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Subject: The Epitome of Balance rss

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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Monmouth is the fifth game in Mark Miklos's American Revolutionary War series. It cover the 1778 Battle of Monmouth Courthouse, which is the textbook definition of a draw.

Gameplay (25 out of 28): Monmouth is at its heart a classic hex game with a few frills. Unit morale is important in deciding the quality of units, but also there is army morale which determines initiative die rolls and fighting quality. Also if it gets too low your army will disintegrate. When the units, which are usually regiments, fight you roll a die which has numerous factors deciding the result, but mostly terrain and morale. The most unique modifier are the tactics chits, which essentially bring about an overblown form of rock-paper-scissors. This system is quirky and at times fun, but in bigger battles can get tiresome. Being that Monmouth covers a large engagement, I found the tactics to be more annoying than anything. Outside of this element though the game plays fast and furious, with special rules for Charles Lee panicking, the hot sun wearing down your men, and of course Molly Pitcher.

VASSAL Module: The High Unit Density Leads to Large Engagements:
External image


The best part of the gameplay is the overall battle. It ended in a draw, which tells you in part how evenly matched the soldiers and officers were in the fight. This fact is apparent in Monmouth. This is a game where play balance will never be an issue.

Tactical (4 out of 5): the importance of morale, both unit and army, forces you into some interesting tactical choices, but all around this is classic counter pushing and most attacks are attempts to gain the best CRT result. Not that this is bad, but with fancy things like cards or chit-pull mechanics crowding much of the market, some might not like a cut and dry game of simple movement with the intention of gaining the best possible results. Also command control problems are not simulated, which isn't too bad when you deal with small battles like those of the Revolution.

Accessibility (4 out of 5): The extra chrome and some fiddly rules might turn away non-wargamers, but overall the rules are well presented, easy to read, and flow well with play. In fact I think the rulebook for Monmouth is among the best I've ever seen.

Components (5 out of 5): GMT is rightfully noted for its impressive components. Monmouth is no exception, and when compared to Saratoga, you can see how far the series has come in terms of aesthetics. Saratoga looked good in 1998, but Monmouth is a knock out.

The Map:
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A Closer Look:
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Originality (2 out of 2): All of the games so far have featured very distinct battles in terms of flavor. The unusual nature of the battle, in which both sides were equal in strength and quality, makes this a very different experience from Guilford and Brandywine where the British command the best units. Also it is interesting to see the Americans on the offensive and so far this is only the second title to put the rebels in that role.

Historical Quality (5 out of 5): The rules for Charles Lee may seem restrictive, but they are needed considering the history. Also a subtle lesson is included: Washington did not scout the ground and chose a poor place to attack. Rough terrain makes attacking difficult at times. That being said the units reflect the high quality of the British, the improved quality of the Americans, and the diminishing quality of the Hessians. The best sense of history offered though is in the objectives of battle, where the intention is to break the other guy's morale or seize a position, not kill off his army. Wars of annihilation were mostly nonexistent in this period of warfare. All in all this isn't a perfect historical recreation, but there is more than enough to learn in playing the game.

Overall (45 out of 50): Monmouth offers another good game in an excellent series, and by far one of the most balanced scenarios a wargamer could ask for. I'd like to see the system used to cover other small battles from the 1740-1815 period.
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Steve Herron
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I picked it up last December during GMT's 50% off sale. Like MrBean my wife has me under a game embargo. Looks like I will have to drop some P500 orders like Halls & Kiser's Pirates. Great pictures! I guess Molly Pitcher was one of the first relief pitchers. laugh
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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Unless I find a great deal, I too am under embargo.
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Barry Kendall
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On the original topic, a good review of a deserving game. This system continues to impress me as it proves workable in a variety of AWI situations. I'm looking forward to the Spain-in-Florida game that's next on the ways, though I must get around to preordering.

On the second topic--spousal limitations (I simply refer to mine as the Chancellor of the Exchequer, also known as The Authority)--I am concerned that the present economic situation and the limitations many gamers now face might impact publishers badly enough that one or more might fail. GMT appears to be sufficiently diverse in subject offerings that this will not happen to them, though in any given organization, staffers must be wondering what the future holds in terms of hours or employment.

I wish them well and also look forward to the occasional expression of compassion from our Authorities to permit us longed-for acquisitions, or at least time to spend with friends who've been able to procure titles we'd like to play.

Good luck, guys.
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Brian Morris
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gittes wrote:
Unless I find a great deal, I too am under embargo.
My embargo was lifted this week.
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Wendell
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mrbeankc wrote:
gittes wrote:
Unless I find a great deal, I too am under embargo.
My embargo was lifted this week.
Embargoes mean nothing to smugglers...
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Michael Sosa
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I was under a six month embargo ... but now the game has been reduced by 50% and you can get an additional 50% if you make some preorders. Well, you can beat this for $12.50!
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M. Kirschenbaum
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gittes wrote:

The best part of the gameplay is the overall battle. It ended in a draw, which tells you in part how evenly matched the soldiers and officers were in the fight. This fact is apparent in Monmouth. This is a game where play balance will never be an issue.
You played the game once (the language chosen above seems to imply this), got a draw, and concluded it was the "epitome of balance"?
 
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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
badge
Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Microbadge: Moby Dick fanMicrobadge: Ludwig van Beethoven fanMicrobadge: WriterMicrobadge: Horse & Musket fanMicrobadge: Civil Wargamer - Beauregard
Quote:
You played the game once (the language chosen above seems to imply this), got a draw, and concluded it was the "epitome of balance"?
The reference is to history, not a session.
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