Bobby Lee (3rd Edition)

10307374_301428990013327_675740976625533980_nBobby Lee (3rd Edition)

From: Columbia Games

Reviewed by: Michael Collarin

Bobby Lee (3rd Edition) is a new War Game from Columbia Games.

With the 1st Edition originally published 20 years ago, the recently printed 3rd Edition of Bobby Lee not only gave the game a face-lift with component upgrades, but also received a revised rule book. The game focuses on the American Civil War in Virginia (and a few neighboring states). The full game is divided into four years, 1861-64, with the possibility of extending into 1865. There are also options for playing only one year or for starting the campaign later in the war with modified starting Orders of Battle which are included. These could be handy if time is of the essence, as each year is estimated to take approximately 60-90 minutes. Whether you and your gaming partner sit down for just a single year or the entire campaign, Bobby Lee (3rd Edition) will provide you with insight and entertainment as you relive some of the most crucial moments in American history.

From page 5:
“Leaders represent more than individual generals. They are centers of command and logistics and include escort guard, staff, and hundreds of men involved in logistics.”

While most of the block games by Columbia Games use a familiar core system, there are generally subtleties in each that offers a uniqueness to the game play. For Bobby Lee, a key difference would be the command and control of the leaders. Leaders command movement, allow for an additional day of combat, and supply units in their command range that would otherwise suffer step-losses to attrition. In other words, your leaders are critical to your success. There is even a mechanic in the game that replaces leaders if your current leaders aren’t successful in swaying the outcome of the war in your favor.

What measures success? Victory Points (VP) of course.

From page 4:
“The burden of attack rests with the USA. The South has declared its independence and need only defend itself to win.”

10269631_10152678544316501_7035756579525330687_nThere are two main ways to move the “V” counter – Town VP and Time VP. Some towns have a numerical value associated with them which grants a player VP when occupying a town in their opponent’s territory (or to the friendly player when it is liberated). As mentioned above, the burden of attack rests on the USA. The Confederate player will gain 1 VP every Quarter. There are a few other ways in which VP are exchanged. One being the Emancipation Proclamation which is a one time event that the USA may announce during any Supply Turn after 1862 to gain a quick 3 VP. It will however, also provide the CSA 6 additional Replacement Points (RP) for that Supply Turn. Since Victory is determined after each phase of the Supply Turn, the Confederate player needs to be aware of this as it may lead to a Decisive Victory for the USA. The other means in which VP are exchanged is a Draft declared by the either player. Each Supply Turn, a player may declare a Draft to roll for potential replacements (cadres). Doing so comes at a cost. Regardless of whether the roll is successful, the player declaring the Draft will lose 1 VP.

From page 9:
“Fight battles on your terms… If you have any doubt about winning a battle, an early retreat must be considered.”

While movement is conducted on the main mapboard, large battles will be tactically decided on the battle board. A large battle is considered a battle in which each side has at least 3 units committed to the conflict. Anything short of this would result in a quick skirmish reconciled on the mapboard itself. The battle board gives you control of the battlefield. Each unit initially involved in combat will be placed on the map board with at least one unit starting in the Left, Center and Right box – hence the need for a minimum of three units per side. There is also a Reserve box which has multiple purposes. Units in the Reserve box cannot be attacked, nor can they attack. Only units from the Reserve box may perform a special move called an Outflank in which you may attempt to move an Infantry or Cavalry unit from the Reserve box to an opponent’s Left or Right box. Units that enter the battle as Reinforcements use the Reserve box as a staging area. And since units may not move laterally, the Reserve box must be used to move your units around the battle board. Of course, once you’ve assigned at least one unit to each box on your side of the battle line, you are free to deploy any additional remaining units as you see fit. Perhaps you see a position which you can exploit your enemy. Maybe you stack a few weak units together to make a position seem stronger than it is – remember, all of your units remain hidden until they are engaged, so your opponent doesn’t really know what he is up against until perhaps it’s too late. Outsmarting your opponent on the battle board can lead to a rout which can turn the tides of the war! A rout is a costly defeat as every unit in the battle will suffer a 1-step loss which will require expenditure of Replacement Points to rebuild armies that could have been used to bring on new cadres. Routs are avoided by retreating units when they are not engaged in combat.

