Avalon-Hill's 1958 Game "Gettysburg"

James N.

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DSC07222.JPG


I had originally planned to save this one for a little nearer to Christmas, which is when I first received this as a present from my mother in 1959 and first played it with my friend from junior high school (modern so-called middle school to you whippersnappers!) Mike @mkyzzzrdet . Since posting my recent thread on the Avalon-Hill Company's companion game Civil War https://civilwartalk.com/threads/civil-war-avalon-hills-1961-game.175983/ many of you have responded with at least some degree of familiarity with this one as well, so I thought it was the right time to feature it now. But first a word about this particular title in Avalon-Hill's catalog:

DSC07225.JPG


No doubt although some of you still remember Avalon-Hill's Gettysburg, it may not be this particular original version! Note that on the box lid it states in tiny blue print, AVALON-HILL'S TRADE-MARK NAME FOR ITS GETTYSBURG BATTLE GAME COPYRIGHT 1958. Having actually gone so far as to copyright the name Gettysburg, later editions of the game could scarcely afford to abandon the familiar name for the battle; that's the reason subsequent wargames were forced into production with such titles as SPI's Cemetery Ridge or Terrible Swift Sword. (It may indeed have been terrible but it was scarcely swift!) So when, after only a very few years, A-H decided to revise their game, almost everything about it may have changed, including the rules, mapboard, game pieces, and box art, it was still A-H Gettysburg.

DSC07216.JPG


THIS was Gettysburg in all its glory as I remember it, although no actual game would EVER have looked like this simulation of Pickett's Charge I have set up: Losses would've prevented so complete a showing at this stage of the battle - oh, I mean game. However, this does serve to illustrate several things about this version of Gettysburg that set it apart from all the others. Firstly, it was a map game - other than in the wholly unsatisfactory Basic Game did the square grid have any relevance - movement was measured in inches: two for infantry and four for cavalry and artillery; charging cavalry could move five. Another feature I highly approve of (though actually unrealistic, considering the scale) was inclusion of the concept of linear tactics, whereby units face in the direction the arrow on them points and are represented as rectangles simulating units drawn up in lines of battle. (Of course in "real life" units the size of divisions as here could send their component brigades or regiments in any direction they chose.) Purists should recognize that I have deliberately omitted most of the cavalry from my setup though they are certainly represented as brigades in the game; unfortunately the game map doesn't extend as far as Cavalry Battlefield to include them here in Pickett's Charge.

DSC07218.JPG


Notice they can be faced in any direction the player chooses; unit strengths are relative to the number printed on them and can be increased if the unit happens to be sitting on a hill or ridge. (Woods and streams have no effect on play) Movement along a road can increase the distance a unit can travel. After enough games with Mike I have the mapboard engraved in my memory; however, I now realize the various terrain maps of Gettysburg themselves vary, and have no idea which one or ones this map is based on - maybe some of our resident experts like @pamc153PA @rpkennedy @Gettysburg Guide #154 or others can say? (Note that, for example, for some reason the Peach Orchard isn't on a hill!) Below is the mapboard denuded of all but the pieces at the opening of the game, 10 pm June 30, 1863: Gamble and Devin's brigades of Buford's Union cavalry division plus four outposts; and Henry Heth's Confederate Division - which of course was neither this close to town nor all present until the following morning. The Union player always moves first and each turn is considered an hour of real time - the game can conceivably last until the morning of July 7, including a day-and-a-half of rain and mud!

DSC07220.JPG

DSC07224.JPG


Reinforcements for each side arrive by the above schedules; below are examples of rules and situations that may result.

DSC07223.JPG

DSC07226.JPG
 
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pamc153PA

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View attachment 370735

I had originally planned to save this one for a little nearer to Christmas, which is when I first received this as a present from my mother in 1959 and first played it with my friend from junior high school (modern so-called middle school to you whippersnappers!) Mike @mkyzzzrdet . Since posting my recent thread on the Avalon-Hill Company's companion game Civil War https://civilwartalk.com/threads/civil-war-avalon-hills-1961-game.175983/ many of you have responded with at least some degree of familiarity with this one as well, so I thought it was the right time to feature it now. But first a word about this particular title in Avalon-Hill's catalog:

View attachment 370738

No doubt although some of you still remember Avalon-Hill's Gettysburg, it may not be this particular original version! Note that on the box lid it states in tiny blue print, AVALON-HILL'S TRADE-MARK NAME FOR ITS GETTYSBURG BATTLE GAME COPYRIGHT 1958. Having actually gone so far as to copyright the name Gettysburg, later editions of the game could scarcely afford to abandon the familiar name for the battle; that's the reason subsequent wargames were forced into production with such titles as SPI's Cemetery Ridge or Terrible Swift Sword. (It may indeed have been terrible but it was scarcely swift!) So when, after only a very few years, A-H decided to revise their game, almost everything about it may have changed, including the rules, mapboard, game pieces, and box art, it was still A-H Gettysburg.

