Gettysburg 150 – Boardgame Review
Passed Inspection: Streamlined and easy to learn game. Great for solitaire play. Beautiful mounted map board and counters. Excellent price.
Failed Basic: Needs an index. Not enough differentiation between infantry and cavalry. Some confusion over unit retreats. Needs zip lock bags.
Worthington Games has released their new treatment of the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg, in the year of the 150th anniversary of the history-making engagement. Gettysburg 150 is an introductory, divisional-level game of the conflict and it deserves to be on the shelves of any player interested in the American Civil War.
Gettysburg 150 comes in an attractive and sturdy box, which demands immediate opening. Inside you will find an attractive mounted game board of the battlefield (each hex equals 400 yards); mounted, pre-cut, full-color, double-sided counters; 3 six-sided dice; two sheets showing reinforcement schedules; and a full-color rulebook.
The rules are only 8 pages long (which includes 2 pages of scenarios) and are loaded with plenty of examples. While brief, the rules fully allow for a game that captures the feel of a Civil War–era battle. Brief though they are, an index would have been appreciated, to keep page flipping down to a minimum.
Each unit represents a division for the Union or a half a division for the Confederates. Each unit is only rated for Morale Points with attack factors based upon the type of division (either infantry, cavalry or artillery) and the defense based upon the terrain the unit is in at the time of attack. Leader counters are also included, and they can influence the Morale Points of their units. The units’ ranges are based upon the type of division.
The game turns are very simple, with each turn representing one daylight hour of the three-day July battle. Each side has action points, which can be spent to move units, rally units or attack. For each turn the Confederate Player rolls for the amount of action points to add to his base and then performs actions until his points are used up. Then the Union Player performs the same steps, after which victory conditions are checked based upon the scenario picked. The hour counter on the map is advanced and things start all over again. Reinforcement Charts tell players which units enter the battlefield based upon the day and the hour.
Each scenario can be played in an hour to an hour and half, with the full Battle of Gettysburg taking only 3 to 4 hours to play! Alternate rules are provided to add more complexity to the game.
There are no rules for unit formations; it is assumed units will be in the correct formation based upon the actions they are performing.
When a unit gets damaged, the counter is flipped over. Some units have two counters representing their forces getting weaker and more disorganized as they take damage. When a unit has no information on the upturned side of the counter, the unit is effectively destroyed.
Upon first play, I noticed that the counters were mostly grouped in order of their arrival on the battlefield. This made it very easy to only punch out the units needed for the first play-though.
I had some confusion over how to implement rules regarding melee combat and unit retreats. Does the unit that caused the retreat get to advance into the now-unoccupied hex? The rules don’t address this. (Editor’s note: Worthington Games responds that units can advance when an opponent retreats after melee, though such an advance is not mandatory; that information was somehow lost during final rules edits. WG suspects Rose Greenhow was involved.)
Also, cavalry units could have been more flexible in their movement. Maybe a rule allowing them a move and attack action would have added more differentiation to them. As it is now, they act like weaker infantry units that can move a little more than normal infantry.
It would have been nice had Worthington Games included small zip lock bags in order to store the counters and dice.
The few minor flaws not withstanding, Gettysburg 150 is a great game and provides tons of replay value. It also serves as a great way to get new players into Civil War–era war gaming!
Armchair General Rating: 90 %
Solitaire Rating (1 is low, 5 is high): 4
About the Author
A college film instructor and small business owner, Richard Martin has also worked in the legal and real estate professions, is involved in video production, film criticism, sports shooting and is an avid World War I and II gamer who can remember war games which came in plastic bags and cost $2.99 (he’s really that old)!