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Board Game: The Civil War
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Subject: Revisionist Thoughts by "John Kisner" rss

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This is transcribed from the "Fire & Movement" issue #81, July-August 1992, pages 20 & 21 authored by John Kisner, with addendum as [*Noted] or with further explanation by myself:

I have complied what I feel to be just the tip of a veritable iceberg of revision needed in BAB. Some of my ideas have already been worked into the main text of this article, the rest are presented here. [*Note-I'll include anything in addition at the end of this, for what that concerns.] There is virtually nothing in the game of "The Civil War: The War That Pitted Brother Against Brother" that I would leave intact in a second edition. Symbolizing this is my hope that generals be given separate leadership values for attack and defense. This would allow George Thomas to be shown as a rock on the defense, but something of a brick on the attack. The proposed change is in many ways trivial, but four-score-and-seven similar modifications are needed to fulfill the great potential of this game. I do not think the sorts of revisions that I have in mind risk destroying the basic simplicity and elegance of the design. Rather, they will bring the game to a certain level of polish and completion that is far removed from its present incarnation. Now admittedly, these changes haven't been playtested--but I'm not charging you anything for them, so at least you're getting your money's worth!

Even though the elegant production system is the heart of this design, it is the area most in need of revision. Too much emphasis has been placed on the five Confederate strategic cities. The virtue of simplicity in this case clearly fails to outweigh the many sins that result. Because of the production rules, the states of Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, and both Carolinas are virtually devoid of strategic importance. Sherman's March, Sheridan's Valley Campaign, and Butler's Red River Adventure are thereby portrayed as insignificant.

Here is one possible fix. When a strategic city is captured by the North, its RP total should be divided between its state and all adjacent ones. Tennessee, for example, is adjacent to Missouri, Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas. When Memphis and/or Nashville fall, their RPs should be permanently divided among these nine states as evenly as possible. Numbered markers should be placed within a state's boundaries to show how many RPs have been shifted in this manner. These resources are now counted as part of the CSA total only as long s the South controls at least one city in the state for each RP shifted. Note that this change gives every state in the Confederacy (and the border states) some economic value while retaining the basic simplicity that is BAB's trademark.

I suggest in a similar fashion allowing the South to shift the RPs normally lost when a seaport has been captured to any ports that are still open. The only restriction on shifting RPs is that most seaports can only have four (4) RPs shifted to them--the exceptions being New Orleans, Wilmington, and Charleston, which are limited to 8 extra RPs. This change requires the 'B' result on the Blockade Table to be altered somewhat. Modify this to require a second roll to determine how many RPs (1-10) are stopped by the blockade. Obviously, no more CSA RPs can be stopped than the number coming in through the port.

Now we turn to the problem of manpower. By my count, there are 120 cities in the CSA, Kentucky, and Missouri combined (after subtracting Unionist St.Louis and Knoxvill from the total). Counting each of the CSA strategic cities as worth double (or '2') gives us a final figure of 125. When issuing a draft or call for volunteers, the CSA player should check to see how many of these cities he controls. While this task is admittedly tedious, at least it only has to be performed a few times in the course of a game. Multiply the number by '4', and average this product with the number of PPs normally generated by the call. Tis figure is the revised number of PPs received by the CSA player for the call. At the start of the game, for example, the CSA controls 109 cities (since both Missouri and Kentucky are neutral). Multiplying this by four (4) yields a product of 456. Averaging this with the First Volunteer Call figure of 375 results in 415 PPs actually received. This figure is 52% of the initial Federal total of 800--better than BAB's 47%, but still short of our target figure.

The next step is to add similar territorial concerns to Northern PP generation. For each city in Missouri, Kentucky, and West Virginia not held by the Union at the time of a volunteer call or draft, subtract two (2) from the number of PP received. Failure to control Knoxville or any city in a Union state subtracts another two (2) points each from the total. Given that Knoxville and the 15 cities in the three states named above begin the game outside Union control, this means that the initial Union Volunteer Call is reduced by 32, to a revised total of 768. The revised initial CSA total is now 54% that of the North, which is just about right.

