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The actual series of marches and battles that made up the Valley Campaign are possibly the best examples of superior forces being defeated by superior leadership.

The Union had three armies, amassing some 52000 men, readying to take Richmond and thus virtually crush the Confederates resistance in and around Virginia for good. General Thomas. J. Jackson (aka Stonewall) had an army of around 17000 men.

Now in most cases those odds, approximately 3 to 1, should have been more than sufficient for a Union victory. All the Union Generals had to do was meet up and combine their forces and Richmond would succumb.

As it was, Jackson didn’t do as he was expected to, and the Union Generals didn’t do what they were asked/ordered to do, at least not when they were ordered/required to do it. With this game campaign, players are encouraged to forget/rewrite history. The thrill in playing is to try to change history

This let Jackson force march, his army, surprisingly with unbelievable stealth, and pick his battles.

Tom Dalgliesh and Gary Selkirk’s rules, just 8 Letter sized pages, do a superb job of trying to include all the possibilities for both players/sides. The battle strengths, as near as can be, are deployed as history dictates, but then the players take over as Generals whilst Fog of War and dice determine the outcome of each separate conflict.

The Block system is simple but effective. Each Block has an information sticker which shows its Strength, Firepower, Type and under whose Command it is. To be fully effective Blocks have to be in Supply with their own HQ. Blocks move along roads between Towns on the map.

To depict the violence and loss of life Blocks can represent between 200-2400 men and one hit will decimate a Block by 25%-33%, though Supply Points can introduce reinforcements. Supply Bases: The Union has Banks in Hagerstown, Fremont (Cumberland) and Shields in Salem while the CSA has to make do with Jackson & Johnson in Staunton and Ewell in Charlottesville.

Block wargames are easier on the eye because they are visually more attractive than counter based games and because it is easier to quickly see what units you have and what their strength is, thus speeding up play and making huge battles accessible. Columbia’s efficient game rules booklets also help immensely, allowing virgin wargamers to play without burying them under a myriad of addendums.


© Chris Baylis 2011-2015