It's the Civil War... with Yetis!

The Battle of Gettysburg. Mere mention of the massive skirmish evokes images of pain, glory, violence. In 1863, Union General Meade’s Army of the Potomac clashed with Confederate General Lee’s Army of North Virginia. The conflict raged for over two days. Thousands died, thousands more were wounded. It was possibly the defining battle of the American Civil War, the turning point of the Union war effort, and one of our nation’s bloodiest days. Oh, did I mention that the Yetis and Mastodons of the Great White North were commissioned and fought for both the Union and the Confederacy in this epic battle?

It sounds ludicrous, but Titanic Games has taken the absurd concept and run with it in the first in their lineup of history-meets-monster card games, Yetisburg. Though the mere premise might turn some away, the game thrives under its ridiculous moorings, creating a unique gaming experience that is part card game, part military strategy, all awesome.

I’ve been looking forward to this game for quite awhile. Since the title of the game was released in March, I’ve been intrigued and excited about the idea of Yetis ducking it out in the Civil War. I managed to snag an early copy a few days ago, so here’s my thoughts on this incredibly cool game.

The game is comprised of cards (two decks of 65 cards each) and tokens (which indicate range and/or damage of attacks). The typical infantry and cavalry of Yetisburg are backed by the berserker might of the titular Yetis and the bomb-chucking destruction of Mastodon artillery. The decks are separated into five smaller decks, which represent supply lines. These five decks reinforce the armies with additional troops and officers. These are the central point of the game, as the object is to force the opponent to use up all the cards in a single supply deck. Cards are arranged in two rows, the relief and the front lines, and five columns. The space between the armies is a blood-soaked no-man’s-land known as the trench, which is where the vicious Yetis do battle.

The system is really quite a simple one to understand, but the nuances of strategy soon become apparent. A hand of five cards allow the player to choose units to activate and attack with. For instance, if a hand included an infantry card, the player could then discard the hand card into the discard pile, called the hospital in this game, and attack with any infantry units on the battlefield. Once a unit attacks, it is turned sideways to indicate that it cannot attack again until rallied by a friendly officer or spurred into action by a wound.

To attack, the player draws a token from a pool. The tokens include a red arrow and a number. The arrow indicates direction of the attack, while the number specifies either range or damage, or both, depending on the unit. Attacks can miss and even hit friendly troops, which makes for some interesting gameplay. If a Yeti fighting in the trench is hit by friendly fire, it instantly defects to the opposing army in a bout of berserker rage.

Each unit has different abilities, with infantry and cavalry operating as the reliable ranged units, Yetis as the devastating melee fighters, and Mastodon artillery as the destructive bombardiers. Different units can take varying degrees of damage, with the human units going down after one or two hits and the Yetis and Mastodons taking three or four. Consequently, as Mastodon artillery die, they explode, damaging nearby units. This means that tight-knit groups of artillery can cause awe-inspiring chain reactions, utterly decimating entire lines of troops.

But of course the main draw is the inclusion of Yetis, and they are the most unique and useful units in the game. When the Yetis are ordered to attack, they rush forward into the trench, toppling any unit in their way and even sending friendly units to the hospital. The Yetis are ever-changing, volatile units capable of awesome damage that can whittle the front lines to the nub in a matter of rounds.

The strategy of the game really comes into play during the command phase, which occurs after attacks have been ordered. During this phase, players use officer units to maneuver and rally troops, and even return downed units from the hospital to the battlefield. Strategy lies in deciding where to place troops and officers, and who to rally to avoid friendly fire. It takes a few run-throughs to get a grasp of the officer abilities, but the game’s depth originates here, and it’s a rich system for strategy.

The components themselves are beautiful. Glossy, thick cards feature highly stylized artwork. It’s a great-looking game, from the awesome depiction of Yetis and Mastodons, to the damage tokens shaped like steaks. It feels well put together, and worth the money. The only disappointing facets are the box, which doesn’t really allow for storage of the game once the tokens are punched out, and the rulebook, which is too simple in its explanations.

The biggest drawback is that the two armies, Union and Confederate, are identical in units, right down to the abilities of their officers. It’s disappointing to find no unique units or abilities in either army. It’s the one thing that keeps a great game from being brilliant. I’m hoping for an expansion that furthers the depth of the game with units specific to the armies.

Is the system as solid and well-balanced as, say, Last Night on Earth? No, it does have its flaws, and stand-stills in combat happen as the cards run low and the attacks slow down. But it ranks up there with Munchkin in terms of sheer, hilarious fun. It’s a quick-moving, easy-going game of deep strategy and awesome moments. For a game as silly as Yetisburg, it sure does pack a punch. I personally can’t wait for the sequel, Dismember the Alamo, which I’m almost certain begs the question: What if Santa Anna’s army was comprised of flesh-eating zombies?


  1. Yetisburg. Yetisburg. For serious, you are the king of all geek.

    Also, thanks for free advertisement on your blogoroll. When are we going to do some R#09/Fettchen Trailer Trashing?

    Also, you need to help me make my blog cute.

  2. Jake: Yes, I am the king of all geek. Bow down to me, lesser nerds! Mwahaha!

    And don't mention the advertisement. I appreciate being on your blogroll as well. We should figure out Trailer Trashing soon.

    Make your blog cute, eh? Well, all it takes is a good color scheme and some basic HTML knowledge, which you most certainly have. Otherwise, it's best to keep it simple. Blogger doesn't handle complex designs very well, as evidenced by this blog's second redesign.

  3. I fail to see how YOU can be the king of all geek. You don't even Warhammer, despite the fact the Dwarfs have GUNS!

  4. Jeff: I'm not king of all nerds, per say. But I am the biggest geek Jake knows.


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