Expressly allowed in the game is the placement of reinforcements in enemy zones of control. This makes a siege operation extremely difficult to carry out. For this reason, never allow units to enter play in hexes adjacent to the enemy.

The "Forward to Richmond" political point award may be too extreme. Change this to only force the Union to attack once every month, but now require the battle to involve an Army or I.F. (Independent Force) on each side to count.

When produced, forts and ironclads should be placed face-down on the map. On the next and each subsequent turn, roll a die for each partially finished unit, and on a '1' or '2' work is completed, and the counter is turned face-up. Until completed, these units are immobile and have no effect on play. They are destroyed when enemy forces move through their hex -[*ADDENDUM-this applies during their construction.] Note only one fortification level at a time may be worked upon in a hex.

In BAB, players can upgrade militia to line infantry at a cost of extra RPs. What this simulates is beyond me, since very few troops actually were issued breech-loading or any other fancy equipment. Ditch this RP cost. I suggest that militia be upgraded "for free" at the following rates. Each week allow both players to upgrade one (1) militia point in 1861, two (2) in 1862, three (3) in 1863 and so on. This will allow the armies of both sides to slowly gain veteran status.

The same sense of bewilderment holds true when regarding the option of "charging" a nation 5 RPs for the privilege of tearing down a few fence rails to entrench an army on the battlefield. Given the steep decline in Confederate RP accumulation over time, this rule actually makes it more likely Rebel forces will dig in early in the war than late--the reverse of the historical case. Players who want to charge for entrenchments should vary the cost over time, from '5' RP in 1861, '4' in 1862, and so on down to '1' RP in 1865.

Now make each "odds level" a DRM (Die Roll Modifier) in combat. For example, a 1:2 odds ratio adds "2" from the die-roll; a 4:1 odds ratio subtracts "4". There is no DRM at 1:1. Keep the doubling and tripling of losses "as is".

Allow a player to "Pass" during an Action Phase after all of his mobile forces have taken at least one action. The other side then has the option to immediately end the turn; if not, it takes another action and the player is again given the option to "Pass" or take an action. This should help eliminate the artificial advantage garnered when running your opponent out of actions early.

Finally, I would suggest only placing the lowest-ranking counter for each leader in the cup, since the present rule seems to inordinately favor the North's chances of picking one of the four (4) counters for Grant and Sherman out of their cup before the Southern player picks the single R.E.Lee chit in his. Furthermore, it detracts somewhat from the "random" elements that conspire to make each game's unfolding so wonderfully varied.

[*Note--additional suggestions gleaned from the MAIN article as presented from MY 'perspective' on the matters.]

*First of all, then having additional "Scenarios", or "YEAR Starting Points" to conduct this FROM with any, would enhance it greatly.

*ALLOW the CSA to maintain their "Army Levels" at the same 'rate' that the USA does, with regards to their Leaders. As it stands now, then these are woefully undersized in comparisons, from even an historical accounting on that aspect.

*SUPPLY--something, rather than NONE as it now has, should become devised, and I'll delve within that at some later time.

*MORALE--When conducting "Battles", then an accumulation of Losses (henceforth designated as a "Morale LOSS") is subtracted from the combined "Leadership Value" after every ROUND, in order to reduce the selections available due to this. A 'Track' should be created to make this easily and readily apparent, or use some numbered 'counters' piled/set aside together, in order to establish the ongoing tally on this. Once the "M.L." causes the Attacker's "L.V." to become LESS than 'zero'-(0), it must select "Withdraw", and this were available for that CHOICE where it may not have been allowed before. They also were restricted to RETREAT only one-(1) HEX, instead of taking a full movement action.

*POLITICAL IMPLICATIONS--Perhaps a few MORE ought to be considered on the 'Track' adjustments. "Emancipation Proclamation" being something to consider especially. That might even entail providing additional "Manpower Points" that the Union player could obtain whenever it were enacted. By the same design, then the CSA could proffer "Freeman Rights" to their enslaved populace in a similar fashioning. Anything else that YOU can suggest and were worthy of affecting this in a feasible demeanor, are herewith OPEN for discussions on their implementation.
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