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HISTORICAL EXCURS S II O ON N 1863 and The Battle of Mine Run BYPETERP. PERLA The Battle of Mine Run, the greatest battle never fought during the American Civil War, was as important as its more spectacular cousins at Gettysburg and Vicksburg. ASS THE DIMLY GRAY DAWN of 30 November 1863 seeped into uniforms grown stiff with the night's cold, some 60,000 men of Major General George Gordon Meade's Army of the Potomac peered through the slowly dissolving gloom. Their gaze fell upon the snakelike earthen entrenchments that sheltered the more than 40,000 stalwart veterans of General Robert Edward Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Meade's troops had heard their orders only a few hours earlier; at 8:00 AM the signal guns would herald the great attack across the obscure little Virginia stream named Mine Run. Responsibility for leading the Union advance and fulfilling Meade's hopes was on the shoulders of Major General Gouvernor K. Warren, last summer's savior of Little Round Top and the hero of the battle of Gettysburg. Warren had deployed his own II Corps, reinforced to number nearly half of Meade's entire strength, facing west, confident of his ability to overrun Lee's right, or southern, flank. That portion of the Confederate line was held by the men of A.P. Hill's III Corps. On the opposite extreme of the seven-mile seven long Federal line, the Union V Corps, under Major General George Sykes, and John Sedgwick's VI Corps were poised to follow Warren's lead and strike Lee's left, held by Lieutenant General Richard E. Ewell's II Corps, temporarily under the command of Major General Jubal Early. The stage was set for another great battle whose outcomee could, perhaps, decide the fate of the Southern rebellion. "Wait a minute!" you say. "Mine Run? I've never even heard of it." Unless you are a dyed-in in-the-wool Civil War buff, the chances are that's exactly your attitude. Unlike the great battle at Gettysburg sburg the preceding July or the horrendous blood bath to follow during the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor battles in 1864, the Mine Run campaign of November 1863 is largely obscured by the fact that it featured no gallant, hopeless charges, no shocking scenes of slaughter. It was, instead, a campaign of missed opportunities. It was also a campaign that heralded the inevitable end of the Confederate dominance of the war's Eastern Theater. For me, there were two principal attr attractions to GMT's 1863. First, here was an opportunity to see whether Richard Berg and Rob Markham had finally broken the code on designing a medium-scale scale Civil War battle system that gave a good feel for combat at brigade level. Second, the inclusion of a Mine Run game in the package would give me a chance to explore the fascinating little campaign I will now describe for you. THE MINE RUN CAMPAIGN: 26 NOVEMBER TO 1 DECEMBER 1863 After repulsing Lee at Gettysburg in July of 1863, the Union army cautiously followed ollowed the retreating Confederates across The Battle of Mine Run: 1863 Now, for the first time, garners have the opportunity to explore one of the truly great "what-ifs" of the American Civil War the Potomac. The pursuit, if it may be called that, was so desultory that an impatient and frustrated Abraham Lincoln compared it to "an old woman shooing geese across a creek." By October, Lee had been further weakened by the detachment of Lieutenant General James Longstreet's I Corps, nearly a third of his army, which was sent to Tennessee to reinforce Braxton Bragg and the sagging Confederate hopes in the west. Even so, the ever aggressive Lee had struck at Meade, in an attempt to drive the Federals back into the defenses of Washington and so leave northern Virginia free of enemy occupation for the coming winter. The ever cautious Meade had avoided Lee's snares, however, and bloodied A.P. Hill's nose at Bristoe Station, only three miles southeast of Manassas. In a violent little firefight, Union forces under Warren had inflicted more than a thousand casualties on the Confederates for a cost of less than half that number of Federals. After the affair at Bristoe Station, Meade had been content to go into winter quarters, but the Lincoln administration urged him forward. As the result of the increasing pressure from Washington, Meade put his army in motion once again on 7 November. In a surprising display of tactical aggressiveness and rare good fortune, the Army of the Potomac dealt its adversary twin setbacks along the Rappahannock River. Major General William French's III Corps forced a crossing at Kelly's Ford, while Sedgwick's VI Corps and Sykes's V Corps captured nearly 2,000 Confederates holding a bridgehead on the north bank of the river at Rappahannock Station. Stunned by the Union successes and disappointed in his hopes of striking part of the Federal force in detail during its river crossing, Lee