Wednesday, March 25, 2009

More ACW...

Really haven't been idle, honest...

I continue to scratch the ACW "itch" with news that on the figures front DG has come up with the offer of some Minifigs 25mm's that are surplus to his requirements. I think DG has decided to go the plastic route - I know he picked up some of the new Perry stuff at last years Salute but in terms of my poll (still 12 hours to vote folks) he's definitely in the "I have bought them but haven't got round to painting them yet.." camp..!

DG tells me he has the following for me:

Kepi hats
23 Cavalry
25 Infantry

"Brimmed" hats
17 Cavalry
18 Infantry

17 Officers, Drummers, Standard bearers, Artillery men

More than enough to get me going... though I still have the thoughts on numbers and figure scale to go through... of which more anon...

Which brings me on to the knotty subject of what rules to use... ah bliss, now the plan was going to be to use Mr. Lincoln's War still thinking about it but in light of my increased leanings towards an old school project to go with the old school figures, I dug out my copy of the collected Wargamers Newsletter rules and had a good read - thoughts?? There's some scope there but I'm sorry, I can't be doing with the physical apparatus required (canister cones and burst circles to mark fall of round shot).. what I did like, and still like, is Don's ability to distill the essentials of the period into elements that need to be represented in his rules... eg.

"One of the peculiarities of the American Civil War lies in the fact that both sides had armies formed of independent men unaccustomed to conforming to the more rigid discipline of European armies of that time. This meant that, on occasions, regiments would momentarily panic and break, only to quickly re-form and fight on as bravely as though previously unaffected. Thus, morale rules are necessary to reproduce this fact, i.e. that such "breaks" are frequently transitional and the units concerned can rally more easily than European counterparts."


"Skirmishers will have to be sent forward if the movements of the enemy are to be discovered. Units behind hills or woods (or in any position where they are not in reasonable view of their opponents) are represented by a numbered card or counter and need not be revealed unless skirmishers move forward to a position where they can see the enemy."


"Cavalry may also be used in this scouting role. There will also be standing figures made available, one for each cavalryman. This will enable cavalry to play their correct role as in 1861-1865. By dismounting a cavalryman and substituting one of the standing figures, the cavalry can serve as mounted infantrymen."

On the other hand, his regiments for this version of the rules at least, are 40 men strong plus officers!

So - having decided that these rules, although a starting point, are not 100% there, I then went back to "War Games", the book that started it all for me, and with great enjoyment read the "RULES AND DEMONSTRATION BATTLE: 'ACTION IN THE PLATTVILLE VALLEY'" No rude mechanicals here - just the sane and sensible rules that I remember so well... simple, yes, but ah, what a framework...

So - thinking further - I'll use the rules from "War Games" as the basis, add in 'complexity' from the slightly later period "Wargamers Newsletter" rules, with any additional elements from Mr. Lincoln's War that doesn't over complicate the whole project...

I'm thinking I may steal the figure scales/unit sizes, for example... and may be some of the formation movement which I like a lot... But only if it doesn't over complicate the look and feel of the whole thing... oh, and I want fixed bases - no casualty removal - I'm happy to do the paperwork to allow this... which brings to mind something that Fire-at-Will has been playing with over on his AWI blog... Mr. Lincoln's War is company level where one stand (of 4 figures) represents a company of about 80 men - an actual regiment is then made up of the number of stands required to represent the regiments actual numbers, so for example a regiment of 400 men would have five stands. Similar to what Gilder did (and I copied) for the Sudan rules in fact, and also what Will has been doing with his AWI/SYW rules that I use with so much pleasure... hmmmm... thoughts to ponder indeed!

Bottom line - apologies for the slightly disjointed post - lots of thoughts over the last few days, and you have to jot them down somewhere!


  1. Steve,

    If it were me, I would first decide how I wanted units to look . . . then decide what rules will work with that "look" . . . not necessarily be written for it, but will accommodate it.

    My impression is that the ACW was NOT a period with particularly "uniform" looking troops.

    The terrain is usually much more broken and cluttered than European battlefields . . . and units would have a much more "irregular" look to them (in my opinion).

    Anyway, I suggest that you decide what look you want and then find rules to fit.

    -- Jeff

  2. I agree with Jeff. Decide on the look and make the rules fit your desires.
    Bigger is better in my book!

  3. I'm not doing the ACW . . . but one of the things I would consider if I were would be if I wanted to "stagger" my troops (have the second rank be behind but between the front rankers).

    I'm not saying that I would do it this way, but I'd consider it.

    The great thing about starting a new period is that you get to play around with ideas of just what you want.

    For example, what part of the war do you want to model? The early and late periods look different (and regimental size is different too -- due to attrition).

    And remember, Steve, there are no 'wrong answers' to any of this . . . just figure out what you want and then go for it.

    -- Jeff

  4. Wise words as ever Jeff/Paul - and all the subject of a later post I think... suffice to say that at this stage of the project/thinking it'll be early war... got to have those zouaves while they were still wearing the fancy uniforms... :o)

  5. I played many happy games with the horse and musket rules from Wargames. We tried the again a couple of years ago and had a really good game with them.

    I used to think, 'poor old Don,they didn't have much of an idea of tactics in those days.' However I read an article of his where he says of course ACW cavalry fought dismonted but we like to have cavalry charges so thats the way therules are.

    hat is an attitude i applaud.