SPI, THE ART OF SIEGE (1978)

THE ART OF SIEGE: Four Great Siege Battles is a set of four games each simulating a different critical battle in the history of siege warfare. The four great sieges examined in this set of games are: TYRE, ACRE, LILLE, and SEVASTOPOL. THE ART OF SIEGE was published in 1978 by Simulations Publications Incorporated (SPI).

DESCRIPTION


The four different simulations that, together, comprise SPI's THE ART OF SIEGE are virtually unique when compared to other offerings from the extended family of SPI quadri-games in that they do not employ a set of Standard Rules that are common to all of the games in this collection. Instead, THE ART OF SIEGE presents players with two completely different design solutions to the problems raised by simulating four battles in dramatically different historical eras. Each simulation has its own set of Original Rules which are specific to that particular game. The two earliest sieges, TYRE and ACRE, both use a conventional hexagonal grid map and thus, movement and combat (although significantly different in the two games) follow the outline of familiar game mechanics. The two later battles, LILLE and SEVASTOPOL, use an unorthodox map design suggestive of miniatures’ battle areas. This design employs a hybrid combination of area and point-to-point movement to regulate the positioning and movement of units. A critical feature in the movement and combat mechanics of these latter two games is the extensive use of 'siege works' counters. For this reason, players should take care not to discard the 'siege works' counter frames once the counters have been punched! These frames are marked so players can measure distances and artillery ranges.

Once players get over their initial surprise at the differences between these two radically different game engines, each of them seems to work very well in modelling the military situations in which they are used. In fact, by using these dramatically different design approaches, THE ART OF SIEGE permits the player to examine a specific battle in its own unique historical context, with game mechanics best suited to simulating the critical elements that contributed to the final outcome of each siege.

THE INDIVIDUAL GAMES

TYRE
is a grand-tactical simulation of Alexander the Great’s siege of the island city of Tyre in 332 B.C. Tyre was the last Persian-allied port city in the Eastern Mediterranean, and as such, it threatened Alexander’s seaborne line of communications from Asia back to Greece and Macedonia. When Tyre refused to abandon its alliance with Persia, Alexander had no strategic option but to reduce the enemy island stronghold by siege. Alexander’s first plan was to construct a causeway from the shore to the island, and then to launch a conventional ground assault to take the walled city by storm. However, after four months of setbacks, during which the Macedonians were unable to complete the essential land bridge, Alexander abandoned his original plan, and prepared, instead, for a massive amphibious assault of the island. Each hex in TYRE is 75 meters, and each game turn equals one week. Obviously, week-long game turns make tactical-level movement and combat problematic. To mesh the operational and tactical elements of the game, the design uses multiple impulses (mini-turns) within each game turn, in order to recreate land and naval combat within realistic time scales. The game is twelve turns long and was designed by Mark Herman. TYRE includes the following components:

  • One 22” x 35” hexagonal grid map sheet (with Game Turn Record Track, Terrain Key, Naval Superiority and Bombardment Track, Amphibious Impulse Assault Track, Ramming Table, Catapult Bombardment Table, Naval Reinforcement Table, Counter-Bombardment Table, Naval Melee Combat Results Table, Shipboard Battering Ram Table, and Wall Repair Table incorporated)
  • 200 ½” back-printed cardboard Counters
  • One 8½” x 11” Rules Booklet (with Terrain Effects Chart, Melee Combat Results Table, Fire Combat Range Attenuation Table, and Fire Combat Results Table incorporated)
  • One 8½” x 11” Sheet of Pre-Publication Errata (for all four games in the set)
  • Two small six-sided Dice (for use with all games in set)
  • Two 8¾” x 11½” flat 20 compartment plastic Storage Trays with clear plastic covers (for use with all games in set)
  • One 9” x 11¾” x 4” bookcase style cardboard Game Box (packaging for THE ART OF SIEGE)

