Lincoln's War is a tense and unique American Civil War campaign game that explores politics, personalities, and alternate history.
A few more card samples!
Check this out! Thoughts from a fellow gamer on Lincoln's War!
It was suggested by some of our supporters that we include daily designer's notes. We thought it was a good idea and John offered to throw in a daily Lincoln quote as a bonus! Enjoy!
Quote of the Day (May 1, 2013) - Last One!
“Quarrel not at all … Better give your path to a dog, than be bitten by him in contesting for the right. Even killing the dog would not cure the bite.”
Designer's Insight of the Day (May 1, 2013)
Another of my favorite mechanics and as far as I know, unique to Lincoln’s War is the “Peculiar General” Option. This was not always an option but actually integral to the game, however as enjoyable as it could be it did slow the game and has since evolved into its current optional form. Now only a few random qualities make their appearance through card play in battle. So what is a Peculiar General? In the Civil War many generals displayed characteristics for which they will forever be remembered. Think of it: McClellan’s political nature, Jackson’s dogged determination, Hood’s reckless courage, Longstreet’s ability as a capable subordinate, Bragg’s timidity, Grant and Sherman’s commitment to victory at any cost. I wanted to portray these peculiar characteristics in a way that would not mirror history but be randomly assigned to any general. With Mike Joslyn’s help I developed a list of 12 characteristics: Able Subordinate, Fabian Strategist, Independent-minded, Loose Cannon, Naturally Insubordinate, Political Poison, Politically Connected, Presidential Ambitions, Stonewall, Timid, Total Warrior, and Unlucky. Should players wish to use this rule, they include the two optional Peculiar General cards to their decks at the start of the game. When drawn they are used as combat resources in battle. A random trait is then drawn and assigned to the CO of that particular battle. The trait remains on the general for the remainder of the game. This is part of what makes Lincoln’s War such a wonderful story-telling game. I’ve seen some amazing things happen in play-testing. I’ve seen Jackson turned timid while McClellan’s spine is stiffened. I’ve seen Sherman stop playing well with others and Hood develop presidential ambitions. In case you’re wondering, I have never seen such traits play a critical, unbalancing role. Yet, Peculiar Generals provides a pinch of “what-if” to the game. It gives players pause to wonder about alternatives to the cherished history with which we are so familiar.
So that’s it folks. Over the course of this Kickstarter Campaign I have given you a broad glimpse into the mechanics and design evolution of Lincoln’s War. I here proudly state that Lincoln’s War has become not only my favorite design but my favorite board game (next to WE THE PEOPLE, which inspired it). Since I am writing this before our Kickstarter campaign even begins, I have no idea how much support we will garner but I trust that you who have followed the development of Lincoln’s War will not allow it to remain unpublished. Finally, to all of you who have supported Lincoln’s War in whatever capacity, be it kind words, design suggestions, or the opening of your wallet, I offer you my sincerest gratitude. Here’s hoping we will all soon be tugging the shrink wrap off of our brand new copy of LINCOLN’S WAR!
Welcome! Lincoln's War is a game that reflects the fickle nature of politics and juggling resources during the American Civil War.
In Lincoln's War, the battlefield is an extension of the political arena. More than 150 historical movers and shakers support or oppose Davis and Lincolns’ conduct of the war. Each card's activation number can goose a general into action, or be banked as political currency (PCs), used to promote worthy commanders, purchase war material, restore confidence or be translated into direct support for commanders in the field. Driving an opponent to 0 PCs may bring on auto-victory, but most games rely on a variety of geographical objectives.
Unique features include an original combat system, seditious characters, immobilization (commander paralysis), the Lincoln Assassination plot, a fresh approach to campaign cards, blockade rules and Confederate commerce raiding. The combat system does not employ dice, but does require the player to husband resources in the form of Congressional support (CSPs). Seditious characters such as Joseph Brown and Zebulon Vance for the Confederates and Fernando Wood and Clement Vallandigham for the Union oppose their administrations. Expect them to rob you of support during the game. Immobilization tokens or ITs replace damage tokens in the game. ITs reflect not only casualties but hesitation, confusion, recuperation, perhaps even insubordination.
Lincoln's War is over ten years in development. Easy to lean, quick to play, scenarios are easily completed in under 3 hours. Win or lose, play-testers inevitably experience a high level of sustained tension and all report a curious story-telling aspect to the game. Thanks for visiting. We very much appreciate your interest and your support. Leave us a comment if you have the time. The Designer will be happy to respond.
