Civil War Pt 6: The South is Burning


What I wouldn’t do for her help now!

My positive turns of fortune were quickly reversed by the might of the Yankee Military Industrial Complex.

Though Lee finally was able to take command of the Army of Northern Virginia in Maryland and leave Hood in charge of the Carolina forces, Union Ironclads made it impossible for to ferry supplies to the army. The raiders in Pennsylvania didn’t succeed in luring away more than a few troops away from the Army of the Potomac. Lee was forced to make his move and hope that McDowell was too inept to keep him from skirting the river south and take Washington. Alas, my dad succeeded on his reaction roll and McDowell managed to cut me off. Bloody skirmishing ensued that ultimately led to Lee being driven back into Virginia. In the back and forth, nearly all of Virginia has been lost.

Things are just as bad, if not worse in the west. Though normally an incompetent bum, with no one but militiamen to stop him, Rosecrans has been cutting a swath through the deep south with the Army of the Cumberland. Some fighting back and forth around Memphis finally sealed the fate of the far west and deprived the rest of the Confederacy of scant imports and delicious tex-mex cooking. I just can’t match the flexibility of the Union marine forces and the Union’s now virtually limitless supply capacity. Whereas I’d had Grant on the ropes just before, with every Yankee available hopping on a train and joining up with the Tennessee to reinforce him, he was quickly able to rebound and make things dire for both AS Johnston and Jackson. So, while Jackson was busy trying to deal with the marines who kept trying to take Memphis, Grant was able to put the hurt pretty bad on Johnston who, unlike Grant, didn’t have a bunch of recruits to make up for his losses. Now Jackson is cut off and out of supply in the middle of Mississippi and will have to get all the way to Georgia before he can reconnect with his supply line, and Johnston’s beaten a retreat all the way from Decatur to Chattanooga with not much left of the Army of Tennessee but the baggage trains and the paperwork. Unless I win initiative of the first pulse of next turn, Johnston will be forced to surrender.

Very little is happening for me in the TransMississippi, and now that they’re completely cut off from the rest of the Confederacy, probably even less will. The only upside is that my Dad will be so busy taking Alabama and securing Virginia, he might not have time to finish off my token force in North Little Rock. And man, for all of the dozens of command points spent in the Far West over the course of the 13 turns we’ve finished, we each have only 1 victory point a piece to show for it. I’ll probably never get a second one, because of how lousy the Mexican Banditos are. Most wild Indians still have a shot of burning down a fort even if it’s been alerted; banditos will ALWAYS either go home or get killed if they try to attack an alert fort. I’d’ve been better off sending my Apaches or Comanches across hundreds of miles of desert into New Mexico than send Mexican Banditos, even if they were closer.

There are a few things I wish now that I’d done differently.

I wish I’d sent even a marginally competent 3 star general to Arkansas so I could have done SOMETHING there after the first turn or two. Ironically, crushing Lyon’s force in Springfield turned into a strategic mistake, because it gave my dad the chance to put one of the top tier Union generals* into a theater where he’d see a lot more action.

I should not have pushed into the North with the Army of Northern Virginia. For the most part, we’d kept detente, and I’d finally dealt with the worst of the coastal raiders. I’ve lost too many leaders, either to wounds or death in fairly meaningless battles. Since I was never able to take Washington, I never got any permanent victory points for cities I took north of Dixie. I would’ve been better off trying to keep my ports open.

Even though it would’ve tied up my 2nd best general and an entire army, I should’ve left Jackson with his monstrous force in the Swamp Fortress outside of New Orleans. It would’ve kept the Mississippi River open and I wouldn’t have that blundering bum from Delaware steamrolling across the deep south from Vicksburg to Atlanta. It would’ve meant that I couldn’t press the assault against Grant as I’d done, but it proved to be a major strategic mistake.

Which leads into my next mistake: I should not have pressed against Grant. I came so close to annihilating the Army of the Tennessee I could taste it. I had Grant at such a huge disadvantage for awhile, it seemed like I could actually squash him. Unfortunately, doing so meant chasing him north toward Paducah and leaving Nashville open. And dagnabbit, what did I JUST say about Lyon? Having two decent sized armies operating in west Tennessee seemed like a good idea until one of them had to head back to Nashville and let Grant get between them.

Even though I did a great job of holding Tennessee much longer than the actual confederacy, I sacrificed too much energy in trying to create diversions in Kentucky. There’s just no way for the south to both keep Tennessee safe from the Cairo staging area and do anything in Kentucky while staying in supply.

I wish I’d built more commerce raiders. Nearly all of my points are going to come from the CSS Alabama, who’s sunk upwards of 30 ships. It’s just that the Confederacy has so few resources they can devote to naval strength. Just about the only thing that confederate vessels are good for is keeping the rivers open for a couple of hex-sides, and there are times I really wished I’d managed to do so, those discretionary points just always made sense to be used for something else.

We’ll probably be wrapped up in two more sessions at most, unless I’m forced to surrender in the next few turns. Since both the Army of Mississippi and the Army of Tennessee are on the verge of being annihilated, it’s looking very possible.  And yeah, Board Game Geek’s 20+ hour playtime estimate is probably not all that far off.