ACRE
is a simulation of the final month of the Crusaders’ siege of the Moslem port city of Acre, in 1191. Acre was considered the key to possession of near-by Jerusalem, so its control was crucial to the Crusaders (under the leadership of King Richard Coeur-de-Leon, King Philippe of France, and King Guy of Jerusalem) and their plans for the reconquest of the Holy Land from the Moslem Saracens. Acre had been under siege for almost three years, but the last month of the siege was the most dramatic. During this period, the great Saracen commander, Saladin mounted his strongest attempt to defeat the Crusaders in the field and, by so doing, relieve the beleaguered city. ACRE represents the classic siege battle: a surrounded garrison; a besieging army; and a powerful relieving force attempting to defeat the investing army and lift the siege. Each hex in ACRE is 50 meters across; a game turn equals two days; and each unit represents approximately 600-800 men. A typical game turn consists of two of three possible phases: a planning phase; a bombardment/repair phase; or an assault phase. Players may elect either to bombard or assault, but not both. In the case of an assault, both players have 10 impulses in which to execute movement, fire combat, and melee combat before the game turn ends. The game has a maximum length of sixteen turns and was designed by Phil Kosnett. ACRE includes the following components:

  • One 32” x 35” hexagonal grid Map Sheet (with Terrain Key, Terrain Effects Chart, Bombardment Table, Counter-Bombardment Table, Wall Repair Table, Fire Combat Range Attenuation Table, Fire Combat Results Table, Melee Combat Results Table, Subterranean Combat Results Table, Abbreviated Sequence of Play, and Moslem Army Holding Boxes incorporated)
  • 200 ½” back-printed cardboard Counters
  • One 8½” x 11” Rules Booklet (with Mine Planning Sheet incorporated)

LILLE
is a battalion-level simulation of the Dutch-Anglo-Allied siege of Lille, the capital of French Flanders, during the War of Spanish Succession, 1708. Lille was universally viewed as one of the strongest fortresses in Europe. The French genius of siege warfare and designer of Lille’s defenses, Marshal Sebastien de Vauban, considered the city and its defensive works to be his crowning achievement. The siege began on August 12, 1708, and ended with the garrison’s surrender on October 25th of the same year. The actual siege was conducted by the Imperialists under Prince Eugene, while the Duke of Marlborough commanded the covering army that screened Eugene from interference from the French forces that were determinedly attempting to lift the siege. The map scale is 100 yards to an inch, and a game turn is six days long. This is one of two titles, in this game set, that actually allows the besieging player to plan (in detail) the placement of his siege works. In LILLE the besieging player actually constructs (using the “siege works” counters) his communications trenches, parallels, and gun galleries. Like the other games in THE ART OF SIEGE collection, LILLE uses turn impulses to transition from operational to tactical time scales. The game is twelve turns long and was designed by David Werden. LILLE includes the following components:

  • One 32” x 35” hybrid area/point-to-point movement Map Sheet (with Turn Record Track, Ammunition/Casualty Record Track, Impulse Track, Terrain Key, Sequence of Play Outline, Cavalry Foraging Box, and Besieging Force Covering Boxes incorporated)
  • 200 ½” back-printed cardboard Counters
  • 100 oversized “siege works” cardboard Counters
  • One 8½” x 11” back-printed, combined Attrition Table, Ammunition Determination Chart, Siege Battery Fire Results Table, Construction Point Costs Chart, Sortie Table, Melee Combat Results Table, and Morale Effects Table
  • One 8½” x 11” Rules Booklet (with Valid Siegework Construction Diagrams incorporated)

