Gettysburg – Martin Wallace

Well, after several months of trying, last Friday I finally got to play Gettysburg, the second of the 2-Player wargame series from Treefrog, designed by Martin Wallace.

I had high hopes for this game, especially since it appeared to be similar to Waterloo – if you remember, that was may favourite game of last year.

After my first play, I have to say that the jury is still out on whether I like it or not. The fact that I lost my first game has nothing to do with it – honest!

I was playing the Confederates, and from that point if view, and from the way I played during the game, the battle pretty much played out according to history – but it was the way in which it played out which had me more than a little frustrated.

End of Day 1 – the Union forces have retreated to the ridge line beyond Gettysburg and have started to ‘dig in’

Gettysburg – End of Day 1 – the Confederate right flank

Gettysburg – End of Day 1 – view from the Chambersburg Pike

The order system works really well. You can see in the above pictures that each player has a series of tokens with numbers on (2 – 5) these are command tokens, and you can issue orders to units in the same or adjacent board areas to where the tokens are placed. Each token only allows you to issue the number of orders on that token, and then they have to be removed – and you cannot place a removed token back on the board until your command token pool has been exhausted…it’s a very interesting mechanic, and certainly makes you think about where and when to place command tokens in order to keep your battle plan moving.

My frustration came due to the impossibility of my prediciment by half way through the second day.

Gettysburg – End of Day 2 – Confederate forces surround the Union positions, but the Union forces have managed to completely entrench themselves on the ridges

Gettysburg – End of Day 2 – Confederates fail to capture ‘Little Round Top’ with heavy losses

For me, the frustration came with a couple of the combat mechanics.

By the end of day 2 of the battle, although my attacks on Little Round Top had failed, I had completely surrounded the union position with both infantry and artillery, and was ready to launch an all out assault on day 3. However, the Union player had managed to fully entrench himself on the ridges, and every posistion was supported with artillery.

As day 3 started, it soon became clear that I was on a hiding to nothing. The rules state that my artillery can only target my opponents artillery if they have fired (and given their position away) otherwise I have to target infantry. However, since the infantry was entrenched, I only hit them on the roll of a ‘6’ from each artillery battery (a roll of ‘5’ caused disruption) Due to my usual dice rolling, I was only causing a maximum of 1 hit or 1 disruption per turn, if any, and you needed 6 hits to destroy an infantry unit. However, on the Union players turn, he can use an order to remove disruption of to reinforce his position (this moving casualty markers to his adjacent areas with troops) so my artillery was having little effect.

I couldn’t target his artillery, because they weren’t juded to be firing at me. They were, however, firing in defense when my Infantry assaulted, and were causing massive casualties. This seems to be to be a bit of a hole in the rules, as I was completely unable to reduced the firepower of the Union guns, and they had no need to target me other than by firing to repel my infantry assaults.

The upshot of all this was that my infantry were suffering heavy casualties when attacking, were failing their morale rolls approx 50% of the time, and even when they did succeed in causing the Union forces to roll a morale check, they only failed on a 1-in-6 chance.

The result wasn’t even close. I completely failed to even come close to taking a single Union position – in fact, the only forces I managed to eliminate were two units of Union Cavalry, which had been badly mauled on the first day.

My own losses, however, were very large.

Now, I can’t decide whether this was a good game or not. On the one side, it seemed to accurately reflect what happened during the battle, but on the other had, you would like the game to be a much closer affair, and it was my impression that at no point was the Union player at all stretched, and was never in much danger of even coming close to losing one of the objectives that we were fighting over.

There is of course, the possibility that I simply made a complete hash of the whole thing and got exactly what I deserved.

So, the jury is out until I play this game a couple more times – but despite all this, I think the general mechanics of the game are pretty sound, and I would like to see them used again.

Gettysburg Day 3  - the final position

Gettysburg Day 3 – most of the Confederate Infantry have either heavy casualties, or have been completely destroyed. The union positions remain pretty much at full strength

Gettysburg – the Confederate butchers bill

*Apologies for the quality of the photos – they were taken on my Blackberry 8520, which hasn’t got the best camera in the world.

1 Comment on Gettysburg – Martin Wallace

  1. One thing I noticed when I played…the Confederate double orders are very important. If played right, it is possible to break an entrenchment on a ridgeline. Of course, I didn’t play it right, and Pickett once again informed his boss, “General Lee, I have no division.”

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