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Subject: Boardgames in Blighty reviews - Gettysburg: The Wheatfield rss

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Mark Rivera
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Review – Gettysburg: The Wheatfield from Victory Point Games

Designer – Hermann Luttmann

Art – Rick Barber, Brandon Pennington

2 players age 12+

I’ve always found miniatures war gaming interesting but I just couldn’t bring myself to invest the funds and time into it. Too bad really as those miniatures are just so cool. Also, they seemed to give you a sense of what it was like to fight a tactical battle.

Victory Point Games has launched a new series of games called Tattered Flags and the first game in the series is Gettysburg: The Wheatfield. Designed by Hermann Luttman, this is a game which aims to present the best aspects of miniatures war gaming in a board game format. The game is set at one of the critical fights during the Battle of Gettysburg. It is therefore, a small localized affair with a small number of units which should mean it is very manageable. The game play is meant to be more along the lines of the traditional Kriegspiel. I see this as an opportunity to get a feel for miniatures war gaming without the cost and time commitment. Now I’ve played tactical American Civil war war games before and the question for me is how does this game stack up?

The contents are typical VPG standard, card based map and counters, minimal rules, well 12 pages which is a lot for VPG but its not as much as your typical tactical war game. The artwork on the map is very nice and has an almost period feel to it. The main thing you notice about the map is that there are no hexes or areas to regulate movement. The counters are colorful and well presented with the troop stands depicting a miniatures look which has a very evocative appearance.

Gameplay

Again. This is a miniatures game set to a board game template. So by its nature, it will be detailed. Its not a game of sweeping movements but of tactical finesse. The rules cover movement and unit formation, the problems posed by different types of terrain, the thorny problems of unit cohesion, morale, etc. The ground commander’s view of war at the coalface. The combat is in your face and brutal as was in the American Civil War. Amazingly, the rules are condensed into 12 pages. There is just enough detail to give you a good feel for the fighting and local tactics. Because the fighting covered is very localized, it is a very manageable and playable game. As is typical of tactical games, this game can be a bit slow and ponderous as there are a lot of considerations. This is a game that moves more towards trying to simulate or model events rather than give you a light, fun experience.

The game process covers typical areas for a tactical game – Initiative, Issuing orders for movement and combat, Rally, etc. One difference is movement which is regulated through measurement. Instead of movement points and moving through hexes, unit moves are based on inches on the game map. The movement, formations and facing has a more miniatures feel to it compared to other ACW board games. It does make things a bit more difficult to get right but it works well and feels less abstracted. It all feels like a more tactical firefight.

Another new wrinkle is the use of Battle cards which you can play to best effect as they bring events of a sort or allow you to do things which will benefit your efforts. Yes they are random to a degree but you need to plan for their use and I think that they provide the unexpected, which does happen in war, even in the best laid plans.

All in all, the look and feel of the game and mechanics works effectively. It is an interesting challenge which will take patience as you maneuver and manage your troops to take your objectives.

Did it work for me?

Gettysburg: The Wheatfield brings a refreshing change to ACW tactical battles. In a small format with a limited amount of pieces, I feel like I can manage the game and get it played in a reasonable sitting. It looks great and this adds a lot to the experience. The use of measurement for movement and firing range gives it more a miniatures feel which I like and that’s the innovative part of the game along with the Battle Cards. Having said that, it is a game for those interested in tactical miniatures war gaming and ACW gaming so its not for everyone. It is a game that takes patience and thought. You will work for victory. You will get an interesting sense of ACW combat on the ground. The experience isn’t so much of a game as a simulation which is interesting. A good solid design that has been presented in an attractive, manageable format.



Boardgames in Blighty rating – 7.5 out of 10



Family friendly?

This is a game aimed at war gamers and miniatures war gamers

For more information got to – http://victorypointgames.com/
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HERMANN LUTTMANN
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Thanks Mark! A very concise, yet insightful review. I'm really glad you enjoyed the game as we have big plans for the series. Good gaming! Hermann
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Mark Rivera
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I have to say that the further developments sound very interesting Hermann. How about the first day's battle with Devin and Gamble fighting Heth's Division? Any thoughts on taking this to other ACW battles? Or even other wars?.
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HERMANN LUTTMANN
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Yes indeed, Mark. We're going to do the entire Sickles Salient - Peach Orchard / Wheatfield / Devil's Den / Little Round Top - in this initial series. After that, other portions of Gettysburg are under discussion (Spangler's Knob, etc.) as are portions of other Civil War battlefields. As far as other wars are concerned, I'm keen on doing some Mexican-American War battles and perhaps even some Franco-Prussian War battles. The cool ideas are out there! Thanks, Hermann
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Aaron Gelb
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Hermann, this game looks great and I plan on picking it up. I would like to learn more about the ACW, and I'm already into miniature gaming (fictional, however) so this seems like a great simulation to have.

Are there facts and informative summaries regarding these battles, tactics etc included in the game?

Also, on the topic of other wars, do you see any chance of a game series like this including more modern wars, such as WWI or even WWII? Could it work? To me, it would be the ultimate game.

Thanks!
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HERMANN LUTTMANN
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Hi Aaron and thanks for the kind comments. There are no specific historical notes per se included in the game, though I do mention some ACW tactics and historical commentary throughout the game and in the designer's notes. My "bibles" for a good concise summary of ACW tactics are two books written by Paddy Griffith - "Battle Tactics of the Civil War" and "Battle in the Civil War". Those are great both great reads.

As far as more modern wars are concerned, I don't really see that happening as far as I can tell. This series is a musket / age of rifles period series. Someone else on BGG mentioned wanting to see a WWII application, but that would mean a whole new "animal". I guess if there's enough interest and somebody wanted to take a stab at it, that would be fine, but it sounds like a tough task.

Thanks again! Hermann
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Aaron Gelb
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Sounds good....thanks for the quick reply!
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Larry Doherty
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Thanks for the review Mark, I ordered a copy.
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Bill Wallace
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Quote:
My "bibles" for a good concise summary of ACW tactics are two books written by Paddy Griffith - "Battle Tactics of the Civil War" and "Battle in the Civil War". Those are great both great reads.

Well, thanks for the honest disclaimer. I was interested until I read that. It's hard to find a less credible source, It may be fun reading, but his notions about technology (rifle muskets weren't any more lethal than Brown Besswhistle) and tactics (he likes mass cavalry charges!gulp) and overall concepts (he says by '63 troops were reluctant to attack trenchworks because they were "dispirited." Was he a WW1 officer?angry) are just silly and his research/footnotes have been thoroughly debunked.

Sorry.

I'd be interested to see reviews from people with knowledge of acw tactics. Maybe the game still works. Hope so.
 
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HERMANN LUTTMANN
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Thanks for your post, Bill. There are a number of others who also enjoy and abide by Mr. Griffith's writings and observations and certainly I don't agree with all of his conclusions. However, those books do offer a nice overview and summary of the dynamics of the Civil War battlefield. When I say "bible", I obviously don't mean them to be the only source of information (Gettysburg's Bloody Wheatfield by Jorgensen was my main source for this game) but I do find both Griffith books to be well organized and very helpful. As far as the game system is concerned, I invite you to download the rules and charts from the VPG website and let me know where you think the game falls short as a playable and reasonably realistic depiction of ACW combat. Good gaming. Hermann
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Kevin Duke
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A soft and constructive reply. My congrats, Hermann!
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