article that appeared in Vol. 31, No. 6 of The General
In the spring of 1862, General George McClellan sailed the Union Army of the Potomac down the Chesapeake Bay to Fort Monroe. From there, McClellan's troops marched up the Virginia Peninsula on their way to Richmond. At the time, it was simply called "The Grand Campaign." Over a quarter of a million men, more than any other campaign of the war, were involved in this operation. McClellan's plan necessitated amphibious movement, siege operations, three different supply bases, and close coordination of ground and naval forces -- making it one of the most complex strategic maneuvers of the war. Other games have covered portions of this famous campaign, but ON TO RICHMOND, the sixth member of Avalon Hill's award winning Great Campaign of the American Civil War series, is the first to depict the entire four-month campaign with all of the strategic options available to both players.
In line with the size and complexity of McClellan's operation, ON TO RICHMOND represents the most ambitious project to date in the "Great Campaigns" series. Two brand new maps, stretching from Richmond and Petersburg in the west to Urbanna and Yorktown in the east, depict the Virginia tidal wetlands over which the campaign was fought. These maps cover entirely new ground for the series, starting some 15 miles to the south of the Fredericksburg area covered in the series most recent installment, STONEWALL'S LAST BATTLE. The character of this region of Virginia is reflected in the new terrain types added for the game: two types of swamps, ferries, dams, redoubts, and naval batteries. The rulebook and counter set have been expanded as well. With three full counter sheets, the game includes all of the units stationed within the Eastern Theater who could have participated in the campaign.
The creation of ON TO RICHMOND also breaks new ground by being the first combined effort of series originator Joe Balkoski and SLB designer Ed Beach. Their focus has been equally divided between historical accuracy and playability. The basic mechanics of the series remain unmodified. However, key changes have been made to the rules for artillery, assaults, flank attacks, and retreats to streamline play, eliminate misinterpretations, and enhance the historical flavor. The changes have been made in such a way that they are fully compatible with the previous games in the series and can be retrofit as desired. ON TO RICHMOND includes a rich set of basic game scenarios, 7 in all, ranging in length from 30 minutes to 6 hours. Scenarios appropriate for newcomers to the series and veterans alike are included, with titles such as Stuart's First Raid, Seven Pines, The Gates of Richmond, Flight to the James, and The Seven Days.
Once these scenarios are mastered, players will be ready to tackle the full campaign. The initial strategic burden is on the Union player, who starts the game by selecting between the historical invasion site and three alternative routes to the Confederate capital. But there are plenty of tough strategic decisions on the southern side as well. Forces can be recalled from the Carolinas and Shenandoah, the ironclad Virginia can sortie against the Monitor in Hampton Roads, and Norfolk can be reinforced against a Union attack or abandoned. Rules for siege artillery, amphibious movement, gunboats, and naval batteries have been added to complete the historical picture. Finally, there is a system that allows the Union player to gain and lose the strategic initiative, a technique that works well to model the indecision that marked McClellan's spotty performance in his grand campaign.
-- Ed Beach
This article copyright by Ed Beach and The Avalon Hill Game Company. This article appeared in The General magazine, Vol. 31, No. 6.
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