In the course of writing my memorial post on the recent passing of Charles Roberts — the founder of modern “adventure” gaming — I was reminded of an unfinished game profile that I had, for a variety of reasons, allowed to languish in my documents folder for over a year. The passing from the scene of Charles S. Roberts, however, finally moved me to complete this long-neglected game review and it is presented here. - JCBIII
GETTYSBURG ’64 is a historical simulation of the critical battle between the Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of the Potomac near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in 1863. This bloody three-day battle determined, more than any other single engagement between the Unionists and the Confederates that, however long the American Civil War might last, the South would not prevail. GETTYSBURG ’64 was designed by Charles Roberts and published by The Avalon Hill Game Company (TAHGC). The game profiled here is the 3rd edition of the game, reissued in 1964 after substantial changes from the earlier 1958 and 1961 versions.


General Picket receives the order to charge from General Longstreet at Gettysburg

In the spring of 1863, the Army of Northern Virginia, under General Robert E. Lee, seemed invincible; it had recently won a crushing victory at Chancellorsville, and Lee began to think that one more decisive Confederate victory, particularly if it could be attained on Northern soil, might be enough to induce the Yankees to abandon their attempt to forcibly compel the political reunification of the North and South. So, in spite of the bitter memories of the Antietam campaign of the previous year, Lee marched into Pennsylvania at the head of an army of 77,000 men in the summer of 1863.

On 1 July, near a small rural town called Gettysburg, the Army of Northern Virginia, quite by accident, blundered into the advanced elements of General George Gordon Meade’s Union Army of the Potomac. In a steadily escalating battle, the Confederate forces of General Ambrose Hill’s corps succeeded, by the end of the day, in driving the Union defenders out of their advanced positions and back into Gettysburg in some disorder. During the night, the Union troops abandoned the town. But Union reinforcements were on the way, and, as additional troops from Meade’s 88,000 strong army continued to arrive, the Union commander immediately deployed them on the ridges to the south overlooking the now Confederate-occupied town. As night fell on the first day, the stage was already being set for the battle to be renewed as soon as the sun rose on 2 July, 1863.

Col. Joshua Chamberlain and his 20th Maine, the lions of Little Round Top.

In the Confederate camp, General Lee had some reason for optimism as darkness settled over the battlefield. Although his army had been unable to rout the Yankees completely, it had succeeded in pushing the Unionists back. On the first day of the fighting at Gettysburg, the Army of Northern Virginia had attempted, without success, to break the Union Right; when the battle resumed on the second day, Lee had decided that he would shift his attention to a small brush and scrub covered hill on the Union Left, known locally as Little Round Top. Although the hill was only 650 feet high, if the Confederates could emplace artillery on its heights, they could enfilade the entire length of the Union line defending Cemetery Ridge below. The Confederate commander knew that if his men captured Little Round Top, Meade’s forces would have no choice but to retire in defeat. Lee was supremely confident in his men as they began their preparations for battle, and he was just as confident that by sundown on 2 July, 1863, Gettysburg would be the site of another decisive Confederate victory — perhaps the crucial triumph necessary to bring the War for Southern Independence to a successful end.


GETTYSBURG ’64 is a brigade/division simulation of the climactic three-day Civil War battle that indirectly decided the ultimate outcome of the War Between the States. The four-color square-grid game map represents the ground in rural Pennsylvania over which the opposing armies fought: an area of approximately thirty-five square miles. Each one inch square on the map is ¼ mile from side to side. Each game turn is equal to one hour of real time, and a complete match of GETTYSBURG ’64 can last up to forty-nine game turns. The differently-sized game pieces represent the historical leaders and combat units that actually took part in the three-day battle. Each combat unit is printed with its historical unit designation, its facing (important for both attack and defense), and its combat and movement factors. One player commands the Union Army of the Potomac; the other controls the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. GETTYSBURG ’64 follows a simple game turn sequence: the first player (Union commander) brings in his scheduled reinforcements (if any) and then moves and initiates combat; then the second player (Confederate commander) repeats the same sequence. Once both players have completed their moves, the game turn ends and one box is checked-off on the game’s turn record chart.

