Rebel Raiders on the High Seas
Designed by Mark G. McLaughlin
Rebel Raiders is a strategic level game depicting the four years of the American Civil War. This game is a representation of the conflict and not a simulation. This is because there have been various shortcuts made to make the game playable and keep the design complexity under control.
What is In The Box
The game components for Rebel Raiders are exceptional. The map is especially unique in the manner in which it portrays the shipping lanes and ports that the Southern Blockade Runners would use and the most likely positions where the North were trying to stop them. A successful Blockade Runner will visit the foreign port, pick up supplies and cargo and return these to Confederate ports to gain Victory Points. If he does this enough times successfully, he can win the game.
However, on the other side are the Northern ships, whose duty it is to stop the Blockade Runners and conquer Southern ports thereby picking up his Victory points.
The physical game components of Rebel Raiders on the High Seas are;
- One 22” x 28” map
- One 24-page Rule Book
- One 40-page Playbook
- One Player Aid Card
- Eight six-sided dice
- Two decks of cards totaling 110 cards
- Six plastic stands with rectangular Union/Confederate Naval Leader inserts
- Two die-cut counter sheets
- Thirty red translucent plastic tokens
The map is an area movement for the ocean areas and includes boxes for the Navy Yard, Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean and the Pacific Whaling Grounds. Each active Confederate Port has a corresponding Blockade Station, from which the Union Player begins his assaults on the Port.
Next, there are four sea areas on the map that players can maneuver through. These areas are the;
- High seas area
- Coastal Areas
- Blockade Stations
- Ocean Ports
When looking at the land portion of the map you see red lines and light blue lines. The red lines represent roads between forts and the blue lines are the rivers. The river that is most important in the game is the Mississippi River. The Union must capture the forts of New Orleans, Memphis, and Vicksburg to control the Mississippi. From the Union Players side, it won’t be long before there are gunboats and Ironclads are moving up and down the Mississippi. Failure to capture those ports will make the Union victory that much more difficult.
In addition, the Union Player cannot ignore the land areas of the game. Just as in the Civil War, the cities of Richmond and Atlanta are key cities for the South and they should be held onto at all costs by the Confederates.
The Confederate Player begins the 1861 scenario in possession of some 20 ports and inland cities and forts, with a corresponding Victory Point total. As the game progresses, the Union Player makes assaults from the sea or via the land from other landed positions.
There are seven types of ships depicted in the counter mix. These ships are divided between Ocean-Going and Coastal/River Ships.
The Ocean-Going vessels consist of Confederate Raiders and Blockade Runners and the Union Screw Sloops are the only Ocean-going variety. The Coastal/River Ships consist of both Union and Confederate Ironclads and Gunboats. For the Union to move an Ironclad from one ocean area to another requires a tow by a Screw Sloop. This will preclude the use of the Screw Sloop to search for and intercept either a Raider or Blockade Runner.
Lines of Communication link the various cities and forts. They consist of two types, the blue lines designate river connections between points and the red lines designate the landward connections. The difference in game terms is that only the Union may attack along the blue lines, while the red lines allow the Confederate Player to re-assault a captured city in an effort to re-assimilate that city..
The Confederate Player may conduct Raids on virtual Union Cargo Ships. Each successful raid will net the Confederate Player either 1 or 2 Victory Points. Victory Points can also be gained by bringing Cargo Tokens from Neutral Ports to a Confederate Port via a Blockade Runner.
Naval Combat consists of three types, Ship-to-Ship, Ship vs. Battery and Combined Ship & Battery. Naval Combat against a port requires the Union Player to posses a Cannon Token, any other type of ship-to-ship combat is direct. Each Battery rolls two dice against two possible targets, a Screw Sloop rolls two dice against a single target. Gunboats may shelter behind a Battery during combat and batteries may protect a Battery or Batteries. A hit is scored on a Battery with a roll of 6. An Ironclad also requires a 6 to record a hit. A Screw Sloop is hit on a 5 or 6, and a Gunboat takes a hit on a 4,5 or 6. Combat is considered as simultaneous so that both sides fire during a combat round before casualties are removed from either side. Protected and sheltered units may not be attacked during this combat cycle.
There are a number of Advanced Rules outlined in the Playbook. These rules need to be agreed upon by the players before the beginning of the scenario being played. There is also an extensive Example of Play, which will answer many of the beginner’s questions before starting play. There is also an advanced scenario starting in 1862 which discounts the Confederate triumphs of 1861 and begins with an advanced position. Rules in the Playbook explain the use of the Iron and Oak game to expand the ship-to-ship combat to a more tactical level then the simplified combat of Rebel Raiders.
This game is highly recommended for devotees of the American Civil War and the Civil War Gamer. An interesting idea for miniature ACW naval gamers is to use Rebel Raiders as a Guide for scenarios on the tactical side. This game can provide the gamer with a way to cross over from a strategic level to a tactical level. I also recommend this game to gamers who want to get a feel for combat during the beginnings of the age of steam and the iron navies.