As for combat, it follows suit with many of Columbia Games’ other block games. Each step on the unit represents its strength. This determines the number of d6 that are rolled when attacking. For example, a 3-step Infantry unit will roll 3d6. The unit’s firepower is represented by the letter “F” and a number, such as F1 or F2. The number indicates the maximum number rolled to inflict a hit. For example, if that 3-step Infantry unit had an F2 for firepower, you would roll 3d6 and inflict a hit for each 1 or 2 rolled. The defender then applies these hits separately to their strongest unit in that battle position, regardless of type. A unit is eliminated if it only has one step remaining and is forced to take a hit.

In addition to the Outflank maneuver, there are other tactical decisions to consider, including long range artillery fire, counter-battery fire, melee, entrenchments, and hex terrain.

Speaking of hexes, the large mapboard is a thick card stock which unfolds several times to reveal a hex map of eastern Virginia that is pleasing to the eye and informative as well. History buffs of the American Civil War will appreciate the detail shown on the map which identifies the locations of actual battles fought.

The rule book is fairly well organized and easy to reference from the index. It’s important to take note of the sidebar text – some of this is flavor text, but some of it is actually pertinent to game play.

So, how did Bobby Lee (3rd Edition) fair? Far better than the outcome at Appomattox Courthouse, but not exactly a Decisive Victory. While my gaming partner, a grognard in his own right, and myself both enjoyed the history, the battles, and generally trying to outwit the other, we felt some things were a bit clunky. Since we each have several plays of Columbia Games’ other offerings under our belts, the combat came naturally. Even if this were your first time playing a block game, as outline above, the combat system is pretty straightforward. However, we found ourselves getting hung up on a few other things: retreats in enemy territory (and the step loss inflicted when the retreat hex was just vacated to enter combat), the supply attrition for a unit in a town in enemy territory without a leader in command range, and overcoming skirmishes in fortress towns. After several plays, these perceived “issues” naturally worked themselves out – for the most part. Skirmishes in fortress towns still present a challenge, but at least it is now a challenge rather than an “issue”.

In conclusion, Bobby Lee (3rd Edition) will provide hours of entertainment with historical flavor, a combination of strategic/operational level logistics and tactical battles, and the suspense of fog of war using Columbia Games’ block system. It’s an excellent gaming experience that misses the mark in just a few areas. Highly recommended for fans of the American Civil War and/or Columbia Games.

For more details on Columbia Games and their new War Game “Bobby Lee (3rd Edition)” check them out at their website http://www.columbiagames.com, and at all of your local game stores.

Rating:15 – Pretty Great

Product Summary

Bobby Lee (3rd Edition)
From: Columbia Games
Type of Game: War Game
Game Design by: Tom Dalgliesh
Contributors: Mark Adams, Grant Dalgliesh, Paul Hendricks, Stan Hilinski, Mark Kwasny, John Longstreet, Matt Looby, Gary Selkirk
Cover Art by:Eric Hotz
Additional Art by: Tom Dalgliesh, Karim Chakroun
Number of Pages: 12
Game Components Included: Mapboard, Battle Map, Wood Blocks (96) & Labels, Order of Battle Cards (2), Dice (4d6), Rulebook
Game Components Not Included:N/A
Retail Price: $74.98 (US)
Number of Players: 2
Player Ages: 14 and up
Play Time: 60-90 minutes for a single year; 240-300 minutes for the full campaign
Item Number: 3301
Email: grant@columbiagames.com
Website:www.columbiagames.com

Reviewed by: Michael Collarin

Slapshot

From: Columbia Games

Reviewed by: Sitting Duck

As Barry’s review of 1st and 10 has indicated, the stereotype of tabletop gamers and sports not mixing is at best an exaggerated one. While I myself am not especially passionate about sports, I won’t run screaming out of the room if someone decides to watch the game on TV. If there’s one sport for which I have a preference towards it would be ice hockey, so when Ron asked if I was willing to do a review for Slapshot, I took him up on it almost immediately.