The game mechanics of GETTYSBURG ’64 are comparatively simple but show a noticeable “miniatures” influence. Although conventional stacking is prohibited in GETTYSBURG ’64, one artillery unit may occupy a square with any other type of unit, including another artillery unit. Interestingly, terrain has no effect whatsoever on movement, but ridges do affect combat by doubling the defense strength of units defending on their crests. The afore-mentioned “miniatures” aspect of the game emerges during the resolution of attacks in which the opposing units are not directly facing each other. The combat strength of an attacking unit, for example, that achieves a “partial enfilade” against a defender or that attacks from the rear is doubled; an attacker that achieves a “full enfilade” (the traditional “flank attack”) has its combat strength tripled; in addition, the combat strength of a unit attacking ‘downhill” is also doubled. Combat is resolved using the standard Avalon Hill “odds-differential Combat Results Table (CRT).

Victory in GETTYSBURG ’64 is determined purely on the basis of casualties; the capture or control of geographical objectives has absolutely no bearing on the outcome of the game. The Confederate player wins if he has eliminated all Union combat units by the end of the July 4, noon game turn. The Union commander wins if he either destroys all Confederate units on the game map, or, alternatively, if he avoids losing all of his own units by the end of the Confederate portion of the last turn of the game.

GETTYSBURG ’64 presents only one game situation: an hour-by-hour simulation of the entire three day battle; there are no shorter scenarios, so players who sit down to reprise the battlefield roles of Generals Lee and Meade must be prepared to slug it out for as many as forty-nine game turns. In addition, the designer includes only one “optional rule”: a short but somewhat awkwardly framed set of instructions for incorporating Hidden Movement into the play of the game.


The first version of Charles Roberts’ Civil War game, GETTYSBURG, was published as one of three initial product offerings from the then fledgling game publisher, Avalon Hill, in 1958. The other two titles were TACTICS II (an abstract military strategy game) and DISPATCHER (a railroad game). The first (1958) edition of GETTYSBURG was interesting — at least from the standpoint of “adventure” gaming history — for two reasons: it was the first commercially produced board game that attempted to simulate an actual historical battle; and it was the one and only game published by the Avalon Hill Game Company that was marketed without having been play-tested. Not surprisingly, given its lack of pre-publication de-bugging, problems with the first edition of GETTYSBURG — particularly in the area of play balance — quickly surfaced; nonetheless, the Civil War game, despite its numerous problems, was a commercial success: a fact that encouraged the designer and head of Avalon Hill, Charles S. Roberts, to correct the first edition’s defects by redesigning and reissuing the game.

It took Avalon Hill three years, but in 1961, the second version of GETTYSBURG finally made its appearance; and in a form that was noticeably different from its predecessor. While Roberts had opted to make a number of alterations to his earlier design, the most significant (and obvious) change was that, while GETTYSBURG ’58 had made use of a square-grid map board, GETTYSBURG ’61 presented players with a hexagonal-grid playing area. Despite the game’s several improvements, it proved to be a commercial failure; neither Roberts nor the gaming public, it turned out, could muster much enthusiasm for the second edition changes, and in 1964, Avalon Hill reverted to the earlier design format and reissued the game yet again, this time in the square-grid version presented here.

I purchased my own copy of GETTYSBURG ’64 in the late 1960’s and, after sitting though a couple of uninspiring play sessions, I put it aside in favor of BULGE ’65 and AFRIKA KORPS (1964) and did not look at the title again for almost twenty years. Interestingly, when I finally took up the game again, I discovered that, although the square-grid map design seemed antiquated and awkward, the combat system was actually more sophisticated and challenging than I had remembered. The combination of enfilade and down-hill attacks tended to make for very interesting tactical problems for both players, particularly where the defender was forced to create an angle by bending his line. To make a long story short: although I had barely played GETTYSBURG ’64 when I first purchased it, I ended up playing Robert’s Civil War game — both face-to-face and solitaire — more than twenty times on this second time around before I finally tired of it and moved on to other titles.

