Monday, December 14, 2009

The search for the perfect set of ACW rules #3... "Mr. Lincoln's War"

He's back...!

Apologies for the elongated absence... I blame it entirely on my regular Christmas time trip to Bath with the current Mrs Steve the Wargamer.. add to that a visit from my Dad who was down to baby sit the little heirs while we were in Bath, and as is always the way, lots of other things cropping up and all of a sudden my loft time disappeared rapidly - and with it any time for posting...

On the plus side however, things have still been progressing on the wargaming front... I've completed a regiment of Allied foot for my War of the Spanish Succession project (Sir Edward Dering's Regiment of Foot), these will be the subject of a separate post.. DG and I also agreed that it really was time to bring the second ACW game to a close, so in this post I'll describe how we got on with "Mr Lincoln's War"..

So how did we get on?? Read on, McDuff..

First off, the price is £9 for a hard copy..

Format: A4 sized, comprising 29 pages, of which 23 are rules, the rest being special tournament rules, and a scenario (Mill Springs 19/1/1862).. glossy paper, typed, black and white drawings, some black and white photo's (uniforms mostly)..

The Rules

Brigade/regimental level

The rules are designed (optimally) for 15mm figures (also 10-12mm) though they can cater for 25's with some scale and measurement changes (described in the rules).

In 15mm, bases size is 1" square (artillery slightly bigger).

Figures 4 to a base for regular infantry - representing a company of 80 men - multiply the bases to make a regiment (according to historical numbers) so anything between 2 and 10 bases makes an infantry regiment. Two to six regiments then makes the brigade - with brigadier.

Cavalry are 2 figures to a base and represent 40 men.

Artillery bases represent 2 guns and 40 crew, or one section of guns - two or three bases then make a battery.

Skirmishers/dismounted cavalry are represented by leaving gaps between the bases...

These rules focus on the unit orders these then govern what the unit can do - for example, you can't advance if you have "hold" orders, you must move half if you have "move" orders, etc.

In addition the orders relate to how well your men fire - if you want best fire rate then put them on "hold" orders behind a wall or fence...

Eminently sensible and I thought the orders worked quite well - there are a lot of order types (seven) so it works best if you spend time to understand how and what these allow your unit to do.

Once a unit starts moving however, any number of actions can then start initiating morale checks - these can happen at any point in the move cycle (which is an interlinked Igo-Ugo where each side does something and then the other side reacts) - an interesting feature of this is that units take multiple morale checks rather than each event adding a negative modifier to a single morale check... I liked that as well! For example, if a unit comes under artillery fire, and takes enough casualties to remove a base, it would take two morale tests - one for the first time being under artillery fire, and the second for losing the base... very nifty!

...and the downside??? Well, that is that like the Too Fat Lardies rules, these are very very difficult rules to actually play - they're easy to read, but the transition to table top is difficult. Once again the issue is with poor proof reading, bad editing, and issues with grammar...


As we moved through the move sequence DG & I often found that we had to refer to multiple parts of the book to be able to complete each step in the sequence...

Another example - close combat - when we got to this stage of the move sequence I flipped to the close combat section in the rules, but it soon became clear that much of the first part of this section (the morale tests etc) had already been completed as part of previous move phases but this was not made clear...

Another example - breakthrough - cavalry who win the melee and have enough movement left can charge again (called breakthrough) but the use of the word "may" left us both perplexed as to whether we had to, or not..

..the Quick reference sheet tables didn't always agree with the rules in the book...

...and so forth.

DG and I played an introductory scenario based on the Kersntown scenario in the Too Fat Lardies rules to try the rules out, and I have to be honest and say that these too were quite a frustrating experience..

All in all - and again purely my opinion - these are not the rules for me. What I was itching to do was take them, rip them apart, and put them back together again in a way that made sense - and I still may do that if the next set don't improve my playing experience!!! Steve the Wargamer gives these a 6 to 7 out of 10 (c/w 5 or less for the Too Fat Lardies rules, and even less for "Rebel Yell").

.... onwards and upwards, though, the next one is "Guns at Gettysburg"..


...and the pictures?? DG found this site and it's well worth sharing - you can find lots more, here:


  1. Steve,

    Way, way back in time when I played some ACW, we played "Johnny Reb".

    It played quite well for small actions, but began to bog down when a lot of brigades hit the table. There were some excellent scenario books for "Johnny Reb" though as I recall.

    While I never played it, "Fire and Fury" pretty much replaced JR . . . and I still see it listed in a number of gaming conventions -- and it apparently does handle larger fights well.

    I have no knowledge of any other ACW rules. However, if you are going to play much ACW, no matter what rules you get, might I suggest that you pick up a CD or two of Bobby Horton's Civil War music. They provide GREAT ATMOSPHERE.

    You can even here some samples from the above site . . . they have a very nice "homespun" quality to them . . . and a lot of the tunes are very catchy. (My favorite is "Battle Cry of Freedom", which was sung by both sides, albeit with differing lyrics).

    -- Jeff

  2. We play Fire and Fury a great deal. Is it on your list to try?

  3. Thanks for the links and comments gents - appreciated as ever...

    Jeff - JR III is on my list - but I've not seen it for sale at any of the shows recently so have not picked up a copy... if I continue to have as much luck as I am at the moment though I may well end up hunting it down! :o)

    Geoff - re. F&F, no it isn't, but only because I am limiting myself to rules where the basic manoeuvre unit is the regiment rather than the brigade... what I have seen however, is that the F&F guys are releasing a regimental version of the rules in 2010 - I've downloaded the free play test version and DG & I will be trying those next...

  4. Steve,

    What I played was the original "Johnny Reb" . . . I didn't know that they were up to a version 3 now.

    I guess that I'm showing my age.

    -- Jeff

  5. Steve,

    It may interest you to know that a "regimental" version of F&F is allegedly due to be release in early 2010. I know that if you go to the F&F site there is "beta" version of the regimental rules that you can download for free.

  6. Ken - DG and I are just embarking on a playtest of those very same beta rules... more here on our success or otherwise in due course.. :o))