From the website:
“Slapshot is a wheeling, dealing game for hockey fans. Each player assumes the role of team manager. The object is to skillfully manage your team into the playoffs and then win the championship.”

There are three card decks, each based off of one of the basic ice hockey positions (Forward, Defenseman, and Goalie). Each card features a punny player name along with a goofy player illustration and a Value ranging from zero to ten. The best names are featured on the highest and lowest valued cards. The high value ones reflect their awesomeness (Slash Gordon, Moby Stick), while the low value ones reflect their lameness (Billy the Skid, Chief Sitting Bench). At the start of the game, each player is dealt three forwards, two defensemen, and one goalie to form his/her team.

On his turn, a player may choose to perform one of three actions; Trade, Draft, or Game. The first two are used to improve the quality of your team. With a Trade, the player randomly draws a card from another player’s deck and gives back a card of the same position. With a Draft, the player places a card in his team at the bottom of its deck and takes the top card from the same deck. In both cases, the new card must be accepted, even if it’s worse than the card being given up. Therefore, those actions should not be used injudiciously.

The Game action is the real meat of Slapshot. A player may challenge any other player to a game. The challenging player counts as the away team while the challenged is considered at home. To reflect the home field advantage, the home team gets a free goal. Before the game starts, both players may arrange their team decks in any order they wish. However that order cannot be changed once the game starts. The gameplay is nearly identical to the children’s card game War, except the winner of each round doesn’t claim the card played by the loser. Each player draws the top card from their deck and the one with the higher value scores a goal. If both cards have the same value, then neither player scores. There’s also no scoring if one of the cards is a Goalie card, regardless of their values. If both cards are Goalies, then the higher value scores a goal as normal. This continues until the players have used up their decks. The player who scored the most goals gets to move their token one space on the Scoreboard. If there was a tie in goals, then a sudden death match is played. Gameplay is identical to the earlier game except that victory goes to the first player to successfully score a goal.

Bruisers are a special type of card to reflect the violent nature of ice hockey. Whenever one of the cards played during a game is a Bruiser, then the other card is considered Injured and goes to the bottom of the appropriate deck. If the injured player has a higher value than the Bruiser, a goal is still successfully scored. If by some chance both cards played are bruisers, then both are considered injured. At the end of the game, a free Draft action is taken to replace each injured player. Using Bruisers can be a double-edged sword. For while their ability to inflict injuries is useful, their actual values tend to be low.

Once a player successfully reaches the Playoffs space on the Scoreboard, he engages in a best-of-seven series against the second place player. If there’s a tie for second, those players engage in a best of three series to determine which of them goes to the finals. The first place player is considered the home team for games one, two, five, and seven. The first to win four becomes league champion and wins the game.

From the subtitle:
“The legendary card game of ice hockey loonery.”

While overall Slapshot is a fine game, there is one very minor (almost picayune) issue I have. Namely there’s nothing included in the game materials for keeping track of goal scoring. Admittedly this is rather trivial, as any gamer worth his dice bag could improvise something with minimal effort. Still, it would have been a nice thing to have.

At the end of the day, this is a top notch game. The simple rules mean that it can be taught to just about anyone. The minimal space and set up requirements as well as the short playing time allow for it to be playable just about anywhere. These factors make it especially suited as a starter for a gaming night or something to play during a lunch break.

Rating: 18

Product Summary

Slapshot

From: Columbia Games

Type of Game: Card

Game Design by: Tom Dalgliesh and Lance Gutteridge

Game Components Included: Rulesheet, 27 Forward cards, 18 Defenseman cards, 9 Goalie cards, 1 Scoreboard, and 6 Tokens.

Retail Price: $24.98

Number of Players: 2-6

Player Ages: 8+

Play Time: 30-60 minutes

Website: http://www.columbiagames.com

Reviewed by: Sitting Duck