The play pieces (see photos below) are wooden blocks with stick-on labels with unit type and command designations. The unit types include infantry, cavalry, artillery, supply and commanders. The units represent infantry and cavalry divisions. Artillery reserve "divisions" are also represented as are supply trains. The artillery provides fire support to attacking units and the supply trains help rally units.
The game has a historical limit of deployment, but players get to chose the actual location of each unit. Each Corps on the board has a command token which is put into a bag and drawn out one at a time. When the token is drawn, all of the divisions in the Corps moves and fights. When a division loses a round of combat, it is turned on its side to represent that it is reduced in strength. If it loses another round of combat before it has a chance to rally, the division is destroyed and removed from play.
In this game the Union are in the role of attacker and the Confederates are in strong defensive positions. The Union has a very large numerical superiority but the Confederates have interior lines and can move troops quickly to meet the Union attacks.
Here are some photos that we took during the game:
|Defending on my left, I start a strong push on my right.|
|The first attacks are met with strong resistance. The units with designations turned up have been defeated for the first time. If they lose another round of battle before they can rally, they will be destroyed.|
|The attacks on the right start to make headway. Also, I made a successful attack on the sunken road in the center of the Confederate line! It was a huge surprise to me and really put the pressure on the Rebels!|
|The end of the battle. I have cleared Sharpsburg and there are only a couple of depleted Confederate divisions between my forces and the Rebel lines of communication. We deemed it a significant Union victory.|
During the game that I played I was the Union commander. I was able to use the superiority in numbers to overwhelm the Confederates on their left, my right and fight my way into and through Sharpsburg. I even forced the crossing at Burnside's Bridge!
Overall, this is a really interesting game system. There are now several battles available including Brandywine (American Revolution), Marengo (Napoleon in Italy), Little Bighorn (American West) and now Antietam. The games are a bit pricey for a board game as far as I am concerned, but they are simple and fun to play. Overall, I would encourage you to give them a try if you have a chance to play.