rapidly pulled his army back. By the morning of 9 November, the Confederates were south of the Rapidan River and Meade had, in turn, missed an opportunity to catch his adversary at a disadvantage. The new Confederate line stretched for 18 miles along the Rapidan, with its right flank refused to the south and west of the river. It was anchored on the right at Bartlett's Mill along the little stream called Mine Run. For the next two weeks, both armies secured their lines of supply and hopefully prepared to settle in for the winter. Those hopes were to be dashed, however, as once again the Federal government spurred Meade to continue his advance on Lee's forces. Meade's assessment of the situation was clear. A direct assault across the Rapidan line was impossible; a movement to outflank it to the west was impractical; only a rapid movement around the Confederate right and into their The Battle of Mine Run: 1863 "If I succeed today I shall be the greatest man in the army; if I don't, all my sins will be remembered." General Warren rear could hope to succeed. That success, however, depended on surprise and swift execution. Meade ordered the army to begin its movement on 24 November. The plan called for the Federal forces to cross the Rapidan at three fords. The focal point, in the center, was Warren's II Corps. After crossing the river at Germanna Ford, Warren was to move to a position near the crossroads at Locust Grove, some four miles south and east of the southern end of the Confederate right flank. French would cross the river about three and a half miles further west, on Warren's right. III Corps would then swing south and west to link up with II Corps. Sedgwick and VI Corps would follow French and support the Federal right and center. Sykes's V Corps would form the outer rim of the Union wheel. It would cross the river some me four and a half miles downstream from Warren and form the extreme left of the Union line. John Newton's I Corps, after detaching a division to guard the fords and the army's supply trains, would follow Sykes across, and form the link between V Corps and Warren. If successful, this maneuver would outflank Lee's right and interpose the Union army between the Confederates and the direct route to Richmond. Unfortunately for Meade, two things conspired to hamstring his plan from the start. First, Lee had accurately rately predicted his adversary's likely course of operations and was prepared to react quickly to any Union movement across the Rapidan. Second, the weather on 24 November proved cold and rainy and made it impossible for the Union advance to kick off as planned. It was two days more before the movement could finally get underway. Lee would not be surprised. Once the advance began on 26 November, things went from bad to worse for the marching Federal troops. Both II and V Corps made good time in their crossings ngs of the river, but French's III Corps proved inordinately slow, uncoordinated and timid, a problem caused at least in part by a running feud between French and Brigadier General Henry Prince, commanding the lead division in III Corps' column. The delays in French's march during 26 and 27 November contrasted sharply with the rapid and effective reactions of the Confederates. Two of Ewell's divisions blocked Warren in front of Locust Grove on 27 November, while the third division, under command of Major General Edward Johnson, marched toward Warren's right flank. After the rear brigade of Johnson's division ran into Prince near Payne's farm, Johnson swung his entire division back to face French and Sedgwick. Though heavily outnumbered, Johnson's aggressive attack bottled up two entire Union Corps for the remainder of the day. Meanwhile, Meanwhi Hill's Corps and Stuart's cavalry arrived on the Confederate right, facing down Sykes and Gregg's cavalry division in that quarter. After deciding that his position was not a strong one, Lee ordered his now united army to fall back to higher ground on the west bank of Mine Run. Throughout the wet night of 27 - 28 November, the Confederates dug entrenchments and prepared for the expected attack on the morrow. After a late start, the Union army closed up on Lee's position during the 28th. After ter spending the day studying the Confederate Confed entrenchments, Meade decided not to launch a direct frontal assault. Instead, he endorsed Warren's proposal to move a large force around the Confederate right flank. Warren's II Corps, reinforced by one of Sedgwick's gwick's divisions and some cavalry, moved laboriously into position during the following day (29 November) but halted short of driving in the Confederate flank as daylight ran out. Even so, Warren was supremely confident of his ability to overrun the enemy on the morrow, and he convinced Meade that the plan would work. The latter strengthened Warren even further, directing two of French's divisions to operate under Warren's orders. With his