Recommend
32 
 Thumb up
 Hide
6 Posts

Test of Fire: Bull Run 1861» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Review from a wargame / M.W. fan rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Dan Poole
United States
Goldsboro
North Carolina
flag msg tools
Udu Wudu
badge
Udu Wudu
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I was looking around my semi-local game store and stumbled across this game. The box looked kind of ordinary, and not having heard anything about it here on BGG, I almost dismissed it. But one thing caught my eye: it was designed by Martin Wallace, one of my favorite game designers. Since it was relatively cheap, I went ahead and got it.

The game comes in a large box (bigger than necessary) and has a nice mounted mapboard (which is smaller than most wargame boards). There are infantry, leader and artillery counters for both sides, dice and a deck of cards for both sides. each player gets a plaque depicting their action allocations.

Gameplay

The game is extremely easy to play. Both players roll dice (Union roll 4, CSA roll 3) which dictate the actions they get for the turn: 1 = draw a card, 2,3 = artillery fire, 4,5 = move, 6 = draw card, or fire/move in a space with a leader. The union does all his actions first then the CSA player does his. The gist of the game is for the union player to cross Bull Run and try to secure 2 out of 3 victory locations. The CSA is basically on the defensive. Combat and artillery fire are both very simple to resolve, rolling hit dice. Successes will be rerolled which then either cause the enemy to take a hit or retreat. The game ends when either supply location (union = Centreville, CSA = Manassas Station) is overtaken or if a player successfully routs his opponent. The game will otherwise end when a player has to draw a card and there is none left in the deck. At that point the union wins if he has secured 2 out of 3 VP objectives. Failing this, the CSA wins.

Specifics:

Artillery Fire - every 2,3 rolled at the beginning of the turn allows an artillery attack: for each attack, roll one die: 5,6 is a success. reroll all successes: each 1-5, causes a retreat, each 6 inflicts a hit (infantry counters are eliminated after their 2nd hit)

Combat - Occurs automatically when infantry end their move in an enemy infantry occupied space - defender goes first then remaining attackers go. roll 2 dice per infantry (not to exceed 6 dice). 5,6 succeeds (4-6 succeeds for defending infantry on a hill). Reroll successes: each 1-3 causes retreats, each 4-6 inflicts a hit.

Movement - every 4,5 rolled at the beginning of the turn allows units in one region to move one space. There are border limits allowing 0 and 3 units to cross. the "0" spaces represent un-fordable parts of the river. There is a ford card in the union player deck which gives a +1 modifier to crossing the river. Combat takes place at anytime during the active player's turn.

The Cards - the various cards enhance actions or can be used as a separate entity (i.e. cavalry charges). The rout card in particular is interesting. When this is played, you roll 2d6. If the result is equal to or lower than the number of casualties inflicted upon your opponent, you win.

Overall, I really, really like this game a lot. It is easy to play and turns are very quick. I like rolling the dice at the beginning of each turn to see what actions are available to you and your opponent. This limited action availability makes for tough decisions, but for some people may be a turn-off and may be considered too luck-driven. Nonetheless, I really like it. It is a super simple game with no wargame charts and tables (though I like these too). The only modifiers in the entire game are the defensive hill modifier and the special ford modifier. Verisimilitude suffers at the expense of simplicity, thus hardcore wargamers may be put off by this. However, this is meant to be a quick, easy little battle game that cannot be looked upon as a historically accurate recreation of the battle of Bull Run. Also, it plays quickly and both sides play quite differently. My wife really enjoys it which is a big plus. The rules are very clear. There have been some questions here about certain issues, but in my opinion, these are explained pretty clearly in the rulebook as long as common sense is applied.

Pros:
- Easy to learn
- Quick to play
_ Nice mounted map and sturdy components
- Limited action availability (con for some)
- Supposedly this is the beginning of a series of civil war battles
- Martin Wallace made it (usally an automatic buy for me)
- Fun,fun,fun

Cons
- Not historically accurate due to its simplicity ( I don't care)
- May have too much luck due to poor rolls limiting crucial actions (oh well, too bad)
- Artwork on counters and cards somewhat spartan

Overall rating 8/10









25 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Marco Arnaudo
United States
Bloomington
Indiana
flag msg tools
designer
badge
"My spoon is too big!"
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
thanks for the review!
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Uncle Greasy
United States
Miami
Florida
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
You're right about the comment on hard core wargamers, I'm one of them and I'm undecided. However, I have a cousin that has fallen behind on metal challenges of typical war games and I might buy this game so he can come up to speed slowly.

Do you think the rules would lend themselves to an expanded home made minis game for a game convention? In other words, if I take the rules and tweak as necessary and use miniatures with a larger 3d terrain board, with more regions for movement... Would this likely work as a multiplayer convention game?

Justo
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dan Poole
United States
Goldsboro
North Carolina
flag msg tools
Udu Wudu
badge
Udu Wudu
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Quote:
You're right about the comment on hard core wargamers, I'm one of them and I'm undecided. However, I have a cousin that has fallen behind on metal challenges of typical war games and I might buy this game so he can come up to speed slowly.

Do you think the rules would lend themselves to an expanded home made minis game for a game convention? In other words, if I take the rules and tweak as necessary and use miniatures with a larger 3d terrain board, with more regions for movement... Would this likely work as a multiplayer convention game?

Justo

I use minis from battle cry and they work nicely. You just need something to track their wounded status. As far as expanding the game and terrain, the rules are definitely generic enough to allow for different battles and such. The only rule specfic to this game is the fording of the river card, though this obviously can be used in any scenario with a river.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Uncle Greasy
United States
Miami
Florida
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks. I ordered the game and it should be in my hands by end of next week. I'd look fwd to reading the rules in detail to see how much I can pimp it up for the next game convention.

Justo
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Barry Kendall
United States
Lebanon
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
I like wargames of all complexities; sometimes I like to get down in the dirt and fiddle with all sorts of simulated details; sometimes my brain is fried but I still feel like pushing some counters around "playing General."

ToF sounds like it would satisfy the latter urge quite nicely. I can't help but wonder if more are coming.

Although I think Martin's Waterloo design is a work of pure genius in its "feel" for Waterloo, and his Gettysburg faithfully re-creates the tendencies of cumbersome command problems to produce indecisive outcomes unless one is very, VERY deliberate, I'm happy to see him design a more freewheeling ACW battle game system and hope to see some more.

It sounds as though this system would lend itself particularly well to Shiloh, Antietam and Stones River.

I'm looking forward to picking up a copy of ToF. Thanks for the very fine review.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.