Lincoln’s War has become my favorite game, hands down. In creating it I wanted to reflect the complexity of political maneuver during the war while introducing often overlooked areas such as: political personalities, “sedition,” Indian and draft uprisings, command indecision, preferential support by national governments for certain generals and in later incarnations, commerce raiding. To develop such a broad historical campaign game has been difficult. Lincoln's War had its origins as Peculiar Conflict, begun in 2000 and first introduced at Hunt Valley’s AvalonCon in 2003. Lincoln’s War has been rewritten and retooled multiple, multiple times.
I wanted to keep the game simple and quick, but my goals warred with each other until I had a forty five page rule book and too many details “under the radar.” The rules have since been refined, simplified, and scaled back considerably. The naval aspect of the game has probably evolved the most. Historically, the Union started the war with a skeleton fleet, but following the massive naval buildup during the war it quickly became a world class naval presence. Blockade tokens have always been a part of the game but restrictions on their placement and movement have been reduced along with the presence of US riverine vessels. Union amphibious operations have expanded for ease of play. Initially I represented Farragut, Porter, and Foote through war fleet tokens. They are now cards. While the scarce Confederate ironclads made an appearance, then disappeared and are now returned in the form of Confederate Naval Assets (CSNs). Union naval superiority is reflected in the relative ineffectiveness of these historical vessels.
Hexes are approximately 100 miles across. Some license was taken with state boundaries, mountain, river, city, coast & rail-line placement to accommodate the map’s larger hexes. The presence of GiCs has also been something of a seesaw. Historically neither side truly possessed a single overall military commander until much later in the war. Union Winfield Scott and Confederate Samuel Cooper were just nominal figureheads. “Fuss and Feathers” Scott soon resigned over health issues and although Samuel Cooper retained high military rank he never participated in active campaigning and was quickly overshadowed by other field officers. Still, I wanted players to dive into leadership issues on the first turn.
I introduced the 1861 advantages and disadvantages by integrating them into the effectiveness of general pieces and the Confederate operations card events while at the same time restricting Union naval and rail capabilities. The lack of war preparation is reflected in the inability of forces to use operations cards to remove IT in 1861 which severely hampers combat operations. As well as prohibiting major campaigns in the first year of the war. Union population and industrial advantages are reflected in the Union’s larger pool of generals, greater recruitment ability and the gradual erosion of the Confederate ability to conduct field operations. The more cohesive Union railroad system is represented by increased rail capacity, while amphibious landing and Blockade rules illustrate overwhelming Union naval superiority.
The turn track represents seven campaign seasons or turns between the Spring of 1861 and the Summer of 1864. The turn track does not include Spring and Summer of 1865 because I am making the perhaps unforgiveable assumption, that had the North’s will to fight been sapped to the point that McClellan won the 1864 election instead of Lincoln, McClellan who would have most likely agreed to a gradual cessation of hostilities. Some reviewers balk at the inclusion of commerce raiding as having little political relevance. I disagree. Skyrocketing insurance rates negatively affected overseas trade and increased the clamor to end the war. Another bone of contention has been the idea of retaking Confederate ports once captured by the North. True, there is no historical precedent for such an action, but it should be understood that to retake a captured port requires the Confederacy to commit men it can ill afford to commit and necessarily weakens its lines elsewhere. As for historical precedents … hey, the Confederates never won the war either. In the end, if you play the game in the spirit in which it was created and find yourself intrigued enough to take a more holistic interest in the Civil War, the journey was worth it.
How to Play Lincoln's War
Lincoln’s War is a seven turn game. Each turn is called a campaign season. The game begins with the summer 1861 outbreak of war and continues through the summer of 1864. The premise of Lincoln’s War is that by the Fall of 1864 it is assumed that Lincoln’s reelection would be based on the North’s military and political position by the end of the final turn. Each season follows seven distinct phases.
In the Initiative Phase the player with the greater political Influence chooses who goes first in each of the coming phases. This is followed by the Administration Phase in which both sides purchase assets, promote their generals and eke out Congressional support again based on their political influence. When available, draft promotions and reinforcements enter at this time.
