- Dan Taylor(stove)United States
VirginiaJust Another Washed Up Wargamer
Embrace an Angry Wind is the seventh in the Civil War Brigade series by The Gamers (now MMP.) It covers the two battles(?) of Spring Hill and Franklin, where the luckless Confederate Army of the Tennessee tried to go on the offensive in late 1864. One destructive battle at Nashville later, the army was finished.
The map and counters are attractive and extremely usable, if not completely up to modern day standards. The two non-mounted maps are not designed to sit next to each other (a boon for space-starved gamers), but rather represent two disconnected areas of battle. (Spring Hill and the area around Franklin.)
Despite the two maps, the forces involved are rather small. The Confederates have probably 40,000 men or so, with the Union having slightly less so. Both armies are veterans, though the Union has some very unreliable troops in the mix as well. (an “E” morale, among other things.) As a result of the paucity of forces, there’s actually quite a bit of space to maneuver. Movement between maps is handled by exiting forces from one map and then putting them in a “tunnel” for a period before having them emerge on the other map. This lends an operational feel to the game unlike anything else in the series.
The special rules cover 3 pages with a variety of effects. The Confederate commander, Hood, gets his own set of rules to reflect his interesting conditions. (He had lost both an arm and a leg and was using laudanum (opium) on a regular basis for the pain.) Hood also gets a “Hood addiction ” table for Hood, which shows Hood eating, being maniac, ordering “disciplining assaults” and finally possibly falling victim to a coup d’etat lead by Forrest. The table is a touch surreal and tongue in cheek, to put it mildly. Rules for the Union supply train and entrenchments around Spring Hill and Franklin also make their appearance.
A number of scenarios are included which cover battles on one map or the other. Worth mentioning is the “Carnival of Death” scenario, in which the Confederate player attempts to recreate the destructive frontal assault of the Army of the Tennessee on the entrenchments at Franklin. The Confederate player wins if he’s able to rack up his casualties to historical levels, a “win” only really in Hood’s mind.
The game, in essence, revolves around the Union supply train making its way from one map to the other, and then off. If the Union can exit the most of the train off the second map, the player will probably win. The Confederate player, using the tools at his disposal, must try to “get that train!” Both sides start with almost no forces on the map, and have only a few short hours during the first day to try to capture (or save) the train. There are also extra options that give the Union player the chance to obfuscate his intentions with the train, which give victory points for actions other than exiting the train. This is an excellent design choice and the sort of thing that should be encouraged, as commanders at the time of the battle weren’t so sure about their enemies’ intentions.
EaAW is certainly a unique game in the series. No other game matches it for pseudo-operational considerations (possibly excepting a 6-9 mapper of the Seven Days). The question of what to defend and where to send the train is a difficult one and the limited number of forces involved mean the loss of a division or two can be crippling to a side. The small number of forces involved mean that the battles could be played in an evening, maybe two since players will probably maneuver around first.
In final analysis, unfortunately, I believe this to be one of the weaker games in the series. This is not to say it’s a bad game, but rather one to be pursued later after chasing down some of the other games in the series first. The “Hood Addiction” Table is, I think, unnecessary. (Yes, your opponent is unlikely to order his troops to attack Franklin in an all-out frontal attack, but that doesn’t mean we need a “Lee’s Frontal Attack” table at Gettysburg because your opponent won’t pull a charge on the third day.) The forces involved are so small that neither side really has much to work with. (The forces are probably the smallest of any of the series, excepting First Manassas, possibly.) Between Hood and the army involved, the Confederates are in for an unhappy time.
If you’ve got other games in the series and are looking for a shorter game that is unlike some of the other games in the series, I’d suggest seeking this one out. If you’re looking for a “starter game,” I’d try some of the other games in the series first.
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- Steve Herron(sherron)United States
TennesseeNever play block wargames with a dentist, they have those little mirrors to peek behind the block.
- More American Generals were lost at Frankin than any other battle. An excellent book on Franklin is Shrouds of Glory (Atlanta to Nashville) by Winston Groom who wrote Forest Gump. The Wiley Sword book by the same name as the game is very good too. I was at the 125th reenactment of Frankin.
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- Les HaskellUnited States
The latest edition of the Wiley Sword book has been renamed to The Confederacy's Last Hurrah. I highly recommend that and Shrouds of Glory.
If you ever happen to be in Franklin, Tennessee (which is not too far south of Nashville) the Carter House is a great battlefield site to visit. The tiny spot behind the house and between the out-buildings was the site of the most horrific and intense fighting of the entire war and has been called the bloodiest spot on the continent. For me, the tour and the talk were sobering and very moving.
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- Thomas Beach
On the contrary, I believe EaAW is a great starter game and intro to the system. For reasons stated, the counter density is very low and allows new players to ease into the system quite nicely. Also, there is plenty of room to maneuver mixed with the very difficult situations players will immediately confront; the Union player is dealing with poor troop quality against Forest's higher quality troops while the Confederate player is dealing with advantages in troop quality while struggling against poor leadership at the higher echelons of the AOT.
I also disagree that the 'Hood's Additction' table is not needed. This entire fiasco was the result of Hood's political intrigues for higher command, an ill-conceived plan and it's poor execution of it, all to make good on his payment to Jefferson Davis and Braxton Bragg for his elevation to army command after the disgraceful subterfuge employed against Joe Johnston in Atlanta. Given the precarious mental state of the commander of the AOT at the time, influenced and compounded by his physical state as well as the documented abuse of opiates, Hood absolutely demands to be addressed concerning his conduct in the battles of Spring Hill and Franklin. Especially when one considers that this series of games is first and foremost about battlefield command and it's difficulties. To be fair, I know of others who feel the same way as Dan about the 'Hood Addiction Table.' That's fine. If you want to ignore the table there is certainly nothing wrong with that. After all, Dean gives players an out with the command rules as well. But it is unfair to try and dismiss the valuable historical implications of the tables use, especially by suggesting it might casually be applied to Lee at Gettysburg when there couldn't be a more striking comparison in leadership at the army level. This kind of dismisal suggests the possibility of a simple, Confederate bias which, again, is fine. In fairness, I will confess that as a player who prefers playing the Union for the additional challenges it provides (e.g. command quality issues), it is refreshing to see those who prefer playing the Confederates for all of their command strengths, similarly challenged as in "Embrace an Angry Wind."
I too was present at the 125 of Franklin. A brutal event with the death of several reenactors due to exposure and related issues. Not a pleasant memory.
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- Mark Owens
Actually, I consider the worst part of the "Hood Addiction Table" the 'fall on his sword' result that puts Nathan Bedford Forrest in charge. I think the combination of losing Hood AND getting what I consider an unlikely replacement of High Quality to be injurious to the Spirit of the game's history. Hood should perhaps be 'disabled' for some period of time (1d6?) and force the next in command succession to take over in the meantime until Hood 'recovers'.
I think there was a Random Events table created (by Thomas Prowell?) that more effectively replaces the Hood Addiction Table without totally discarding its effects. It's been a long time, so I'll now have to go look for it.
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