command numbering some 30,000 troops, almost half the strength of the entire army, Warren would crush the Confederate right. Sedgwick, after examining the Confederate position on the opposite flank, declared it vulnerable to an attack by his corps. Meade saw the opportunity for a classic double envelopment, and he approved proved Sedgwick's plan as well. The Union artillery on the right flank would open the ball with a heavy bombardment beginning at 8:00 AM. About the same time, Warren' infantry would move to the attack, with orders not to fire during their charge. ge. Once Warren's attack was well underway, by about 9:00 AM, Sedgwick and Sykes would drive in Lee's left and crack the Confederate army like a nut in a vise. As the hours slowly crept toward dawn on 30 November, Warren clearly perceived his position. He told his staff officers "If I succeed today I shall be the greatest man in the army; if I don't, all my sins will be remembered." After a restless night, punctuated by the sounds of the Confederates hastily extending and improving their fortificafortifica tions opposite his position, Warren rode forward d to examine the Confederate lines. He was appalled at what he saw. The Confederate improvements had changed the previous night's vision of an overwhelming assault into the morning's nightmare of a bloody disaster. Warren estimated that, even at a run, it would take his men at least eight minutes to cross the open ground in front of the 1863: The Battle of Mine Run Figure 1, Warren's Abandoned Assault Confederate breastworks, subject all the while to a withering fire from Hill's veteran riflemen. Far from facing the prospects of a dazzling success, Warren now found himself confronted with an imminent and useless sacrifice ifice of his men's lives if he ordered them forward, or an inevitable sullying of his reputareputa tion if he did not. With no time to present the situation to Meade, Warren cancelled his attack. While Warren's messengers lathered their horses on the road to Meade's de's headquarters, the 8:00 AM bombardment began. Meade was listening to the sounds of the guns on his right and straining to detect the start of Warren's attack on the left when the news arrived at about 8:50 AM. Stunned and angry, Meade immediately sent word to Sedgwick to call off his imminent assault. He then rode rapidly toward Warren's headquarters. What he saw there convinced Meade not to countermand Warren's decision to cancel the attack. Silence settled over the lines as Meade considered his alternatives. atives. After discussing the situation with his senior commanders that evening, and in view of the fact that the men's rations were about used up, Meade saw no choice but to give the order to pull back north of the Rapidan on 1 December. The Confederate troops and high command were supremely disappointed that the Army of the Potomac chose not to attack their strong position. They longed for another Fredericksburg, an opportunity to return the favor of Pickett's charge to the Union Army. When en Meade failed to attack once again on 1 December, Lee determined to strike. He would hit the Union left and roll them up against the Rapidan. As the Confederates advanced at dawn on 2 December, however, they found their quarry gone. A disgusted Lee blamedd himself for missing an opportunity to strike a heavy blow as he had only seven months earlier at Chancellorsville. But the armies that sparred so cautiously cautio in that winter of 1863 were no longer the same as those that had bloodied each other so unmercifully during that spring and summer. The ConfedConfed erates were weakened by the loss or detachment of many of their best men and officers and were no longer quite so ready to charge headlong into the Union guns as they had been on a sunny Pennsylvania afternoon. The Federals, too, were less numerous and more cautious than they had been in July. Yet, Meade's caution, n, so decried by the Northern press and subsequently subjected to Congressional investigations, had deprived Lee of one of his greatest weapons. Meade was too well aware of the tactical limitations of himself and his army in the face of Lee's masterful counterpunching cou ability. If the chance of a stunning victory required the risk of decisive defeat, Meade had sense enough to back away. The moral courage shown by Warren and Meade in refusing to engage in futile heroics augured the ultimate crippling of Lee's army during Grant's relentless campaign of the following year. Never again would Marse Robert have the opportunity to turn a Union tactical blunder into a Confederate strategic success. The battle of Mine Run, the greatest battle never fought during the war, ar, was thus as important a turning point as its more spectacular cousins at Gettysburg and Vicksburg. In many ways it ratified those bloody Union successes and prepared the way for the even bloodier denouement to come. THE BATTLE AS GAME Now, for the firstt