Nowadays, of course, players can select from an extensive library of different game titles which, employing varying scales and levels of complexity, all attempt to simulate the Battle of Gettysburg. Even Avalon Hill returned to this popular topic two more times: first, with the somewhat disappointing GETTYSBURG ’77; and then again with the simpler, and much more popular, GETTYSBURG ’88. Thus, given the fact that there are currently a large number of Gettysburg games to choose from, the obvious question is: Who would most likely be interested in owning GETTYSBURG ’64? The short answer is that this title will probably mainly appeal to collectors; moreover, I personally believe that it also has enough play value to suit both soft-core Civil War buffs and casual gamers. However, those players who are looking for a richly-textured, highly-detailed simulation of the battle should, in all honesty, probably give GETTYSBURG ’64 a pass. The game was cutting edge in its day, but that day was almost fifty years ago.

Design Characteristics:

  • Time Scale: 1 hour per game turn
  • Map Scale: ¼ mile per 1” square
  • Unit Size: battalion/brigade/division
  • Unit Types: infantry, cavalry, artillery, and leader counters
  • Number of Players: two
  • Complexity: below average
  • Solitaire Suitability: average
  • Average Playing Time: 3-6+ hours

Game Components:

  • One 22” x 28” square-grid mounted Map Board
  • 14 ½” cardboard Counters
  • 13 ½” x ¾” cardboard Counters
  • 15 ½” x ⅞” cardboard Counters
  • 28 ½” x 1” cardboard Counters
  • One 5½”x 8½” Battle Manual (with additional optional rules and examples of play incorporated)
  • One 7½” x 10” Combat Results Table
  • One 7” x 10” Union Units Starting Set-Up and Order of Appearance Chart
  • One 7” x 10” Confederate Units Starting Set-Up and Order of Appearance Chart
  • One 8” x 10” back-printed Game Turn Record Card
  • One six-sided Die
  • One 5½” x 6½” Customer Response Card
  • One 11½” x 14½” x 2” flat Cardboard Game Box with two Storage Trays

Recommended Reading

See my blog post Book Review of this title which is strongly recommended for those readers interested in further historical background.

THE WEST POINT ATLAS OF AMERICAN WARS (Complete 2-Volume Set); edited by Brigadier General Vincent J. Esposito; Frederick A. Praeger, Inc. (1959); ASIN: B000MTBTEU

Also, for those interested in battlefield maps, the "museum book" collection of historical Civil War maps by William J. Miller, released in  2004, or the atlas compiled by Stephen Hyslop in 2009 of Civil war battlefields are worth collecting.

Recommended Artwork

This Giclee print of a map of the Battle of Gettysburg is suitable for framing and makes a nice wall decoration for a game room with a Civil War theme.
Buy at Art.com
Battle of Gettysburg - Civil War Pano...
9x12 Giclee Print
Buy From Art.com


  • Gettysburg 64 was one of two games my Mother bought me as my first True wargames(the other being Waterloo) and purchased no less at JC Penney.

    I would go on and buy the 58 edition,the 59 Battlefield version sold at the Gettysburg National battlefield and the 61 edition which I sort of like.But then I did ad a House Rule where I doubled the mp factor on roads to get the Infantry moving at a more historical rate.

    I still find the G-Burg 58/64 map so neat.I would as a young teen lay it out and just look at it from a short distance(then again I found the Stalingrad box art very interesting too).

    G-Burg 64 does still provide for me at least a enjoyable time when wanting a more simple but still challenging game to solo .

    Memory lane item-I would get after those first two games 2-3 more AH game at X-mas and then in January another two on my birthday. And when I discovered SPI games at a Hallmark Gift/Bookstore that completely through me for all the titles I saw that each Monday after I got paid I would walk over from my summer job a block or so on the lunch hour to the mall and get 2-3 of those wonderful games.

  • Greetings Kim:

    I know what you mean when you talk about "strolling down memory lane." I think that I bought my first game in 1963 or 64, but then, before I could really get interested in gaming, I went into the army and was shipped overseas, not to return to the States until 1968. It was after my return that I really became interested in wargames; particularly after I went off to college and met a number of avid, already accomplished players.

    Of course, I still remember when an SPI game was $6.00; and when you could take advantage of their specials, such as their "Good, Bad, and Ugly" sales of older, less-popular titles. I can even remember, during the late 1970's placing several orders with SPI that exceeded $500.00. And, of course, I used to buy games from GDW in bulk, pretty much the same way. Those were certainly the days.

    Best Regards, Joe

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