Battle Hymn Volume 1 includes two games: Gettysburg: The Tide Turns and Pea Ridge: The Struggle for Missouri and is a new brigade-level game system that simulates the chaos of the American Civil War using a simple activation system combined with a detailed combat system. The system’s designer, Eric Lee Smith, originated the chit-pull activation system in his game Panzer Command and later used it in Across Five Aprils, Battle Hymn’s forerunner, both published by Victory Games. Units are organized by command, usually divisions, and activate for movement when the command’s activation marker is picked from the cup. The system uses traditional mechanics for movement, with units differentiated by type, but adds a level of detail to combat that feels almost miniatures like. In fact, the system is designed for easy conversion to miniatures. When one side has the initiative they decide when their combat phase occurs, without it, you don’t know when it will happen.
Gettysburg: The Tide Turns needs no introduction as to subject, but the treatment is noteworthy. Using a graphics approach based upon the maps produced by the US Government after the war, the map is truly a work of art and was one of the many reasons that I was drawn to this game. There are six scenarios in the game, some of which have alternatives for additional variety.
Pea Ridge: The Struggle for Missouri simulates the decisive battle of Pea Ridge, which determined that Missouri would stay in the Union. It could have gone the other way. This is a classic meeting engagement with the Confederates on the offensive and outnumbering the Union for once.