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Battle Cry - ACW Review
I blame David for this but I’ve just bought the Battle Cry (150th Anniversary Edition) game for ACW battles. I ordered it on Tuesday from Amazon and it arrived today (Thursday) so well done amazing Amazon! I’m going to do a review of the game in 2 parts, with the first looking at the game components and the second looking at a battle report.

The game comes from the Command & Colours stable which some of you will be familiar with. It comes with open grassland type hexagonal board (approx. 2’4” by 1’6”) onto which you may place terrain features to replicate the terrain of a battle you want to game. This board (or battlefield) is divided into 3 sectors, a left flank, centre and right flank. This anniversary edition offers 29 different battle scenarios but you can easily set up your own if a particular battle you want isn’t on the list. The armies are set up on the board to represent a certain time/day of the battle being re-fought. The terrain features include the most obvious items, such as woods, hills, waterways and the like as well as the less seen but often important areas such as entrenchments and buildings. There is no set scale for the terrain as this varies between battlefields. The mapboard and terrain hexes look very nice and are clear and easy to discern when set up.

Ready the Cannon! Fix Bayonets! Prepare to Charge!

The game comes with over 120 plastic (20mm) figures to represent the generals, cavalry, infantry and artillery of both sides. These figures actually look the part and would not go amiss on the standard wargames table. Also included is a page of sticky back flags for each side's troop types. The game comes with a set of unique six sided combat dice with symbols instead of pips. On each die there are 2 symbols for infantry and 1 each for artillery and cavalry. There is also a crossed swords symbol and a flag. When your unit ‘battles’ (this term is used to cover both close and longer ranged combat) then you throw a particular number of these dice (depending on troop type, range and terrain) and score a hit for each resulting symbol of the unit you are engaging. However, the cross-swords symbol scores a hit against any troop type. The flag does not cause a hit but forces the target unit to retreat 1 hex. For example, an infantry unit ‘battling’ another infantry unit in an adjacent (open) hex will throw 4 dice. If the resulting symbols were 1 infantryman, 1 cavalryman, 1 crossed swords and 1 flag then the target unit would suffer a total of 2 casualties and have to retreat 1 hex (owning players choice). However, if the results were 1 cavalryman, 1 cannon and 2 flags then you unit would not suffer any casualties but would have to retreat 2 hexes. If generals accompany a unit they can give it 'Resolve' which discounts one flag symbol, making such units less likely to retreat. Very simple and very quick!

Battle Cry includes:

1 Rulebook
1 Game Board
60 Command Cards
46 Double-sided Terrain Tiles
9 Double-sided Entrenchment/Fieldwork Tokens
14 Double-sided Flag Tokens
8 Battle Dice
1 Flag Label Sheet
122 durable, plastic figures (61 for each side).

Combat ranges and Movement rates vary between troop types, with artillery having a longer range than infantry (no surprise there!) and cavalry only being able to fight troops in an adjacent hex (I haven’t done into later war scenarios to see if this changes but if not then you could always write up a house rule to cover it if desired). The effectiveness of artillery and infantry fire deteriorates with range and sometimes with terrain. Nothing controversial.

A major component of the game is the deck of 60 Command Cards. These are what players use to move and fight their armies. These cards greatly restrict what a player can and cannot do so if you prefer freedom of action in your games then this certainly won’t be the game for you. This does NOT make you a bad person! However, for me, this is where the game really takes off. I think a reasonable way of describing how these cards work is to say that they act like a Fog of War, clouding the omnipotent vision of a wargamer and imposing limitations on his ability to act and react as the battle progresses. This can cause significant frustration and considerable muttering of Anglo-Saxon terminology but is basically great fun!

The cards are split into what I’d term as Grand Tactical and Tactical options.
The Grand Tactical cards refer to the 3 segments of the board (flanks and centre) and what type of action you may take within those segments. For example, a Scout Left Flank card will allow you to move/fight 1 unit whose location starts in the Left Flank Sector, whilst an Attack Left Flank card allows 3 units to be so activated. This represents varying degrees of activity on the part of your army. History is filled with examples of Commanders having their orders misunderstood, misinterpreted or merely ignored by underlings and the game reflects this by using these cards to limit the options available to a player. It might well be that a player sees a grand opportunity on his left flank which, with the playing of an Attack card, could be realized. However, as he examines his deck he finds he only has a Scout card for that sector. Deciding it’s better than no activity at all, he plays it and it might result in the opportunity being missed. Fortunately, such disappointments are democratic as his opponent will suffer his own frustrations when examining the tabletop and seeing the options he has available.

The Tactical cards offer units bonuses and abilities. For example, the Fight Back Command Card allows units that have just been 'battled' to battle back (provided they haven't been destroyed or forced back). This can come as a bit of a shock to the attacking player as the enemy get to fight in his turn and could even follow this up with another attack in their own turn! However, this is a rare card and should be used with care. Another example of a Tactical card is the Hit & Run Command Card. this allows your cavalry units to Move, Battle and then Move again. This allows your cavalry to strike quickly and then fall back (or move elsewhere) to lessen/remove the prospect of retaliation in your opponent's turn.

Usually each player starts the game with 6 Command cards, dealt randomly from the pack, though this can vary by scenario. Players ‘spend’ one card per turn (there are a couple of exceptions) and then draw a replacement card at the end of the turn. This means your overall plan is going to be heavily influenced by the cards you draw (see Jackson’s dilemma in the game report!) and each turn you will only get to move your troops in one of the sectors. Such plans should be as flexible as possible to make best use of your ever-changing card deck. The Command cards can also lead to one of those ‘lulls’ so often described by participants in battles, where both sides are trying to get that initiative that will bring victory. The player who can use his cards to best deliver a co-ordinated plan will usually emerge victorious.

Scenario victory goes to the side that is first to 'capture' a set number of Victory Flags. You gain 1 VF for each enemy unit destroyed and in some scenarios you gain them for capturing a certain terrain feature or location.

I have to agree with David that this game has very good quality production values and I don’t impress that easily!
Submitted by Richard on 13/06/2013