The March To The Sea: An American Civil War Matrix Game – Introduction

Back in the 1990s Tom Mouat and I spent quite a lot of time developing the Matrix Game mechanisms that had originally been devised by Chris Engle. By the time that Tom had to go off to Bosnia as part of IFOR we had a well-developed structure that we had used in numerous games. We had not, however, tried to use it to fight a play-by-mail campaign – something for which it was ideally suited – and Tom’s departure provided an ideal opportunity to do so. I gathered together a group of six players (including Tom) and over a period of months THE MARCH TO THE SEA was fought out. This was a scenario originally devised by Chris Engle and it was based upon the Atlanta campaign (May to December 1864).

The structure of the game was quite simple … but it worked. I sent each of the players a copy of the historical background to the campaign, a breakdown of the forces available to them and the other players on their side, their personal briefings, and a campaign map. They were informed of the date by which their first move ‘arguments’/orders were to be sent to me, and that I would – as umpire – adjudge their ‘arguments’/orders in the order in which they arrived.

The first set of ‘arguments’/orders arrived well before the deadline, I adjudged what had happened, and each player was informed of the outcome. The latter included a summary of the ‘arguments’/orders that had been sent in by all the players, a copy of the campaign map showing everyone’s position at the end of the turn, a chart that showed the strength of each side’s units at the end of the turn, and a summary of what had happened. The next deadline was also set, and the next turn started.

This system continued until all eight turns had been played through, and I finished by giving each player a summary of the actual events of the Atlanta campaign and my thoughts about how the whole thing had played out.


4 Comments on “The March To The Sea: An American Civil War Matrix Game – Introduction”

  1. Fitz-Badger says:

    That sounds like a good way to conduct a pbm campaign, with deadlines, limited scope, and a clear endpoint.

  2. Fitz-Badger,

    As you will see over the next week or so, the system can work very well indeed.

    All the best,


  3. Pete. says:

    Sounds good Bob- are you tempted to run it again- new players new outcomes etc. ?



  4. Pete,

    Possibly … possibly.

    I will give the idea some serious thought.

    All the best,


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