Clash of Giants: Civil War, takes the game system
from Ted S. Raicer’s popular and critically acclaimed Clash of Giants WWI series
to two of the storied battles of the American Civil War: Second Bull Run and
Gettysburg. CoG: Civil War uses a modified version of the chit-pull Activation system of
Clash of Giants II: Campaigns of Galicia and First Ypres, 1914, while retaining
the CoG combat system. Every (mostly brigade-level) unit has a Tactical
Efficiency Rating based on its morale, training, leadership, and experience, but
even a poor unit can have a heroic moment, while the Iron Brigade might not
always be made of iron. It is a true player’s system, which produces realistic
results without a lot of fiddly procedures, and allows players to concentrate on
the game rather than the rules.
Units in CoG: Civil War are mostly infantry brigades,
(with the odd cavalry brigade or demi-brigade).
Each day is divided into four day turns and one night turn. The maps
depict woods, hills, steep hexsides, railway cuts and embankments, roads,
rivers, creeks, bridges, towns, marshy ground, and the Devil’s Den at Gettysburg.
The Activation rules, which combines random formation
activation (mostly corps for the Union and
divisions for the Confederates) with variable movement allowances, creates the
fog of war and friction so important to Civil War battles. Ordering your corps
commander to take a hill is one thing-getting him to act as you wish is another.
And because these effects are achieved without hidden counter/dummy unit
mechanics, CoG: Civil War is not only a fast-paced two-player game, but
excellent as well for solo play. Some
Activation markers also allow you to coordinate more than one formation, such as
Longstreet at Gettysburg. But don’t expect Old Pete to do so
early in the day!
One thing that speeds play in CoG: Civil War is the
unusual treatment of artillery. There are no artillery units depicted; instead
artillery appears as Combat Support Markers which are added (attacker first) to
the combat strength of engaged units. Artillery CSMs are generally assigned to a
specific division or corps, though army reserve artillery can be used to support
any units. Artillery cannot be used in combat in certain terrain (woods or town
hexes), but there are no line of sight considerations to slow down play or
complicate the rules. Instead both line of sight and enemy counter-battery fire
are handled with an elegant abstraction: each turn all available artillery CSMs
of both sides go into a cup, and then half are randomly drawn. Whatever comes
out of the cup is available for use that turn, so the player with more artillery
on the field is more likely to get artillery support. This also allows a simple
way to model the effectiveness of the Union Artillery Reserve at Gettysburg; once arrived,
these markers never go in the cup, and are always available for use. Overall,
CoG: Civil War’s portrait of artillery as an occasionally decisive but
definitely secondary arm is arguabley more realistic than many more complicated
The two battles, Second Bull Run and Gettysburg, depict one of
Lee’s greatest victories, prior to his first invasion of the north, and his
greatest defeat during his second invasion. Both are meeting engagements, with
limited forces deployed at the start, gradually building to mighty clashes. The
arrival of fresh forces is another area where the game system allows
variability: units may be delayed or arrive at the wrong road. You can even
attempt to speed the arrival of your off-board forces, but at increased risk of
their arriving later instead.
Winning involves a combination of taking and holding
victory hexes, exiting units, and inflicting casualties. You can also earn
victory points to compensate for units whose arrival is delayed-but only if you
didn’t try to force march them to an earlier arrival! Players will have to judge trading losses for
taking or holding tactically important ground.
Special rules cover such things as General Pope’s
confused and confusing orders at Second Bull Run, the Confederate grand battery
on the third day at Gettysburg, the use of the Union VI Corps as a reserve in
both battles, cavalry delaying actions and retreat before combat, rallying units
at night, and the actions of certain key leaders. But though there is enough
chrome to give each battle a distinctive flavor, the action remains uncluttered, quick-playing, and exciting.
Not simply “another Civil War battle system,” CoG: Civil War presents a fresh new look at an oft-game topic. Giving each side a
chance to change history in an afternoon’s gaming, the use of the Clash of
Giants system also shows the sometimes surprising links between the battles of
the Civil War and the opening battles of the Great War 50 years later. Fans of either the Civil War or the Clash of
Giants series will not be disappointed.
- One backprinted 34" x 22" game map
- 264 5/8" Counters
- One Rules booklet
- One playbook
- Player Aid cards
Game Design: Ted S. Raicer