Saturday, December 21, 2013

Stonewall Jackson's Way II: AGA Scenario II: Johnston Vs. Patterson

As much as the first scenario of "All Green Alike" presented a straightforward situation, the second scenario offers a far more complex series of decisions and victory conditions that belies its small scope.  "Johnston Vs. Patterson" recreates the situation of July 1861 when Gen. Johnston slipped away with his Confederate Army to reinforce Gen. Beauregard and tip the scales to a Southern victory at 1st Bull Run.  The is the only other scenario except for the previously reviewed Scenario 1 and the full Virginia campaign that will use the west map from "Here Come The Rebels."  The game is 3 turns long and musters roughly 5 brigades for the South and 8 for the North.

The Confederates are tasked with exiting the map, defending Winchester and attacking the Union army with the goal of creating panic.  The North achieves its objectives by also exiting the map, preventing the South from exiting, taking Winchester and causing the Confederates to panic.  Panic is a new game mechanic added to "All Green Alike", a far more comprehensive rule than the relatively simple concept of panic that was found in the original "Stonewall Jackson's Way."  Each army in the game is given a panic level.  Once enough units in the given army take retreat or rout results in combat the whole army may panic.  A panicked army suffers various effects, most notably a -1 modifier to all combats as attacker or defender for the rest of the game.  Each side has to carefully pick its objectives while planning both offensive and defensive possibilities, all under the fast moving 3 day time limit.  Be sure to read the victory conditions carefully.  On our first playthrough I failed as the South to account for the fact that all 5 brigades must exit the map or face a VP penalty.  That mistake cost me the game by a very narrow margin.
Johnston Vs. Patterson Setup

Memorial Circle American Civil War Monument

Location: Augusta, Maine

Features: Monument

History: Unknown

Traveler's Notes: Photographed October 2013


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Stonewall Jackson's Way II: AGA Scenario 1: Across the Potomac

The first scenario from SJWII's "All Green Alike" focuses on the overlooked pre-Bull Run campaign in the Shenandoah Valley.  The game takes place from July 2-5, 1861 as Gen. Patterson leads the first major Northern invasion of the region.  The historical dates for this scenario are the earliest represented in the GCACW and even fall before the dates set for the AGA advanced games, making this scenario the unique starting point for the whole war.  This scenario does take place exclusively on the "Here Come The Rebels" west map, so ownership of that game is required to play.

This scenario provides an excellent introduction to the game system with low counter density and a simple set of victory conditions.  The Southern force contains 4 infantry brigades vs. the North's 6 brigades.  The Union objective is to secure a series of locations, the deeper into enemy territory they go the higher the overall VP reward. This sets up a nicely balanced meeting engagement as the Confederates move north to stop the incursion and take back objectives.  All the "green" restrictions are in play here as leaders have a limited ability to command troops to march and attack.
Across The Potomac Setup

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Tecumseh Monument

Location: Thamesville, Ontario, Canada

Features: Stone monuments on highway wayside

History:  During the War of 1812, Tecumseh lead an alliance of Native American tribes who joined with the British in the goal of preventing future American encroachments on their territory.  These hopes were dashed when the British were defeated at the Battle of the Thames in October of 1813 and Tecumseh was killed.  The site of his death is marked by this monument.

Traveler's Notes:  Photographed August 2012

Resources:  TecumsehBattle_of_the_Thames

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Lincoln's Gettysburg Address Memorial

Location: Gettysburg Soldiers' National Cemetery

Features: Monument on cemetery grounds

History:  Today's post marks the date 150 years ago on November 19, 1863 when Lincoln gave his famous speech at the new Soldiers' National Cemetery.  The Battle of Gettysburg was a mere five months past when Lincoln dedicated this ground to those who died and were buried on the gentle slope of the very hill where the Union cause was saved.  This monument was placed in 1912.

Traveler's Notes:  Gettysburg remains the inspiration for all my historical travels.  After 25 years of nearly annual pilgrimages to the battlefield, it never fails to provoke an emotional sense of awe, reverence and connection.  For me, no other place so singularly and physically demonstrates our relationship to those who have come before and the importance of understanding how their actions shaped our lives.  Lincoln's words accurately describe this pervasive sense of reciprocity that lingers at Gettysburg to this day.