time, garners have the opportunity to explore one of the truly great "what-ifs" ifs" of the Civil War in GMT's Mine Run game of the 1863 quad. Lurking behind "big name" battle games like Gettysburg, Brandy Station, and Fredericksburg II, Mine Run could just be the sleeper of the quad and maybe even of the year's crop of Civil War titles. In its design and play, Mine Run embodies many of the good aspects of the newly upgraded Battles and Leaders system. I am not completely satisfied with all of the design decisions made in these games, especially the inconsistent and inexplicable matches of unit size and map scale, made largely on the basis of "playability" and economizing on the number of counters. Nevertheless, I was very pleased to find it possibl possible to recreate quite closely the effects of the Union command confusion and missed opportunities on 27 November. Unfortunately, all the scenarios included for the game begin on that date and play never extends past 29 November, the day before Warren's fateful decision. I have no desire to try to create a full full-blown 30 November scenario. I suggest you find yourself a copy of the book Mine Run: A Campaign of Lost Opportunities by Martin F. Graham and George F. Skoch (listed in the Bibliography for 1863) and build your own. (I might suggest to those of you who have the time and inclination that such a scenario might not be a totally unwelcome addition to C31. Hint, hint.) There was one question that I always lways wondered about, however; were Warren and Sedgwick correct in their evaluation of the Confederate position, that Lee's right was too strong but his left was vulnerable? The remainder of this article will look at the The Battle of Mine Run: 1863 possibilities for Union assaults on the opposite ends of the Confederate line. Warren's Abandoned Assault So, was Warren right? Was his planned attack doomed to fail? Did his agonizing decision prevent the useless waste of Union lives or did he pass up the opportunity of driving Lee away from the Wilderness before the horrors of the next summer's battles? On the he far right of the Confederate line stood Wilcox's division of Hill's III Corps. Although precisely locating Wilcox's brigades is difficult, we'll make the following assumptions: Figure 1 (Left) Lane (5 - 6) hex 4518, Thomas (4 - 6) 4619, Garnett's Artillery (2 - 8) 4619, Scales (5 - 6) 4719, and McGowan (5 - 6) 4820. All the Confederate units are, of course, entrenched. Facing Wilcox, Warren deploys three divisions, two of his own (Webb and Hays),, along with Terry's division of Sedgwick's VI Corps. Webb (2 x 5 - 6) hex 4516, Hays A (5 - 6) 4617, Hays B (4 - 6) 4617, Terry B (8 - 6) 4717, Terry A (9 - 6) 4818 Using the Basic game rules with the optional Commitment rule and the suggested Leader rule given in the Errata below, we'll also allow Warren to control Terry's division. We will assume the Union gains the Initiative and chooses to move first. Neither side has enough artillery to use it effectively in the Bombardmentt Phase, so play proceeds with the Union Initial Movement Phase. The Union force advances to the attack. Miraculously, all Union units make their Commitment die roll and so may move adjacent to the Confederate units: Figure 2 (Right) Webb A —> 4718, Hays A —> 4718, Hays B —> — 4618, Terry B —> 4819, and Terry A —> 4919, Here's where we notice one of the system's strange little quirks. Though Hays's division has only 9 Strength Points (SPs) in both its units combined, the same number as in Terry A,, stacking those units will give the Confederates a favorable column shift against them while allowing only the top Union unit to return fire. As a result, a cautious Warren chooses not to bunch his men. The focal point of the Union attack will be the far right of the Confederate line, held by McGowan. Terry's two units can achieve a base odds in the assault of 3 - 1 (17 - 5), but with at least two unfavorable column shifts (one for woods and one for the breastworks). The Union Offensive Fire Phase proceeds as follows: Terry A and Terry B fire at McGowan with a base fire strength of 17, placing them in the 16 - 20 column of the fire table. Two column shifts to the left takes the attack down to the 7 - 10 column. The die roll is a 4, inflicting a step loss on McGowan, Figure 2, Warren's Abandoned Assault which is applied following the immediately succeeding Confederate Return Fire Phase. Further down the Union line, both of Hays' units fire at Thomas's brigade, which shields Garnett's artillery. Hays' combined fire strength of 9 is reduced once for the breast breastworks, but increased once for the "massed" (stacked units) target. Resolution thuss takes place on the 7 - 10 column of the Fire Table. A die roll of 2 is an AD, a result that would disorder the target if at least one attacking unit were artillery. Because the artillery could not add its fire to that of the infantry units (the artillery would have to be