30 Dec 2021

Killer Angels

Killer Angels (1984 West End) is a detailed operational study of the Gettysburg campaign with unique mechanics for command, hidden movement, skirmish, and battle. It also factors in political constraints that mainly apply to the Union side.

KA has a dense rule book and a steep learning curve, with its off-map organization tracks, reaction movement, a fog-of-war system, and sub-routines for Contact, Skirmish, and Battle. These days it shouldn't be all that intimidating compared to other games with reaction movement, such as Crossing the Line (2019 VUCA Sims) - AKA Piercing the Reich.

The game appeals to players with an interest in ACW army organization and Union Army politics. This may be a reason the game was neglected in the hobby and is still considered somewhat of an oddity - i.e. the difficulty in finding two players willing to immerse themselves in this environment long enough to become familiar with the mechanics to the extent that campaign considerations become foremost.

A solitaire rating of "low" (on the box) doesn't help, but it should not deter a player interested in studying the campaign. Take a look at the 14-part youtube series by Jonathan Townsend for example. Hidden units, and the hex-by-hex reaction system, make it best with two players.

Cardboard Abacus/Spreadsheet

The off-map unit tracks are a big down-side to playing KA as published. Players have to get used to managing their forces on these tracks - the perpetual shifting of one's attention from the map to the tracks. KA comes with 900 counters! Every unit and leader has a map counter and a track counter, which are essential for representing units that are attached to a parent formation (off map), and which are detached (on the map).

In the VASSAL module the number of game pieces has been reduced to around 50, thanks to generic units and game-piece layers, so the strength tracks that took up most of the printed map are gone, replaced with compact rosters in Private Windows for the CSA and USA.

Whenever a unit is created for a scenario, you specify its ID and strength using right-click commands. A unit's leader (if it has one) is specified in a property sheet. When you activate a Leader in the game, the Admin Points appear in the center of the HQ (or Unit) game-piece.

December 30, 2021: Module ready for playtesting. Please advise of any problems or suggestions for improvement.

Download Killer Angels vmod file.

Attached files (below):

  1. Table of leader factors (US legal size 8.5 x 14)
  2. Setup (vsav) file for Advanced Scenario 1. The file was created and saved as the Solitaire Player. For a two-player game, each should load the vsav file, and then Retire as the Solo player to join either the Union or Confederate side.

Second Winchester

In Advanced Scenario 1 Lee has seven turns to detach a corps to take Winchester (held by Milroy's division of VIII Corps) while holding on to his depots at Culpeper and Fredericksburg opposed by Hooker. The Union VIII Corps is essentially immobile, so this make a good solitaire environment for practicing the advanced game system.

8 Dec 2021

Fredericksburg 1862

Poetry of Mark Morss (1947-2015)

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24 Nov 2021

Piercing the Reich

Piercing the Reich (Dirk Blennemann, 1995) is the original version of the recently released Crossing the Line. (In this article we will call them PTR and CTL.) The scenario is the Battle for Aachen, Sept-Oct 1944 - the initial crossing of the Westwall defenses by Allied forces.

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11 Nov 2021

Victory in the West

It started with an SPI subscriber feedback survey. The resulting game from SPI was Operation Typhoon (OT), and if you read just the first half of the designer's notes in OT you might think it turned out an unplayable mess.

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25 Oct 2021


Thoughts on Combat Value, Manpower Value, and Artillery Value in Great Campaigns of the ACW.

See also: House RulesSeasonal Movement Points.

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20 Oct 2021

HSN Scenario 4

Ongoing comments as I play through the GCACW tournament starting in October 2021. I'm in the PBEM division. All games are from Hood Strikes North: scenarios 4, 6, 2 and 7 (in play order).

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12 Sep 2021

Hood Strikes North

Here at Consim Comment, we're not particularly interested in the western theater of the USCW. So we quickly off-loaded BAC and AIO. But with HSN being billed as a simpler one-map campaign suitable for newbs, we are giving it a close look. This gives us something new in GCACW-land while waiting for the new version of On to Richmond!

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31 Aug 2021

vmod Summary

I've always taken a learn while doing approach. In this instance, I wanted to learn how to make VASSAL modules so I started with a favorite game series: Great Campaigns of the ACW.

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