Resources:  Gettysburg_AddressGettysburg_National_Cemetery

Monday, November 18, 2013

U-505 German U-Boat

Location: Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

Features: Tour of U-505 interior and exterior, exhibits and displays on U-boat history and operations, museum also contains vintage aircraft and NASA spacecraft.

History:  The U-505 was captured by the US Navy on June 4, 1944 along with her crew, codebooks and Enigma machine.  After the war, the Navy donated the submarine to the Museum of Science and Industry here in Chicago.

Traveler's Notes:  This was always my favorite part of the MSI, having visited it several times from childhood on.  This is my first visit to the sub since the 2005 restoration.  The submarine was brought inside the museum to protect it from the elements that were damaging the hull.  The new exhibition hall is exceptional, with many hands-on activities demonstrating the workings a U-boat.  Sadly, I did not get to view the interior on this November 2013 visit as the tours were sold out for the day, a testimony to its enduring popularity with visitors.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Setting up The Gamers 1st Edition Afrika for tonight with Dan K.  Rommel or Monty?

Monday, November 11, 2013

Immaculate Conception Church World War One Memorial

Location: Salem, Massachusetts

Features: Monument

History: Immaculate Conception Church was the first Catholic Church in Salem, est. 1826.  The monument was built in 1920.

Traveler's Notes:  Photographed October 2013


Memorial Circle World War I Monument

Location: Augusta, Maine

Features: Monument

History: Unknown

Traveler's Notes: Photographed October 2013

Resources: None

Saturday, November 9, 2013

It Never Snows Wrap Up

This week we finished up our "It Never Snows" campaign game.  The Allied effort ended a bit abruptly when they failed to dislodge a German effort to cut the supply line at the Veghel bridge.  My initial impression of the game centers on the game specific road march rule.  Both sides have the ability to make sweeping "strategic" moves along the extensive road net at the beginning of every turn.  This requires both sides to maintain a rigorous vigilance on unit placement at every possible crossroads where an axis of advance is possible.  One small misstep will see a large enemy force behind your lines cutting off supply or sweeping behind a defensive river line.  In the context of the design it makes sense, given the large number of security details available to cover all avenues and the effect the rule brings by allowing for a "surprise" counter-attack without difficult fog of war rules.  However, during actual play I found that this covering every crossroads element to the game dominated my thinking more than the actual operations.  Perhaps it was inevitable given that we were playing this with just two people manning all the various fronts.  The demands of maintaining security for all those sectors might have taken me out of the game a bit.  I should like to try this with multiple players next time to see how much it changes the experience.
Germans hold on by a thread at Veghel Bridge

Kiwanis Veterans Memorial Garden

Location: Laishley Park, Punta Gorda, Florida

Features: Marker plaques and memorial bricks dedicated to local veterans arrayed about a beautiful garden, fountain and gazebo

History: History of memorial unknown.  Punta Gorda was leveled by Hurricane Charley in 2004; the garden and memorials would have been dedicated since that time.  There is also a monument dedicated to the Hurricane and the moment it's winds stopped the downtown clock.

Traveler's Notes:  Laishley Park sits just outside our friend's home along Charlotte Harbor in Punta Gorda.  I came across the Memorial while taking a stroll along the waterfront in August 2010.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Bunker Hill Monument

Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Features:  Monument on battleground remnant park, climbing tour access to top of obelisk during operating hours, statues and placards, Bunker Hill Museum

History:  In the early days of the American Revolution, Colonial militia put the British controlled city of Boston under siege.   On June 13, 1775, British forces attacked the Colonials at Bunker and Breed's Hills on the Charlestown peninsula.  The Colonial troops repelled several assaults on their positions, causing considerable losses to the British.  The British eventually stormed and won the hills, but would never underestimate the resolve of the colonial militia again.
The Bunker Hill Monument actually sits on Breed's Hill, where the main colonial defensive position was located.  The construction of the monument has a long and controversial history.  The monument was expensive and construction was halted several times due to lack of funding.  The oversight Association had to sell off most of the land on Breed's Hill to cover the expense of finishing the project in 1842.  Only the hill's summit survives now as the park upon which the monument stands.

Traveler's Notes:  The discerning battlefield topographer will lament the urban growth that has wholly swallowed up the original hills.  Still, you can at least get some small feel of the orientation of the environs and the flow of the action.  Driving the narrow streets of Boston certainly works as a metaphorical recreation of the channeled avenue of advance that served the British so poorly that fateful day.  The Bunker Hill Museum across the street from the monument offers free admission as part of the National Parks.  It contains many excellent artifacts, dioramas and interactive maps to explain the battle and its participants.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

USS Hartford Nine Inch Gun

Location: Gaylord, Michigan

Features:  Nine Inch Gun from USS Hartford, flagship of Admiral Farragut's fleet during the American Civil War with commemorative plaque.

