|USN Vice Adm. David Glasgow Farragut|
We started off with dinner and some chat about work, and we had neither of us read the rules exhaustively beforehand, so we did not have time to play through the whole game at our first trial. Instead, we played the first three turns, trying out different gambits and exploring the ways that different rules provisions work. I think we'll be better prepared to play a full game now that we've had a training session.
And play a full game I think we certainly will, as we both enjoyed the game a great deal. It has fairly simple mechanics and achieves detail through varying them in different circumstances. The same basic mechanic is used for ships trying to locate enemy ships in order to attack them, for instance; but CSA commerce raiders and be searched for in all sea and coastal areas, whereas the faster and more maneuverable blockade runners can only be found when they are in a "blockade station"--the approaches to a specific port--or in a port itself. Blockade runners being designed entirely for speed, however, are captured/destroyed if they are found, whereas the sturdier commerce raiders can give Union ships a fight for their money.
The land combat aspect of the war is highly abstracted; as the chiefs of naval operation, the players are most concerned with two main theatres: the maritime war of Southern commerce raiders and blockade runners and the Union attempt to gradually choke off their access to the sea, and the riverine warfare on the Mississippi and its tributaries. The armies appear in the form of assaults, which the Union can launch 2-4 times per turn (turns represent four months), and some supplemental card effects. The Confederates get a counterattack every so often, which can retake ground lost to the USA but cannot conquer any Union territory. Union assaults in the first year of the war are feeble stuff; over time they become more effective, as the wartime economy gears up and the ineffective generals are slowly weeded out.
|U.S.S. St. Louis, Eads-built ironclad gunboat|
I tried an early assault on Norfolk, hoping to capture back the Navy Yard there and enable a two-track land
campaign against Richmond (hope of one of the CSA's major foundries and a big deal for naval support). But I fell at the first hurdle, as the Confederate defenses proved too much for my tiny armada. I did capture a few blockade runners and sank at least one commerce raider in the Gulf of Mexico.
|Vicksburg, MS, levee and steamboats|
Back east, things got worse, as Robert E. Lee came on the scene and prevented any land attacks in the Eastern Theatre, as the Army was too occupied defending against his wily thrusts to launch any of their own.
We stopped after the December 1861 turn for lack of time, and since it was a learning game we didn't even consider noting down all the locations of pieces for a later resumption. But I think we will get this back on the table soon. Especially if one doesn't interject any of the more specialized optional rules, RRotHS is a fast, fun, simple game that, at first glance seems to give a good impression of the naval aspects of the Civil War.