adjacent to the target), the actual result is No Effect. Finally, Webb A engages Lane. Again, the column shift reduces the 5 SP attack to the 1 - 3 column. This time, however, a good die roll of 5 disorders Lane. Now the Confederates Return rn Fire. Confederate units fired on during the Union phase must fire at a unit that fired at them. Because Scales was unengaged, he may join forces with McGowan for a 10 SP attack Terry B. A roll of 3 produces a 1/ D result. Because the attack was infantry firing in a Return Fire phase, the Union unit must take a step loss (in an Offensive Fire phase that result would be Disorder). Next in line, Thomas and Garnett engage Hays A. The rules are not completely clear about ut whether both the infantry and artillery may fire from a stack, but we will give the ConfederConfeder ates the benefit of the doubt. The combined fire strength is thus 8, because the artillery is doubled for firing at one-hex one range. A die roll of 3 disorders Hays Hay A. Finally, Lane fires 5 SPs at Webb A with no column shifts. The die roll of 4 disorders Webb A. 1863: The Battle of Mine Run can you move the first unit into its replacement's hex until that unit leaves. ) Sedgwick's Baffled Blow On the opposite Confederate flank, things are more difficult for Lee. Sedgwick had convinced Meade that the Confederate works were vulnerable on that flank, and he had been ordered to strike soon after Warren's attack was to have kicked off. We have a little le more trouble recreating this situation because one of Sedgwick's divisions is apparently missing from the countermix. (Howe's 2nd division. It is clear from the Official Records that Howe was present at Payne's Farm, and although it is less clear that the division remained with Sedgwick after 27 November, it is hard to believe that Meade would leave that excellent officer with only a single division under his direct command. Anyone with solid information is welcome to prove either me or Richard incorrect on this matter.) Moving right along, we see that Johnson's division is guarding the extreme Confederate left. Even though this division suffered some casualties at Payne's Farm on the 27th, we will assume the brigades are all at full ful strength. They are deployed as follows: Figure 3 (Left) Stafford (4 - 6) hex 2517, Steuart (4 - 6) 2516, Andrew's Artillery (2 - 8) 2516, Walker (4* - 6) 2616, and Jones (4 - 6) 2716 Figure 3, Sedgwick's Baffled Blow Play now moves to the Union Melee Phase (I really, really hate that term, but it is probably obably more accurate in assaults against fortifications than in the open field). Only against McGowan is there any hope for success. Terry rolls and hopes. Once again, the base odds are 3 - 1. Because neither Union unit was disordered during Return Fire, there here are only two column shifts, as during Fire combat. Rolling on the 3 - 2 column of the Melee table, the die roll is a 4, an EX/A. Both sides lose a step, but the Union attackers must retreat. The Union take the loss from Terry A, allowing both of Terry's 's units to retain full strength and Good Morale. McGowan takes his second stepstep loss of the turn, and the counter is flipped over to its reduced side. (A second SP loss forces the unit to invert to its weaker side and drops morale to Fair, with unfavorable unfavorabl column shifts in combat.) Terry's units fall back. The first Union assault has failed to crack the Confederate line, but McGowan's brigade, now reduced to 3 SPs, is vulnerable to a renewed effort by Terry. In his turn, the Confederate will probably want to find some way to pull McGowan out of his hex and replace him with a fresh unit. Again, the odd stacking rules are a problem because only one unit may ever occupy a woods hex, no matter what its strength. Thus, McGowan must be replaced, not reinforced. (To be fair, one nice thing about this rule is that it prevents that very unrealistic gaming technique of switching the positions of units in line. In woods hexes, or in fully stacked hexes, that gamey device is not available because you cannot move the replacement placement into the first unit's hex before that unit leaves, nor Facing them across Mine Run are the three divisions of Sykes's V Corps and Wright's division of VI Corps. The Union forces are deployed as follows: Bartlett A (8 - 6) hex 2216, Bartlett B (8 - 6) 2315, Crawford A (5 - 6) 2415, Crawford B (4 - 6) 2415, Ayres A (5 - 6) 2514, Ayres B (5 - 6) 2414, Wright (2 x 8 - 6) 2614, Tompkins Arty (6 - 8) 4818, and Martin's Arty (4 - 8) 2215 The Confederates have cleared the woods in 2715, 2615, 2515, 2416, and 2417, removing any cover for the Federal attackers. The attack opens with a bombardment by the two Union artillery units against inst hex 2516. Total strength is 8 (each unit loses one SP because of the range to the target). Column shifts are one to the left for the breastworks and one to the right for a massed target. Rolling on the 7 - 10 