History:  Admiral Farragut and his squadron were instrumental in blockading the Confederate Gulf Coast ports.  He is most recognized for his role at the Battle of Mobile Bay with his "Damn the torpedoes!" response.  History of monument unknown.

Traveler's Notes:  Monument discovered while stopping for lunch in Gaylord, July 2012.  We were on our way to the 200th anniversary of the surrender of Fort Mackinac on Mackinac Island during the War of 1812.

Resources:   David_FarragutUSS_Hartford_(1858)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Old Fort Western

Location:  Augusta, Maine

Features: colonial era fort, local historical makers

History:  Old Fort Western was built in 1754 on the Kennebec River as a colonial outpost.  It served as the starting point for Benedict Arnold as he organized the ill fated invasion of Quebec in 1775 during the American Revolution.

Traveler's Notes:  The Fort is situated in a scenic park overlooking the Kennebec River in downtown Augusta.  In addition to information about the Fort, many placards are located nearby as part of Augusta's "Museum In The Streets" series relating information about the city's local and natural history.

Resources:  www.oldfortwestern.orgFort_Westernexpedition_to_Quebec

Monday, November 4, 2013

American Civil War Monument, Boothbay, Maine

Location: Boothbay, Maine

Features: single monument

History: Unknown

Traveler's Notes:  Encountered by chance while driving to Maine's Atlantic coast, October 2013.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Powder House

Location: Hallowell, Maine

Features: 1820's era Powder House, cannon from HMS Boxer

History: This cannon was captured by the USS Enterprise from the HMS Boxer during the War of 1812.  This naval engagement took place off the coast of nearby Portland, Maine.  According to the placard it was converted to a field piece and now serves as a memorial to the Hallowell Light Infantry.

Traveler's Notes: This cannon was discovered by chance while wandering the beautiful historic streets of downtown Hallowell, Maine with my family in October 2013.  Hallowell is a small community adjacent to the state capitol of Augusta.  The city of Hallowell offers a series of placards, "The Museum In The Streets", relating local historical information.

Resources: Capture_of_HMS_BoxerHallowell,_Maine

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Cantigny Park

Location: Wheaton, Illinois

Features: First Division Museum, Tank Park, 500 acre park with golf course, garden, McCormick Museum

History:  The park was created by Robert R. McCormick, publisher of the Chicago Tribune and founder of the Tribune Media empire.  McCormick served as a Colonel in the US Army First Division during World War I and participated in the Battle of Cantigny in France.  His estate was converted to Catigny Park as a place to educate, preserve and honor his experiences.

Traveler's Notes:  I thought I would start off this blog with a major local Chicago attraction, Cantigny Park.  The First Division Museum offers first rate exhibits about the history of the unit.  There are two major set piece displays in the museum that must be experienced.  The first is a mock up of a World War I trench under attack that you can walk among the ruins.  The other is a D-Day "simulation" as you step off an invading landing craft onto the Normandy beach.  The Tank Park outside features a nice selection of armored vehicles from World War I, World War II, and modern conflicts.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

It Never Snows On Tuesday

Spending the afternoon trying to squeeze in all the maps for MMP's "It Never Snows," the SCS treatment of Operation Market Garden.  Tonight I take the German defenders against Dan K.'s Allies.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Stonewall Jackson's Way II

At long last the newest entry in the GCACW has arrived: Stonewall Jackson's Way II.  It is unfortunate that MMP decided to market this game as SJW 2.0 because the box contains so much more than the original.  It provides two complete modules sharing one map set.  The "All Green Alike" module features scenarios and campaigns from the July 1861 1st Bull Run period, while "Stonewall Jackson's Way" contains those actions from the 2nd Bull Run campaign of 1862.  A more appropriate title for the game should have been something in the vein of "Stonewall Finds His Way to Bull Run - Twice!"   Well, perhaps something a little snappier, but you get idea.  With over 2x the content of the original game a little rebranding might have been in order.

