's blog can be found at:

As Charlie says in his blog, however,:

"This is one where the P500 blurbs don't get even close to doing the game justice, that's why I included them from the top.  At one point I was asked what my favorite game of the weekend was, and without hesitation, I answered this one.  Why? Because this is unlike anything I've ever played before, and it works, and its fast, and its not a game that requires a lot of rulebook flipping."

Charlie adds later in his review that:
"It's a fast moving game, as the conflict resolution is quick.  You spend the whole game juggling your own priorities with deciding how hard you want to disrupt your opponent's plans."

He also notes that:
This could become a great entry game for a new wargamer, as it gets a player used to direct conflict but without fiddling with stacks of counters or worrying about ZOCS and terrain costs.  My 10 year old, for example, would probably have fun with this, and I look forward to trying it out with her some day, but my buddy and I also really had fun with it - he even got in a second game of it later in the weekend while I was trying Fields of Despair. I really had fun with this, and the minute the wife gets a new job, I'll be joining the P500 for it."

For the full text of Charlie Lewis' review, please go to:

Monday, October 6, 2014

150 Years Ago: Rebel Raider CSS Florida Taken in Brazilian Port

150 Years Ago: Rebel Raider CSS Florida Taken in Brazilian Port 

Historical Event: In an illegal action that nearly sparked a shooting war with Brazil, in the early hours of October 7, 1864 a Union warship opened fire upon and then rammed a Confederate raider in a neutral port. With Capt. Charles Morris and most of his crew ashore, the CSS Florida was defenseless when Commander Napoleon Collins of the USS Wachusett defied international law and attacked the raider.

Collins had chased CSS Florida for many months. He caught up and berthed next to her in the Brazilian port of Bahia on October 4. Although U.S. Consul Thomas F. Wilson assured the president of Bahia Province, Joaquim da Silva Gomes, that the Union would respect his nation's neutrality, the president took no chances; he placed the raider under his personal protection – and that of a squadron of sloops, corvettes and other warships under Commander Gervasio Macebo. The governor granted the CSS Florida time to take on coal and provisions and make emergency repairs, but also demanded her guns be unloaded while in port.

Wilson and Collins had no intention of respecting Brazilian neutrality.  Together they planned a “cutting-out” expedition to capture the raider – knowing full well that if the CSS Florida left port the slower Union warship would be unlikely to catch her. Even worse, if the USS Wachusett did, she might lose the fight – as most of her guns were short range smoothbores, while the CSS Florida had a battery of long-range rifles. Those would have enabled Capt. Morris to stand off and pound away at the Yankee vessel while keeping out of the range of Collin's heavier but shorter-ranged guns. Wilson and Collins decided to damn international law and go after the raider, in port, while she slept.

Shortly before dawn on October 7, Collins built up steam and bulled his way past a sleeping line of Brazilian warships.  As he entered the harbor he opened fire upon, rammed and with pistols blazing, boarded the Rebel raider. The skeleton crew of Confederates aboard were surprised, outnumbered and overwhelmed. Collins put a prize crew aboard, tossed over a hawser and began towing the raider out to sea.

The Brazilians were enraged at this breach of international law – especially after having been assured   that Brazilian neutrality would be respected. The harbor fort opened fire.  Commander  Macebo raised sails and steam and ordered his squadron to fire upon the Union warship as it sped by. Macebo gave chase, but Collins even with his prize in tow, was able to outdistance the Brazilians.

Collins and Wilson were hailed by the press for their boldness, and were privately praised by Lincoln, Secretary of State Seward and Secretary of the Navy Welles. Unfortunately, to ameliorate the Brazilians they had to be made an example of. Wilson was dismissed from the foreign service and Collins was court-martialed, found guilty of violating the territory of a neutral government and similarly dismissed from the Navy.

Collins remained unrepentant, saying he would do it all again “for the public good.” None disputed that he had acted so, for in her two-year career the CSS Florida had sunk 46 ships and captured 14 others, inflicting damages that her victim's owners claimed had cost them over $4 million – ten times the cost of the Rebel raider.

Confederate commerce cruisers like CSS Florida play a key role in GMT's strategic naval game of the Civil War, as one would expect from a game entitled Rebel Raiders on the High Seas.