Monday, June 6, 2016

ICE ICE Baby - Manassas

Good things come to those who wait.  That certainly rings true with the latest addition to the wargame collection.  That latest acquisition is Iron Crown Enterprises' (ICE) 1981 release of Manassas: A Wargame of the First Battle of Bull Run.  To my knowledge, Manassas was ICE's only historical release and being quite rare is highly sought by collectors.  Often asking prices for Manassas are in the USD$100 to USD$200 range.  For some ACW boardgame aficionados, Manassas is a game high on the list of Holy Grail games.
Coversheet from ziploc edition
From my research, Manassas came in three versions encompassing two editions.  The first edition initially sold as a ziplock with the coversheet shown above.  The second, first edition game boxed but having the same components as the ziplock version.  The second edition came boxed with double-sided counters and rules' clarifications.  I would like to get my hands on the second edition rules.  Neither Web-Grognards nor Boardgame Geek have these amendments.  

The Manassas is a regimental game recreating the First Battle of Bull Run containing 320 large, 5/8" x 3/4" counters and two wonderful, period-flavored maps making a 36" x 48" five-color playing area.  Rulebook, charts, and tables round out the components.  
Rulebook, charts, and tables
Game Counters
Given the map size and the low number of counters, the game looks imminently playable with low counter density.  Although the counters are slightly larger than the hex, this will not likely affect play due to the low counter density.  Counters appear hand drawn as do the charts and tables.  Very nice effect.  With units at the regiment and battery level, 15 minute turns, and 135 yards per hex, this is a true tactical refight.
Map section
The visual centerpiece of the game is the map.  Appearing had drawn like the counters, the map is a gorgeous rendition of the battlefield in a period evoking style.  At more than 35 years old, the game produces a visual treat for even today's most discerning eye.

Evidently, Manassas was once sold at the Visitor's Center at the Manassas National Battlefield Park.  Research suggests that a reduced game map is available for a sale in the bookshop.  Next trip to D.C., I will need to confirm such for myself.

Finding an unpunched copy of this rare game produces a conundrum for me. The difficult decision is whether or not to punch the game.  In my younger days, I would immediately open a game and set about punching and clipping the counters.  Today, I hold off until I am certain the game will see action on the table.  Well, that does not always hold true!  I often tear into a new game with great gusto with hopes of getting it onto the gaming table.  With a rare item such as this, perhaps a more deliberate approach is needed. 

Punch or not; that is the question. 

16 comments:

  1. Hi Jonathan - that is a very fine capture - very nice indeed.

    I am very familiar with this to-punch-or-not-to-punch teaser. I've been through this a few times - sometimes (and I realise this doesn't help!) I decide that I bought the thing to play it, grit my teeth, set the game up and then find I don't want to play it again. Mind you, there are many of life's experiences which are like that - deciding to open a bottle of 1965 Armagnac is a bit like that. On balance, my philosophy is that these things are meant to be enjoyed - we might choose to store away our precious game/bottle and then get hit by a bus tomorrow. My inheritors might drink my booze, but they would just throw my games in the bin...

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    1. Quite right, Tony! These games are meant to be enjoyed. Enjoyment can take other forms in addition to playing. Having it on the shelf in pristine condition provides some enjoyment. If you read Scott's comment below, you will see that the temptation to leave it unpunched and unplayed may not last long!

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  2. Congratulations on the find Jonathan and good luck on deciding if you will punch the counters or not.

    Christopher

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    1. Scott is making the decision not much of a decision, really.

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  3. Great find, Jon! Where did this turn up?

    Oh, and I am firmly on the "punch it and play it" side. If you bought it as an investment, then stash it away somewhere. But this is too intriguing a game to just leave on the shelf! If you can copy the rules and send them my way, I volunteer to help you break the game in.

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    1. Scott, the game appears on eBay semi-regular but often at high prices. I found this copy at what I considered a bargain. I did not think my bid would hold the winning bid but it did.

      You make a very tempting offer! It would be fun to give it a try, wouldn't it? We still need to get Guns of Gettysburg on the gaming table.

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  4. Really nice find! I hope it turns out to be a fun game.

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  5. Interesting stuff. I am off to DC at the end of the month, perhaps I will have a chance to look in the shop myself!

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    1. Do check out the bookshop at Manassas. If you see the map, grab one for me too!

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    2. Bad news, there was no map, or even games, in the shop. They had several osprey's in their library, but otherwise standard National Parks tourist kitsch. The maps I wanted were also sold out. (It was a map of the battlefield for both battles with acetate overlays showing the progress of the battle)

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    3. Too bad. On a positive note, I have the battle maps with acetate overlays you are welcome to study.

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  6. Always nice to add some thing long looked for to the collection.

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  7. Not much of a (wargame) board game player. Most of the ones I have were purchased with the idea to tie them into a miniatures campaign or similar... which seldom actually happens!This is a very tactical one, though!

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    1. Wargame collecting of the hex and counter type predated my wargaming collecting of the lead type by a few years. Many, many more wargames have been played via the boardgame avenue than miniatures by a long shot. Still enjoy pulling out a boardgame when time permits.

      As you mention, operational boardgames offer great historical background for translating a campaign to the miniatures game. Like you, I seldom get that accomplished but I have great plans! Perhaps in retirement?

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