The components use the new standard design established with MMP in "Battle Above the Clouds."   The manpower counters included now go up to 18 making it now possible to use the new informational counters in most of the older games.  The map is another GCACW wonder, with very crisp detail and lighter hues making it much easier to read than some of the older maps.  The maps have been completely updated to the standard rules, incorporating new terrain features such as hills and ferries.

The "All Green Alike" module contains 5 scenarios and 2 modules from the 1861 early war period.  The units here are all appropriately "green" with leadership values ranging from 1 to -1.  Even the mighty Stonewall himself rates only a 1.  It should be noted that two of the scenarios and one of the campaigns require the use of the west map from "Here Come the Rebels," which would be problematic for those without that edition.

The "Stonewall Jackson's Way" portion contains 7 scenarios and 2 campaigns.  This is two more scenarios than were included in the original.  The new scenarios are all rebalanced and Jackson is now leadership 4 as per the standard rules, down from his superman 5.  Mike L. plans on playing these all out with me over the next month so I'll report on the individual games.  All in all a worthy successor to the original.  Now, when can we expect Atlanta.....

Saturday, July 13, 2013

History Traveller: Fort York

Over the past year I have continued my exploration of the sites of the War of 1812.  A recent trip to Ontario allowed me to visit several of the major forts and battlefields in the region.  First up was Fort York.  Now nestled in the heart of downtown Toronto, the Fort once defended the harbor of York, as the city was then named, on the shores of Lake Ontario.  In 1813 its stone walls were sited right at the water's edge, but years of coastal development have claimed much new land from the lake and the fort now finds itself at a considerable distance from the shore.  In these modern times the Fort sits in a perpetual siege not of musket or cannon, but of skyscrapers and highways, outliving its purpose of physical protection while withstanding the forces of time and progress that would have us forget our common heritage.

Fort York was attacked by a combined naval and infantry force from the United States on April 26, 1813 as part of the ongoing battle for the Great Lakes.  York was targeted because it was both the capital of Upper Canada and a major depot of supplies and shipbuilding materials.  The Americans landed from the lake and attacked the Fort.  The British defenders and Native allies attempted to withstand the assault but were eventually forced to retreat.  One notable casualty was Zebulon Pike, the famous explorer of the American West, who was killed when the Fort's magazine exploded.  The US forces took the Fort and the city of York proper.  Over the next few days the occupying force looted and burned many local homes and government buildings.  It has been said that the burning of the White House the following year was in retribution for the plundering of York.

Today the Fort remains well preserved in its easily accessible location close to the Canadian National Exhibition fairgrounds.  Each of the standing barracks, blockhouses and other buildings contains various artifacts, displays and maps relating the history of the war, life and culture of the period and the specifics of the battle.  Currently, it is not a large park so it can be toured comfortably in a few hours.  However, the venue is undergoing a major upgrade to enlarge the grounds and facilities, so it might be worth checking in on completion before planning a visit. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

ASL - Silence That Gun, I Think Not

The latest episode of the 2 Half Squads features Jeff H. discussing our game of Silence That Gun a few weeks ago at PAASL.  It was the first time we've been at the same meeting in 5 years.  It turned into quite a disaster for me as the USA this time.  To counter Jeff's able defense I went for a sweep into the woods on his right flank. I smashed through his conscript screen and made it safely into the woods.  All that was left was to clean up the two remaining conscript defenders and rush the building line where his gun was located.  Those guys would not go down, surviving both PBF and returning fire with FPF successfully on conscript morale 6.  After a turn of recovery I made it into LOS of the gun and prepared to pepper it with the 4 Bazookas.  I rolled "12" on every shot!  The guy that issued that box of BAZ is in trouble.  With one turn to go my only chance was to blast 'em with old fashioned IFT....and a miss.  Down to the wire. Thanks for the tense game, Jeff.
You can hear it all here at:
The Two Half Squads: Episode 86

Monday, January 14, 2013

ASLCN January 14, 2013

Saturday marked our first meeting of the ASL Chicago Northsiders group.  Three combatants braved the Chicago January cold (all 45F) and made their way to Park Ridge for a very fine afternoon of conversation, food and ASL.  Jason and I played a quick classic, T4 Shklov's Labors Lost, while I gave pointers to Savva and Marc who are just getting into Starter Kit as they went with S28 Breaking Bread.  A very successful beginning that I am sure will be repeated in the near future.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

ASLCN January 2013

This Saturday, January 12th, is the first meeting our our Advanced Squad Leader Chicago Northsiders group.  Contact me for additional information.