Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Reviewing collectible games from a wargamer's perspective: Dixie Shiloh

Dixie: Shiloh is the biggest set of cards in the Columbia Games stable of collectible card games. For the larger battles of Gettysburg and Waterloo the basic unit size represented by the cards was changed from regiment to brigade, although the illustrations still picked one regiment to represent the unit.

In Shiloh, though, the basic units are still infantry regiments, providing an illustrated order of battle that will definitely appeal to wargamers, although from a game player's point of view most of the units are functionally identical.

Like the other games in the Dixie series, the interaction between players and cards is minimal and the game is actually an abstract tactical battle game. The vast majority of cards represent units of infantry, artillery and cavalry or the generals leading them. Combat is resolved by units "firing" or "meleeing" against each other, with the number of dice rolled being equal to the card's combat value and the effectiveness of that fire depending upon the type of unit and the range of the fire. For example, a 3CV field artillery unit firing at "F1" rolls three dice with each roll of "1" inflicting a hit.

At the beginning of their own turn units that have suffered hits make a morale check, routing out of play if they roll higher than their CV, modified for terrain and leadership.

Dixie: Shiloh is different from the other games in the series because of the unusual nature of the battle. First off, instead of both sides setting up opposite each other in their own left-center-right sectors as in the other games, in Dixie: Shiloh the federal player sets up in all six sectors to start, which are labeled front left-center-right and back left-center-right respectively. All the Confederate units start in the CSA reserve position and have to fight their way onto the battlefield. The CSA wins by occupying the center back sector by the end of the first day (which ends when all CSA reinforcements have been drawn). If they fail, then a second day's battle is fought with the USDA winning if it captures the front center sector, making Dixie: Shiloh the one Dixie/Eagles series game where a draw is possible.

One new rule introduced in Dixie: Shiloh is a "stacking bonus" for leaders, which makes these gentlemen even more useful than before.

There are also some special cards adding some historical flavor such as "Johnny Shiloh" and the gunboats USS Lexington and USS Tyler.

Some sample cards:

The other Dixie games offer an option for playing a larger, 5-position battle but Shiloh is restricted to just the 3-position, 2-day battle. This is unfortunate because it means that only a small fraction of the available cards will be used in any game. With 400-500 build points and decks of just 200-250 cards, players can use the majority of their cards in Dixie: Bull Run and Dixie: Gettysburg, but Dixie: Shiloh, while having 400 cards, only has a 225-300 build point version. One way around this would be to simply double the build points and the stacking limits (including leaders stacking bonus) in order to sue more cards.

Like the other Dixie series games, Dixie: Shiloh is definitely recommended for wargamers. The OB alone is a pretty neat feature. Like the other Dixie games there is no artificial "rarity" factor to complicate collectibility. Also, like the other Dixie games, Columbia offers a one-with-everything set for those who don't want to bother with the random booster collectible scene.

1 comment:

  1. Courtesy a pst from Vicotr Garcia at BGG here's a link to a Shiloh scenario that uses all 400 cards: http://www.columbiagames.com/resources/3700/shiloh-historical.pdf