Remember the Maine:
By Mike Bennighof, Ph.D.
From the publisher’s perspective, there’s nothing to make you think about a newly published game than assembling it. Over and over you run the parts through your hands, putting them in their boxes, checking to make sure they’re all there, and closing the box and putting its wrap on it. Over. And over.
Remember the Maine is nice and hefty; the same format we’ve used many times in our naval games: a set of series rules, one operational map (a fairly large on in this case), one sheet of playing pieces and a scenario book. The map shows the Caribbean Basin in 1898 (when Spain still had a presence there); the playing pieces are die-cut and silky smooth. The same process that gives them that extraordinary feel also brings out the colors very richly; these are the finest game pieces I’ve ever handled.
Developer Jim Stear poured an enormous amont of design work into this game, fleshing it out with a huge scenario set that explores every aspect of the 1898 naval war. He ended up with what I consider a truly superior product. Here’s a look at what’s inside the box.
What You Get: The Toys!
There’s a full sheet of playing pieces, 100 “long” ship pieces and 80 square ones. Our new process lets us adapt the die-cutting pattern pretty much how we want it (there are some limits, but we no longer are limited to a small set of expensive, specialty-made dies). That let us craft the mix of pieces to fit the game situation instead of a pre-set pattern.
That allowed us to provide plenty of pieces for all the ships that took part in the naval campaign of 1898, both in the Caribbean and the Far East. And ships that could have been committed to action, but for whatever reason were not, like the Spanish battleship Pelayo.
And then there’s the best set of toys: the ships that didn’t take part in the war at all. The Americans receive all of their pre-dreadnought battleships through the Virginia class, plus the Idaho and Mississippi, a pair eventually sold to Greece (these last have never before appeared in a Great War at Sea game in the American colors). And then they get a quartet of battleships that never existed: two examples of the proposed 1892 battleship, and two of a proposed design featuring a triple turret.
The Spanish get their fantasy ships too: the projected sister for Pelayo, and the pair of French-designed battleships the Armada hoped to construct but for which it never received funding. Plus they get the three British-designed battleships initially requested in 1902 and delayed and revised continually until they became Spain’s only class of dreadnoughts. And a whole set of Italian-built armored cruisers, the class of four Spain wished to acquire (only one of which actually saw action, perishing at the Battle of Santiago before her main armament had even been fitted).
What You Get: The Scenarios!
There are 45 of them. That’s right, forty-five. Give Jim Stear a toybox like that described above, and he will provide. The total surprised me, but Jim crafted a number of small battle scenarios using some innovative new special rules for small warships.
The whole war’s covered, both in terms of operational and battle scenarios. As are the possibilities of an earlier start and a later start to the war. So you get to use all those extra battleships and armored cruisers in action.
The war’s mostly remembered for, well, the whole remembering the Maine thing. And the destruction of the Spanish armored cruiser squadron off Santiago de Cuba. But Almirante Pascual Cervera y Topete had many options available and planned to use his superior speed to attack American trade and communications. The Ministry of Marine scuttled those possibilities (and Cervera’s fleet) by first insisting that he steam to Santiago, and then making him subordinate to the colony’s governor-general.
Turned loose in the Caribbean, the Spanish are a formidable foe. They can’t stand up to the American battleships, but with their edge in speed, they don’t have to. The asymmetric fleets provide each side with unique challenges.
What You Get: The Map!
It’s a full-sized map of the Caribbean Basin, showing all the key ports of 1898 – Spanish, American and neutral (those last can be really important).
This is a good package. The broad canvas, and the enthusiasm of the designer/developer, make this a superior product. I’m really glad we published this game.
See for yourself - order Remember the Maine right now. Yes, now!
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Mike Bennighof is president of Avalanche Press and holds a doctorate in history from Emory University. A Fulbright Scholar and award-winning journalist, he has published over 100 books, games and articles on historical subjects.
He lives in Birmingham, Alabama with his wife, three children and his dog, Leopold.