Title: A Gate of Hell: The Campaign for Charleston, July-September 1863
Designer: Paul Rohrbaugh
I bought this game this January, since it had been finally sold at discounted price in Japan.
Though it was sold at discounted price, it was really satisfying game. So, I wrote this review.
This game covers the campaign of Charleston in July to September, 1863,
The game covers the both of land and naval battle of the campaign. I think it is very rare that the Civil war game covers the both battle.
The map represents the battle area around Charleston and many forts are placed as the rebel combat counters on the map.
Both of land and sea are divided into areas. Several navigable river areas are also included.
The counter-sheet is slightly smaller than usual magazine game. It covers all necessary land units and naval ships. There are some interesting counters, such as CSS Hanley, swamp angel.
The game is governed by MSP (military support points).
The game turn consists variable number of impulses from 3 to 8.
After third impulse, players check to see whether it was the last impulse due to sunset or not. The possibility of sunset become higher as it progress, and the 8th impulse is the last possible impulse.
On each impulse, Union first conduct his action, then Confederate goes next. One action can activate only one formation basically. The formation moves and then attack. So, each turn only 3 to 8 formations can conduct their actions.
For the formation, they must be supplied with MSP at turn start. Otherwise, they cannot conduct action at all during the turn.
The MSPs are provided at turn first. And basically only 2 to 5 MSPs are given. So, even with larger number of impulses, it is difficult to use all formations actively.
And during MSP allotment, the opponent can guess what you are planning this turn. This is true for both ways.
MSPs are necessary not only for activation but also to conduct amphibious operation, to cross navigable river, to dig an entrenchment, etc. So, especially for Union, it is necessary to have available MSPs during turn.
The combat system is simpler. Each side determines his strength by adding combat strength of a leading unit and a number of additional units and DR. If you are defending, DV of fort or effect of entrenchment is also counted. The higher total wins the combat and loser applies the difference as losses.
The victory is determined whether Union can advance into Charleston town or control Fort Sumter.
Based on this condition, Union must have initiative throughout the campaign. As described above, Union needs both MSPs and time (impulses). It is not an easy job to establish either of the condition. Union must have a strategic plan and commit it every turn and every impulse one by one.
Confederate must guess what Union plan to do now and commit the most effective countermeasure at right moment.
This is medium weight wargame with very rare topic. The play needs strategic view and correct commitment. The game system works smoothly but Union will feel heat on both of MSPs and time.