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.
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.
Attached files (below):
- Table of leader factors (US legal size 8.5 x 14)
- 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.
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.