A ROBYL PRESS INTERVIEW WITH WILLIAM P. ROBERTSON
(Co-creator of A BUCKTAIL CIVIL WAR GAME: ESCAPE FROM THE PENINSULA)
Editor: What was the inspiration for your new Bucktail game?
Robertson: I co-wrote seven novels about the famous 13th Pennsylvania Reserve Civil War Regiment and was looking for a unique way to promote the series. After much brainstorming, my co-authors and I struck upon the idea of doing a board game that would be fun and educational for our readers and us, too.
Editor: Is the game based on all your books or just one?
Robertson: We wanted to include all the battles the Bucktails fought, but there were just too many. We finally settled upon using those featured in THE BUCKTAILS: PERILS ON THE PENINSULA. The 13th Pennsylvania was involved from start to finish in General George McClellan's seven-day retreat from his lines near Richmond to the safety of the Union base located on the James River at Harrison's Landing. Because the regiment saw plenty of action in this June-July operation of 1862, the history itself added to the suspense of the game.
Editor: Weren't the Bucktails known as skirmishers?
Robertson: Yes, that's what got them into trouble right away when they were ordered to scout the area west of Mechanicsville, Virginia, to look for Robert E. Lee's advancing Confederate army. The Bucktails met the Rebs near Meadow Bridge and had to fight their way back to the Union lines along Beaver Dam Creek. That's the reason Meadow Bridge is the starting point for our game.
Editor: What else happened to the Bucktails during McClellan's retreat?
Robertson: First of all, the regiment was ordered to fight a delaying action, so the rest of the Yankees could safely retreat down the Chickahominy River. This got Company K surrounded and captured. To keep the Rebels from seizing the 13th's flag, the Bucktails hid their prized banner in a swamp.
Editor: Sounds interesting! What happened next?
Robertson: The Bucktails who escaped fought gallantly during the Battle of Gaines' Mill. They used their sharpshooting prowess to silence a Rebel battery while the bulk of McClellan's army continued to retreat south. Then, at the Battle of New Market Crossroads, the 13th again helped the Pennsylvania Reserves thwart another Rebel attack that kept Lee's forces from cutting the fleeing Union army in half. Falling back to Malvern Hill, the Bucktails added their rifles to the firepower of the Union artillery that stopped Lee in his tracks. This battle enabled McClellan to complete his escape.
Editor: How do you get this history across in your game?
Robertson: We have the battles marked on the board with cannons, Union and Confederate flags, and the names of the generals who commanded the troops there. We also have question cards that a player must answer if he lands on a question space. The cards include information about the battles, Bucktail regimental history, and Civil War trivia. The questions are true and false to level the field for younger players.
Editor: What are the Sore Feet cards for?
Robertson: We included Sore Feet cards to add realism to the game. They highlight the dangers and trials the individual soldiers faced during the campaign. For example, "Get Virginia Quickstep, Lose 1 Turn" accents the terrible cases of diarrhea that soldiers got from drinking swamp water. Conversely, "Go Blackberry Picking, Lose 1 Turn" tells what scared soldiers did rather than go into battle.
Editor: What happens if a player lands on a Skull & Crossbones space?
Robertson: The player gets to roll the die. If he rolls a 1, 2, or 3, he is "wounded in the trousers" and continues play. If he rolls a 4, 5, or 6, he is killed and out of the game. This demonstrates the part fate plays in warfare and lends an element of dark humor to the realism of combat. When an artillery shell exploded amidst a company of soldiers, a man's comrades could be blown to bits while he only gets his pants blown off. This happened several times to actual Bucktails.
Editor: I see that David Cox is listed as one of the inventors of your game. What contribution did he make?
Robertson: After we put the nuts and bolts of the game together, we gave our artist friend, David Cox, a crude sketch of the board. He's the one who brought the whole thing to life for us. He made the board colorful, created the icons, added in the Bucktail related photos and drawings, and designed the box top. His artistic talent made him an integral part of our team.
Editor: If someone wishes to order a copy of your game, where is it available?
Robertson: The game is for sale online at www.thegamecrafter.com. Thank you for your interest!