View attachment 370731

THIS was Gettysburg in all its glory as I remember it, although no actual game would EVER have looked like this simulation of Pickett's Charge I have set up: Losses would've prevented so complete a showing at this stage of the battle - oh, I mean game. However, this does serve to illustrate several things about this version of Gettysburg that set it apart from all the others. Firstly, it was a map game - other than in the wholly unsatisfactory Basic Game did the square grid have any relevance - movement was measured in inches: two for infantry and four for cavalry and artillery; charging cavalry could move five. Another feature I highly approve of (though actually unrealistic, considering the scale) was inclusion of the concept of linear tactics, whereby units face in the direction the arrow on them points and are represented as rectangles simulating units drawn up in lines of battle. (Of course in "real life" units the size of divisions as here could send their component brigades or regiments in any direction they chose.) Purists should recognize that I have deliberately omitted most of the cavalry from my setup though they are certainly represented as brigades in the game; unfortunately the game map doesn't extend as far as Cavalry Battlefield to include them here in Pickett's Charge.

View attachment 370732

Notice they can be faced in any direction the player chooses; unit strengths are relative to the number printed on them and can be increased if the unit happens to be sitting on a hill or ridge. (Woods and streams have no effect on play) Movement along a road can increase the distance a unit can travel. After enough games with Mike I have the mapboard engraved in my memory; however, I now realize the various terrain maps of Gettysburg themselves vary, and have no idea which one or ones this map is based on - maybe some of our resident experts like @pamc153PA @rpkennedy @Gettysburg Guide #154 or others can say? Below is the mapboard denuded of all but the pieces at the opening of the game, 10 pm June 30, 1863: Gamble and Devin's brigades of Buford's Union cavalry division plus four outposts; and Henry Heth's Confederate Division - which of course was neither this close to town nor all present until the following morning. The Union player always moves first and each turn is considered an hour of real time - the game can conceivably last until the morning of July 7, including a day-and-a-half of rain and mud!

View attachment 370734
View attachment 370737

Reinforcements for each side arrive by the above schedules; below are examples of rules and situations that may result.

View attachment 370736
View attachment 370739
Well, it doesn’t look exactly like the Warren, the Cope or the Bachelder map, though I’m sure at least one of them was a reference for it. It actually reminds me of the Elliot map of 1864, the one with the burials on it, though there’s no burials on this one, of course.
 

James N.

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Well, it doesn’t look exactly like the Warren, the Cope or the Bachelder map, though I’m sure at least one of them was a reference for it. It actually reminds me of the Elliot map of 1864, the one with the burials on it, though there’s no burials on this one, of course.
I just edited my post to point out at least one discrepancy I noticed: the Peach Orchard isn't on a hill!
 

Jantzen64

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I still have mine as well, though I think it was the next version. This was my first ACW wargame and, together with Catton's AotP Trilogy, got a lot of usage! Did you all note the price on James N.'s copy? A WHOPPING $4.95!!!! Truly, times have changed!
 

7thWisconsin

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Truly a bargain at $4.95!!!! My next door neighbor had that game and we played it often. I was always more of a miniature gamer myself. I didn't start appreciating board game simulations until I was in college and had limited space available for gaming. I find it hard, now, to go back to that sort of game. I had a lot of down time at work during the lockdown days of the pandemic so I took up a table in our office with "Panzerblitz." (The members of my staff were very kind to NOT move any of the pieces when I wasn't looking.) I played several large scenarios but, wow, I had forgotten how long the setup time was for those things. Pawing through little stacks of colored cardboard to find one more piece that I needed... giving up and deciding to use something... Oh! wait! There it is! :bounce:
 

rpkennedy

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Well, it doesn’t look exactly like the Warren, the Cope or the Bachelder map, though I’m sure at least one of them was a reference for it. It actually reminds me of the Elliot map of 1864, the one with the burials on it, though there’s no burials on this one, of course.

I agree. It doesn't look like any one map but rather an interpretation using all of them together.

Ryan
 

rpkennedy

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Truly a bargain at $4.95!!!! My next door neighbor had that game and we played it often. I was always more of a miniature gamer myself. I didn't start appreciating board game simulations until I was in college and had limited space available for gaming. I find it hard, now, to go back to that sort of game. I had a lot of down time at work during the lockdown days of the pandemic so I took up a table in our office with "Panzerblitz." (The members of my staff were very kind to NOT move any of the pieces when I wasn't looking.) I played several large scenarios but, wow, I had forgotten how long the setup time was for those things. Pawing through little stacks of colored cardboard to find one more piece that I needed... giving up and deciding to use something... Oh! wait! There it is! :bounce:

I neither have the time nor space for tabletop war games anymore so I've gone completely digital. There are some fine games out there in that medium that gives me as much satisfaction as playing the boardgames.

