Shenandoah: Jackson’s Valley Campaign

Reviewed by Herb Levy

(Columbia Games, 2 players, ages 12 and up, 2 to 3 hours; $59.99)


shenandoahboxWith the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War upon us, it is no surprise that there has been an uptick in the number of games exploring this already popular subject. Shenandoah: Jackson’s Valley Campaign is one of these with the game centering on the campaign waged between Union and Confederate forces in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley in May and June of 1862.

Shenandoah is designed by Tom Dalgliesh and Gary Selkirk and comes with a mounted map of the Shenandoah Valley depicting towns, roads, bridges and other important landmarks. There are Orders of Battle, four six-sided dice, 8 pages of rules and, as is typical of Columbia games, wooden blocks (75 in this case) with stickers to be applied to them.

Blocks are used to represent the forces involved (infantry, cavalry, artillery and headquarters) with the stickers used to indicate strength and firepower. The current strength of each block is the number on its top edge and that determines how many dice are rolled in combat. Blocks range in strength from 4 down to 1. Each hit suffered by a block reduces its strength by 1 (indicated by rotating the block 90°). There is also a letter and a number designation on a block with the letter indicating the quality and range of an attack while the number indicates what is needed to be rolled to score a hit on the enemy.

One player commands the Union forces under the leadership of Generals Banks, Shields and Fremont with the other controlling those of the Confederacy led by Generals Stonewall Jackson, Ewell and Johnson. A complete game consists of 16 Game Turns (each representing 3 days of real time) comprised of four phases: Initiative (high dice roller goes first with ties going to the Confederate player), Movement, Battle and Supply.

During the Movement phase, the active player activates any (or all) of his headquarter (HQ) units with any blocks within range being able to move either one or two spaces. Blocks too far removed from HQs are considered “stragglers” and may move 1 space if they survive a die roll. Blocks move from town to town via roads (no hex grids here) and the amount of movement allowed is limited on various roads depending on the type of block and whether units are just moving or attacking. The Confederate player is allowed to travel by rail (on the Virginia Central Railroad) but no other rail movement may be done. Activated HQs are reduced one strength and can then move as well. Once both players have moved their forces, a battle can erupt.

shenandoahmapSome towns are, by definition, friendly (and under the control of one side or the other). Otherwise, towns occupied by one side are friendly to that side but those with forces of both sides present are considered “contested”. In those cases, battles MUST occur. (The “major” towns of the game have numbers – worth Victory Points – associated with them so control of these areas is important.)

Shenandoah follows the standard Columbia Games’ battle method of operation: blocks may fire or retreat and A designated blocks attack first followed by B blocks followed by Cs. Dice are rolled and hits reduce the strength of an enemy block by 1. For example, a block with a B2 rating can attack after all A blocks involved on its side have attacked and will score a hit on a roll of 1 or 2. (While this is basically true for all attacks, there are certain modifications involving artillery and cavalry.) Blocks reduced to no strength are permanently eliminated. If the attacker hasn’t managed to win the conflict by the end of the third round of battle, he can retreat during round 4 (although cavalry units may retreat during the first round) but defending units can still fire on retreating forces.

Once all battles are resolved, players receive Supply points to rebuild the strength of weakened blocks but only blocks that can trace a supply line to their Supply Bases can be rebuilt. (The Confederates have two such Supply Bases – Charlottesville and Staunton; the Union has three: Hagerstown, Cumberland and Salem.) Each player also has a pool of 15 detachments and, each supply phase, chooses one free detachment to deploy on the map. (Detachments are one step blocks that can’t handle more than one hit before being eliminated so they must be handled wisely; eliminated detachments count for Victory Points.)

Another consideration for the Union player is the just how to use Shields’ division. He may keep the division in play OR move it off-board before Turn 7. They may return to the board BEFORE Turn 6 but, once re-entering, may not go off-board again.

At the end of turn 16, Victory Points are calculated. Each player receives VPs for eliminated enemy units: 1 for a “regular” unit, 2 for HQ blocks, ½ VP for each detachment and 1 VP for a detachment HQ. To that total, the VPs of any occupied enemy town are added. Finally, the Union player also gets 1 VP for every Shields’ block remaining off-board. The player with the most Victory Points wins!

As usual with Columbia Games, game presentation is first rate. The mounted map is definitely an improvement over the traditional heavy paper “board”. The wooden blocks are both solid and nicer to handle than the traditional cardboard chits found in your typical wargame. The stickers are easy to read and the rules are clear and straightforward. The historical sidebars are always interesting and give a welcome historical context to the game as well.

The game presents several challenging command decisions for each player. The Union player must decide how valuable and necessary is Shields’ division. Does his presence on the board make up for the VPs his forces will provide if remaining off-board? The Union already has a significant advantage in numbers against the Confederacy which places them in an enviable position to win. But this advantage is somewhat tempered by the better leadership of General Stonewall Jackson. In game terms, this translates into allowing Jackson to activate ALL Confederate forces including the forces of Ewell and Johnson, a subtle but significant ability; Union leaders may only activate their own divisions. Because of that leadership advantage and to make up for the lack of numbers, Confederate forces need to pound away at Union forces and remain on the offensive if they wish to win. The question, remains, however, as to where and when to strike to maximize that leadership edge.

