Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Glory: 1861 - Rules Review

While reading the latest issue of Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy, I came across a review of a newly released set of rules for the American Civil War; Glory: 1861, written by Jon Sutherland and published by Caliver Books. 

Now, normally I'd gloss over something like that, as ACW rulesets are pretty ubiquitous in the wargaming scene, and I've already got Fire & Fury and Pickett's Charge as my go-to rulesets for my 10mm collection.

What caught my eye, however, was the subtitle for the rules: "Raising and Leading a Regiment to Glory."

Now that was interesting. From my experience, most ACW rules either focus on skirmishes or start with the regiment as the main tactical element and go up from there. Glory: 1861, however, uses companies as the tactical element, and does not feature any cavalry or artillery in the main rules.

Well, mostly. We'll get to that. 

So, that was my curiosity piqued. However, beyond the somewhat brief overview in WS&S, I couldn't find much chatter about the rules. No review, no forums, no Facebook groups, as far as I can tell (if there are any that you know of, let me know). So I decided to grab a copy for myself and review them. 

The rules start with an overview of the aim of the game; that is, commanding a regiment. It also has a brief historical section leading up to the war and the war's first year. There's a full Order-of-Battle for the First Battle of Bull Run, which is offered as a selection of regiments that players can use to base their regiment on. 

This section also lays out with what a typical regiment in the game looks like, and what other items you'll need to play - a handful of d10s and a half-dozen d6s, preferably three each of two different colors. There's also basing standards and the introduction of the "Regiment Card" which acts as your regiment's character sheet.

Players use Glory Points to make purchases for their regiments, and players start with 50 points to purchase their starting troops. 

Since a standard starting company of Inexperienced troops costs 4 points, and you'll need to spend 3 point to purchase your command figures (the regimental officers, the second and third officer, the two regimental banners, and a drummer). That leaves 7 points to spend on improving your regiment and its officers, and other bonuses. 

Each of your officers will gain a random trait, and your companies will also randomly roll for the quality of their troop and commanding officer. 

You can also spend points on bonuses. These can improve the stats of your officers, give additional training to your regiment, or purchases bonus cards that are randomly drawn at the start of each game. 

A small aside: Getting a least two of these cards (you get two cards per point spent) is worth it at your regiment's start. The cards are provided as copy-able sheets in the back of the book, and their affects range from simply improving your priority (more on that in a bit) to allowing additional moves in a turn to having off-table artillery support or a unit of dismounted cavalry showing up.  

A fun aspect is determining how long your regiment has signed up to serve. If your regiment's term is only three months, you'll have to test each of your companies to see if they disband after six games (as the game assumes your troops will see an average of two engagements per month). On a roll, you troops may stay with the regiment, or you'll see an influx of green troops. 

Games start with both sides rolling to determine their objectives and what their opponent's side of the table will look like. There are charts for both defenders and attackers, and if the scenario is more akin to a meeting engagement then both sides can roll on the attackers table. 

A game turn is taken in phases. Players roll a d6 and three Glory Dice, adding together the d6's result and any 6's on the Glory Dice. This determine their Priority level, which determines how many activations a regiment gets in a turn, and in what phases. A higher Priority gets you more activations in a turn, and if both sides are activating in the same phase, you roll off using your regimental officer's initiative plus a d6.

Companies have a variety of actions they can take during a turn, from firing to loading to moving into formations like line or skirmish. These actions may take multiple phases, so a company might spend the entire turn firing or freeloading, or quickly moving across the table. 

Combat is split between ranged fire and hand-to-hand fighting. 

Firing is done with d10s, one per firing base. The number of hits are cross-referenced against a chart that determines how many hits are kills and how many cause Terror, which will affect a units morale. 

Hand-to-hand fighting uses d6s instead, comparing the two sides' results against each other. 

Morale checks occur in certain circumstances, such as when a company comes under fire for the first time in a game, or a unit's Terror level is equal to or greater than the number of bases in the unit. A d10 is rolled with relevant bonuses or penalties. The results can range from a unit carrying on as normal, or routing and fleeing backwards (but not being removed from the table). 

As for my conclusion, well, I'm planning to put together two regiments with Old Glory's Blue Moon range of 18mm minis, as I already had some of these when I was trying to figure out what scale I wanted to play in (and ultimately ended up going with 10mm). With two minis to a base, it shouldn't be too difficult to paint up. 

The regimental commander and A, B, and C companies of my planned Union regiment

These are a clever set of rules that I don't believe has much competition in terms of other rulesets. I'm not sure how viable it would be for pick-up games, and it might be a little boring (and ahistorical) if you had the same two regiments going up against each other. I could see this being a fantastic game for clubs to play with a campaign, with each club member controlling a regiment and playing games, potentially with some club members also taking the roles of brigade and division commanders (maybe we'll see this in a future supplement alongside cavalry and artillery rules).

Check this rules out if you're an American Civil War enthusiast, or a wargamer who appreciates the application of role-playing elements to wargames. Hopefully we'll see a PDF of the rules which will make them more widely available. 

I'd like to get a chance to contact the author of the rules, as I'm looking for PDF copies of the Regiment Card and QRS. I've also got a couple questions about missing modifiers in the Morale section. 

If you've got any questions or thought of something I didn't cover, please leave a comment!

Addendum: Having now actually had a chance to play a game with the rules, I must note that there are more holes present than I am comfortable with. Multiple sections seem to be missing or forgotten. This is a shame, as it does affect my interest in the rules. Personally, I'm going to try and write out my own modified version that will hopefully fill in those holes, and tweak some of the various aspects of the rules that I wasn't satisfied with. 

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