Here’s a look at the current playtesting of the upcoming historical/horror game, The South Shall Rise Again!, to be published by Victory Point Games. VPG designer, developer, and our pal John Welch has this report:
The tactical histo-horror game The South Shall Rise Again! has been getting a major graphics overhaul thanks to the talents of VPG’s own Noelle LeBienvenu. The counters are looking very thematic, which adds a lot to the game experience. The rules maestro Alan Emrich will be giving the game a shake-down prior to the playtest kits going out in the mail. I’m looking forward to getting additional feedback on the game experience from playtesters and how well the multi-player rules work. The game is semi-cooperative but with the high score winning, so look for some skullduggery between players as each scenario reaches its climax. The game will ship with four scenarios that present increasingly more challenging situations for the player/team of players to deal with. One of my personal favorites is Do or Die; in that scenario player(s) must first battle their way to a wounded officer, pick him up, and then get him to safety. Carrying the officer slows their movement and limits their combat options – if that’s were not enough, each turn that the player is moving to the exit hex there is an increasing chance that the wounded officer will die and return as the living dead… so keep that pistol handy, you might need it!
Two other features that add depth to the gameplay are the Event cards and Character cards. The Event cards were something I added to Keep Up the Fire! and they put added some great moments of sudden relief or stress. In The South Shall Rise Again!, these Event cards come in the same variety, with some helping the players and others helping the undead. Each time a player rolls doubles, and Event card is drawn, so the timing of these twists of fate is never certain.
Each of the four soldiers that come with this game (Private Thomas is pictured here) also receives a Character card allowing for personal abilities and modifiers to differentiate each soldier and lay the groundwork for more complex character traits in the successive ‘episodes’ in this series. As the series expands, it will not only introduce new characters, but role-playing elements as well.
For example, Episode Two of The South Shall Rise Again!, entitled Turkey Island, takes players on a dangerous adventure to the labs wherein the secrets of the South’s plan to control and mass produce their new breed of undead soldiers. As you can imagine, “control” of the undead proves to be a difficult proposition. As is true throughout the novel, Turkey Island is a real place near Richmond, Virginia that was burned by Union Troops during the Peninsular Campaign. Excavated in the 1990’s, the ruins revealed strange structures in an over-large basement area. Using this real world set of facts, author SM Cross has created an entire story set in the alternate timeline were Union forces first take the Turkey Island mansion, search it, and after discovering the horrors below burn it to the ground. Thus, Episode Two allows you to lead that military expedition onto Turkey Island.
In Episode Three, The Cleansing of Atlanta, this game series changes scale from tactical to strategic, and proffers new challenges. It will introduce a host of new units and equipment with the Union object of burning Atlanta – but not for the same reasons it was burned in our timeline. Combat switches to the brigade level with Union, Confederate and undead forces engaged. The current system design allows players to play the histo-horror versions of the Battles of Shiloh, Gettysburg and Sherman’s March to the Sea (and by removing the undead units, you can refight these battles as they occurred historically).