Shenandoah: Jackson’s Valley Campaign is a mid-weight simulation of an important Civil War campaign that allows for some tough command decisions for players on both sides of the battling, another fine addition to the Columbia Games’ line of wargames.


go how to write a contrast essay prednisone abuse dreams topic essay click here using viagra too much source url report writing services click here example of hypothesis testing source url help with my shakespeare studies dissertation abstract how to write an excellent essay source url follow site winter dreams essays follow url click go to link cialis australia go to link cialis bancroft a feminist essay best online writing service follow site go Have feedback? We’d love to hear from you.

Spring 2012 GA Report Articles


[In this issue we welcome Kevin Whitmore, a long time gamer from New Mexico. Kevin has hosted a game night that meets every week since 1999. Kevin plays many different styles of games, including wargames, card games, word games, abstracts, Euros and train games. Kevin admits he isn't the sharpest 18xx player in his local games community, but this just keeps him coming back for ...
Read More
Reviewed by Andrea "Liga" Ligabue (Z-Man Games, 2-4 players, ages 12 and up, 47-120 minutes; $54.95) Sci-fi is one of the great gold veins where designers and publishers dig out endless games. In the last years I was impressed by many good titles. Eclipse, Race for the Galaxy, Battlestar Galactica, Earth Reborn, Claustrophobia, Galaxy Trucker, Alien Frontiers are all in the BGG top 100 joined ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (Tasty Minstrel Games, 2-5 players, ages 13 to adult, 90-120 minutes; $59.95) It seems that even fantasy lands have to deal with the bungling of bureaucracies. In this particular kingdom, it turns out there has been an "error" by the powers that be in doling out the job of constructing the castle of Belfort, the veritable jewel in the crown of ...
Read More
Reviewed by Chris Kovac (Sierra Madre Games, 1-4 players, ages 12 and up, 180+ minutes; $72) Bios Megafauna is a fairly complex gamer's game with a strong theme of evolution designed by Phil Eklund. This is an updated and streamlined version of Mr. Eklund’s earlier game called American Megafauna with better pieces and faster game play. The object of the game is to have the ...
Read More
Right Jobs Steve Jobs, the guy who put the "i" in genius and then applied it to us (in the form of such well received items as the iPhone, iPad, iPod, iTouch etc.) said: "People don't know what they want until you show it to them." That was his job and he did it well, getting those ideas from the mind onto the drawing board ...
Read More
Reviewed by Jeff Feuer (Tasty Minstrel Games, 2-4 players, ages 12 and up, 45-60 minutes; $39.95) Eminent Domain is a deck-building card game by designer Seth Jaffee but, while a deck-building game like Dominion (Winter 2009 Gamers Alliance Report) which pioneered the genre, it has little in common with it. You do start with a set of 10 cards, which are shuffled and then you ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (Indie Boards & Cards, 2-6 players, ages 10 and up, 45 minutes; $39.99) Even as a child, I always had respect for those among us who had the incredible courage to not only face danger but put themselves in harm's way to save others. Firefighters are part of that select group. Instead of running from a burning building, they run towards ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (Minion Games, 2-4 players, ages 12 and up, 60-90 minutes; $49.99) In the annals of Biblical history, King Solomon occupies a special place. As a king fabled for his wisdom, he ruled over the land known as Israel and presided over a time of peace and prosperity. Players, as governors serving the king, compete to increase that prosperity by constructing buildings, ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (Educational Insights, 2 players, ages 8 to adult, 10 minutes; $19.99) There are a lot of games out there competing for your attention and leisure spending dollars so it helps if you can make your game stand out. Nowhere to Go, a Hank Atkins design, certainly achieves that goal with its eye-catching hexagonal box and its striking orange and black motif ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (Mayfair Games/FunFair, 2-4 players, ages 10 and up, 30-60 minutes; $15) Pick up and deliver games are a well received genre in gaming. Basically, they are what they sound like. You pick up a cargo in one place (whatever it may be from wherever it may be) and deliver it someplace else. Usually, the idea is to get the stuff to ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (Columbia Games, 2 players, ages 12 and up, 2 to 3 hours; $59.99) With the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War upon us, it is no surprise that there has been an uptick in the number of games exploring this already popular subject. Shenandoah: Jackson's Valley Campaign is one of these with the game centering on the campaign waged between ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (dlp Games, 2-4 players, ages 10 and up, 60 minutes minutes; $70) When Cole Porter was writing the score for Silk Stockings, the musical that centered on a beautiful Russian commissar (played by the stunning Cyd Charisse in the film) being wooed by a charismatic Westerner (none other than the incomparable Fred Astaire in the movie) who seduces her to the ...
Read More
Reviewed by Greg J. Schloesser (Pearl Games/Z-Man Games, 2-4 players, ages 12 and up, 60-90 minutes; $44.99) In baseball terms, designer Xavier Georges is batting around five hundred for me. In baseball, that is a terrific average that has never been obtained over the course of a career, let alone a season. As a game designer, that average is, well, average. His first breakout design ...
Read More
Reviewed by Joe Huber (Ammonit Spiele, 2-4 players, ages 12 and up, 90-120 minutes; about $70) Over the past few years, Stefan Feld has firmly established his reputation as a designer of gamer's games and, as the most published designer in Alea's noteworthy catalog. His string of successes - from Notre Dame to In the Year of the Dragon (featured in the Spring 2008 Gamers ...
Read More
Reviewed by Pevans (Giochix, 2-4 players, ages 13 and up, 120+ minutes; $49.95) I was intrigued by Upon a Salty Ocean when I first saw it at Spiel ’11. The initial attraction was the good-looking artwork depicting the principal buildings of the French city of Rouen, on the banks of the river Seine, in the 16th century. When I was told it was about developing ...
Read More

If you enjoy games, then Gamers Alliance is right for you!