column, the die reads 4, resulting in disorder rder for both Confederate units. The ConfedConfed erate artillery returns fire against Bartlett B in hopes of disruptdisrupt ing the Union assault. Fire strength is reduced to one because of range and the attack is ineffective. The Union forces now make a full-scale assault sault and, once again, all units make their necessary commitment die rolls. (I am not making this up!) Figure 4 (Right) Bartlett A —> 2417, Bartlett B —> — 2417, Crawford A —> 2416, Crawford B —> > 2416, Ayres A —> 2515, Ayres B —> 2515, Wright A —> 2615, and Wright B —> 2615 Union Offensive fire is directed at each of the three front line Confederate units, Walker, Steuart (with Andrews artillery), and Stafford. Stafford takes a step loss, Steuart also takes a step loss. Walker suffers no damage. Confederate Return fire disorders one of Bartlett's and one of Ayres's units, but Wright The Battle of Mine Run: 1863 and Crawford hold tight. During the Melee Phase, Bartlett attacks Stafford at 4 - 1 odds with three column shifts left. The result is an EX. Crawford attacks Steuart at 2 - 1 (artillery adds no SPs in a Melee) with two column shifts left. The result is an EX/D. Steuart takes a second step loss, reducing him to Fair morale. Both Steuart and Andrews must retreat, but the only available hex, 2617, is a woods hex. As a result, only one unit may retreat. The Confederate player chooses to save the guns, and Andrews moves back to 2617. Steuart, now unable to retreat, takes a third step loss, reducing him to Poor morale and putting him within one step of elimination. Finally, Ayres and Wright gang up on Walker at 6 - 1 odds with three column shifts left (one for Walker's Elite status, signified gnified by the * on his combat strength). The result is an EX/D. Because Andrews has retreated to 2617 and Jones still occupies 2716, Walker cannot retreat and so he too must take an additional step loss and remain in place. The Confederate line is intact, but in a shambles. Both Steuart and Walker face immediate extinction and replacing them will be difficult if not impossible. Clearly this Confederate deployment may not be the best, but on the other hand, maybe Sedgwick was right after all, and Lee's left really was vulnerable. CONCLUSION I make no claim to mastering the tactics and strategy of 1863, or even of Mine Run. I only hope that this article gives you a sense of the possibilities of the game. I found it particularly interesting and important that it is possible to use this game easily to explore some of the fascinating might might-have-beens of the Mine Run campaign. 1863 is a happy medium between SPI's old Blue and Grey Quad (1975) and the more complex and intricate models of the Great Battles of the American Civil War (1976) series . Here's hoping Berg and Markham continue their efforts in refining this system. The spark is there and it is long overdue. Mine Run by itself will provide you with many hours of entertainment and education. Study it and explore it. Berg is closing in on a truly useful tool for some serious historical work. I eagerly await the next round of improvements. For More Information: Mine Run: A Campaign of Lost Opportunities by Martin Graham and George Skoch The Civil War, A Narrative by Shelby Foote Volume 2, Fredericksburg to Meridian "Mine Run campaign" pages 872-78 Random House, New York 1963 Pipeline continued from page 5. those six weeks of battle in France and the Lowlands was just way too imbalanced a situation to make a good game. Victory in the West, which is now in the final stages of pre-development pre design work, aims to prove that conventional wisdom wrong. In its current form, VITW does something that no other game has tried. It recreates at a true operational scale the entire 1940 campaign right up to the moment the French historically capitulated (22 June — always an ominous date in history). The ground scale is 11 kilometers per hex. Turns are two days. Units are mostly divisions, with motorized forces portrayed as brigades and regiments. Of 600 counters, 395 represent historical combat units or hypothetical additions to the Allied order of battle. battle Using one and a half mapsheets arranged in a "T" configura configuration, the map covers part of Germany and all of the Nether Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and northeastern France. This gives the German player three viable axes of advance: through northern Belgium and southern Holland, through the Ardennes or through the Maginot Line. By the way, this is probably the first wargame to accurately portray the Maginot Line and the French Rhine fortifications as a string of forts and defensive zones of varying strength instead nstead of as some kind of impenetrable, monolithic Great Wall of France. What I'm realizing as I wrap up the design phase convinces me that the historical situation is definitely more playable and interesting than I had ever thought.