SEVASTOPOL
is a regimental-level simulation of the British/French/Sardinian siege of the Russian port city of Sevastopol during the Crimean War. The Allies focused on Sevastopol because it was Russia’s main military base and arsenal on the Black Sea. Without its Crimean base, Russia would be unable to give naval support to any ground operations against Turkey. Because the curious alliance of Britain, France, and Sardinia had been formed to assist Turkey in its war with Russia, the decision to assault and capture the important Russian Black Sea fortress was seen by the Allied high command as both an obvious and a manageable strategic objective. Sevastopol was brought under siege on 28 September 1854, but the Allied forces arrayed against it were not numerically strong enough to completely surround the Russians in the fortress. For this reason, although the harbor was blockaded by the British Fleet, Sevastopol continued to receive reinforcements and supplies via an open supply route to the north of the city almost until the day French troops breached the city’s defenses on 8 September 1855. Although Sevastopol is generally considered the first modern siege, players will find that siege craft had progressed very little since the Siege of Lille, almost 150 years earlier. The map scale of the game is 150 yards to an inch, and each turn is equal to approximately 15 days (one half of a month) of real time. As in LILLE, the besieging player must plan and then construct his siegeworks. Artillery bombardment, by itself, will never take Sevastopol; thus, the Allied player must construct his trenches and other works so as to safely position an assaulting force close enough to the city’s defenses to have a reasonable prospect of success. Like the other titles in this four game set, SEVASTOPOL uses impulses (mini-turns) within a game turn to handle the differences between operational and tactical (assault) time scales. The game is eighteen turns long and was designed by Rob Mosca. SEVASTOPOL includes the following components:

  • One 32” x 35” hybrid area/point-to-point movement Map Sheet (with Turn Record Track, Ammunition Supply Track, Impulse Record Track, Abbreviated Sequence of Play Outline, Terrain Key, and Supply Area Boxes)
  • 200 ½” back-printed cardboard Counters
  • 100 oversized “siege works” cardboard Counters
  • One 8½” x 11” back-printed, combined Russian Field Army Intervention Table, Ammunition Determination Chart, Attrition Table, Construction Point Cost Chart, Morale Effects Table, Siege Battery Fire Results Table, and Melee Combat Results Table
  • One 8½” x 11” Rules Booklet (with Valid Siegework Construction Diagrams incorporated)

A PERSONAL OBSERVATION

Siege craft is seldom examined in contemporary conflict simulations. This is, purely from a military history point of view, unfortunate. Even games like CONSTANTINOPLE, THE SIEGE OF JERUSALEM, or CAESAR AT ALESIA tend to leave the details of the siegeworks to the original historical commanders. THE ART OF SIEGE provides players with a much richer understanding of the factors that produced success in reducing an enemy stronghold by siege craft, and those that contributed to a successful defense. For thousands of years of warfare, expert knowledge of the art of siege was considered an essential part of the successful commander’s martial repertoire; it’s probably not a bad idea for contemporary students of military affairs to gain a little understanding as to why.

4 comments:

  • I thought the old F&M #21 review on the game Lille-it said-Sit down wearing a twead jacket,a pipe and a class of cognac in a game room and play Cobra and you are a drooling wargamer. Take out Lile and the jacket,pipe,drink you are a historian and watch the woman come over to the table for a look.

    Lille & Sevastopol were ahead of their time with the game system and maps.

    I found the entire Quad good but I really need to come back to thses game soon since it has been awhile.I'm finding in my middle age years to want the simplier type of game then the one's I played as a young man-And being retired I should have the time a patience to tackle thses again ;)

  • Greetings Again Kim:

    It's funny that you should mention the women and the LILLE game map. My wife loved that map: she thought it was the prettiest of all of my game maps, even when the parallels and combat units were actually placed on it. Even after all these years, I still think that it is a cool game with a very clever, but manageable game system.

    Best Regards, Joe

  • This game was my personal Grail Game for a couple of decades. I loved Lille the most but the map disappeared from my classroom. I don't suppose you have any pics. of just the map?

  • Greetings Unknown:

    I got rid of my own copy of 'THE ART OF SIEGE' some years ago. However, Boardgamegeek.com has some pretty good photos of the game components and different game maps. Try the following link:
    http://boardgamegeek.com/image/136515/the-art-of-siege .

    Thanks for visiting and
    Best Regards, Joe

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