Forged in Fire: The 1962 Peninsula Campaign
Forged in Fire is an abstract re-creation of the 1862 attempt by George McClellan to end the rebellion. The campaign strategy was to march up the James River Peninsula to Richmond and by capturing the Confederate Capital, end the war and abolish the Confederate States. So much for McClellan’s strategy and good intentions. McClellan moved his army to Fortress Monroe, at the foot of the peninsula, and proceeded to make his way toward Richmond. Along the way various battles were fought with less than spectacular results. The major result of the campaign was the wounding of Joseph Johnston and the command being turned over to an engineering officer by the name of Robert Lee.
The game board consists of a map of the peninsula stretching from Fortress Monroe, in the east, to Richmond, in the west. Time covered by the game is from April to August of 1862. At first glance, the map looks like a movement by area, not so, movement is via the major roads and railroads from location to location.
Supply is calculated on the basis of four locations for the Union and eight locations for the Confederacy. This supply line is extended for an additional two locations, if a rail line is included in the supply line. The initial Union supply point is Fortress Monroe, while the Confederacy can utilize Richmond, White House or Yorktown. By utilizing the supply train the Union player may extend his line an additional four locations. The Union player also has the option of moving a supply base up the peninsula by water and establishing it at a port.
Command control is represented by Command Action Points. First a Corps must be in supply, than at a cost of one CAP that command is activated and all the units are able to move or fire. A unit that is out of direct command radius my move and engage in battle with the expenditure of additional CAPs.
Units are represented in the game by wooden blocks to which is applied stickers representing the various Corps Commanders and Corps units. Each commander has a unique background color to the unit symbol; this designates which units belong to which corps. Notice as this is important, no commander may order a unit not of his command to move or fight. Units with a white background may attach to any command for activation purposes.
The game scenario is set-up with each player standing his blocks upright, facing him or herself. This keeps your dispositions and the current strengths of your units private. The Confederate player has at his disposal four additional blocks, decoys, which he or she is able to randomly place on locations anywhere on the map. These units are removed when the Union player tries to engage them in combat.
The game is played by the Union player first rolling a single die to determine the prevailing weather conditions. This facilitates movement, or hampers it in the event of rain or mud. Supply is checked, and then movement is completed, which may bring on combat. If during his movement phase, the Union player decides he wants to move units via amphibious means, he must first have control of the river he wishes to move on. Initially, control of the James and York Rivers are in the hands of the Confederates. To obtain control of the York he must take Yorktown; to control the James he must take Norfolk. Any movement made by water is subject to interdiction by the Confederate forces, in the person of the C.S.S. Virginia. A naval engagement is fought and if the Virginia wins then the Union movement is cancelled. The movement is successful if the Virginia is eliminated or withdrawn by the Confederate player.
Battle is conducted on the battleboard. The battleboard is divided into for sections Left Center, Right Center and Left and Right Flanks. When attacking units “move” into a location occupied by the enemy, the combat is transferred to the battleboard. A unit, either infantry or artillery must be placed in each of the center sections, the rest of the units involved may be placed anywhere on your side of the board. Combat is resolved on an individual unit basis, with the owner rolling the number of dice corresponding to the amount of strength points his unit possesses. Casualties are assessed immediately by the use of a step system. The system, in this case, has all the steps printed on the sticker around the central unit designator, as a step is reduced the block is turned so that the new value is uppermost. When one of the center sectors becomes empty due to combat losses, the player is forced to retreat his units from the battle at that time. Retreat on a voluntary basis is also possible after each full battle round.
In addition to the Campaign Scenario, there are individual scenarios for the Battle of Fair Oaks and the Seven Days Battles. This simulation has some very unique features and is fun to play. I recommend it to Civil War Buffs and to all those who want to try something a little bit different.