Altar of Freedom's first campaign supplement, which I teased earlier this month, will be released as a free PDF very shortly. Before it's made available for download, enjoy this quick preview, including photos from play-testing, a sample section of the theater map, and an overview of some game mechanics.
Why did we choose Vicksburg as the first campaign instead of a flashier, more conventional option like Gettysburg? Several reasons come to mind: (1) The Vicksburg campaign is often over-looked as one of the most decisive operations of the entire war; (2) Though typically viewed as a lop-sided fight, it is anything but. The forces involved are comparable and each side enjoys unique advantages and challenges; (3) The region between Vicksburg and Jackson is large enough for theater maneuver, but small enough to serve as a limited testing ground for players to first experience an Altar of Freedom campaign.
What is Included?
So the better question might be, what isn't included? All you'll need to provide is a tabletop, terrain, miniatures, tape measures, and a few six-sided dice. Speaking of miniatures, one of the other reasons we started with the Vicksburg campaign as the introductory supplement is because the armies are fairly modest in size. Most players should have enough miniatures to field the necessary commands. The full Federal OOB requires 4 generals, 26 infantry brigades, 1 cavalry brigade, and 9 artillery formations. The Confederate OOB requires 2 generals, 21 infantry brigades, 2 cavalry, and 7 artillery.
The Theater Map
A small section of the map appears below. You'll notice the tokens have only flags and no information--this is because all the map tokens are double-sided in the interest of "fog of war." A map token represents an entire division (multiple brigades), and each side additionally has access to a limited number of pickets, which can be used as decoys while also serving real functions like burning ferries or repairing bridges.
Some Campaign Mechanics
Anyone who has read the Design Notes at the end of Altar of Freedom may recall my rather strong dislike of card-driven wargames. Thus, it may come as a surprise that our campaign supplement includes the use of...cards! Before you call me a hypocrite, reread the original Design Notes and understand that my objection is to card-based activation, dictating what a player can and cannot do.
Check out the photo gallery below to see our very first play-test of the whole Vicksburg campaign. The paper maps were hand-drawn (unlike the newer, software-drawn map) and five players participated. We resolved this campaign over the course of two evenings, including a massive tabletop battle fought along the banks of the Big Black River. General McPherson was mortally wounded in our battle and the campaign ended in late May 1863 with a Confederate strategic victory. Johnston had lost Jackson, but Pemberton managed to defeat Grant's army in the field while keeping Vicksburg from falling under siege.
Hopefully this quick preview gave you a good sense of what to expect from the system. It wasn't meant to be an exhaustive, complete review of the game, but just a glimpse inside the front cover. I'm not promising a specific release date yet, but the PDF is complete and going through a final proofread. The release will also be supported with additional material, including a photo tutorial on how I made a magnetic game board with magnetized tokens (seen to the left) for under $30. Naturally, you could choose play with the free paper map, but for those who want to march the extra mile, we'll be ready to show you the road to Vicksburg....