“Aww, man, I don’t know what I’m gonna do…”
“You can free all the slaves and surrender.”
*:The game’s creators are certainly Nathaniel Lyon fanboys; that Stonewall Jackson may have been promoted to 3 star general, had he lived, seems like a more reasonable ‘what-if’ than the 3 star Lyon (who is mechanically the equal of Thomas, Mead, Grant and Sherman), especially since it’s highly unlikely that a Union player would leave a 2-2-2 general in TransMississippi theater.

Future Plans

I said I’d be talking about some upcoming plans for Cirsova. Well, here’s what I’ve got:

Cirsova Master Plan –

1. Sell At the Feet of Neptune’s Queen to a SF/F rag.

2. Use the money to start a Sword & Planet/Science Fantasy rag of my own.

3. If step 1 fails: Gather materials to start a Sword & Planet/Science Fantasy rag of my own to publish At the Feet of Neptune’s Queen.

First and foremost, I’ll be doing a bit of polish on AtFoNQ and getting that ready for submission/publication, but I’ll also have time to start working again on Battlefields & Broadswords. No timetable on that, but it’s back on my plate.

I’ve crunched a few numbers and, if i needed to run a kickstarter, I know about how much I’d need to raise to put out a decent quality pulp.

The real hard part? Actually finding content.

More than anything, I want to focus on:

1: Sword & Planet/Planet Romance Fiction
2: Science Fantasy Fiction
3: Commentary on Sword & Planet & Science Fantasy Fiction
4: Game Theory/Content relating to Sword & Planet/Planet Romance Fiction
5: Other Sci-fi/Fantasy content so long as it is sufficiently awesome.

It may be a few months, or it may be in a year, but I will probably start laying some actual ground work putting together a zine. Yeah, I intend to pay writers for content (and therefore get better content), but I’ll be limited in the first go-round, especially since I want to have everything paid-for and ready to go except for print costs & ad placements.

If I do kickstart, there won’t be fancy gee-gaws, minis, stretch-goals or anything like that. The less I promise beyond delivering a quality publication, the better the chance I have of delivering on that promise. On the off chance the mag is a success, things will be made bigger and better (and hopefully pay better) in the future.

As an aside, since I mentioned crowdfunding, I thought this was a worthwhile video to share:

1st Draft Done!

I just finished the first draft of my Abraham Strongjohn’s “At the Feet of Neptune’s Queen”!

Plans and details will be forthcoming…  In the meantime, enjoy some back-cover grade synopsis text.

Just the night before, Ch’Or had been in Vraala’s bed chamber.  A fortnight before that, Ch’Or had been standing before the sacred altar of his people, a coronet about to be placed on his head.  He would be the king of one world, but never this one.  He would have one woman at his side for his queen, but never the lamia that had brought him here.  The Prince of Mars would not be made to bow At the Feet of Neptune’s Queen!

The Story of Moira Greyland (Guest Post)

Moira Greyland, the daughter of Marion Zimmer Bradley, opens up and expounds on the revelations she made public earlier on Deidre Saoirse Moen’s blog.

Knowing things I know now, I’m very glad I never got into MZB. Similarly, I now avoid Samuel R Delany for reasons beyond thinking his fans were obnoxious.


I was born into a family of famous gay pagan authors in the late Sixties. My mother was Marion Zimmer Bradley, and my father was Walter Breen. Between them, they wrote over 100 books: my mother wrote science fiction and fantasy (Mists of Avalon), and my father wrote books on numismatics: he was a coin expert.

What they did to me is a matter of unfortunate public record: suffice to say that both parents wanted me to be gay and were horrifed at my being female. My mother molested me from ages 3-12. The first time I remember my father doing anything especially violent to me I was five. Yes he raped me. I don’t like to think about it. If you want to know about his shenanigans with little girls, and you have a very strong stomach, you can google the Breendoggle, which was the scandal which ALMOST drummed…

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The Cancer of White Guilt

Every so often, I make the mistake of looking at WordPress’s Freshly Pressed list.

For every genuinely interesting article, there are usually 2 or 3 that is a “Person of Color” shaming white people or a some white person being ashamed of being white. The new trend seems to be white looking non-white white people being ashamed of being/looking white.

White guilt is so cancerous that it’s spreading to non-white people! Feel bad because you kind of look like someone who did or said a bad thing! Fun fact, White Folks From HistoryTM tend to get the worst blame for stuff that Spaniards actually did. And last time I checked the Progressive Stack, we’re considered brown people.

So stop feeling bad on account of other people, make something of your life, and be happy. White guilt is like the original sin, only there’s no progressive Jesus to wash it away; blog posts on privilege are like calves, goats and sheep on the altar: they’ll never be enough.

Dear white and non-white people worried about your white privilege: get over yourselves. Privilege is people whining about privilege constantly making the Freshly Pressed list. Having a giant platform and the freedom to whine isn’t going to make you look any more sympathetic to anyone who is genuinely unprivileged.

