Tom Russell's first published game was Blood in the Alma. That humble little magazine insert game, published in 2012, introduced concepts that over time gave birth to Hollandspiele's Blood in the Fog and, eventually, the Shot & Shell Battle Series. So it is perhaps fitting that seven years and nearly forty published designs later, Mr. Russell would turn his attention back to the topic that started it all, redesigned from the ground-up through the lens of the Shot & Shell system. The result is The Heights of Alma.
The heights overlooking the Alma River provided a natural defensive advantage for the Russians, who proceeded to utterly squander it with slapdash entrenchments and a left flank that was completely exposed. It didn't help that the commander of that left wing was several sheets to the wind. At least he was on the field; on the opposing side, British commander Lord Raglan snuck behind enemy lines for a better view of the battle without telling his subordinates, leaving his army without any orders. Frontal charges against the Russian heavy guns were as costly as they were pointless. Eventually, a group of men disobeyed orders, choosing to stand and fire instead - discovering, to their delight, that their new Minié rifles outranged the enemy artillery! They would have known that from the beginning if anyone had bothered to listen to their French allies - the only side to acquit themselves competently.
The historical scenario recreates this glorious mess of a battle. Three additional scenarios explore increasing levels of coordination and competence on either side. This game has more special rules than the previous Shot & Shell title (Seven Pines; or, Fair Oaks), resulting in a more complex and nuanced experience, but not so many rules that it bogs the thing down - a given scenario will still be resolved within a couple of hours.
Game design: Tom Russell
Map artist: Ilya Kudriashov
Hex number: 38
Duration: 120 minutes
Solitaire Suitability: High
Theme: Crimean War
Shot & Shell Battle Series: 2
Base postage cost: £4.50
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