Vae Victis Review – 2013

This new rule-set allows you to reconstruct the fighting at the time of the Civil War. The rule-set is specifically for 15 mm figures, with all bases an inch (2.5 cm) wide. This represents in reality about 300 infantry and dismounted cavalry. An artillery unit, always with an edge of an inch, is equivalent to a battery of four to six guns. In fact, the “strategic” brigade forms the base unit, consisting of about four bases on the table so one base is equivalent to one regiment. One inch on the game table is 100 yards (about 90 meters) and a turn represents twenty minutes. Note that all distances are given in the rules in two formats. The first corresponds to the bases with a frontage “standard” (one inch or so): the second in a frontage of one and a half inches (about 4 cm), suitable for example for 28 mm figures.

Practically, a unit is rated by its level. Four morale grades are possible: militia, green, veterans and cracks. Each player also has a sheet with the order of battle of his army, and for each brigade, boxes based on strengths (one box per 100 men) and efficiency points accumulated. These points are  inefficiency, stragglers, fatigue, or disorder. In fact, they have accumulated Es of combat or while traveling in difficult terrain. The E factors affect the morale and combat. Fortunately, they are possible to reduce during the game: at the end of a round, if a unit has not moved, fought or been lost it recovers 1d6 efficiency. Proper management of these issues is one of the keys to victory. It is indeed necessary to take time to know when to reorganize your command.

During a turn there are successive phases of “buy and supply,” initiative, control and movement of troops’ gunfire, morale checks due to the shooting, fighting infantry and cavalry, morale checks due to the fighting and, finally, the possibility of recovering efficiency points. Fighting is resolved with 1d20 for each “natural” result of 1 to 5, the unit loses a level of ammunition. Four levels are possible and the lowest two levels affect combat. To go back to the maximum level the unit must be in phase supply near his truck divisional supply and pass a die roll 1 to 10 of 1d20. Besides influencing the level of ammunition, during combat if a die roll is odd a crisis card is drawn. Five sheets of 10 cards are provided for a total of fifty cards. For example, a card may be drawn that shows the General of the brigade was drunk and so he and his men must charge any target in range. Another card may tell you that your Brigadier was killed at the head of his brigade. There may also be a box of exploding artillery (1D16 efficiency points for the battery). Etc.

For fighting, either shooting or melee, the principle is to take the strengths, usually by efficiency minus points, then multiply by various tactical factors (x 2 for rifled artillery short-range x 0.5 extreme range, etc..) and / or add or subtract other tactical factors (30 if the target is column -10 if the shooter has little ammunition, etc.). The end result is usually a fairly high number. For each 20 points, the target loses a point of strength. The remainder tested with 1d20.  Thus, for a final score of 72, the target loses three points of strength and must get 12 or less on 1d20 to make a fourth.  It’s simple, but it still requires some calculations.

Control of troops is simply done through distance of command that depend upon the skill of the Generals. Moreover, you will find a list of more than a thousand Generals, and, for each, their command radius and bonus it brings morale. This morale is tested also with 1d20. Note a very original feature: for an assault, the morale basis for the militia is 5, it increases to 10 for the “green” descends curiously 5 for veterans and goes back to 15 for cracks. In fact, the veterans saw the fire and are well aware of quite “lethal” nature of a charge. In short, it is paradoxically easier to launch an assault with novices than with hardened veterans (by contrast, the cracks are really able to mount an assault “on demand”). It is well thought out.

Finally, note the presence of a historical scenario the Battle of Seven Pines (31 May 1862).  A summary sheet duplex and full plastic everything. In general, the rule is interesting, medium complexity and clearly oriented “strategic level”.

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