Over the past few years, Hermann Luttmann has released a new series of games using a new system similar to his famous Blind Swords System to model combat in the American Civil War called the Black Swan System. The first game with this new focus was The Devil’s to Pay!: The First Day at Gettysburg from Tiny Battle Publishing. Then came along a big game, with lots of big maps, and counters called A Most Fearful SacrificeThe Three Days of Gettysburg and it is simply glorious.

One of the reasons for the development of the new system was to allow for larger scale games with lots of units to be more playable and to cut down on the time it takes to play. I know that some of you are groaning at this but to me this is a good innovation that will get larger games back to the table for additional plays. How is this shortening of the game done with out taking out units and formations? The elimination of chit pull, which is a mechanic that I really and truly love but it has been replaced by cards in this one. Also, players will trigger activations by Corps instead of by lower-level formations so it really condenses the game but still provides the tactical decision-making choices by simply requiring the player to determine which of their Divisions will be activated. The necessary Corps Activation, Event and Fog of War cards will be seeded into a common pile and shuffled. Players will draw them just like they pulled chits before. The two keys to this change are that cards take less time to draw off of a pile than it takes to draw chits from a cup and I can put important game information right on the cards. This saves a lot of time not having to look up information in the rules or on the tables. 

The other thing that I liked, and have liked about all of Herm’s wargames, is the inclusion of the three “FOW’s” of war. The best of these is the activation portion and really keeps the game tense while providing some real simulation of the difficulty of command. The Black Swan events are also a really nice addition to the game as they create a great narrative element proper use of them can make or break your efforts. Players can normally choose two events to seed into the deck – the rest of the Event Cards are random. The cool thing about this game is that the Event rules are written right on the card – no looking them up on a separate table. The Fortunes of War are brought about through the variable results that can be achieved on the CRT and Cohesion Test Tables, with players not being guaranteed of any result. It is also built into the “Fortunes of War” marker, which can be used to re-roll any dice roll. Finally, the Friction of War is simulated with the difficulty in units being able to rebuild their strength in the middle of battle and with the “Friction of War” card, which is introduced as the battle wears on (literally). This card will cancel the next card drawn and thus shows the overall fatigue and chaos that results from extended combat.

We have really enjoyed playing the game. We found it to be totally engaging, very interesting with how the chit pull activation has been removed but is replaced by the cards but also beautiful to look at. The map is phenomenal and is probably the late Rick Barber’s finest work. The entire experience was glorious. Now we just need a bigger table to be able to play the entire campaign game of the three days of the battle. Some day. Some day soon.