The battle would be won by the first side to score 6 Victory Points (VP). At first I was a bit sceptical as the board looked empty and I wondered how such an epic battle could be represented with so few troops. The Union had first move with four activation cards, while the Confederates had six cards (this would prove crucial towards the end).
The Union commander decided to play his left hand activation cards, reasoning that he would need to get his forces over the bridge before the Confederates had time to consolidate a full defence on the hills that dominate the far bank. Antietam Creek can crossed only by the bridge. So playing an attack card he moved two units, battled and fired his artillery:
The confederate unit on the heights was badly mauled and forced back, but not destroyed. The Union move forced the Confederate hand and they countered by playing their best card on this flank, moving a new unit on to the heights and the following musketry destroyed the lead Union unit - one VP to the Confederates. After more movement on this flank both sides had used up their activation cards, with the confederates still holding off the Union forces.
In the next move the action shifts over to the centre and Union right, as the blue columns begin to deploy into battle lines and advance. Meanwhile the Confederates strengthen the defence of the 'sunken road ridge', in the real battle known as 'Bloody Lane'.
The Confederates now play an attack on both flanks. By the bridge they force a Union unit back, containing that threat, while on the left around the field a combined cavalry and infantry attack halts the Union advance around the fields and forces a damaged unit to retreat:
On the next move the Confederates play a 'Battle and Hold card, which destroys one unit in the field area and another in the centre, suddenly the Confederates have three VP and have blunted the Union attack.
On the next move the Union plays a reinforce card, which allows them to control the Dunker Church and forces a Confederate unit back.
There is now a lull for the Confederates as they deperately want to bring A P Hill's forces, still in the area of Sharpsburg, into play, so this move sees these columns moving onto the field, towards the bridge:
This move sees a major push on the Union right in an attmpt to dislodge the Confederate line in the Sunken Lane. The Union succeeds and destroys one Confederate unit and forces two back, gaining another VP:
I thought the Union would win this action, but failure to get across the bridge over Antietam Creek and the stout Confederate defence from Dunker Church and the Sunken Lane wore down the Union units. This seemed to mirror the real battle, which saw fierce fighting in the same areas.
I really enjoyed this battle and usinig a large table with model figures was much more pleasing than the playing board, small units and card scenery that come with the game. I will certainly have another go in the future.