the games of the Great Campaigns of the American Civil War series

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PBEM with Honor

Playing GCACW by e-mail using the honor system is simple and fast. The basic premise is that once you've got the initiative, you roll the dice as needed during your movement and combat. Then at the end of your initiative, you roll for the next initiative. (This involves rolling for your opponent during combat and initiative determination.) Keep going until you need a response from your opponent, which could be for any of the following reasons:

If an enemy unit's retreat after combat will have no effect on the rest of your initiative (as sometimes occurs during a multi-unit activation), you can go ahead and finish it before getting a response from your opponent. Keep in mind the defender's voluntary retreat-after-combat option; you can't assume that your opponent will not voluntarily retreat, so you will probably have to get a response from him in these cases.

Mistakes are handled by sending your opponent's move back, to be taken up (and replayed) from the point where the mistake occurred. Nothing prior to the mistake is allowed to be changed. Actually, I have not found mistakes to be much of a problem, as the players currently involved in GCACW PBEM seem to be quite careful and conscientious about observing all the rules.

Some tips for playing by e-mail using the honor system:

One of the hardest things about the honor system is sticking to a decision once you've made it. What I do to eliminate the temptation to alter a decision is to keep a written log as I go.

I use a notebook to record everything I do, as soon as I do it. My rule is: once I've written it down, I will not change my decision. For example, if I decide to activate a corps and I choose three divisions to participate, I'll record this in my log before rolling the movement die roll. Then, whatever roll I get, I'll stay with what I wrote down, and not revise which divisions were committed to the corps activation.

The other stumbling block in the honor system is accepting whatever dice rolls occur, regardless of how improbable they are. In GCACW this seems to be more true of die rolls that favor you as opposed to those that go against you. So, just roll the dice, record the results and proceed with your turn. If you roll four initiatives in a row as the Union, you've got to accept it (as does your opponent). Do not think "he'll never believe it." He has already told you that he trusts you enough to believe it by agreeing to the honor system in the first place.

I play by e-mail for the enjoyment and to get acquainted with the various scenarios in GCACW. While the honor system might not be everyone's preference, to those of us who want to gain experience with the game system in a casual environment, it works very well. When using the honor system, winning takes a back seat to participating in an interactive historical excercise on a subject we all enjoy.

Robert Morss

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Great Campaigns of the American Civil War, Stonewall Jackson's Way, Here Come the Rebels, Roads to Gettysburg, Stonewall in the Valley, Stonewall's Last Battle and On to Richmond are trademarks of Avalon Hill Games, Inc. used with permission. Avalon Hill Games, Inc., a Hasbro affiliate. All rights reserved.

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