If it’ll make you feel better, though, your friends can pay me to hire local homeless people in your area to shuffle toward you, take your hand and tell you “I forgive you for looking white” that you might be bought a moment of absolution.  It could turn into quite the non-profit cottage industry.  Or you can just take Walter Williams up on his offer and print yourself out one of these.

More DCC

The Word of Stelios (formerly of d20 Dark Ages) has just posted a lengthy exhortation of Dungeon Crawl Classics that’s certainly worth checking out (and would’ve been even if he didn’t give me a shout out).

He does a much better job upselling than I do, in part because he’s probably got more experience playing and running this game and so has a better understanding of the mechanics behind it, and has clued me into some useful tidbits that I can use the next time we actually get together and play.

I’d been weighing in my mind whether Elyse would make more sense as a Thief or a Hobbit that I roleplayed as a thief.  She IS undeniably lucky (even if not in the stat-sense), but if DCC actually gives class abilities that are actual, y’know, ABILITIES, Thief could definitely be the way to go with her.

I’m a bit leery of dice whose sides are prime numbers, but I just might have to get some, because I may have fallen in love with this system.

Short Reviews – In Rubble, Pleading, Michael Bishop

In Rubble, Pleading by Michael Bishop appears in the February 1974 issue of the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Michael Bishop’s In Rubble, Pleading was one of those odd stories that likes to sneak its way into Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction which is not particularly fantastical or really science fiction, or even speculative, beyond the speculation of the character within. This piece has a bit of horror and southern gothic going on with it, but didn’t scratch the itch I’ve had lately. It wasn’t a bad story, so I won’t hold that against it.

Folks are in a barbershop right after one of a series of deadly tornadoes, talking about the weather. One guy recounts a particularly gruesome anecdote about a boy he found with a board sticking through his torso and how there was nothing that could be done but wait for the kid to succumb to his injuries. The boy in the barbershop thinks to himself that maybe a conscious force is directing the tornadoes.

I… I’m sorry, I couldn’t make that sound interesting.  It’s the sort of thing you might read in one of those collections of “REALTRUELIFESCARYSTORIES!” or some other book dressed up as campfire ghost stories that aren’t really ghost stories, and it would feel at home there. But at least it wasn’t a 61 page Jewish Mother joke or a Joanna Russ screed about white privilege!

If you go into a story like this with ghost-story/true-horror expectations, you’ll find that it’s a pretty decent well-told examples of the genre. Just maybe don’t read it coming down from the high of finishing one of Leigh Brackett’s Mars novel.

Dungeon Crawl Classics

I’m not sure if I can say “I love Dungeon Crawl Classics” because I only got a tiny taste of mechanics; for all I know, once we get into the weeds of level 1, I might hate it. But the funnel. Oh, lordy, the funnel! I could run the meat grinder a hundred times, because it’s so much fun! It really forced me out of my comfort zone of what I’m used to playing and made me love my lousy-statted characters.

My ostler, the only character without stats in the negative, ended up dying, but that’s okay, because he was kind of boring in his averageness. I’ll miss Robin the Miller, with his 1lb sack of flour, brawn over brains problem solving skills and hard drinking bluster. He might’ve been a decent fighter or even a mage; hopefully the snake cultists will be mercifully quick when they sacrifice him. In the end it was Elyse the cutpurse (two negative stats and no positives) who made it out of the dungeon: as an ugly girl who likes ugly things, Elyse befriended some feverlings in the cultists’ menagerie; when the fighting broke out, she snagged keys off the captain, set them free and ran out through the sewers with a gaggle of blood-weeping antlered bird-things.

I probably play female characters 70/30 in video game rpgs (in no small part because ES games start female characters with higher MU-related stats, which are harder to raise than physical stats), but I’ve never played as a female character around the gaming table, so this should be interesting. And hey, no one made any jokes about how her starting item was a small chest! Interestingly enough, we started with 5 male characters and 4 female characters between the three of us, and we left the dungeon with an all female party.

Level 0 DCC feels like one of those few times that one “wins” in a tabletop RPG. Everyone who gets out with one character alive “wins”; if someone gets out with more than one character, I don’t know, they superwin? Like I said, I could play the funnel over and over again.

In other news, I may have been hasty when I pooh-poohed Dragons of Glory simply for being a Dragonlance product*. It’s actually the one product out of the whole lot of them that I might end up playing. Turns out Dragons of Glory isn’t a D&D module but a stand-alone hex & chit wargame that purports to recreate the War of the Lance. It doesn’t use Mentzer or Battle System; it’s actually it’s own game with fairly standard wargame rules with odds charts and column modifiers; the only thing that really makes it stand out is that it uses a d10 instead a d6 to roll on the combat results table. I might actually be able to convince my dad to play this one with me.

As cool as the the Greyhawk folio is, I have no idea what I’ll ever do with it besides maybe frame those giant hex-maps of Oerth.

*My dirty secret is that I LOVED the Dragonlance books as a wee-lad.  It may have been pink slime fantasy, but from ages 10-12, I devoured them.