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Shiloh: April 1862» Forums » Reviews

Subject: First impression - mixed rss

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Matthew Taylor
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My first impression of Shiloh after only two games is mixed. I really like the return to movement based on will rather than card draws. I like the emphasis on command integrity and the way the effects of constant activity are handled, with both armies eventually running out of steam as supply points are insufficient to keep all the HQ's moving.

I don't care for the effects of border attack limits at this scale, especially if using the optional flanking rule. In both games the Union player ran away as fast as they could, fighting only where they had no choice but to fight. This enables them to form an really strong line behind Tighman's Branch and the Browns Ferry inlet / ravine early in the day. The border attack limits prevent the CSA from attacking anywhere but the hornets nest with more than 4 units (Cloud Field if one has first occupied the woods across the ravine), only 3 or 1 unit in most places.

If using the flanking rule it is worse still, as only 2 units will be able to attack in the first round of any area except Cloud Field, where 3 can attack.

It appears to be possible to force this line but doing so will cause the CSA to take more casualties than the Union, retarding whatever progress toward victory they achieved in the first few turns. Victory comes not from killing Union blocks, but from killing 10 more union blocks than CSA blocks lost. The game feels heavily weighted to a draw.

I think the problem comes from the real world players having too much freedom to act on the gods eye view. The blocks help (one of the reasons I generally love block games and own most of them) but absent some level of command paralysis on the Union part there is little reason I have seen why they will not just run to the good defense line.

Historically it took a while for the Union to know what was happening to them and so they were slow to react cohesively. In the game the player knows just what is coming and where the good place to fight is, and is free to run.

What I don't know yet is what strategy might produce a Union win absent serious CSA mistakes. Have to play it some more to see if that is even possible - I suspect that the CSA will reach a point where it no longer thinks victory possible late in day one and will itself pull back to a good line, using their cavalry to screen against back to back Union moves. More play time will tell.

We only had one insurmountable rule question and one fuzzy one. Both stem from border limits. The rules say "Terrain restricts the number of blocks that may cross each border per Movement Phase."

The first question is regarding roads and border limits. The woods limit border movement to 4 units per turn. Roads allow 2 areas to be moves through. The question is can 8 units, 4 in each of 2 woods / road areas, move along the road 2 areas? The second border the second groups crosses will already have been crossed by 4 units of the first group. Is this possible? Common sense says yes, they are moving in column, but the rules don't read that way. We ruled for common sense.

The second is does the rule cover one way movement or movement in both directions? We ruled that it covered both directions, so woods limited you to 4 one way, or 2 each way, or 3 and 1.


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Stan Hilinski
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Laurel
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I was involved in the development a little. Mostly I argued about design approaches and in the end, I critiqued the rules a bunch of times. I only playtested the game once.

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In both games the Union player ran away as fast as they could, fighting only where they had no choice but to fight.


There is an optional rule in one of the sidebars that is supposed to address this problem. Give it a try. I understand your complaint was one that others shared in playtests, and I know CG went back and forth about what is now the optional rule. I was not part of those conversations, so I don't know why it ended up as it did.

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We only had one insurmountable rule question and one fuzzy one. Both stem from border limits. The rules say "Terrain restricts the number of blocks that may cross each border per Movement Phase."

The first question is regarding roads and border limits. The woods limit border movement to 4 units per turn. Roads allow 2 areas to be moves through. The question is can 8 units, 4 in each of 2 woods / road areas, move along the road 2 areas? The second border the second groups crosses will already have been crossed by 4 units of the first group. Is this possible? Common sense says yes, they are moving in column, but the rules don't read that way. We ruled for common sense.


I think you ruled wrong. There is nothing in the rules that says road movement waives the border limits. In my playtest, I found road movement and border limits to be a giant PITA. I ended up dropping a die down on each border to track border quotas, but it still made for some pretty herky-jerky movement down roads.. A. Giant. PITA.

Quote:
The second is does the rule cover one way movement or movement in both directions? We ruled that it covered both directions, so woods limited you to 4 one way, or 2 each way, or 3 and 1.


Both directions. Again, nothing in the rules says anything about direction.
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C Sandifer
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Many of Columbia's games have border limits (e.g., Hammer of the Scots, Richard III, etc.), and border limits in those games are always hard limits - regardless of direction or timing.
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Gregory Bay
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First, thank you for the review.

Concerning the border limits and the argument for the Union player just to run, I have found he can only run so fast at the beginning due to his lack of command points. The union player is going to run. He has to, but he cannot run fast. The border limits do hamper the attack at first a bit. This is the frustration for the Rebel player. Still undecided about the positive or negative aspects of this.

I only have a few plays so I am still wondering about this as well. I do want to get this to the table again soon as I enjoyed my first couple of plays.

Thanks.
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Tom Dalgliesh
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The Border Limits for Move and Battle are hard limits. Road Movement does not subvert them in any way. Ditto for movement in either direction. Once a border limit is met, that's all folks.

Is this realistic? Absolutely. In fact we are probably being a tad generous because we allow two or more corps to use the same border or road at the same time (subject to a maximum limit) when in fact this rarely happened. Countless times brigades would halt, sometimes for hours, waiting for other brigades in different divisions or corps to pass.

We did playtest Shiloh often without Move Limits, using only Stacking and Battle Limits. It plays easier, but it sure lets the USA pull back too easy. Move Limits function much like the Road Limits in our games Napoleon, Crusader Rex, and Julius Caesar.
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