Monday, June 17, 2013

Gettysburg 1964 -- just a curio now

Starting units Gettysburg 64
The approaching 150th anniversary of the battle has re-kindled my interest in things Gettysburg, especially with the arrival of The Guns of Gettysburg this week, so I thought I'd take a relook at some of the older games, including this granddaddy.

If anything, I think my 2007 review was overly kind, because I see little reason to play this as either a game or as a simulation these days.

There are a lot of problems with the game as a competitive exercise, but the lack of any geographic objectives may the be the biggest one. The victory conditions put the burden of attack on the CSA player, but with no reason to defend the Cemetery Hill area the USA player will generally just hang out in the southern hills which are close to his reinforcement arrival zones and far from the Confederate arrival ones. This leaves the CSA trying to attack a stronger enemy on doubling terrain with any attrition results favoring the Union.

My re-look also revealed a scale mismatch that I think also hinders the game. After comparing the historical deployments with the game it occurred to me that the game's divisional pieces were too small for the map scale. The size of the squares would better match the historical frontages of brigades. This also has the effect of penalizing the CSA divisions. While they are stronger than the US divisions (typically they are 4-2 and the US divisions are 3-2 factor units) this actually understates the differential between the two. Eight of the nine CSA divisions on the field had 4 or 5 brigades, while all the US divisions had just 2 or 3. On the other hands, the odd OB would lead you to believe that the CSA had more artillery present, because it depicts the six corps artillery battalions but ignores the divisional artillery on the CSA side. Meanwhile the Army of the Potomac's corps artillery is ignored and only the five brigades of the artillery reserve show up.
Altogether there's really nothing left from a game play perspective to make this worth hitting the table and it's just a curio now.

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