Monday, August 19, 2013
"Longstreet" has arrived... at my door!:)
Well, it has been a LONG time since I posted anything... the summer has been VERY busy with some trips and a LOT of toddler time (the little guy needs a lot of looking after... who knew?) but I did want to post this.
I managed to get my hands on a copy of the new ACW rules from Sam Mustafa, "Longstreet"! Through nefarious means (i.e. Sam lives right nearby) I got them a touch early, and wanted to post my thoughts:)
First things first... obviously, the book and cards are first rate, in terms of production. This isn't news, as this is not Sam's first walk in the park. The book is very pretty, although small, as you can tell in the photo compared to Lasalle. This has its positives and negatives... on the good side, it is small and easy to transport. On the bad side (for me, at least) is that the eye candy, which is one of my favorite bits of toy soldiering, is on the small side too. This isn't a major problem, but one worth noting:)
As always rules are clearly explained and clearly diagrammed in the now-familiar "Honour" style. There are also the usual "from the designer" notes scattered throughout to explain why something is the way it is, and as usual I find myself nodding and saying 'Why yes, that DOES make sense!' The game is card based, although not quite like Maurice... you use card(s) to activate a phase that applies to your entire force, and then can also use cards to modify the goings-ons for individual units, be it to modify morale or shooting. You'll notice the first time you play that shooting doesn't seem to do much, at first, as cards stave off the worst casualties. But what is brilliant about the system is that it isn't only the number of stands you have that determine the fighting readiness and ability of your troops... it is also the state of your deck of cards. So while at the start your fresh units can absorb a certain amount of punishment, as the battle wears on your units will start to degrade faster and faster as your leadership simply cannot push the men further. It takes a few minutes to get used to, but it is a fantastic way to model actual, top-down leadership and overall fatigue. You, as commander, have to balance your use of cards to mitigate casualties and influence the game with the idea of keeping enough cards in your hand to effectively continue the battle, as your hand gets smaller and smaller as the battle rages. By the end of the first game you realize that it just feels "right".
And look... some beautiful miniatures from Dave Taylor!
There are a number of "special" rules as well, meant to create the feeling of the American Civil War. Heroes, for example, do exist, although they are rather vaporous... they are only represented by a temporary marker, infer only a small advantage (note, though, that one impact is they help a unit stay enthusiastic in between battles in the campaign system), and die fairly easily, so don't worry about Warhammer-creep:) That said, it is nice to have an excuse to paint a few hero figures, and it also helps create that meta-narrative all wargamers keep in their head! Also you can see above one of my favorite pieces of the rules, the rules for Colored troops, who are usually eager to fight but can run into troubles when mingling with friendly white units. As I'll discuss later, I also love that the rules for Colored troops change slightly from 1863, 1864, and 1865, as the Union soldiers of all colors get more accustomed to each other!
And look... some more beautiful miniatures from Dave Taylor.
Personally I think the best part of the rules are the campaign. You command a force of soldiers from 1862-1865, and while your force might start large, gradually combat casualties and, yes, even sickness and desertion will start to wear your force down. Troops become veteran but also a little less reckless, and new recruits flood in. Your force also develops some character, as some units become particularly stubborn, others gain fame as sharpshooters, and for the Union Colored soldiers begin to appear. The campaign system is almost like a fun little mini-game that takes place BETWEEN games, and frankly is the best part of any wargaming system I've ever seen. I wish I had a regular group to game with so I could run a full campaign, and maybe even model my force as I go!
And yeah. I get it, Dave Taylor has beautiful figures. Rub it in our faces a little.
As I mentioned, there is some great eye-candy. While a few shots of Dave Taylor's figures have made it into the book, there are others as well, including a few that should look familiar to anyone visiting this blog...
Oh, and as an admission, the shot of the Union Field Hospital above is incorrectly attributed... those figures actually belong to this guy.
So, here are the cards, and yes, they are beautiful. They are similar to Maurice in that you get several types (in-game cards, terrain cards) but these are frequently divided by year. The deck is different, and the game plays somewhat differently depending on what year you play, and this is HUGE as far as the flavor of the game... an early war game really FEELS like an early war game, with new troops and weapon shortages, and a late war games really FEELS like a late war game, with the Union war machine looming large. I love that aspect of the game.
Finally, here are a few of the personality cards. Personalities aren't game-changers, but they do add a little flavor to the game, and you get to pick your own, so you can tailor it to your play style a bit. Some of them are a little more risky than others... the ones with the lightning bolts CAN result in "you" being injured while using your ability... that said, you cannot "die" per se, so thankfully your campaign won't abruptly end, but you might feel the effects of a long-term injury in the campaign.
So, overall, another great set of rules that not only flow well and produce a good, relatively quick game, but also one that reflects the period being gamed... it doesn't feel like a system that you could sub in other miniatures and do a different era, but definitely a Civil War game. Plus the campaign system is simply brilliant.
Find out how to buy "Longstreet" here!
Posted by Author at 7:59 AM