Saturday, January 17, 2009

Texas Glory hits the table

Mark and I got together and played Texas Glory by Columbia Games this morning. This is not too different from the other block games that Columbia puts out with a similar look and feel.

I will say that I was pleased with this game and would like to play again. The play is simple and quick and there is a very manageable number of blocks on the table. Now we only played the 1835 game and we did not take it into 1836 but I would imagine that as the war progresses that the blocks start to come into play and the board gets more and more crowded.

I think that Mark will agree that the game is fun, simple and fast moving and there are a few tactical things that one must master - mostly centered around supply and hex engagement/disengagement.

We also both agreed that even though the game was simple to play that the rules had some holes that required us to talk about and agree upon.

In our reenactment of Texas history, my Mexican forces were able to hold out against the initial Texan attack that took Goliad (after a very bloody siege) but failed to take the Alamo.

One final thought - It was very interesting and fun to play a war game on a map of an area that I have called home all of my life.


At 9:00 PM, January 17, 2009, Blogger Mark said...

Carlos beat me to a blog entry, undoubtedly due to my long windedness

Texas Glory finally made it to the table after being pre-ordered roughly 5 years ago. Carlos came over and we decided to break the game in. Texas Glory recreates the war for Texas independence which lasted from 1835 to 1836. The war was fought with Napoleonic weaponry, which means cavalry, lances, smoothbore muskets, cannon and hunting rifles. The forces involved were not that large with the Texans never having more than 800 men at any one place and the Mexicans never had more than a few thousand. Supply was a major problem during the campaign and so neither side ever amassed large forces in one area.

I’ll give the game some background since the history behind it is new to many. For those not interested, my session report and game comments appear at the end.

In 1835, Texas was ruled by Mexico. After initially encouraging American settlement—as a way to civilize the territory—the Mexican government had a change of heart after realizing it was losing control of the area. Revolution in Mexico brought a military dictator, Santa Anna, to power. Santa Anna instituted harsh laws that were resisted by Texans. In September 1835, the Mexican garrison commander sent troops to Gonzalez to seize a cannon that had been given to the militia to defend against Indian attack. The militia resisted—flying a banner reading “Come and Take It” —and a small skirmish broke out. The Mexican forces withdrew back to San Antonio. Texan forces gathered and eventually besieged the Mexican garrison at the Alamo. In December 1835, the Texans launched an assault on the Mexican garrison---commanded by Santa Anna’s brother in law. The Texans won the day and took control of the Alamo while Santa Anna’s brother in law was sent home to Mexico. The Texans returned to their homes for the winter while stationing garrisons at the Alamo and Goliad (near Corpus Christi).

In Mexico City, an enraged Santa Anna was determined to retake Texas and evict the American settlers. In January 1836, Santa Anna raised an army of about 5,000—10,000 men. While some units were of high quality, many were poorly motivated and equipped conscripts. Santa Anna relied on land transport for supply out of fear that the American navy might interdict supply by sea. This limited the size of the forces that he could amass. Santa Anna split his forces with one column heading to San Antonio and one along the coast to Goliad. During the harsh winter march north, many soldiers were lost to disease and desertion. Meanwhile, the Texan Alamo garrison under Col. Travis heard the news of the approaching Mexican army and debated whether to withdraw or stay. The issue was settled when Santa Anna’s cavalry arrived in San Antonio ahead of schedule and trapped the defenders inside the Alamo. The siege of legend ensued and Santa Anna avenged his brother in law by retaking the Alamo.

The great flight of Texas settlers began as Santa Anna advanced into central Texas. Santa Anna was forced to divide his forces due to supply problems. Eventually Santa Anna’s column of 1200 soldiers met up with Sam Houston’s Texan army of 800 at Buffalo Bayou (San Jacinto) near modern day Houston. Houston burned the bridges behind his men giving them only one way out—through the Mexican army. Eager to avenge the Alamo and Goliad, the Texans launched their assault. Santa Anna is reported to have been busy with a slave girl and his opium pipe at the time of the assault. In 20 minutes over 600 Mexicans were killed for only 10 or so Texan casualties. Most of the rest of Santa Anna’s column was captured. Santa Anna was captured the next day. Santa Anna was spared in exchange for granting Texas independence. The Republic of Texas was born.

As Carlos said, this is a nice light game of maneuver. It’s really a great game hidden by a really bad rulebook. The good news is it’s only about 4 pages of rules. I’m betting (hoping) future updates of the rulebook (download on Columbia game website) will fix the rulebook problems.

Our game today covered the events of 1835. This scenario is supposed to take 1 hour. We took 2 hours but much of that was spent discussing the vague rulebook. The 1836 scenario is supposed to take 2 hours and is really the main event.

At 12:07 AM, January 18, 2009, Blogger Ted Kostek said...

Mark: great entry & thanks for the history lesson. I only had some vague notions of the history behind this game.

I would definitely be interested to give this a whirl sometime.

At 2:56 PM, January 18, 2009, Blogger jbarreto said...

A very enjoyable recounting.

I imagine it's very challenging to make an balanced game out of a conflict that was historically lopsided but it looks like Columbia games has got the right idea. Looks like both sides were fun to play.

At 6:00 PM, January 22, 2009, Blogger Mark said...

After rereading the rulebook and cross referencing the CG forum--where the game's designers are active--the rules make a lot more sense.


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