May 24, 2022

#UnboxingDay ~ Chancellorsville 1863 from Worthington Games

Michael Eckenfels, 21 April 2022 ~ #UnboxingDay

The battle of Chancellorsville in 1863, which took place about a month before Gettysburg, was a major victory for the South during the American Civil War. Admittedly, it is a battle I know only a little about, other than General Lee having the audacity to split his already meager forces to face off against a numerically superior Northern army, and yet winning handily. Also, this was when ‘Stonewall’ Jackson, whom General Lee called his right hand, was mortally wounded by friendly fire. I’ve read numerous times how some historians consider this to be the true turning point of the Civil War, in that Lee’s moves at Gettysburg may have been tempered by Jackson’s counsel.

The battle of Chancellorsville in 1863, which took place about a month before Gettysburg, was a major victory for the South during the American Civil War. Admittedly, it is a battle I know only a little about, other than General Lee having the audacity to split his already meager forces to face off against a numerically superior Northern army, and yet winning handily. Also, this was when ‘Stonewall’ Jackson, whom General Lee called his right hand, was mortally wounded by friendly fire. I’ve read numerous times how some historians consider this to be the true turning point of the Civil War, in that Lee’s moves at Gettysburg may have been tempered by Jackson’s counsel. 

click images to enlarge

 

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In any event, my acquisition of this game came about because of a general interest in the Civil War, and the fact that I do not have many games in this vein. (I do now have Antietam 1862, also by Worthington, as well as a few others, including Devil’s Den by Avalon Hill). 

 

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I’ve been more interested in strategic-level simulations of the Civil War, rather than battles themselves, but this has changed over the last few years (obviously). The system here reminded me of another one I own, 1759 Siege of Quebec (also by Worthington), which employs wooden blocks (not in the Columbia Games sense, but in general troop deployment) which move point-to-point across a map.

 

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I enjoyed 1759, so I thought this one may be fun too; the components and the map looked fantastic and the gameplay videos, very intriguing.

 

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Ah, that new game smell!

 

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Strangely, there are two copies of the rules present. I know this game can be played two player, but it is soloable, which is why I bought it.

 

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The rules are good; they are printed in color and have clear examples throughout. Not only do I own and have played 1759, but also Custer’s Last Stand. Both rule books are excellent so I don’t expect this to be any different, once I get to reading this.

 

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I do like how things are broken down throughout…a far cry from manuals of the 70s and 80s!

 

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More examples.

 

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There is also two player screens. This blue-tinged one is for the Union player/side.

 

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It stands up nicely, like a GM screen.

 

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The detailed art is quite interesting as well.

 

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This kind of attention to detail adds a lot to a game…for me, anyway.

 

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The interior of the screen shows quite a bit of info, not just for 2-player but also bot-run opponents.

 

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Strangely, both screens are exactly the same, art-wise. Why would the Union side have a woodcut-like print of Lee and Jackson? It would have made more sense to do that for the Southern side, obviously, and then have had something similar but showing the Union commander, Joe Hooker. Perhaps it’s a copyright thing and this was just easier for the publisher.

 

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The mounted board is nice and hefty.

 

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And it’s quite pretty to look at, too. I love the layout and the clarity of what pieces and cards go where. I like too how the separate Corps are laid out. Each has a Cohesion value (I did read a bit of the manual), which is represented by those numbered tracks under each General.

 

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A closer view of the map with an even closer view of the Union side of things.

 

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The art on the map is nice, too; it’s not too detailed but just detailed enough to give you the impression of standing over a battlefield map in a tent somewhere. The red circles denote victory locations, I believe.

 

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A closer view of the Bot area of the board. I look forward to seeing how this performs in a game.

 

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At the bottom of the game box is a plastic insert, with a plastic cover to keep everything in place – a nice touch.

 

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There’s a lot of cards. Unfortunately, they all have a bit of a bend to them. These are nice cards with a linen-like finish to them. Ensuring they are straightened out isn’t a big deal, but is one thing to do if this kind of thing bothers you, before play.

 

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Here are the card types. Each side has a Reinforcements deck, a Bot deck, and an Activation deck. Then, there’s a separate Tactics deck.

 

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And here is a view of a card from each deck type, flipped over, so you can see what they look like. I really like the art here, and love the color schemes. The Reinforcement decks look the same on the flip side, but the differentiation on the backs is very nice.

 

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The game pieces for each side come in sealed bags.

 

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Each side has long-ish wood blocks to represent their side’s Corps, as well as ‘regular’ wooden blocks which are used to mark information.

 

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Rounding things out are more wood block markers (black and brown), several green d6 dice (nine total), and a bag holding baggies to help with organization. The wooden pieces come in sealed bags which aren’t much use once they’re opened, so this was a nice inclusion.

That’s Chancellorsville 1863 from Worthington Games for you. I look forward to playing this one.

 


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