Ryan
 

7thWisconsin

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I neither have the time nor space for tabletop war games anymore so I've gone completely digital. There are some fine games out there in that medium that gives me as much satisfaction as playing the boardgames.

Ryan
I played Sid Meier's Gettysburg and Antietam to pieces back in the days of Windows XP, as well as Waterloo and a couple really innovative eastern front games that I can't remember the names to. Setup is a big plus! I don't video game much now because I look at a computer too much as it is and the eye strain bothers me.
 

rpkennedy

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I played Sid Meier's Gettysburg and Antietam to pieces back in the days of Windows XP, as well as Waterloo and a couple really innovative eastern front games that I can't remember the names to. Setup is a big plus! I don't video game much now because I look at a computer too much as it is and the eye strain bothers me.

Luckily, I don't look at a screen all day at work so I can enjoy my laptop when I have free time.

Ryan
 

James N.

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I still have mine as well, though I think it was the next version. This was my first ACW wargame and, together with Catton's AotP Trilogy, got a lot of usage! Did you all note the price on James N.'s copy? A WHOPPING $4.95!!!! Truly, times have changed!
Truly a bargain at $4.95!!!! My next door neighbor had that game and we played it often. I was always more of a miniature gamer myself. I didn't start appreciating board game simulations until I was in college and had limited space available for gaming. I find it hard, now, to go back to that sort of game. I had a lot of down time at work during the lockdown days of the pandemic so I took up a table in our office with "Panzerblitz." (The members of my staff were very kind to NOT move any of the pieces when I wasn't looking.) I played several large scenarios but, wow, I had forgotten how long the setup time was for those things. Pawing through little stacks of colored cardboard to find one more piece that I needed... giving up and deciding to use something... Oh! wait! There it is! :bounce:
Of course, $4.95 was quite a lot back in 1959 - that probably equates to 5 or 6 times that amount now, more like $25 - $30! As for setup times, etc. of course that only got much worse - it was nice only having to worry about Gamble, Devin, and Heth here. By the time the aforementioned Terrible Swift Sword came out, although Mike bought a copy, I no longer had the interest or concentration for more than maybe a single game or two of it. My mantra is that if it takes that long to set up and/or learn the rules, I have no patience for it - reenacting was much simpler mentally to absorb.
 

James N.

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Looking back, I realize I didn't really comment on what sort of GAME this was... We found it overall another exercise in futility, much like its contemporary Civil War I featured before. Once again, the South had the hardest time winning; I only remember a single game that I won as the Confederates, somehow having Pender's Division, the artillery brigades of Dance and Nelson, and Rooney Lee's cavalry brigade left after waxing Howe's division of the VI Corps. It seemed - to us at least - that the Federal VI Corps was always the clincher: by that point in the battle game there was simply no way for the Confederate player to eliminate these last three strong divisions. Like the actual battle, though it might be possible for the Confederates to romp over the I and XI Corps on July 1, it soon began to be impossible for them to capitalize on their early success that very night once the Federal reinforcements began to arrive. (The total point values for the two armies were 52 for the Confederates versus 70 Federal.) Mike and I attempted to compensate in a way never intended by the designers, what we called the 2/3 Rule whereby if the attacker had a point advantage at least 2/3 greater than the defender, we would round the factors up in order to more easily get 2-1, 3-1, etc. odds, but I don't think that really accomplished much.

Does anyone else have differing experiences or opinions as to the playability on this original version of Gettysburg?
 
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rpkennedy

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Of course, $4.95 was quite a lot back in 1959 - that probably equates to 5 or 6 times that amount now, more like $25 - $30! As for setup times, etc. of course that only got much worse - it was nice only having to worry about Gamble, Devin, and Heth here. By the time the aforementioned Terrible Swift Sword came out, although Mike bought a copy, I no longer had the interest or concentration for more than maybe a single game or two of it. My mantra is that if it takes that long to set up and/or learn the rules, I have no patience for it - reenacting was much simpler mentally to absorb.

When he retired, my dad bought a copy of Terrible Swift Sword, a replacement for one that he had in the early 1980s figuring that he finally had time to play. To date, I'm not certain that he's ever set it up.

Ryan
 

James N.

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When he retired, my dad bought a copy of Terrible Swift Sword, a replacement for one that he had in the early 1980s figuring that he finally had time to play. To date, I'm not certain that he's ever set it up.

Ryan
That doesn't surprise me - I've done much the same with a few things like that as well!
 

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