The Naval Phase follows. This is where players conduct riverine and sea movement, moving fleets, raiders and Naval Assets, determine blockade effects and conduct raid and chase operations. The Rail Phase comes next, allowing players to shift a limited number of Leader Stars anywhere along their country’s rail net. This ability starts with the parity of unpreparedness but quickly reveals to players the overwhelming US capability to reposition its troops.
The Operations Phase is the heart of the game. Here, players use operations cards as political advice to hamper the enemy, bank political good will, goad their generals into moving, conduct combat or stiffen the defense of generals under attack. Battle is joined here using a truly unique combat system, often dice-less except for those erratic generals you just can’t count on. Here also the Southern player has the option to use the Assassination Card IF the South has lost a significant amount of territory. If the assassination is successful the Union player may opt to reciprocate by purchasing the same card and returning the favor. This is where players employ Campaign cards. Such cards are used in a number of card-driven games, but Lincoln’s War campaign cards offer players a fresh approach as they are geographic and chosen openly. This offers an opponent immediate knowledge of a military buildup. The phase ends with the Eastern Theater Penalty reflecting Lincoln’s insistence that action be taken in the East every campaign season or the North suffers political loss of face.
When the last card has been played or saved, the Supply Phase begins. Players determine units are out of supply, out of supply markers are placed and players draw cards to search for forage. Wounds are removed as are unused Congressional Supply Points (This is one of my favorite mechanics – Congress will happily give you support but if you don’t use it, you lose it) Finally, Commanding Officers who have truly taken a beating are demoted.
The final Phase of the game is Timekeeping. Here players determine if one or the other has won by driving the other to “0” political influence. If not, the turn marker is moved ahead and the sequence of play repeats.
Lincoln's War is proudly produced in the United States of America!
About The Designer - John Poniske
John Poniske was born in 1955 and raised in Springfield, Illinois. He is a former Marine, and currently is a high school Social Studies and English teacher in Hagerstown, Maryland. He currently lives between the Civil War battlefields of Gettysburg, Antietam, and South Mountain.
John holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s (Shippensburg, University, PA) in History. His passion for history and travel has led to his visiting all 50 states and over 30 foreign countries. An avid reader, John is currently enjoying AN EXPERIMENT IN REBELLION, a 1947 Southern view of Confederate hierarchy by Clifford Dowdy.
John has published four games: KING PHILIP'S WAR with MMP, HEARTS AND MINDS (Worthington Games), LEAPING LEMMINGS (With Rick Young – GMT), and HUGS (VPG).
John regularly attends the WBC, PREZCON, and MMP’s Winter Offensive, where he shows off his new designs.
About The Developer - Michel Boucher
Michel is Canadian who holds a Master's degree in History from the University of Ottawa.
He is a retired (2009) researcher for Parliamentary Publications at the House of Commons. Michel is the Founder and President of the Ottawa Wargamers d'Ottawa Club and organizes five gaming days throughout the year and the annual three-day wargaming event CanGames, as well as attending other conventions.
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Multi-Man Publishing has been around for a long time (since 1994) but we remain a small company with a limited number of full-time employees. One reason for this is that we try hard to manage the risks of small-company ownership to "keep the company going" and so that we can continue to produce interesting, good games with high quality components. Kickstarter is a great way for us to test the waters for games which are outside our usual comfort zone or games that, due to components involved, are much more costly for us to produce (and thus would put us at more risk without Kickstarter). Lincoln's War has three decks of poker-quality cards; we at MMP, after experimenting with a few different materials early on, refuse to put anything less than poker-quality playing cards in our boxed games. In a niche hobby like board wargaming, this may be considered an elaborate expense, but the quality will show through when the cards hold up for playing after playing.
We feel there is no risk of delivery delays because the components of this game are ready to go to the printer. In fact, we'll begin the printing/final-proofing process the moment the goal is reached, not waiting for the end of the Kickstarter period, which will speed up delivery of the game (and goodies) to the supporters of this game. We are very hopeful of a release in time for the 150th Anniversary of Gettysburg.
Lincoln's War uses 5/8" counters for the playing pieces and 1/2" counters for markers.
Unfortunately, we won't have any retail rewards in this campaign. At best they'd do nothing but mimic our current retail discounts, we just cannot cut the prices to the bone any further.
When Lincoln's War is funded, we will be able to manufacture enough games to have plenty to sell post-Kickstarter campaign. At that time, retailers will be able to buy Lincoln's War at their normal terms.